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Star Explorers:

Earth has been destroyed, and humanity must find a way to survive. Star Explorers is the interstellar dungeon crawler. It attempts to capture the vastness, loneliness and desolation of space exploration. Land on planets, explore the surface as well as cave systems, ancient ruins and more on your quest to find a new home for the human race.

Reviews:

"...See, the galaxy Schmidt has created here isn't cruel. "Cruel" implies that it cares. And this galaxy is terribly, terribly uncaring..." - MagFlare – Steam User

"...This game, at its core, is about exploration, and it scratches my space exploration itch in a way that no game has since I played Starflight as a kid..." - battlescar2014 – Steam User


Current Features:

  • Randomly generated galaxy which the player can fully explore
  • Randomly generated planets, caves and other environments
  • Randomly generated alien life, either hostile or friendly towards the player
  • Combat system with aliens on planets and in caves
  • Inventory and Trade System with mothership and some friendly aliens
  • Quests from both mothership and friendly aliens, in addition to the main quest
  • Upgrade system allowing player to explore wider range of planets over the course of the game
  • Crafting system, including unique artifacts that must be constructed with ancient blueprints
  • Day/Night cycles on each planet
  • Resource management and survival in hostile conditions
  • Database of Sectors, Stars and Planets in which player can take notes and customize the names of stars and planets

Planets:

Planets are formed randomly, but their conditions are based on somewhat scientific factors. The size and temperature of the star they orbit, their distance from that star, the type of surface, atmosphere, and liquids present (or not) determine how a planet will look once landed on. Players will be able to land, depart and return to planets, exploring their surfaces as well as underground cave systems repeatedly, while keeping the same features intact on each visit.

Exploration:

Fuel, ammunition and oxygen will all have to be carefully managed if the player wants to survive the long search for an earth-like planet. While many planets will be too hot or cold, or without an atmosphere, there are also worlds of liquid methane, ammonia, sulphuric acid and more, that have developed their own unique evolutionary cycles. Each kind of alien plant, tree or animal is pieced together randomly, making for a unique experience for each player.

The Star Explorers universe is not a friendly one though, it can be cruel and indifferent to the struggles of its inhabitants. If you're not careful, you might land on a planet that's just too hot, or too cold, or enveloped in a cloud of corrosive acid, and not live to tell about it. Upgrading your space suit will unlock these otherwise impossible worlds to further exploration.


Inventory, Upgrading and Crafting:

Exploration will allow the player to discover many things, including tools and resources that will help in further exploration. Among these are raw materials, weapons, armor upgrades and blueprints that allow you to craft helpful items. Armor upgrades will increase your space suit's resistance to heat, cold and other environmental hazards. Some weapons allow you to access areas that may be closed off to less experienced adventurers.

Caves and Ancient Ruins:

Star Explorers may be the first interstellar dungeon crawler. Traversing the dark, hidden places and caves is necessary to find the resources required to complete the game. Discover the crumbling remains of an ancient culture and learn the secrets of its mysterious people. In Star Explorers, exploration and investigation are rewarded with special items and locations that many players may never find. If you are someone who likes to look around every corner, then this is the game for you.


Generative Design:

Almost everything in Star Explorers is produced generatively. From the locations of stars and nebulae, to the surfaces of planets and their features, every location is different, and every play-through offers unique challenges. Even the music heard in game is generated in real time, and is based purely on the parameters of the player's environment. Each planet, cave and other location has a unique sound-track.

Shaders and Options:

Star Explorers has a number of visual options you may choose from. Among them is the “Old-School Pixel Shader” which offers a unique, low-resolution experience. The graphics are not really at pace with newer games, but real-time shadows, bloom and a smoothing shader are also available for those who enjoy a slightly more contemporary feel. You also have control of your field of view, mouse sensitivity and game/music volume, along with options that may help the game run more smoothly on older hardware. See the manual for full documentation.


The Future of Star Explorers:

After a year of Early Access, Star Explorers has arrived at a point where I feel it matches my original design document. Fulfilling my promise to have it completed in a year was important to me, but that does not mean I am finished working on it. I have many other ideas I may choose to add to the game's content. Chief among these are the following:

  • Space battles with alien ships
  • Boarding and exploring alien spaceships
  • More variety of celestial objects, like moons, asteroids and more
  • Alien cities on certain planets
  • I even have a mechanism for Time Travel (this is really outside of the original idea, but I am intrigued by the possibility of doing this anyway)

At some point in the future, I may begin work on these new features. The timing and consistency of these potential future updates will depend largely on how well the game is received by its audience. The more I hear from players, the more likely I will stay motivated to continue on this project.


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For those who may not be aware, Valve is the company that owns Steam, the largest single games platform in the world with a user-base of over 125 million, recently updated their store with a new algorithm. The "More Like This" algorithm makes recommendations to players based on games they are currently viewing. Traditionally, the algorithm selected these recommendation based on actual similarity. Now, since September 12th of 2019, the algorithm seems to have been tweaked to recommend better selling, more popular games, with actual similarity taking a back seat.

Dear Mr. Newell,
I wanted to write about how this change in the Steam store has effected small game developers such as myself. I appreciate what Valve has provided for small and solo teams, an opportunity to sell and showcase our games, the like of which has never been seen before. However, with the recent update, less popular games have been hit hard.

Picture

So, as an example my best selling game "Star Explorers" used to have 13 games that recommended it. Star Explorers is a procedurally generated galaxy exploration game. Prior to the change, No Man's Sky, Empyrion: Galactic Survival, Astroneer and other procedurally generated exploration based games used to point to Star Explorers.

Now, according to Steamlikes.com (A website that tracks which games point to others), only one game points to Star Explorers. That game is called Rombie. From what I can gather, Rombie is a game about robots living in some kind of wasteland. It does not appear to include exploration of outer space or planets. It therefore does not, if you ask me, bear any relevance to Star Explorers.

Yet somehow, magically, the Star Explorers page still points to No Man's Sky, Empyrion and Astroneer. Are these games similar to my game, while my game is somehow not similar to them? Or has this algorithm been tweaked to favor more popular, more expensive games? Which one is it? Is the cake actually a lie?

Picture


Here is the past month of sales for my games. As you can see, starting September 12th, sales have dropped considerably ... 58% to be precise.

Picture
Here is another graph showing sales for all four of my games from the last three months.
The large boost at the end of June was from a Sale.
Picture
This graph shows how many page visits came from other product pages (highlighted in red) verses other sources. Page visits from other Steam product pages seem to have a direct correlation to sales...

What's More Important?
Now obviously I am just one developer, and clearly this new algorithm has not been good for my sales, nor those of other small developers. Some have seen sales drop by as much as 80% since the Steam store has been “upgraded.” That aside, I really feel like this new approach does not actually do what it's supposed to do. It is not giving players useful information about games that are "like" the game they are looking at. You can read more about other game developers and their experiences with this change on this reddit thread...

I appreciate that Valve may be making more money with this new approach. I accept that they have never promised to actively promote my games on this platform. If Steam is primarily about making money, then I guess this will have to do. But according to Valve...

Picture

"Steam is the ultimate destination for playing, discussing, and creating games." Store.steampowered.com


If Steam is about GAMES, as Valve here declares publicly, then I believe my argument stands. Steam should prioritize the games over the money. Money is important for any business. But, as we have seen many times in the past, businesses that no longer follow their own values will eventually implode. Money is necessary and useful, but it is useful to fulfill an idea or a goal, in Steam's case that goal is games. If Steam becomes "the ultimate destination for making money" then developers and players alike will eventually recognize this fact, and will no longer come here for games. They will go to a place where games are the priority.

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The Epic Games Store Logo


The Trouble with Epic
Another important factor is the recent opening of the Epic Games Store. Epic is a huge company and they will make lots of money selling games. They have already proven themselves to be a major source of competition for Steam. However, so far, Valve has had the moral high ground in this battle. By helping and supporting smaller developers, Valve has maintained their commitment to games. By using this new approach, they are prioritizing money over games. I think it's important for a business to keep its integrity and prioritize its own stated goals over money alone.

Look at Starbucks. In Howard Schultz's book "From the Ground Up" he describes many ways in which he steered the company toward its stated mission over short term profits. Each time, according to Mr. Schultz, it eventually gave Starbucks a better position, and led to more opportunities.

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American business consultant and public speaker James C. Collins, in Denver, Colorado, May 2017 Commons.wikimedia.org


The books “Good to Great” and “Built to Last” and others by Jim C. Collins also point out how important it is for companies to keep a hold on their core values. This is not new age mumbo-jumbo, but fact based research that suggests the truly great companies always held their goals to be more important than short term profits. Reading these books may really help to improve Valve as a company, and Steam as a games store.

Making a Great Company
By refocusing on the games, over short term profits, I believe Valve will be able to build something far greater than wealth, it will build loyalty. Right now, a lot of your smaller developers are feeling that they are not valued anymore. Your message to us has been, "we can ignore your pleas, and there is nothing you can do about it." This is absolutely true. You can ignore this message and you will be fine ... for now. But small actions sometimes give way to big consequences.

Many small developers may stop selling their games on Steam. They may stop making games altogether. Their dreams of becoming game developers will have been crushed. Who knows ... they may stop playing games altogether. Those that do continue to play may feel resentment toward Steam. They may talk bad about Steam and they may buy their games elsewhere. They may tell their friends not to buy from Steam. They and their friends may buy from Epic, or some other platform. Smaller devs may go to itch.io, seeking to support those who still have a dream. Steam will no longer be the place for smaller developers, the place that truly cares about games, and no one will feel any guilt or give a second thought to buying from Epic. These actions will make Valve's fears become a reality, and they will slowly, but surely, lose their hold on the PC games market.

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Random plug for my latest game "Paradox Vector."


I just want to take this time to implore Valve to reconsider this move. Trading long term mission goals for short term profits has never been a good approach for businesses. Valve has an opportunity to really refocus on the reasons it started Steam to begin with. Valve is a good company ... now it has a chance to be a great one.

Sincerely,
Michael Klaus Schmidt
Schmidt Workshops

Why you can't buy my game on Steam anymore

Why you can't buy my game on Steam anymore

News 10 comments

My game Star Explorers can no longer be purchased on Steam! Here's why... UPDATE: Problem has been fixed!

The Time I Almost Invented No Man's Sky

The Time I Almost Invented No Man's Sky

News 4 comments

I came up with a game a lot like No Man's Sky, well before I knew about that game. Here's how it happened, and what I learned from the experience.

An Open Galaxy Time Travel Simulation

An Open Galaxy Time Travel Simulation

Feature

It would be possible to add a time travel mechanism to my open galaxy exploration game Star Explorers. This would, to my knowledge, be the first "Open...

How I Increased my Game's Sales on Steam

How I Increased my Game's Sales on Steam

PR Tutorial 6 comments

It might be too early to say, but I think I have successfully increased my game's selling plateau on Steam.

Comments
MKSchmidt Creator
MKSchmidt

I encountered a pirated version of Star Explorers. Quite the discussion going on Reddit... Reddit.com

Reply Good karma+1 vote
MKSchmidt Creator
MKSchmidt

Star Explorers 3.0 release is up, and the game is on sale this weekend ... check it out!
Store.steampowered.com

Reply Good karma+1 vote
Guest
Guest

My beacons wont work. It keeps telling me there is "no Acknexium present". When I know for a fact it does I was just down there. Any ideas lads?

Reply Good karma Bad karma0 votes
MKSchmidt Creator
MKSchmidt

Hey, sorry I missed this comment. I did address the issue you mentioned in the latest version.

Reply Good karma+1 vote
MKSchmidt Creator
MKSchmidt

Steam is back, and the game can now be purchased again...
Store.steampowered.com

Reply Good karma+2 votes
YusufStoneD152
YusufStoneD152

game looks cute, but please upload any version of the game, i want to play it.

Reply Good karma Bad karma+3 votes
MKSchmidt Creator
MKSchmidt

It has been available on Steam for over a year. Right now, there is a problem and you can't purchase it there, but you can find it on itch.io: Schmidt-workshops.itch.io

Reply Good karma+2 votes
Guest
Guest

Love the trailer of the game. Can't wait to try it

Reply Good karma Bad karma+2 votes
MKSchmidt Creator
MKSchmidt

Hey thanks! If you are a risk taker, you can try the early access on Steam right now Store.steampowered.com

It's rough around the edges, but most players have been problem free for a while now. I will also be announcing when the full release is ready, if you'd prefer to wait.

Reply Good karma+2 votes
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Star Explorers
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Schmidt Workshops
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