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FTL: Faster Than Light Review on PC

FTL: Faster Than Light Review (PC/Mac/Linux)

“So what’s this FTL game you guys have been raving about?” I asked my friend, attempting a more gentle phrasing of “what’s this thing you won’t shut up about?”

“You remember that Battlestar Galactica episode called ‘33’?” he said. “Where they have to make a faster-than-light jump every 33 minutes, or else they’ll get blown up by the Cylon fleet?”

“Sure, right at the start of the series,” I said. “It sets up the main tension of the show.”

“That’s what FTL: Faster Than Light is,” my friend replied. “It’s that, in video game form.”

It turns out that’s a pretty accurate assessment. Like the good ship Galactica, your spacecraft in FTL: Faster Than Light jumps from star to star, not necessarily knowing what’s at the other end: an enemy ship, a slaver trap, a free weapon. Your mission is to deliver vital intelligence to the Federation, scavenging what resources you can while remaining one jump ahead of the implacably advancing Rebel fleet. You’re often outmanned, outgunned and under-powered, with constant threats from pirates, aliens, and natural phenomena like solar flares and asteroids. Oh, and if you die, it’s game over.

Yes, FTL is a roguelike, that punishing type of game where death is permanent and random chance kills you just as often as your own bad decisions. But what separates FTL: Faster Than Light from the rest of the genre is that it constantly presents you with interesting choices. Its simple yet elegant interplay of mechanics rewards both tactical thinking and twitch skill.

No matter which ship load-out you choose—there are several unlockable varieties—your systems are essentially the same: helm, engines, oxygen, weapons, med bay, shields, door control, scanners, and possibly drone control or crew teleporter rooms. In each encounter, you have to decide how best to allocate your limited resources of power and crew members to deal with the situation. Since manning certain rooms boosts power, do you keep one man on shields? Or do you pull him off the console to help repel enemy boarders? Do you try to take down the enemy’s shields first, and then set his oxygen room on fire? Or do you beam over your heavies for some fun with sabotage?

FTL: Faster Than Light Review (PC/Mac/Linux)

The same interesting decision-making found in combat is applied to the in-game economy as well. Because you’re constantly coping with the ever-diminishing resources of fuel, ammunition, drone parts and scrap (FTL’s currency), exploring each sector of space becomes an equally engaging exercise in cost-benefit analysis. Do you burn the fuel and risk hull damage seeking out the rewards reaped by destroying enemies? Or do you sprint for the exit and hope a few lucky random encounters will net you a new crew member or weapon? Upgrading your ship is critical to your success, particularly in the late game, but is farming a sector worth the risk of being stranded far from the exit as the Rebel fleet draws near? Because FTL has you make so many decisions, it largely avoids creating an antagonistic relationship with the player. In other words, unlike most roguelikes, it doesn’t always seem to be saying “screw you.”

Still, a few minor issues can detract from the experience. The crew avatars are so small that you sometimes end up inadvertently opening a door instead of sending your men to sickbay for lifesaving healing. Similarly, the feedback when systems or crew have sustained critical damage or are unpowered isn’t always clear. (In one run, my crew all perished before I realized the oxygen wasn’t on.) And I wish the economy was a bit more forgiving: although it’s relatively easy to happen upon a merchant in each sector, you often end up hoarding items you don’t need, since you can’t sell fuel, missiles, or drone parts at these locations. But even this limitation forces you back out into the void, like a mother duck nudging her chicks into the water.

The constant tension of adapting your tactics and micromanaging your ship’s crew and systems keeps FTL briskly paced and thoroughly compelling. No matter that the game—which was funded through a massively successful Kickstarter campaign—visually resembles the graph paper it was likely prototyped on. The aesthetics are charming, if functional, including the lovely soundtrack, the gentleness of which provides a nice counterpoint to the constant brow-furrowing of play.

My favorite aspect of FTL, I think, is that it’s a story-generating engine. The many permutations of game-dictated events and your accumulated decisions allow for a rewarding variety of experience. Beating the final boss is almost irrelevant; a quick poll of other players revealed that they beat the game after anywhere from eight to 42(!) hours’ worth of play. But everyone I’ve talked to about FTL, regardless of whether they’ve “beaten” it, has wanted to walk me through their most nail-biting, heartbreaking, or holy-crap-that-was-lucky runs. The light story elements that are present in FTL are a distant shadow of the stories players generate through the game mechanics. That’s what finely-tuned game systems do: They let us author our own experiences.

FTL: Faster Than Light was developed by Subset Games. This review is based on the PC version. It is also available for Mac and Linux.

Original Source: PasteMagazine

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Divine Space – Sci-Fi Space ARPG coming to Linux

In the works at Dodo Games, Divine Space is a science fiction space game with a third-person view, free camera, casual click-n-go controls and arcade action in real time. The platform for the first version of the game is iOS; later versions are for Android, PC, Mac, Linux and likely Ouya. Later – a big massively multiplayer online game (MMO).

Here is the Kickstarter campaign. Behold… it covers alot of detail. ALOT!!!

Obsidian’s ‘Project Eternity’ RPG benefits from the freedom of crowd funding

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The $2.5 million that Project Eternity has raised so far through Kickstarter isn’t just paying for the role-playing game’s development; it’s paying for freedom, Obsidian Entertainment chief creative officer Chris Avellone told Polygon today.

In an interview at GDC Online, Avellone explained that crowd-source funding wasn’t just the best option for getting the game made; it’s the only option. One issue is the studio’s resolution to developing the game solely for PC, Mac, and Linux, a narrowly-tailored release strategy that clashes with the multiplatform approach most publishers follow. Moreover, Avellone says that the kind of role-playing games Obsidian creates have fallen out of fashion somewhat.

“It’s really also hard to sell this type of role-playing game in today’s role-playing game market,” Avellone said. “I think the expectations have changed, and I think there’s a percentage of the RPG audience that remembers the Infinity Engine games and likes them, but I don’t know if that’s the zeitgeist of RPGs nowadays in terms of what people expect from them.”

Avellone explained that RPGs are effectively on a gradient: One one side, players have the greater share of control over their character’s every attribute. On the other side — the side many current RPG developers favor — the game’s creators make those kind of decisions for their players.

“I feel like the designers put more of their mark on the characters,” Avellone said. “It’s hard to say. When you’re dealing with Shepard in Mass Effect, you do get customization options with Shepard, but ultimately, at the end of the day, he’s still speaking with one voice, or with the female voice, and that’s who he is. In essence, that sort of sets a level of fan expectation right there that’s difficult to sell a game that’s not like that. Even Skyrim, to an extent, they kind of left their mark on characters with the advertising campaign in terms of his looks and his silhouette that I think people immediately start leaving a mark on him in that respect.

“There are always some elements that you have to design around, you always have those constraints,” Avellone added. “But when it comes to my character, I get a little sensitive about it.”

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The effects of crowd-funding the development of Project Eternity have been nothing but positive, Avallone said. The development team is overjoyed to share what they’re working on as they’re working on it, and in turn is bolstered by the community’s immediate feedback. That feedback has come in the form of suggestions for the game’s artistic and systemic design — sometimes even volunteer work on the game’s environment and character art.

Avellone was never worried that their input would evolve (or, as the case may be, devolve) into a sense of funder’s entitlement.

“Their sense of entitlement wasn’t really ‘Oh, you must have this,’ it was more like, ‘Here’s what we feel about this,’” Avellone said. “Like, they didn’t want social tie-ins, for example, and like, if you don’t want that, and you don’t want to back a project that has elements like that, there is absolutely no need for us to put that in. We’re absolutely fine that you’re telling us this now, and not two months before ship, which is normally how people react to things like this with today’s publishing models.”

Aside from that feedback, the team at Obsidian has almost no external input on what kind of a game the studio is going to make. Starting with a clean slate has its fair share of benefits and problems, but before weighing them against one another, Obsidian had to decide what kind of an RPG it wanted to create. That core inspiration, Avellone explained, came down to one question.

“What were exciting RPGs we’ve played, and why,” Avellone said. “We all got together in a room and said, ‘You know what, there are certain things we love about Forgotten Realms, there are reasons that’s appealing to us.’ Not because we want to do Forgotten Realms, but it seemed like wherever you went in Forgotten Realms, there was some cool locale that was waiting to be explored, some dungeon to loot. And from all the D&D days from long ago, that’s what we love about dungeons: Solving puzzles, going through the dungeon crawling experience.”

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That level of freedom often carries with it a kind of developmental paralysis, as constraints — commonly established by a publisher or the franchise in which a game is set — help focus every single aspect of the game development process. Obsidian is used to dealing with those kinds of restraints, but Avellone says he isn’t worried about Project Eternity getting hindered by freedom.

“I don’t think that our studio is ever in danger of getting lost in the woods when it doesn’t have a franchise parameter around it,” Avellone said. “That’s never really been a problem for us. In some instances, some folks might need those parameters to help them focus, and sometimes having bookends like that helps you design more creatively within the box. But we’ve been doing RPGs for so long, we know what those scope constraints are. Now we get to express ideas that we just think are cool, period, without any sort of obstruction. It has our voice, I guess is the best way to put it.”

That voice belongs to other RPG development veterans like Avellone, includingArcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura project lead Tim Cain, and Black Isle Studios head Feargus Urquhart. Obsidian has put together something of a supergroup of RPG visionaries, and Avellone said that the group hasn’t stopped looking for new members.

“We made a list of people that we want to get to contribute to the project, and we’ve been sequentially asking them one by one if they would come aboard and help us out with it,” Avellone said. “Hopefully, it will bear fruit.”

Source: theverge.com

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Saga Kingdoms – Revolutionary MMORTS

Recently posted on Linux Gaming News and certainly a fine Kickstarter campaign for Gnome Templar. This is another project well worth paying attention too.

Saga Kingdoms is a revolutionary real time MMORTS, focusing on questing and empire building.
They say it’s what Star Craft 2 could have been (in terms of gameplay).
It will be free to play (as it seems from the rewards), but you can pay for additional content.
Currently the project managed to get ~$8,600 of the $100k goal ,with 29 days to go.
From past experiences it’s very hard to get the funds for “free to play” games and I personally doubt that this project will reach it’s goal (although there is always hope).
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SAGA was designed to show what is possible in an RTS when it is made for the players and not by the big studios who may be too scared to try something new. We asked ourselves questions such as, What if the world never reset? What if we could figure out how to balance not just two or three factions but six? and most importantly, What if every play session enhanced your virtual empire and not just a rating?

Most RTS games we’ve ever played focus on player vs. player combat. This is understandable because creating 10 maps and relying on players to provide variety is much less time consuming than creating 600 quests. SAGA, however, embraces that players love a rich story and while PvP has its place and is certainly not an afterthought in our design, we felt it was a lot more fun going on quests not just alone but with groups of friends.

In Saga Kingdoms each player will control a capital city that will serve as the seat of their power, however we have greatly expanded on this concept by giving each player a full Island as a starting point. In addition we plan to allow players to take over both resources and outposts on the main continent as their empire expands.

Similar to SAGA, Saga Kingdoms will feature hundreds of quests to test your skill. While some quests do have prerequisites that you must best, you can always go back and do old favorites for loot and XP.

The power of our new engine means we can create much grander quests that can be enjoyed by large groups of friends.These epic battles will be much more difficult but we promise the rewards will be worth it.

Players will be able to choose from one of six factions, each with a unique look and play style.

Primary Race: Elves

The oldest of the races, the elves have long ago learned to live in harmony with Gaia – the spirit of the world itself. Through their allegiance and honor of Her, they have learned to master Her powers, and now control the most destructive forces of Nature. As warriors, they possess terrific skill, and have made strange allies in some of the oldest creatures on Gaia, including treants and elementals.

Primary Race: Orcs and Ogres

The orcs and ogres live for war. They have long pursued it, and have fashioned their living around it. They have traded refinement for mass, and like a blunt instrument, will bludgeon the life out of their enemies. Their spells and abilities are targeted inward, purposed with instilling their warriors with greater power in combat. Individually, their warriors are skillful, en masse: terrifying.

Primary Race: Giants and Humans

Noble, powerful and indomitable – the forces of Light are truly magnificent to behold. Their ancient civilization has reached a glorious age of wisdom and refinement, and their armies have long ago mastered the art of war. They are a balanced and formidable force, able to draw on heavily armored soldiers and powerful magic alike to crush their enemies into submission.

Primary Race: Dwarves

Dwarves are particularly skilled in the arts of mechanical engineering. Hidden deep in their mountain hideaways, they have created terrible machines of war and destruction. In all their tinkering though, they have lost the art of magic and must rely on their own ingenuity and cunning.

Primary Race: Dark Elves

The dark elves are the masters of magic. They have studied many dark arts and have mastered the secrets of daemonology, allowing them to conjure up horrible beasts. By tapping into the powers of the Underworld, they have possession of mighty spells, with which they terrorize their enemies.

Primary Race: Undead

When the god of the Undead was all but defeated he called upon his powers to bring to power the newest of the factions to gain a foothold on Gaia. Adept casters, the undead use their powers of decay to manipulate the course of battle and weaken their foes while gargantuan undead abominations rush forth to devour their prey.

We love variety in most RTS games. Trying to find the perfect balance of troops is an integral part of the strategy. As difficult as it was to balance 6 factions, that task was nothing compared to trying to create over 100 distinct troop types. Saga Kingdoms will bring back many of the old favorites and will commit to creating many more in upcoming free content expansions.
Saga Kingdoms is a Free-To-Play Collectible game

Collecting troops was one of the best received and unique features of SAGA. Booster packs which can now be purchased for gold farmed in game will provide a random assortment of troops. Nothing beats the excitement of ripping open a new pack or the exhilaration of finding a dragon as your rare card.

Every aspect of your empire can grow in power. This means that every play session will reward you with some type of progress.

  • Buildings will be constructed, which will provide additional benefits.
  • Research will reward you with new abilities and benefits.
  • All troops will gain experience during combat, making them more powerful.
  • Magic items will be found during quests and crafted in your city.
  • Every quest completed and booster purchased gives the possibility of new and exciting troops to enhance your army.
  • Even logging in for just a few seconds and collecting resources brings you closer to purchasing that next building upgrade or booster pack.

Each unit in your army will be led by a hero as detailed as any character in an MMO. Heroes can gain levels, learn spells and possess a range of abilities and bonuses that they confer to the unit they lead.

We’re also expanding the number of available heroes slightly from the dozen available in SAGA to many hundreds. (OK maybe more than slightly)

Not only will be we able to create items with a larger variety of abilities, but Saga Kingdoms will feature many thousands more magic items since Heroes can equip armor in multiple slots in addition to weapons and trinkets, rather than the limited 2 slots in SAGA.

Since Units in Saga Kingdoms are built around heroes not troop types, you will have much more freedom when designing your units. Each troop type will possess a special ability, allowing you to have much finer control over the type of army you field. For example, if halberdiers grant increased damage to the whole unit and swordsmen grant increased armor, a unit consisting of 15 halberdiers and 5 swordsmen will play very differently than one with 15 swordsmen and 5 halberdiers. Adding a hero who brings its own set of unit enhancements means an unlimited set of strategies.

Using the Unity engine means being able to do battle on a PC, Mac, or even using Linux. While the client will be available for all of these platforms, developing in Unity means that when you’re at work or school and can’t resist checking your empire or doing a quick quest, Saga Kingdoms will also be playable in a browser. In addition, developing in Unity opens the possibility for a mobile version.

We have been working on Saga Kingdoms for over a year. Some of our players have even had a chance to try the Alpha version.

We can field troops, move them around, and cause havoc to our enemies as well as build a city. The funds raised on Kickstarter will help us port the remaining SAGA features, finish our quest design tools and make the necessary changes to magic items and heroes to bring Saga Kingdoms to the next level.

Source: Linux Gaming News

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Steam for Linux game list leaks out early

Steam for Linux game list leaks out early

Steam for Linux is set to get a raft of classic gaming titles at launch, if new entries on Valve’s CDR database are anything to go by.

Entries in Valve’s Content Description Record database for Steam have appeared listing native Linux support for a raft of games, giving those looking forward to the digital distribution system’s appearance on the open source OS a hint of things to come.

Held by Valve itself, the Content Description Record (CDR) database is used to distribute information regarding available games to the Steam client software. Access, however, is open, which has led to the development of CDR parserscapable of providing data above and beyond that revealed by the Steam client itself. With games appearing in the CDR database ahead of their reveal in the Steam client, this includes pre-release information – and, in this case, support for an as-yet unreleased Linux Steam client.

According to a community list of Steam games with native Linux versions those taking part in the Linux Steam Beta can expect to play a selection of somewhat outdated games at launch comprising Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Crusader Kings 2, Cubemen, Dynamite Jack, Eversion, Galcon Fusion, Serious Sam 3: BFE, Solar 2, SpaceChem, Steel Storm: Burning Retribution, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP, Trine 2, Waveform and World of Goo.

Of those games, native Linux versions have been available for some time making them obvious choices for Valve to test out its native Linux Steam client while it works on improving the performance of its own first-party titles on the operating system. While a good selection of games, the list is but a small percentage of the overall number of games already listed on Steam which have a Linux port available – suggesting that the quantity could grow rapidly at launch.

With Valve boss Gabe Newell personally overseeing the Steam for Linux client development, and vocal in his dislike for Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 OS, the Steam Linux client looks on set for a high-profile launch – just nine years after the service appeared on Windows.

Source: bit-tech.net

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