All hands on desk! PCG plays the best Star Trek game you've never heard of: Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator
T’om Hatfield, Son of Martyn: Torpedoes! I have torpedoes! Not just torpedoes, but mines and nukes too! I always wanted to nuke space! I click on an enemy ship and a little circle appears around it. Did I just target it? I think I did. Graham tells me to turn to frequency E, which I do. Apparently that will make my phasers hit harder, so it’s a shame I have no idea where the ‘fire phasers’ button is then.
The screen shakes. Owen cries out something about damage. Wait – shields! I have those. They should probably be up right now…
Welshy:“What are all the red dots? Everything is flashing!”
Uhurich: “Don’t panic, I’ve just found the ‘red alert’ button. I’ll turn it on.”
Senior Ensign Senior: I’m starting to learn that piloting a starship isn’t just about going fast in a straight line. I can see our firing arcs projected around our craft. Different weapons can fire in different directions. This close to the enemy, manoeuvring becomes a precise dance as I try to stay away from enemy firing arcs.
Unfortunately, the screen keeps shaking from all the hits we’re taking, the panicked Welshman behind me won’t stop screaming and some sort of incessant alarm keeps playing.
Uhurich: The red alert button makes a ‘WEE-OO-WEE-OO’ noise. I turn it off and on again. I’m helping!
T’om, Son of Martyn: The phasers fire by themselves! Awesome, I don’t have to do anything! Even better, I’ve figured out how to raise the shields. Unfortunately, so has Tom Senior. As a result, he accidentally lowers the shields as soon as I’ve put them up. Then I put them up and he brings them down. It’s like running into someone in a narrow corridor and awkwardly swaying from side to side, only instead of mild embarrassment, we’re risking hot laser death.
Welshy:“Is it good to have a big power number or a little power number? Either way, power equals zero!”
Captain Tim: I have to take control of the situation. The sandwich is now ignored. I bang my fist on the desk. “Everyone, quiet. Weapons, put the shields up. Engineering, damage control crews to weapons. Helm, get us out of here. Comms and science, tell me what we’re dealing with.”
I’m so excited I think I could squee.
Uhurich: I put the red alert on again. Tim looks at me in a certain way. I turn it off. “Sorry.”
Senior Ensign Senior: Someone just said, “Get us out of here.” With my mouse, I grab the warp slider and whack it up to maximum. Wheee!
Uhurich: We whizz forward a short distance, out of our foes’ weapon range. Our short hop gives me just enough time to bring up my communicator and fire off one final insult at our aggressors. There seems to be no real use for the insults besides winding the window down and shouting “FUUUCK YOOOOU” as we drive away. We run a classy ship.
Captain Tim: Hey. We have mines. And nukes. I have a plan. “Engineering, how are the repairs? Weapons, load nukes. Science, tell me which red dot is in the centre. Comms, target that ship. Helm, come about. And will someone turn that sodding red alert klaxon off?”
Welshy:“Everything is still flashing!”
Captain Tim: “This is what we’re going to do. We’ll fire a nuke at the centre ship. As soon as it hits, we’ll burst through, firing torpedoes. As we burn through the cloud, we’ll drop a mine. Then we’ll come about and finish them all off with our phasers.”
I pause. Straighten my T-shirt again. “Does everyone know what they’re doing?”
Senior Ensign Senior: “Yes!” This is a straight-line plan. I can do straight lines. As long as I do nothing to deviate from the straight line, everything will be fine.
T’om, Son of Martyn: “Yes! Phasers set to frequency spaceship! Wait! No! How do I reloa-”
Uhurich: “Yes! Who do you want me to insult next?”
Science Officer Smith: “Yes! I’ve scanned it and it’s still, uh, a spaceship.”
Welshy: “Yes!” Secretly: “No!”
Tim: “Red alert. Engage!” I raise my sandwich to my mouth.
Welshy: This is my moment. I put all the sliders to maximum.
Uhurich: No, this is my moment. I press the ‘red alert’ button and sit back satisfied. A job well done.
Senior Ensign Senior: No no no. This is my moment. “Full speed ahead!”
T’om, Son of Martyn: I think you’ll find that this is my moment. Tom brings us in close enough to fire the nuke. I fire, and then hit reload. Oh no. It takes an age to reload. We’re not going to be ready for…
Senior Ensign Senior: I’m flying us directly into a nuclear blast. I don’t know how this happened. We’re going too fast and won’t be able to…
Welshy: If you put all the sliders to maximum, you see a bar labelled ‘overheating’. It’s in red. I wonder what that...
Science Officer Smith: The nuke hits. We’re caught in the blast, taking down the entire front of the vessel. Our phasers are offline, our torpedoes are offline. We come to a complete stop.
Captain Tim: Many of the enemy are damaged but they’re still able to fire. Tom’s impulse charge has left us bang in the centre of their fleet. We’re doomed. “Abandon desks!”
Artemis explodes around us. I’m so depressed I bin my sandwich.
Welshy: “So. What does ‘warp’ mean anyway? I’ve only ever watched two episodes of Star Trek.”