A recent musing I had, but playing Breath of the Wild recently made me realize just how much I enjoyed one of the simplicity of it's environment hazards/protections mechanics. It led me to muse back to Starbound and made me wonder if taking a leaf from BotW might be a way to bring back some more complexity to the environment system. The current one has been a very streamlined way of "gating" the difficulty of planets, but it also made said exploration a very linear rather than freeform planet. You can visit a planet.... or you basically can't. Now, in Zelda environment protection is basically twofolds. It's either gear based(like Starbound) with sets of armors that are better to resist various types of environments(but come with weaknesses of their own) or it's foods an elexirs that give you temporary buffs which thus only protect you for limited time..... but allow you to operate in said environment in any gear you might want(which includes ones which might be stronger for combat than the ones adapted for environments). In a way, it made me think that just perhaps this could be one of the things that could be useful for Starbound and further increase the sense of freedom from exploring the stars and even offer opportunite to separate planet generation from the strict system of fixed conditions. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mechanically, there's a few things I'd see done to make this work out: First: Gradient based planet and weather conditions(perhaps with a bonus biomes condition). You would still use the "Heat", "Cold" and "Radiation" condition but this time gradated over three tiers. So Cold could be Tier I(Snow planet), Tier 2(Arctic, Fozen Ocean) and possibly Tier 3(Frozen, Midnight Planet) However Weather could come with their own gradient too... which could be a cause for new weather conditions such as "Heat Wave"(+1 Heat tier) while old ones like Snowstorms could increase the related condition by one tier as well. Now the means to combat this could be threefold: -Enviropacks, which may give full triple tier protection just like it currently does... but only for their respective condition again(Radpack only protect from radiation, heat pack only protect from heat, etc) Though may be made harder to craft and even come with a further tweak to make them a harder proposition than in the past: The addition of new packs with added unique gameplay effect not involving environments that could make it harder to choose between full no-frill environment protection versus something like the existing Xenon Packs(now supporting augments as well) or something like a "Gravity Pack"(also supporting Augments) that would cause the character to always act as if it was lower gravity. New Back units could thus go as follow: -Heat Protection -Radiation Protection -Cold Protection -Low Gravity Pack(make the player behave as if in low gravity fields) -Oxygen Pack(being untied from other elements) -Speed Pack(boost movement speed greatly) -Shield Pack(Either functioning as a passive energy shield acting like a second health bar for the player, with the accompanying visual effect. Might even come in multiple tiers, with a different shield bubble color for each) etc Environment-adapted Armors: Basically what it says on the tin, sets of armor adapted to protect against specific environment. The way this would work is to give each pieces of a set protection a single tier of protection against any given environment(and perhaps additional elements.... like a "toxic-resistant" suit able to dive in Toxic Oceans). The way I'd see this done is to make new "adaptation" crafting recipes for existing armor sets at specific tiers(I was thinking of Tungsten, Durasteel and then the final Violum/Aegisalt/Ferozium/Solarium tiers). This would be taking the existing set and then making it "environment adapted" using proper ingredient. So for example, You could take "Tungsten Armor" and craft it in "Heat Adapted Tungsten Armor". In all armor sets, the environment protection would remain the same(one tier of protection by piece of armor, for a total of three tiers if a full set of the same environment is worn) but the trade-off in all case would be an armor that is defensively weaker than the original. (So while Heat-Adapted Durasteel would remain better in battle than Heat-Adapted Tungsten, "regular" Durasteel armor will always retain a higher defense value than "Heat-Adapted Durasteel" armor sets. You're basically sacrificing some combat prowess in exchange for your environmental protection and the ability to use more versatile/exploration useful backpacks equipment than environment ones.... such as an oxygen pack I like this system because it keeps the ability to "grade up" your defense values over a set of tiers.... while still preventing from having to make a full set for each tiers. Plus, the idea that you're adapting them from existing armor sets means you could build their sprites from minor modifications to existing sets rather than making whole new sets(Such adaptations could be as simple as making the original helmet full faced, covering the character's skin fully, and including "color nodes" to imply the sort of energy being coursed through the modified armor to symbolize what element the armor protect the player from. Thus armors would be split between all the existing "battle" armor sets, and slightly weaker "Environment" variants(covering less tiers than "battle" armors). -Envirostims Basically taking a leaf more directly from Breath of the Wild there: "Potions"-type item giving temporary protection against elements. The main advantage here would be versatility: You can wear whatever you want in term of equipment while using them. The disadvantage meanwhile would be pretty obvious: They have a temporary duration, and likely need to be crafted using elements-related components that could be needed to craft more "permanent" solution. Though their advantage might means that enterprising players might find added reasons to build a muffalo farm for the rare elements needed. ------------------ Final note: Now an intended goal of all this is simple: allowing planets to be more diverse. By removing environment from the difficulty progression system, you now only allow difficulty ratings to be freed from being "gated" behind specific environment allowing players to experience the risk and rewards that come from being able to explore high difficulty planets in "safe" environments... you also free up what you can do in specific environments(while giving you the room to think of additional rewards that could lead players to explore specific environment types... such as perhaps higher presence of specific elemental-imbued type of gears and weapons, going hand in hand with the updated elemental damages system already present). For example, a snow planet isn't just anymore a "gentle planet with stronger monsters and snow". It's suddenly a Tier 1 Cold hazard planet, that can rise to an impromptu Tier 2 when the occasional Snowstorm strike... and might also house a higher percentage of cold-elements weapons on it's surface, among other treasures. This could tie further into the tenants system by creating more tenants such as merchants selling specifically cold-themed gear and elemental weapons(procedural or not) that you could get only by braving cold planets of various Tiers. You also get conditions where even "gentle" planets might be host to "unusual" weathers like heat waves, snow storms, radiation blowout.... allowing you to even think of new planetary biome types that could be built around such variants of once "normal biome". And that's not talking about making something like a jungle a biome you could now visit without radiation risks(though they might get higher chances of heat waves weather conditions).... while a "radiation jungle" could be built as a new variant of that jungle biome type(perhaps reflected not just in a low radiation condition alongside occasional radiation blowout.... but also higher chances of being higher difficulty planets as a result of the mutated lifeforms/etc). With revamped star maps mechanics coming up soon, I feel it could be interesting to revisit ways by which planetary environments and explorations is handled in the future, possibly for an 1.4 or 1.5 update.