Oregon Trail is not a Rougelike

General discussion about the game.
Pilgrim of Domina
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:57 am

Oregon Trail is not a Rougelike

Postby Pilgrim of Domina » Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:42 am

Finally managed to beat the game. RNG finally lined up for most encounters, all the right gear popped up at the right times, and most random events actually paid off. I finally realized this game has more in common with Oregon Trail than rougelikes. It has the "key features" of a rougelike, but it actually doesn't play like one.

Forget the wikipedia definition involving random levels, permadeath, and turn based stuff. Think about the gameplay. A "Rougelike" plays like the original game Rouge that spawned the genre, though the genre has grown more complex. FTL does not. It plays like Oregon Trail with some unit micro. No really, you are even LITERALLY forced on a trail through a series of RNG "AND EVERYBODY DIED" events. Any perceived free will or choice regarding the fixed trail is an illusion. The significant majority of the time you have no idea what to expect between location A&B and thus your choices are moot and most of the game could have been the same if there was no map of "choices" to choose from.

The most prominent thing shared between Oregon Trail and FTL are the encounter events well beyond player control, where the player can throw themselves at the mercy of the RNG. Oh sure, the player has some strategy with "Can I afford to risk health/crew for stuff?", but this choice is also largely an illusion. The grating issue in FTL is that you are pretty much required to take more risks unless you want to be woefully underpowered in just a few systems. You can play it safe when you really can't risk it but if you keep severely reducing your income/gear-chances you can't stand up to regular encounters, let alone any significant encounters, and then you've lost. It's too damned common to get into the game... and stuff simply never appears. Then you shortly and inevitably die from continued RNG exposure as it suddenly pulls a game ending unwinnable situation.This game has all the joys of a slot machine. The sheer amount of dice rolling to keep from losing the game is generally beyond player strategy, and is just artificial difficulty.

In a Rougelike I can see situations ahead of time, evaluate exactly what I'd be up against, and freely engage when I desire. FTL only has these in the most technical manner. You can get long range scanners or on very rare occasion a system map, but you still have no idea exactly what is there. You can technically avoid a ship, hit up a store, repair, then engage the ship encounter, but that is assuming the RNG lined up to give you all these things. It effectively never does. It's impossible to know any exact information about encounters until you've already lost half your health waiting for the FTL to recharge. Generally in a Rougelike I can see a Frost Dragon across a room when I have a weakness to cold and mostly deal cold damage, I can say "Fuck that", leave, and re-engage at my discretion. FTL just simply is not that flexible.

There are few effective strategies to be had, and combined with them being so effective it almost feels exploit-ish. It's too short and too sparse of content. In comparison to any decent Rougelike, it should be considerably longer, be much more free-roaming, have nearly infinite equipment with RNG attributes/stats, and have many more strategic special abilities and systems. The severe lack this content really detracts from this being any kind of decent Rougelike.

There will be adamant people that disagree with all this for whatever reasons. However, NOTHING will pry from my mind the UrQuan2 Rougelike that could have been.
ShadowDragon8685
Posts: 75
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 3:45 am

Re: Oregon Trail is not a Rougelike

Postby ShadowDragon8685 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:47 am

Then hold out hope for a sandbox mode.


Also, just as a point of order: you do know that you can run from an encounter, right? With your engines upgraded and manned by your own personal Montgomery Scott, it's not even that hard to hold out long enough to get your jump-drive up and evacuate from Dodge City...


Failing that, I'd suggest using a memory editor like Cheat Engine to give yourself whatever starting advantage you feel is sufficient to equate to a "fighting chance" no matter how badly the RNG decides to screw you. (Or just give yourself enough to faceroll everything. Whichever.)
Frustrated by random things beyond your control killing you?

Maxim 31: only cheaters prosper.
Joush
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:19 am

Re: Oregon Trail is not a Rougelike

Postby Joush » Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:57 am

Well put, Pilgrim. Maybe a little harsher then I'd have put it but fair enough.

As far as it goes I've quite enjoyed the game despite sharing the complaints. Hopefully sales will be good enough to justify more ambitious and open ended expansions of the basic concept. I think lots of people want an open sandbox where they can travel from sector to sector visiting every corner of the universe rather then getting constantly hurried along.
Pilgrim of Domina
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:57 am

Re: Oregon Trail is not a Rougelike

Postby Pilgrim of Domina » Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:01 am

Also, just as a point of order: you do know that you can run from an encounter, right? With your engines upgraded and manned by your own personal Montgomery Scott, it's not even that hard to hold out long enough to get your jump-drive up and evacuate from Dodge City...

No shit. I just said the only way to determine an encounter involves waiting for the FTL to recharge. Game is unwinnable in spots without 50% dodge, I know the importance of good engines and a decent pilot. And you can never re-engage the encounter.

That catch is that if you keep leaving encounters you get nothing. If you keep getting nothing you fall behind the curve of enemy upgrades. If you fall behind, the odds the RNG will suddenly pull an unwinnable situation skyrocket. You are relying on the RNG to give you what you need when you need it so that you can survive encounters again... which is a statistical anomaly.
curithwin
Posts: 151
Joined: Sat May 05, 2012 12:42 pm

Re: Oregon Trail is not a Rougelike

Postby curithwin » Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:03 am

Justin has said that so far the game is so rarely completed that the sandbox after the boss was not worth it. Also they were finding it hard to balance it. I guess we just have to hope and pray about that.

Now I would love to see a sandbox mode based around the old Elite game. ;)
Joush
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:19 am

Re: Oregon Trail is not a Rougelike

Postby Joush » Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:05 am

Pilgrim of Domina wrote:
Also, just as a point of order: you do know that you can run from an encounter, right? With your engines upgraded and manned by your own personal Montgomery Scott, it's not even that hard to hold out long enough to get your jump-drive up and evacuate from Dodge City...

No shit. I just said the only way to determine an encounter involves waiting for the FTL to recharge. Game is unwinnable in spots without 50% dodge, I know the importance of good engines and a decent pilot. And you can never re-engage the encounter.

That catch is that if you keep leaving encounters you get nothing. If you keep getting nothing you fall behind the curve of enemy upgrades. If you fall behind, the odds the RNG will suddenly pull an unwinnable situation skyrocket. You are relying on the RNG to give you what you need when you need it so that you can survive encounters again... which is a statistical anomaly.


I don't mind some encounters being situations where staying to fight means you lose more then you'd gain by winning. Telling times when luck has turned on you and you'd be better off hitting the jump button rather then sticking around is part of the skill involved in game. That said, you are right that in many cases you lack the information to know if an encounter is worth fighting or not because how soon you will be able to repair again is the biggest factor influencing when you should run rather then stand and fight.
maxwelllord
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:19 am

Re: Oregon Trail is not a Rougelike

Postby maxwelllord » Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:29 am

The OP manages to sum up most of my thoughts on FTL. It has serious potential and i enjoy its mechanics but given the importance of luck for success and lack of depth I have little desire to play it.
Kruztee
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 3:36 am

Re: Oregon Trail is not a Rougelike

Postby Kruztee » Tue Sep 18, 2012 3:42 am

For the love of god - can we all please stop referring to roguelike games as "rougelikes"
beef42
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:39 am

Re: Oregon Trail is not a Rougelike

Postby beef42 » Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:55 am

Another RNG whine post. Anecdotes about what it "never" does.

Nowhere does the game force you to do anything. Nobody forces you to board the spider-infested station or to rescue the madman. Nobody forces you to fight any ship but the flagship either.

The game is about playing the cards you're dealt. Some games are harder than others but I'd wager that the vast majority are completely winnable. Some of the ships have starting equipment good enough to beat the entire game, only upgrades needed can be bought anytime and anywhere.

Literally the only point I can agree with in the OP is the short length of the game.
SlowerThanLight
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:51 pm

Re: Oregon Trail is not a Rougelike

Postby SlowerThanLight » Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:18 am

As someone who has enjoyed the game, I agree with most of the OP's remarks, perhaps minus the tone. Oregon Trail is an apt comparison. My biggest complaint is that combat lacks depth and once you assemble a good array of weapons and crew, you find yourself winning each repetitive battle using the same moves that you won the last one with. Granted, you get a different array every game and therefore require different tactics every game, but that doesn't help the fact taht after ten battles in a given game, I start to get bored and would prefer to start over rather than sit through 5 more sectors of the same thing.

The randomness is okay by me. The ones that kill your crew seem abrupt at first and are the ones that people complain about the most, but once you understand how the event system works, there is usually an obvious best response. For example:
Spider Infestation: If you have Anti-Personnel, Boarder Drones, or a bio-beam use these for a quick win. Going in with your crew has a 50% chance of you taking a loss (eg not worth it for ~30 scrap)

Plasma Storm: Medium risk of crew loss unless you have a lvl 2 pilot

Hermit in the cave: Too dangerous unless you have a level 2 Medbay or a slug

Basically, accumulate as many level 2 subsystems as you can (specific weapons, augments, and crew help also, but you can't control those the way that you can upgrades) and be leery of any event that can kill your crew that doesn't present you with a blue text option.

In the end, the random event system has nice flavor and is neat the first few times, but quickly starts to show it's mechanical nature. Just not enough depth to keep me coming back to it.

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