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StarForge is a game about gathering resources, building bases, crafting, and surviving on an alien planet. Earth's star is dying and humanity transferred as much technology and resources as possible and left on a one way mission to populate another planet.
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What the developers say:

“We are working really hard on StarForge and we hope everyone enjoys playing the game. We will continue to post regular updates to the game throughout the Alpha, Beta, and Full release periods. By backing us you'll help aid in the development of StarForge and make it the best game it can be. Please also let us know what you want to see in the game on our community hub.”
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Tech Feature 008: Game Engines

April 24th, 2014

As followers of the gaming industry, I’m sure many of you are already familiar with the term “game-engine”, and you hear it being used a lot. However, I bet many of you sometimes wonder quietly to yourselves “what exactly is a game engine? How does it work, and what does it look like?” In what many of you expect, a game engine is similar to a motor engine, it’s what makes the game “go”. Generally speaking, the concept of the game engine exists to abstract the details of doing common game-related tasks, like rendering, physics, input and so that developers can focus on the details that make their games unique. On these grounds, most game engines are designed with a component-based architecture that allows specific systems in the engine to be replaced or extended with more specialized componentry. For instance, a good example of the more specialized componentry in Starforge, is the proprietary Tree Engine used to render and create the trees and foliage in the game. Further to that, other components include physics, often having their own separate engine (Havok, being a good example of a popular physics engine). Having either in-house or specialized components allows for greater control and higher quality output, to deliver the most maximal product possible. Things that the game engine is responsible for are: Loading, displaying, animating models, collision detection between objects, physics, input, GUIs, portions of AI even and audio. However, as mentioned above, game engines can be either a fully integrated suite, include some additional specialized engines, or be entirely comprised of specialized engines to create a custom piece of middleware for use by the developer.






Let’s get into the history of the game engine and how it evolved a little bit, here. Prior to the existence of game engines, games were typically written as singular entities: a game for the Atari 2600 or the Amiga, for example, had to be designed from the bottom up to make optimal use of the display hardware. This was due to memory constraints and the state of the art of hardware at the time, so games had to be fully optimized to utilize every bit of precious memory as efficiently as possible. Third party engines did not become common until the rise of 3D computer graphics in the 1990s when iD software released Doom, as the first truly 3D video game environment. Prior efforts in 3D gaming were using something called vector 3D, which is the equivalent of drawing a cube on a piece of paper, or other flat surface. Such was the popularity of iD Software’s Doom and Quake titles that they rather than work from scratch, other developers began to license the core portions of the software and designed their own graphics, characters, weapons and game content around them. And so the modern “game engine” was born. The separation and creation of a “middleware”, essentially a platform from which the software could be grown and the specific rules and data from basic concepts such as collision detection and game entities, could be kept separate and handled to a greater degree of depth, meant that development teams could grow and specialize. Modern game engines are some of the most complex applications written, and feature several systems interacting with each other to ensure a precisely controlled and maximally leveraged end-user experience. Game engines have also been broadened and made more intuitive to utilize, edit and control, as such is the example with Unity3D, originally a game engine for iOS.


Unity3D is the game engine of choice for Starforge, along with proprietary extensions and plugins to go along with it. Unity is an entire game development ecosystem, essentially. It features a powerful rendering engine, animation system (known as Mecanim), and has a highly configurable editor. The editor allows for quick workflow, real-time modifications to assets, behaviors and other components of the game, a scene view to be able to see and interact with the game environment, and the ability to be plugged into a vast array of tools to get the most out of their project. Another feature that the Unity suite has is a very detailed and deep memory profiler – Essentially a visual representation in real time of what’s going on in the guts of your project, allowing developers to identify performance bottlenecks and bugs.






One last key component related to game engines that will be touched on is the API. As gamers, you may’ve seen this acronym before. API stands for Application Programming Interface. API’s are interfaces that operating systems and libraries provide so that one can take advantage of their particular features. In practice, an API often comes in the form of a library that includes specifications for routines, data structures, object classes and variables. So game engines utilize API’s to perform specific sets of functions or routines to accomplish a specific task or interaction with another software component. To get a little more technical, for object-oriented environments (such as Unity3D), an API is an instruction of how objects work – usually expressed as a set of object-classes, with a list of class methods associated with it, varying depending on the language used. Classes are associated with a set of behaviors that affect real functionality within a program. All the necessary API’s come in the form of an SDK, or Software Development Kit. SDK’s come with all the necessary API’s, tools, scripting interfaces and libraries needed so that programmers can create their games.

So there you have it! What a game engine is, how they came to be, a particular example and how they work! Hope you all enjoyed reading this issue of Tech Feature!

-- Stephen "Hatchling" Smolley

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Week @ Code}{atch

April 19th, 2014

Hey guys,



This one's coming at ya a little later then usual (thanks to typepad's site being mysteriously down Thursday and Friday afternoon), but we promise to have another post delivering some news and developments of the week.



There's been some interesting additions and changes to the game recently (as seen by the zero suit, last week), so we'll be continuing the trend and moving forward with that.

Things that have been worked on this week include:

- Added new drill sounds, drill-refactoring and consolidated drill effects - A system was created for applying status effects to players.

- Doors are now functional, and some come with keypads, yay!

- Damage Regions are being worked on this week as well.

- Throwables are now holdable ahead of being thrown

So, let's discuss!

In the next update, the drill should be functioning a lot smoother and be a bit more nuanced, helping to provide immersion through a bevy of updated sound effects while drilling through the terrain. Also, one small but noticable change is that throwables such as the glow-stick or frag grenade, now appear in the player's hand when selected; as opposed to the old system of being thrown out immediately upon hitting the assigned hot-key.

Glowsticks, everywhere!



There are also new damage regions being developed as well. So in the next update there will be health regions for different parts of the body, and when depleted will affect the player differently. For example, if the health bar on the legs is gone, the player is crippled and slowed drastically, if the health bar on the head is at zero...well, we can all infer what that would mean :/

A few major bugs were cleaned up and fixed over the weekend, and some back-end changes were made to help polish out some of the systems brought in after the latest update. All in all, a fairly productive week here at Code}{atch, thanks for reading and happy Easter!

-- Will

7 comments Read more
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Reviews

"I’ve already played around with its insanely ambitious world-building and baddy-blasting, and I had seen that it was full of promise." -Rock Paper Shotgun
"I've played the game for a bit, and I must say: I am very excited for the future of StarForge." -Destructoid
"It’s remarkably ambitious, but the terrain manipulation already looks fantastic and outer space is gorgeous. This thing has “potential” scrawled all over it." -PC Gamer

Alpha Access

Alpha-access – Be among the first to play StarForge, and help develop the game by providing valuable feedback.


Beta-access & Full Game – Play the StarForge Beta as soon as it is released, in addition to the Steam release of the completed game.

Digital Deluxe Edition


The Digital Deluxe Edition includes Alpha, Beta and Full Game access, as well as the following:

  • Digital Soundtrack* – Enjoy the fully original StarForge soundtrack in high quality digital format.
  • Digital Survival Guide* – Find tips on how to survive the new planet with a comprehensive guide.
  • Digital Concept Art Book* – Enjoy all the concept art that goes into the making of StarForge in high resolution.
  • Exclusive Digital Wallpaper Pack* - Get a bundle of exclusive StarForge high res desktop wallpapers.
* These items will only be available in English and will be distributed digitally upon full release of StarForge.

Join the Founders Club


Get Two Copies of the Game. Get Alpha, Beta, and Full Game access for both your copy and a gift copy you can give to a friend. Each copy has full Founders Club Perks.
  • Founders Club Online Badge*
  • Get all the Digital Deluxe Edition perks* - Digital Soundtrack, Digital Survival Guide, Digital Concept Art Book, Exclusive Digital Wallpaper Pack.
  • Exclusive In-Game Founders Perks* - Enjoy a Unique In-Game Space Helmet, and receive an alternate version of the Axe, Pick-Axe, Pistol, and Winch Gun with unique Founders Skins.
  • Get a Unique Space Station 3D Tileset* - Perfect for building your orbital empire.
  • Instantly get 2 exclusive 3D Tilesets to play with In your game today - "Tree Fort" & "Autumn Leaves" and hide your fort in a shrub - like a true woodsman.
  • Know you helped support StarForge in a major way.
  • Choose to have your name listed in the Founders Club section of the in-game credits**
* These items will only be available in English and will be distributed digitally throughout the development of StarForge and upon full release.
** Name listing will be an automated system introduced before the full release of the StarForge. You will be able to opt into it in-game.

About the Game

StarForge is a game about gathering resources, building bases, crafting, and surviving on an alien planet. Earth's star is dying and humanity transferred as much technology and resources as possible and left on a one way mission to populate another planet. It borrows elements from the Survival, FPS, RTS, RPG, Voxel Builder, and Physics Sandbox genres.

Key Features in the StarForge Alpha:


Procedural Infinite Voxel Terrain - There are no set boundaries in StarForge; the planet will procedurally generate each time you start a new game. The terrain supports plains, mountains, deserts, mountains, caves, overhangs, rocks, and much more. The world is infinite, meaning you will be able to run in a single direction for as long as your computer can support it.

Underground/Surface/Space Gameplay - Build a tower that ascends into the clouds, through the atmosphere, then into space, and do this in real-time with no loading screens. Build orbital stations, then jump down and fall back to the surface and start digging down to the core of the planet. Mine the different ores and minerals found underground.

Dynamic RPG like World - Enjoy dynamic weather patterns, a 24 day and night cycle, and a real time atmosphere. Creatures will also have different behaviors at different times of the day.

Loot and Survive - Before the humans landed countless weapons and armor were sent to Atlas. You will find loot chests littered throughout the land, you will need their contents to survive.

Vehicle Gameplay - Hop on board a 4 wheeled all terrain vehicle with a friend and traverse the world. Or jump into a hovercraft for speedy terrain movement.

Procedural Weapons - StarForge features procedural weapons. This adds a large variety to the weapons you find in the game.

Procedural 3D Tileset - Build anything you want with our unique 3D Tilesets. You can create cities, towns, villages, bridges, forts, and much more. It is also fully destructible! Ramps and stairs are also included.

Physics Sandbox - We are designing the world to be fully dynamic. This currently includes chopping down trees, turrets, and enemies.

Physics Movement - Our movement model is designed closely around the real bio mechanics of biped locomotion; The result is a more human look and feel, and a character that is equipped to intelligently react to dangers far beyond what conventional movement code was designed to handle. It also features a full body IK system.

Resources and Economy - There will be many different resources in StarForge. However, the player can only hold so much at a time. When the player can no longer hold what he mined, he will have to build containers to store them into. This makes resources tangible and gives you the ability to steal other players resources.

Multiplayer & SinglePlayer - We have both modes playable in the game.

Survival - In this mode you are tasked with surviving on the planet. You will encounter enemies, find new blueprints, gather weapons, build a base, and so much more.

Fort Defense - If you're feeling friendlier, you can co-op with your friends in Fort Defense, where you protect your vat from wave after wave of ravenous alien creatures.

Coming Soon (in Development)


Dynamic Building Support - Each material will soon have its own defense and weight settings as well. If you do not build appropriately, then your building will collapse.

Fort Wars - If your the competitive type, you'll feel at home in Fort Wars, a game mode where two teams duke it out in their quest to destroy the opposing team's bases.

RPG Survival - Enjoy emergent gameplay where you land on the planet, meet other players, build villages, and go to war. It's your world and you can do whatever you want in it.

Customizable Characters - We plan on allowing you to armor your character and change his or her appearance.

More Vehicles, Enemies, Weapons, Blocks, Furniture, Fences, etc. - We are constantly developing new content. So you can decorate your house, make your fort tough, and enjoy a variety of new experiences.

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS:Windows XP Service Pack 3, Windows Vista,7,8 (64 bit only)
    • Processor:Intel Dual-Core 2.4 GHz or 2.7 GHz AMD Athlon 64X2
    • Memory:4 GB RAM
    • Graphics:NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT or AMD Radeon HD 3830 or Intel HD Graphics 4000 with 512 MB VRAM
    • DirectX®:9.0c
    • Hard Drive:900 MB HD space
    • Sound:DirectX®-compatible
    Recommended:
    • OS:Windows 7,8 (64 bit only)
    • Processor:Quad core CPU: AMD Phenom II X2 565, Intel Core i5-750
    • Memory:4 GB RAM
    • Graphics:NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 or AMD Radeon HD 7750 with 1 GB VRAM or better
    • DirectX®:11
    • Hard Drive:2 GB HD space
    • Sound:DirectX®-compatible
    • Other Requirements:Broadband Internet connection
Helpful customer reviews
765 of 925 people (83%) found this review helpful
42 products in account
4 reviews
16.3 hrs on record
READ THE EDIT!

It's fun, for around an hour. Then you get bored, wonder what happened to all the features in the trailer. Say "it has potential" for around a month then realize the game is never gonna update. Honestly this is the first game I have ever had that took out good features instead of implementing them. Yes I do agree updates do take time but delaying a update because pallets are blocking digging holes? You gotta be joking... These devs need to realize that alpha is supposed to be buggy and laggy etc. not perfect! Get it later when the devs start adding and not removing features. For now just play some other games.

EDIT: The new update is a real game changer, though performance is off I really like it. I would get the game if it has a sale but if you really want it than get it now. It will be more expensive in the future. The new update introduces a new survival mode and finally has something else fun other than fort defense. Sadly this update has removed creative but I am sure it is coming back better than ever.

EDIT (1/19/14): Well, how long has it been since the last update? Nearly a month and nothing is being said. This is what has happened before. I'm tired of the devs not giving us any news of the updates and no rough release dates. It's really sad that there is little to no communication with the devs when it comes to updates. Now back to the game itself, I find it unenjoyable but you may too. The optimization is worse than ever and I have a decent computer yet it is always running 20 fps. I'm tired of this I want to see the features in the trailer put into the game. It's ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ I was mislead with a pretty trailer of features that were removed because they wanted to upgrade the unity engine. I'm tired of this crap.
Posted: November 26th, 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes No
294 of 365 people (81%) found this review helpful
109 products in account
2 reviews
3.8 hrs on record
Best to steer away from this one, at least until CodeHatch begins launching patches towards making the game playable on a regular basis: it is very common, currently, to see the features that are shown in the promotional videos being promised in the next update. Then the one after that. No, wait guys, we meant the next one! Currently, this game consists of crashes, promises, and frustration. Rapidly approaching vapor-wear, I would await this purchase unti CodeHatch begins taking their game seriously.
With that said, it is Alpha. There is a hope, held tightly by those among us who first backed the game, that CodeHatch will remove their heads from their fourth point of contact, and turn this game into what it could be. However, with their current track record, I would assume 2016-ish. Get it then.
Posted: November 30th, 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes No
300 of 380 people (79%) found this review helpful
438 products in account
4 reviews
3.5 hrs on record
Contains barely any of the content shown in the trailers and the development of the game has pretty much grinded to a halt. The devs are also incredibly rude and insensitive when it comes to customer feedback and general questions about their product. StarForge haa the potential to be something good, however it's spoiled by the lazy developers.
Posted: November 29th, 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes No
173 of 215 people (80%) found this review helpful
44 products in account
4 reviews
1.0 hrs on record
As this game currently stands, I wouldn't buy it. The developers have a ton of amazing plans, but I don't think anyone knows for sure if they will be able to deliver on them. Overall, don't buy it now, wait for the game to get further towards being a game.

Unless you like what you see of the current game, don't buy it now, not even at a sale price. Patience is key. I regret buying it so early, and I will wait and see if 6 months or a year down the road the developers start getting this game to be a game.
Posted: November 28th, 2013
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325 of 439 people (74%) found this review helpful
250 products in account
2 reviews
3.8 hrs on record
Perfect ♥♥♥♥! Bugged, lagging. For half-year from when i bought it, nothing changes.. Where's refund button?
Posted: November 25th, 2013
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