Aug 7, 2012

Thoughts on Starbound and PCG

Well, it's been awhile, my vacation was pretty good, thank you :).

Meanwhile Starbound team posted some updates. Some thoughts on that. First pickaxes are confirmed. This leads to conclusion that Starbound is definetely a Terraria clone, in a good sense of that. I mean look at Terraria it's a clone itself (of Minecraft of cousrse).

However it's became more and more obvious what will be the feature of Starbound. It's procedurally generated content (PCG). This is not a new thing per se, but Tiy has a vision of moving it to a next level.

Usually PCG is limited to thing which I call 'playfield' (major) and item properties (minor). In Terraria it's, for example, a world (earth) structure. Item properties can be for example some modified items which can then start to glow (enchanted sword, etc). In Starbound, most items itself are created via PCG (more of a pseudo-PCG) which means that not only stats, but visuals of an items are somehow unredictable. This is very cool.

The key question however is how well randoness will be controlled and constrained. By that I mean, that PCG games lacks that soul part of a manually designed worlds. Imagine, for example, Fallout with PCG land. One the one hand each game would be somehow unique, that's a good part. On the other hand, you loose sense of the game world reality. The real worlds are static. So, it's really a challenge for a Starbound team how story mode (if any) will deal with randomness.

Tiy already mentioned some kind of global coordinates which players can exchange with each other and which will lead to exact same location for any player. I assume this coordinates are basically the RNG seed values which will allow to recreate world precisely on another user machine. This feature is already very good.

As a conclusion: so far Starboud is looking pretty awesome! Can't wait to play it.

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