Andy Schuette has been gaming ever since he could hold a SNES controller in his hands and has been loving every minute of it. He's the funniest guy he knows, and the least funny guy everyone else knows.
Earlier last month, Chucklefish, the indie developer behind RPG powerhouse Starbound, announced their future plans leading up to the Early Access title’s full release, namely three updates with focuses on combat, story, and one for that final polish (think shiny cars, not delicious sausages).
Update #1: Combat
With the new update, weapons in Starbound are now scripted objects, meaning they have their own unique animations and feels to them: “Creating entirely unique weapons has become massively easier and as a result… Starbound patches will include wonderful new items far outside the scope of the previous item engine.”
As an example of the new system, hammers will have to be charged up before swinging and spears can be held out in a pseudo-phalanx. Elemental types will also be given to weapons that will adjust the effectiveness against different enemies.
Chucklefish is paying close attention to these finishing touches: “We’ve worked really hard on ensuring all of the feedback and damage responses from these weapons is satisfying and spot on. Knockback has been massively tweaked, hitboxes, hit sparks, sounds, you name it. Combat ‘feels’ so much better.”
Much like the weapons system, monsters will also become scripted objects allowing for recognizable characteristics and animations for each enemy. That said, Chucklefish aims to give monsters predictable strengths, weaknesses, and behaviors the player can learn and take advantage of.
Among these predictable traits, natural habitat seems to be among them as well: “There are unique monsters for each sub biome and a large pool of general unique monsters that will pop up from time to time.”
Whether you play as a zookeeper or a game hunter, you will have to quickly learn your prey’s native climate. Effectively, this system encourages players explore diverse planets in order find new creatures.
While many of the quests will be worked on via the story update, colonies will have new work for you to accomplish in the earlier combat update.
As expected, the townspeople will have errands they desperately need your help with and are mortally incapable of doing so themselves. Each of these errands, however, will create a new quest line with each completion (or failure to do so) affecting the relationship between you and your colonists.
Much like other aspects, these quests will be procedurally generated, granting Starbound great replayability.
Vehicles–as you can guess by the pattern–will also be scripted as independent objects rather than an extension of the player. They will now take their own damage, have specific collisions, and allow multiple characters to join the same vehicle.
New specialized vehicles will be added to the game, as well as options for creation for the master mechanics out there: “To start with we’ll be adding a handful of finely tweaked vehicles. But again we haven’t just built some vehicles, we’ve built an entire system so both the developers and modders can add new, completely unique vehicles quickly and easily.”
With all these new changes, modders have much to rejoice over with this new scripting system. Chucklefish, in a recent trend along with other popular developers, is effectively providing a platform for creation rather than just a static game.
Update #2: Story
There is no need to worry for those who have not kept up with Starbound’s current story as all previous quests will be replaced in 1.0. In fact, there will also be an introductory quest that will explain your role on your planet–of course, you’ll learn that in time.
While the official release mentions “an entire set of missions” along with a bunch of new quests, the story update also adds a slew of extra content such as unique characters, improved pets, and survival mechanics, leading you to examine and interact with your world in a new way.
Update #3: Polish
As with any (well-crafted and self-respecting) game in Early Access, this last update contains the finishing touches. While Chucklefish intends on future updates, the developer wants to really enable the game’s modding community to make it shine.
And finally, if modding doesn’t bring the community closer together, the multiplayer system used in previous versions will be made far more intuitive. Upon release, players can join one another’s game from their Steam friends list as opposed to relying on virtual LAN and manual port forwarding.
Everything said and done, these major updates will hopefully make for a sound launch for Starbound. Provided Chucklefish hits their marks (as they’ve proven to do, time and time again), they’re on their way to a stable end product, a feat even triple-AAA developers can’t seem to pull off lately. Still, it’s companies like Chucklefish–indie or otherwise–that set the bar for industry standards. Hopefully others will be quick to follow suit.