On December 4th, indie game Starbound, created by Chucklefish Games, launched under Steam‘s Early Access listing for Windows, Mac and Linux gamers. It is a 2D block-based sandbox adventure game, set in an infinite universe of procedurally generated planets, creatures, and environments (its website can be found here).
Many games have preceded Starbound in these and other respects (the game is considered the spiritual successor to the highly popular Terraria, and much of the two fanbases overlap), but few indie titles have managed to accomplish everything else Starbound has. Indeed, it has arguably become one of the most successful indie games on the PC in years, thanks to an approach that has garnered the game hundreds of thousands of fans and backers. In this post, I’d like to provide an overview of the game’s (ongoing) success story.
$0 in One Year; $2,300,000 the Next
Starbound was first announced in February 2012 by Finn Brice, a UK game developer better known to fans as Tiyuri (or just Tiy). Brice was the artist behind Terraria’s sprites, and thus the only official link between the two games, though much of the design of Starbound can be read as an incremental improvement over the formula developed in Terraria. The team that worked on it eventually came to encompass around 14 developers, and so Chucklefish Games set to work.