I have built a farm on - well, more like within - an asteroid field. When crops grew in my absence (when I was on another planet), I thought the game simply adds delta time to their growth when opening the map.

But I crafted some sprinklers and it works as well. When I come back, the soil is moist and the plants are grown by more than one stage. So apparently, time DOES pass when I'm gone, it's not some simple adding numbers to plant age. I also noticed food decays in my absence in chests.

Does it calculate/simulate all time passed when it loads the map? Or are the other maps running in background?

How does it work?

  • 2
    I doubt maps are still running in the background. What if I'm a really dumb, inefficient farmer that grows 10 crops each on 100 different planets? That's way too much to keep in memory. I suspect items that are affected by time (food, crops, tilled/watered soil, etc.) simply store the last time they were updated, and whenever you visit that item again, it adds/simulates the delta time to reach the "current" state.
    – Mage Xy
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 20:13
  • Mhm, That'd be the smart way to do it. Store a timestamp saying when it's planted, cared for (if needed), and when you're near it it'll update the information/spirtes once you're close to it instead of having thousands of things simulated at once for every planet.
    – Codingale
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 1:34
  • @Codingale Yeah, that was my assumption all along, until I crafted the sprinklers. It's all in the question above. These comments make me feel my question is unclear. Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 9:39
  • Pardon, but I meant they simulate everything, not just plant growth in the similar way. They can also detect if tiles nearby should be updated probably and do so. Having tile updates when you're not even on the planet would be a bit silly also.
    – Codingale
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 9:41
  • 1
    @Codingale This would mean map loading time would increase depending how much time it has to simulate from the last time you were there though. Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 9:43

2 Answers 2


Time in Starbound does not continue on planets if you leave them. The game unloads planets and maps after ~10 minutes. This is detectable by a number of methods:

  • Checking starbound.log or terminal output (it will list that Planet xxxxxxxxx has been unloaded)
  • The on-planet day/night cycle resets after the planet has been unloaded.
  • The time you have to get back in missions before they reset is the same time, as loading them is done by a similar method.

As for your specific question, the game does store data about it's planets in the games universe folder. I assume it simply does delta substraction for a crops total time. Crop growth is measured in real time, not on-planet time.


I'm not entirely certain how the growing mechanic works. From what I've seen, you have to be in the system for the counter to go up on any planet, but the rate is completely unknown to me. You can also grow on ship, which seemingly takes the same mount of time...

Just keep yourself in the same system. Any planets you bookmark with racial/species flags will not continue growth after leaving the system.

My calculation assumption is that it calculates the time upon world entry, hence the reason why when I tried the grand pagoda library, I was lagging insanely hard what with the extra physics of the water. It also explains the reason behind fully grown crops on new planets.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .