Astroneer is getting a lot of love from the community right now. It is a space exploration game that is being compared to No Man’s Sky. But the comparison is rather unfair, not to Astroneer, but to No Man’s Sky.
Astroneer is a much more complex game in terms of its combat system, crafting etc. Even though the universe is procedurally generated like NMS, many of its elements are hand crafted for exceptional detail.
There is a lot we don’t yet know about Astroneer which is why we spoke with its developer, System Era Softworks, to find out more. They revealed their plans for HDR, adding manual flight etc.
SegmentNext: What inspired the beautiful art style of Astroneer?
The original concept for Astroneer came to fruition from a side project that Adam Bromell, one of the artists on the team was working on. It was originally a “highpoly” art project, which you can see here. At the same time, he began working on a contest at Polycount, where he created a low poly diorama. Here’s the one he built for Canabalt, which ended up “going viral” as news picked up about the contest and the amazing results.
From that success of his low poly work, it lingered into the “highpoly” project and began to tell the story of the astronaut in that style. You can see early art pieces here, here, and here. Once that change was made, Paul Pepera the other artist on the team and Adam started to brainstorm the idea of the game and then expanded into what Astroneer is today.
SegmentNext: The official website mentioned “a multitude of harsh new worlds.” How many are we looking at here? Are the worlds procedurally generated or handcrafted?
Players will be able to experience around 6 – 8 specific planet classes on our initial launch. Each planet is very unique in the challenges you face in it and will have multiple biomes. So for example, one planet is going to be more arid like. Where there’s a lot of deserts and mesas that you’ll come across. Another planet that we have will be very snowy and mountainous.
Planets are procedurally generated so every planet a player comes across will be a unique experience, but we do have a lot of handcrafted elements that make up each planet so it’s a mixture of the two.
SegmentNext: How do you feel about being compared to No Man’s Sky?
We’ve been watching No Man’s Sky with intense interest as fans, but we’ve worked hard to make Astroneer a game of its own. We think that people will intimately enjoy the collaborative and creative aspects of the experience for its own sake, and not because of how we compare to other high-profile games.
SegmentNext: I read a comment from someone on Reddit saying that Astroneer is No Man’s Sky, only better. Your gameplay elements feel much more complex and deep compared to Hello Games’ project. Tell us a little bit about the gameplay mechanics that sit at the core of Astoneer?
What we think makes Astroneer special is the amount of attention we’ve paid to the most fundamental aspects of the game. Starting the game off as a third-person experience didn’t leave us with a lot of shoulders to stand on, and it’s taken dozens of iterations to find the “right” gameplay for each complex system.
In Astroneer you are meant to be intimate with your solar system, planet, and property. Each item you craft sits as a physical item in the world rather than an icon in an inventory.
By combining each of the individual pieces in intuitive ways, players can create solutions for themselves rather than just consuming a big stream of content.
Fundamentally, Astroneer is about the project of space exploration. In real space enterprise, there is a huge amount of planning and sweat that goes into even the smallest mission.
In Astroneer, we are trying to bring this feeling to players who are new to the genre while being true to the difficulties of space travel. Eventually, Astroneer will have solar system-spanning enterprises, ferrying rare resources and items between planets to accomplish whatever goal they set out to accomplish.
SegmentNext: Traveling between planets is automated, right? Is Flight changing in EARLY Access or will it upon final release?
That’s correct! In our Early Access release we are essentially giving every spacecraft an autopilot module. This will continue to be useful even when we add manual piloting (perhaps in a future update) since players will still be able to automatically send resources between bases they’ve created without having to accompany their crafts.
But we would eventually love to open up a more fleshed-out vehicle construction mechanic that lets the player discard their training wheels, and customize their crafts for more specific scenarios.
SegmentNext: There was an instant outcry to bring the game to PlayStation. Is it a Timed exclusive deal with Microsoft or Xbox is now home for Astroneer? Are there any Plans of Bringing it Nintendo NX?
We can’t say anything about our specific deal with Microsoft, but because of their Game Preview program which is the Xbox form of Early Access, we have an infrastructure that allows us to support the game through its Early Access period. We want everyone to have a chance to play the game, so we look to get Astroneer on all major platforms, but that won’t be until later in the future.
SegmentNext: Early Access is slated for December of this year but how long do you think the game will remain in Early Access? Any hope of a final release within the next year or so?
That’s really hard to say. We don’t want to linger too long in Early Access, but there is still a ton of new features we want to add or expand on. We’ll probably be in Early Access for at least a year, but even after we go 1.0 we would expect us to continue adding content for the game.
SegmentNext: HDR is all the rage right now, do you plan to add HDR support for Astroneer?
We’ll make sure it’s supported at some point! HDR really makes the Low-Poly look shine, and so while we’ve never seen Astroneer on an HDR display yet, we’re excited to see how it looks.
SegmentNext: The combat system seems to be dull or non-existent in exploration games. Can you tell us about how combat if any, is going to be integrated into the exploration system?
Not to disappoint, but we have no plans for PvP combat! Astroneer is fundamentally a Player vs. Environment game with heavy cooperation aspects. Avoiding space guns has always been very important to us. Space travel is extremely dangerous; it shouldn’t need to be artificially sweetened with combat to be interesting. That said, many things in the environment will harm and even come after you, and the player will have to use problem solving (rather than just pulling a trigger) to survive.
SegmentNext: How does the progression system of the game work? Is there any leveling system or it’s just materials collection and discovery?
We’ve worked hard to make all the progression based around the items you find and how you use them, and have for the most part avoided hidden stats. You can upgrade your backpack by crafting upgrades or discovering unique items that help you accomplish your goals. And you can build vehicles from scratch, and build up the supporting infrastructure to be completely functional. We think that if the player has worked hard to improve their suit or base, they should just see it directly, and get to watch it function.
For more on Astroneer, stay-tuned!