Punctuation wrangler and orthographic enforcer, feminist, atheist, glutton, geek, scatterbrain, and Seattlite.
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  • FTL Co-op Mode

    Monday, October 1, 2012

    Yes, co-op mode!

    But first: What a great little game! I’ve experienced amazing little stories in FTL: Faster than Light. Mine are probably no different from everybody else’s amazing little stories, but that’s the great thing about FTL, those amazing little stories. The game just does something right to make these microcosmic events and interactions feel so unique, personal, and unexpected. With a game like this, I don’t play to win—I play to see what happens. FTL is a game that doesn’t like to let you win, but it loves to make things happen. If you’re losing and you’re feeling heartbroken and devastated at every loss, big and small, you’re playing it right.

    Anyway, I had a little idea for a new way to play FTL as a sort of roleplaying game:

    • I livestream the game and my friend Tyler tunes in; we talk via IM (or voice chat would work better—actually Google+ probably does this splendidly).
    • Starting a new game, I name one character Lucas (me), another Tyler (since this was the first time we just named them after ourselves). Tyler will dictate his character’s actions, and I’ll have full control over my character’s.
    • The third crewmember is our captain, who we called Janice (inside joke1). We set a rule for her: She will never leave the cockpit except to fight intruders and she’ll always fight intruders. Since she’s the captain and would be making the decisions about missions, she’ll always take risks unless Tyler and I can make a good case otherwise and talk her down. I was thinking of other rules for these “NPCs” and would love to hear more—Will always/never put out a fire. Won’t enter a room with no O2 (if it damages their health). Those kind of things.
    • An unwritten rule, it turned out, was that we would blame all my mistakes as a player on the “NPCs.” This was the funnest part, I have to say.

    That was the setup for our game. Of course, because it was via IM and it was hard for Tyler to see details in the livestream, playing involved a whole lot of typing and a bit of clicking the game here and there. Anyway, it was a cruelly short game. Here are the highlights:

    Jump 0

    Time to take our places on the ship. Tyler chooses to man the shields, while I head for the engines. Janice takes her place in the cockpit. And we’re off.

    Jump 1

    Distress signal. We investigate the single lifeform on the moon. We find the lone survivor and are given the option of welcoming them as a new crewmember or taking them back to their home and family. Charlie the mantis, as he turns out to be, gladly accepts our invitation to join our crew. Being a mantis, he’s vicious and warlike and will fit in nicely in gunnery.

    Jump 3

    We find an AI-controlled rebel ship that hasn’t noticed us yet. We’re anxious for our first fight so we attack it:

    me: we got hit and there’s a fire!
    Tyler: fuuuuck
      fires in space are bad
    me: but it’s in the airlock, so we can open the doors and put it out
    Tyler: oh ok
    me: fire’s out, doors closed
    Tyler: whew
    me: shit!
    Tyler: what!
    me: missile to the shields room
    Tyler: what!
    me: Tyler is injured!
    Tyler: what!!
    me: shields fully damaged
    Tyler: it’s the shields room!!
      with all the shields!1
      safest place!
    me: you’re like 80% health
    Tyler: oh whew
      not bad
    me: do you stay and repair or run to the med room to heal first
    Tyler: i’m like 80 in real life
      i’m fine
    me: k
    Tyler: kill these fuckers first
    me: charlie doesn’t come help
    Tyler: that fuckin prawn
    me: enemy is almost dead and he wants to finish it off
    Tyler: yeah fine charlie
      don’t mind me
    me: I’ll head over to help for the same reason
      it’s almost dead, so I won’t be needed in engines
    Tyler: i’ll just get blood on these shields
    me: oh, fire in rear airlock
    Tyler: haha shit
      these rebels
    me: we killed it
    Tyler: haha fire in the rear airlock
    me: repairing shields
    Tyler: like a fart
    me: hahahah
    Tyler: hahaha
    me: just fix the shields man

    Jump 4

    A federation ship kindly informs us that for a small fee, we can continue on our way. We all give them the finger and Charlie does whatever mantises do and we go in for the attack. Our first volley hit them good and they offered to surrender, but Janice would have none of that, so we kept at it. Unfortunately, their first volley hit us pretty good too, starting a fire in the engines room. We take more hits, disabling O2, the medbay, and the doors, which means we can’t remotely put out the engine fire. We start to wonder how these bastards are still alive and firing on us, when I notice that autofire was off and we hadn’t fired a shot since our opening volley. WTF CHARLIE. Charlie scrambles to the controls and finishes off the enemy ship with another volley.

    Tyler and I repair the O2 and engines, while Charlie fixes the doors and medbay. The captain orders Charlie to stay there so we can all have a talk once we’re fixed. “What the hell was going on, Charlie?” Tyler and I have lost all trust for him, so we drop Charlie off at the nearest station. Dismissed. Maybe he’ll find his family from there.

    Jump 5

    We find a pirate chasing a civilian ship. Janice orders us to prepare to attack the pirate, but Tyler protests:

    Tyler: i don’t think we should
      we have bad team cohesion
      we need to get along better

    Also we’re at 30% hull integrity, so the captain backs down and we move on. “After a time the distress calls stop…”

    Jump 6

    A rebel scout is attacking a post. We’re shaken, but Janice insists we fight this one. “It’s just a scout.”

    A missile from the “scout” hits the cockpit. Tyler admits that he’s not too concerned for her life anymore. Clearly she’s failed to inspire his loyalty. Clearly she also failed to read closely, because this “scout” is a rebel rigger! More missiles, more fires, more hull breaches. Lots of this:

    Somehow we manage to kill the rigger, and Janice leaves her cockpit to help repair. She and Tyler repair the shields together, then all three of us meet in the medbay to repair and heal. No one talks. The captain heads back to the cockpit and Tyler and I quietly discuss whether we should stay on this ship any longer than we have to.

    Jump 7

    Our minds are made for us and our options denied as we learn that we can’t jump forward from here—we have to backtrack into rebel-infested territory. There is very little chance of survival. Even Janice is grim, as if she agrees that she deserves the mutiny that will follow if we survive this.

    We’re attacked by an elite fighter as soon as we jump:

    me: intruders!
    Tyler: what!
    me: one teleported onto the ship
    Tyler: oh god
      not now
    me: “Mr Buga”
    Tyler: kill them
    me: janice is pissed now
    Tyler: hahaha
      i bet she is
    me: he’s heading for shields…
      and so is she
    Tyler: uh oh
      get me out of there
    me: you too are fighting
    Tyler: i want to go home
    me: ok, you’ll run to another room
      let janice take him
    Tyler: yeah totally
    me: you head back toward me in engines
    Tyler: ok
    me: janice is pew-pewing it out with him
    Tyler: haha god
      better not fuck up my room
    me: we took a hit to O2
      you and I better repair that
    Tyler: yeah lets do it
    me: I’ll stay in engines
    Tyler: ok
    me: you can handle it
      and we’re dead
    Tyler: NO
    me: janice and mr boga were both at very low health
      we took too many hits
    Tyler: damn dude
    me: yeah
    Tyler: how do you win this
      it’s the fucking oregon trail out here

    We did horribly, but god damn it was fun.

    1. When Tyler first played Portal he said to me, “There’s this lady on the intercom. I think her name’s Janice. She sounds like a Janice.” I was like oh ho ho, just you wait. []
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