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View Full Version : Is Banner Saga similar to FTL?



quartex
01-31-2013, 11:51 PM
I just discovered FTL a few weeks ago and have been playing it a lot recently. Great game, very addictive. I know that spaceships and vikings seem about a similar as oil and water, but the more I hear about the single-player Banner Saga game, the more it reminds me of FTL.

1. Constantly traveling to outrun an oncoming unstoppable menace
2. Stopping to fight enemies at various points
3. Random text events popping up with multiple choices and various consequences
4. Customizing your ship/vikings to best survive

I think the similarity is pure coincidence, and since FTL was one of the top Indie games for 2012, it bodes well for Stoic's chances in 2013. Also I see FTL as more of a roguelike, with a random galaxy every game, whereas Banner Saga has a more structured plot with certain similar events happening in each game. I'm having a blast with FTL, which makes me even more excited about Banner Saga.

Besides "King of Dragon Pass", does anyone know of any other games in this genre?

franknarf
02-01-2013, 12:19 AM
Yeah, I'm getting the same feeling; and FTL's one of my favorite games of the last decade. I enjoy interludes of turn-based tactics that TBS has far better than the real-time-strategy-with-pause of FTL, so my hopes are quite high for TBS.

Flickerdart
02-01-2013, 02:17 AM
Six vikings beam aboard your ship and start chopping heads. Great crossover or greatest crossover?

SharkSummoner
02-01-2013, 09:03 AM
The exploration reminds me more of The Oregon Trail in how your leading a group of people in hope of finding a better land, heck your even moving west in this game.

If you want to play more games like FTL, then here's some rougelikes.

Dungeons of Dredmore

Shnien the Wanderer

Nethack

The Binding of Issac

Those are all rougelikes l, if thats what uou meant when you said you wanted to know about more games like ftl

GreenDread
02-01-2013, 12:07 PM
Flickerdart, that would be really hilarious :D

I guess the biggest difference is the lack of permadeath in the Banner Saga.
Another great game somewhat similar to this is S.P.A.Z.; though the combat is more of an arcade-shooter with a taste of tactics. You are not chased but advancing into enemy territory. It has more a cool Open-World aspect but lacks the fun and random encounters of FTL.

SharkSummoner
02-01-2013, 01:16 PM
If where talking about space games then I'd also recommend AI War. It's an RTS and you like FTL your constantly attacked by enemy ships. It's like Sins of a Solar Empire if it had a story made that was about the back story of the Masari from Sins. You have to attack the AI strategically and you can't be greedy and take over every planet or else the AI will get paranoid and swarm you, and if you download any of the expansions then you can also ally with the enemies of the AI and get extremely overpowered ships and start smashing the ai too pieces.

sweetjer
02-02-2013, 03:35 PM
It seems like the difference between FTL and Banner Saga is that the choices in Banner Saga link to a multi-threaded story where your choices affect outcomes much later on, whereas the choice-based section of FTL gives immediate gains/losses that you then move past without really thinking about again (except maybe, "I wish I had chosen not to do that so that my max rank pilot didn't get sucked out into the vacuum of space"). I think the choose your own adventure aspect of Banner Saga sounds like a more lush version of Telltale's Walking Dead or maybe more relevantly the KOTOR system but 1. the choices you make all have relevance and have meaningful effects 2. it's framed in a KODP-style manner 3. there are other relevant systems in play rather than lame QTE sections (re: Walking Dead). I loved Telltale's Walking Dead despite its flaws and would highly recommend it...at least with a 50% discount attached. My point is, I think it *looks* like FTL, but from the description of stoic's system it *sounds* like it will have a more fleshed-out choose your own adventure design with a structured narrative where random encounters add replay value, as opposed to randomness (and making smart decisions that plan against the randomness, as in a game of cards) being the central gameplay mechanic, which is the meta-game of FTL, in my opinion. FTL creates some excellent emergent stories, but they rely on your investment in your crew and the choices you make. If you play the game as a number cruncher and seek only to make the most profit from each section, it becomes, as I noted, rather like a game of poker or maybe more like a dice game like 10,000 where you can make smart choices to mitigate the random. I don't think Banner Saga will have this sort of meta-game at all, as instead of creating a story in your head and suspending a bit of disbelief to get there, you'll be altering a structured narrative to create your version of the story that stoic is designing for us. A subtle difference in description, but the effect I think will make for a much different experience once we dig into it.

RobertTheScott
02-02-2013, 11:45 PM
My point is, I think it *looks* like FTL, but from the description of stoic's system it *sounds* like it will have a more fleshed-out choose your own adventure design with a structured narrative where random encounters add replay value, as opposed to randomness (and making smart decisions that plan against the randomness, as in a game of cards) being the central gameplay mechanic, which is the meta-game of FTL, in my opinion. FTL creates some excellent emergent stories, but they rely on your investment in your crew and the choices you make.

This.

I love FTL, though I found it almost too addictive for me. I also love the stories it makes one tell in one's head--I will never forget the cursed space dog Luaan Ti, who survived more slaughter and emergencies than I would have believed before being taken to the cold, merciless bosom of space.

But all these stories are "emergent;" that is, they mostly happened in my head. I may have a good idea how Luaan talks, what sense of humor he might have had, &c., but it's all pure conjecture (or, put positively, co-creation.) It's really a miracle that FTL is able to do that, though I think it helps a lot that the game is just so darn brutal that you end up pitying and respecting the fictional spacemen under your charge. FTL is one of my favorite games of 2012.

That said, sometimes I *want* to know what characters think and feel, how they talk, what their sense of humor is, who they love, &c. Banner Saga's universe will likely be less brutal than FTL's, but in the end I expect that every PC's death will affect me at least as much as Luaan Ti's, if not more. This is because (on the story side) I will be given more character-ness to love, and (on the gameplay side) I will know that within the game's rules, their death counts as a real loss--I won't get to see how their stories could have played out.

Conclusion: Play FTL, and play Banner Saga. Most of all, be thankful that we live in a time when video game authors are able to explore the medium in such different directions, even when they're structuring a story around the arduous journey from Point A to Point B, a plot trick that dates back at least to the ancient Iraqi epic of Gilgamesh.

Alex
02-04-2013, 01:28 AM
Nice thread!

The comparisons made with FTL are pretty apt, though we started designing the systems well before FTL came out. We were originally more inspired by Oregon Trail and KoDP, but we've been avoiding mentioning "Oregon Trail" because 96% of the time it just results in a poop joke.

This year at Fantastic Arcade I had the pleasure to talk to one of the guys who created/designed FTL and it was also the first time I got a chance to play FTL, and I can say is that I'm very pleasantly surprised how well their game has been doing because the similarities are certainly there.

As some of the guys have mentioned though, our key difference is that I doubt TBS will feel like a roguelike, because we're focusing so much on story and character development. There are definitely some key similarities like the looming destruction following you throughout the game, and the random events that change the way your story unfolds.

The beauty of FTL as others have said is the emergent gameplay. People post their own stories online and they're fun to read because of how a solid narrative can form from a seemingly random series of events. In one of my playthroughs my captain survived unthinkable odds from a brutal ambush while everyone else perished in flames and fighting. It was a bitter victory. In the aftermath, fires were spreading across the ship but I couldn't flush them because the oxygen was busted and all the systems offline. As the captain's health dwindled I knew he wasn't skilled enough to repair the oxygen before it was all over. In his last moments I panicked and just... did nothing. He stood in an empty room and suffocated. It was a more significant moment than anything that happened in DA2. It works so well because the game is almost a blank slate to the point that you can imprint anything you want on the characters.

I don't think we'll have exactly that. Like RobertTheScott said above, we're crafting these characters that you form a relationship with and they shouldn't feel disposable as the roguelike nature of FTL often does. We'll have a lot in common, I think, with Walking Dead, which I finished in 10 hours straight over the Christmas break and was my favorite game of the year. What I came away from in that game is the sense of not quite changing the course of history, but changing how you experience what happens. This was always our goal, but Walking Dead really encapsulated it in an inspiring and demonstrative way. Sometimes just seeing how someone else nailed something is the most valuable thing there is to game design. For the record, Kenny was my guy, we got along great. I had a really different experience than a lot of people who played the game, and it felt like the authentic one to me. I hope that's how the combination of these two system feel to people playing TBS.

The thing I'm most excited about is being able to jump between different story lines, and having a cast of characters that is large enough that we can let them come and go. I've wanted to write games because of tv shows like The Wire and Deadwood, where you fall in love with a large cast of characters who are good and bad or both at the same time, and none of them are immune to the plot. We're going out of our way to make sure that every character who joins you has their own motivations and isn't just a part of your collection. There isn't anyone in the game who can't die or decide to leave of their own volition. There is "permadeath", it just happens in the story instead of combat. It lets us write things that other games simply can't get away with. If we pull it off, you shouldn't be able to see behind the curtain and know that character A is safe because he's a main character, or that you can mouth off to anyone you like without repercussion. A quick, spoiler-free example: at one point fairly early in the game, you make a decision that may get you killed. Instead of the game saying "sorry, that's not what happened", the story continues, and now you're playing a different main character. Suddenly, how you felt about that character may shift dramatically now that you're in his/her shoes and forced to make decisions on their behalf and see things from their point of view. Aside from this, the story naturally cuts between different groups of people, who are seeing the same event (Ragnarok?) from different places in the world.

Just reading back what I wrote above it's starting to sound like I'm a Molyneaux-esque loon making promises that we can't possibly keep, because no other game has ever really pulled it off. There's certainly a chance of that, but nothing about our progress on the game so far points to the fact that we won't be able to do it, or at least make a valiant attempt. Since our earliest framework of the game, this approach has been based around two things: complete creative control (not many publishers would agree to all of this) and designing the systems to be light-weight (2d art, text-based, modular systems) so that we can afford to go nuts on the content. This is what I've been working toward my whole career, let's make it happen!

Grits
02-04-2013, 01:33 AM
So....your trying to make the best game ever made. Of course you are! At least IMO it's sounds fantastic in every way. So glad you guys decided to do this and it's working out so very well. Congrats!

mrpresident
02-04-2013, 05:43 AM
Nice thread!

The comparisons made with FTL are pretty apt, though we started designing the systems well before FTL came out. We were originally more inspired by Oregon Trail and KoDP, but we've been avoiding mentioning "Oregon Trail" because 96% of the time it just results in a poop joke.

This year at Fantastic Arcade I had the pleasure to talk to one of the guys who created/designed FTL and it was also the first time I got a chance to play FTL, and I can say is that I'm very pleasantly surprised how well their game has been doing because the similarities are certainly there.

As some of the guys have mentioned though, our key difference is that I doubt TBS will feel like a roguelike, because we're focusing so much on story and character development. There are definitely some key similarities like the looming destruction following you throughout the game, and the random events that change the way your story unfolds.

The beauty of FTL as others have said is the emergent gameplay. People post their own stories online and they're fun to read because of how a solid narrative can form from a seemingly random series of events. In one of my playthroughs my captain survived unthinkable odds from a brutal ambush while everyone else perished in flames and fighting. It was a bitter victory. In the aftermath, fires were spreading across the ship but I couldn't flush them because the oxygen was busted and all the systems offline. As the captain's health dwindled I knew he wasn't skilled enough to repair the oxygen before it was all over. In his last moments I panicked and just... did nothing. He stood in an empty room and suffocated. It was a more significant moment than anything that happened in DA2. It works so well because the game is almost a blank slate to the point that you can imprint anything you want on the characters.

I don't think we'll have exactly that. Like RobertTheScott said above, we're crafting these characters that you form a relationship with and they shouldn't feel disposable as the roguelike nature of FTL often does. We'll have a lot in common, I think, with Walking Dead, which I finished in 10 hours straight over the Christmas break and was my favorite game of the year. What I came away from in that game is the sense of not quite changing the course of history, but changing how you experience what happens. This was always our goal, but Walking Dead really encapsulated it in an inspiring and demonstrative way. Sometimes just seeing how someone else nailed something is the most valuable thing there is to game design. For the record, Kenny was my guy, we got along great. I had a really different experience than a lot of people who played the game, and it felt like the authentic one to me. I hope that's how the combination of these two system feel to people playing TBS.

The thing I'm most excited about is being able to jump between different story lines, and having a cast of characters that is large enough that we can let them come and go. I've wanted to write games because of tv shows like The Wire and Deadwood, where you fall in love with a large cast of characters who are good and bad or both at the same time, and none of them are immune to the plot. We're going out of our way to make sure that every character who joins you has their own motivations and isn't just a part of your collection. There isn't anyone in the game who can't die or decide to leave of their own volition. There is "permadeath", it just happens in the story instead of combat. It lets us write things that other games simply can't get away with. If we pull it off, you shouldn't be able to see behind the curtain and know that character A is safe because he's a main character, or that you can mouth off to anyone you like without repercussion. A quick, spoiler-free example: at one point fairly early in the game, you make a decision that may get you killed. Instead of the game saying "sorry, that's not what happened", the story continues, and now you're playing a different main character. Suddenly, how you felt about that character may shift dramatically now that you're in his/her shoes and forced to make decisions on their behalf and see things from their point of view. Aside from this, the story naturally cuts between different groups of people, who are seeing the same event (Ragnarok?) from different places in the world.

Just reading back what I wrote above it's starting to sound like I'm a Molyneaux-esque loon making promises that we can't possibly keep, because no other game has ever really pulled it off. There's certainly a chance of that, but nothing about our progress on the game so far points to the fact that we won't be able to do it, or at least make a valiant attempt. Since our earliest framework of the game, this approach has been based around two things: complete creative control (not many publishers would agree to all of this) and designing the systems to be light-weight (2d art, text-based, modular systems) so that we can afford to go nuts on the content. This is what I've been working toward my whole career, let's make it happen!

FTL and The Walking Dead were by far the best games I played last year.

I finally got around to watching The Wire this past year as well, it was incredible.

...and you just listed everything I've been desperately longing for in a game for the past decade.

Where have you guys been all my life?

PS. If at any point you've made enough from TBS to start hiring I will have my job application mailed within 5 minutes of the job posting being listed. I would give the world to work with such a like-minded talented group of people.

PPS. If you've got time for an RPG and haven't already played it give the witcher 2 a go. It does quite a good job of creating a dynamically changing story in a morally grey world, and for the most part without allowing the player to "see behind the curtain." I had quite a few surprises on my second playthrough, discovering choices I didn't even know were possible the first time around.

raven2134
02-04-2013, 07:02 AM
That's the way to do it! Aim for the best game ever made! I think successful and memorable games (at least ones that I think I'll never forget) today have either aimed to be THE best, the best in itself (the kind/genre), or made a valiant attempt. You definitely need to aim to be the best in order to achieve the best possible results (even it if doesn't make it the best game ever :p)

balnoisi
02-04-2013, 01:59 PM
There's certainly a chance of that, but nothing about our progress on the game so far points to the fact that we won't be able to do it, or at least make a valiant attempt.

cheers to that, the only barriers you have are going to be the ones you raise yourselves so be ambitious, aim for the moon, and let's see how far you can take the game.


EDIT: i've played FTL, it's a very specific - well done - accomplished game. one you can always come back to and play a little in between your other games, i can say i've enjoyed it a lot.

but i played most of the first episode (perhaps the whole of it, can't remember) of TWD videogame and felt dissapointed. like it was the sum of many bad things of the last generation of vg's : the kind of walk a little, watch us tell you a piece of the story, click here and watch another part, chat a little with the npc's then watch another piece of the story unfold. and so on. a visual little novel (do you remember those books for kids "choose yr own adventure"?) or short piece of animation with some clicking to disguise it as a game. my only good memory of it was the little girl, it was cute and well voiceacted so at least i remember caring for her.
and i must say i've been a loyal reader of the original comics and consider them quite good up to number 70 +-, from then on the level has decreased sensibly. and i watched the tv series (i'm in the 2nd ep 3rd season) and think they are quite good indeed. so i've got nothing against the genre, but i can't see the reasons for all that twd videogames praise.

franknarf
02-04-2013, 04:43 PM
@bal: I like it because it's an excellent interactive visual novel. It's like a good TV show -- well written and acted -- but with the choose-your-own-adventure aspect to it, which makes characters' relationships and deaths (since it's in a zombie apocalypse) more meaningful, since you are often (seemingly) responsible for the characters' fates.

I enjoyed it a lot more than I'd expected to, having seen Telltale's other work and having not really liked any pure adventure games since the early 90's.

quartex
02-04-2013, 06:28 PM
Great post Alex!

When reading fantasy novels I can usually assume that no matter how bad it gets, the protagonist will survive. (with the exception of books by George RR Martin) And when I play adventure or role-playing games, player death leads to "game over" screen and a the tacit implication that you should make a better choice next time.

So the concept that your protagonist could die, and then have the game continue with a different protagonist seems revolutionary. And what if the choosing to die (perhaps in a heroic last stand) leads to a better future than one where you ran off and saved your skin? Fantasy novels are full of people dying heroically to save the world, but in computer games the idea of having protagonists intentionally die and that being a good thing doesn't happen as often. I suppose the plot of the original Starcraft being an exception, but the protagonists aren't as important in real-time strategy games as they are in adventures/RPG's. The original Starcraft is also an good example of jumping between different storylines.

So from a story perspective I love where you could go with this. You originally talked about Chapter 1 being only a 10 hour long game, I suspect with all the new content it will turn out to be longer. But with so many branching choices, I can see there will be a lot of motivation for players to replay the game multiple times.

SharkSummoner
02-04-2013, 06:56 PM
@Alex well your not promising every single element of this game will be revolutionary and you have been posting evidence that you are making wht you promise so I don't think people will start to compare this studio to Moleyneux and his shenanigins.

But I'm still afraid that you will have to make it linear somewhere, if you add to many options in the story the game will take way to long to develop and everyone will be disappointed. I don't want this game to end up having the later chapters never come out, yes the first two chapters may be excellent but that will be moot if we never ever get to know what happens in Epis-I mean chapter 3. In short unless your making an adventure game make sure the game is actually released. I'm hoping this game will come out around the same time as Shadowrun Returns so I have two excellent Turn-based games to play in the Summer.

I do want to thank you though both for the excellent coverage of the development and for being so close to the community, most devs wouldn't even consider such a unique form of developing the game let alone have the community take such a part in it. I'm also glad the combat won't have perma death. That's fine for Fire Emblem as that focuses entirely on the combat. But in this game randomly losing your own faviorite units from random events as well as the probably difficult combat will be annoying.

Aidenee
04-18-2013, 07:39 AM
Yes i am also having the same feelings but personally i prefer Banner Saga on FTL and i always love to play it and it is a good time pass activity.

Rymdkejsaren
04-20-2013, 04:00 AM
Planescape: Torment was the game that opened my eyes to a game not only having a narrative, but being able to affect it. It also did not have the game over on death, indeed sometimes the solution to your problem was dying. Combat was more of side note and most of the heavy combat areas were not even necessary to visit at all for the sake of the story. After that it took a LONG time for any game to have me as engulfed in a story. Needless to say I have backed the new Torment game that is now in the making.

The Witcher 2 is a great game for a story with choices, and I cannot wait for the third installment that promises to put that type of story depth into an open world. If they pull that off, combining Skyrim with the Witcher 2 then they will have a serious winner in my book. I loved playing The Elder Scrolls games but would always drop them after a while because although the open world exploration is awesome, the games simply lack soul. I would make up my own stories in my head while playing but unlike FTL the game does not really cater to that very well so it kind of dies after a while.

If I had a point with this post, I am sure I would have made it by now. Anyway as a fan of all kinds of stories, I look forwards to the single player experience with great anticipation!

OriKlein
04-20-2013, 08:21 AM
This thread is a fun and fine read.
Anxious to see the SP.