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WoP #24: Starbound Gravity



One of my favorite games that I've found recently is Starbound. It's a 2D sandbox game revolving around travelling through space to fight off a threat which seeks to destroy all life in the universe. I've built countless bases and colonies on planets which range from a perpetual tundra to a giant magma ocean, and I love it. But there is one thing that's always bothered me.

Gravity. And not because they got it wrong, but because they got it half right. The developers included planets of varying sizes, and, in game, larger planets have a higher mass and gravity, and the force of gravity decreases as you move farther from the surface. However, one thing the developers didn't implement (aside from low gravity on your ship, which isn't even spinning to simulate gravity) is the difference in gravity as you move towards the center of the planet. You know the equation for gravity, right? F = GM1M2/r2, right? Well, that only applies outside an object. Inside an object, gravity is actually linearly proportional to your radial distance from the center, meaning it decreases as you go further in, at least if you assume density as a constant.

But in Starbound, gravity doesn't change at all as you go further down. As a matter of fact, from hours of play time, it seems as though gravity near the core of a planet is the same as gravity at the surface. It may just be me on this, but it really bugs me that the developers didn't even implement the (wrong) assumption that gravity would increase near the core, instead opting for a simpler approach to gravity. Granted, it did make getting out of the planet a lot easier...


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