Co-op Sandbox FTL? – PULSAR Is The Most Exciting Game

By Nathan Grayson on October 2nd, 2013 at 10:00 am.

Why is everyone not talking about PULSAR: Lost Colony? Craig posted about it semi-recently, and yet the entire surface of planet Earth isn’t ablaze in the slightest. What is wrong with you people? Why aren’t you setting everything on fire? I mean, this game. This goddamn game. It already looks decently polished, and it promises randomized galaxy exploration, class-based co-op ship management (ala FTL, except on ground level), open planet surfaces, multiple factions and ships, permadeath, and heaps more. It’s now, inevitably, on Kickstarter, and my only concern is that it’s aiming its wallet-snatching ray a bit too low, considering its utterly massive ambitions.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the basics, though there’s obviously a whole lot more to the full game:

“PULSAR: Lost Colony is a cooperative starship simulator that takes you and your crew to the farthest corners of the universe on a mission to find the mysterious Lost Colony. It features a procedural galaxy generator so every journey will be unique and contain new challenges for you and your crew.”

“The game has been designed from the ground up to provide an amazing cooperative multiplayer experience (up to five players), although it is entirely possible to play offline with AI bots as your crew.”

There are five classes – captain, pilot, scientist, engineer, and and weapons specialist – and each is responsible for multiple key tasks, from combat and ship defense to computer security, navigation, repairs, and warp-jump alignment. Also, there are specialized upgrade paths, so – for instance – your scientist might become a hacker, doctor, or researcher. Things like that.

Developer Leafy Games is even doing Kickstarter quite nicely, with a full estimated budget breakdown that details how money will be allocated to various aspects of the game’s development. Of course, game development very rarely goes entirely according to plan, but I can respect the intent.

At this point, the plan is to hold a closed alpha test in February 2014 with a full release following that summer. Again, however, this is an insanely ambitious idea, so I have no idea if Leafy will be able to stick to its roadmap without a few detours. We’ll see. For now, though, let us cross our fingers and yodel a mighty ode to Kickstartheoculeon, the deity that presides over all crowdfunding and the results thereof. Join me: “Pleeeeeeeaaaaase beeee gooooood, pleeeeeeeeeeeeease beeeeeee goooooood.”

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52 Comments »

  1. Sheng-ji says:

    “Why is everyone not talking about PULSAR: Lost Colony?”

    Your average gamer isn’t talking about this game because it just makes him a little sad that he knows he couldn’t convince his friends to play this with him.

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      phuzz says:

      What are these ‘friends’ of which you speak?
      I jest, but just getting four of us together for a few games of L4D can be a pain in the arse (usually waiting for everyone to download the correct maps, finish eating, go to the loo etc. takes about a third of our play time)

    • Themadcow says:

      Indeed. Sure, it’s probably pretty easy for a group of teenagers or early 20-somethings to get together to co-op a game like this but for the growing base of ‘married with kids’ gamers it’s just not viable. Online deathmatch type stuff with random’s is one thing but organised scheduled gameplay is another thing entirely.

      Co-op gaming – get off my lawn!

      That said, if the single player ‘bots’ can do a decent job without either making the game too simple or making you want to stomp on your laptop then maybe it’ll have legs… but surely that kind of thing would be tricky for a small developer team to implement well?

      • LionsPhil says:

        It’s a challenge, yeah. You need to be able to schedule it, like some kind of real-life socialization, where everybody has to manage to show up to the same location at the same time.

        (And as Chaz below points out, it better not be “exactly five”.)

        I’m a little worried about how “crew permadeath” interacts with “co-op”. Sitting out the rest of the game, CounterStrike-style, does not sound fun.

        • Lestibournes says:

          Sounds like permadeath only takes place when the whole crew is dead and the respawn point on the ship is destroyed, otherwise you can respawn endlessly.

      • SuicideKing says:

        20 year old here claiming it’s difficult even at his age. Would you believe?

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        Chaz says:

        I think a better system than having actual immersion breaking bots wandering around, would be to be able to put the different ships systems on auto, but requiring human intervention to get the best out of them. As for landing parties, well I suppose you could take some droids with you.

    • Wurstwaffel says:

      yeah… my friends all exclusively play LoL and WoW. Coop has become a turn-off for me.

  2. MrSean490 says:

    I’ve been following it. Development has come along very quickly and it’s looking promising. Should be a fun co-op game.

  3. TT says:

    Will it be manageable by only two? Pizza is hard to divide by Five.

    • Koshinator says:

      You can have the pizza all to yourself if you want, and have the other classes manned by bots (the game supports single players)

    • randomkeyhits says:

      Five pizza divided by five equals one pizza each….. see, not so difficult.

      • The Random One says:

        I actually tried to calculate what is the minimum amount of pizzas that will divide evenly between five friends, using only easy cuts, and without leftovers. But I think my random mate had the right answer: five pizzas.

        I have a next-best solution that doesn’t result in a precisely equal split but requires only two pizzas. Cut one of them in eight slices and the other in six. Each friend now takes one slice from each. Cut the slice remaining from the six-slice pizza into two (across the pizza’s radius, naturally) and give one half to your two least favorite friends. Each of the three friends you actually like then takes one of the remaining slices. By my calculations, now you’ll have three friends with 50/120 of a pizza and two with 45/120.

        • airmikee99 says:

          One of my local pizzeria’s cuts their large into 10 slices using a nifty metal guide for the cutter.

        • tetracycloide says:

          It’s a trick question. Pizza shops rarely pull out their protractors to slice a pizza so the slices will almost always be different sizes and the issue is moot.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Cinek says:

    Another of the games where you spend half of the time praying to RNG gods?

    Oh come on…. Give up this stupid procedural generation finally. For a while, after ’90s I hoped it died forever, and yet somehow now we have a huge return of this stupidity.

    • BTAxis says:

      And permadeath. Will people PLEASE stop it with the permadeath.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        I hope not, I like both features in many games!

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        golem09 says:

        Yes, please also stop making racing games and RTS, because I hate those.

        • BTAxis says:

          Yeah, I don’t really think punishment games are going to stop being made or anything. The difference though is that permadeath is a mechanical component, not a whole game genre. Permadeath gets applied to a variety of game setups, thus ruining them for me. I would totally play a game like FTL in a sandbox environment, but NOT if I have to start over every time I die.

          • mike2R says:

            Being as until fairly recently, those of us who like these sort of games pretty much only had roguelikes with ASCII graphics, I find I can bare your suffering with enourmous fortitude ;)

            Long may the procedurally generated with permadeath renaissance continue!

          • Geen says:

            As a DF Veteran I can attest that sandboxes and permadeath can mix, and quite well at that.

          • tetracycloide says:

            Uh, mike2R, every game has permadeath if you want it to. Not sure what you’re talking about as a result.

    • ghor says:

      Well I like it.

    • bangalores says:

      procedural generation isn’t going anywhere.

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      JamesTheNumberless says:

      You never won at snakes and ladders as a kid did you?

      There’s a right way and a wrong way to do dice rolling mechanics and any random world building system should also have the sensitivity of a good dungeon master in making sure that even if the scenario is always going to be enjoyable even if it isn’t winnable without the right amount of luck.

      I remember when nobody bought a game expecting to be able to see all the content in a single playthrough. Beating a game used to be a big deal.

      Deterministic mechanics are good for multiplayer games, for technical reasons, and good for grand strategy games. For everything else, dice rolling leads to more varied and rewarding gameplay.

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        Cinek says:

        Yes, when I was a kid I enjoyed the games where 90% of world was created by RNG gods.
        But you know – I grew up since then. Heck – I grew up even before RNG retired from the market, so imagine my disappointment seeing it return back to life now.

        • SillyWizard says:

          It must be so difficult for you knowing that there are people enjoying things of which you disapprove.

    • luckyb0y says:

      Procedural doesn’t mean random. Elite has procedurally generated galaxy but there’s nothing random about it.

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        Cinek says:

        It uses semi-random algorithms to generate galaxy. Same shit.

    • DarkFarmer says:

      ew no, Procedural Generation is an invaluable tool for creating endless or very large amounts of game content. It isn’t going anywhere and it isn’t a fad.

      That being said, this game feels like the adventures should be hand-designed, it just feels like thats the better way to go here. Mostly because as people have pointed out, its a big deal to get 4 friends (not just random pickups) together and you dont NEED endless content, just one game nights worth of content.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Chaz says:

    It all depends on how flexible their system is if you don’t have all 5 crew members. If you can only rustle up 2-3 of you on a regular basis to play it, will it adversely affect things by not having the full complement of 5?

    Yes I know they’re going to put bots in, but come on, we all know how sucky they can be at the best of times.

    Otherwise, it looks rather like it could be quite good, the kind of thing I’d love to play. The concept has a lot of promise but I want to see a bit more before I start doing cart wheels with excitement.

  6. Shaun239 says:

    Do you guys remember Star Command and their multiple kickstarters? How they promised Sandbox gameplay etc?

    In the end, all we got is linear and boring gameplay. They promised a lot and barely delivered on any of it. Admittedly though, Star Command isn’t a bad game and the graphics are nice…just very dissapointing.

    Anyway my point is that I’m just a little tired of Kickstarters’ that promise the world…

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      cpt_freakout says:

      I think everything actually good that the Star Command team promised is still coming for the PC version. I think.

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      Martel says:

      I’m with you on that. Achievable and realistic (in terms of what can be created and funded) are much more important than feature lists and stretch goals to the moon and back. Although saying to the moon and back makes me want to fire up Kerbal….dammit

  7. derbefrier says:

    It does sound pretty awesome I will have to think about pledging.

  8. JS says:

    So, I just read an article here on RPS a few days ago about how Star Citizen is going to be awful because of feature creep and other problems, and the writer was very skeptical about the whole project for that game. And now this article, now we’re supposed to be super excited about this, much, much more uncertain project?

    I assumed that the articles wasn’t written by the same author, that it was just two people with different opinions. So imagine my surprise when I look it up and found the same name on both.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Nathan’s kind of flighty. And somewhat prone to “but guys what if?”

    • The Random One says:

      Curiously, from that article’s comments it would seem that Nathan’s article consisted of nothing but effusive praise and extolling of Chris Robert’s infinite capacity for developing games.

  9. Senex says:

    “Pleeeeeeeaaaaase beeee gooooood, pleeeeeeeeeeeeease beeeeeee goooooood.” Haha! I wholeheartedly agree.

    I’ve heard ‘Star Citizen” far too often nowadays. Personally I hope it flops on the floor like a fish out of water while the white rabbit runs amok through the fields of anarchy, but that’s simply my personal opinion on the subject.

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      Cinek says:

      Jeeez, man, you want over 200 000 people to feel like shit if this game flops just so you could feel better?
      Man, get a life, or something.

      • Geen says:

        It’s totally going to happen and you know it. With the amount of features and whatnot promised, it more or less can’t be made in a sane amount of time, and by the time it’s finished gaming will have moved on and it will attempt to move to a new engine, restart development, then become vaporware. Alternatively it’ll be a piece of utter shit, or the dev will just grab the money and never be heard from again.

  10. Enkinan says:

    You have reminded me that I havent unlocked all ships on FTL, see you tomorrow.

  11. The Random One says:

    This sounds like it’ll be what I’d expect from an excellent space MMO, but ditching that pesky first M. I like.

  12. Captain Joyless says:

    ““Why is everyone not talking about PULSAR: Lost Colony?””

    Because there’s nothing to play yet, so it might as well not exist yet.

  13. Wurstwaffel says:

    Weird. I was just thinking how awesome an FPS FTL would be.

  14. Cvnk says:

    Finally. I’ve been waiting for someone to make a game like this. This doesn’t quite have all the features I’ve wished for but it’s a step in the right direction.

    Ideally I’d love to see an mmo on the scale of eve online with each ship crewed by dozens of players. It might be hard to design it to keep that many people interested but man would I like to see sometime attempt it.

  15. dogoncrook says:

    No lawyer. No sale.

  16. captain nemo says:

    This (Pulsar Lost Colony) looks great. It deserves a vote on Greenlight

  17. Bossetti says:

    I will play the shit out of this game.