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Mining Your Own Design: Crafting the Crafting System in 'Astroneer'

Aaron Biddlecom  (Technical Designer, System Era Softworks)

Elijah O'Rear  (Gameplay Programmer, System Era Softworks)

Date: Tuesday, August 4

Time: 6:00pm - 6:45pm

Pass Type: Conference Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Design

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

Expanding an existing system is difficult when you already have a game. Players have tastes already, and you have an existing audience to please. Mining your own design gives you the insight to confidently navigate these issues. System Era overhauled the crating system of their game Astroneer in the final Early Access update before launch. The space-faring survival crafting game has a unique set of constraints with its diegetic inventory system and real-world aerospace influences that made updating such a core system a delicate operation in a live game. The two developers in charge of the update walk through the process of deepening their understanding of the game's existing design, and how it allowed them to make extensive changes without destabilizing Astroneer. They'll discuss the stumbling blocks encountered along the way, how they overcame them, and how the feature fared looking back.


Drawing lessons from a major feature overhaul to Astroneer, attendees should come away with a better sense of how to understand their live game, identify the features and systems strong enough to anchor needed changes, and which underperforming systems can be repurposed, all while keeping the heart of the experience intact.

Intended Audience

This talk is aimed at gameplay and systems designers working on live games, or those far along in development. Examples are drawn from the sandbox and crafting game Astroneer, but the provided lessons are intended to be applicable in a general context.