The article uncovers the intent behind ’empty by design,’ procedurally generated planets in Bethesda’s game ‘Starfield,’ and shares insights on various game elements from Starfield’s developers. …
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Defending Starfields Procedurally Generated Planets
Starfield, the latest space epic featuring over 1,000 procedurally generated planets, has fueled non-stop online discussions. Notably, these vast landmasses' perceived 'emptiness' has been a significant talking point. However, a Bethesda developer has chimed in, stating that certain planets in the game are empty by design in response to players' criticism from platforms like Steam.
One player, Soso, spent 93 hours in Starfields universe only to describe it as a 'major step back,' criticizing the quests, combat system, and the 'extremely empty' planets. In response, Bethesda's developer, under the username Bethesda_FalcoYamaoka, retorted that the barrenness is part of the game's appeal. As per FalcoYamaoka, the alien landscapes are intended to evoke a feeling of insignificance or 'smallness' against the vastness of space.
The Intention Behind Starfield's 'Empty by Design' Planets
The developer further adds that the intent is to 'overwhelm' the player with the gigantic scale of the universe. They also offered some tips on enhancing the gaming experience in Starfield, including building outposts early and fiddling with ship-building.
However, the user's reviews also pointed out issues with enemy-level scaling and the following repetitions. In a typical Bethesda fashion, the developer recommended completing quests that grant you special powers if you want to feel 'OP' (overpowered). They added, 'If you don't feel unstoppable, then we are not sure you will feel like that in any game.'
Decoding the player-developer discourse on Starfield
These interesting counterpoints shed light on the developer-player tussle and how game design ideas can sometimes get lost in translation. Starfield planets can elicit feelings of loneliness, daunting vastness, and a sense of God-less cosmos – but does this stand when you land on the 1000th planet? Is it exciting to scan 16 different trees to level up an ability?
Bethesda patrons are discovering these aspects independently. Todd Howard, Bethesda's executive producer, has stated that he designed Starfield to be played for years. Its vastness, mods, and expansions may ensure this longevity, although some players have already decided it's not for them and switched back to Bethesda's classic offerings. In contrast, Starfield's launch day was the most successful for Microsoft's Game Pass, indicating the game has found its audience.
Ultimately, a former Starfield developer has admitted that 'exploration didn't come through' as they had hoped, primarily due to the sheer number of explorable planets. It appears that the balance between the games design philosophy and the actual user experience, therefore, remains a subject of debate within and outside Bethesda.
Image Source: www.starfielddb.com