We had a chance to sit down with Tiy of the Chucklefish Games team responsible for in-development game Starbound! Expected to be released around the end of Summer 2012, Starbound contains a story within a sandbox. While main quests are available, gamers can be kept busy forever simply finding a crew, conducting research, catching rare creatures, and unlocking/customizing facilities. Join us as we discuss the ongoing development, the team's favorite features, and what's in store for future Starbound players!
Starbound begins with you fleeing your homeworld in a space shuttle, just as it’s destroyed by an unknown enemy. With nothing to guide it, the escape pod shoots into space without direction, becoming hopelessly lost in a sea of stars. As luck would have it, the space shuttle makes contact with an abandoned space station and an adventure begins that will take you hurtling across the universe. Starbound contains both quests and story driven missions, buried inside its vast sandbox universe.
CURSE: From where have you drawn inspiration for the universe Starbound is set in?
TIY: The Starbound universe draws inspiration from a wide range of sources, but our goal in developing the game was for the players to always find something new, every time they play. In that regard, some of the classic sci-fi out there really inspired us. The sense of wonder each week in Dr Who, Startrek, Stargate, where the heroes explore a brand new environment each week to unravel new mysteries was something we really wanted to capture in a game.
CURSE: What's the overall goal of the game, if there is one?
TIY: Starbound will include an engrossing story that has the player travelling throughout the universe to combat the force that destroyed the players homeworld. But gameplay isn't done when this quest is complete, the player has the option of setting up and managing a new homeworld, populating it and carrying out random quests and tasks to ensure it's safety. One of the things I set out to do with Starbound is to ensure the game never gets old, with a lot of modern games it seems as if you can read a wiki and know everything. I hope that's impossible here!
CURSE: Is the game relatively linear, or can main quests and storyline be put on hold indefinitely for other goals?
TIY: Whilst the game contains a linear quest line, it can indeed be put on hold for the player to explore. The entire universe is an endless sandbox. We're including enough procedurally generated content that players will never run out of things to do, even if they choose to never explore the main quest line. I also know communities pop up around multiplayer servers and we're doing everything we can to facilitate that. We're even considering adding a feature that let's players leave messages for eachother in the form of holograms!
CURSE: Do you have any interesting statistics for us? Such as number of items so far, monster types, or anything else you'd be willing to divulge?
TIY: Where to start! Items in Starbound are procedurally generated, so there are a vast number of items in the game. To give you an idea of the scale we're talking about, Visually there are currently 21,000 combinations of Rocket Launcher in the game. Stats wise there are millions. This procedural generation not only changes the way the gun works completely, but it changes the look of the gun too! You may never find the same weapon twice.
CURSE: How will players interact with each other; will multiplayer be a huge focus of the game?
TIY: Multiplayer is going to be an absolutely massive part of the game. The entire world is available in coop play, as well as competitive "Combat Planets" being available for PVP. Synergy between team mates is going to be an important part of the gameplay, with healing, protection items and the ability to revive each other we're encouraging players to work together every step of the way. We know that players love to build communities around their servers and we're adding a ton of features to make sure they can do that. Server owners will be able to decide if players need to make a new character to join their server or if they're able to bring their existing characters online.
CURSE: What's your absolute favorite feature so far?
TIY: I'd have to say the planet generation, it's so exciting to be able to jump into the game and always be able to explore somewhere new. It just never gets old. One of the smaller features I really like is the ability to capture and train monsters. Any monster can be captured once it's low on health, then called into battle where it will fight for you. Defeating enough enemies will cause your captured creature to become more powerful. It's fun to pit your creature against a friends :)
CURSE: Do you expect to have alpha or beta sessions, or will Starbound go right to release?
TIY: We're still discussing the idea of beta sessions. We want to be as transparent about development as possible and we know players love to see their input make it into the final product.
CURSE: Will updates continue after release?
TIY: Yes! I plan to make sure there's a dedicated team (including myself) updating the game for years after release. The great thing about updating Starbound is the way all of the content is used procedurally. Even adding just a handful of content becomes a vast amount once it's fed into the procedural system.
CURSE: How can we all stay updated on Starbound development news?
CURSE: Is there anything else you'd like fans to know about Starbound?
TIY: I'd like the fans to know that I plan to make the absolute best game I can, there'll be no half measures here. This is my dream game and a labour of love for the entire dev team. I also want to say that I'm always available to contact. If anyone has any questions, concerns or suggestions, send me an email or a tweet and I'll do my best to answer you straight away.