From the designer's webpage:
The Year is 2085 and long range teleportation technology has made faster than light travel possible, In an attempt to find habitable planets earth’s governments send out probes into deep space.They found something. . .
Welcome to the Artifact, a world foreign to our own Earth in many ways. A world that was manufactured for some as yet unknown purpose. Here you will encounter hostile aliens like the Kelrath and the Chezbah, and those that will seek your aid, like the Scimrahn. Races that appear human but are different from us in many ways. Then there are those that hide in the shadows, like the giant Tanroc Fredar, and the thing called Loc, revered as a god by some, despised as a demon by others.
A small group of explorers from earth are the first to venture into this vast world. Some looking for a better life, some for the adventure, and some looking to strike it rich in the amazing resources that are available.
The Artifact is a Role Playing Game that each player will take part in a unfolding world. As members, they will have the opportunity to add to and influence the world around them. Updates will periodically be posted to the site, in addition to member contributions. The main portion of the game is a two hundred and six page book that is downloadable in PDF format (viewable with the Adobe Acrobat Reader that is available for free). Several sourcebooks are also available to download for free. Hard Copy books are also available for purchase.
The Artifact is all about survival in an alien world.
That’s why Survival Challenges were created as a GM tool for telling this kind of story. Players roll to defeat the challenge instead of rolling to stave off defeat.
The Artifact is all about science.
That’s why Tech Challenges were created. Players only have to propose how their characters might try and solve the puzzle and their character’s knowledge provides the solution. This becomes very enjoyable for the players because they’re not just rolling dice, they’re telling the story of how the puzzle will be solved and then rolling to see how it worked. Then the tool provides input for the GM about how the problem reacts to the PC’s efforts making things more interesting because the puzzle is interactive.
The Artifact is about the teeming masses.
In most games, the PCs work alone. In The Artifact, most of the time the PCs are part of organizations that support them.
That’s why Infantry Combat is included in the rules, so the players can be in charge of their subordinates and directly manage them easily. The GM can also more easily handle larger groups as easily as handling a single NPC.