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Interview RPG Codex Interview: Faster Than Light, Spaceship Simulation Roguelike

Crooked Bee

(no longer) a wide-wandering bee
Jan 27, 2010
In quarantine
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Tags: Faster Than Light; Kickstarter; Subset Games

For once, we are doing an interview on a Kickstarter project that does not seek your money. Anymore, at least. FTL: Faster Than Light is a "spaceship simulation roguelike(-like)" currently being developed by the two-man company Subset Games based in Shanghai, China, that recently got a whopping $200,000 on Kickstarter, with only $10,000 being the initial funding goal. Faster Than Light focuses on the inner workings of a spaceship - its (upgradeable) systems, subsystems, drones, weapons, ammo, augmentations, and last but not least its crew - as it travels throughout the galaxy, jumping from sector to sector and getting involved in random text and combat events that pop up along the way. As roguelikes are wont to, the game features heavy randomization and permadeath. To get a glimpse of what the game plays like, you can check out this official alpha gameplay video.

FTL had a dedicated thread here on the Codex, which got many of us interested in the game. Unfortunately, however, not everyone had the chance to try out the game's demo that was only available for a limited period of time via OnLive. Therefore, as the game nears its beta (currently scheduled for May), we have reached out to Justin Ma and Matthew Davis of Subset Games to ask them a few questions about the game, the things they plan on adding for the beta, and related matters. This interview is the result. Have a snippet:

What do you feel are the greatest strengths of the roguelike genre, and how do they come into play in FTL?

While the more typical ‘pure’ roguelike games are a lot of fun, what excites us most is when developers take elements of roguelikes and combine them with other established game archetypes. This interest began after being moderately obsessed with Spelunky.

We tried to pull our favorite aspects from the roguelike genre and put them into FTL. This can be seen in the randomly generated galaxy, the way unexpected loot influences your strategy, how permadeath dramatically increases tension, and an end-state that seems just out of reach.

With its streamlined interface, FTL seems to be developed with a more casual audience in mind compared to "hardcore" roguelikes. What will the game have to offer to a veteran roguelike player? How do you ensure that such a player finds enough variety and depth in the game's mechanics to warrant multiple replays?

As much as we love classic sims, we hate the burden of over-complicated UI. We value simple controls and ease of use, but we are still hardcore gamers at heart and FTL was designed specifically for players like us. The game truly shines when players are faced with managing power issues, environmental hazards, boarding parties, injured crew, and an enemy ship... all at once.

Our ultimate goal is to have an intense and difficult game where each failure can be traced back to a decision the player has made; making them want jump back in with their knowledge and strategy refined.

What are the most important features you are still to implement before release, and have your plans changed in any way now that you have collected $200k via Kickstarter instead of the $10k you initially asked for?

By the beta, we want to restructure the map and enemy generation system, create the end-game state, and add the meta-game elements / achievements. In addition to those major features, we’ll be adding more content in the form of additional encounters, weapons, and enemy ships will be added as well. The significantly increased funds are allowing us to hire contractors to improve various aspects of the game. However, our aggressive release schedule could mean that major, previously unplanned features will have to wait until post-launch when we’ll release them as free updates.​

We thank Justin and Matthew for their time and look forward to the beta! Meanwhile, you can visit the official FTL website.

And be sure to read the full interview: RPG Codex Interview: Faster Than Light, Spaceship Simulation Roguelike

P.S. Special thanks go to Zed for his input on the first version of the questions!


Nov 1, 2010
It's a shame I've missed this game during kickstater campaign, would have backed otherwise

Bruma Hobo

Dec 29, 2011
In FTL, text events that pop up as you jump from star to star are 100% gameplay-focused, leading to things like trading, receiving help or being lured into a trap, and acquiring or losing crew members and other resources. In that, they are handled refreshingly different from the story-driven approach dominating the industry today. Do you plan on adding more story-focused "fluff" events?

Since the game is randomly generated, our initial plan was to keep the text events as gameplay oriented as possible and let the “story” be created by the players actions. We are working to create a coherent universe rather than a clear story arc. The player may catch glimpses of this background story but the events will generally be light on fluff.​

I like this guy already :salute: :salute: :salute:

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