Beaming: FTL Is The Star Trek Game I’ve Always Wanted

By Craig Pearson on February 28th, 2012 at 2:30 pm.

FTL FTW
Every fantasy you’ve ever had to reroute power to the shields exists in FTL. I know because I just pulled power from the sick-bay to boost my shields while I attempted to flee a hostile enemy scout. If you don’t have those fantasies yet, then soon it’ll be all you can think about. FTL’s random, rogue-like space-faring nastiness just got me into an unwinnable fight against an unmanned scout ship: if I destroyed it, it would automatically send out a distress signal to inform the rest fleet that I’d just Captain Mal-led him. So instead of going for a death blow, I had to stoke the shields and retaliate by hitting their weapons, keeping us both alive while my FTL drives powered up. No-one was hurt so far; the sick-bay was expendable. Recuperation would have to happen post-battle.

It’s such a simple concept: a crew of four are fleeing rebel scum, hoping to keep ahead of the vast fleet that wants them dead. The rebels are slowly engulfing the left of the map, with the ship aiming for the exit somewhere on the right. Each jump takes you into the unknowable, with system’s potentially being neutral, friendly, or antagonistic.

Every fight it forces you into is a battle to keep the ship’s system’s in check. You have shields, weapons, the jump drive, the bridge, sick-bay, scanners and the oxygen generator to worry about initially. You don’t need to know how to fix the engines, you just need a crew member, any crew member, near enough to make it so. Getting them in the right place is half the battle.

I'm growing a Riker beard in anticipation

The minute the enemy starts firing, panic starts scrambling my synapse: I compose and place two crew in the middle section of the ship, in the weapons bay, so I can keep them near engine, O2 and weapons, and watch for the systems weakening. Oxygen is a big worry and an enemy missile has caused a fire in the scanners: without them I’m unable to see what’s going on internally and where the enemy’s weak spots are. I need them. While you don’t micromanage the ship, you do have control over the doors. I make sure all the crew are in sealed rooms and open a series of doors from the scanner room all the way to the ships hull, venting the fire into space.

Cool.

That means I’ve lost a chunk of oxygen, but at least I can repair the scanner. One crew member is ordered through the now resealed middle section, and I pop another in O2 room, to ensure nothing bad happens.

The replicators better remember my recipe for cornflakes

All the while I’ve been charging missiles and energy beams, and I target the other ship’s sheilds and weapons. I’m glad I upgraded my o
wn sheilds: I added a few extra power bars in case of an emergency and with no-one hurt, I boost them by dropping power to sick bay just as my weapons are powered up. If this was Star Trek, the camera would do that wooshy thing to my face as I dramatically command “fire”. Burst in both targeted rooms. The automated little ship is crippled and I jump the hell out of there. Right into a solar flare.

Bastard rogue-like.

So every leap away from the fleet is terrifying. One playthrough, I had no-one to fight for four jumps, another I lasted just two leaps before landing into the path of a rebel attacking an outpost: I was asked to help or flee. I fled, because on the previous jump I’d come up against a pirate slaver who stole one of my crew. Sorry, Jon.

If you fancy generating some jumps of your own, you can play it OnLive for the next fortnight. They’ve also just announced filled a Kickstarter drive, which suggests the game will be complete in August.

5pm Edit: Have a trailer.

FTL: Alpha Trailer from Justin Ma on Vimeo.

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77 Comments »

  1. El_MUERkO says:

    I funded. A space roguelike with text based quests?! YES PLEASE!

    While I can totally understand their reasons for using OnLive to let people play the Alpha, but I’m going to hold out for the beta or {with enough willpower} the finished article.

    • Chris D says:

      If that’s the kind of thing that appeals then may I suggest that if you haven’t already played Space Rangers 2 you should do so immediately.

    • AshEnke says:

      The only problem I can see with text-based quests on an open-ended/infinite-replay-value type of game is that we’ll always end up doing the same quest twice.
      Except if…. they’re so well written that the choices we make during them lead to completeley different outcomes…

      And do what the man said : play some Space Rangers 2.

    • yhalothar says:

      Yup, I’ll wait too. My reaction was somewhere along the lines of “Hey that looks cool. Awesome, even – I’ll just go and down… oh. Nevermind then.”

    • Havok9120 says:

      Escape Velocity Nova?

      Escape Velocity Nova.

      You need to go try Escape Velocity Nova.

    • quickfire809 says:

      What Havok9120 said- do that immediately

      Spectacular game- this was the game that in college got my friends off their windows PC’s wanting to borrow my mac laptop.

      Amazing to me though that in this day of sales, discounts, and price reduction after very short periods of time that they are still selling the game for the same price as when it came out

    • sneetch says:

      I have to say that Escape Velocity Nova has a terrible website. It tells you nothing about what kind of game it is, just a brief video with some pew-pewing going on. Because of the recommendations I’ll download the Free Trial and that will tell me what I need to know but if I stumbled on the website on my own I wouldn’t give it a second glance.

      http://www.ambrosiasw.com/games/evn/

    • mompkin says:

      @Havok
      Escape velocity was one of the first games I played obsessively on my family’s computer. I remember sneaking out of my room at night after my parents went to sleep and trying to *very quietly* play as long as possible until I heard someone in the house stirring and I had to quick close it and sneak back into bed and pretend to be asleep. Combined across the three games and all the mods available for them, they might possibly be the series I have sunk the most time in my life into. My love of the rise of indie games is always somewhat tempered by a disappointment that any space game I play isn’t quite as awesome as my childhood memories of playing Escape Velocity.

    • Kefren says:

      I had Space Rangers 1 and 2, and strangely I preferred the first one. It was my game for last summer. Maybe I didn’t like the RTS additions in SR2.

    • evanandchan says:

      Oh my god. Escape Velocity and Space Rangers 2 are some of my favorite games ever. I’m glad that others love them as much as I do. Anyone know of any recent equivalents?

    • Fiatil says:

      The RTS bits of Space Rangers 2 definitely always dragged on a little bit too long. Luckily, at least in the fancy expansion version, you get the option at the beginning to completely ignore them and go about your space days text adventuring and shooting dominators.

    • Thants says:

      I think EV:Override is the better game. The universe is better designed and more open-ended. EV:Nova becomes too linear and too much of “fly to planet, read text, repeat”. Although the graphics in Nova are much better.

    • mompkin says:

      @Thants – I got the most out of EV Nova largely because there are several amazing total conversions for it. I can’t remember which ones were my favorites, but its allowed me to go back and play though an entirely different game several different times. IIRC, the (well done) total conversions for override are much more limited.

    • Havok9120 says:

      Override is what got me into the series. I loved that galaxy to bits. The Voinions were a pretty badass enemy (or ally!).

      And the mods! Oh, the mods. For both Nova and Override, the mods were amazing. Frozen Heart and Reign of the Voinions/United Earth were amazing on Override. Its important to remember that these were designed and released as Mac games, so a lot of the best mods aren’t PC-capable, which is something I regret immensely. Nova’s enormous list of game-expanding mods take that game to a whole ‘nother level, and it comes with a converter that that’ll make almost all of the mods work on PC. I’ve got my uber tricked-out version of Nova burried somewhere on my laptop’s hard drive.

      @sneetch You’re totally correct. They’ve gotten waaaay away from their days designing computer games, and their current website reflects that. Do use the trial. I’ve had a ton of fun with the EVs over the years.

      @evanandchan The closest I’ve ever seen is the under-development Starfarer. Think Mount and Blade in space, with a lot of Escape Velocity thrown in for good measure. The current alpha is a ton of fun and quite well polished as far as it goes. Have a link.

      http://fractalsoftworks.com/

      Or just the name in RPS’ Search-O-Tron. They’ve enjoyed it.

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    • dontnormally says:

      Thants is totally right – Escape Velocity: Override is by far a better game. Comes free with EV:Nova (well, you can download it as a total conversion plugin).

      [edit]: I meant to say that EV:O is better than EV:N.

      FTL – wow! This game has me aching to play more. What an awesome concept, awesomely-executed.

  2. SpinalJack says:

    I dropped some cash on that as soon as I could. Can’t wait.

  3. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    Heard about this a few months ago in some PC gamer podcast. When I first checked their kickstarter page today, they were 3$ over the target already.

  4. Lemming says:

    Damn I saw the article headline and thought this was out now! >:-(

  5. Bhazor says:

    Sounds like that table top game Quinns was banging on about a few months back. Crossed with that Star Trek game where you controlled a ship by issuing orders through the chains of command. Do want.

    • Tusque D'Ivoire says:

      wasn’t that Starfarer? Anyway, I like that there’s a few games going in the general GSB direction (with more interaction)

      Also of note: That star trek/game dev story game that had a kickstarter going in autumn. not heard much about it since though :(

    • Richie Shoemaker says:

      iOS/Android game Star Command? It’s coming along quite nicely.

    • Conrad B Hart says:

      That would be Vlaada Chvatil’s “Space Alert”. And it does sound similar!

    • AshEnke says:

      It looks like a mix between Artemis and the boad game Battlestar Galactica.

    • Hodge says:

      Obligatory link to the relevant Shut Up And Sit Down episode.

      EDIT: Relevant in that it’s the one where Space Alert is reviewed.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Yes! Space alert! Thats exactly what i was thinking while i read. It must have taken some inspiration from it. Need to get some people to play that asap.

    • Hypocee says:

      I felt like Mr. Clever for spotting that this was a lot like Red November (Quite like Space Alert but minus the CD gimmick, content limitations, time pressure and time travel logic, plus Soviet nuclear submariner gnomes becoming fireproof by getting drunk.)

      Then I listened to their interview, where they were like ‘Yeah, we basically wanted to adapt Red November and put in some action elements and random generation that the computer can do.’ Well! All right then.

      So until this comes out, or at any time really, maybe try Red November.

    • Snotty says:

      Thats a good shout on ”sit down and shut up”. Their comedy is a bit hit and miss, but they literally made me laugh out loud while providing entertaining and indepth coverage of games.

      I love to play games, I consider myself a gamer. And now I realise its not just computer games, but any game I want to play

  6. mckertis says:

    So its completely real time or what ? Can you at least give orders on pause ? Or its just reflex clicking all the way ?

    • PoulWrist says:

      It is realtime, but you can press space to pause and issue orders.

    • Vinraith says:

      This is the single most important piece of information in this article, and I can’t help but notice that it’s not in this article. I have no interest in a real-time, super-hectic game that isn’t going to give me any time to think. On the other hand, a game that will let me stop, assess my options, and act accordingly is always worth investigating further.

    • mckertis says:

      Tried playing it on Onlive. The speed was decent enough, but it screws around with the mouse, cursor flies too fast, and tends to stick to the edges. Fiddling around with my settings and looking for input options didnt change much. Couldnt stand this mousing around nonsense for more than a minute. Do people have some kinda new generation of mice or something i’ve never heard of ?

      Edit : my tablet stylus was supported in client, but not in game…crap, apparently they used relative mouse input. WHYYYY ???!!! Its 2012, get on with it and make it absolute coordinates !

  7. DrScuttles says:

    No-one liked beardless Riker.

  8. kikito says:

    Is there a particular reason for not including a link to their website?

    http://www.ftlgame.com/

  9. Voon says:

    Help! I can’t stop throwing money at this game!

  10. Unaco says:

    Looks good. I’ll wait ’til it’s released or closer to being complete, maybe with a demo to try, before I put any money down on it though.

  11. darkmouse20001 says:

    Anyone remember EGATrek? Now that was a hell of a game – using the deathray was intense – I think I only used it about 6 times in utter desperation – twice it worked and I thought it was risk free and then on the third attempt that horrible flickering blackness.

    Anyway, I digress – This looks like a slightly more complex take on EGATrek – which is a good thing.

  12. Fumarole says:

    Sounds an awful lot like Space Alert.

  13. LieutLaww says:

    put money down, played the demo Onlive, glad i put the money down :D

  14. Maldomel says:

    After reading this, I’m more than interested. I mean, I want it now. NOW!!

  15. jealouspirate says:

    This sounds excellent. Quite happy to give them money.

  16. phuzz says:

    So, can someone explain why I have this in my RSS feed.
    Not just a single article, oh no, but at some point I must have gone to the effor tof adding their site to my list of RSS feeds, and yet until this morning I swear I’d never heard of this game.
    Still, glad I did add it, looks right up my street, like STRANGE ADVENTURES IN INFINITE SPACE only with some internal ship management.

  17. Jesse L says:

    This might be my first Kickstarter. Roguelike elements and internal ship management? Too good.

  18. Lambchops says:

    Saw this crop up in the forums and definitely plan to play the demo and if I enjoy it (which I think I well might) I’ll be putting some money down,

  19. Chuckaluphagus says:

    Dropped some money into the Kickstarter. Enough for the game at release, not the closed beta. As much as I really, really want to be playing this game as soon as possible (and the Linux version!), I have too much on my plate to make useful contributions to a beta, and I can wait for a finished product come the end of summer.

  20. DK says:

    Sounds quite a lot like Kerberos’ game-that-never-got-made-because-they-only-got-funding-for-SotS-2-and-now-they’ll-probably-not-get-funding-again.

  21. niasyn says:

    Hey, I remember funneling energy to shields in x-wing-v-tie fighter etc. Awesome stuff.

  22. cloudnein says:

    battlestations.info (the cardboard version of your power reroute fantasy)

  23. caddyB says:

    funded. YAY!

  24. Risingson says:

    Am I the only one who thought “My god, a SUNDOG remake!” ?

  25. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    Bonus points to Craig for working “make it so” into the article.

  26. Erithtotl says:

    Wait, has anyone who reads this site NOT played Space Rangers II?

    As for the greatest, long lost game of this time ever done, check out Star Fleet II: Krellan Commander. Game simulates an entire frickin galaxy. One of the most ambitious games ever attempted. Released in a buggy, almost unplayable state, it was steadily patched and is playable and quite fun now.

    http://www.myabandonware.com/game/star-fleet-ii-krellan-commander-rr

    • sgt. grumbles says:

      I loved Krellan Commander. Played that for hours on end, but it was definitely buggy on release (quick google check… 1989?! Blimey I’m old).

      Never really knew what I was doing, but I did enjoy razing planets with the orbital gun. I had no idea it had been patched up; I’ll have to give it a go. Thanks.

  27. Lemming says:

    As the ship ‘hull’ is clearly just an image, it’d be great if they’d allow it to be easily moddable. I’d love to change it to Starbug!

  28. irongamer says:

    Very cool! Enjoyed the demo.

  29. suibhne says:

    Wait, F whose Life?

  30. Ba5 says:

    Oh my this is addictive. $10: donated.

  31. Hematite says:

    I don’t want to be that guy but… y’know… proof reading.

  32. DarkFenix says:

    This game is awesome. I have one problem with it, I don’t have the full thing right now.

  33. Rinox says:

    The music reminds me a little of Solar Winds.

  34. Timmytoby says:

    This reminds me strongly of Battlestations, an awesome boardgame/RPG/tactical space combat simulator from a great little indie company.
    It’s very pulp sci-fi with a lot of Star Trek influences and also looks very similar to this.

    http://boardgamegeek.com/image/163652/battlestations-are-you-a-hero

  35. Rugged Malone says:

    This game makes me happy, because I so very much want to see games like this, and to see games like this get funded, and because it is indie and that makes me want to smile.

    This game makes me sad, because I have had for years in my mental TODO list the making of a similar sort of game, and because I’m not making mine yet and that reminds me that I’m doing life wrong.

  36. crinkles esq. says:

    This game looks great, though I could do with slightly more professional ship graphics. +1 for Mac & Linux support. Oh, and the Kickstarter page says they’re based out of Fremont, CA, cool! Wait, why does the blurb up top say China? Let’s go to the website FAQ.

    “This two person development team is based out of Shanghai, China.”

    Wait, what was that? Not that it matters, I’m just a bit surprised. They said they quit a big game dev studio. Were they in Fremont and then moved to Shanghai to hire an army of developers?

  37. Shoelip says:

    Looks more and more like a puzzle game disguised as a space roguelike…

  38. ttcfcl says:

    I played the demo on OnLive. It was a great 30 minutes, though I do not miss OnLive’s laggy mouse cursor. Anyway, the best Fun I had in FTL was when I drained power from the oxygen system to power sheilds and weapons. I had assumed incorrectly that it was just used to regain O2 lost when venting rooms. After noticing all my dudes had low health, I sent them to med bay. Also I was wondering why the floor was pink instead of white like usual. By the time I realized I WAS KILLING THEM, three dropped dead instantly right infront of the medbay door. I felt bad for the lone survivor.

  39. kdmcdrm says:

    Hey all, just wanted to mention, if you’re interested in a Star Trek-type-game I recommend Artemis. I can honestly say, it’s some of the most fun I’ve had playing an multilayer game in the last ten years. It’s all about re-routing power, choosing targets for weapons, and everything else you might imagine doing aboard the Enterprise. The downside is that you’ll need a few (real world) friends and maybe a few drinks to truly enjoy the game at its finest.

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