Saturday night, I had somehow managed to get tickets for two two-hour blocks of Artemis Starship Bridge Simulator in a row.
As I’ve mentioned before, I find this game to be pretty revolutionary — it’s equal parts LARP, LAN game, RPG and FASA Star Trek Combat Simulator. The players all take roles in the bridge crew of a Star Trek-knockoff ship, flying around and trying to complete missions while continually dealing with the smaller tasks of their particular stations. Communications needs to keep starbases apprised of the ship’s needs, keep allies combat ready and taunt enemies into surrendering; science needs to keep an eye on the sector and scan enemies for weaknesses; engineering needs to keep coolant levels optimal and deploy damage control teams; etc. And the captain, of course, needs to keep the big picture in mind while managing the team.
- I played for a pretty long time. My two tickets meant I was playing for about four hours straight. Artemis is pretty intense, so by the end, I’d well and truly quenched my thirst.
- This iteration of the game has a semi-3D element. It was actually necessary to steer the starship up and down sometimes in addition to all the other motion controls. There was more confusion for the helmspeople this year — hopefully there’ll be better control configuration next time. And I get the impression that Artemis is still under pretty heavy development, so maybe it’ll be handled from within the game.
- Biggest for me, was that I got a chance at command. It was largely a case of “well, no one else has volunteered to be captain, and you’ve actually played before”. It was pretty intense — perhaps too intense. It was… well, let’s say it was a bit too much like a job. But we managed to stay alive for quite a while, and I got to say things like “Good shooting, weapons!” and stuff like that.
After that, I got time to try the science and weapons stations. Science was fun — getting to see the big picture, getting to scan the environs for information, etc. Weapons was largely about “keep things loaded, keep phasers on auto”. But all good fun. I think I’ve played every station except helm now.
Michael Mesich, who was running it, mentioned after the game that he’d been videotaping the whole thing and that, for a donation, he’d send us a link to the video. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about being recorded without my prior permission, so I didn’t get a copy of the recording. Still, it was a good time.
And I should also mention that Artemis is now not just a game, but a genre. There is another electronically-moderated semi-LARP, semi-starship bridge simulator now, called Spaceteam. It’s much goofier, however, with constant shouts of “Deklunge the framistat!”, “Fluff pillows!”, “Vent hyperspleen!” or whatever.
And there’s a boardgame version of more-or-less the same thing, Space Cadets. (Space Cadets on Boardgamegeek.) But, like Spaceteam, it’s going for a slightly goofier, less simulationist approach. If you want serious Star Trek bridge crew simulation, it’s still basically Artemis for electronic, or FASA Starship Combat Simulator for pen & paper.