woensdag 11 februari 2015

Faster than light

It's been a while since I posted anything for my graduation project. I have been busy though! A lot of reading for the most part. I have read several books in the past 2 weeks.

-Framed Ink by Marcos Mateu - Mestre
-Understanding Comics by scott Mccloud
-Dream worlds by Hans Bacher
-Color and light by James Gurney
-And several art books from movies and films I had laying around. Not too much text, but nice images and designs with commentary!

I've also been watching some movies and Tv series that deal with tough settings and choices that have big concequences.

 The walking dead for example. More about that later.
First something about a little single player game that I spent some time playing.

FTL or faster than light is a game made by Subset Games and focusses on space combat, strategy and making choices.
 There's a big arsenal of ships you can choose. Each one requiring different strategies and focusing on different weapons. Missiles, beam weapons, lasers. You name it. That's not important though. At least not for my research.

The fact that it's a tactical strategy game which requires planning and managing is interesting. The fact that it's in space, even more so.

So in this game you start out with a spaceship with a few crew members (which you can name yourself) You jump through hyperspace in different star systems. Each location you jump to will give you a randomly generated situation. A merchant selling his wares, a pirate with the intention to steal your liver, a rebel fleet that's right on your tail or a slave ship trying to sell you some crewmembers.

Take for example the last situation, a slaver ship is currently waiting in the location that you jumped to. They give you a few choices, ignore them, buy one of their slaves, shoot them to bits or try to teleport onto their ship to free some slaves and quickly fly away. The last option is available when you have crew teleporter on your ship. Which can be bought, though some ships have it installed by standard. When you decide to attack the slaver ship they might try to give you a slave for free if you leave them alone.

The point is, each situation gives you a certain set of choices. You can decide to help a ship to get rid of a giant spider infestation. Either by attacking them with you crewmembers or burn them out with a fire bomb. The last option only being available if you have a fire bomb weapon installed on your ship. If you try to attack the spiders with your crewmembers you risk losing them. But if you use the fire bomb you risk destroying the whole ship instead of only the spiders. So choices have concequences. And choices made previously in the game can give you more options later in the game.

You gain scrap by solving situations or destroying ships. You can use the scrap as currency to buy upgrades, helping you jump through other star systems untill you have to defeat the Rebel boss ship.
You can't buy every weapon in the game so you have to think about your strategy while playing. 

The fun bit though. I had my crewmembers. My Pilot named Cpt. Indecent for example. He's my tough leader. My crewmember handling the guns named Feng Zhu and a few other crewmembers. All with a lot of experience and skills in their own field, going on a space adventure together. This is what happens I run into a small mining colony currently facing an unknown disease. I can either choose to send my crew in and calm the sick people down, or choose to ignore it and leave. I chose to help the colony, like the hero I am! I sent in my crew to tend to the sick people and prevent them from rioting. I succeeded but the game told me I lost my beloved captain Indecent. So the choice I made had a very big concequence for the rest of my playthrough. with Captain Indecent (with maxed out piloting skills) gone, who was going to pilot my ship? Without him my ship would be vulnerable to enemy firepower. I found a good replacement eventually by hiring a mercanery with good piloting skills. I had to pay a price though, and he was nothing like captain Indecent. I felt a little sad afterwards.

Another example. I made a ship with boarding capabilities. I teleported my 4 crewmembers to the enemy ship. It was a Lanius ship though. The Lanius don't breath, instead, they suck all the air out of every room they're in. They also had a stealth system installed on their ship. I thought: If I'm quick I can take their crew out before I run out of air. Nice plan you would say. It all went well for a bit, the enemy crew was almost dead but I was running out of air so I decided to teleport my crew back to heal them in my medbay. Just when I pressed the teleport button the enemy ship booted up their stealth system. I wasn't able to teleport my crew back because I couldn't see the enemy ship! I lost all 4 of them and I was basicly done for the rest of the game. It was a terrible experience. I killed my crew because I thought it would be a good idea to teleport them to a ship without air support. I'm now thinking twice when faced with a situation like that.

The randomly generated situations part is a great thing about this game. It's a single player game though. Can it be played by multiple players? More people discussing about choices and decisions?
Probably! It's a real time strategy game though, so one player has to do all the moving around and management of the ship. The situation is a bit similar to this war of mine, the game I talked about a little while ago.

Still usefull to me in terms of gameplay and situations. The game is also really well written, resulting in funny situations. Choices you make during the game usually have concequences for the rest of the playthrough, and that's nice. Even if you plan your whole playthrough from start to finish there is still a big chance that you will randomly lose your crewmembers or get an insanely strong weapon that changes your entire strategy. So it's mostly improvising in the end!

Can I make such an experience for multiple players? I'm also writing a little playtest as we speak dealing with situations for multiple players. So more on that later.

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