Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
FTL Games (Faster Than Light) was the video game development division of Software Heaven Inc. . FTL created several popular video games in the 1980s and early 1990s. Despite the company's small size, FTL products were consistently number-one sellers and received the highest critical acclaim and industry awards.
FTL was founded by Wayne Holder in 1982. Holder started Software Heaven and FTL as its game division after founding Oasis Systems which specialized in spell checking software. He hired Bruce Webster , with whom he graduated from high school in 1971, to head FTL.
FTL released several games throughout its relatively short history. Surprisingly, most went on to become best sellers and some even set new standards for games of their genres.
Holder and Webster co-designed FTL's first game, SunDog: Frozen Legacy, a space trading game. It was released first for the Apple II in March 1984. Webster did most of the programming for the Apple II version, but resigned from FTL after the release of version 2.0 due to programming burn-out. Doug Bell, Andy Jaros and Mike Newton ported the game to the Atari ST, releasing it in 1986. SunDog became that system's best selling software for that year, and garnered lavish critical acclaim.
Oids , an arcade game, was one of FTL's minor releases. It received little attention with a later conversion to the Apple Macintosh, however the original Atari ST release received rave reviews in the UK, where it remains a cult favourite.
It was however eclipsed by the release of FTL's next game.
Dungeon Master, a fantasy role-playing game, the first to feature real-time gameplay. The game included a number of user interface features that made gameplay particularily enjoyable, from a spell system that seemed to be "logical" to the way secret doors and traps would be barely visible unless one had certain character races in the team. It was released on the ST in 1987 and went on to become the ST's best selling product of all time. It was eventually ported to over a dozen platforms in six languages.
It received too many awards to list here, but it received the first ever Special Award for Artistic Achievement from Computer Gaming World when it was initially released.
Chaos Strikes Back
A Dungeon Master sequel, Chaos Strikes Back, was released in 1989 for most platforms, but notably excluding a PC version. It uses the same engine as Dungeon Master but features new creatures and graphics.
Dungeon Master II
Dungeon Master II: The Legend of Skullkeep was the best-selling game of the week when it was released in Japan in December 1993. For some reason it took two years before it was released in the US and Europe in 1995 by Interplay Productions. While the game had been anxiously awaited by legions of Dungeon Master players, by 1995 it was rather dated and sold poorly. FTL broke up about this time.
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