SaltCon 2015: Artemis
Artemis was unlike any game I’ve ever played before. It wasn’t a tabletop game, but it definitely catered to that small niche in the gaming community. I’ve played a few different games with a Star Trek theme, such as Star Trek online and even a questionable board game adaptation, but none of them gave me a true Trekkie experience like Artemis did. The idea of Artemis is to pilot your own ship through space, destroying enemy ships and protecting space stations. You work together in a team of about 6 people (potentially more) to fly around space in a ship called the Artemis, a virtual likeness to the Enterprise. Each person has a different role in piloting the ship: There’s Communications, Science, Engineering, Helm, Weapons Officer and Captain. Each plays a different and significant role in your success of defeating enemies and just generally blowing stuff up, in space. Not only is this one of the geekiest things I have ever done, but it was also an activity that even someone who is not entirely familiar with the Star Trek series could participate in. I was initially worried that my dope Trekkie vernacular wasn’t up-to-date for this activity, but once we started the game, I realized that it wasn’t that important. As for why the game itself is called Artemis … well, that’s an easy answer—copyright issues. If you head down to SaltCon this weekend be sure to sign up for this fantastically geeky activity in Stratus 6.
From the first time I heard about it, I wanted to try out the Artemis Bridge Simulator. I mean, who doesn’t want to pretend they’re at the helm of a Star Trek–style Federation starship that’s roaming a star system to protect it from a bevy of hostile crafts and creatures? The simulation coordinator briefly explained the setup to our crew of six, going over each of the stations and explaining how they work together to get the Artemis moving and operating efficiently. The Engineering Officer reroutes power to the various functions of the ship, helping specific areas of the team to do their jobs more quickly when necessary. The Science Officer has access to the largest map and a sophisticated scanner that can help the crew identify hostile vessels and give their coordinates to the Helmsman, who drives the ship. The Weapons Officer has the pretty obvious job of pelting hostiles with a combination of phasers, nukes, torpedoes and EMPs, while the Comms Officer manages incoming transmissions and convinces enemies to surrender or die. The Captain, of course, tries to manage the whole crew. I took the Science Officer’s chair, while Nicole Stephenson tried her hand at Comms Officer. Immediately, I found plenty of unidentified objects to scan, barking out their coordinates to the Helmsman, who navigated us to within firing range. We dealt with the first few groups of enemies pretty easily, using a combination of clever maneuvers and scans to give us the edge on the enemy. However, near the end of the 30-minute simulation, a much more intimidating fleet came in at impulse speed, heading straight for one of the space stations we were sworn to defend. After refueling and grabbing a couple of nukes, we warped on down to engage their crew in a desperate firefight. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Weapons Officer fired an EMP into the thickest collection of ships, which shut down their shields just in time for a nuke to completely wipe out six of the eight vessels in a single blast. However, their capitol ship was a beast of an opponent, its shields seeming nearly impenetrable. It kept firing probes at us that collided with our ship and damaged our shields. We had to pull out and regroup, docking at the threatened space station for one last go at the enemy. Our Helmsman pulled us in close, and we slugged it out for awhile. Unfortunately, our weakened ship just couldn’t handle their relentless assault. We ended up getting destroyed in the last minute of the simulation, but the whole crew was grinning despite the loss. Artemis was an excellent experience, you can totally boot this bad boy up with a set of your own computers. Visit Artemis on the web to find out how to set it up, and keep an eye out for the traveling trailer version, which is apparently way more immersive.