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Captain's Log: My impressions of v1.51, Into the Breach and Mike's Missions

posted Oct 24, 2011 12:03:42 by edmundrw
On Sunday, I had the privilege of commanding a crew in Artemis for the first time since v1.2. There were 5 of us so I had Science on a little touch screen laptop/tablet, whilst sitting the captain's chair. Was pleased to see that aside from the graphical & audio updates and the station updates, we were overwhelmed with mission and mod content. Despite playing for 4 or 5 hours we only had a chance to play three missions and one of the mods - leaving plenty of content for another session.

There's a huge amount of new stuff for the stations since we last played. I'd like to thank everyone who's put work into the Artemis Wiki for making it so easy for us all to pick up the game and understand what's new without having to trawl the forums.

Aside from thanking Thom for creating the game in the first place and doing such a great job with the updates and listening to the community, there are two other big thank you's due:

- Vorus and Martok for making the absolutely superb 'Into the Breach' mod. I love how you can select which mod to boot to at startup and the fact that the stock version can be booted means that Into the Breach is simply MUST-HAVE. I simply would not install Artemis onto a machine without putting ItB on at the same time. We only got a chance to try one of the mods, but I'm happy to know there's more waiting for us next time round.

- Thanks also to Mike who created the three missions we tried on Sunday. They just kept getting better and better. We will definitely be eagerly awaiting the rest of the series. Apologies to everyone else who has created missions that we didn't get a chance to try but once we got going with Mike's missions, we felt compelled to stick with them.

In this order, we played:

Shakedown Cruise
The Klingon version of Into the Breach
Havok in the Hamak Sector
Truce & Consequences


Version 1.51
Where to start. Everything is much better. The stations generally have a lot more to do - engineering is better, weapons is better, comms is better. Sci doesn't have much more to do than it did but it worked well for our bridge setup. The most significant improvements in my opinion are:

- Elite enemies add a great deal to the game - Their ability to warp away when in trouble and give chase when you try to escape creates very interesting situations.
At one point in the Klingon Mod there was a large battle going on to defend DS1, involving about 3 allied ships, vs about 5 enemy ships and 1 elite. Artemis was running very low on energy so warped to DS2 to refuel. As we were leaving the starbase the elite arrived and began to attack us - causing a decision of whether we should stand and fight the elite or rejoin the battle for DS1
- Allied ships and submissions also significantly add to the game by contributing to more emergent situations such as the one described above but also giving Artemis work to do besides fighting. More stuff like this is certainly welcome.
- The Music adds a great deal.
- The new UI is vastly better than the LCARS
- The network seemed a lot more robust, but it's hard to tell if this is a software thing or a hardware thing

Shakedown Cruise (SPOILERS)
"I thought this was just a shakedown cruise!"
This is a neat little mission. Ships seemed to continue to spawn in some instances after we had left and headed to the next base. I don't know if this was intentional but it created a surprisingly thrilling scenario that plays essentially the same as a basic Artemis game but is paced much better.

Into the Breach - Klingon
"Captain, that elite Constitution class Federation Vessel could be the Enterprise..."
Enjoyed this a lot. I think the rebalancing in the mod works very well. I like that helm can't see mines.
Unfortunately, though, we never got to see any Federation Starbases. The Feds were on us quite soon so it was all we could do to defend all of our supply stations, which we succeeded in doing but were disappointed to have the mission end (from killing the last fed ship) before we were able to check out the purple ???'s - which I assumed were the starbases.

Havok in the Hamak Sector (Audio) (SPOILERS)
The Audio adds a great deal to this mission - primarily in terms of pacing. It's essentially an ambush in a nebula that turns into a fairly standard game of fleet-hunting. The Tachyon Fuel scoop was a very interesting addition - We were impressed that you were able to acheive that. At first we didn't think it was working but we later realised that it only seemed to replenish our energy up to something like 1058.
Generally it was a good mission, and I liked the fact that it had actual characters and loved being able to ask my comms officer to play the incoming transmission.

Truce & Consequences (SPOILERS)
Superb. This is another league. We thought Hamak was quite impressive, but the great thing about T&C is that, while Hamak feels like a standard Artemis game with some characters and a the scoop device overlayed on top, Truce and Consequences plays like a completely different game. And that's what I really wanted from scripted missions. It was also tough.
- Attempt 1 - we wound up beaten and bloodied and dead in the water as we were out of energy in energy sucking nebula - this failure was primarily down to some core crew failures
- Attempt 2 we learned our lesson from the first game and picked up several anomalies before giving a proper chase to the Swift Ghost. We ended up engaging the Swift Ghost nearby the Black Hole. A lengthy fight ensued and, I believe, the Swift Ghost wound up being swallowed by the Black Hole. We didn't however get a chance to find out whether the Skaraans would make good on their threat to destroy the Royal Yacht if the Ghost was destroyed because we too were soon sucked into the Black Hole too.
- Attempt 3 - Drawing on all we had learned we picked up lots of anomalies again but waited to engage Swift Ghost until the sector after the Black Hole Sector. I might be wrong but I think this gave us a little more time to fight the Ghost before the Demon's joined the fray. I lost count of how many times the Swift Ghost's sheilds replenished but eventually they surrendered. It wasn't clear why they decided to surrender then - Mike, might I suggest that one or all stations get some sort of status report on the Swift Ghost to give them a 'clue' that the Swift Ghost is ready to surrender? Such as being told that it is leaking coolant or some sort of technobabble, to make it a bit more logical and give the captain a 'prompt' to ask for surrender. As it was, it was a little like 'oh, well, after asking them for a 5th time, they seem to have surrendered even though they still have lots of strong allies nearby and don't seem any weaker than they had been'

The only other point I'd make about Truce and Consequences is that having played the audio version of Hamak, it was clear that Truce and Consequences would be vastly improved by the inclusion of Audio as well. Comms did his best to relay the gist of the dialogue to me, but in the heat of battle and with other stations trying to coordinate things, I only had a strong grasp of the plot by the third playthrough and the rest of my crew had a very weak comprehension of the story. In future, I will wait for the audio versions of Mike's missions and any other missions that are dialogue heavy should appreciate the positive impact recording audio files has on the experience for the crew.

Thanks again, Mike, Vorus, Martok and of course Thom for the great work you've been doing and I can't wait for my next session, probably not as long a wait this time.
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5 replies
Mike_Substelny said Oct 24, 2011 17:20:26
I am glad you enjoyed the missions, Edmund. Some notes:

Shakedown was written for an earlier version of Artemis and is out of date. It will behave better once it is updated.

I am assembling the cast for the audio version of "Truce or Consequences" this week. It should be published next week.

In "Truce or Consequences" your Science Officer receives numerous pop-up messages that track the status of Swift Ghost's special weapons. It takes a lot of work to destroy them, but if Science is paying attention you should know when it happens. Only after those systems are eliminated do you have a shot at getting Tharg to surrender.

Nevertheless, you bring up an interesting point. Most Artemis missions end in a fizzle as the players wipe out the last little picket ship on the map. The idea of "Truce or Consequences" was to give a climactic boss battle that would end at an exciting moment. But it would be even more suspenseful if Tharg saved one final secret weapon for the climax - something like the Genesis Device. Tharg should only surrender after your crew has defeated his final, terrible secret weapon.

Thanks for the idea! Look for one more secret weapon when the audio version is published.
"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
Vorus said Oct 25, 2011 00:05:20
Thanks for the kind words regarding out mod! We worked hard to make sure that it was fun, so we're glad it paid off. And I'm personally glad you played the Klingon version, as it is my favorite. (A side note, the ??? items on the map are actually not bases, those are a special addition to all versions of Artemis that Thom thought up. Make sure you investigate one next time though, it's definitely worth it.)

It's amazing that a game this young already has so much user-generated content. I still haven't gotten to play all of Mike's missions. The community here really is great. (As is Thom himself, of course.)
Khomerex nal Khesterex

The unofficial Artemis Wiki, your best source for Artemis Information
Mike_Substelny said Oct 27, 2011 16:58:50
Change in plans: the audio version of "Truce or Consequences" will be released in December, not next week.

This week I am concentrating on my next mission, "The Pegasus Passage." A one-player version of "The Pegasus Passage" will be released next week.
"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
edmundrw said Oct 27, 2011 17:05:49
I don't think I'll have a chance to play Artemis again for a little while anyway. Looking forward to the Pegasus Passage. Happy, by the way, to do some voice acting for you if you're in need of an English (home counties) accent
Martok42 said Nov 02, 2011 21:10:26
Thank you very much for playing our mod! It's really cool to hear such good feedback from the community, glad you enjoyed it. And I too am pleased you played the Klingon one, It's my personal favorite as well.

And Artemis really does have an awesome community. And of course Thom deserves most of the praise here, Artemis is seriously a masterpiece.
A vital mission, impossible odds and a ruthless enemy, what more could we ask for?

Follow the Star Trek, Into The Breach mod for Artemis: NegativeZone
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