A crew to call my own

One of the testimonies about FTL that I keep seeing over and over again is just how attached players get to their little crew members.  Considering that none of them have any personalities or distinguishing qualities other than what species they are, that might seem odd.  But it’s not to me, because I’ve seen this before.

For me, it usually happens during strategy titles, like X-Com, Colonization, Civilization, Master of Orion, and so on.  Without a central protagonist and with only generally faceless characters, I overlay my own story on them.  The game provides the basic gameplay, in other words, but my mind provides the tale.  I’ve assigned motivations and personalities to so many drones and forces, and for me it always enhances the experience.

FTL is perfect for this, because it lets us live out our spaceship fantasies.  Instead of keeping us just on the outside of the ship, we’re focused on the inside — where the people live and work and fight.  It’s where most of the focus is in similar TV shows (Star Trek, Firefly) and books, but oddly enough is usually neglected in video games.  I don’t emotionally bond with the cold exterior of a spaceship the way I do with the little scurrying people inside.

It’s made me really want something like this in an MMO.  I’d love a spaceship game that had much more of a focus on ship interiors.  Maybe the ship could have the typical MMO immortality but the crew would face permadeath (which is another reason why FTL resonates — we want to protect those little guys so bad because they won’t be coming back from the void).  Instead of a game that seesaws between mining and constant ship battles, there could be a lot more variety that utilized the crew — particularly to solve mysteries and engage with other creatures and people.

Even FTL Online could work, in much the same way as, say, Realm of the Mad God.  Just center it around permadeath and constant rerolling, but with some semblance of progression and unlocks.  I’d dig it.


7 thoughts on “A crew to call my own

  1. Hoppy October 10, 2012 / 10:57 am

    Little bro got me a copy on Steam for my birthday. Only really had time to rename my spaceship Serenity and rename a couple of the crew before they all died in a fire.

  2. Werit October 10, 2012 / 10:59 am

    It saddens me how little STO has done with the ship interiors.

  3. mbp October 10, 2012 / 12:39 pm

    I am totally hooked on FTL and I totally understand your point about becoming attached to the crew. My daughter and I jointly played a campaign a few days ago. Mainly her looking over my shoulder but sometimes she took the controls. She thought the characters were unbelievably cute and took a particular shine to a little human called “Cubbin”. We really got into the campaign and it was one of those great father daughter shared experiences but then the inevitable happened. We stumbled into a fight where the random number generator favoured the enemy and it became a desperate struggle for survival as fires broke out all over our ship. Somehow we managed to pull through but when the smoke cleared my daughter noticed that someone hadn’t made it. “Where is Cubbin?” she pleaded. I could see from her face that she was in a state of shock and she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. We had to take a break. She actually couldn’t play on.

  4. Scott M. October 10, 2012 / 1:31 pm

    I’m deliberately choosing not to re-name or customize my XCOM:EU soldiers so I don’t become too attached to them!

  5. bhagpuss October 10, 2012 / 2:45 pm

    “FTL is perfect for this, because it lets us live out our spaceship fantasies”

    I think I can categorically say I have never had a “spaceship fantasy”, either about the inside or the outside. Even as a child watching Star Trek my interest only ever perked up when they got onto a planet and went outdoors.

  6. Llokki October 10, 2012 / 11:03 pm

    Heh, when I read the title of this article in my RSS, I thought you had broken down and gotten into Pirate101.
    I’m really going to have to check FTL out…

  7. Toxicroach October 12, 2012 / 11:30 am

    Yeah I lost my sniper in XCOM last night; 28 missions, 60+ kills. I was surprised at how upset I was.

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