Looking for an “out of this world” game to play with a group? You might try the Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator, recently released for iOS (iPad and iPhone). This is a collaborative game, where you take one (or maybe a couple) of stations on a starship bridge, then go after the bad guys.
This game started on Windows, but is now also available for iOS, and the games are compatible. You can have a mixture of players on iPhones, iPads, and Windows machines. You need to buy a copy for each iOS device (at $2.99 for the universal app) but only one for up to 6 users on Windows (although it will cost you $40 for the Windows version).
One copy of the game becomes the “master” and generates the main view screen. All the other devices connect to the master and take on one or more of the bridge stations. For example, the Helm station is used to pilot the ship. Engineering diverts power to different systems and directs damage control. The Science station runs the scanners, looking for enemy ships and probing for weaknesses. Comms handles communication between friendly and enemy vessels and space stations. Weapons is pretty self-explanitory. All these stations are directed by the Captain, of course, who doesn’t actually use a station, but the main view screen, relying on reports from the crew (although he could hook up a machine as an “observer” station).
While you can mix and match devices, you don’t need the Windows version to play – any of the iOS devices can be the master. You may want to hook up your device to a big screen TV or use AirPlay to send the screen to an AppleTV for your main view screen.
I have the Windows version as well as the iOS version. It runs fine in a virtual machine under VMWare Fusion and Parallels. It also runs fine under Crossover, the commercial WINE implementation that lets you run (some) Windows programs on an Intel-based Mac without having a copy of Windows. I have used my MacPro as the server in my testing – I run the game in Crossover in a window, and then use AirParrot to send the main view screen to an AppleTV.
In addition to the included “shoot the bad guys” scenario, you can have multiple player ships all connected to a single server as well (although you’ll need another computer to be the “main view screen” for ships past the first). Also, many of the things in the game are customizable (difficulty, different types of ships); there are even scriptable missions (for the Windows version as the master, as you need to edit script files). You can write you own or get scripts other have written on the game’s forums (for example, one mission has a sister ship gone missing that you need to locate).
So far, I have only had the chance to experiment with it, but I am hoping to get my regular gaming group involved. I showed then a quick demo and they seemed interested. I just set up a flat screen TV in the basement with an AppleTV so I am hopeful we will be taking off soon! There’s a Windows demo version, so you can try before you buy (if you have a Win machine or a way to run Windows programs, of course).