In my day, I’ve backed a few games on Kickstarter. Only two of those that I’ve backed have I wanted more than just the basic game. I normally only give the minimal amount to get the game. I feel a little lame about that, but I’m not made of money soooo… that will have to do. I’m looking at going over the other game (The Dwarves) soon, but Cubical Drift’s Stellar Overload (back then it was called Planets³) was one of the few that I loved the concept so much that I needed to throw more of my money at them. Whole planets that you can traverse and deconstruct with the added ability to go to others and mess around on them!?! This was a crazy awesome idea because I wanted a voxel sandbox and Trove never really grabbed me and Cube World was hard to obtain back in the day and the ability to buy it currently is nil.
So what really stood out to me about Stellar Overload? I love the look of voxel engine games for one. The environments are beautiful with the addition of non-cubed shapes as well. Does that make it not completely voxel? I’m not sure about the semantics of it all work (does it have to be cubes?), but I don’t care. You can craft some really awesome stuff in theory. I’m kind of terrible with the whole “imagination to actuality” bit so maybe I’m not the best to use as an example, but the devs have made some awesome looking animals and trees with the stuff, I’m excited to see what further development of the game will give me to play with.
Did I mention that there is something called command blocks that let you build vehicles? Motorcycles, spacecrafts… I’m hoping there is a water world where I can use my spacecraft underwater. If not, I’ll settle with some form of Submarine block… yeh, make one of those guys. I can live with that. I only say this because the current tier 5 engine doesn’t let me leave orbit so maybe there will be different control blocks. It could be simply because this is the alpha, but it may not be. Cool side note: they are having a spaceship design contest going on right now! I’m not sure if they will be put into the game, but if you win you get a 3D printed version of your craft mailed to you and that’s awesome. I was terrible at building in this game, but now that I’ve figured out how it all works I’m no longer terrible… I’m just very slow.
That brings me to what doesn’t work for me in the game so far. (Disclaimer: it’s in Alpha right now and I’m sure everything will change.) The crafting system is awesome. It’s super complicated too. Remember when you started up Minecraft for the first time and didn’t know how to build anything? Let’s pretend you didn’t have the internet and just have to trial and error you way to the top. That’s the way I feel with Stellar Overload. The funny thing is, they give you a bunch of recipes right off the bat and tell you what goes into what you can build currently. There’s no tutorial because I assume they feel it’s intuitive. For the most part they are right. However, it takes two to three things to build one thing that you need to build another that you need to build another and then to build what you were aiming at in the first place. That’s how it gets complicated. If they were to implement a “branching overlay” system like League of Legends did where you hold your cursor over an item and then have it tell you what you need in order to build that. If they want to make it a little deeper then you could click on a mat and it would give you what that takes and what station you need to craft that too. It’s staggering when you first look at the system, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad. It can, however, be easier. I’m sure it will with time.
I have no doubts that some optimization needs to take place, but this game is trying to do a whole lot so I’m willing to give them some leeway. However, I did just build a brand new computer and it’s pretty beefy so when it launches… I want Stellar Overload to be prettier than I can set it at right now. I’d love to be able to see far without it being ugly and blocky. Maybe they could institute a fog of distance like Minecraft has. That would work for me. Right now I can see very far, but the distance image is horrible looking and completely ruins whatever immersion I may be feeling at the time. Having experienced both options, I’d prefer not to see anything but fog as opposed to this:
The Alpha is currently setup as a scenario. Will that change and have you start with the super basics? Probably not. Simply put, you can’t build without a crafting station and you can’t craft a crafting station without a crafting station. You’ll probably start with less recipes and have to adventure for more recipes. You’ll probably also start out at an outpost that you’ve been assigned thus granting you access to the crafting stations. That’s fine with me. The start can be a little grindy as it stands, but that clears up after your first upgrade to your digging gauntlet. After that, it felt so much smoother. With the ability to dig up basically everything on the surface and greater amounts of it as well, I could get more materials and craft more ammo and all that jazz. I also wouldn’t mind if the goal of the first planet would be to get the ability to leave the planet. After that, some greater story could unfold or you could just run into these robo-baddies in an open sandbox universe.
I haven’t mentioned all of the basics of a game because for the most part, it all works. If your computer can handle Stellar Overload then the movement and “jet-packing” are all good. Shooting can use some finessing possibly because I’m used to shooting things that are in front of me. If there is a wall to your right hand, it feels like I have to over-expose myself to take a shot and not waste bullets on walls. That could be intentional… and I guess I could live with it, but that would take some getting used to in my mind instead of getting frustrated at not remembering something like that every time. It’s all coming together very well and this is only the alpha. Man I am excited!