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WaitYes

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Reply with quote  #1 
I'm sorry this has taken me so long to post! It has been two months since the big event, but I am graduating from college, finding a job, and my wife is pregnant, so it has been an incredibly crazy time. The massive Artemis event was my last big hurrah before buckling down to work.

And it was a big hurrah! I installed the game on every computer in two computer labs, so we had a fully staffed fleet in each room, including Admirals and Executive Officers whose only job was to assist the Admirals. Although we initially had some computer glitches, and the fleet versus fleet game setup is confusing, it was a great success.

This post has five sections: The Recruiting, How I Planned for it to Go, How it Actually Went, Suggestions to Those Running an Eight Ship Event, and Suggestions for Changes to Artemis.

Here's a link to the packets, signs, and pictures I created for an eight ship event.

The Recruiting
I initially sent out a google doc invitation. I put a lot of effort into making it fun, and in to encouraging people to bring others. (My favorite quote: "The strong will survive. It is only the final frontier for the weak.") I also sent a short reminder email a week and then two days before. Although only thirty people told me they were going to come, within fifteen minutes of the starting time we had over fifty people there.

How I Planned for it to Go
We used two computer labs in the same building on campus. Both labs had a projector at the front of the room, which we used as a sector map. We projected the map onto a whiteboard so the admiral could write instructions on it. Because I didn't have administrative access to the computers, I simply copied an already installed version of Artemis on to every computer.
IMG_0178.JPG 

I set it up so each ship consisted of six computers, three on one row and three on the row behind it. The main screen was on the middle computer in the front row, so everyone in the ship's crew could see it. The plan was for each computer to be labeled with a station (helm, engineering, etc.) and ship number.
IMG_0167.JPG 

Some people asked me if they could bring their own computers to play with and I told them no. It was just so much simpler having everyone on identical computers, already set up.

I planned to have packets of instructions at each computer. Each type of station had its own packet; helm, engineering, etc., detailing the individual responsibilities of each station, some reference material (Comms has info on allied ships, Engineering on the two types of FTL drives), and how to join a game. I adapted the official instruction manuals, v1.7 and v2, to make them. I made numerous changes to make the manual more useful and funny. The captain's packet had instructions on starting the game, some general advice, what each of the other stations does, and what reference material was in each station's packet.

I was going to have basic instructions written on the whiteboard at the front of each room.

In order to become a captain, a person would have to get five other people to agree to be their crew. Then they would report to the front of the room, be assigned a ship, and given a captain's hat (the straw hat in the attached pictures). After each battle, the captains would turn in their hats, vote for who they wanted to have be admiral (who got a bowler hat), and then show they still had their crew's support in order to get their hat back. This whole process was to be run by each fleet's Executive Officer (XO), who got a purple fedora.
IMG_0157.JPG 


The schedule was for everyone practice with single bridge or two bridge battles for an hour, and then engage in the full fleet battles for the next two hours.

How it Actually Went
I was not expecting people to be as on time as they were, so I was not prepared when everyone showed up within fifteen minutes (when are fifty people ever on time for anything?). This was a mistake. I did not have instructions written on the whiteboard, the computers labeled, the packets printed, or the hats ready. So there was a lot of confusion, especially because pretty much everyone had never played the game before, and so didn't know how to start it or how to organize themselves.

My helpers and I did our best to get everything ready as fast as we could, and to get people started on one bridge missions, but it was a rough start, especially because most of my helpers were running late.

When we finally did get things rolling, instead of using the computer attached to the projector as a server, I used a random, unused computer. This meant the projector could show the sector map and the server could do nothing but serve. Communicating by text messages between the two rooms, we had the XOs write the server IP address on the white boards.

And then the games really began. Woah. One fleet was initially more successful because their admiral had each ship name itself starting with [ODD], because they were the odd numbered ships. They thus didn't have the friendly fire problems the EVEN fleet had, with most of their ships thinking they were surrounded by enemies. Luckily, most of the crews didn't know what they were doing yet so there were no casualties. After I ran around the room, letting people know who their friends were, the battle really got under way.
IMG_0174.JPG 

It was still confusing because all player controlled ships were pink, even if they were on separate teams. One of the ODD ships, using a jump drive, scored an early station kill, crippling the other fleet. This advantage only lasted for a little while, because when another ship was destroyed the game crashed.

This happened multiple times. We switched servers, changed settings, and tried many other things, but it took us nearly an hour to figure out what was going on. It turned out two of the ships had computers logged in to multiple stations, so the server was interpreting this as over seventy computers connecting. When one of two ships was destroyed, the game would crash. After people stopped logging into multiple stations, the problem disappeared.

The main goal of both fleets initially was to destroy the other fleet's station. It took a little while for us to learn that both fleets could subsist entirely on singularities for energy, and only needed the station for nukes, mines, and EMPs. It was a fun time with most fleets guarding their own station, watching out for enemy ships (especially the one with the jump drive) slipping in, firing two nukes, and running away. Everybody's shouts of excitement when they detected an invader were a lot of fun.

My favorite parts were the cheers that would erupt from a crew when they destroyed another ship, or the groans when their ship was destroyed. The darkened rooms, captains prowling around the stations in their straw hats, giving orders, was also tons of fun. Almost everyone stayed for the full three hours, which I think shows how much fun they were having, even with all the technical and organizational problems.

People mostly stuck to the same ship the entire time, and we quickly did away with changing captains and admirals. People tended to stay at the same station, and captains almost never changed. Most bridges were having a hard enough time learning how to do anything, so having the admiral make fleet-wide strategies was practically impossible.

Suggestions to Those Running an Eight Ship Event
My first suggestion is to have everything ready a half-hour before. People were so excited they came really early, and we were definitely not ready for them. If we were, with all the print-outs, packets, hats, and signs ready, I think everything would have gone a lot more smoothly.

As far as game settings go, I had a lot of NPC allies for both fleets, with the NPCs set to difficulty 6, an interesting sector, and the shortest sensor range. The NPCs give the Comms officers more to do, the interesting sector didn't slow the game down at all, and the shortest sensor range makes the game more strategically interesting, with scout ships becoming more valuable and surprise attacks easier to set up.

When I do it again I am going to skip the practice hour and jump straight in to the fleet v. fleet battles. They are just so much fun. Although, the practice hour could
work, but it would probably need to be a more formal training session, with someone up front teaching everyone their duties.

Also, people were better at organizing themselves than I thought, so while having the hats was a great thing and highly recommended, the voting procedures weren't necessary.
IMG_0177.JPG 

I also only did fifteen minute long battles, thinking if a station was destroyed the fleet would not be at a serious disadvantage for too long. But fifteen minutes was too short for anything to happen. Next time I would have the standard game length be forty-five minutes or an hour.

Don't neglect having an XO, or two, for each fleet. Having someone to relay orders, handle problems, and organize things so the admiral can focus on strategy was great.


Suggestions for Changes to Artemis
It seems like Artemis was not designed with this type of massive fleet action in mind. One of the biggest problems was having all player ships, no matter what fleet they were part of, be the same color. That was confusing.

The second biggest problem is that, even after having played the game for over two hours, we still didn't know how Artemis scores the battle. Do suicides count as -1? What about friendly fire? Does destroying an NPC ship count as a kill? Also, when the battle was finished, only the main screens would display the score, and there is no clear announcement as to which fleet won. We'd all stare at the score table, unsure what it meant exactly and definitely not sure who won.

Also, piloting the ship remains relatively tricky and buggy, especially for beginners. This was a problem when playing with over forty beginners. The crews spent a lot of time just sitting while Helm tried to get the ship anywhere interesting, dealing with buggy controls the entire time.

Finally, having an admiral station would have been so much fun. The admiral could mark destinations and waypoints, and send order messages to the Comms officer, giving the Comms officer more to do.

Conclusion
IMG_0168.JPG 

Awesome. The fulfillment of a seventeen year dream. I remember being ten years-old and thinking how cool it would be to have a game where multiple people command one ship, and having multiple fleets, with an admiral to lead each one. Everyone seemed to have a good time, with much cheering and shouting and laughing. The steering difficulties made fleet-wide actions incredibly difficult, which made the admiral job pretty useless, and the unclear victory conditions were problematic, but overall, tons of fun. Almost everyone told me they'd love to do it again.

WaitYes

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Reply with quote  #2 
Stats of the computers we used:

HP Compaq dc7800 Small Form Factor PC

  • Core 2 Duo 2.66 GHz
  • 2GB Memory RAM
  • 250GB SATA NCQ SMART IV 1st HDD ALL
  • NVIDIA QuadroNVS290 256MB DH PC ALL
  • Mouse: 2-button Scroll USB Optical Mouse
  • CD/DVD-ROM/CD-RW Drive with Light-scribe
  • USB 2.0 ports
  • Monitor: 19" or 22" Flat Panel LCD
WaitYes

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Reply with quote  #3 
Link to the signs, pictures, and stuff I created for the event:

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B3piTM7zEViSMDc3UXhXSGpEcFE&usp=sharing

Thanks to everyone I stole stuff from! Don't sue me!
ricka

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Reply with quote  #4 
Great to see your write up! I've run into the multiple stations multiple ships issue before as well. I'm not sure the nuances of how that works but definitely agree any time you're doing a multiship event it is best to just stick to the standard stations. Could you elaborate on which stations those 2 renegades were using though?

Also, what exactly were the steering issues you run into? Mouse on the dial wasn't working, were you using a joystick, etc?

There is a 1.7 training video that lasts about 15 minutes and covers the basic functions of every station. Next time you might consider just starting that up 15 minutes before the start time of your event for the new players and as a reminder to the old players. I've found that people get so excited they tend to ignore the paper instructions under their nose because they want to start playing - sounds like you had a bit of that as well, it all depends on the individual.

Great feed back!
WaitYes

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Reply with quote  #5 
[QUOTE]Great to see your write up! I've run into the multiple stations multiple ships issue before as well. I'm not sure the nuances of how that works but definitely agree any time you're doing a multiship event it is best to just stick to the standard stations. Could you elaborate on which stations those 2 renegades were using though?

I don't know exactly which stations the two ships were using except they had multiple people using engineering.

Quote:
Also, what exactly were the steering issues you run into? Mouse on the dial wasn't working, were you using a joystick, etc?


The steering problems mostly seemed to stem from lag and was worse on some computers than others. Only one person used a joy stick, and I don't know if he had problems, but for others they'd set the course or speed using the dial and the dial would immediately jump back to zero. Or they'd click on the screen and the ship would turn until it reached the proper angle and then keep turning. Also, there was just a lot of stuttering. It didn't seem like the other stations suffered from the problem to the same degree as helm did. I frequently have the same problems playing helm with only one bridge, and the solution always seems to be switching computers until we find one that works reasonably well. Up at the school that was not an option.

I wish I'd known about the video, that would've been perfect!
CptHermi

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ricka


There is a 1.7 training video that lasts about 15 minutes and covers the basic functions of every station.



Here is the link.


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Max Torps

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Reply with quote  #7 
That sounds like such a blast. I especially like how you had to be firm with those wanting to bring their own PC's. I once held an event where someone insisted they play Artemis from a tiny little ancient netbook of sorts... it did work but also gave problems. You demonstrated that being firm from the outset helps prevent that.

Did everyone find that station manuals useful in the end or did it end up being teaching on the fly? Curious as in some of my events the manuals get relegated to being coasters. [rolleyes]

Thanks for the heads up on ship colours, I've not done multi-ship set ups so you've given food for thought there. 

It sounds like you all had a fantastic time, I'm insanely jealous. [biggrin]



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WaitYes

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
That sounds like such a blast. I especially like how you had to be firm with those wanting to bring their own PC's. . . . You demonstrated that being firm from the outset helps prevent that.


Yeah, understanding but firm was the way to go.

Quote:
Did everyone find that station manuals useful in the end or did it end up being teaching on the fly? Curious as in some of my events the manuals get relegated to being coasters.


Definitely mostly as coasters, especially since it took us so long to get them to everyone. If we had the manuals waiting there for everyone when they arrived, that would have helped a lot. It is also important to keep referring back to the manuals. When someone came up to ask me a question, I'd answer the question and then point out the answer was in the four page manual. This really encouraged people to look through the manual before asking.

Quote:
It sounds like you all had a fantastic time, I'm insanely jealous.

It was pretty awesome. But I think more people could organize an event like this if they wanted to. Use the documents I made and have shared in google drive, specifically the google form invitation. Ask everyone to come (who doesn't like massive starship battles? and fulfilling childhood dreams?), and ask them to invite others to come.

If you can't get computer labs like I did, I think it will still work if people bring their own computers. You just need to get an area big enough for everyone to sit together and tell people to bring Windows machines. If you put an already installed copy of the game on multiple USB drives, transferring and getting it running on a windows machine takes three minutes. Macs are trickier, because you have to install PlayOnMac, so tell anyone who wants to use a Mac they have to come an hour early.

And use the hats. They're inexpensive to get at a party store, they make the event more exciting, and they make it easier to run.

With some planning and some aggressive advertising, it is pretty easy to get at least thirty people, which is enough for three people per ship, not a bad number. And with a little luck, it is possible to get the full fifty.
SolidStateVOM

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Reply with quote  #9 
One thing that might makes things easier (sadly I have no personal experience to back this up) are the client settings in the artemis.ini file. I remember seeing a setting for auto connect to a specified IP and the option to lock the client into a certain station. Seeing as you had the event setup in such a way as to have each station labelled, I'm betting that should have helped with the crashing issue you talked about
janx

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Reply with quote  #10 
I agree the pre-setup lab scenario makes setup easier.  No outside PCS.  avoids viruses and other issues.

I would have recommended setting up each PC with their station pre-selected (a feature to enforce this via INI file or something has been requested for a while).  In this way, it's a little more obvious that the player just needs to click the Play button, instead of screwing things up...

I also would have sent out the manual, links to youtube vids etc in the early emails.  best to get people "trained' before the actual event.  Plus, the game play vids would likely pitch the game for you.

I think the thing to do is run these events regularly, as that will get you experienced players, rather than 53 newbs.  Your second event will run better basically.



russjudge

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Reply with quote  #11 
Those strange helm issues might be helped by changing the network setting to the highest setting (500ms).  I've experienced that strange issue when testing my Artemis Proxy server through my laptop (which doubles the network jump), and the problem was significantly reduced when I went with the highest setting--though it wasn't eliminated.
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