It’s been a little while since we last heard from Perihelion Interactive’s upcoming real-time strategy game, The Mandate, the Russian-infused space combat game that puts players into the boots of a disgraced military captain charged with working for the newly-crowned Empress to atone for his crimes. Perihelion has recently released an update on where the project is at now, including the direction of the game’s development and a brand new feature, the Battle Orchestrator, and what it hopes to accomplish in 2014.
Of the original $500,000 crowdfunding goal, The Mandate earned $701,000 when the project ended, $677,000 came from Kickstarter, and $24,000 came from PayPal backers. But new donations have come in, and between continued funding from PayPal and BackerKit pledges the campaign has now reached $725,000. The team is thankful for this, especially given that they’ve done no marketing, and once the campaign has reached $750,000 they will unlock the stretch goal that gives free digital add-ons to backers who pledged between $25 and $49 (any higher and digital add-ons are already included).
With these funds guiding the project’s direction, The Mandate is still in pre-production and Perihelion is looking for ways to produce content for the game efficiently. They’re looking for middleware solutions to free up coder time and focus on features. Their first major focus will be designing the space combat and boarding combat so they can evaluate “the fun factor” and have as much time to tweak them as the team sees fit. Perihelion will also be planning the RPG mechanics, the sandbox approach to the Adventure Mode, and the Starbase mode where players will research new tech, upgrade their ships, and recruit and train the crew. They will be using a table (that you can view below) of high value/low value-high risk/low risk components to help decide what should be in the game and what should be pushed off until later.
What Perihelion will not be doing is going to external milestones or events like E3, unless they have a version of the game they think is appropriate to show off. But for now, any events would take away from actually developing the game, and so they’re avoiding it for now.
Perihelion’s update also features details on their newly unveiled Battle Orchestrator (which you can view in the screenshots below), a solution to coordinating multiple ships and boarding operations in real-time. At Perihelion the developers believe that the RTS genre has been stagnant for some time now, especially with the lack of distinction between strategy and tactics, and the sacrifice for the former over the latter. The end-result, as they call it, is a “tactical click-fest that needs lots of micro-managing.”
The Battle Orchestrator will allow players to easily switch between the 3D space battle view and a stylized planning mode where players can plan out movement curves for ships and visualize them. Players will then assign specific stances to ships (defensive, aggressive, etc) as well as a set of rules of engagement for usage of fighters, heavy weapons, etc. There will also be an option to “preview” the future position of your ships to sync up the movement of the fleets. Their goal will be to make A.I. escort ships easy to plan and modify, leaving players more time to manually control their flagship.
They liken the “preview” idea and the feature itself to video editing tools, allowing players to traverse left and right on the time to see phantom overlays of where ships will be at certain points. It will also incorporate both NPC captains and other players in cooperative play, with the team evaluating how additional planning and drawing tools can make pre-battle strategy and changes in strategy easy to discuss and communicate between partners. There are also plans to allow for multiple squads, platoons or even a full company of marines to board enemy ships.
A video of the Battle Orchestrator prototype should be coming within the next few weeks if things continue to go as plan by the next Kickstarter update, and Perihelion says they will also be ramping up their PR and marketing. To assist in the team’s development, the developers are inviting fans to visit the official forums and leave (constructive) criticism and feedback on the Battle Orchestrator idea.
There’s no denying that Perihelion has a lot of big ideas that could make The Mandate something fresh and new for the RTS genre, and as someone who’s loving the concept and ideas coming from the team, I can’t wait to see if they can deliver. The Mandate is currently set to release to PC, Mac and Linux platforms in the first quarter of 2015. For more on the game, check out all of our extensive coverage on The Mandate. You can also check out The Mandate‘s Steam page, where the game has been greenlit by the community.