Flotilla is out

By: Lorne Whiting

On: March 8th, 2010

Blendo Games (the creator behind the very stylish and classy Gravity Bone) released Flotilla a little over a week ago.

Flotilla is a space exploration game where you go from star to star flirting with danger and talking to bull-slavers and cat-pirates and various other terrestrial animals piloting space ships, killing and getting killed by many of them.

The meat of the game is the turn-based spaceship combat. Turns take place simultaneously, so you have to really think about what your enemies are going to do, especially since each ship has a bunch of invulnerable armor plating that you have to circumvent. You can control the orientation of your ships, and there are a few movement options that let you trade speed for firepower and vice-versa, so it’s really a battle of lining up your ships so that you’re ships are flanking or can otherwise hurt the enemy, while making sure their shots can’t get past your armor.

It’s an incredibly satisfying system with a lot of depth, and the demo will make you cry and wish you had $10 when it ends. Or, y’know, you do and you can buy the game and everybody wins.

  • Ezuku

    Hmm.. Just tried the demo.

    I did find the game oozed style. I do like the “7 months left to live” idea and the adventure mode does seem very cool. The ship models are also pretty awesome.

    But… I just don’t like the control system of the space combat. Things like choosing the planar and vertical movement of your ship in 2 separate stages, then changing your camera angle to behind the ship… it’s all quite disorientating (especially choosing your orientation) and could be very much simplified. It just feels… clunky. I suppose part of it is minimising the keys used so you can have a similar control scheme on a controller.

    Somehow it seems like there’s not really enough information given to me as well. Like just how much armor does the enemy have, what’s my chance of hitting, how far away do I need to be before my chance of hitting becomes virtually zip, etc, etc. What exactly a beam weapon does as compared to my rockets, etc. Maybe it’s a design decision to keep things simplified.

  • Lorne Whiting

    I thought the movement worked pretty well! It was pretty intuitive to me after the first 5 minutes (though that’s like 1/8th of my play time, haha), with the exception of the scroll-wheel being used for panning.

  • http://www.tinycolossus.com Ciro Continisio

    Yeah me too, I really dig the game, but I wish there was a mean of exchanging mousewheel and up/down keys. By default the mousewheel pans up and down, you can make it zoom but then you don’t have an up/down control because the up/down keys zoom too.

    Other than that, it’s a great game with a good funny atmosphere, and the stylized graphics create a very interesting setting.
    Compliments to the authors for they didn’t try ‘realistic’ graphics.

  • doctorfrog

    I bought the game not too long after playing the demo. The game really, really needs a chase cam for your ships, though, because maneuvering to get a good view is a real pain.

  • glove

    Mr. Whiting, sir, I’m picking up a minor error in your post – it seems you’ve used “stylistic” instead of “stylish”.

  • Al3xand3r

    It’s basically a 3D version of Weirld Words: Return to Infinite Space by Shrapnel games. It doesn’t seem to have the same variety and polish (it’s only a demo, but the Weird Worlds demo is also more varied) but it’s pretty cool to have this gameplay in 3D. Agreed about the camera issues, and commanding could probably be more streamlined, and maybe a bit faster paced as I don’t think it would negatively affect your strategic options if you needed a few less orders to get where you want. Weird Worlds still wins, for now.


    I don’t see why my first comment was deleted, I don’t work for shrapnel games or something, I call things as I see them and post semi often in this comments section. We can’t post criticism and compare games to what we’ve played before, or even recommend potentially better (in one’s opinion) alternatives to people who see this stuff?

  • Anonymous

    Bought the game after playing the demo. At first I disliked the controls, but they become more smooth after a number of games. I would really like an option to choose how many months one has to live though! Kind of like Small/Medium/Large galaxies in Strange Adventures.

  • @glove

    He could’ve also meant “stylized”, but you’re right, probably not “stylistic”.

  • Dodger

    Just finished playing around with the demo.

    I’ll definitely be picking this one up.

    There are definitely elements of Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space though Flotilla focuses a little more on the strategic combat aspect… I don’t know if it’s necessarily deeper, I think it’s a little more complex simply because it’s done in 3D where you must take the x, y, and z axis into consideration when engaging in combat. Aside from that, there are other elements which feel a little like they were borrowed from SAIS (Strange Adventures in Infinite Space) and Weird Worlds (The sequel to SAIS). The Atmosphere is also reminiscent of Zombie Smashers x3: Ninjastarmageddon (which some may know only as Manic Space), but that’s where the comparisons end. These aren’t bad things though and they actually lend themselves well to the game. Most importantly, even with these similarities, Flotilla still has a style all its own.

    There are a few modes of play and while skirmish mode did feel a little limited in the demo, the Adventure reminded me very much of a choose your own adventure book and definitely made me want to explore the different options available just to see what might happen next.

    The graphics and sound are both very good. They’re smooth, though the bloom effect did make the game chug along on my laptop, but turning this feature off really didn’t affect my experience so I turned it off in the demo on my Desktop as well and it made the game even smoother.

    The only real hitch for me is the Camera. It’s not quite as intuitive as most other 3D space strategy games. I would have preferred an option to zoom in and out with the mouse wheel. The strafing and panning of the camera just felt a little wonky and I really felt that I had to spend more time than was necessary to adjust the camera while trying to strategically place my ships in battle. It got a little annoying but it wasn’t a deal breaker (and I really hope that there will be an option for Zooming in and out with the mouse wheel in the future), because as a casual game the only thing lacking here is the ability to play using just the mouse since the keyboard is really only necessary for those that do not have a mouse wheel on their mouse.

    Definitely worth the $10 bucks if you’re a fan of Weird Worlds and you enjoyed the humor and atmosphere in games like SAIS, WW, and Ninjastarmaggedon.

  • Dodger


    Just found out that the mouse wheel problem has been addressed with the latest updates of the game. The game feels much more fluid because of the tweaks to the camera and controls.

    You can adjust the mouse wheel to either zoom in and out or up and down along the Z axis.

    This game is a MUST try for anyone who enjoys a good casual adventure in the same vein as Weird Worlds! If you do enjoy games with elements of strategy, adventure, and unique atmosphere in a sci-fi setting, you’ll definitely get your moneys worth for the low cost of admission.

  • Dalibocrates

    Space combat with surprising and satisfying depth (definitely try skirmishing) and hilarious little storylines – these are well and good. The absolute best thing about this game, though, is that Brandon is actively developing it in response to user comments, which deserves ten thumbs up any day. Also, respect for releasing a demo.

  • Sumitpo

    I’d love to see it in 2d, not 3d

  • pepper milk

    Sumitpo :
    Like Steambirds ?

  • Dodger


    That would make at least one of the strategic combat elements entirely ineffective. It’s nowhere near as deep or as daunting as Homeworld or Sins of a Solar Empire, and it’s not supposed to be. While strategy is an important element of combat (flanking maneuvers, angled approaches, etc) It plays out much more casually like Weird Worlds, but in 3D. To change it now would make it a totally different game. I think, if anything, I’d like to see a mini-map in one of the corners of the screen perhaps showing the battle from above and on a 2d plain, but that’s about the only addition you could make without crippling the gameplay that exists.

  • Lorne Whiting

    @glove & @@glove: Oh, my vocabulal ego!

    @Al3xand3r: I don’t think your comment was deleted by any TIGS editors… Either just bad luck or caught in some automated anti-spam thing, I’m guessing. Sorry for the annoyance, anyhow!

    @Dodger: Sweet! Good to know about the scroll wheel thing.

  • moka

    360 version out yet? PC one crawled on my machine.

  • moka

    Okay, I guess not… anyone know when it’s supposed to be on XBLIG?

  • Al3xand3r

    Okay my bad then, sorry!

  • Strange

    Movement of the camera could use a bit of work – if anyone knows Rhino modeling program, that would be a good basis for the camera positioning for this game. And I wouldn’t mention this if I didn’t think it got it intruded on the gameplay – otherwise, very nice. Learning curve is good and I do like the choice classical music playing when the actions are carried out – matches well.

  • Crimsontide

    I did not like this at all. The camera was ‘clunky’ at the best of times. There was very little on screen to properly orientate yourself apart from a bit of debris. I felt there was very little actual strategy. There was no discernable physics going on, every ship could seemingly propel and orientate itself in any directions (and often in completely different directions). There was no notion of thrust or momentum.

    I played both Steambirds and this today (both quite similar) and Steambirds had by far better gameplay.

  • blahdidah

    I happily supported the dev by paying for the game, but it really doesn’t work for me.

    The combat is time consuming and repetitive. Maneuver to target the enemies’ weak spots, shoot them from a safe range, rinse and repeat. And the game does nothing to improve on this, with most of the items being bland (add X% to something). I have not yet seen anything as interesting as Weird World’s cloaking, ramming, or effects like the particle vortex cannon. Instead combat is boring, and feels like an exercise in 3D camera movement.

    I quit playing when I no longer wanted to waste 10 minutes re-fighting the same battle from my previous games.

  • Mischief Maker

    Particle Vortex Cannons and Hyperdrives ruined SAIIS/Weird Worlds.

  • Lailoken

    Ya, ditto for me. Awkward controls, and the absence of inertia ruin it for me. Also adventure mofe feels the same each time except in a different order, although to be fair I only played the demo.

    It’s too bad, cause I really want to love this game. I’m tempted to buy the full version anyways, in the hope that it is way better than the demo. Also, since he seems to respond to productive criticism and none of my observations were unique, there’s a good chance I will like it a lot more as time goes on.

  • Staplerfahrer Klaus

    Played the demo a few months ago. My only major beef is that most of the players' time in battles is wasted on mopping up the remaining enemy in the safest way possible. Everything that matters happens in the first 2 turns of combat, at most (this becomes even more pronounced as the battles get larger).

    In fact, this is the only reason I haven't already bought it. Contrary to lots of people here, I found the camera slick and intuitive, even back before the additions that I've yet to check out.