Posted in Gaming, Starbound

Starbound: Beach Resort Colony

I actually have a whole lot to write about from this past weekend, so it was hard to choose which topic to start this week with. I decided that Starbound won out, though, so here’s out space team’s adventure!

I love fishing in any game that I play, so it was exciting to discover the fishing system in Starbound. It’s more of a collectible system than anything else, encouraging you to fish deeper for different kinds of fish. You can only fish on an ocean type planet (ocean, toxic, magma, arctic), so when we found one last week, I quickly built myself the little hut you see up top of this post and tried it out.

This week, Syn and I looked deeper into the colony system and found that the little gifts the NPCs give are actually a form of rent for living there. You get more rent for a colony established on a more dangerous world… so we decided to move our colony from the safe home base world to one of the tropical islands of an ocean world.

During the main quest line, we were prompted to go seek out and learn about Hylotl society. These are fish-like creatures who have a bit of a Japanese bent — from the oriental style building to a love of anime-ish and gaming (they even have a DDR machine).

Ocean worlds tend to be their natural home, and since I liked the aesthetics and feel of the culture, I decided to build our new colony in this style to hopefully attract this race over others. So far, it’s worked!

So, while Amoon and Syn were off risking their tails exploring radioactive worlds for Durasteel, I was building our new resort on an ocean world. Syn likes to call it Pub Med.

Here’s one of the first structures I put down, a larger community building:


Off to the left side is another smaller community building with a few more beds and a PC for public access. I guess they have some form of Wi-Fi here.


The path off the left of that leads down to the water level where I’ve been working on a new fishing hut. I didn’t get to take a screenshot of that, though.

To the right, I put in some garden areas and a little bridge over a pond. We also have a transportation building, where our warp station and pet station sits.


Under this station, I built a glass wall underwater observatory. I haven’t finished decorating it, but just wanted to see what it was like building underwater.


Once we built a pixel printer, which allows you to recreate items that you’ve scanned for a pixel cost, I was really able to start building things I wanted. Previous to that, I was limited to going out and raiding other settlements, swiping their furniture to bring back home.

With no limits, I was able to build the Pub Med Arcade!


I was quite proud of how it turned out with its DDR machine, air hockey table and replica Starbound arcade cabinet! It’s also fun to see the NPCs come in and play on the games from time to time.

I also discovered that sometimes doing quests for tenants inspires them to want to join your ship’s crew. We had this happen twice last night — once from the new colony and once from the previous colony that used to be on our home base.

I feel like moving the colony away from our home base was probably a good idea. There were a lot of NPCs building up in there, on top of our livestock, crafting machine, gardens and other things… so it got a little laggy and confusing.

Having the new warp stations allows us to move between planets instantly, so it’s really no problem at all to move off to Pub Med.

Posted in Gaming, Starbound

Starbound Weekend

I actually have a lot of gaming stuff I’d like to talk about from this weekend, but I’m going to start this week out posting about what I played the most — Starbound.

It’s been a while since I’ve revisited Starbound, though it’s maintained it’s spot as an installed game on my desktop. Syn and I started up a game back when it came out of early access, but the last time I posted about it was back in 2016.

Wow! Has it been that long since we last explored this game?

When Syn asked me what I wanted to play on Saturday, I suggested we take a peek at where we left off in Starbound. I had no idea that a few hours would turn into a whole weekend, or that we’d drag poor Amoon into the game.

Base Building 101

We returned to our old game to find everything still where we left it in our little earthen hovel.


We decided to check out the next of our story quests, which was to find a Floran settlement and scan a bunch of artifacts. Once that was done, we turned our attention to the poor state of our base.

I did a major overhaul of the living area…


And Syn started building up a greenhouse alongside of it.


We got a produce shipment box, which you can hardly see in the dark, but it’s on the top level of the greenhouse. We started to focus on selling produce and food, which is something we’ve never done before. It has a bit of a Harvest Moon vibe to it.

We also bought livestock for the first time!


Starbound With Friends

Later on Saturday, we convinced Amoon to join us in his first Starbound session. He wasn’t so sure about the game due to the art style, but I think he’s more or less enjoyed his time playing so far (I hope).

Syn and I started over on new characters (it’s not as much fun to be twinked out on your first Starbound experience), and we started building a new base on a new home planet. This time, I went directly for a wood base, and we found some neat fairy lights on some random planet, which I brought back with me.


This eventually evolved into a nice little structure with a huge two-tier garden off to the left.


I hired my first ever crew members for my ship, and we added a colonizer do-hickey to the home base that brought in new NPCs. From time to time, the NPCs give random quests — sometimes this brings another colonist, sometimes this just rewards loot bags, and sometimes it actually unlocks new features, such as the Pokemon-like pet capture system.

This little green guy is my first pet. He’s always grouchy. 

We also unlocked the Mech system, which allows you to explore specific spots in space. Sometimes these are just anomalies, sometimes they’re hostile or friendly ships.


It’s a neat system with a light space-shooter vibe. You can build a custom mech when you find the blueprints for upgrades and have the right materials. That’s going to be a while for me, though.

We also did a lot of exploration, including fuel mining on a moon… which gets this crazy purple ghost monster angry at you. Apparently, it gives chase the more fuel you gather.


There’s still so much yet to discover and build in this game. We’ve only scratched the surface, and have hardly finished any of the story at all!

It’s really come a long way from the game that I started playing in 2013. Hard to believe it’s been that long. We always have a good time with it, though!

This sunrise on a tropical island of an Ocean biome world was amazing! 
Posted in Gaming, Starbound

Starbound: Exploring Space in a Sandbox #blaugust2016

This post is a part of Blaugust 2016!

So maybe you’re not sure if No Man’s Sky is right for you, but you still have the itch to explore space in a sandbox environment. Funny enough, while I was playing No Man’s Sky, I kept thinking about Starbound, another space exploration sandbox game… which is a fraction of the cost with a lot more features. I’d liken this game more to Terraria or space Minecraft in style and play.

I’ve been following Starbound since December of 2013 and have played through various development stages since then. It just came out of early access development last month, and I hadn’t yet checked out all the newest changes. So, Syn and I decided to try it out this past weekend.


That age old Lunix (Unix) vs. Portals (Windows) debate… 

Now Starbound may not have the amazing graphics that NMS touts, and it’s a lot more restrictive in the way of piloting your ship (all of the exploration takes place on the planets). But it is also a procedurally generated universe with more planets than you could ever honestly explore. It goes for a pixel art aesthetic, which is quite beautiful in its own way.


It also has an amazing soundtrack.

Unlike NMS, planets have one overall biome, such as Desert or Forest, with many little biomes mixed through them. You’ll find sub-biomes layered within the planet as you dig down, interesting mini-dungeons scattered throughout. Pretty much every planet has something neat about it to explore if you’re willing to look for it.

There are different difficulty levels in Starbound now. If you want the true survival experience, choose Survival where you must eat to survive and you drop items on death. Hardcore means your character is dead-dead when you die. And Casual is for those who just want a laid back exploration experience. The neat thing is that you can still play with your friends even if you don’t all choose the same difficulty level.

Oh yeah, there is multiplayer in Starbound. You can now join a friend’s game through Steam with a pre-exisiting character. Or, you can host your own server or join an existing server for a larger multi-player experience. We’ve seen a little bit of lag in trying to play through the Steam connection, but it seems to vary. Overall, it’s been pretty stable.


Other than exploring cool planets (which is really a lot to do), you can also choose a world and build your own base. Similar to Minecraft, the world is destructible, and you can use materials you find to craft gear, upgrades, objects and structures. There’s no restrictions on what you build, so if you want an airship or castle in the sky, do it. Rather a underground fortress? You can do that, too. Or why not do both?

You can also bring settlers to your base and start your own colony! This is a feature I haven’t dabbled with too much, but I love the idea of it.

In your base, you can farm crops, which you can cook into food for consumption or for selling. You can also raise livestock!

Speaking of creatures, there’s even a Pokemon type mini-game with capture pods.

Oh, and a fully functional music system that uses ABC notation files. Here’s a video of me playing a song from one of my custom ABC files in Starbound, from back over 2 years ago.

The biggest change for the full release is the full, overarching storyline for the game. I’ve played bits and pieces of it during early access, but the team made sure to hold back the real story until now. While it’s just a basic RPG-ish save the world story, it’s enough to frame the universe in a way so that you can still freely explore with some basic direction. I like this approach and appreciate the neat little story woven through.


You start out as a cadet about to graduate to become a Guardian.


And then… Earth is destroyed!


All  you have to your name is a beat up ship and a matter manipulator. And some of those bosses are pretty tough!

Speaking of bosses, I love how the game has added the old beta bosses, like Dreadwing, back as side quests. It’s a nice bit of nostalgia.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the direction Starbound went from early access to release. If this sounds like the kind of game you enjoy, or if you have a copy of Starbound sitting around from the beta days, I highly recommend trying the release version out.


Posted in Gaming, Starbound

Revisiting Starbound


So last night, I was still in the I-don’t-know-what-to-play mood, so I suggested we try Starbound, which Syn and I haven’t played in months. I like to check in on the game every now and then, because I genuinely have a great time playing it, and I like to see all the changes the dev team puts out.

The Starbound site just got an overhaul recently since they’re building up to their big 1.0 release soon. Sounds like there’s going to be a ton of exciting features released, and for a game I’ve followed as long as Starbound, I’m always happy to see progress.

We just took it easy since we were picking up old characters we’d progressed a short way into the game before, but not really far enough to effect anything. The game was a bit confused since I don’t think we were supposed to carry over old characters and worlds, but it worked. It tossed a gardening quest at us (which now requires hoeing and watering crops), and we spent a good bit of our time putting together our typical underground garden.


Once we got the basics of growing food down, I played around with cooking some, and we explored the starter world surface all the way around. We picked up some fairly good weapons and learned that the sword now has a special teleport ability while the spear/staff/tridents have this really cool spinning attack.

All in all, it was just a nice relaxing night exploring, farming, mining and crafting. Something that was much-needed. I’m feeling a bit better, and hoping to get back to my writing for Camp NaNoWriMo today.

Posted in Everquest 2, FFXIV, Gaming, Guild Wars 2, MMORPGs, Sims 4, Starbound

The Art of MMO Character Creation

This is my original character, TsuYa Tai, often just called Tai.


Please excuse the old art. I haven’t drawn any large up-to-date color pieces of him recently (bad me). The wings are optional, but the scythe, snark and grumpy attitude are not.

Tai is a character who created himself over a decade ago. I say “created himself” because he started out as a one-time walk-on character when I was first writing the Dreigiau fantasy series. That turned into a side character, then a head-strong main character, and now one of my most well-developed and most-played figments… including in MMO games.

I am a gal who often plays a guy character in MMOs, but there’s nothing funky going on there. I’m simply an author who really enjoys trying to recreate my characters in a variety of worlds and see how close I can match MMO character creation to the real thing.

A more recent piece of Tai from a Wayrift webcomic frame.
A more recent piece of Tai from a Wayrift webcomic frame.

I decided it would be interesting to explore all the different versions of Tai I’ve created over different MMOs and games. So, I logged in and screenshotted, or found existing screens, of him in all the games I could remember and still had installed. I know there’s a few I don’t have due to being no longer on my computer (Arche Age, Dragon’s Prophet) or not running anymore (Vanguard).

I tend to recreate a number of Tai’s characteristics if I can:

  • melee DPS (scythe classes if possible)
  • dark hair
  • shortest character height
  • wears blue (if possible)
  • sometimes a face scar (if possible)

The following more or less a comprehensive list of Tai’s character over the years of gaming.

Guild Wars 1

Tai’s first MMO iteration was in Guild Wars 1. I had a necromancer version of him at first, but when the Dervish class was released, it was almost perfect for him. Scythe, twirling battle animation, blue robes. Yeah, this did a good job in representing his character.


EverQuest 2

Taii in EQ2 (no three letter names allowed) was a Shadowknight. I really enjoyed the class, but didn’t level him very far. When the free heroic character option came around, I up-leveled him to 80. But I still haven’t played him much since then. I don’t know if there’s a scythe weapon, but I used a generic Specter’s Scythe as a cosmetic weapon override, and gave him black wings for a flying mount.



In LOTRO, Tai is a level 50-something Champion. I couldn’t give him a scythe, so dual wielding blades would have to do. I haven’t played him in a long time, but I was there before the class trees and through a lot of the Champion nerfs and turmoil.



In Neverwinter Online, Tai is a Great Weapon Fighter. Again, no scythe, but a huge blade makes up for it. I haven’t played this game in a while, but here he is with my much-loved Frost Mimic companion!



Not an MMO, but Tai has also appeared in Starbound!



Tai has been in all my Sims games since Sims 2… I was just too lazy to launch and install all my files to get screens of him in the older games. So here’s a Sims 4 version of him, which you often see in my Sygnus Sims Sunday series!


Guild Wars 2

In GW2, Tai is a Warrior. No scythes in this game (yet… maybe one day?), so the glowing blue greatsword takes its place. Also, black wings cosmetics, though they don’t fly.


Final Fantasy XIV

Finally, the newest version of Tai in FFXIV. Here, his main class is Dragoon due to fun melee DPS and huge pole arm weapons. I think this is my favorite game version of Tai because it matches my vision of him more closely than any other game so far.


How Do You Create Game Characters?

Do you have a consistent character design or character name you use across different games (MMO or single player)? Or do you prefer to randomly roll characters to find something you like – maybe you enjoy variety more than consistency?

Do you ever base your characters off of your own original characters or characters from books/movies/games you enjoy? What’s your method?

Posted in Gaming, Starbound

Starbound Releases Winter Update Trailer

Starbound Wallpaper credit to Gamigeek

It was about a year ago when I got into Starbound. It was the first mining/building/adventuring type game that I ever tried, and even with its early access status, I quickly found a lot to love about it. It’s probably my second-most played game in my Steam library – Steam hasn’t tracked all my play time for whatever reason – and I introduced it to several friends who also invested time and had quite a bit of fun with it.

All that being said, I haven’t really played Starbound a whole lot since earlier this year. I know that the development team has been hard at work for months with the next huge update for the game, and it’s something that I’ve been waiting on before creating the universe anew. Unlike other early access games I’ve experienced, Starbound devs seem to choose not to release their content to smaller stable public version updates, though their stream of blogs detail the players with what we have to look forward to in time.

Yesterday, the team released the new winter update trailer, detailing features we can look forward to with their next big release. Consider me hyped for it! I’m really looking forward to revisiting the worlds of Starbound and experiencing all the new content this update will bring.

Posted in Gaming, Starbound

Starbound: A Quick Review

Welcome to Starbound

If you couldn’t tell, a number of the writers here really enjoy the indie game Starbound. It’s currently in a beta phase, though you can purchase and support it through Steam.

What is Starbound?

Just starting out in Starbound

That’s a hard question to answer. It’s a sandbox game in the same genre as Mine Craft and Terraria (though more like Terraria in style). However, rather than just exploring one world, Starbound features space travel with what seems to be a limitless amount of planets to visit.

You start the game by choosing one of a number of races (some alien, some machine, some human), who for whatever reason have lost or left their homeworld. Armed with  just one ship and a matter manipulator, you drop down to an alien planet that’s full of resources, plants, creatures (both friendly and not), and possibly dungeons or mid-bosses. From there, you gather materials, build a quick shelter against the monsters that come out at night, and begin crafting weapons and armor that will support your explorations for treasure, more resources, and exotic locations.

The game itself can be as leisurely or adventurous as you choose. Maybe you want to spend your time mining deep shafts under the ground and discovering why lies beneath the surface of your world. Maybe you want to see how far around your planet you can explore, searching for passages to dungeons or towns with alien creatures. Maybe you want to build up an awesome home base on your planet. Perhaps you just want to hop from planet to planet to see what you can find. Maybe you just want to kill everything that moves…. … and… that’s… fine. I’m not judging you.

While I haven’t meddled much with the mods, I know that Starbound is quite mod friendly and has a large modding community that is doing some amazing things. From creating brand new races to complete town simulation systems, if there’s something you want, you and probably find a mod for it.

Multiplay or Singleplay

Playing Starbound With Friends

What makes Starbound really exciting is that you can host or join a server at any time. This brings your single player character to a universe where you can share the worlds and resources with friends or just other players from around the world.

Hosting a server is really simple. It requires a little tweaking to ports on your router and firewall. But besides that, it’s just a click of a button to launch your server. Friends can join by using your IP address. When they’re done, their characters retain all items and progress (as long as they keep the items on their character or ship), and can take that back to their single player game.

You can also join a server as easily. You’ll find a number of public servers available, as well as the official Starbound hosted servers, if you want to play in a populated universe.

What Starbound is Not

Starbound is not a finished game. I wave the warning flag — this is beta. The game has bugs. There will be a number of big systems and changes implemented in Starbound before the development on this game is complete.

While the team believes that they won’t need to wipe characters or ships anymore, don’t get too attached to things. You can never tell when a game is in beta.

If you want to play this game in its full glory, I suggest waiting until development gets closer to release. The beta bugs have not been very bad for me or my friends — nothing we couldn’t handle. I’ve enjoyed my time playing Starbound, even though I’m fully aware it’s beta (and I have had my character wiped twice). I know that the vision for the game isn’t fully implemented and the version I’m playing now will most likely be completely different from the release version.

But, if you don’t mind testing beta and supporting a young game, I still think there’s plenty of fun to be found in Starbound, even in the form it’s in now. I look forward to seeing what it will become, and am happy to have been a tester and supporter as long as I have been!