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Alternative to the Captain's Map

posted Jun 29, 2013 17:37:22 by joecooperstein
Hola, folks. I'm not certain if this is the right subforum for this, so apologies in advance if I've goofed.

My buddies and I started playing Artemis about a month ago and we are totally in love with it. One night, we found ourselves with more computers than we needed and our captain ended up with his own Captain's Map. It's a pretty wicked tool, but we felt like it cut out virtually everything our lovely science officer was contributing - with the exception of scanning, the Map fulfills every function of science (target coordinates, distance, shield strength). So we haven't used it since then, but I'm still fond of the idea of the captain having a datapad.

So I made one. In my experience, I've found it hard to keep in mind the nuances of the orientation circle, and so I'm either peering over my helmsman's shoulder or saying vague things like "uh, go left!" I've also underutilized my engineer because I can't keep track of what subsystems exist. So I've made what I'm calling the Captain's Key, which contains all of that information, as well as the technical name of each missile type (not as a practicality, but for roleplaying) and a nifty schematic of the ship. I've thought about possibly including the location of each major subsystem so that the captain can tell at a glance of the status screen what functions are impaired, but that might take something away from the engineer, so I haven't settled for sure. Obviously, the schematic is the light cruiser, but I'm planning on making one for each ship. The image is 100% screen resolution of iPad 1 and 2.

I welcome criticism, and if any of you veterans have suggestions for other items to include on the Key, please feel free to share.

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13 replies
ArtemusCousland said Jun 29, 2013 19:19:49
It might be useful for you to put the current speed and Warp Factor on the other side of the engineering key. As an engineer myself, I personally think that as a captain, just relating what you want from your engineer is the best. When you need to turn faster, just say so. Communication is what makes this game run smoothly. Your engineer will figure what s/he needs to do in order to get you the results you want. You want to go fast? Say 'prepare for high warp!' or something. You should only be concerned if they say something back, like 'hold on' or 'parts of the ship are on fire.'

But aside from that, the key looks amazing! I'd just put some navigation tabs on the bottom-left corner, and I think you'd be set.
joecooperstein said Jun 29, 2013 19:56:33
Thank you for the analysis.

I don't know the first thing about programming, so at this stage, I'm planning on this being a static reference image, which would make things like current speed or heading a little tricky. :)

What do you mean by "navigation tabs?"
ArtemusCousland said Jun 29, 2013 20:01:46
'Tabs' was the incorrect word. I meant to keep with constant speed, but if you're using a static image, you might as well not use the alternative and use the 'Status' screen. I 'believe' the Captain has the ability to see what the Engineer does, as well as all the subsystems. If not, I'm more than certain your Helm can do it.
joecooperstein said Jun 29, 2013 20:22:55
Gotcha. Thanks. :)
xavierwise.tsn said Jun 30, 2013 11:19:57
Personally, I am not sure how much use I would get out of a static display. I find the Captain's map an invaluable tool, but you are quite right when you say that it can easily take away from the science role should your captain get "carried away" with it.

Aboard my own ship, I avoid looking up enemy beam frequencies, or fleet compositions, leaving that up to the Science Officer. I use the map for navigation mainly, and monitoring the situation in the sector. When operating a vessel with jump drive, the Captain's map really comes in to its own; it would just be too difficult to communicate all the information about which heading you want the ship to be on and the bearing and range for a jump, particularly during more "intense" encounters with enemy forces.

These are the duties of a Science Officer in the RP community:
  • Report Arvonian contacts immediately

  • Prioritise scans of enemy vessels
    Individual ships first, then fleets posing greatest risk
    Judging when to make second scans of a fleet/ enemy vessel

  • Report shield frequencies during combat

  • Update on enemy ship damage (particularly in combat with Elite vessels)

  • Provide navigational bearings on the captain's request
    On occasion, they plot and navigate courses, particularly during longer transits in missions

  • Give updates on distances to targets (enemy fleets, stations, anomolies etc.)

  • Advise the captain on anomoly locations

  • For the more experienced - Advise the captain on things they may have overlooked (e.g. current heading takes you in to a minefield)

Overall, the Captain needs to use their crew to maximum effect. I know people who Captain from the helm or another role such as Comms or Science. Whilst it is possible to do so, I don't think it is as effective. There is a lot of work for a Captain to be doing without taking on additional responsibilites and in Fleet Operations, the work load increases even more.

Sorry that this has turned in to more of a critique about being a Captain and the roles of other officers. The image does look very nicely styled and has some useful reference infomation on it. Perhaps include smaller 10 degree markers on it (without numbers). You could also include a reference to maximum torpedo load (i.e. how many you can have stored when fully loaded) and the ship type (Light Cruiser, Missile Cruiser etc). Number of torpedo tubes and maybe a reference to beam arcs would also be useful (beam arcs could be a simple line diagram like the one seen on weapons when using manual targeting.
[Last edited Jun 30, 2013 11:22:26]
joecooperstein said Jun 30, 2013 14:32:03
Oh you know, I had the idea to include the cruiser diagram when I was halfway through and I'd thought about beam arcs about an hour before and then dismissed them, because I hadn't decided to make multiple versions of the key yet. That, along with maximum missile capacities, is a great suggestion! Then 10° markers won't be hard to do, either, I'll throw those into the next iteration.

I think a lot of what you've said is dependant on the style of the individual crew. We often don't have a full complement, and so each crew member will have to double-upon stations. I agree that it's far from the most desirable situation. When we do have a full crew, aside from the damage updates during combat, the science officer's other duties can be pretty much summed up as "scanning stuff," which is a largely passive responsibility. Acting as a navigator gives her a more active role, and we haven't run into any sort of work overload or communication problems, at least not yet. We've only made it up to difficulty 7 so far.

As an aside, what is the significance of the Arvonian ships above the other hostile species? Maybe this is super obvious, but we've only had contact with our own crew, so we're not really integrated into the community at large yet.
xavierwise.tsn said Jun 30, 2013 14:52:25
Arvonian ships launch fighters when you enter a range of 10k. As a captain, I insist on being made aware of the location of an Arvonian ship as the fighters are a long range threat that can significanly impact an engagement. I don't want to be starting an engagement with one fleet, and then find that I have a whole mass of fighters bearing down on me from a different direction.

In terms of the style of the individual crew, again you are correct. However I am an officer in the TSN RP community, and many operations and procedures are standardised and well practised to ensure that a crew operates at peak effectiveness. Each role is fulfilled to maximum effect, meaning that we can take on missions of much higher difficulty and complexity, including fleet operations.
badgeguy said Jul 01, 2013 21:47:31
I agree that the Captain's Map appears to overpowered and I like the idea that you have presented. For some players, a higher level of heading detail can be important as well as the knowledge as to what systems are damaged. I might suggest an alternate to the information on the Captain's Map to that of the Tactical View option on the main screen. This view would be the maximum zoom out that the captain would be allowed. Everything would center on Artemis, so only pinching to zoom in and out, no side to side sliding. This limits the amount of data available to the Captain, but frees the Science Officer up from headings in the heat of battle. Science is then still necessary for long range information, but the Captain can make split second decisions.

Additionally, a view with the transparent visual ship damage indicator that is available on Helm and Weapons could be added so that the captain could see unspecific damage, as well as what is loaded in the tubes and particle beam frequency setting.

I have mocked up what I could see as useful, but not necessarily too powerful.

JanxJelantru said Jul 02, 2013 21:03:38
I agree about the "munchkin" nature of the Captain's Map. it's not subject to the flickering when systems are damaged and shows more/better info than the science officer gets.

I would rather it be limited to "known" information
Be affected by ship damage like other screens (flickering, etc)
Be less detailed than other stations so as to create reliance on the other stations for detailed information.

As a map, it'd should serve as a visual aid for making strategic navigation decisions (DS1 is over here, DS2 is way down there. We need to swing by DS3 for resupply on the way to the damaged freighter.

it's hard to act like you know the sector when you don't have a map you can study during the boring parts.

I can see using the map for preparing battle plans (like the battle board they have on BSG with the ship models. Imagine laying an iPad down, seeing the map and current enemy positions. Then you put tokens on the pad to show where you're going to approach the enemy from.

I like the idea of the Captain's console having different modes. Ship status, damage reports would help the captain get valuable information (while leaving the main viewer to display the front view), without bothering the other stations. Technologically, and species capable of interstellar space flight doesn't need yeoman in miniskirts bringing clipboards to the Captain with forms to sign. Basic information should be immediately available to the captain via his own datapadd because we have that technology in the 21st century.

ZacharyDanielBringham said Jul 03, 2013 15:24:09
But the mini-skirted yeomen are one of the best perks of being captain!
Captain said Jul 07, 2013 14:45:24
The one comment I would like to make is online play. Sure when playing with a live crew the captains map isn't needed in fact I don't use it. But for those that play online like the RP the captains map is needed. Without a detailed map you simply can't captain. And the LRS simply doesn't cut it as a map. It doesn't have the request information that allows you to really make tactical decisions. So while a station like this that you are proposing could be useful for live play it would not work for online play.
To Mankind
And the hope that the war against folly may someday be won, after all

Isaac Asimov
ZacharyDanielBringham said Jul 08, 2013 07:37:49
What information do you get in a LAN setting that you aren't getting in online play? When I captain I have the main viewer on my monitor, just like when I'm set up with a LAN. If you're having to look over the shoulders of your crewmen, you either need to get better crewmen or stop micromanaging. The whole point of Artemis is that each crewman has specific information available to him/her and he/she relays that information to the captain. The current captain's map has the ability to remove almost all purpose from the science station except clicking on a target and pressing the scan button, which leads to very bored science officers.

I think most of the information that people really need/want as a captain could be added to the main screen as a HUD in addition to the little radar in the bottom corner. You could have the current energy levels, shield strength, velocity/warp factor, even the ship status image with the red dots to show damaged systems. I still think that takes functions away from some of the crew members, but that's still less than the current captain's map does.
joecooperstein said Jul 08, 2013 19:03:39
Woah, totally missed these replies. I'm glad to have gotten a discussion started.

Again, I haven't got any programming expertise, so something like the suggested tactical map is beyond my ability to create - I'm limited to static images with reference info, no more. I do like the idea, though; the ability to see enemy ships that are right up on you would make mid-combat maneuvering orders much easier to give.

I recognize that the captain's map, as it stands now, is a far more efficient tool than leaving all of that work to the science officer - but a lot of the pleasure of a game like this isn't necessarily in efficiency, but activity. The captain's map gets data to me faster, but it curtails one of my crewmember's fun. I don't like that. The game is a simulation, but it's a game first; anything that makes the ship more efficient at the cost of fun is something I'm going to ignore.
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