Indie Games Investigator – Faster Than Light (FTL)

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After my run in with the developers of Day Z (I mean Day Y!) I took a couple of weeks off. Time to collect my thoughts, look for a new target and let the burn marks heal. It had been confirmed, the dark world of Indie Games did indeed exist and it was far more dangerous than I first suspected. My next investigation needed to be carefully planned, cleverly executed, no longer would I be the prey, I would be the hunter.

I stumbled upon a little known site called Kickstarter. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of it, not everyone can be a tireless investigator such as myself. Kickstarter had been getting quite the reputation for a development and funding medium for new Indie Games. But I wasn’t just looking for any Indie Game, this was no search for Angry Birds at Sea (Patent Pending!!!). Somewhere in the maze of Kickstarter projects was a game whose developers were up to something suspect. And I wanted to break their sick lives wide open.

I figured I was looking for an Indie Game that had been funded way beyond its initial monetary goal. And I found it. Faster Than Light (FTL) closed with over 2,000% pledged against its initial $10,000 goal. More suspiciously the game was almost complete when the Kickstarter project began. So I started to think. What exactly did a couple of guys spend over $200,000 on to release a game that was already near completion? To get my answer I packed a bag with nothing but black clothes, gloves, a rope and 5kg of jelly beans, and took the next plane to California.

Five days later I found myself camped outside the developers offices, having moved from Shanghai, Chinato the far quieter and more spacious town of Fremont, California. Why? What could the developers need all this space for? What were they up to? With FTL recently released I figured now was as good a time as any to delve into their secrets. I grabbed my rope and my jelly beans and scaled their pathetic security fence. They never see it coming.

Five minutes later I was strapped to a table with what looked like a laser pointed disconcertingly at my left eye.

FTL Laser

“I’ll never talk! Indie scum!” Why do I always get carried away?

“That won’t be necessary Chazz, we know all about you and your investigations.” Said what I assumed was a tall man dressed as a grey version of The Thing from The Fantastic Four.

I’ve got to stop posting my super secret plans on my Facebook timeline.

“Fine. I’ll talk. But beware. I do so grudgingly. What is this place? What are you maniacs up to?” After getting myself trapped in a trash can in the office’s foyer I had been captured by a group of strangely dressed men and taken into an elevator. Eight floors down we exited into what looked suspiciously like a cheap movie set mock up of The Kestrel, one of FTL’s numerous space ships.

A man dressed up as a giant slug cut in, “as you might have guessed, we are currently presiding in The Kestrel. In making FTL, we were developing strategies for adventuring into space, managing your own space ship and destroying Rebel filth. We soon realised that not only were we making a game, we were training ourselves for space combat. But why just make a game when you could do the real thing? With enough money we could create a real spaceship and take off into the galaxy! And we have done it Chazz. We are currently cruising through friendly Egri Space, en route to a distress signal.

A long silence followed. I had two options here. Play along. Or try to bring them back to reality. The process of making their Indie Game had sent them (like so many other Indie Game developers) completely insane. “Look. I’m sorry guys. You must be confused. We’re actually in an underground complex below some offices in Fremont. How about you unstrap me from this table and we get some fresh air? Is that a gas leak I smell?”

“Silence Human!” A guy in an old faded Prey Mantis Halloween costume screamed. “You are now our captive, to be traded with the next slavers we come across.” The prey mantis shambled over to a computer screen in the corner of the room and clicked the mouse a few times. The rest of the mismatched group of dressed up game developers turned to him expectantly.

“We have arrived at the distress signal, and have flown straight into a warp storm, OH NO! Pirates, it’s an ambush!” Things were starting to make sense; they were playing the game and acting it out, not the strangest situation I’d been in throughout my investigations. “Fire in sector three, the life systems control station.”

“I’ve got it!” Yelled the man in the grey hulk get up. He ran out of the room. I smiled. I’d just play along and when they ‘traded me to the slavers’ I’d just walk out. No problem. Kind of funny really. The laughter in my throat died as I head the striking of matches in the next room. Fire is at least my third most hated heat based danger.

“Is he starting a fire?! Look guys, I think we’ve all had fun but things are getting out of hand.” I could start to see smoke coming through the doorway to what I assume was the life systems control station. I remembered that gas leak I smelt before. “How about you let me go, I get a fire extinguisher and we get out of this warp storm?”

“Too late for that, the pirates have disabled our engines with EMP, and the fire is spreading,” the slug stated matter of factly, looking at the computer screen. “Brace yourself prisoner, pirates have just teleported in, they will not be as merciful as we are. Chin’ka’zah (I assumed this was the Prey Mantis dude), get to the shield center and try and hold them off.” The smoke was getting thicker, I wondered if those costumes were particularly flammable.

It was at this moment I realised my straps weren’t connected to anything. While the slug clicked furiously away at the computer I quietly got up and headed towards where I remembered the airlock being in the game. Either that was the exit or they’d created some kind of vacuum to resemble real space… surely not. As I passed I took a peek at the grey pyromaniac jumping up and down, surrounded by fire. Definitely time to move on.

I got into a lift and looked out at the disaster that I was leaving behind. Fire had now consumed half of the ship, which was clearly made of wood and cardboard. A couple of other deluded role players had joined in, representing the Pirates I assumed. They had cornered the Prey Mantis and were beating him gleefully with painted trolley polls. As the doors were closing I heard a loud bang as the fire reached that leaking gas source.

FTL Faster Than Light

 

I made sure to wipe my fingerprints as I went and got the hell out of there. On the upside I had witnessed the amazing phenomenon of what happens to Indie Game developers with too much money and time on their hands. On the downside it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing any new downloadable content for FTL any time soon.

Chazz investigates indie games in his Indie Games Investigator series, read the first chapter of his adventure here. For some free gaming check out Gaming for Free: World of Tanks.