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:
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.
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.
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: fuuuuckfires in space are badme: but it’s in the airlock, so we can open the doors and put it outTyler: oh okeasyme: fire’s out, doors closedTyler: whewme: shit!Tyler: what!me: missile to the shields roomTyler: what!me: Tyler is injured!Tyler: what!!wtf!?me: shields fully damagedTyler: it’s the shields room!!with all the shields!1safest place!me: you’re like 80% healthTyler: oh whewnot badme: do you stay and repair or run to the med room to heal firstTyler: i’m like 80 in real lifehmmstayi’m fineme: kTyler: kill these fuckers firstme: charlie doesn’t come helpTyler: that fuckin prawnme: enemy is almost dead and he wants to finish it offTyler: yeah fine charliedon’t mind meme: I’ll head over to help for the same reasonit’s almost dead, so I won’t be needed in enginesTyler: i’ll just get blood on these shieldsme: oh, fire in rear airlockTyler: haha shitthese rebelsme: we killed itTyler: haha fire in the rear airlockme: repairing shieldsTyler: like a fartme: hahahahTyler: hahahame: just fix the shields man
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.
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 shouldwe have bad team cohesionwe need to get along betterjanice!
Also we’re at 30% hull integrity, so the captain backs down and we move on. “After a time the distress calls stop…”
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.
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!wtf!me: one teleported onto the shipTyler: oh godnot nowme: “Mr Buga”Tyler: kill themhahahme: janice is pissed nowTyler: hahahai bet she isme: he’s heading for shields…and so is sheTyler: uh ohget me out of thereme: you too are fightingTyler: i want to go homeme: ok, you’ll run to another roomlet janice take himTyler: yeah totallyme: you head back toward me in enginesTyler: okme: janice is pew-pewing it out with himTyler: haha godbetter not fuck up my roomme: we took a hit to O2you and I better repair thatTyler: yeah lets do itme: I’ll stay in enginesTyler: okme: you can handle itand we’re deadTyler: NOme: janice and mr boga were both at very low healthwe took too many hitsTyler: damn dudeme: yeahTyler: how do you win thisit’s the fucking oregon trail out here
We did horribly, but god damn it was fun.
- 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. [↩]