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 For those who charge per player at Artemis bridge events: How do you handle Fighters? (If no options apply, please select Other: your forum replies welcome!)
 We don't use Fighters on our bridge setups. 0 0%
 We use Fighters, and charge everyone the same price: no one complains. 0 0%
 We use Fighters, and charge everyone the same price: some concerns, but not enough worth changing. 0 0%
 We use Fighters, and charge different prices for Fighters v. core bridge crew. 1 50%
 We use Fighters, in "hot-seat" configuration occupied temporarily by core bridge personnel as needed. 0 0%
 Other: I'll explain below. 1 50%
Total votes: 2. This poll has been closed.


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LawsonThompson

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Reply with quote  #1 
This moves a bit into the business and customer service side of hosting Artemis at major conventions. To provide the best mix of roles and increase participation, we add 2 Fighter seats to our bridge when we run at larger conventions. 

The issue of Fighter depletion (ie, running out of fighters) is addressed under different threads. I'm looking for ideas on how to ensure the Fighter seats are valued fairly.

Some Fighter players feel like they spend too much time sitting playing "a poor BlackJack simulator that doesn't even let me split or double down", either due to under-utilization (which can be compensated by guiding the Captain), getting killed too easy (too bad!), or the aforementioned depletion of fighters.

To compensate, I'm testing out the idea of having Fighter seats priced less than core bridge seats (discounted price, or free).

At a recent convention, we sold 6 bridge core crew seats first; then the Fighter seats "unlocked" for free. We were hoping to get the core crew filled before opening up the Fighters.

This created some interesting situations!

"But I wanna be a fighter", bridge-is-full edition: We had players who really, REALLY wanted to be a Fighter--even willing to pay a full seat price just to ensure they got to be a Fighter, and even with the explanation that Fighters have less active interaction time. In other words, a paying player literally got "blocked out" of the seat they really wanted. This trended toward younger players with an action-gaming mindset.

"But I wanna be a fighter", bridge has open seats edition: Missions where the 2 Fighters were never occupied, leaving 2 seats open at mission start--and having paid players want to be a Fighter instead of a core bridge seat.

And finally: having last-minute "sales" of the Fighter free seats as the mission was preparing to start, filling the bridge--only then to have players shuffle around anyway between "paid" and "free" seats.

Now at our larger conventions we won't give away Fighters, but I still am considering discounting them in some way.

Here are some options I'm kicking around:

Two-tier pricing: Go ahead and list the 2 Fighters as separate lower-cost tickets right along with the 6 main bridge seats, along with an explanation that the Fighters require flight-sim type skills and are not as full-time actively involved. IE, don't hide the Fighters behind a "paywall" but let them be purchased specifically.

  • Pros: Seats more players. Lets the "Top Gun Wannabees" get to play their preferred slot.  Acknowledges the difference in play experience between the two roles.
  • Cons: What do we do if we don't fill the entire bridge: like only sell 5 seats, and the Fighters really want to play? That happens at small conventions. What if players want to shuffle around as the mission starts? Doesn't that introduce unfairness where someone paid for a different role than they play?

Hot Seats: Only sell 6 seats and have the Fighter as "hot seat" positions, where some crew members have to literally "head to the fighter bay" temporarily if the Captain wants to launch the fighters. This might actually add a neat little twist to the entire experience as players swap roles on the fly!
  • Pros: Because Fighters are not mission-critical, this works well. Adds a bit of role-play and urgency. Helps point up the fact that players can take on different roles at different times. Careful layout planning could reduce the square footage needed.
  • Cons: Reduces the number of total players--which in turn will lower revenue. Some players may not want to move around much!
Hazard Pay/Insurance/Fund-raiser: Sell all 8 seats at full price. If fighters play as dedicated seats for the entire mission, give the fighter players a cash payout as hazard pay--or if they died, life insurance payout!--refunding half their ticket price as a tongue-in-cheek way to acknowledge the fact they had a different experience than the rest of the crew. (Maybe don't announce this in advance?)

Variant: If the Fighters wish, they can deposit their payout into a fund-raiser jar (our biggest convention has a yearly fund-raiser) on the way out of the mission area, or keep the cash. Their choice.
  • Pros: Make the Fighter payoff part of the "mission debriefing"; could provide a light-hearted way to acknowledge the different experience. And could legitimately provide a way for us to contribute to the convention fund-raising efforts.
  • Cons: Bridge staff need to carry a lot of bills. Doesn't work well if the crew fails and has to relaunch--and shuffles seats around. 
  • Variant: Instead of cash, give the Fighter pilots a card/trinket of some sort which contains a discount on their next booking. This provides the same monetary value without exposing cash.
Any thoughts?

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clavestone

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Reply with quote  #2 
Create a "Fighter Wing" pin/badge....

Welcome to the 59th Pirate Fighter Wing "Reapers", where valiant pilots can earn their "wings", even post-mortem!

A simple pin/button might run $1 ea, but adds value to being a fighter pilot.

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parpar88

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Reply with quote  #3 
I like this thread! I love the ideas here.
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e4mafia

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Reply with quote  #4 
Really great to see this. I've got my first convention coming up next year, and will only have 1 ship as part of it. It will be that convention's first time with something like Artemis as well, so its all one big experiment. I was thinking of having 2 fighter seats, somewhere visible, open to the public for people to just jump in. Like the captain calls for fighters to scramble, and we then set about trying to (not literally) literally grab fighter pilots to launch, sit them down and go! I have some concern about keeping the seats for the main bridge full, so I thought this as a form on in progress advertising might be helpful for that. 


ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #5 
I certainly have no experience with hosting Artemis events, but I do have a few thoughts of the subject that might help. For one thing, fighters are uniquely linked to the type of ship; you need the "stock" six crew members for every ship from the Scout to the Battleship, but fighters require a Dreadnought or Carrier. Since you mention providing two seats per ship, I assume this means you are tailored towards a Dreadnought crew.

A Carrier would actually be better suited to the "crew heads to the fighter bay" arrangement. Weapons has a reduced role, and while Science is needed to support the squadron, it could take over requests for surrender while Comms launches in a fighter. Even Engineering could be taken off console in a pinch. Of course, in a custom set up you would have to have four fighter consoles so the crew could actually physically "get in the fighters".

You could also consider a seven person crew, where a First Officer supports the captain, and accesses a Knowledge Base, but is also the leader of the fighter squadron. This could work just as well with a Dreadnought, with Comms taking the second seat.

Finally, I'll note that often in Mike's games, he talks about a separate squadron which doesn't appear to be attached to a ship. Maybe you could provide four seats, and split them up accordingly depending on how the players select their ships. Two Dreadnoughts would split them, while a Battleship and a Carrier would have the squadron on the same ship.

Of course, you would need two full bridges for this idea, but building further on it, you could have one squadron of two or four fighters, but have BOTH ships share them. The captains would have to time their attacks to not have the fighters out at the same time, but the pilots would have less downtime. And the fighter consoles would have to be equipped to switch between the ships quickly and easily, so you'd have some interface tweaking to do.

It wouldn't exactly be realistic (unless you explain it as some sort of long range transporter) but it means pilots could come and go and wouldn't actually be attached to the crew. They would be their own independent unit. They could even take out a shuttle on a non-carrier ship if it came to that.
e4mafia

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ryleyra
... For one thing, fighters are uniquely linked to the type of ship; you need the "stock" six crew members for every ship from the Scout to the Battleship, but fighters require a Dreadnought or Carrier....

...You could also consider a seven person crew, where a First Officer supports the captain,


Editing the ship profiles to give a couple of fighters to any ship is actually really easy, FWIW.

As far as the First Officer idea, man I REALLY love this!!!

ryleyra

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by e4mafia


Editing the ship profiles to give a couple of fighters to any ship is actually really easy, FWIW.

As far as the First Officer idea, man I REALLY love this!!!



Yeah, but if all ships HAVE to have fighters, then all ships HAVE to have 8 or 10 crew. That kind of defeats the purpose of making fighters optional.

I am considering the idea of a pseudo-base/carrier that eliminates Weapons and Helm to free up slots for the pilots. It can't move, (or can move, but very slowly) but can use Jump drive to relocate to a position from which fighters can be launched. The Captain would take the Helm console, and would raise and lower shields as well as controlling the main screen. 

notsabbat

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Reply with quote  #8 
The fundamental problem with running fighters at a con (and fighters can be a LOT of fun) is that they tend to only be fun if the captain remembers to scramble them; regardless of how balanced they are.

That being said I only have experience helping to run Artemis at cons and the setup I helped with didnt have fighters at the time. I do however have plenty of experience running for groups and trying to make things fun for new players.

So, Im going to break this down into a couple of sections:

"Reballancing"
While I dont think that fighters are particularly under-powered if you have skilled pilots and a decent sized group of them (3+); However, they do tend to be pretty anemic with a newer crew.

A good way to make them a little more impressive is to double their beam damage and double the number of missiles (or maybe just upping it to 4). Giving fighters more missiles also makes them visually impressive to the rest of the crew...thereby making it more likely the captain will remember to launch them.

Ive also found that people had a lot of fun with an "Interceptor" that I made. I removed the missiles, doubled the number of beams (I also doubled the damage on beams when I played with doubled normal fighters) and doubled the speed. They weren't super powerful, but people would consistently choose them over other fighter options because they were just fun to fly.

"Getting the Captain to scramble more often"
Making fighters better and making them noticeably change the tide of battle will certainly bring it to the forefront of their mind.

May also want to give the captain a heads up that they have fighters on board and that player will be very bored if they don't get called on. A quick reminder to have the fighters launch when they wont be blown up by nukes/Mines may be good enough.

Putting the crew in a carrier might be an option as well since carriers aren't much without fighters.
I have also modded Battleships to take additional fighters in the past when we only had a couple of fighters so the crew doesn't have to deal with tissue paper thin shields; though ultimately its up to what you want to do.

"Pricing"
I don't necessarily think you need to price differently, but you should make sure they have a decent shot of getting play time. I would say it might be a good idea to have a few extra fighter fighter stations that you dont charge for for overflow until you get a good idea of how they integrate with the setup you have. Call it a Beta run.




Anyway, those are my opinions. Give them as much value as you would like.

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Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #9 
LawsonThompson all of your ideas are good.

The fun a Fighter player has is strongly dependent on the decisions of the Captain. Cooperative Captains will find frequent ways to make great use of the fighters. Griefer Captains will order their Weapons Officers to shoot down their own fighters just for LOLs. And so I humbly add one more suggestion:

Professional Captain: You sell five bridge seats plus full price fighter seats. You or one of your staff plays as Captain, guaranteeing that the fighter players will get just as much action as (for example) the Weapons Officer.

Incidentally the new Artemis 2.7.2X has a couple of features that will help keep fighters viable at LBE events like yours.
  1. Randomly generated sectors have more space stations.
  2. At least one space station has a reload fighter at all times.

As long that the players don't lose all of their stations the fighter pilots can stay in the game. If the players do lose all of their stations the whole crew will probably die soon anyway. Unfortunately we found some crash bugs in Artemis 2.7.2A so it is not in general release yet but I expect it soon.

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LawsonThompson

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Substelny
...

The fun a Fighter player has is strongly dependent on the decisions of the Captain.

...

And so I humbly add one more suggestion:

Professional Captain: You sell five bridge seats plus full price fighter seats. You or one of your staff plays as Captain, guaranteeing that the fighter players will get just as much action as (for example) the Weapons Officer.


I like this idea the more I think about it--especially at conventions where Artemis is a new thing. I certainly don't mind being in front of a crowd, and I have a good radio voice so people assume I know what I'm doing!

At our smaller conventions (where the first several flights of the day might not have a full crew), I often Captain to keep things moving.

At our larger conventions we have been providing "Newbie" sessions (about 40 minute missions) and "Experienced" sessions (full hour or more). Perhaps we should do "Guided" as an option too!

As part of my opening greeting to each crew, I say of the Captain, "Your Captain needs to be able to make efficient tactical decisions, take constructive criticism gracefully, and be sober. And at this convention I'm willing to work with 2 out of 3!" 

Side note regarding the impact of a Captain on the enjoyment of the crew: this is so very true... I have definitely seen this play out in conventions. Our team serves as XO/assistance in every case, but try to have the participants choose their own Captain when possible.

We've had all kinds...

  • Drunk captains with no short-term memory are funny for about 5 minutes... then it gets really frustrating. Our only rage-quit of a crew member (sadly, not the Captain) was due to this.
  • We had one Captain who claimed to be quite experienced, in that she played with a group online. I was a bit skeptical, but she led a group of complete newbies to a decisive victory and has been a legend in our team's history ever since!
  • A large family with Dad in full Pirate mode did a great job--though his smart-aleck pre-teen son said Dad was a poor Captain and thought he could do better. So, they bought out the entire bridge for another run later in the day and let the smart-aleck son Captain. I think a lesson was taught... not sure it was fully caught...
  • Another father-son duo doing it right: Dad was in the back of the room taking pictures and video, while eager 11-year-old son was Captain--with mostly older teens and adults as the crew! Any time the son was less-than-respectful, Dad gently corrected him. There was a lot of "please" and "Thank you!"
  • One crew had a Captain micromanaging a lot, got overwhelmed, and the crew ended up dying pretty quickly. I announced they would get a second chance--and took a few minutes to explain to the Captain that his crew really did know how to run the ship, and trust them to handle the details while he took time to study the tactical layout with Science and plan the attack. On that second run, they totally crushed it!


Finally: my first-ever group game of Artemis with total strangers was a LAN party where I arrived just as the flight launched--and they nominated me as Captain, the only empty seat!


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Longbowman1346

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Reply with quote  #11 
I have been running Artemis at conventions and game days for about three years now and in the last 1.5 years I added in the fighters to the mix.  Fortunately I have not had any issues with the players feeling that they are playing a different game or having a different experience, but that may be due to the fact that I take on the role of XO or CAG and keep the rest of the crew reminded that there are fighters on board that are part of the game too.  I am making sure the ship doesn't escape the area of combat and leave the birds hanging in the middle of a fight, or doing too much "exploring" while the fighter pilots are cooling their jets at the blackjack table.  I always encourage a group that has members signing up for fighters to take empty seats on the bridge first as it really isn't much fun to have them sitting around while there is a duty station that is being doubled up with another by one person.    

Your topic has made me think about changing my ways of doing things though.  I will have to mull it over.


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Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #12 
Another thing that helps is giving fighter pilots 3-axis joysticks with labeled buttons for boost, torpedo, docking, etc..

I hope to have news about Artemis 2.7.2x some time tomorrow. Stay tuned!

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LawsonThompson

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Substelny
Another thing that helps is giving fighter pilots 3-axis joysticks with labeled buttons for boost, torpedo, docking, etc..


I very highly recommend the ThrustMaster T.Flight X HOTAS, which can be had for less than $50 USD.

Here they are in action!




Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Substelny
I hope to have news about Artemis 2.7.2x some time tomorrow. Stay tuned!


[thumb]

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Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #14 
Thom watched us play for a couple of hours yesterday. We observed some strange behavior but failed to isolate the crash bug(s).
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