starlit   starlit


starlit is a sci-fi survival game. you play the survivor of a disaster in space, stranded on a just-barely-habitable world with nothing but your escape pod, your survival suit, and some handy new psionic powers that the accident seems to have unlocked in you. scavenge resources, search alien ruins, and build a base where you can survive indefinitely, but be careful: winter approaches, and your starting suit heater is already struggling to keep you alive in the comparatively warm days of “summer”.


about a month ago, you woke up to unexpected good news. your application to join the new Commune colony at Thousand Petal, submitted in a moment of utter existential weariness and almost in jest, was actually accepted. your skillset was a “perfect match” for the budding colony’s needs, claimed the Population Control Authority, and you’d earned yourself a free trip to your new home — on a swanky state transport, no less.

it took a few discreet threats and bribes from Commune diplomats, but after a week of wrangling with the surly Crown Service for Comings & Goings — whose bureaucrats seemed outright offended that you actually managed to find a way off that hateful rock — you secured grudging clearance to depart. you celebrated by telling your slackjawed boss exactly what you thought of him in a meeting room packed with his fellow parasites — and left House Taladran with a new appreciation for the value of your labor, as the nobs found themselves desperately scrabbling for a replacement on short notice.

you almost couldn’t believe it when the Commune ship — a sleek, solid piece of engineering whose graceful descent onto the landing pad seemed to sneer at the lurching rattletraps arrayed all around it — actually showed up. in a daze you handed over your worldly possessions — all three of them — to a valet with impeccable manners, and climbed up out of the wagie nightmare into high orbit around your homeworld. the mercenary psion aboard, a preening Usukwinti with her very own luxury suite, tore a bleeding hole in the spacetime metric, and five hundred hopeful souls dove through towards fancied salvation. “sure,” you thought to yourself as you slipped into your sleek new nanotech environment suit, itself worth more than the sum total of your earnings on Flame of Unyielding Purification, “life won’t be easy — but damn it, it’ll mean something out there.”

a free life on the wild frontier with a nation of comrades to have your back, with the best tech humans can make, fresh, clean water that isn’t laced with compliance serum, and — best of all — never having to worry about paying rent again. it was too good to be true, you mused.

clearly, the terrorists who blew up your ship agreed.

you’re still not certain what happened. all you know for sure is that transport was carrying more than just people. in those last hectic moments, you caught a glimpse of something — maybe machine, maybe artwork, and definitely ancient beyond measure. you’ve seen abhuman artifacts before in museums, of course; in fact, thanks to a childhood fascination, you can still name all the Elder Races and the Forevanished Ones off the top of your head.

you have no idea what that thing was or who in the sublimated fuck could possibly have made it.

but one thing is for certain: your ship wasn’t the only thing it ripped open when it blew. because when you woke up in your tiny escape pod beyond the furthest edge of the Reach, circling Farthest Shadow in a suicide orbit, you discovered yourself transformed into something impossible. a contradiction in terms.

a human psion.

for years beyond counting, the Starlit species — three of whom yet live and deign once every so often to notice the Lesser Races — have held the galaxy in sway through their monopoly on psionic power. of all the Thinking Few, only they are free to wander the distant stars at whim, heedless of the lightspeed barrier. there are no mechanisms for FTL travel or reactionless drive without that innate power, and, they assured us, psionic channels are fixed in the soul. your species either has the power or it doesn’t.

liars, all of them.

are there other survivors? have they been similarly changed? what was that artifact and who were those terrorists? important questions, all, but they pale in comparison with the most important one:

how the fuck are you going to survive the next 24 hours?


the ideal way to install starlit on your system is to simply clone the repository with fossil. this way, you can easily update the game whenever it’s updated.

$ cd ~/.minetest/games
$ fossil clone

game assets are not versioned. to update these, run the following command in the root of the open starlit repository (otherwise the archiver will shit all over your everything).

$ fossil uv cat asset.cpxz | xzcat | cpio -i

if, for some unaccountable reason, you don’t want to use fossil, you can download a tarball.

$ curl | tar x
$ curl | xzcat | cpio -i

eventually i might make proper release tarballs available that bundle the game and assets together, but the game isn’t stable enough to do that yet.


starlit is developed against a bleeding-edge version of minetest. it definitely won’t work with anything older than v5.7, and ideally you should build directly from master.

starlit is best used with a patched version of minetest, though it is compatible with vanilla. the recommended patches are:

  • 11143 - fix third-person view orientation


i was delighted to see dynamic shadows land in minetest, and i hope the implementation will eventually mature. however, as it stands, there are severe issues with shadows that make them essentially incompatible with complex meshes like the Starlit player character meshes. for the sake of those who don’t mind these glitches, Starlit does enable shadows, but i unfortunately have to recommend that you disable them until the minetest devs get their act together on this feature.


starlit is somewhat unusual in how it uses the minetest engine. it’s a voxel game but not of the minecraft variety. you do have some control over your environment, but it’s limited and exerting it is much more expensive than you might be used to — the focus of the game is figuring out how to work with nature, not against it. Farthest Shadow has little patience for those who do not show her the respect a living world is due, and she is unconcerned with human virtues like “mercy” or “fairness” or “proportionate retribution”.

this is to say, starlit is mean, by design.

  • chance plays an important role. your escape pod might land in the midst of a lush, temperate forest with plenty of nearby shipwrecks to scavenge. or it might land in the exact geographic center of a vast, harsh desert that your suit’s cooling systems can’t protect you from, ten klicks from anything of value. “unfair”, you say? tough. Farthest Shadow doesn’t care about your feelings.
  • death is much worse than a slap on the wrist. when you die, you drop your possessions and your suit, and respawn naked at your spawn point. this is a serious danger, as you might be kilometers away from your spawn point — and there’s no guarantee someone else won’t take your suit before you can find your way back to it. good luck crossing long distances without climate control! if you haven’t carefully prepared for this eventuality by keeping a spare suit by your spawn point, death can be devastating, to the point of making the game unsurvivable without another player’s help.


your starting character configuration depends on the scenario you select. (right now this is configured in minetest settings, which is intensely awkward, but i don’t have a better solution). the scenario controls your species, sex, and starting inventory. neither species nor sex is cosmetic; e.g. human females are physically weaker but psionically stronger than males. the current playable scenarios are:

Imperial Expat

phenotype: human female

starting gear: Commune survival kit

Hoping to escape a miserable life deep in the grinding gears of the capitalist machine for the bracing freedom of the frontier, you sought entry as a colonist to the new Commune world of Thousand Petal. Fate -- which is to say, terrorists -- intervened, and you wound up stranded on Farthest Shadow with little more than the nanosuit on your back, ship blown to tatters and your soul thoroughly mauled by the explosion of a twisted alien artifact -- which SOMEONE neglected to inform you your ride would be carrying.

At least you got some handy psionic powers out of this whole clusterfuck. Hopefully they're safe to use.

Gentleman Adventurer (unimplemented)

phenotype: human male

starting gear: Imperial survival kit

Tired of the same-old-same-old, sick of your idiot contemporaries, exasperated with the shallow soul-rotting luxury of life as landless lordling, and earnestly eager to enrage your father, you resolved to see the Reach in all her splendor. Deftly evading the usual tourist traps, you finagled your way into the confidence of the Commune ambassador with a few modest infusions of Father's money -- now that should pop his monocle! -- and secured yourself a seat on a ride to their brand-new colony at Thousand Petal.

How exciting -- a genuine frontier outing!

Terrorist Tagalong

phenotype: human female

starting gear: star merc combat kit

It turns out there's a *reason* Crown jobs pay so well.

Tradebird Bodyguard (unimplemented)

phenotype: male Usukwinti

starting gear: Usuk survival kit

You've never understood why astropaths of all people insist on bodyguards. This one could probably make hash of a good-sized human batallion, if her feathers were sufficiently ruffled. Perhaps it's a status thing. Whatever the case, it's easy money.

At least, it was supposed to be.


summon your Suit Interface by pressing the E / Inventory key. this will allow you to move items around in your inventory, but more importantly, it also allows you select or configure your Interaction Mode.

the top three buttons can be used to select (or deactivate) an Interaction Mode. an Interaction Mode can be configured by pressing the button immediately below. the active Interaction Mode controls the behavior of the mouse buttons when no item is selected in the hotbar.

the modes are:

  • Fabrication: use your suit’s onboard nanotech to directly manipulate matter in the world.
    • Left Button / Punch: activate your primary nano program. by default this activates your nanoshredder, reducing the targeted object to monatomic powder and storing the resulting elements in your suit for use with the Matter Compiler
    • Right Button / Place: activate your secondary nano program. by default, if your suit compiler can generate sufficiently large objects, creates a block of the configured type directly in the world without having to build it by hand
  • Psionics: wield the awesome, if illicitly obtained, power of mind over matter
    • Left Button / Punch: perform your selected Primary Power
    • Right Button / Place: perform your selected Secondary Power
  • Weapon: military-grade suits have built-in hardpoints for specialized weapon systems that draw directly on your suit battery for power (and in the most exotic cases, your psi reserve)
    • Left Button / Punch: fire your primary weapon
    • Right Button / Place: fire your offhand weapon / summon your shield

to use a tool, select it in the hotbar. even if an Interaction Mode is active, the tool will take priority. press Left Button / Punch to use the tool on a block; for instance, to break a stone with a jackhammer. to configure a tool or use its secondary functions, if any, press Right Button / Place.

hold Aux1 to activate your selected Maneuver. by default this is Sprint, which will consume stamina to allow you to run much faster. certain suits offer the Flight ability, which allows slow, mid-range flight. you can also unlock the psionic ability Lift, which allows very rapid flight but consumes psi at a prodigious rate.

you can only have one Maneuver active at a time, whether this is a Psi Maneuver (consuming psi), a Suit Maneuver (consuming battery), or a Body Maneuver (consuming stamina). Maneuvers are activated in their respective panel.


to survive and thrive on Farthest Shadow, you need to manage your stats carefully. stats impact gameplay and other stats in various ways.

  • health: self-explanatory. it hits zero, you die. measured in hit points (hp)
    • regenerates very slowly, though nanomedical suites improve this considerably
  • stamina: how long you can sustain intense physical activity. measured in sprinting meters (m)
    • regenerates quickly, depending on fatigue
    • consumed by biological abilities such as sprinting or Usuk flight.
    • affects fatigue: the lower your stamina bar, the faster your fatigue builds
  • energy: the amount of electrical power available to your environment suit. measured in joules (J)
    • does not regenerate, but empty batteries can be swapped out to replenish energy in the field
    • consumed by all suit abilities, including nanotech and weapons systems
  • numina: a measure of your available psionic power. measured in psi (ψ)
    • accumulates slowly, depending on morale
  • nutrition: how much energy your body has stored. measured in kCal. basal metabolic rate depends on species and sex
    • affects morale: if you’re starving, you bleed morale more quickly
    • affects health: you will die if you do not eat enough
  • hydration: stay hydrated uwu. measured in liters (L)
    • affects morale: if you’re parched, you bleed morale much more quickly
    • affects health: you will die very quickly if you do not drink enough
  • warmth: maintaining a healthy body temperature is crucially important on Farthest Shadow, which does not have many places a human can be comfortable without a powered environment suit. if you’re outside your species’ comfort range, your stamina regen and morale expenditure will be impacted. if you’re outside your species’ survival range, you will start dying of hypo/hyperthermia. most environment suits have built-in thermoelectrics that will try to keep you at a comfortable (or merely survivable, in power save mode) temperature, but this can drain your suit batteries very quickly at extreme temperatures.
    • affects morale, stamina, health
  • fatigue: how long you’ve gone without sleep.
    • affects stamina regen: the higher your fatigue, the more slowly you regnerate stamina. if you are fully fatigued (exhausted), you do not regenerate stamina
  • morale: how happy you are. measured in the number of hours you can continue functioning emotionally
    • diminishes over time. can be replenished by various activities, such as eating tasty food
    • affects numina regen: the lower your morale, the more slowly you accumulate numina. if you are completely out of morale (depressed), you do not accumulate any numina
  • irradation: how much ionizing radiation you’ve soaked up. measured in grays (Gy)
    • your environment suit provides some protection against environmental radiation. how much depends on your model of suit.
    • affects health: slows natural healing. at values over 2Gy, you will start to hemorrhage health, though a capable nanomedical system can compensate up to a point
    • affects numina: you accumulate numina more quickly in high-rad areas
    • naturally diminishes, but very slowly
  • illness: not everything on Farthest Shadow’s ecosystem is, shall we say, biocompatible. measured in percent
    • affects morale: the higher your illness, the more quickly you bleed morale

your primary stats are shown on your HUD. ancillary stats can be viewed in the “body” panel.


there are four types of psionic abilities: Manual, Maneuver, Ritual, and Contextual.

you can assign two Manual abilities at any given time and access them with the mouse buttons in Psionics mode.

you can select a Psi Maneuver in the Psionics panel and activate it by holding Aux1.

a Ritual is triggered directly from the psionics menu. as the name implies, these are complex, powerful abilities that require large amounts of Psi and time to meditate before they trigger, and any interruption will cancel the ability (though it will not restore any lost psi). the most famous Ritual is of course Conjoin Metric, which Starlit astropaths use in conjunction with powerful amplifiers to perform long-distance FTL jumps — but without centuries of dedication to the art, the best you can hope for if you manage to learn this storied power is to move yourself a few kilometers.

a Contextual ability is triggered in a specific situation, usually by interacting with a certain kind of object. Contextual abilities often require specialized equipment, to the point that many Starlit practitioners maintain their own Psionics Lab.


starlit source code (*.lua, *.conf, *.txt, *.csd files) is released under the GNU AGPLv3.

assets (images, sounds, models, and anything else in the repo that doesn’t qualify as source code) are released under the CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.

sound files with the prefix `default-` are taken from Minetest Game, whose assets are available under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license.