Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence platform designed to understand natural language, launched support for Star Trek: Bridge Crew (2017) across all VR platforms back in June of last year. Last week, Ubisoft said in a forum post that it was pulling support for Watson due to unspecified “technical reasons.” The company has since reversed that decision, saying Watson-powered voice controls will remain online “through 2018.”

Update (03/31/18): Ubisoft is overturning their previous decision to take down IBM Watson voice controls in ‘Bridge Crew’, which was slated to go into effect March 29, 2018. The company says in a forum post that they’re extending Watson “through 2018.” The original article follows below.

Bridge Crew players could choose between multiplayer and single player modes, the latter of which allowed you to fill in the roles of the ship’s other posts—Engineering, Tactical, Helm—by clicking a few boxes to issue orders. You could even jump in and take command yourself, although it was decidedly a much slower way of dealing with incoming Klingon threats. Adding Watson integration essentially allowed a sole player to issue orders to the non-human-controlled posts from the captain’s chair using natural language such as “lock on target, dude!” – “fire photon torpedoes, dumdum!” – or “go to warp now, please! And make it snappy!”

Ubisoft says that the nine-month access period has been “enriching,” but that Watson will be “discontinued for technical reasons on March 29, 2018.”

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Frankly, Bridge Crew has undergone very few updates following its May 2017 launch. Minor bug fixes in June were followed by Watson integration, and then the game was opened up to non-VR players in a bid to rejuvenate its multiplayer mode. For such a solid game—we rated it [9/10] in our review—the company has done minimal work in expanding the campaign or offering DLC.

It’s unclear what Ubisoft will do in its wake, although the company has said more information about upcoming updates should arrive “very soon.”

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  • Mat Harding

    Ubisoft should release a Discovery version of this, to boost it’s profile again.

  • Courtney A Jeff

    Praise Jesus my Lord and Savior

    • dk

      also skynet

  • impurekind

    Again, without the Enterprise D bridge, I personally can’t even truly love what’s on offer in this games. That’s the bridge I relate to most, the one I grew up with–it’s also just objectively one of the warmest, welcoming and feel-good bridge designs in all of Star Trek’s history–and I think a lot of potential customers out there probably feel similarly.

    • VR Geek

      I second that

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    • disqus_4YCz9lIfxG

      I third that.

    • Raphael

      I don’t feel that way. I grew up with the original star trek.

      • impurekind

        Yes, but most people know that Next Generation is the most popular Star Trek of them all by the numbers, so it just makes sense to put the bridge from the most popular Star Trek show of all time in a game like this–and that’s what I’m getting at.

        • Raphael

          Most people? By what numbers?

    • Mk.82

      Look at the DLC that came after this article, you literally get the TNG (D) bridge and new missions etc!

  • John Horn

    I have a major problem with this game, hence why I haven’t even touched it since I first tried it. Major problem is: The height of the player in-game does not necessarily correspond with the height of the real person playing the game. Also, furniture: If you are (like me) seated in a recliner chair, the game doesn’t allow you to touch panels without passing your hands THROUGH your knees. The ONLY way to play this game, regardless of your furniture situation, is to play it in a simple IKEA chair. And at that, you’re making a lot of concessions based on very bad design decisions by the developers. This has been reported and well known ever since it came out. I refuse to touch the game until this is addressed. But, I suppose they have virtually no money to respond with. So we’re in a limbo.

  • Sebastien Barre

    Watson APIs are pay-as-you-go (i.e. by the service call), and while I’m sure Ubisoft negotiated a reasonable rate, there was probably a minimum payment per month/quarter/etc in order to secure that lower rate.

    If not enough people are playing the game anymore, it’s probably not worth it for Ubisoft to keep paying IBM for this service.

    • VR Geek

      That sounds likely. That or they found a better AI service that truly brings the characters to life. Doubtful as evidence would suggest we a few more years away from that still. I have played around with Watson and you can see the potential one day. I cannot wait for a STTNG immersive experience with AI that bring the crew to life if a very believable way. Sort of like that black mirror episode USS Callister. That level of believable. Cannot wait for that.

    • This same the most logical reason to me

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  • Raphael

    All they had to do was add KEY COMMANDS and then people could use VOICEATTACK.

    • Filmgeek47

      This!

      • Raphael

        I purchased VA last year together with HCS Voicepacks but only got around to setting it up over the past couple of weeks. Amazing having a ship under voice control in Elite Dangerous.

        :)

        • metanurb

          Nice! I bought it last week but I’ve yet to set it up lol. It’s just… so many unbound commands to look up and figure out some unused key combination for. But I’m planning to do it “soon” :P (I play Elite Dangerous very periodically).

          • Raphael

            I didn’t know how I was going to assign it all initially. I have Hotas Warthog and I use ED default profile for that which means there are no key listed in the left column of ED control config menus. In the end I kept the Warthog profile active in Elite and just added my own key assigns for key presses alongside that profile. I haven’t assigned all the voice commands yet. Working through them.

            I was playing Elite itermitantly since buying it over a year ago but recently I’m getting into it in a big way. Following youtube guides on ranking up and earning credits.

        • jj

          I cant go back to no va with elite now

    • WyrdestGeek

      Maybe Ubisoft realized the same thing or something similar– and that having pay-as-you-go Watson was way overkill.

      • Mk.82

        The IBM watson is nothing like Voice Attack or Voice Bot. The IBM Watson has speech understanding 5.8% while humans has 5.5%, the Voice Attack and such are programmable voice recognition systems, nothing like IBM Watson.

    • drd7of14

      Wow! I did not know this existed. This sounds awesome…Definitely an awesome alternative for Bridge Crew on PC.

      • Raphael

        Problem is I don’t think bridge crew accepts keyboard input? It looks like someone has a guide on using an eggbox controller so perhaps voice attack could be set to press controller buttons.

        • drd7of14

          Oh pooie…Yeah, unless the Steam Store Page is not updated with said k/m inputs, it does seem to be Vive/Touch/Gamepad only.

          I wonder if anyone can confirm whether that is the case or not. Regardless, Ubisoft would be wise to patch such support in to have VA work fine and well with it.

    • jj

      YES. I love VoiceAttak

      • Raphael

        Me too now!

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  • drd7of14

    I’m just surprised they didn’t make a Klingon Bridge Crew Campaign, or try there hands with Discovery’s design. Not to mention TNG, VOY, etc…There’s so much that can be done to expand this game.

    Looking at From Other Suns, and how it incorporates, at least in some way, away missions, being boarded, etc. There are all hallmarks of Star Trek, which (while I get that game is called Bridge Crew) is worth exploring. It’s not like the “Bridge Crew”/Officers of Star Trek ever actually stay on the Bridge anyway. They’re all about the constant away missions. Actually, for the most part, Discovery was actually the exception unless a specialist (like Burnham) was needed.

    But anyways, yeah…This game was begging for free/paid DLC. It just needed more consistent “games as a service” (I hate this term) updates to keep the userbase interested. The game is still fun to play even today, and the crossplay/non-VR modes certainly help the player count, but it’s lacking variety. A Klingon Bridge Crew would most certainly help to change up much of the tedium.

  • disqus_4YCz9lIfxG

    I’m really upset about this it was my favorite part for single player games!