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[Table] IAMA full time Indie games developer, head of Chucklefish Games. Lead dev on Starbound + previously artist on Terraria. AMA

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Date: 2012-08-19
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Questions Answers
Well, will you actually control and fly spaceships in Starbound? And what is your motivation for making games? Have you started thinking of your next project? Any idea on the genre it would be? What indie project are you following right now? What's the most complex spriting work you've ever done? Right now spaceships are more of a planet link, though you will be able to get inside them and play with the controls. A lot of people are saying they desire actual space travel gameplay, so we're looking at adding it to our post release update schedule. But right now we're focusing on the planet driven gameplay.
We've not really discussed a next project yet but I've wanted to do a multiplayer harvest moon/rune factory style game for a while.
I'm following secrets of grindea a lot at the moment, the game seems really tight. Also under the ocean looks really pretty, but I haven't actually had a chance to play it yet. Finally I'm eagerly awaiting the multiplayer update on tower climb.
The hardest spriting I've done has probably been anything that requires 4 legged animation. It makes my brain hurt. Luckily Starbound has much better artists than me working on it!
Also on the Terraria website you once mentioned that pets may be coming soon. Do you think pets will be added to Starbound? It's going to be possible to capture almost any monster in Starbound and have them fight by your side.
Is there even the slightest hint on when the game will be out? Also i love you. We're aiming for the end of the year. I love you too.
What did you dislike most about Terraria, and how will you go about fixing that in Starbound? The games actually play very differently. I wouldn't say Starbound is a Terraria sequal, so it's difficult to say I'm going to improve on X Y Z.
That said, I think a problem with Sandbox games in general is that they become a little dull once you've experienced all the content. When you're discovering new things, new items or new recipes there's a thrill there that disappears eventually.
My goal with Starbound is to keep that thrill going indefinitely.
What do you look like in real life? I like to think of you as a slimmer, younger version of Malcolm Reynolds , with or without the coat. This is a picture I sent in response to a magazine asking for a photo of me. Link to i.imgur.com
That, and I really enjoyed Terraria, and can't wait for Starbound! They printed it unedited >:D.
You are now RES tagged as "MR. HANDSOME". TIL you can tag people on RES! Thank you!
You look a little high in this picture. Are you? Maybe.
How did you come up with the name of your company, Chucklefish LTD? I was at the aquarium one day and this fish looked as if it were laughing at me.
What's your favorite aspect of making indie games? My favourite aspect is seeing an idea just come to life. Sooner or later it begins to evolve beyond your initial concept and takes on a life of it's own. You just have to try your best to steer it.
Is there any possibility of being able to pre-purchase Starbound and get beta access once it gets to a stage where it is in a properly playable state? We're still talking about this internally. On one hand betas are great for feedback.
On the other I feel as if some people purchase a game in beta on the basis of what they hope the game will become, rather than what it actually is. It would be good to deliver a product and let people know exactly what they're buying before they put down any cash.
That said, I expect Starbound to evolve for a long time post release. So perhaps I should just do it. The debate goes on.
When did you start designing art in the style of Terraria/Starbound? Was it Pre-Terraria or was Terraria the start of the style of drawing? The art style in Terraria was purposefully low-fi and I think it completely fit the concept of the game but it was my first attempt at that style of pixel art. Here's the one that we found most inspiring for Starbound's art style I think: Link to www.gamesetwatch.com (sorry I couldn't find the original link).
Hey Tiy! I know you can't give any details, but how many playable races can we expect? And will there be any racial bonuses that effect gameplay or will it be mostly an aesthetic choice? We're aiming for around 6 for release. Races are largely aesthetics only. Giving them bonuses isn't difficult, but I hate presenting a player that has never played the game before with an early choice that will affect the rest of the game for them.
One thing that is unique per race is the visuals used when they craft basic objects. So an Avian will craft an Avian chest whilst a human crafts a human chest.
I have a few questions. The terrain generator has a ton of settings that we haven't really shown off yet, it's capable of generating mountains, canyons, hills, flats, chasms, etc. It's also capable of building very different tunnel systems. Sometimes these two systems come together to produce really cool, unique and alien terrain.
For Starbound, does the terrain generator generate REALLY WEIRD stuff? Not just regular rolling hills, but stuff like floating islands, sideways trees, floating water blobs, etc.? I'm happy to say it never looks "broken" though, it's intelligent generation.
Aaaand third, did you expect Starbound to get such a big reaction to its development? I didn't expect such a big reaction, we're all just doing our own thing. But I'm very thankful for it and I'm going to make sure the game is awesome.
(Fourth: what's your favorite type of weather? sun, overcast, rain, snow, thunderstorms, etc.) I love the thunderstorms in the game right now, archvince worked on generating lightning in real time, the sky gets much more cloudy, trees sway in the wind and it pours with rain. It's very atmospheric.
What are some of your favourite video games of all times? I'm massively into fighting games. So any of the capcom classics, street fighter 3/4 etc. As a kid I grew up on the (good) sonic the hedgehog games, mario games, snes rpgs and a bunch of classic C64 stuff.
Do you play other games? What are they? (board games, P&P RPG, anything) My mrs gets me to play boardgames now and then, Carcassonne is a great game. I haven't had a chance to try a P&P RPG before..
Is game development going according to plan? As in, have there been any major hiccups? Largely according to plan for a long time now. Honestly all the difficult mind bending parts have been completed, so it's just a case of trucking along.
How will the main space station in Starbound work? The space station is still heavily under development, so a lot is in flux there. That said I'll tell you where it sits right now.
The space station is the games hub, it serves as a meeting point, a place to conduct research, a cooperative building and management activity and more.
In servers with open PVP enabled, it serves as the only place in the universe that's completely safe. There are no hostile monsters and players can't damage each other. But outside of the station the games takes on a bit of a DayZ feel. With players forming groups, building their own homeworlds and making up the rules as they go. Other players could become valuable allies or dreaded space pirates, it's up to the players.
Everything I've said so far is up in the air, but that's it's current purpose.
How many players could be on a server at a given time? If your server could handle anything, what would the max be? It's entirely down to the server specs, there's no real built in max right now. Although the game runs well on low spec machines presently (60fps on a basic macbook air), it's actually completely unoptimised at the moment, so we haven't done any stress testing yet.
How did you get into developing indie games? The first game I worked on was actually a mod for unreal tournament. From there I joined a couple of open source games which really helped me to understand the development process and confirmed for me that this is what I wanted to do with my future.
I think largely getting into indie development now is about having a good idea, having a skill that contributes to the construction of that idea and having the ability to inspire people so they'll join your cause.
Will starbound feature steamworks? like cloud saving, matchmaking, achievements, steam server and so on? or do you guys build your own server infrastructure? I can't talk about that yet, sorry :(
I know Starbound will have random weapons, But there will be also unique weapons? I think the charm of Terraria was that every weapon was different and had its own characteristics. We're drawing a bunch of unique special weapons too :)
Are there different types of ammunition besides "energy" and "normal"? If yes, can you give examples? We've kept ammunition extremely simple so it doesn't turn into inventory management hell. However the way the gun FIRES that ammunition will differ per gun.
How mining will work in Starbound? Can we make machines / robots to mine automatically ? There are no automatic mining machines in game at the moment, though vehicles are on the table, so it's entirely possible we could add a mining vehicle.
I'm a big fan, can we expect space ships? My curiosity got the better of me. There are spaceships in the game, their primary purpose at the moment is to take you from one planet to another and carry any crew you want to take with you.
On that same note, can we expect any major customization from the spaceships? Regardless though that sounds awesome. We're going to try to work in some spaceship customization if we have time. Ideally spaceships will provide a mini base when exploring an alien world and give you a bunch of benefits.
How will the weapons be balanced? Weapons are intrinsically balanced through the generation system.
How will interplanetary travel work in multiplayer games? Capture the flag style games will be part of the arena asteroids, might have to wait until post release though.
How will melee weapons work in Starbound? There are energy weapons in Starbound that take from the players overall energy pool. There are healing items for teammates.
Melee weapons are interesting as there's blocking and counter attacks.
There are no coop arena modes at the moment, but that could change post release.
No hired helpers, but you can capture monsters.
Weapons are procedurally constructed both in terms of their visuals and their stats. They also fire or handle differently, every gun is different.
If you want to form a band of evil space pirates and go around attacking other players homeworlds you can do that.
What advice do you have for someone getting into the game development industry? Make friends, learn a valuable skill, don't be afraid to make an ugly prototype of your idea to show it works. Joining open source projects is a great entry point.
What is your favorite game/mod that you've made? Haha well honestly my favourite game right now is Starbound, I'm having a blast developing it. I also still love a mod I made a long time ago for unreal tournament 2004 called Deathball Tennis.
Will there be a playable demo for Starbound? I'd like to put out a demo at some point.
When are you aiming to release Starbound? We're aiming to release the game by the end of the year, but will take as long as it requires for it to be fully baked.
What platforms are currently planned for the release of Starbound? Just Windows, or are you considering OS X and/or Linux? It already runs natively on OSX and Linux. Hell it runs at 60fps on a macbook air :) So, windows, osx and linux.
How do you plan on showing people, customers, that starbound is more than a terraria 1.5 (or even 2)? how is the game different? I think it'll become pretty clear once we show off more of the gameplay, we've been taking our time with the initial impression because it's such an important one.
Outside of all the different features..
Gameplay in Terraria was more jump and run, classic platformer. Gameplay in Starbound attempts a slower, more strategic approach. We've actually been looking at games like dragon's age and guildwars whilst working on the combat and spelunky with the underground portions.
Some of my work is on fortytwopixels.net. Cool stuff, I like the back to the future art.
Is that still in on release? That's still in for release.
has it been relegated to a post-release feature? Worlds loop like pacman.
Also, will the worlds have a horizontal end like Terraria or will it just loop to the other side like, say Pacman? Alpacas are cool.
Do you think that you will be happy with the game's progress and release it by the end of the year as it's been said? or do you think it will need more time. It's looking good for the end of the year at the moment, but I'll just take as long as it needs to be polished and sexy.
Do you have an actual copy of Terraria? The sound guy who did an AMA a while ago didn't have his own copy. :( I have a copy yeah! I'll see if I can send one to the composer.
Is the game expansive enough that you could settle down on a single planet and get enough resources from that planet that you could play on it as if it were a similar game to Terraria? The engine certainly supports planets of that expanse. But it's actually something we've been experimenting with recently. Starbound supports a bunch of "biomes" at the moment, and the same biome is different on a per planet basis.
So we're thinking that perhaps making a single planet so expansive might be a bad idea. We want players to explore multiple planets and see how a forest can look on various alien worlds. On top of that, the great thing about encouraging the player to keep moving is that planets can become throwaway. That allows us to do things like blow them up completely or have meteor showers that completely destroy the landscape.
The important part is making sure the player isn't disturbed by those elements once they decide to set up a home base.
Will you be adding a modding API to the game for launch, or perhaps post-launch? Even the simple ability for hosting players to add new skins, sprites and objects to the game world would be fantastic. Minecraft still doesn't have chair or table objects for simple decoration purposes. We'll be adding a fully fledged modding API post release, but the way the engine is built makes it incredibly easy to add new objects, monsters, weapons, etc etc. With zero programming knowledge required. I'll see if we can allow access to that for release.
How many cats feature in Starbound? Rho has added a lot of cats.
What's the origin of your alias Tiyuri? It's from a blues song :)
Can you make a workshop like TF2 or Dota2(place where you can show your monster sprites and concepts and if many people upvote this it will be in a game?) The game would work really well with these kind of additions. I'll see what I can do.
How do you react when people call Terraria a copy of Minecraft? (It really isn't in case anyone was wondering). By the way Starbound looks amazing! Well I think minecraft is the key player in something that's become it's own genre. You can draw the same comparisons between any two games that share a genre.
In Starbound, there are ton of features and goals that's gonna be planned for the game. Aren't you worried about that it's gonna be too much work or is that in control? Honestly it's pretty much under control. The large majority of those features are already complete and everything challenging is already done.
So what awesome stuff should we expect to see in Starbound? Besides, well, Starbound? Lots of penguins.
Will there be a kickstarter, buying the beta (the same way as minecraft) or anything like that? This game looks really promesing. I haven't planned a kickstarter, I'm also from the UK so I don't think I'm able to do one?
Have you considered bitcoins as payment method? I don't know enough about bitcoins at the moment.
If we could only try one Indie game, what would you suggest? Oh god, just one? Hmmm.. Spelunky maybe? It has a ton of replay value.
Where there any armor sets in Terraria that were unreleased or not added into the game, but were actually drawn? And could We see them? NDA stuff :( I'm sorry.
B. Will there be stronger or better versions of unique weapon mods (for instance, split bullets could be improved to a double split, 25% extra speed mod to 35%, etc) C. Will there be a way to make pets stronger, or do we need to get a stronger pet? I. Will there be any areas with alternate physics? There should be... Players have a form of digital currency that they can't hide in a chest, it's always with them, attached to the player. There are good gameplay reasons for this decision. Mods will have variants There will be ways to make pets stronger.
D. Can pets die, or be gone forever? Pets can't die forever.
E. Can you capture bosses? G. How do you capture pets? You can't capture bosses.
As a closing note, transmutation abilities or spells. I wanna turn into a dragon, or an elemental. Or maybe a living explosion. Anything that makes me the uber cool god of everything I touch. You know what I'm talking about. I do know what you're talking about ;)
How is the difficulty of the game? One of the reasons I loved Terraria was that hard mode was actually really hard - in an enjoyable way. Can we expect the same? Depending on server settings the game can be very difficult.
Side question, do you get annoyed at the constant comparisons to Terraria? Not annoyed, but I do think people will see it's a very different game once they get to give it a try themselves.
Server settings? are you allowed to explain that in more detail? :D. We plan for a survival mode, that requires food/water at some point, open PVP mode and so on.
Hello Tiyuri! sorry if this has been asked already, but is there a decided price on release? D: i'm probably blind! but I suppose it's better to ask than be ignorant. keep up the good work, loving the looks of Starbound! Probably $9.99-$15.00 depending on what the distributor suggests. Thank you for the support <3.
Do you make only the art for Starbound or do you work on other parts of the game as well? I direct the game as a whole as well as implement content and draw some art. The other artists are far better than me though, so they do all of the difficult stuff.
It has been mentioned earlier that you will be able to visit your friends' planets using sets of coordinates, but I never saw any confirmation as to how: Will you actually visit your friends' planet and play with them like multiplayer, or will it function like seeds in Minecraft where it just generates a planet similar to your friends' that you visit alone? Coordinates are indeed like seeds in minecraft. For you to actually meet your friend there, you'd need to be on the same server.
I've noticed that enemy appearances vary quite a bit, but what about their AI and behavior? How much will enemies differ behavior-wise from each other? This one has been eating at me for some time: for the different threat levels, will enemy types be selected in accordance to those threat levels? (Would enemies appear more threatening on harder threat level planets than easy threat level planets?) Enhancing weaponry is still up in the air, on one hand it takes away from finding new stuff.. on the other, it's cool. Enemy AI and behaviour is rather varied. Monsters have different ways to attack, different stats based on their construction and different Diablo/Torchlight style behaviours, such as "runs away when low on health" Enemies will be more threatening on the higher threat level planets.
Will bosses be procedurally generated as well? Bosses will be.
I'm curious as to what framework/engine and language Starbound is written in. Terraria was written in C# with the XNA framework, is it the same for Starbound? Starbound is written from scratch in C++
I am not sure if it breaks the NDA, so if it does I'm sorry. In the FAQ you have mention that it is possible to ride a machine. Are there any flying machines besides the land machines? There aren't yet, but I would like there to be.. so there probably will be.
Tiyuri: Gameplay in Terraria was more jump and run, classic platformer. Gameplay in Starbound attempts a slower, more strategic approach. We've actually been looking at games like dragon's age and guildwars whilst working on the combat and "spelunky" with the underground portions. The underground varies from planet to planet, some are complex and some are not. The depth also varies but it is rather deep. Resources vary as well.
Spelunky eh? So then does this mean that the underground will be much more expansive and complex than Terraria's was? If so then I must know, in some at least estimated measurement, just how deep will the underground go? Will it vary from planet to planet? Also Will resources from the different planets actually be different from one planet to another? And lastly, also sorry for so many questions xD , how will server play work? Will anyone be able to go to any planet they wish and, if so, how is each planet saved in the system? Such as how Terraria saves everything to a map and Minecraft saves everything per chunk. Will Starbound save each planet to its own file? Players on a server can go to any planet they wish. Different players on different planets works fine. The server saves the difference between the seed + the changes the player has made.
What is your role as lead developer? Do you do any programming etc? or work on idea and concepts that make the game more interesting, or stick to art / project managing roles? I do a little bit of everything, I work on the art, implementation, etc. I guess most importantly I keep the project on track.
How deep storyline Starbound will have? We're hoping for a light hearted story with lots of lore. You can examine any object in the game to get a description, point and click style, so the lore plays a part there too.
What programming languages or programs do you use to make video games? Do you have any thoughts on Multimedia Fusion 2? What is your advice for others to be as awesome as you? And who is your favorite My little Pony? I've worked on games using a number of languages, currently we're using C++. Multimedia fusion 2 is as good as the games it produces and there have been some superb MF2 games. I think it's only really the end product that matters.
I've been told to say Derpy Hooves
If Chucklefish needed a programmer right now, what qualities would you look for? The most important thing we look for in a programmer is the ability to get things finished. We meet a lot of extremely talented coders who get so wrapped up in the complexity of their programming they never actually just get anything shipped. To prove you're that kind of person, a portfolio of finished work is absolutely the best thing. Even if the work itself is somewhat simple.
Also, how much do the artists and programmers interact and what's the office environment like? The artists and programmers interact non stop, we're all good friends, we spend a lot of time playing games together and otherwise goofing around.
Haha thanks for the answer. I think artists and programmers alike can get stuck on the "just one more tweak and..." stage. I look forward to playing Starbound! I'll try and make it really easy, maybe a radio item or something that plays music files in a specific directory.
Is there any future in game development for the Microsoft XNA platform, or do you consider it just a hobbiest's platform? I think XNA has a future, but I think people are increasingly wanting their software to be multiplatform and XNA doesn't jive too well with that.
Do you think there is a point where it is "too late" to break into game development? Do you hire people who have been programmers for years, but have never done game development? It's certainly never too late, and we do hire programmers who've never done game programming before. What's most important is the ability to deliver, a lot of very talented programmers just never seem to get their projects to the point that they can set them free.
Do you have the game code backed up to somewhere other than one other computer you keep next to your main coding computer? I'd hate it if someone broke into your flat and stole all your code... Yeah we use version control :P.
Will there possibly be a way to engage in other game modes after reaching a certain point in game, such as a ladder of endless waves that consecutively increase in difficulty? (similar to the goblin army in Terraria except it gets harder and harder) Or enable difficulties that are more survival based where you would have to upkeep a farm for food or keep moving from planet to planet hunting? maybe something such as "hunger" in Minecraft? We have plans for a (potentially post release) survival mode with hunger, thirst and so on. Which will play into the DayZ style open PVP server settings.
There will also be asteroids with PVP style arenas on them, making waves of monsters spawn in those wouldn't be difficult :)
So far I've seen that Starbound has confirmed Humanoid, Avians, and Ape races. Are you ready to announce a new race just for the Reddit AMA? If not its okay. I love your work and look forward to forfeiting so much productivity once I buy Starbound. I can't just yet :( sorry. But we'll announce one soon!
Hey Tiy, There isn't an option to choose a dominant hand at the moment (though you could just to always wield your single handed weapons in your left hand), but it's an interesting idea.
I was just watching a WelshPixie video from about 5 Months ago which highlighted NPCs, Shields, and Weapon Usage. She mentioned the fact that there will be a Left and Right-handed system corresponding to the Mouse buttons. Now my question is during character creation will we have the ability to choose a dominant hand? With that hand would we have specific perks like a Quicker draw, higher Crit Chance, or higher Damage with that hand due to being more adapted to this hand? Because I know that I am Left-handed and it loses most of the... Fluidity and (I'm drawing a blank as to what I'm thinking... How you're drawn into the game and get sucked into the feeling...) when I see a game where you are supposed to be able to customize it to your liking and you are always Left-handed I always feel slightly left out. Also, will there be the possibility to be attacked in Space and crash land? Asteroid fields requiring a certain skill (Skill as in mouse skill not in-game skill) to traverse otherwise you crash into one and go into a sort-of survival mode and wait for rescue? Space attacks don't exist at the moment as we're mostly concerning ourselves with the planet based gameplay, but space flight gameplay seems to be the number 1 request for post release.
I just thought of another point I would like clarified :3 will there be GUIception? By this I mean will there be equipment which we have that has a GUI of its own that we may open with a mouse-click or Hotkey? Kyren wanted to do microchips this way.
What does "implementation" mean, as far your job goes? If not programming, what does that entail? Or is it just a masterful system of delegation? Well, our engine is such that implementing assets doesn't actually require any programming anymore. You can add objects, items, enemies, biomes, etc etc with zero programming knowledge.
do you mind disclosing your REAL name, you puppet-master of art and innovation? My real name is Zerk winklebottom.
Last updated: 2012-08-22 19:02 UTC | Next update: 2012-08-23 01:02 UTC
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