'Starship Horizons Bridge Simulator' Lets You Be an Officer Aboard a Spaceship

Monday, 04 September 2017 - 10:15AM
Monday, 04 September 2017 - 10:15AM
'Starship Horizons Bridge Simulator' Lets You Be an Officer Aboard a Spaceship
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YouTube/Mythric Studios
Anyone who's grown up on Star Trek must have wondered what it's like to work on a starship like the Enterprise. Most probably wanted to be the captain like Kirk/Picard, depending on how old they are, but that's beside the point.

Mythric Games, the devs behind Starship Horizons Bridge Simulator, hope to make this possible, at least in a video game. It's a PC game that's currently still in development, but it's touring conventions like this weekend's Escape Velocity 2017, where we got to test out the current build. It's multiplayer co-op for six players, who each take on a different officer aboard a fictional spaceship, with their own screen and their own responsibilities to help keep the ship in one piece, and not blown up in the vacuum of space.

There's six possible roles – Engineering, who manages the shields and fixes any damages; Sciences, who scans other ships, bases and planets; Tactical, who arms and fires the weapons; Flight, who steers the ship through space; Communications, who hails other ships (from sending messages to allied ships to insulting enemy ships); and finally the Captain, who orders everyone else around.

In Mythric's setup at conventions, each player has their own monitor, while a central screen shows the view from the ship's bridge, much like a "real" starship officer would see.
And much like Star Trek, each role has a different colored badge - you'll have to imagine the uniform follows suit, you can't see your character - but with no away missions, you don't have to worry more for your life if you play as a redshirt (which would be Tactical, the red colored role). If the ship goes down, you go down just like the rest of the crew, so it's a completely co-op experience.
It many ways, it does seem like an unlicensed version of the virtual reality game Star Trek: Bridge Crew, which is similar. And Bridge Crew does have more flourish, as you can actually see your characters in a 3D version of the Enterprise (although you can't get up from your seat). And of course, it's in VR. But what it lacks in VR, Horizons makes up for in depth, or at least has the potential to do so as it continues its development.

Your individual screens in Horizons are a lot more advanced than the more simplistic fare in Bridge Crew, and while the primary screen shows a 3D model of your ship and nearby enemies and planets, most of the action will come from real life dialogue between the players. As the Captain frantically gives orders, Engineering nervously warns when shields are down, Sciences notes something unusual about an unidentified ship while Comms reports that this very ship just threatened them. 
And while this thankfully doesn't require multiple VR headsets, you do need multiple devices to play. The main computer has to run Windows XP or higher (Mac support is planned later on), but any other players can connect through their browser, on most devices. So you do technically need a lot of hardware, but it's easy to ask everyone to "BYOB" and bring their own computers/tablets/phones.

So the real task will be developing missions that can make use of the complex setup Horizons has put together. To get an example of a full in-game mission, you can see the short playthrough below:

Since the game is still in beta, it has some ways to go in making use of all that depth, but it's made some headway. As someone who played the Comms officer during my go at the game, simply hailing other ships seemed shallow in the tutorial mission. But once the map was packed full of other NPC starships, including allies, enemies, and neutral civilian vessels, the task of ordering allied ships to attack certain enemies or defend other ships became a full time job (alongside taunting enemies with Monty Python jabs like "your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries," a real dialogue option).

It was a legitimate "support class" role that kept you busy while playing, and the players in the other roles all had similar experiences while shouting out updates to the captain. Starship Horizons is coming to Grand Rapids Comic-Con in October and some other conventions at the end of the year, so do keep an eye out for them.

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