Too Many Captains and Not Enough Wire

Avi Romanoff and Giada Sun (2018)

Only one star ship remains: yours. Unfortunately, you’re missing some key crew members… actually, your crew is entirely captains, and one engineer. You’ll need to work together to operate the ship’s weapons, shields, and thrusters to survive the dangers of outer space. There’s just one problem: the engineer can’t see the screen, so everyone will need to talk it out, FAST! Welcome to the game Too Many Captains and Not Enough Wire developed by Carnegie Mellon students, Avi Romanoff (HCI & Cognitive Science) and Giada Sun (Video & Media Design).

How to Play “Too Many Captains”

The Captains

As a captain, your job is to monitor the viewing screen and decide how to run the ship. Will you focus on defense? Destroying enemy ships? Evasive maneuvers? Whatever you do, you’ll need to think out loud, since only the engineer can actually control the ship!

The Engineer

The captains might have the information, but you’ve got the power. Listen for orders from your captains and make them so as you operate the ship’s control board. Orders will come quickly, and may be contradictory, so brace yourself for some frantic wiring.

The ID Cards

Board the ship by scanning your ID card. A minimum of two captains and one engineer must scan into the ship before playing. However, up to six captains and one engineer can play at once. More than that would be too many!

The Controller

Every aspect of the ship can be configured with just three wires: red, blue, and yellow. However, with 12 ports on the controller, there are dozens of different ways to wire up the ship, so you’ll need to think quickly and make some tough tradeoffs!

Too Many Captains and Not Enough Wire was supported in part by funding by the CS+X Fund for Creative Collaborations (endowed by Alfred Z. Spector and Rhonda G. Kost), and by Microgrant #2018-030 from the Carnegie Mellon University Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier. More images are available in this archive.

Special thanks to Yiran Zhang for sound design, and to Caroline Hermans for playing the Engineer in the training video and for assisting with interaction design and testing.