Game NOT recommended.
This negative review is a placeholder, and is still in early access.*
(*May be subject to change, and may change in any number of different directions. While this review may be a dry wall of text not recommending it now, it could change! Maybe into an exciting picture, an action adventure platformer game, dating sim, puzzle, VN, 3D shooter, blockbuster movie, critically acclaimed best selling epic trilogy of books, or even a positive review! Hype, hype, hype! Features may be added and removed. Such is Early Access. Better like it now, and like it even if it changes, 'cause your stuck with it.)
When I got this game in 2013, it was little more than a planetary strip mining sim. Now, it's also an annoying tutorial fetch quest game, too. They had a great idea, but has never gone beyond "meh" level for me. The base game should be great alone. My only hope is that modding doesn't die off completely, and modders can make something good out of it. Shouldn't have to be that way on their flagship title. It has not lived up to it's potential or hype.
A game is nothing with out its developers. So I don't recommend anything they touch, now, either.
Everything in the game is a placeholder as said by the developers. Placeholders are a staple of tech-demos, early alphas, and alpha games, not so much for betas. Some betas may have placeholders, but not as every feature! And what beta game has everything been stated as a placeholder? Only Starbound. Some people paid to playtest, to help them out. What is the point if "everything is a placeholder"? They can't make a commitment to what will be in the game, or what the game is supposed to be? Sure seems like it.
So much for a design document. Keeping that 'secret' only gives them a great excuse to keep doing, well, whatever it is they do. They don't want to spoil the end? Is it going to be that bad? Why even sell it, then? Perhaps the rumors are true. There never was one. Would explain all the changes of story and game direction. Best they have shown is a flow chart. A simple flow chart is not a design document.
One of the points of early access is to playtest, bug test, and give feedback. Note the absence of the developer presence on the only legal distributor of the game. The place that hosts the Early Access program that protects them. Everyone has to have Steam to get a legitimate copy, don't they? Don't forget this game had a pre-order, with no definite word if there would even be a beta release, or if there would be anything other than a finished game.(Or even be on Steam.) I'm scared to even think what little broken content there would have been had they released it back then. Good thing they found Early access! It is probably better that we'll never know what a they wanted to sell us originally.
There is also is/was the launcher bug that tracks additional time NOT played. They knew about it, and did nothing. It is in the developers best interest to let other people think owners are playing far more than they really are. I only wish this game was fun enough to put 300+ hours into. Not even close. Steam game tracking is notorious for being wrong, but being a smart cookie, you already knew that.
Or maybe you have a magic crystal ball of science magic? Then you also know what my other games real times are, too? I have many that have been played but haven't been tracked. I have games that should have even more time on them, too. You must also have that research paper/scientific study done on hours played equaling fun, too. Oh, that one doesn't exist. Sorry.
Indie used to mean independent of a publisher. CF is now a 'publisher'. Don't worry, they like to redefine words a lot, as they are a special snowflake. They sold a tech demo/pre-alpha as a beta. One year is soon in chuckle-time. Almost done in 2012. A road map that showed far more completion of things not yet done. Mock-up of things that were never to be in game. A bit of honesty would have gone a long way! Seems more marketing and hype was done, rather than work on the game.
One of the worst thing is really all the whiteknighting fans who have no understanding of the Early Access program. They are allowed to troll other fans and attack any feedback that could possibly be negative, even if it isn't. If someone has a problem or idea, they can expect to be attacked. These trolls don't even get a warning. Very poor moderation at best, even when they have their own moderators on the Steam forums, that is. They do come by and do forum cleanups, got to make the forums look 'clean' for a sale or update. Other developers have good and helpful Steam communities. Too bad they fostered the very toxic community they ignore. They must want it this way, as they have the power to change it, but don't.
But hey, it's all a placeholder anyway. Wonder if we will ever get the REAL game? Maybe that will be good?
Just remember, it's all your fault. Steam and Chucklefish have said so.
Two good things did come from Starbound for me.
1) I met a lot of cool friends, (some who like the game, some that don't) many who I would not have met otherwise. Can't put a dollar value on that.
2) Looked into the Steam Early Access policy. Learned that it's just some toothless guidelines that allow for developer misbehavior. Steam cares more for it's real customer, other game developers, than the consumer. Some developers have great work ethics and can deliver. The other bad developers are protected, and they get a golden parachute. Only the worst offenders get pulled from the store. Pity, the idea is good, but its implementation has no consumer protection. Perhaps Early Access is in early access, too. Regardless, I won't make another purchase for a 'maybe' game. Saved a bunch of money and disappointment by not buying many program failures. Like: The Stomping Lands, Spacebase DF-9, StarForge, among others. Sucks for the good developers who use the program as intended. If I cant trust Steam and VALVe to stand by the products they sell in early access, I just won't buy them. Simple.
Still wonder when I'll get that game that was hyped. What I have now is not that game.
For those who don't like to read, online forums tend to rely on the written word. Seems like all forums are filled with words. Why are you even here, then? As for walls of text, libraries and books must not be your thing, then, too? Are you such a vidiot that the presence of written or typed words make you angry? I don't disagree that the reliance on only one form of media is the best rout, as one should seek as many outlets as possible to make a truly informed decision. I don't personally put a lot of stock into youtubers that get free games to test and positively endorse. Nor does peoples monetizations of their YouTube accounts give me any confidence that the goal of the videos is simply to inform... only to entertain and make money. Take everything with a grain of salt, even this wall of text. Yet, information is power. Had I and others known all of the available information that was buried and hidden out there at the time, not listened to people who held only positive opinions, and not seen positively slanted 'lets plays'... many would not own the games now, myself included. Much info was found in hindsight looking for answers that few seemed to have at the time and the developers would not take the time to answer. But why does one even need to spend countless hours researching all of the internet, when a honest developer could lay out an informational bonanza of truth in one place? Seems odd over a game, down right shady, in fact.