FTL designer talks about tablet port, and why a new game won't happen any time soon

By Andrew Yoon, Apr 02, 2013 11:00am PDT

FTL: Faster Than Light was one of the big surprise hits of last year, earning a spot on our top 10 games of the year. We caught up with the game's designer, Justin Ma, who explained the appeal of the game, and plans for a tablet version.

Perhaps one of the central tenants of the game is its difficulty. Even in "easy," the game can be incredibly challenging. However, Ma says that if the game were any easier, it just wouldn't work. "I think if the game were any easier, it would simply not be fun," he told Shacknews. "You'd play it maybe play two, three times and then win it, and then you wouldn't put any effort to learn the mechanics."

"The easy mode was maybe added three weeks before release," he revealed. "The entire game was tested and planned based on the normal mode. We didn't think winning was necessary to enjoying the game. We thought it could be enjoyable even if you lose."

FTL's success shows the growing popularity of games with roguelike attributes. Although Ma didn't plan on making the game with those features, it came naturally during development. "We didn't initially intend to roguelike-ish in direction, but we did intend to have a lot of importance to your decisions. And if you want to have importance to your decisions, you need to have consequences for failure. And so that lent itself very easily to roguelike mechanics."

The biggest request for the two-man team at Subset Games is a version for mobile. Given the gameplay and its interface, FTL seems ideally suited for touch screens. Ma confirmed that "we are in the process of looking into a port for tablets," but added "we would not like to promise anything until we're 100% sure until that it's possible. But we can at least promise to look into it and try."

According to Ma, part of the search involves finding a different studio to handle the port.

And while Ma would love to work on a new game, that's not possible due to the Kickstarter campaign that helped fund the game in the first place. "We are not working on anything new," he said. "Even now, it's two people. Matt's still constantly dealing with tech support. I've still been working on Kickstarter rewards... we would love to get to a new project, but it probably won't happen for a bit."

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