Have You Played… The Ship?

Ladies! What's cracking?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

If so, please tell me stories from it. I have played The Ship – in both its original mod and standalone forms – but never at the right times. I was enticed into the open-ship murder simulator by pals’ tales of stalking prey from deck to deck, of bluffs and double-bluffs and needing to wee at the most inopportune moment. I missed the glory days and mostly stumbled around ineptly dying. But if you have stories, do share, won’t you?

The Ship, for those who haven’t played it, is a multiplayer first-person social FPS set about a 1930s cruise ship. Everyone is given a target to kill, and must sneakily take them out with whatever weapons they can find without anyone else noticing – and without being killed, because they’re also someone else’s target. Complicating matters are a variety of personal needs you must attend to – eating, sleeping, washing, being entertained, wazzing, and so on – so you can’t simply find a hammer then hunker down in a corner. And you might be watching for someone stalking you with a frying pan, but are you watching out for lifeboats falling from above?

All of this can lead to absurd situations and stories, which I’ve enjoyed very much over the years – and sadly have few of my own to share. So please, have you played The Ship? Tell me some stories, won’t you?


  1. Kemuel says:

    We rolled this out at a 7-player LAN party last month and it was an absolute blast. Something about all being in the same room and hearing tense silences give way to screams of horror.

    One of my friends kept thwarting my murder attemps over and over until he accidentally let slip that my character’s red hair was a dead giveaway and always let him get the first shot off. He didn’t notice it was me in the turban until it was already too late.

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    gritz says:

    I just assumed it was another multiplayer ghost-town. Does anyone play it these days?

    • PseudoKnight says:

      Yes. As of now: 26 servers. 10 with player counts ranging from 6 – 20. 106 players total. I’ve never seen a time where I haven’t been able to find a nearby server with plenty of players on it to have a good time. However, if you need popularity to validate your gaming choices, perhaps this isn’t for you.

      • tnzk says:

        Oh, come off it dude. With such a low player count, it’s hard to get into the game if you have a normal life with other commitments.

        I had to give up learning to play it because of that very reason: I just couldn’t consistently find people to play and learn it with. On the flip-side, I “re-learned” Counter-Strike several times simply because I could always find a decent server to get myself up to speed any time I wanted.

        Another game that was difficult to get into because of low player count was The Hidden. It was that had one guy as the invisible Kevin Bacon while the other guys were SWAT troopers trying to gun him down.

      • roothorick says:

        Popularity is ABSOLUTELY a valid and important metric for multiplayer-centric games. If it’s a ghost town, you’re not going to have many (if any) people to play with, making it an empty experience with little to no gameplay, lots of interesting mechanics and tools but no way to use them. Even if there are a few stragglers, they’ll know the game far better than you do, and it will be a very one-sided experience, with you at the butt end of it.

        Yes, popularity is important, unless the game is focused on a single-player experience.

  3. Zanchito says:

    Some chaps from the forums play every now and then, looks liek a perfect candidate for a Saturday Night Gaming event!

  4. Croomar says:

    The Ship was descriped once as “the game which destroys friendships”

    I experienced it just that way. While it may greatly bond you with your friends when you have fun, it may also affect your friendship in other ways.
    It happened, when we were playing on a random server with the 4 of us and some randoms. I’d like to add, I’m very good at The Ship and win most rounds. Then in one round, I had to kill the same of my friends for like 10 times in a row, after one kill, he burst out in rage, screaming at me and alluded to a very embarrasing illness I once had. I was also enraged, especially because all my other friends knew about it now, and we started to scream at each other more and more, and so I killed him again without me actually having to do so. I turned around to check if somebody saw, and I swear to god: There was this one NPC behind me, looking over his shoulder with a face that literally said “I saw what you did and I know why. And I’m fine with it, bro”
    I will never forget the smile this NPC had, with his head slighty askew and his still look.
    We didn’t talk for around a year, until one friend who played with us that day made us talk to each other. But ever since, our relationship is very different.

  5. jasta85 says:

    was the very first game I bought on steam back in like 2005 or 2006

  6. excuseforjuice says:

    My friends and I spent a ridiculous amount of time on this back when it was more busy. I loved the designs of the ships – each one packed with secret corridors and weapon store-rooms. I have great memories of noticing someone tailing me and slipping away into a secret room, only to return with a frying pan or golf club.

  7. Distec says:

    I can’t recall any specific stories from the mod’s days. I just remember that it was ridiculous, zany fun in the way only those old Half-Life mods could be, roughness and and all. Despite not really being similar at all, it always seems to be paired up with Rocket Crowbar in my memory. The feelings of delight and amusement for both mods draw from the same pool.

    I’ve considered purchasing the proper release, but I’m reluctant to buy a game whose community is probably a faint apparition at this point. I’d love to be wrong about that

  8. tomimt says:

    I got this from a sale not so long ago and I was pleasantly surprised that there was played on the multiplayer. In the land of generic multiplayer games the Ship really does stand out, as if you want to score you’ll have to kill only those assigned to you. It has a single player mode as well, but the meat of the game is on the multiplayer definetly.

  9. widowfactory says:

    Love this game. My favourite strategy was to plant a mine outside the doctor’s office, syringe my quarry, then sit back and watch the fireworks.

  10. rabbit says:

    such a brilliant game. had many good times in that there ship.

  11. sharkh20 says:

    Tried it a bunch of times. Experience was the same each time. Play a few rounds normally, get bored, start killing everyone, get banned from server. I guess it just isn’t my cup of tea.

  12. Buggery says:

    Was wonderful in the original mod. You could pretend to be an NPC by milling about in the main areas until your target came skipping through and then follow them to their chambers… to bludgeon them to death in their sleep.

  13. yeahdirk says:

    This is one of those gaming experiences that I’ve always been jealous about being deprived of.

    Bloody Good Time, which released in 2010, was sort of a reboot of this game (in fact, the top review on steam reads “tl;dr The Ship with less complexity”). I picked it up super cheap on sale a few years back, but when I tried to get into it I found that there weren’t many games and those that were populated were full of players who promptly schooled me.

  14. DLFReporter says:

    A great game! I played both the stand-alone and the mod.
    I just love how the concept develops its own narrative when you play the game. Suspense,action and drama. I has it all.
    I do hate getting clobbered on the loo.:D

  15. sysdefect says:

    I loved this game and I’m still tempted to play it every now and again. It subscribed heavily to the dying gameplay principle that restraints can be fun which led to a higher than normal barrier to entry.

    When you finally understood the gameplay principles it became a mad dash. Each round was an exercise in kleptomania and paranoia. I would pilfer each cabin for new clothes and dress on the move, watch the board for the highest prized weapon and move from place to place with an inventory packed for contingency. “Well, someone was killed with the revolver last round but it never hurts to have one.” “Oh! I can carry this umbrella around menacingly when there are cameras.” “Great, I have the top 3 pay out weapons stocked up, knock out syringe, colostomy bag, 4 different caps, and now I’m on the hunt!”

    It didn’t matter if you knew the map but it certainly helped because if you weren’t you needed to be proficient with the menus/map as they would block your view and render you vulnerable as did everything else in the game. If all else failed you could invariably find a trusty fire ax for protection at the end of the hall and stand in front of the security station while you figured your heading. Watch out for the wallet bomb, bribed guard blind eye, and shot from the door way deaths though.

    My favorite time was the stretch between killing your target and round end. All things ideal, I would be posted in a cabin with my tommy gun out. The door would swing open and one of three things would happen; they would be ready to open fire and I would be too; they would acknowledge my threat as I holstered and unholstered my gun, quickly understanding my domain over the room; or they would try to maintain the thin veneer of innocence as I kept my gun trained on them. Their fate was in their hands, my killer or not.

    • sysdefect says:

      Also, always avoid long hallways. You can run… but not very far!

  16. Malagate says:

    I never played this with friends, so my experience was as a loner getting stuck in on public servers. Game enjoyment really depended on luck for me, chance upon a group who’s about as experienced as you on a map you’re familiar with and then the trickery can begin – start on a map you’ve never seen before with 1 or 2 people who know it inside-out and you’ll be dying to guys with tommy guns whilst all you can find are rolled up newspapers and knitting needles.

    After a bit of experience though, you start to see common strategies and from there you can figure out how to work around them. When the first kill is made and the round starts counting down, it was common for people to flock around security guards – as the guard would stop people with weapons and the sheer number of players would also act as witnesses, so further killing attempts were limited…unless the chosen guard happened to be in an atrium that is connected to many guest rooms.

    One match, long ago…I had spend a long time trying to track down my target when someone else got the first kill, which then promptly caused my target and many other players to run to the nearest guard in one such atrium that covered two floors and had lots of connected guest rooms. I had managed to palm a revolver, so I make myself comfortable in the room across the atrium from the guard, time is counting down towards the end of the round, but I wait.

    I open the door and watch, about 6 people are leaping around the security guard, in their midst is one who exactly matches my target…20 seconds remain…I close the door, ready my revolver…at 10 seconds, I push open the door, no-one is watching and the guard is myopic, I line up the shot- *pow*

    Anarchy erupts, a corpse with a bloody hole in its head, he falls right at the guard’s feet. Guard freaks out, the rabble scatters, the chat froths with WTF and LOL…I just close the door, content with my bounty, turn around and have a nap on the bed whilst there’s time between rounds.

    So yeah it has its moments, I even have two gift copies that have sat in my inventory for ages.

    • myelbow says:

      If you’re looking to unload them out of your inventory, you mind sending one my way, please? Steam name is same as my display name here.

    • rokahef says:

      Same here, I’d love a copy too if you don’t need it anymore. The game sounds like an absolute blast, would be fun to play with RPS people from time to time.

  17. MOOncalF says:

    No love for Aussie players, dead as the dodo last I checked, but I’m thrilled to see this in a have-you-played, I loved it so much more than the sequel bloody good time. (“We need more people to like this, what do people like? They like hollywood? Let’s make it more hollywood!” Bzzt! Nice try but you should’ve doubled down…) It’s a classy, frantic game of subtlety and bludgeoning brain pans that’s perfect for a family LAN event.