Difficulty: Intermediate Responsibilities: To ensure the ship goes where it needs to go, not where you want it to go; to ensure ship beam weapons are in arc Abilities: To set and alter the direction (heading) and speed at which the ship goes. Key qualities: Common sense, quick reaction times, spatial awareness Expectations from other players:
A heading and speed (Captain)
Power at the right time to perform manoeuvres (Engineering)
The officer at the helm (aka the conn, the wheel, the controls) must ensure the ship goes where it needs to go. It is the responsibility of the captain to gather all the necessary information so as to give you the correct instructions as to where to go, and what speed to go at.
The first thing to determine is the direction. The captain will provide you a heading and a direction: for example,
"Helm, set course 180, full impulse."
A good helm officer will repeat the instructions back, to ensure the order was communicated successfully.
"180, full impulse."
The helm officer will then use the WSAD keys or the arrow keys to rotate the ship so that it is facing bearing 180 - which is pointing towards the bottom of the screen (090 is directly to the right, 180 is directly down, 280 is directly left, and 000 is directly up).
To engage at full impulse, drag the yellow slider on the left of the screen until it is all the way at the top (full impulse).
The most common method to get from point A to point B, however, is with the warp drive. The warp drive is the green slider next to the yellow impulse slider. The captain will order:
"Helm, set course bearing 017, warp one."
"017, warp one."
After correcting the course, the helm will drag the green slider until a green "1" appears over it. You will now be at warp 1.
The other method of faster-than-light travel is the jump drive. This method is relatively easy for you, but more challenging on the captain. Simply enter the direction and range the captain provides into the two text boxes given, then click "Initiate", followed by "Confirm". Be advised that it is impossible to stop the jump drive once it has been started, so stay as close to the captain's orders as possible to avoid going somewhere you don't want to go.
Other things to know & Taking Initiative The helm screen will only show you what is immediately around you; it is up to the captain to look at his own screen and ensure you don't accidentally drive the ship into a mine, an asteroid, or some random direction aimlessly.
Although the captain is ultimately in charge of where the ship needs to go, a helm officer must apply common sense as well - if your current course takes you into the surface of an asteroid, you must obviously veer around it. In combat, you must regularly turn to face opponents in your front so that your weapons officer's beams are in arc.
"Warp 1" and "Full impulse" are not absolute speeds - their actual speed will change based on how much power engineering has allocated to warp, or to manoeuvring thrusters (turning) or impulse (sublight speeds). Skilled helm officers will coordinate with Engineering to perform a variety of manoeuvres, such as a high energy turn (Engineering: 200% power to manoeuvring thrusters; the result is that the ship turns on a dime for as long as engineering has the power).