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Field Control Technology 1.0.0

Control the atmosphere, gravity, and shielding of arbitrary regions within worlds

  1. rl.starbound
    Starbound mod: Field Control Technology

    Fields determine many of the physical forces of the Starbound universe, such as atmosphere, gravity, and shielding. Field control technology involves two interrelated concepts: field tuning, and field manipulation. Every block within every world is aligned to a field. Using a field tuner, you can re-tune blocks to a different field. Using a field control console, you can manipulate the physical properties of a field, and all of the blocks aligned with it.

    In short, this mod allows you to take control the basic physics of worlds, such as atmosphere, gravity, and shielding. Some applications include: protecting keypad-locked rooms in your base, protecting bases from meteors, building bases in asteroid belts with air and gravity, and so forth.

    Playing with physics can be complicated, so please read this manual before doing so.

    Field Control: A Primer

    This mod provides items to allow a player to control the forces of their world:
    • Ship Shield Switch and Station Shield Switch
    • Field Control Console
    • Portable Field Tuner
    • Field Tuner XL and Field Tuning Markers

    Ship/Station Shield Switch

    A typical starship or personal space station consists of multiple internal fields. The ship shield switch provides a convenient control for all of the shields inside your starship. Likewise, the station shield switch provides control over the internal shields of a personal space station.

    Note that a ship shield switch must be placed on a character's starship. A station shield switch must be placed on a personal space station. Only one of each switch may be placed at a time. If additional switches are placed they will be nonfunctional.

    Note also that the ship and station shield switches are only able to control shielding of default field frequencies on ships and stations. If you use a field tuner to tune parts of your ship or station to non-default field frequencies, then the ship or station shield switch won't be able to control shielding in those parts. A field control console would be required to control such non-default field frequencies on a ship or station.

    The ship shield switch and station shield switch are crafted at the wiring station, in the mechanics tab.

    Field Control Console


    Fields are identified by their field frequency. Placing and interacting with a field control console allows the player to register the console to control a specific field. The field control console chooses as its default frequency that of the field to which the blocks behind the console are aligned; if that is not a valid frequency, a random frequency is chosen. An alternative field can be chosen by entering its field frequency at the prompt. Activation of a field control console automatically tunes all of the blocks behind the console to the chosen field.


    On any given world, many field control consoles may be placed, but only one console can be registered to each field. Furthermore, a field control console cannot register to fields shielded by anything not provided by this mod. For example, it cannot register to the field shielded by a Hylotl underwater shield generator, or to the fields shielded by a space station's external shields. Additionally, to avoid potentially world-breaking effects, field control consoles cannot be registered to frequencies above 65519.


    Once a valid frequency has been chosen and the field control console activated, the console's interface will enable the manipulation of gravity, atmosphere, and shielding for that field. Atmosphere and shielding are binary on/off controls. Gravity is controlled by a slider; if set to 0, will result in weightlessness. Gravity may be set to negative values, although this is not recommended as it can be difficult to control and potentially dangerous.

    Deactivation of a field control console will reset gravity, atmosphere, and shielding for its registered field to the original values that were present at the field control console at the moment it was registered. Deactivation is automatic if the field control console is broken.

    Field console consoles contain lit electronics and provide a small amount of light. You can activate bulkhead mode to hide the console behind a bulkhead, in which case no lighting is visible.

    The field control console is crafted at the wiring station, in the mechanics tab.

    Portable Field Tuner

    The main device for tuning blocks to fields is the portable field tuner. Portable field tuners allow fine-grained control of the shape of fields, but are limited in range.

    When you first equip a portable field tuner, it will not be aligned to any field. Right click on a block to tune the portable field tuner to the field to which that block is aligned. Under most circumstances, this will activate the field grid, a 5x5 grid showing the fields around the pointer. A green grid square indicates the block behind it is aligned to the same field as the portable field tuner. A blue grid square indicates that the block behind it is aligned to a different field, but is eligible to be re-tuned. A red grid square indicates that the block behind it is shielded, and therefore cannot be re-tuned at this time.


    Once the field grid is active, left clicking will begin field tuning, and any blue grid squares will promptly turn green, indicating that the blocks underneath have been re-tuned. If you hold shift, the field grid collapses to a single square, allowing fine-grained tuning of a single block at a time.

    Any time you right click on a block, the portable field tuner is re-tuned to the field to which that block is aligned, and the coloration of the field grid will swap accordingly. Note, the portable field tuner cannot be tuned to certain fields, in particular, it cannot tune to any fields shielded by anything not provided by this mod. For example, it cannot be tuned to the field shielded by a Hylotl underwater shield generator, or to the fields shielded by a space station's external shields. If you right click on a block aligned to such reserved field frequencies, the portable field tuner will produce a warning sound, and the field grid will deactivate.

    Field tuning is specific to each world. Any time you travel to another world, the portable field tuner will be reset.

    The portable field tuner is crafted at the agricultural station, in the survival tab.

    Field Tuner XL and Field Tuning Markers

    The portable field tuner is a tool for fine-grained field tuning. However, manually tuning a large area is tedious. The field tuner XL is the larger cousin of the portable field tuner. Place it within an area you wish to tune, and then place field tuning markers around it such that they form a rectangle bounding the area you wish to tune. Wire the field tuner XL directly to the field tuning markers; the markers must be wired directly to the field tuner XL or they will not be used.


    Interacting with the field tuner XL opens its activation menu. The field tuner XL chooses as its default frequency that of the field to which the blocks behind the field tuner XL are aligned; if that is not a valid frequency, a random frequency is chosen. As an alternative, you may enter any valid frequency; a good choice is the frequency to which one of your field control consoles is registered. The same rules that apply to the portable field tuner also apply to the field tuner XL; an error message will be generated if the frequency to which it is set is reserved.


    Once a valid frequency has been chosen, activating the field tuner XL will begin tuning the blocks within its bounding rectangle. While tuning, the field tuner XL is not interactive and its antenna extends and rotates. The antenna retracts once it has completed tuning. After the field tuner XL has completed tuning, there is no reason to leave it installed in the world. You can take it and the field tuning markers and reuse them elsewhere.


    The field tuner XL can tune several thousand blocks per second, and has a two second warmup/cooldown cycle. The maximum length of wiring connections (not in admin mode) produces an upper bound of approximately 36000 tiles within a bounding box, so a very large tuning job can be expected to take approximately ten seconds. Like the portable field tuner, the field tuner XL cannot re-tune shielded blocks; any such blocks encountered during tuning will be ignored.

    The field tuner XL and field tuning markers are crafted at the wiring station, in the mechanics tab.

    Caveat: Build-Tune-Shield Loop

    One hard-coded aspect of Starbound is that, any time the player places a material tile into a block (e.g., placing a tile using the Matter Manipulator) or adds a matmod to a block (e.g., tilling soil or placing grass seed), Starbound changes the field frequency of that block to 65532. Likewise, any time the player removes a material tile from a block (e.g., break a tile using the Matter Manipulator) or removes a matmod from a block (e.g., removing tilling from soil), Starbound changes the field frequency of that block to 65531. There is nothing modders can do to prevent this.


    This effect will not affect you as long as you activate shielding on your fields. However, if you disable shielding and add or remove tiles, you must re-tune those tiles afterwards so that they are realigned with your desired field. Remember the build-tune-shield loop. Take care, especially when rebuilding areas in zero atmosphere/gravity worlds such as asteroid belts; you may experience sudden loss of atmosphere and/or gravity while rebuilding.


    Q: How is this different from Pilch's Field Generators?

    A: Each of Pilch's Field Generators allows you to shield a rectangular-shaped area, and the regions protected by different field generators cannot overlap. If you want to shield a more complex shape, you'd need to set up multiple field generators, potentially many of them. This mod started out as an idea to improve Pilch's Field Generators to allow you to shield any shape. However, Pilch isn't currently active in Starbound, so I built a new mod from scratch. Despite both mods offering similar functionality, the implementations are orthogonal, so both mods should play nicely together.

    Q: Isn't field frequency just a fancy way of saying dungeonid?

    A: Yes. Internal to Starbound code, each tile in each world is assigned a dungeonid and dungeons are the groups of tiles within a world with the same id. I use the terms field and frequency to avoid ambiguity with the actual, playable dungeons in the game.

    Q: Why can't I re-tune shielded blocks?

    A: If you could re-tune shielded blocks, then it would be trivial to unshield any block simply by re-tuning it to a non-shielded frequency. Anyone could destroy your "shielded" base with nothing more than a portable field tuner and a matter manipulator.

    Q: Why can't I register high field frequencies with the field control console?

    A: Certain field frequencies have special meanings to Starbound. These frequencies exist above 65519. Enabling you to alter these fields could have game-breaking effects. The goal of this mod was to enable the creation and protection of interesting bases and dungeons, not to enable god-mode level control of worlds. If you want that, there are always admin commands.

    Q: Help, I've locked myself inside a shielded room!

    That wasn't smart. Time to use admin commands to disable shielding. If you don't have admin privileges, then you'll need to beg someone who does to help you.

    Q: Can I shield gravity-bound blocks using this mod?

    Some blocks, such as ash, loose silt, and slush, are affected by gravity. If a block providing support for a gravity-bound block is removed, the gravity-bound block will slide down to a new location. This can cause landslides when large chunks of gravity-bound blocks slide in a cascade.

    Gravity-bound blocks are special in that, while they can be shielded from direct damage using this mod, neither this mod nor any other mod can protect them from gravity. If a mountain of shielded gravity-bound blocks depends on an unshielded block for support, and that unshielded block is removed, the entire mountain will collapse. Furthermore, this will also cause the field frequency of the area formerly occupied by the gravity-bound blocks to change, as described in the Caveat: Build-Tune-Shield Loop section above.

    tl;dr If you want to protect a mountain of gravity bound blocks from collapse, you must tune and shield every block of the mountain, as well as every block that the mountain depends on for support.

    Compatibility Notes

    Care has been taken to use unique namespaces and make no changes to existing assets, so this mod should be widely compatible. The only point of interaction with the vanilla code is patching the recipes into the player and species config files.

    Uninstall Notes

    Due to how the vanilla Starbound code handles removed mod assets, some issues may crop up. None of these issues are major, but you should be aware of them before removing this mod.
    • Any fields that you had tuned or manipulated in any world will remain as you last set them before removal of this mod, including shielding. You can use `/admin` commands to deactivate shielding (also known as tile protection). You are advised to disable any ship or station shield switches and deregister any field control consoles before removing this mod.
    • The first time you load each pre-existing character after removing this mod, the game may crash. However, you should be able to load the character again, and play should resume with the character returned to their ship.
    • The first time you beam to any world that contained a field control console, field tuner XL, field tuning marker, or ship or station shield switch, those objects will cease to exist and leave error messages in the game log. If any of those objects were stored in a container, they will turn into perfectly generic items, as will any portable field tuners.


    Thanks to Pilch's "Field Generators" for inspiring this mod.


    Permission to include this mod or parts thereof in derived works, to distribute copies of this mod verbatim, or to distribute modified copies of this mod, is granted unconditionally to Chucklefish LTD. Such permissions are also granted to other parties automatically, provided the following conditions are met:
    • Credit is given to the author(s) specified in this mod's _metadata file;
    • A link is provided to https://github.com/rl-starbound/rl_fieldcontrol in the accompanying files or documentation of any derived work;
    • The names "Field Control Technology" or "rl_fieldcontrol" are not used as the name of any derived work without explicit consent of the author(s); however, those names may be used in verbatim distribution of this mod. For the purposes of this clause, minimal changes to metadata files to allow distribution on Steam shall be considered a verbatim distribution so long as authorship attribution remains.
    Mod Pack Permissions:
    Anyone can use this mod in their mod compilation without the author's consent.
    Mod Assets Permissions:
    You must get the author's consent before altering/redistributing any assets included in this mod.

Recent Reviews

  1. Mkolipu
    Version: 1.0.0
    Literally such a chad
  2. KuyaBatman
    Version: 1.0.0
    nice mod! maybe add an option to change how it looks and hide it