My name is Paul Zirkle, or Keless online, and I'm a Mobile Game Programmer by day. I'm posting to provide first-time impressions from literally 7 complete newbies, as well as myself having played only once before.
I just ran my first Artemis LAN yesterday in Los Angeles, CA; it was a great success with 8 attendees manning a flight of two ships across several encounters. I had played once before and was able to help introduce the concepts, as well as link to the helpful wiki articles I found at http://artemiswiki.pbworks.com
To begin with, I'm amazed at just how easy and accessible the game was to get into. Passing the .exe around on a USB drive and installing in under a minute was very painless compared to other LAN games I've dealt with. Setting up the server and clients was also easy (having the Server showing its IP address on the main screen makes it a no-brainer). One player on a Mac OSX laptop was able to get Wine running easily (though unable to use the USB Joystick for navigation through it). I think the most difficult thing about setup was physically getting the people, computers, seats and power set up in the living room of my one bedroom apartment!
The first feature request we came across was being able to select the "ship type" on the Server per-ship; since we were running two ships, we imagined trying to have one battle ship and one runner, but the game only allows one type for all player ships.
We started with the survival basic mission at difficulty one and easily accomplished it, getting familiar with the interfaces. I heard a lot of people asking if there were keyboard shortcuts for their stations once they started getting the hang; I was able to tell navigation of some keys, and suggested to engineering the hotkey presets (though he insisted he'd rather tweak it constantly himself).
Next I set the server to double-front survival with 'very interesting' landscape, and knocked the sensors down from unlimited to 'very high' (don't remember the exact title). We had some ship appearing and disappearing at the stations we were defending, so while one ship was off fighting incoming waves, the other parked nearby the stations and tried to figure that situation out. I suggested it was a Romulan, which resulted in several guffaws, but I was serious and told them to use their main screen vis to track the target. Sure enough, they found it (which was an appreciated level of depth to the game); however they continued to be flummoxed when each time they thought they destroyed it, it still managed to come back.
On my ship, running captain, science, comms and part-time engineering, I managed to taunt a group of enemies through a black hole, and one through a mine field, but my nav and weapons officers were just sitting there as I defeated enemies without moving. So we moved to nuke the remaining group. I noticed the "LRS" (long range scan?) screen seemed to show different blips than my Science screen (wha??) and it seemed to correspond with the "Romulan" ship, so I was able to coordinate with the other ship to finally defeat it.
The problems we had in understanding the threat seamed to be three-fold: 1) there's no way of telling why something comes and leaves from the radar (possible reasons are: radar cloaking turned on, destruction, teleportation to another part of the map?), 2) in order to track the target visually the 'front' 'left' 'right' 'rear' cams are very limited (I think their crew also had a problem at one point because they were near a station, and the enemy was occluded behind it), 3) what the heck is the LRS screen and why does it show information that Science doesn't have? If there are several modes of radar, it seems Science should have access to all of them?
After clearing that threat, we were presented with an extremely large (as Science/Capt I was judging ship size by shield ratings: 350/300 was the largest I'd seen) ship which seemed to fire little homing missiles; we had to get our weapon officer to click on the missiles so our lazers could hit them then back on the ship to fire back. I had her fire some ECMs and nukes at the thing and run away while we waited for our other ship to catch up with us.
When they arrived, we tried to work with the other ship to flank it so one ship was always in its blind spot on the back (only about 8 degrees wedge, so not really able to do it, but we tried). After some fairly intense moments we got it down. Definitely a good climax in game intensity.
We played a mission at difficulty 8, but we were overwhelmed. At one point we were repairing ourselves and suddenly warped forward, because Nav had set Warp up when we had no power, then as systems came back online warp engaged (long enough to run us directly into a flight of enemies that finished us off).
Some people wanted to boil down to one ship so there was less chaos; since I'd done some poking around in the missions folders, I knew about the Module mission .xml file, so I was able to set up a "Game Master" type game give someone the .xml file as reference to play around as GM. It was a little whacky seeing the landscape suddenly change around us as he added clouds and mine field arcs and asteroids (just as we started to warp to a station he put an asteroid field in our way!). Also, dropping ships seemed to place them directly stacked on one another, so I could barely pick them out as Science to scan (he began manually moving them apart as he noticed the problem).
The commander kept asking Comms to get some missions from stations, but it seems that isnt automated in the GameMaster mode of play, and the GM wasn't able to figure out how to make it happen.
Again we had jumping/teleporting ships to deal with where we didn't understand whether they had died, or just teleported, and some of them had definitely not shown up on LRS or Science-radar, only on visual. It made coordinating attacks very difficult between the commander, science, and weapons officers. Also, according to the GM, a number of invisible ships simply evaporated due to our first nuke, so we never even knew they'd existed.
All in all, we had a lot of fun; some people had to drive for more than an hour to show up and considered it well worth the effort. Overall, I appreciate the engagement of all the players (even Comms was important when we realized missions could reward you with 300% energy cap, etc). It was easy to get into, and from there move into more complex tactics and a deeper level of game play.
One of the major barriers I see in moving to deeper game play though, comes from the fact that most of the battles were chalked up to either overwhelming force or attrition: fire nukes at it, but gauge how many nukes you have (and can produce at stations over time) vs priority of target groups;
fly out, destroy a number of ships, dock up and destroy some more; and for large targets, go toe-to-toe or strafe-dance with it until one of you is dead (or try to run away if its too large, but usually by the time you're running away your'e out of energy to do it). A large percent of this could just be because of the difficulty settings we chose, and lack of experience with the game.
Discovering tactics like how to take down homing missiles, and tracking radar-invisible targets was definitely a plus. Also, we didn't test out any of the missions scenarios yet.
In closing, we had a great time and we'll definitely be setting up more games.
[Last edited Aug 20, 2012 21:43:49]