In a larp that takes place in a starship, one of the most important things it that the players must feel like they are really flying one. There are three elements we are planning on using to create that feeling. The first are the surroundings. Having the milieu, props, and general atmosphere that gives the just the right image and feeling that you are really in space. The second being sound and lighting, which should further enhance the idea of being in a vulnerable tin can flying through the void. And the third is the technology used to steer the said tin can. We will address all of these elements in our blog, starting with the third, as it is also the one we needed to start planning very early on.
We went through a couple of existing software solutions that could immerse the players into life on a bridge of a starship, and played around with the idea of creating our own bridge simulation software. From very early on, our strongest candidate was the Spaceship simulation Empty Epsilon, a customizable open source software in which adjustments and integrations could be made on the fly. We started running tests on Empty Epsilon in May with a few limited scenarios, concentrating on control schemes and the stability of the software. The basic scenarios were successful: the software worked well in stress tests, and we felt that already existing the controls and functions fit our needs very well.
In the basic setup for Empty Epsilon, there are five crew positions and a main view (the captains station): Helm (navigation tasks), Weapons (controlling the ship weaponry and shields), Science (anomalies and scanning), Relay (communications and hacking enemy ships), and Engineering (power distribution for weapons, engines and shields, as well as damage control and repairs).
We decided to keep Helm, Weapons, and Science pretty much as they are. There are some very nice mechanics for scanning and hacking enemy ships already present in the Empty Epsilon software, and it is possible to fly different ships within the same scenario, which makes it possible for the main ship to have fighters that can communicate with each other to target enemies and to execute maneuvers. The biggest issue we encountered was when you added a lot of ships into the same scenario, it started to slow down and eventually became impossible to play. This is an issue which we are currently looking into.
Relay, Engineering, and the Captain’s View are the stations we are planning to customize the most – or more precisely to add to. In Relay, we will probably keep pretty much everything that is there already, but will include more communication options via voice commands. The same goes for the captains view. The Captain will be given all the information that can be relayed through the software, but also information from integrated external systems. In Engineering, we decided to keep the option to boost certain functions and handle the cooling, but we will remove repair as an automated software process, instead transferring it into a manual ingame process by the engineering unit of player characters and controlled through a different interface in the engine room (though integrated into Empty Epsilon to provide data flows between engineering and the bridge). In addition, we will be adding a sixth position on the bridge for jumps, long range scans, and planet scans.
If you are interested on Empty Epsilon, feel free to go check it out and give it a go! http://daid.github.io/EmptyEpsilon
Laura, Producer of Odysseus
Hi, my name is Antti and I’m a co-producer of the Odysseus project. I’m also the lead set design, with the whole physical manifestation of the ship being in my hands.
I started larping in 2001. I thought larping sounded silly, but my high school rpg group back then were adamant that it was something that we needed to do. Today, I’m the only one of us who still larps. I think I have participated in the creation of games since 2004, and I’ve been on and off making larps with other people since. Mostly I took smaller responsibilities, but after 2010, I’ve taken on more, focusing on production and design rather than character and plot writing. My main accomplishments are the horror larp called Yksinäisyyden Kaiku (of which I was one of five organisers), and Bravo Beach Assault, a 120 player sci-fi war larp, which was split into three sections, containing their own converging games. I also produced Tartuntavaara, which Laura previously mentioned as one of her main inspirations, so that’s cool too.
I have had the dream of creating a functional spaceship interior for a larp for a few years, giving a presentation on how to build things such as sliding doors and other scifi elements at X-Con 2015. In 2017, Laura talked to me about her project idea, and I got really excited. The whole idea of making something big and international is something that has been close to my heart, so I was immediately on board. I have dreamed of working on or with larps as a profession, and this is one of the steps that might lead to realising that goal some day.
For me, the thing I most enjoy in a larp is the feeling in the back of your head, when you are completely immersed in a character, and cool things happen. The feeling of “whoa, this is just as if I was living in a movie!” That is the feeling I very much strive to create for my players in the games I’ve run or helped run. In this project, I will try to give you, the players, that same sense of wonder and “whoa” factor by creating a setting in which you can truly feel like you are actually in the great void of space, but inside a vessel that has a purpose, that is used for something, and that is bigger than just the sum of its parts. I want to make something that is so cool that it will have players coming back to Finland to re-experience the wonder of space travel, of climactic moments and drama, and just to bleeping feel what it is to live and travel in space.
Antti, co-producer of Odysseus
Blog is written by several members of the production team.