This Contact Report is the result of a Team Building Exercise I conducted at work. The report emphasizes the Team Building nature of the event, and the Team Building lessons we drew from the exercise.
Artemis Bridge Team Building Exercise
Ship: USS Neil A. Armstrong
Crew: PSIT Team at Schumacher Group
Port of Departure: Pelican Room, Hugh Wallis location, Schumacher Group, Lafayette, LA
Stardate: 2013.01.18 0900 – 1130
Dean Mallory reporting.
My brother, Eric, drove in from Houston to assist, just as I (and my 2 sons) drove up to assist him a few weeks ago. See Eric's Contact Report from that exercise here
It took us about an hour to set the room up from scratch. With two projectors and external sound, it was pretty nice! The team started rolling in at 8am, and after an organizational meeting Artemis play began at 9am.
We had a team of 9 for this mission: myself, the only Artemis veteran; and 8 rookies. We started with the 15 minute overview video
We ran Artemis 1.66 with the Into the Breach Look and Feel (ItBLnF) mod that I developed. With this mod, friendly ships look like Star Trek ships, and use the Star Trek sound effects, all borrowed from the Into the Breach mod. The ships actually have the exact same capabilities (number of tubes and beams, strengths, etc) as the standard Artemis game. You can get the ItBLnF mod here
After the video I ran through about 5 minutes of additional training that Eric and I have been working on. This training is still a work in progress, but we're trying to get the team past game play mechanics as quickly as possible, so we can get to actual play quickly. This additional training touched briefly on the ship, weapons, our mission, and immediate priorities for each station. Later, after each game, we added some game play training that the team could appreciate after a little play.
I captained the first mission. We played a level 1 mission and I demonstrated most of the basic maneuvers and tactics:
- Navigating around the sector, through or around terrain
- Raising (and lowering) shields, and sounding Red Alert
- Scanning the enemy for shield freqency and strength, and for status
- Engaging the enemy, importance of beam arcs, selecting targets
- Use of various torpedoes, beams, and mines
- Picking up, losing, reaquiring, and dropping off a space monster
- Performing a side mission
- Starbase arrival, announcement, and docking
- Engineering's role in prioritizing power to various systems to assist in these functions
We rotated positions after the first mission. Each person took on a different role, but the person who had just filled that role was working the adjacent station and could provide a little coaching, so that the second game went fairly smoothly. With 9 total players, I sat out game 2. It was difficult to both not play, and not coach the rookie captain. After some weapons loading and firing practice, the captain decided to pursue a few side missions. The crew accomplished three of these before finishing off the last invading fleet.
After game two we took a long break. Everyone checked their email to make sure the business was not falling apart without them. A few small fires were put out, but everyone was back on time, ready to go again.
We rotated positions again for mission three. The next captain decided the team was ready to move up, to level 2. We all saw that level 2 is noticably more difficult than level 1. Still, the team did well and finished the mission. We did notice something new in this level 2 mission: our first Behemoth and Leviathan. This posed quite a problem for the rookie weapons officer, who had the toughest time during the engagement. She had to load tubes, select inbound drones, reselect the enemy ship, launch tubes, and reload. Several shots went off into space, untargeted. We had to engage this enemy twice. After the first encounter, we had to limp back to a starbase, and just barely arrived with 45 units of power remaining. This mission also saw a successful taunt. We taunted a three ship fleet from the other side of a singularity, with the hoped for result -- the fleet flew themselves into the black hole!
Debriefs, Feedback, and Team Building Lessons
After each of the three games, we walked through each person at each station, and those who were sitting out. We asked them to provide lessons learned specific to the station they just played, and then to provide team building lessons. Here is a summary.
We had one color blind player, who could not distinguish between white and blue. Basically, he could not distinguish between the blue friendly Destroyers and Transports and the white unscanned enemy ships. Thom, any thoughts on that? We made it work with good communication. The color blind captain said, "OK, I can't tell the difference between white and blue, explain the long-range map to me", which we did. This worked for level 1. There might not be enough time for something like this at higher level games.
I mentioned earlier that we did a little bit of game play training between each game, as the players were ready to absorb a little more. After the 1st mission we talked about what Comms was able to tell ships, function keys for Eng, and different ways for Helm to change heading. After the 2nd mission we talked about Comms having 3 taunts. When one works, we'll get positive response from the enemy. Taunt 1 ship in a fleet and the whole fleet comes after you. We also talked about Science needing to provide direction for Helm when we don't have tactical or long range on the main screen. After the 3rd mission on level 2 we talked about the power and difference between the torpedoes and beams and enemy shield strengths as in level 1 they all had shields of 40. Level 2 had some behemoths with 600 shields. We needed to consider weapon strategy when dealing with the larger ship.
Lessons for each station
- Stay after the friendlies. They will get themselves killed without your attention.
- Scanning takes time
- Scan twice
- Request dock will not work unless within 600m
- Unload and reload while the ship is in transit, and we have time
- Convert energy to torpedoes while docked
- Know what everyone is doing, so you can allocate power where best needed
- There's too much for me to do it all
It's most telling that both rookie captains noted that there was too much going on for them to try to manage everything. One of the rookie captains said that he is a micromanager by nature, but that he appreciated that the crew could take some things off of his hands.
Team Building Lesson
: Everyone has a job to do. Everyone's job is important and contributes to the team. The boss needs to maintain good situational awareness, and needs to guide the direction of the team, and then each team member needs to do his or her part to make the team successful.
Many people also noted that we were most effective when we were communicating well: when people were asking for what they needed, when people were providing what others needed. And when everyone was paying attention. Sometimes the right questions were going unanswered. Sometimes, the right information was being provided, but not heard or heeded.
Team Building Lesson
: Maintaining situational awareness of what each team member is dealing with will help each individual. Your work may be able to help someone else. Something someone else has done may save you time and effort. This will make the team more effective and successful.
Several times the debrief discussions revolved around knowing what an individual had authority to do, and what needed the captain's decision or permission. We saw the wrong weapons loaded, and sometimes we went into battle without anything loaded. We sometimes went into battle without shields up, and sometimes we asked frequently for the captain's permission to raise shields.
Team Building Lesson
: It's very important to effective team functioning that each member knows what they have clear authority to do without further instruction, what needs permission to proceed, and what is completely out of bounds.
Another frequent comment during the debriefs, "I'm sure glad the person to my left had just done this station!"
Team Building Lesson
: Cross train. A more effective team has team members who are very good at their own jobs, and who could do a few of the other team jobs if needed.
The entire morning was very successful. What a great time! What a great game, and what a great Team Building opportunity this game provides. Everyone said they wanted to do this again. So look for further contact reports.
Yes, we really got to do this during work! This 36 seconds
from Steve Martin summarizes my feeling about the day.