Starbound’s countless procedurally generated worlds are a sci-fi lover’s dream. Flying through the galaxy you’ll find austere mountaintop settlements, eerie subterranean lakes, and deserted temples. There’s always something new to stumble across, spurring one’s curiosity and imagination. The game presents players with hundreds of things to do, with no real structure to prop them up, meaning people can pretty much chart their own course through the game doing as they please.
This sense of unbridled freedom, paired with Starbound’s beautifully imagined worlds and loose story, makes it the perfect petri dish for user creations. Fans have created countless works of art and fiction, mods, and even in-game fantasy cities. Here are just a few of the amazing things Starbound fans have been working on within the community.
Modding is nothing new in PC games, but Starbound boasts a lively and supportive modding community. If you want a taste of the creativity prevalent in Starbound you need only browse the game’s vast collection of mods. Players have created brand new races, including Argonians from the Elder Scrolls, and the Simple Extended Character Creation mod will help you keep all of those new races organized instead of becoming a sloppy mod soup. It is easy to fall into that black hole, downloading mod after mod and quickly losing track of your collection, after all. Some have gone so far as to develop the XS Corporation Mech Tech mod, which adds a selection of awesome, fully animated mech suits to the game.
If you’re looking to get into modding yourself, Starbound also has an active subreddit just for mods, where folks brainstorm new projects or ask for help if they run into trouble. It’s always great to have a knowledgeable sounding board when starting a new project, and Starbound certainly delivers in that regard.
Starbound has also become something of an enclave for roleplayers, too. It might not be for everyone, but there is something fascinating about groups of people working together to live out a unified story on the fly. It’s easy to see why people are inclined to playing out these intricate lives of fantasy, too. Starbound encourages it, with its random worlds with desert ruins and space-faring penguins.
These little communities host regular campaigns in game, but don’t limit themselves. Outside of the server, most roleplaying groups have message boards where players maintain character diaries and share fanart. Starbound has a number of active roleplaying servers, some better than others. Galaxy Citizen is one of the most well-respected, and the most active. To maintain a safe space, interested players need to fill out an application before joining.
Starbound’s 16-bit style world has inspired fans to craft their own creations, too. The Chucklefish forums are full of amazing fanart and even comic strip series that have been running for years. Artists support the community by sharing resources and take requests for character art. Of particular note, Absurdisan’s “The Dawn of Two Suns” comic has been going strong since 2014. He lets community members determine the characters’ actions as the story progresses, which has helped him build up quite a following.
There’s plenty of opportunity for in-game art, too. Building a house or ship is a huge part of Starbound, and a major draw for some. The Starbound subreddit is full of people showing off intricately designed homes, ships, and sometimes even entire cities. They’re veritable works of art in their own right, often requiring hours of practice. This city, for example, is absolutely inspiring with its rickety towers, softly glowing lanterns, and whimsical clock tower. There’s no wonder it has over 600 upvotes:
And this space station isn’t half bad either:
These creations are so popular, in fact, that the subreddit hosts a “Build of the Week” event, where fans share pictures of a structure they’ve built around that week’s official theme. The best buildings have the chance to be featured on Starbound’s developer blog.
And then we come to Ironbeak’s journal. This fascinating project was originally intended to be a blog for fanart, and turned into a year long journal/fanfiction saga. It’s well-known among fans, and has even been cemented into Starbound canon. The mind behind Ironbeak, Cyan, entered a journal entry into an official Starbound storytelling contest, earning Ironbeak a place in Starbound canon in the form of an in-game diary. The blog is updated regularly and includes gorgeous illustrations and sketches. It’s incredibly fun to read, even if you’re not a fan of the game.
It’s always amazing to see the communities emerging from online sandbox games, and Starbound’s is possibly one of the most diverse and the most prolific. What’s more is that it’s a community that is just as much about building folks up as it is about showing off. People are happy to share resources and tips for those just starting out on their own intergalactic creative journey. From stories, to comics, to architecture, to mods, Starbound’s fans have taken their inspiration from the game and produced truly amazing things.