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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek Movies > Star Trek Movies I-X

Star Trek Movies I-X Discuss the first ten big screen outings in this forum!

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Old December 10 2013, 04:42 PM   #1
Lance
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The joystick controller on the Enterprise-E

I was thinking about this little baby the other day:



Now, on some level, I was thinking, I can kind of rationalize this as a viable control device. After all, joysticks were being used to fly real aircraft long before the design was adapted for videogame use, and in the case of the entire LCARS system going down on a Starship then having a 'manual steering column' as a backup is a pretty good idea. No doubt Starfleet ships have got other backup systems etc, but it never hurts to have a contingency plan, just in case the contingency plan for the contingency plan goes wrong. A sort of 'last resort' for controlling the ship in an mass computer system failure, if you will.

(In fact, it disturbs me that we didn't actually see more joystick controls in Star Trek... sure, on a Starship they might not be common, but on smaller craft like shuttles it would surely be much easier to pilot using a more direct method like a stick, rather than the possibly less precise LCARS interface... I assume the LCARS are suitable for moving a massive great big Starship, but a small one or two person craft? A joystick would be more presice, no?)

However... you know, I think I've figured out the reasons why it just doesn't work in "Insurrection":

1) It's just really goofy looking. Right there on the bridge, on this 24th century Starship surrounded by advanced touchscreen LCARS interfaces, this 'joystick' just looks like an uncomfortable throwback. It doesn't fit. Now, if it had appeared on Kirk's Enterprise, that'd be different. The physical buttons of the original 1701, or even the refit, the joystick would fit reasonably comfortably in that asthetic, with lots of push buttons. Heck, the JJ-verse Enterprise kind of has joysticks on it's bridge, doesn't it? I'm sure I recall seeing a few levers that look more like joystick controls...

2) It isn't NEARLY justified enough in the movie. If the LCARS had shut down, then yes. It'd be excusable to revert to some kind of physical control. But nothing like that happens, does it? The only reason Riker calls for the manual steering column is for a more responsive method of piloting the ship. If this is the only reason for using it, then why not incorporate the God-damn manual steering into the helm console permanently? Why make it some stupid looking column that comes up out of the deck plating? It'd be much more convenient, for those occasions when manual control is necessary, to have it right there where the helm can get their hands on it. Or, I don't know, even if it was built into the Captain's Chair or something.

3) It just seems dumb. The Enterprise isn't some small level fighter craft. It's not a Tie Fighter. Seeing Riker bent uncomfortably over this little stick that's come up out of the floor, and being asked to buy that this joystick is now controlling a vast Starship the size of 10 very large sized cities... it just stretches credibility. Not saying it's implausible in a practical sense, but just the way it's implemented on-screen is so stupid.

YMMV of course.
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Old December 10 2013, 04:54 PM   #2
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Re: The joystick controller on the Enterprise-E

IMO, it was put there solely because the writers and/or producers thought it looked more dramatic (or manly) for Frakes to stand there in the middle of the bridge and control the ship rather than be sitting down and doing it (either from the captain's chair or at the actual conn station--although Stewart did this himself in "Booby Trap"). In-universe logic was a secondary issue.
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Old December 10 2013, 05:08 PM   #3
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Re: The joystick controller on the Enterprise-E

C.E. Evans wrote: View Post
IMO, it was put there solely because the writers and/or producers thought it looked more dramatic (or manly) for Frakes to stand there in the middle of the bridge and control the ship rather than be sitting down and doing it (either from the captain's chair or at the actual conn station--although Stewart did this himself in "Booby Trap"). In-universe logic was a secondary issue.
I thought the decision to stand him up at this little stick in the middle of the room just made him look more like a douche.
Frakes being insanely tall, but the stick being comparatively short, didn't seem to help matters either. He had to bend right over just to use the thing.
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Old December 10 2013, 06:38 PM   #4
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Re: The joystick controller on the Enterprise-E

Lance wrote: View Post
C.E. Evans wrote: View Post
IMO, it was put there solely because the writers and/or producers thought it looked more dramatic (or manly) for Frakes to stand there in the middle of the bridge and control the ship rather than be sitting down and doing it (either from the captain's chair or at the actual conn station--although Stewart did this himself in "Booby Trap"). In-universe logic was a secondary issue.
I thought the decision to stand him up at this little stick in the middle of the room just made him look more like a douche.
Frakes being insanely tall, but the stick being comparatively short, didn't seem to help matters either. He had to bend right over just to use the thing.
It was purely a creative choice by the people making the movie*, based on what they thought looked good to them (they apparently still thought it was better than Frakes sitting down steering the ship). Different people would have likely done something different.



*Frakes likely being one of them possibly.
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Old December 10 2013, 06:55 PM   #5
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Re: The joystick controller on the Enterprise-E

The USS Vengeance in the last movie had joysticks on the Helm/Nav stations in front. And back in STVI, there was a big trackball on the Helm station. Even STII had a joystick (which came out of a little slot in the wall) to fire the photons.

So joysticks and similar can work in the Trekverse.... but the whole execution of it in Insurrection (and complete lack of similar in the TNG era) killed it dead.
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Old December 10 2013, 07:23 PM   #6
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Re: The joystick controller on the Enterprise-E

King Daniel Into Darkness wrote: View Post
The USS Vengeace in the last movie had joysticks on the Helm/Nav stations in front. And back in STVI, there was a big trackball on the Helm station. Even STII had a joystick (which came out of a little slot in the wall) to fire the photons.

So joysticks and similar can work in the Trekverse.... but the whole execution of it in Insurrection (and complete lack of similar in the TNG era) killed it dead.
The helm on the refit-Enterprise had a control stick for warp.
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Old December 11 2013, 06:50 AM   #7
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Re: The joystick controller on the Enterprise-E

Only in TMP. After that it was eliminated as "unrealistic" or some such. Of course, JJ brought it back in the NuVerse.
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Old December 11 2013, 08:08 AM   #8
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Re: The joystick controller on the Enterprise-E

Lance wrote: View Post
I thought the decision to stand him up at this little stick in the middle of the room just made him look more like a douche.
No, he was already made to look like a douche when he ordered Worf's plank to be removed.
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Old December 11 2013, 10:02 AM   #9
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Re: The joystick controller on the Enterprise-E

On the commentary for INS, Jonathan Frakes says that it was Rick Berman's idea to put the joystick controller in the film. Allegedly to appeal to the videogame/gamer crowd, I can't remember which.
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Old December 11 2013, 01:06 PM   #10
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Re: The joystick controller on the Enterprise-E

^ It should've been a Playstation controller then. Product placement.
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Old December 11 2013, 01:49 PM   #11
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Re: The joystick controller on the Enterprise-E

I think this has been mentioned before but it's not unrealistic for joysticks to be used on as starship as they are used on 500,000 ton supertankers on earth. This is one of the most invalid criticisms of the movie.
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Old December 11 2013, 02:15 PM   #12
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Re: The joystick controller on the Enterprise-E

Lance wrote: View Post
^ It should've been a Playstation controller then. Product placement.
Press Square to fire phasers.
Press Triangle to enter/exit starship.
Press Circle to fire photon torpedoes/punch Klingon.
Press X to jump.
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Old December 11 2013, 02:19 PM   #13
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Re: The joystick controller on the Enterprise-E

I never got how they were supposed to do elaborate maneuvers in 3D space (Shuttles, Voyager and the Defiant move like fighter jets at times) just using a 2D keyboard. A stick makes more sense. In space, a 6 DOF control would make the most sense.
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Old December 11 2013, 03:23 PM   #14
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Re: The joystick controller on the Enterprise-E

Given that the Enterprise can move in any direction in three dimensions, in made no sense to have a single controller that could only turn the ship left and right or up and down while being propelled forward.
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Old December 11 2013, 03:36 PM   #15
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Re: The joystick controller on the Enterprise-E

JarodRussell wrote: View Post
I never got how they were supposed to do elaborate maneuvers in 3D space (Shuttles, Voyager and the Defiant move like fighter jets at times) just using a 2D keyboard.
It's future tech. It makes no sense to us 21st-Century primitives, but to them, it's easy.
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