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Minecraft in Spaaaaaace!
May 31, 2012 5:49 AM   Subscribe

Starforge is a game of mining, building and survival. Sound familiar? Wait until you see the video. It's free to play, and the alpha/tech-demo is downloadable right now. (Forum, sub-reddit). Notch approves.

Official site is here, but struggling under the strain of a million nerds trying to get to it at once.
posted by empath (38 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeaaaah, like I really need another time-sink toy to play with. But I am impressed with the results.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:55 AM on May 31, 2012


If you download it, note that it takes well over a minute to start with no indication that it's loading. Don't try to play in windowed mode. There are a lot of commands, take the time to read the guide before close it after it starts.
posted by empath at 5:57 AM on May 31, 2012


Given how poorly minecraft runs for me, I am dubious about something with actually decent graphics. But I thought that was mainly because minecrafts code is shit.
posted by Chekhovian at 5:57 AM on May 31, 2012


There are just three guys developing this - amazing. I think the major difference between this andMinecraft isn't the graphics, 3d or even the space theme, but that it seems more goal and mission oriented, something Minecraft has lacked.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:05 AM on May 31, 2012


@Chekhovian

I've heard this 'Minecraft code is shit' bandied about but to me it mainly seems to come from other devs who are butthurt about Mojang's success.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:15 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


GallonOfAlan: I assume that they are looking at the decompiled Java files? If so, then yea, it's going to look like crap.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 6:21 AM on May 31, 2012


I've heard this 'Minecraft code is shit' bandied about...

I read that comment more as a statement about his graphics card. Or maybe I'm projecting. Since upgrading the identical hardware from Ubuntu to Debian, my accelerated graphics doesn't work, so I can't play Minecraft. Or Starforge.

(But it's still true that at least on the server side Minecraft code is terrible. Over the course of a few hours it takes up literally half my RAM and turns my machine to mole asses.)
posted by DU at 6:23 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well I guess you guys found a way to get rid of me.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 6:27 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


What does Matt Damon think about it?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:32 AM on May 31, 2012


This game is so amazing that it anticipates how bad I'll feel three months down the road after spending countless hours on it, and actually crashes the server to prevent me from downloading it. Now that's an AI!
posted by Shepherd at 6:33 AM on May 31, 2012


I've heard this 'Minecraft code is shit' bandied about...

Having done some digging in the code, and having watched Notch code, I'd say that MC code is not particularly bad, but suffers from having had many features, including multiplayer, bolted on. It's actually pretty impressive that it works as well as it does.

It's the conundrum that the larger the project, the more abstracted the code needs to be to have a clean implementation, but if you put too much abstraction into a small project at the start, it's too hard to make changes, and it will take too long to produce some initial results.

Notch could've started by writing thousands of lines of networking and item interaction code, but would then probably have found that as the game developed, the assumptions in that initial code would be proven to be subtly wrong, wasting the effort. And you'd have to have superhuman motivation to spend weeks and months writing abstractions before ever getting to the point where your character could place a block, not knowing if the basic game ideas even worked.

Since there is now an implementation of "a minecraft", it's now very easy for others to say that they could do it better - of course they could! They've got a template to build on, they know what concepts are needed in the engine, what pitfalls there are, etc. Notch could also write "a better minecraft" at this point - but what we've got works well enough and he understandably wants to do something else with his time.
posted by Zarkonnen at 6:58 AM on May 31, 2012 [22 favorites]


Is this Windows only? (feels quaint asking that these days)

Can't tell because the server is still on fire and the download link is to a raw torrent.
posted by schwa at 7:23 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Windows only for now, but it's unity engine, so it's fairly portable.
posted by empath at 7:29 AM on May 31, 2012


Sadly, I cannot get this to work -- attempts to start the game result in a non-responsive blank Unity window. Fingers crossed for a fix later in the game's lifecycle, as the trailer looks fantastic.
posted by ellF at 7:44 AM on May 31, 2012


It takes a few minutes to load from that unity window, give it more time?
posted by empath at 7:52 AM on May 31, 2012


Interesting: that moment about thirty seconds where the turrets start going crazy well before the human can actually see anything is going to be an early example of one of the defining tropes of 21st century horror, I think. When your tools (turrets, personal network, powersuit, whatever) suddenly go nuts because they need to act on things much further into the dark than your puny human eyes can detect.
posted by mhoye at 7:54 AM on May 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


oh man, I can't wait to try this out!

Torrent link
posted by rebent at 8:32 AM on May 31, 2012


Chekhovian: I've heard this 'Minecraft code is shit' bandied about but to me it mainly seems to come from other devs who are butthurt about Mojang's success.

I have my doubts. There is no sane reason my computer should be able to run Fallout New Vegas fine but occasionally chug on Minecraft. Neither the complexity of the graphics nor the complexity of the physics or simulation is such that it should even challenge modern computers a little.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:48 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


>Yeaaaah, like I really need another time-sink toy to play with. But I am impressed with the results.

This thing looks genuinely tempting.

I'm not touching it.

I wonder how long it'll be before game achievements are routinely linked to real-world retail discounts, or, more to the point, how long it'll be before you're effectively price-penalized when buying, say, auto insurance, for not having an account with gaming network A, B, or C.
posted by darth_tedious at 9:05 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have a mirrored torrent link? That one's gone blown up.
posted by TonyRobots at 9:06 AM on May 31, 2012


Is the title Starforge or Sondzorge? I couldn't tell from the ugly-ass title screen.

That's really picking nits, though, but I am quite curious to know how this plays on normal computers that haven't been optimized to create the game.

Anyone had a chance to play?
posted by Tevin at 9:21 AM on May 31, 2012


You can fall from the space station you made, into the atmosphere of the planet it revolves around, to the surface of that planet. With no load screens.

Completely. Sick.
posted by Poppa Bear at 9:24 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


This looks fun. It's clear now that Minecraft has spawned a new genre of game. I'm looking forward to the first mainstream studio game inspired by Minecraft, I wonder what someone with a $20M budget can do. The voiceover in the trailer is guilty of overambition, I fear. It's Minecraft! And an RTS! And an FPS with RPG elements! And it's all infinite and online and ranked! Once they get down to the reality of making a fun game they'll have to focus in a bit, and then we'll see.

The early Minecraft code written by Notch is absolute crap. Well, the code itself has bits of brilliance, but he regularly released completely untested terrible things with stupid facepalm bugs that 5 minutes of testing would have caught. He's a brilliant coder but completely undisciplined. About a year ago Jens took over a lot of development and there's a whole team and quality has gone up significantly. But all of that code quality stuff is secondary; what matters is that Minecraft was brilliant and worked well enough to capture millions of people. It's a rare success.

For perspective, here's Notch's Minecraft tech demo from 2009. "This is a very early test of an Infiniminer clone I'm working on. It will have more resource management and materials, if I ever get around to finishing it."
posted by Nelson at 9:25 AM on May 31, 2012


Ok, the video talks about Survival Mode and Fort Wars. The wikia has links to Fort Wars and Sandbox mode, that go to no-content pages. What I want to know is does this thing have something akin to Minecraft's Creative Mode where I can explore without having to worry about shooting things?
posted by radwolf76 at 9:37 AM on May 31, 2012


Oh, man, this looks like trouble.

Is the title Starforge or Sondzorge? I couldn't tell from the ugly-ass title screen.

Yeah, but it has radial symmetry, so you'll be precisely as confused if you turn your monitor upside down!
posted by cortex at 9:49 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


mhoye: "Interesting: that moment about thirty seconds where the turrets start going crazy well before the human can actually see anything is going to be an early example of one of the defining tropes of 21st century horror, I think. When your tools (turrets, personal network, powersuit, whatever) suddenly go nuts because they need to act on things much further into the dark than your puny human eyes can detect."

I disagree. Without even thinking very hard, the radar scopes in "Aliens" ('86) were a tremendous terror tool and solidly 20th century cinema. It's not particularly new nor specific to recent story telling. Machines have been taking over all available roles, real and fictional, whether it be working on assembly lines, waging war, or detecting werewolves.

There is a nice twist for horror in that a machine ally still leaves you alone to face the terror but I don't think it's a particularly 21st century cinema thing.

...the game? Oh, that looks like fun.
posted by chairface at 9:55 AM on May 31, 2012


Anyone had a chance to play?

I did. It's just a tech demo, you can spawn in some turrets and monsters and build and dig, but there's no game in what they released.

I am curious if they have the networking code figured out. Seems like a lot of entities to keep track of, especially with full physics for everything. Just the trees alone seem like a major problem.
posted by empath at 9:58 AM on May 31, 2012


Played it. Camera is pretty wonky; there are massive clipping issues with it, and the perspective is very fish-eyed. The graphics are also very, very grainy; I suspect that's because it's a voxel-based procedural world, rather than a polygonal one? As empath says, there is no game here yet, just an empty, soundless planet with some halfway decent ideas.

Not a knock on the devs; given some time, this could be ironed out and result in a great experience.
posted by ellF at 10:13 AM on May 31, 2012


I'm having a bit of trouble selecting different tile sets. "Hold down E"... yeah, I do that, but it keeps reverting back to boxen.
posted by rebent at 10:16 AM on May 31, 2012


rebent: "I'm having a bit of trouble selecting different tile sets. "Hold down E"... yeah, I do that, but it keeps reverting back to boxen."

Holding down E should bring up a menu that you can select from. two different types of wood and stone it seems.

Also, on my first play through, had a leech come up to me without me having to spawn one first. Maybe that's because I dug through past the bedrock and wrapped around into the space above, I don't know.

Also, the placement for spotlights and turrets leaves much to be desired. You have no feedback on where they're going to go, and no way of deleting them when you have them in place.
posted by radwolf76 at 10:34 AM on May 31, 2012


Without even thinking very hard, the radar scopes in "Aliens" ('86) were a tremendous terror tool and solidly 20th century cinema.

I disagree, as you might expect - the key differences between that situation and this one is that the radar was passive - it was a high-tech version of hearing the footsteps getting closer, not the machines taking a suddenly active role in the attack (and, hence, the narrative).

That's what makes it interesting - the automated, incredibly aggresive response, and the human suddenly going from "alone in the dark" to "in the middle of this incredible firefight" without really understanding why or even seeing what they're shooting at.
posted by mhoye at 11:03 AM on May 31, 2012


Aliens did have sentry turrets in the tunnels. The remaining squad members could hear them shooting while they were barricaded. Although the camera did also shift so that the audience could see them shooting aliens, you could barely see them in the tunnels because of all the smoke and exploding aliens. it has been done before (IMHO).

Anyway, this game looks interesting. I'd be cool to see if the 'engine' could incorporate something like commander/team RTS/FPS like Nuclear Dawn. Even a survival mode could be a lot of fun with a bunch of people playing.
posted by kookywon at 12:51 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are worse game ideas out there than "minecraft with hydralisks."
posted by sparkletone at 2:27 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Looks cool, but the viewport invariably goes black after a few seconds to a couple minutes.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:58 PM on May 31, 2012


Aliens did have sentry turrets in the tunnels. The remaining squad members could hear them shooting while they were barricaded. Although the camera did also shift so that the audience could see them shooting aliens, you could barely see them in the tunnels because of all the smoke and exploding aliens. it has been done before (IMHO).

There was actually a scene that was cut from the theatrical release where they're setting up those turrets.
posted by heathkit at 6:41 PM on May 31, 2012


snuffleupagus: "Looks cool, but the viewport invariably goes black after a few seconds to a couple minutes."

Do You Want Your Possessions Identified? (Y/n)
posted by boo_radley at 9:26 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Zarkonnen: "It's the conundrum that the larger the project, the more abstracted the code needs to be to have a clean implementation, but if you put too much abstraction into a small project at the start, it's too hard to make changes, and it will take too long to produce some initial results. "

Obligatory XKCD
posted by schmod at 10:19 PM on May 31, 2012


Also if you are interested in neat minecraft-esque games, check out wollay's Cube World, which looks pretty amazing.
posted by boo_radley at 10:30 PM on May 31, 2012


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