Release Date:PC: December 4th 2013, PS4, PS Vita, PS3: TBA
Starbound is a complex indie platforming action game with procedurally generated worlds in a procedurally generated universe that was developed by United Kingdom based independent game developer studio, Chucklefish Ltd. The game is also being self published by the development team who have a large back catalogue of interesting games, including the hugely punishing, yet stylistically minimal rogue-like, action platforming game, Risk of Rain.
The game is currently still going through its development cycle. But thanks to the Steam Greenlight Program, the game is currently enjoying the benefits of having the currently playable build being tested by the gaming community. The game entered its public testing stage on December 4th of 2013. Unlike many games, testing wasn’t reserved for one specific platform; the beta/alpha build of the game is playable on Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux operating systems.
Despite going through testing on PC platforms and still being very much an unfinished product, the game is slated to come to PS Vita, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 upon its completion. There have been no plans to release the game on Microsoft’s Xbox One or Xbox 360 announced yet.
The game’s official release date has not yet been revealed for the various platforms, but since the Greenlight launch, it has been accepted that this was the games official PC launch, with PS Vita, PS3 and PS4 launch dates to be confirmed at a later date.
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Starbound receives near constant updates to the core game, the visuals and sound department as well as new content patches, however this brings with it some concerns. Players have expressed the view that the game is getting updated and having new things added all the time, but still it shows no sign of having a clear end goal or finishing point.
The game was developed and runs on a custom made video game engine and is largely (if not wholly) written in C++. This helps the game support a lot of external features, hence it’ success with the modding community.
Starbound was first officially announced by Tiyuri, the games founder and director, on April 13th 2013 when he launched a pre-order slot on the humble store (the webstore made available by humble bundle) that resembled a Kickstarter project. This raised over $230,000 in just 24 hours.
This money was used to fund the development of Starbound and the gaming community flocked to the game in droves pledging money in ever increasing amounts. By the end of April, all of Starbounds tiered incentives had been bought into and all of the three stretch goals had been reached. By this point, the game had raised over $1,000,000 and it was ready to enter its Beta stage.
Following the commencement of the Beta, the game had received over $2,000,000 in pre-orders and it was finally released on Steam on December 4th which marked the beginning of public access and testing. Since then the game has continually been updated, for better or for worse, and has seen a huge community grow around it. By the end of the first week of January 2014, the game had sold in excess of 1,000,000 copies.
As with most games of a similar design, the plot is kept intentionally vague. This isn’t due to a lack of creativity on the part of the developers; it’s to impress upon each player the uniqueness of their playthrough.
Starbound is visually similar to many other games in the exploration, building and combat genre. It shares similarities with the hugely popular game, Terraria in both terms of visuals, gameplay mechanics and construction mechanics. But the similarities are to be expected when players are tasked with tackling exploration, building and combat on a 2D plane.
Whereas Terraria was more of a game that challenged the player as they dug deeper into the world, Starbound is very much a hostile environment that forces players into combat situations much more often and generally represents a much greater challenge in terms of gameplay, but this is balanced by the vast array of weapons and armours that players can make use of. The combat focus of the game makes it considerably more fast paced, calling for quicker reaction times and more accurate control of weapons than some other games of a similar nature.
Players can create their own weapons and armour by collecting materials from the game world and using them to construct the item of their choosing. These may start as a basic zapper pistol and finish as a huge energy spewing cannon. Crafting meets creation when players start building. The only way to survive on a planet is to have a find or much more likely build a safe haven and this often comes in the form of a player constructed home. These can be made out of everything ranging from mud and reeds, to stone and metal. Each looks unique and each is a perfectly suitable home for our intrepid adventurers.
Each of the planets that players traverse in Starbound is (in their entirety) procedurally generated. This random generation of assets means that players are unlikely to ever encounter the same area twice; this of course leads to a vast and explorable universe with new twists and turns at every corner.
Although, to help increase this sense of adventuring wonder and the risk that follows dropping down to an alien world that has been previously unexplored, the game doesn’t just procedurally generate the terrain. The weather of the world, the enemies that inhabit it, the worlds gravity levels, the indigenous plant life, the behaviour and appearances of aliens and more are all features of each world that are randomly generated.
One of my personal favourite features of the game is that despite the random generation of the games universe, each planet comes with its own set of coordinates that once discovered can be shared amongst others, allowing them to locate and travel to that world. Thus enforcing the co-op aspect of the game.
The game begins with the player escaping their home world in a spacecraft, fleeing from some unidentified enemy that is destroying the planet. The guidance systems are failing and there’s no reliable means of navigation to aid you and so, you are thrust into the void of space in an escape shuttle, the Stygian black roiling around you. But by some astronomical feat, you touch down on a habitable world and from there, the journey is yours.
The players characters are made in a character creation screen and the only story and information attached to them is that which the player creates.
Note: This wiki will be updated once we have more information about the game.