The great part about the game is that the beginning portion is actually quite strategic despite the battles being very easy. You really need to maximize your wins by either getting in as many battles as possible per sector or by killing opposing crews without destroying their ship. Your first 5 or so sectors really set the pace for the later game.
Err what? I happened to play quite a few games where I advanced to sector 3 or 4, never found a good weapon in any shop. Then I was destroyed, because I couldn't kill enemies with 2 shields. And I fought as many battles as possible in each sector.
Since this happened in the majority of my games, I stopped playing.
But you are exactly right that calling the game "perfectly balanced" is ridiculous. It's a roguelike. There are so many random elements and sometimes you just get a string of bad dice rolls. This topic is brought up explicitly in the DCSS faq (another hugely popular roguelike) and I think it applies here:
>The possibility of unavoidable deaths is a larger topic in computer games. Ideally, a game like this would be really challenging and have both random layout and random course of action, yet still be winnable with perfect play. This goal seems out of reach. Thus, computer games can be soft in the sense that optimal play ensures a win. Apart from puzzles, though, this means that the game is solved from the outset; this is where the lack of a human game-master is obvious. Alternatively, they can be hard in the sense that unavoidable deaths can occur. We feel that the latter choice provides much more fun in the long run.
Just the very notion of perfect play somehow ensuring a win is rather silly in the context of imperfect information and games of chance. Look at the game of poker: even a heavy underdog can win if he catches perfect.
Single-player games, even those with random elements, can be designed such that the odds of winning in perfect play can be 100% or (easier) extremely close to 100%.
A little off-topic, but I've been trying to come up with a way to quantify (or at least usefully bucket) the strength of the effects of chance on a game. Do you have any ideas for how do to that?
In a completely symmetric multiplayer game, Player A is measurably more skilled than Player B if, over a large number of games, Player A's win rate is higher than 50% by a statistically significant margin. This definition can be extended to both single-player games, and to non-symmetric multiplayer games, by saying that after Player A and Player B have played the same scenario a large number of times, that Player A's win rate is higher than Player B's by a statistically significant margin. The "same scenario" meaning identical starting conditions for single-player, or the same opponents for multi-player. This can be extended again by saying "the same scenario" means drawing starting conditions or opponents from the same random distribution (by relying on the nature of statistical significance).
So that's how you would define pairwise player skill. From this, there are several ways to determine total rankings for a population of players, using Elo or linear algebra techniques. I'm eliding details here because this is the step where they matter the least.
Finally, in order to determine the impact of Luck vs Skill: Take two players at different skill levels. Say, Player X is at the median skill level, and Player Y is two standard deviations above that (top 5%). What is Player Y's win rate over Player X? The closer to 100%, the more skill-based the game is. The closer to 50%, the more luck-based the game is.
Note that in general this will depend heavily on which two skill levels you pick to compare. For example, Player X is median, Player Y is top 5%, Player Z is top 1%. Players Y & Z could have a 100% win rate over Player X, but Player Z only has a 51% win rate over Player Y. This game would probably be described as heavily skill-based, but with a low skill ceiling.
In a multiplayer game, write a skilled/optimum player and a naive/basic player. The win-percentage of the weak bot can be a good measure of chance.
Many roguelikes (a category FTL is usually included in) have bots which facilitate this kind of analysis. But since competent bots are sometimes difficult to write well, some games also use "scummers" and/or stats modules which generate millions of randomly-generated levels and compute difficulty or reward heuristics for each, ensuring that the st. dev. is within desired ranges. If the heuristics are good, this can be sufficient.
Another option in a hosted game or one that can phone home is to have real-live players be the guinea pigs instead of the bots. Same basic principles apply.
In the case of single-player games such as FTL, people really do mean one single game when they talk about winning or losing. Otherwise, your odds of winning no matter how bad you are begin to approach 100% if you play enough games.
Reportedly, skilled FTL players can win nearly every game. Similar things have been reported about certain other roguelikes.
A good player can often get through the first sector without repairing at all, without spending a single point of scrap on minor upgrades and fighting as many battles as possible. This lets you buy a big ticket item such as a cloaking device, a teleporter or a powerful weapon right away. Big ticket items (especially the teleporter) have the ability to pay for themselves many times over.
The real beauty and elegance of FTL's design is that it makes opportunity costs a real factor in game play. Buying a lot of small upgrades makes you a lot more survivable early on but severely restricts your total scrap potential over the course of an entire game. The key to winning FTL is to coast along on as minimal a budget as possible until you land a big ticket item and then invest heavily into it so that you can earn more scrap and take a lot less damage going forward. Of course, none of this strategy works if you aren't playing battles very carefully and making optimal use of the pause button to coordinate your weapons.
If you die repetitively, you should try a change of strategy. Not finding any weapons? Try drones or crew transporters. Only finding wimpy weapons? Can you somehow combine their features and synchronize the attack to make them more powerful than they are alone?
But if you have a problem enjoying the irony of a suffocation death of your crew because you opened the airlocks to suffocate some intruders and the intruders took out your oxygen system with their last breaths, FTL might be too cruel for you.
I recommend reading up on the prevailing FAQs for the game. They go into great detail about how to optimize your runs through the first few sectors to gather the resources and items you'll need to survive the last half. For the life of me, I've never been able to beat the boss at the end of the game. I've come close, but personal circumstances forced me to stop playing for awhile, so I never climbed all the way up the learning curve. Even still, it's remarkable how different a player I was at that point from what I was when I started.
(I still enjoyed "fucking-around" runs, where I just sort of let stuff happen and bounced around from adventure to adventure. But that's a very different style from the min-maxing one needs to do to win.)
For example, if you're using the Kestrel (Missile and Laser weapons), then you want to hit Shields with the missile first to disable them. Only if you actually downed the shields do you want to shoot the laser so that all three shots have a chance at doing damage (preferably on the Weapons subsystem). If everything hits (which happens very often in the first 4 sectors), then you've just disabled the enemy's shields AND weapons - they are now easy pickings.
In summary, never use autofire (unless you have Ion weapons) and time your shots so each weapon gets a maximum chance of doing damage.
This is doubly effective, as if you kill all of a crew, then you (almost) always get the best reward possible, which often contains bonus equipment, and up to 50% more scrap.
By the end, you'll often have so much money that you'll be capped on energy, and just buying alternate max systems. Also, always destroy rebel ship Medbays, and the Fire Beam and Bio Beam are devastating for this strategy.
Finally, as noted in another person's comment, Teleporter makes the last boss remarkably easy. Just Teleport into each of the weapon rooms and kill the operator (starting with Missiles). Notably, don't kill every crew member, or the Super AI will take over for the final boss and it goes into crazy, Ultra-mode.
Even failing that, the starting ship has some decent weaponry; the missile can go through shields (so if you time it together with your lasers), you should be able to completely disable a 2-level shield with your first salvo. You may want to go for their weapons first, though. Disabling their pilot / engines removes their ability to dodge, meaning that all 3 of your lasers will hit.
I'd also recommend reading through the various wikis that exist, e.g. ftlwiki has great tips / strategies for each player ship. Here's their take on the Kestrel (starting ship):
Other simple tips would be - always attack (and defeat) slavers, they usually offer a slave in exchange for mercy, which is a great deal. If they are non-human, you will get more "blue" options, which usually have (better) rewards. Later on, simply get to level 5 to unlock the engi ship, and play around with it to get an idea of how powerful drones can be.
In summary, the gameplay is actually very balanced, and pretty deep. With a lot of skill, you should be able to get to the final level on easy most of the time (and perhaps beat the boss half the time, depending on your strategy). But being a kind of roguelike (with all its randomness), sometimes you will just have bad luck...
But do keep in mind that door upgrades and a few others (I forget which) don't require extra power. That makes them much more attractive.
Can someone who's consistently beaten the game chime in on his or he preferred upgrade path?
Intruders and fires are basically a non-factor once you learn to use the pause button promptly and often.
Cloaking and teleporters are great early investments, too. Cloaking saves tons of resources that would have been spent on repairs, and killing the enemy crew gives better rewards compared to blowing up the ship.
I do agree with the observation that killing the crew of an enemy ship gives much greater reward. I love the anti-bio weapon :)
Just make sure you can hurt an enemy with 4 shields and missile defence. I once got there and couldn't penetrate it at all...
The second time was with the Engi cruiser, and I handily beat him. I had only EMP weapons, a level 2 defense drone, and a level 2 attack drone (probably also a repair drone). I just played damage control and set the EMP weapons to autofire at the shield room. When they eventually disable it, the level 2 attack drone shredded him.
Haven't played since then (figured I'd quit while I was ahead), but this may get me back in.
First and foremost, it is tempting to get shields working early on, but I actually had better luck upgrading stealth first and then shields - early encounters can be destroyed before they fire at you if your weapons loadout is good. But be sure to upgrade to full shielding before getting to the end.
Basic idea for me was to charge all my weapons to full, fire if I had an opportunity to before the biggest enemy weapon, and wait for the largest enemy weapon to fire (usually a missile). As it fired, engage stealth. This gives you a really absurdly high dodge chance, and the weapons fire almost always misses.
Immediately drop stealth and fire all weapons. If the ship has a lot of shields, target shields, otherwise target weapons (none or low shields means you will hurt bad if they fire back). Generally this can cripple the enemy ship, making it so they can't effectively engage you - this is pretty vital to keeping the stealth cruiser alive. If it starts to go bad for you, stealth away, and consider leaving the engagement.
For what it's worth, my best loadout consisted of a large missile system for punching through shields to disable the shield system, an EMP bomb system for disabling defensive drones (or other systems), and a fire beam weapon I used to try and hit shields and weapons at the same time, all on an alpha strike after coming out of stealth. I also had a teleportation rig set up with two of the insectoid crew that could take the fight to the enemy - this was really useful at keeping them busy, and keeping the ship alive. Also good for when I ran out of missiles - could send them in to disable shields and / or weapons and get out.
I still got torn up by the drones sent in by the final boss though, so a good drone defense system would have been invaluable - if you stealth, they just hover around until you come out of stealth, then breach. Good luck. :-D
The problem the stealth ship has is when the enemy ship has shields and weapons in abundance (those Zoltan ships are EVIL). In this case, you have to take the harder task (and almost always take damage) and knock out shields first. I loved the long beam weapons because I could drop shields for a moment and burn apart weapons and shields on most ships.
Another important thing I would always do is not fire missiles if shields were down unless weapons were still up - you will need every one of those missiles later.
Cloak can't be bought on some ships. Some ships have extremely bad crew for boarding and don't even get to get some better crew. There's certainly more than one way to win it.
The only ship that can't equip Cloak it is the Federation Cruiser (and its variant) and this ship has the Artillery Beam to make up for it. As for crew, between Stores and Slavers it's entirely possible to get to Mantis or, even better, two Rock crew members before facing the boss. This, at the very least, will let you take out the boss's weapons.
If you like Rogue-likes, then try Rogue Legacy, which is sort of the FTL take on Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
Your strategy for FTL is correct. I like to suck the marrow from early sectors, hoarding scrap and dough while routing early baddies. I've still never beaten it, though, and I've been playing since it was dropped on the IGF in 2011!
The only weird thing I've found: There's an option to show the reachable systems on the map, so you can plan your route through a sector in advance.
This is quite a gameplay change from the route guessing game you encounter with the default settings, making the game easier.
I feel a little bit like cheating when enabling this...
>This is quite a gameplay change from the route guessing game you encounter with the default settings, making the game easier.
>I feel a little bit like cheating when enabling this...
They patched this in and it feels weird, yeah. I wish they would tie the upgrade into the sensor systems: see one level of nodes at level 2, and the whole map at level 3. I like feeling of jumping into the uknown but i can't turn off the minmax part of my brain enough to turn off a free option.
I consistently get to the end game battle, no matter what luck I have in random events. I could have won my last few end battles if I had just played things slightly differently.
Nothing is perfect, some things are just more perfect than others ;-)
However nothing beats the Escape Velocity series. The writing, the "asteroids-like" space combat, the trading missions. It's what I wished EVE Online was.
If you haven't played FTL before, don't heed the complaints about the randomness, it's not as difficult or random as it may at first seem. And frankly failing in this game while you are learning the ropes is half the fun.
Agreed. A wider variety of challenges in the end game would be appreciated. Once you played this game a lot you can usually predict whether you can beat the final sector -- it is just going through the motions.
I found there was not enough variety with the encounters (you keep seeing the same "abandoned space station"/"rogue drone" events very regularly). It's hard to forgive because all events are text-based, so it's not really difficult to add variety. That being said, maybe this extension solves this issue by adding a lot more events.
Others point out the extreme randomness of the game but I think it's only an issue because the game forces you to push forward (backtracking is almost never possible or very costly) which reduces your margin of error and makes you very dependent on the clemency of the "Random Number God". It's of course a very explicit design choice and the game wouldn't be the same without it but it does make for some very frustrating moments.
But I think the main problem I've had with the game is that it's sold as a roguelike (or rather, a roguelike-like) and in my opinion in doesn't come close to DCSS, nethack, angband and others in terms of depth of gameplay and "replayability". For me a roguelike is a game where you can end up in a seemingly desperate situation and still succeed by thinking out of the box and use an unexpected strategy. I've never had one of those moments in FTL. You can't take over other people's ships for instance, which would open a lot of new strategies. Of course the definition of "roguelike" is a bit loose so maybe I'm just too narrow minded.
All that being said for it's price it's definitely worth trying and see for yourself, I know some people have sunk hundreds of hours in this game so I guess they found something in it that eluded me...
This strikes me as a "how hard can it be to code?" line of thinking. Writing can be incredibly challenging, not to mention the code that drives the event and the testing involved. What I really wish the creators had done is made it much easier to mod the game with player-created content.
>depth of gameplay
Just putting it out there: this game was created by two guys and it's unknown if they were even able to devote their full attention to it. In my personal opinion, given this context, the result is impressive.
>I've never had one of those moments in FTL
They do exist. One time I destroyed the enemy but the boarders were absolutely destroying my Engie crew. Thankfully my doors were upgraded, but my Medbay was down. In the end I used a Fire Bomb weapon against my own ship multiple times to kill the boarders.
Agreed, it's easier said than done but I'm not asking for F. Scott Fitzgerald level of writing, I'm sure you can find plenty of inspiration in the thousands of episodes of various space opera TV shows out there. But I agree that making it easier for players to create contents would be an other way to solve this problem.
> Just putting it out there: this game was created by two guys and it's unknown if they were even able to devote their full attention to it. In my personal opinion, given this context, the result is impressive.
Meh. The other games I mentioned (nethack, DCSS and angband) are all made by small "indie" dev communities and they're open source and they're free of charge, yet they contain a massive amount of assets.
DCSS is 7 years old (and a successor to the 16-year-old Crawl). Angband (Moria) is 19. Nethack is 27. Rogue was released in 1980 (33 years ago).
Monthly announcements include donations: http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?board=8.0
(If you got bored with it within 3 playthroughs, you probably didn't get to try the rock, slug, or stealth ships, all of which have very different strategies from the starter ship and change the gameplay/strategy up quite a bit. I find rock & slug a lot more fun than the Kestrel. Or maybe it's just not your kind of game, that's OK too. :))
How would you know how much variety it has it you've only done three playthroughs? You haven't seen a fraction of what the game has to offer.
Your getting bored with it isn't by itself a convincing argument that it's not roguelike :P
> New music by Ben Prunty
> New content by Tom Jubert
> and guest writer Chris Avellone
Too bad that they aren't releasing it for Android (for now). I would loved to play it on-the-go, and would easily pay again for it.
Still, it's great to see a free expansion. Thanks FTL Team!
I spent 15 hours with this game, did close to 40 attempts and only once got to sector 7. Usually I'd die around sector 4 or 5.
If you already have the game and like it, good for you. I just want to warn other people. My final opinion is: the devs don't understand statistics and randomness; go play nethack, it's easier.
You can give yourself an easy bonus just by training against the first enemy you encounter that can't penetrate your shields. Make sure you have helm, engines, shields, and weapons manned and you aren't auto-firing enough to damage the enemy then just let the game sit for an hour or two while your crew levels up.
Early on your shields are plenty vs. the non-missiles of the enemies you encounter so all that matters is upping your engines enough to dodge missiles and saving enough spare money for stores. A nice bonus is that you can run away faster too.
Once you hit a store with enough money and a teleporter, bio beam, cloaking device, or drone system and defense drone, you win basically. Teleporter/bio beam lets you capture enemy ships intact for massive resource gains (and disable weapons on the end boss) and it is easy to micromanage your guys and beam them back and forth to take any ship. Cloaking lets you dodge full enemy salvos. Defense drone takes care of the pesky missile problem, the only really effective weapon in the game as long as you keep your shields upgraded properly.
I can win reliably on easy with any ship, and often on normal. If you can't win on easy you are just missing some technique. You can't scout but you can easily pick the right nodes to see the maximum number of nearby nodes, picking the optimal path, etc.. If there's anything I hate about the game it's the fact that there are so many auto-win scenarios. If I run into a teleporter in a store in a ship that doesn't start with one and I can afford it selling anything non-critical, I pretty much win, so it isn't fun.
- Make sure to man your stations, try to keep these operators alive and in the same place
- Playstyle depends on the ship type you're using, but you need to have something to penetrate shields soon. Ion weapons might help if you have enough/fire fast enough. Rockets/explosives are easier early on, but later defense drones will be very annoying
- If you're really having trouble: My wife disturbed me during one game and the battle was boring (enemy couldn't penetrate my shields). I went doing whatever she asked for and returned to a decently trained shields engineer :)
- Intrigued by the above: If you can do the same in an asteroid field... ;-p
Last but not least: I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy the game. Dieing is part of the genre and difficulty might certainly vary, but that's the fun of it. It's mostly about these "Really? THAT encounter when I'm out of missiles?" or the "Whoa, too much hopping around. I sure could use some fuel" moments, right before you're back to square one. For me beating the game isn't the goal and when I beat it, the game failed. :)
Yes, I have maxed out dodge and shields. I have actually grinded enemies until I had every crew member maxed out on every possible stat. It doesn't help one bit, because you can still get hit 10 or even 20 times in a row, even though you have a 20% evade chance, and 20 hits from anything is pretty much enough to sink you.
It is honestly the most frustrating game I have ever played.
Also, I'm not struggling, I just gave up on it for good. I haven't played it in a year, if not more.
I bought into the hype and bought the game and it turned out to be ... that. I just want to give my perspective so other people don't get it and then feel misled.
You are playing on hard mode without any experience in handling game strategies and events, this is why you are losing. Try it on the easy mode and get a feel for some different strategies and ships. This game is not difficult, with some experience you can beat most runs in the game with any ship on the hard difficult.
And you're wondering why the game is hard?
But starting with hard difficulty probably was the mistake - unlike other games, it's not something you do before trying other things, it's something to do after you've tried other things and found out a strong strategy that works for you.
You should 100% try the other ships, it's the fastest way to learn. The different ships teach you different things. Some ships start with no shields, or no weapon, etc, and show you different approaches which you will bring into any ship.
If there is also an enemy shooting at you, you will gain experience for shields and engines when asteroids hit/miss. Otherwise, no.
<Too unfair, ran out of money after 4-5 weeks, gave up. The whole experience is a joke. If you like it, good for you. Go get a real job, it's easier.>
The game is hard no doubt, so most of the challenge is seeing how far you can get with what resources you encounter rather than 'winning'...
But FYI, the best players have win rates upwards of 90% on Normal. Perhaps 60% with a random ship rather than one of the better ones. In fact there are people on Twitch who win more than 50% of their games WITHOUT PAUSING... !
That way you'd technically miss out on some stuff, but you know, these days I'm a "casual" at best, and I spend my forum-reading- and figuring-things-out-energy on other things.
For example there is a subsystem (forgot it's name) that let's your ship jump to every previously visited location. So if you find a map of the current sector later on and this map reveals a store you may be able to simply jump back to it if the fleet is not yet there. Also: If the fleet is already there you can still jump back. You only have to fight a ship from the fleet. Then you go to the store, buy your goods and jump back.
Also: You can plan your route through a sector. You should try to visit as many places as you can but still be ahead of the fleet. This is a very cool challenge - especially for CS people… route planning, route optimization, etc…
Your actions also have a direct influence on what you get: For example if you encounter a hostile ship you can destroy it or make a plea bargain with them. Usually the ship will offer you fuel, scrap (=money) or other stuff you may or may not need. If you decide to destroy the ship instead you usually get less goods (fuel, weapons) and more scrap (money). So if you plan (haha) to visit a store soon you may decide to destroy the ships on your way.
There is a whole wiki-community for this game. They note different strategies:
Also you can upgrade your ship with scrap (money). You have to decide what system to upgrade.
When fighting another ship it makes a huge difference if you know what you are doing or not. Of you are a noob you will most likely be destroyed or loose too much during the fight.
Before you start your journey you can also pick one of several different ships. Every ship has different characteristics. Even your crew members have different capabilities:
There is one species where each crew member gives the room where the crew member is in additional power.
Guys from other species are made of rock: Use them to distinguish fires on your ship.
Fire on your ship is a huge topic.
Fire occurs when your ship is hit by sun flares, big weapons or other dangerous stuff. Fire is causing damage to your ship and makes the current room unusable. You can plan ahead to deal with fire:
You can control the hatches of your ship. Some people have all hatches open so that all unused parts of the ship are exposed to space. This means that those rooms have no oxygen in them. When a fire happens in those rooms it automatically disappears after a few seconds because in those rooms there is no oxygen.
You can plan so much in this game…
Completely agree with the rest of the sentiment. I usually have a general idea of what I want (ex: get shields to 3 by sector 4) but improvise depending on what drops/encounters I get.
This is a constant problem for all Kickstarters which produces iOS apps.
(But seeing how I got the original game for 5$ and how much time I've spend with it, I am willing to pay again for it.)
I knew in my heart they would come through. Really great game, can't wait to play it again.
I don't know what happened to Star Command, but it felt like the final product wanted to be this. It was such a tedious game.
I was disappointed with Star Command, I was looking for something similar to FTL, but FTL is better IMHO.
I remember the first Final Fantasy where, sure, maybe you could sneak your way through to the boss. But he's going to kick your butt.
Same thing with FTL. The journey is only half of the battle. Being prepared after making it through in another game entirely.
New content from Chris Avellone?
All I see is the announcement of a sequel to a modern popular game, what's going on?
There are lots of interesting things going on, pick one.