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Todd Howard Explains How Game's 1,000 Planets Work

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

In an interview with IGN, Starfield director Todd Howard addressed how they created all of the planets and how they will work. As many assumed, many planets will be created using procedural generation, something Howard reaffirmed fans that Bethesda has immense experience with. The developer has used procedural generation to create quests and landscapes in games like Skyrim, so it's not a new concept to the developer. Howard also went on to explain that they have more hand-crafted content in Starfield than any of their other games. As for how it all works within the context of the game, Todd Howard noted that they made 1,000 planets so they could give players more freedom, even if that means there isn't as much to do on some planets as there is for others.

"We're also careful to let you know that's what [that procedural content] is," said Howard. "So if you look at space, you know there are a lot of ice balls in space, so that was one of our big design considerations on this game is, 'What's fun about an ice ball?' And it's OK sometimes if ice balls aren't- it is what it is. We'd rather have them and say yes to you, 'Hey, you can land on this.' Here are the resources, you can survey it, and then you can land and spend ten minutes there and be like, 'OK, now I'm going to leave and go back to the other planet that has all this other content on it, and I'm going to follow this questline.'"

 
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Quantum253

Member
That was one of the biggest questions I was curious about. Sounds like Mr. Howard took notice of the endless questions Sean Murray had to field about planet biomes, procedural generation, activities, etc. And planned a strategic data drop to put those answers out there. The golden question still remains, can you fly into the sun...
 

Quantum253

Member
So about 50 planets with loads to do on from the start and the rest will be done through mods, otherwise they are just huge resource havens.

No clue why I'm skeptical about this all, but I'm just not buying this news straight way.
Future expectations formed from past experiences? Your probably right, there will probably be small outposts and mining type areas (maybe hidden surprises) and large cities isolated to a very linear path
 

PhaseJump

Member
All my bitches hate generational procedure.

 
I still don’t quite understand this, it’s the main thing I’m concerned about. I know there are 4 main cities - but I fucking hated no man’s sky’s version of planets like it was super random and boring. I just wonder how they can make someone engaged with this part
 

anthraticus

Member
Fuck procedural generation

All my homies hate procedural generation
Procedural generation is... in 99% of cases, samey because there is no intent behind their arrangement. A hand-designed encounter can factor in story (who are you fighting and why? Why are they working together?), terrain (archers on the hills, shield-equipped tanks blocking chokepoints, etc), etc and even include some out-of-the-box elements to make it more exciting, like a destructible bridge leading across a river the enemy will cross, so attacking the bridge instead of the enemies would be a viable choice but not the only way to win because some of the enemies can swim.

Procedural encounters just pull from a pool of generic things that the devs have fed into the algorithm. They will inevitably feel samey after a while, because they are samey - merely slight variations on the same basic encounter structure.

Procedural content is good for people who like quantity. But it's not very good for people who prefer quality.
 

Robb

Gold Member
Not a big fan of procedural generation tbh. Usually a red flag for me. But as long as it’s made very clear where you can find the content that the devs have actually made it might be OK. We’ll see.
 

Kagey K

Member
Not a big fan of procedural generation tbh. Usually a red flag for me. But as long as it’s made very clear where you can find the content that the devs have actually made it might be OK. We’ll see.
I'm guessing if you just follow the main quest that will all be relatively hand crafted.

It's people that go off the beaten path and explore that will discover how deep or shallow that procedural generation is.

If you play like a reviewer or just want to beat it quick this won't affect you at all.
 
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reksveks

Member
There are a lot of boring planets in real life.

Have you guys seen the outer planets?

But yeah, it needs to be obvious what I am expecting when I am thinking about going to a planet. I do hope there could be randomised raids on some of the boring planets based on my previous action on that planet aka putting an outpost.
 

Robb

Gold Member
It's people that go off the beaten path and explore that will discover how deep or shallow that procedural generation is.
I think it’s important they get this right as well though. I like to go off exploring and it sounds like one of their goals with this game is to make it fun and exciting to explore space, so im hoping they’re able to implement ways to really make it clear where you can find the actual content between different planets even if it’s not related to the main quest.

Sounds like that’s what they’re going for, but I imagine it’s difficult without using markers to just show you where to go (which I hope they don’t).
 
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Sosokrates

Member
Any real conversation seems to be rare thing here, mosts posts are just trolls and memes. I guess some folks enjoy this.

But back on topic.

I have a radical idea for people worried about this, if go to a planet that you find boring, I know this is a radical concept but you can actually leave this planet and go somewhere you do find interesting.
 
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killatopak

Gold Member
Figured as much.

There’s very little chance every planet would be filled with content and I’m fine with that. In fact I don’t even think they can fill a single planet with as much density as say FO4. It’s the scale that sells it though. Even if interspersed among a few select planets, as long as it’s varied and unique enough of a biome, I’ll be satisfied.
 

Tangerine

Member
Any real conversation seems to be rare thing here, mosts posts are just trolls and memes. I guess some folks enjoy this.

But back on topic.

I have a radical idea for people worried about this, if go to a planet that you find boring, I know this is a radical concept but you can actually leave this planet and go somewhere you do find interesting.
Says the founder of western console warring. War. Nazi. Adolf.

Back on topic...

1000 is a big number.
 
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I mean, it makes sense a good portion of them would be empty...most planets in our universe would be...now the ones that are populated should be and I hope theres a few great dungeons and loot but If a couple hundred are resource loot points it would make sense.
 

Sosokrates

Member
I mean, it makes sense a good portion of them would be empty...most planets in our universe would be...now the ones that are populated should be and I hope theres a few great dungeons and loot but If a couple hundred are resource loot points it would make sense.
One thing that is promising is that Todd made it sound like barren planets are rare.
 
I still don’t quite understand this, it’s the main thing I’m concerned about. I know there are 4 main cities - but I fucking hated no man’s sky’s version of planets like it was super random and boring. I just wonder how they can make someone engaged with this part
Skip it...they said freedom is a big part of their vision. Some people like the no mans sky loop of mining and building...if thats the part you hate main line quest. We know BGS are some of the best with side quest and optional activity. I'll do alot of exploring as an elite dangerous player...but for those who dont like some of that what I call "podcast gaming loops" play the quest and skip the more mundane stuff.
 

Captiosus

Member
Basically a vast majority of those "1000 planets" are going to look like this, only possibly larger with more empty space between points of interest and tedious as hell to traverse, as everything will be on foot since, as far as we know, there's no ground based vehicles in the game.

Hell, the maps might not even need to be bigger than these old ME1 Mako maps because if we had to traverse those old maps on foot they would have taken significantly longer than they did with the Mako and created a bigger illusion of scale.

 

Tangerine

Member
I rest my case...
You must be fun in person. Real life of the party sort. I tried to get back on topic but they keep dragging me back in, god damn it.

Lighten up. You aren't new here. This isn't resetera.

Here's my olive branch:

I think 1000 planets is too much when I hear the big number and what I've heard about no man's sky. I hope Bethesda can do it better. I wonder if at least every one will be vetted by a real human not an algorithm. Maybe they made 2000 or 3000 and manually narrowed it down to the best of the auto generated selection?

I hope they can pull it off.
 
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Kagey K

Member
Yes, theres jungle like plant life, a water world, ice balls, planets that are just rocky.
I think he means you land on one side of a planet and it's a rock, but if you go south you find a rainforest on the same ball.

No nothing like that was mentioned.
 
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Sosokrates

Member
You must be fun in person. Real life of the party sort. I tried to get back of topic but they keep dragging me back in, god damn it.

Lighten up. You aren't new here. This isn't resetera.

Here's my olive branch:

I think 1000 planets is too much when I hear the big number and what I've heard about no man's sky. I hope Bethesda can do it better. I wonder if at least every one will be vetted by a real human not an algorithm. Maybe they made 2000 or 3000 and manually narrowed it down to the best of the auto generated selection?

I hope they can pull it off.

Yeah its all fun and games until it happens to a game they like 😆


In some threads you take the piss and then witness the pile on.
 

KàIRóS

Member
Any person with programming experience would have known the answer.

1000 planets (probably much more actually) but only 3% of them will be handmade by the devs and only 1% of them will have relevance to the story/main quest, the rest are just going to be this game's version of the Radiant Quests "go to x planet to kill x creatures" "protect the outpost in x planet" "escort x person to x planet" etc.
 
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Kagey K

Member
Any person with programming experience would have known the answer.

1000 planets (probably much more actually) but only 3% of them will be handmade by the devs and only 1% of them will have relevance for the story/main quest, the rest are just going to be this game's version of the Radiant Quests "go to x planet to kill x creatures" "protect the outpost in x planet" "escort x person to x planet" etc.
I end up fucking around in Bethesda games too much.

I have played them all for a ton of hours, but I don't think I have actually beaten the main story on any of them.

They offer so much to do, that I just end up playing them until I'm bored doing all the "mundane stuff"

This looks so much bigger, there's no way I get to see it all.
 

Leo9

Member
Procedural generation simply sucks. Very disappointing. Why have so many planets in the first place? Who the fuck is going to explore 1000 of them, especially when its crappy procedurally generated crap? I want crafted landscapes by an artist, not a computer algorithm.
"I should also add that we have done more handcrafting in this game, content-wise, than any game we’ve done. We’re [at] over 200,000 lines of dialogue, so we still do a lot of handcrafting and if people just want to do what they’re used to in our games, and follow a main quest, and do the questlines, you’re gonna see what you’d kind of expect from us. But then you have this whole other part of, ‘Well I’m just going to wander this planet, and it’s going to provide some gameplay, and some random content, and those kinds of things.’

"We’re also careful to let you know that’s what [that procedural content] is. So if you look at space, you know there are a lot of ice balls in space, so that was one of our big design considerations on this game is, ‘What’s fun about an ice ball?’ And it’s OK sometimes if ice balls aren’t- it is what it is. We’d rather have them and say yes to you, ‘Hey, you can land on this.’ Here are the resources, you can survey it, and then you can land and spend ten minutes there and be like, ‘OK, now I’m going to leave and go back to the other planet that has all this other content on it, and I’m going to follow this questline.’

"So we’re pretty careful about saying, ‘Here’s where the fun is, here’s this kind of content,’ but still say yes to the player and, ‘You want to go land on that weird planet, check it out, and build an outpost, and live your life there, and watch the sunset because you like the view of the moons there? Go for it.’ We love that stuff."
 
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Tangerine

Member
Yeah its all fun and games until it happens to a game they like 😆


In some threads you take the piss and then witness the pile on.
Well I lurk a lot but I've been here a while...long before making an account.

Memes and original jokes are interspersed with serious discussion and typically the serious discussion outweighs the non serious posts substantially, depending on how serious OPs post/the topic is...

It's encouraged on some level with the reaction score system. There's an incentive to try and be funny imo.

If the ratio was 50/50 off topic posts to serious posts I would agree with your initial point. I guess I just don't see the problem... This is neogaf isn't it? It's one of the reasons most people like it here. It's not so strict as to delete all off topic posts in a thread. It's not so strict as to curb jokes/fun unless it gets out of hand which I realise is subjective.

Anyway I won't post any more off topic posts here. We should take it to DMs if this is to continue imo. Sorry for trying to be funny/get a laugh earlier o_O
 
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Sosokrates

Member
Well I lurk a lot but I've been here a while...long before making an account.

Memes and original jokes are interspersed with serious discussion and typically the serious discussion outweighs the non serious posts substantially, depending on how serious OPs post/the topic is...

It's encouraged on some level with the reaction score system. There's an incentive to try and be funny imo.

If the ratio was 50/50 quality posts to serious posts I would agree with your initial point. I guess I just don't see the problem... This is neogaf isn't it? It's one of the reasons most people like it here. It's not so strict as to delete all off topic posts in a thread. It's not so strict as to curb jokes/fun unless it gets out of hand which I realise is subjective.

Anyway I won't post any more off topic posts here. We should take it to DMs if this is to continue imo. Sorry for trying to be funny/get a laugh earlier o_O
Its pretty inconsistent.
Really just comes down to majority opinion.
 
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