Starfield Developer on Balancing Fun and Realism: Not Every Planet is “Supposed to be Disney World”

“The point of the vastness of space is you should feel small. It should feel overwhelming,” says Bethesda managing director Ashley Cheng.

Starfield will be released worldwide on September 6th, but it’s had hundreds of thousands of players courtesy of early access. Many are already having fun traversing the universe and its +1000 planets. However, not all have heaps of content, which matches director Todd Howard’s statement that only 10 percent have life on them.

Speaking to The New York Times, studio managing director Ashley Cheng shined more light on the barren planets. The studio had to balance “enjoyment and authenticity”, and not every planet “is supposed to be Disney World.” This approach also emphasizes the “vastness of space” and how small the player feels in the face of it.

“The point of the vastness of space is you should feel small. It should feel overwhelming. Everyone’s concerned that empty planets are going to be boring. But when the astronauts went to the moon, there was nothing there. They certainly weren’t bored.”

Of course, each planet in Starfield does have something to do, from mining resources to surveying life and setting up outposts. The good news is that there’s plenty of content, like Volii Alpha, which is home to the cyberpunk-esque Neon. There’s also New Atlantis on Jemison in the Alpha Centauri system.