Monday, December 17, 2012

Episode 56: Interview with FTL Developers, Justin Ma and Matthew Davis

Welcome to Roguelike Radio episode 56. This week we interview Matthew Davis and Justin Ma of Subset Games, developers of the roguelike spaceship sim FTL. Talking this ep are Darren Grey, Justin Ma and Matthew Davis.

You can download the mp3 of the podcast, play it in the embedded player below, or you can follow us on iTunes.

Topics discussed in this episode include:
- How they hooked up and started with FTL
- FTL's award as BoardGameGeeks indie video game of the year, and the game's board game roots
- Sources of inspiration for the game, especially Weird Worlds
- The Kickstarter campaign and how Kickstarter culture has changed since.  FTL is the only major Kickstarter video game success that has actually come to fruition, according to this round-up at Rock Paper Shotgun.

- Self-motivation and meeting deadlines when acting alone, and picking up the marketing and PR and business stuff (it's harder than it looks!)
- Thematic similarities to Firefly
- Why sci-fi isn't as popular a setting in games as fantasy
- How the extra Kickstarter funding led to more story depth and the best soundtrack of any roguelike ever made (according to Darren)
- Conscious roguelike influences in the design, especially the hunger clock / rebel advance
- Complaints over difficulty and randomness and how players approach the game
- The almighty pause button and other tactics for success
- Collision of game elements, and the Miracle Shot
- What's been keeping Justin and Matthew busy since release, and what's in store in future
- You can purchase the game direct from the developers (recommended - you get the game DRM-free + Steam key), GOG or Steam

Join us next time for discussion of the possibly contentious ASCII Dreams Roguelike of the Year 2012 poll!


  1. Thanks guys, have been waiting for this!

    And I'm looking forward to the next episode! ;-)

  2. There is a quite diffrent take on the combo of rogulike ispiration and sci-fi, the real-time game Transcendence. It is made by George Moromisato, who made the sci-fi ascii-based strategy game Anacreon in the late 80ties.
    Transcendence is a game that is use a lot of elements from roguelikes, permadeath, pgc, indetification system, ect. I would much like what you have to say about it, the 1.1 version have just been relased;
    While not strictly a roguelike, it plays alot like one.

  3. Is that true that FTL is the only kickstarter that has released a finished video game? I know boardgames have been successful quite a few times.

  4. From that RPS article:
    "Project Giana
    Black Forest Games
    Raised: $186,158
    Release date: Oct 2012

    It was clearly ridiculous to put an October release date on a Kickstarter that didn’t finish until the end of August. Er, except it came out in October, and was really good!"

    1. I somehow overlooked that one - thanks for pointing it out! That makes two major Kickstarter successes :)

    2. To be fair, I'm pretty sure Giana Sisters was a port of the DS game.

      + FTL was almost done when they kickstarted it.

      In other words, kickstarters of things that are almost done might actually be completed in a reasonable timeframe, but otherwise you're in for a wait.

    3. Unless it's a boardgame, those are easy and fast to produce. Right? :-)

    4. BTW I know that's an apples and oranges comparison.

  5. The only thing I can say is I love the game. However to go on and on about it re: the depth and strategy yes it is there, no it isn't as deep as their discussion implies. That isn't to say that there isn't a way to go about playing (there is) but I think they are trying to overstate it a wee bit much. Also, the game is more random than they imply - mainly in the boarding parties (Nebula can be a bit silly as well but those are gambles anyway). They are frequent and often there isn't much that can be done. They are fairly annoying really.

    Again, fantastic game, unbelievable fun - but not 'all that and a bag of chips' like the devs are talking about. Also I could barely here that guy but I generally disagreed with most of what he said re: the game (those complex thought processes, with the exception of flagships, really aren't there - sorry).