Vlambeer, the indie duo of Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman, is ten years old today. It's also going away. With one last new game still on the way, the makers of Nuclear Throne, Super Crate Box, Ridiculous Fishing and more are calling it quits. As part of a sort of farewell tour or bittersweet victory lap, they've also lifted the curtain an idea that got away from them.
Sure, you can head over to Steam and find some Vlambeer games (and associated screen shake-y titles) for sale, or you could play FFFLOOD for free at itch.io. It's an idea that dates back to the earliest days of Nijman and Ismail's partnership, long before Vlambeer became one of the most recognizable names in the indie space.
FFFLOOD is Vlambeer's take on tower defense, or rather what it "saw as the problems with tower defense." The page for it is accompanied by something of a postmortem, a reflection on the idea's origins and why it ultimately didn't come together.
Nijman and Ismail wanted to add a rougelike structure, multiple classes, and frame the whole thing as a Starship Troopers-esque satire, pitting giant flak-spewing towers against hordes of enemies. They revisited the idea at least as recently as 2019. Along the way, doubts crept in about the theme ("In making a game that parodies military fetishism, we'd still be making it look really badass") but that's not what killed FFFLOOD. It just never settled into something:
In the end, in whatever form it took, FFFLOOD never really worked out for us. Ideas constantly evolved too fast to solidify into a full game, and as we grew as people throughout the decade, so did this game and the ideas behind it. Not everything always needs to be completed: we're grateful for lessons we learnt and things we tried, and will take that knowledge forward in whatever we work on in the future.
In interviews with Engadget and Kotaku, Ismail and Nijman talk about what's next for both them—and yes, that includes the release of Vlambeer's last title ULTRABUGS at some point. The team, though, is no longer, and that leaves FFFLOOD as a fascinating footnote that Vlambeer could've easily hidden away. For the sake of their fans and for indie gaming history, it's cool that they didn't.