The Influences, Mechanics and Lore Going Into Making The Mandate Memorable
The developers at Perhelion Interactive have put a lot of thought into their upcoming tactical RPG/space RTS, The Mandate, clearly true fans of the science fiction genre, television and film, and video games. Along with a range of screenshots, gamers can take a look at the mechanics and story that make up the game, and the ideas and influences that inspired it.
Without further ado, enjoy!
Perihelion is made up of developers with previous experience from Ubisoft, Funcom, Electronic Arts, and 2K Games, having worked on games from the Assassin’s Creed series, the Far Cry series, Mafia 2, Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures and The Secret World. The Mandate takes numerous inspirations from shows like Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and Firefly, and have cited games like XCOM, Star Trek Online, Freelancer, Klingon Academy, Fallout, Men of War, Jagged Alliance, Hearts of Iron and Mount & Blade, or Pirates! as influences.
The world of The Mandate takes place in a dystopian universe, torn apart by bureaucracy, mistrust and political strife. 1500 years into the future, the Earth has been depleted of resources and abandoned, with humanity becoming a space-faring civilization. The governing force of civilization has its roots in Russian industry, known as The Mandate, a reborn Tsarist Empire. The Empire’s goal is to colonize habitable worlds and construct travel lanes between them.
As civilization continued to expand, corruption became apparent within the Mandate and dissent began to spread. With the Emperor unexpectedly falling ill and dying under questionable circumstances, the young and inexperienced Empress took the throne with limited support. Seizing the moment, several systems announced their intention to break away from the Mandate, and the Empress dispatched the Grand Fleet to restore order. Shortly afterwards, travel lanes were sabotaged, leaving the Empress vulnerable. Desperate, the Empress founds the Corsairs, a fleet of disgraced ex-Mandate officers jailed for breaching the Articles of War, reinstated under the promise of redemption.
The Mandate is a sandbox military sci-fi RPG, with the newly crowned Empress of the torn imperial regime turning to you, a disgraced former captain, with the chance to reclaim your honor by finding the Grand Fleet, assembling a fleet, restoring order to the outer systems, to quell rebellions, find new worlds, construct starbases and ships, negotiate alliances, and lead your ship’s crew to victory in battle. You will be able to aid your Empress, side with the Rebels, or start your own Pirate Kingdom depending on how you choose to play the game.
There are numerous factions to contend with. “Loyalist” factions include the Corsairs, untried and untrustworthy and the Grand Dukes, driven purely by self-interest since their wealth and power will be stripped if the Rebels win. The Rebels have the strength of numbers, but no unifying leader or cause. The Fringe Worlds want independence; the Colony Clusters are old and powerful, but are divided, with each wanting to claim the Mandate and Imperial title for themselves; the Revolutionaries just want an end to Imperial rule. Finally, unaligned factions include Megacorporations, mercenary legions, pirates, and the Anarchists, who just want to see the galaxy burn.
Humanity’s space-faring started with colony ships, “seeds” that carried humanity’s ancestors from Earth to their new homes among the stars. Each ship represents a “hose,” with your lineage determined by the house you choose to descend from. Players will also choose a name, a gender, and attributes that will alter diplomacy and tactical capabilities in battle, including battle tactics, boarding operations, and other variables in the vein of Hearts of Iron and other “rich” strategy titles.
Every player will begin as a criminal, but players will be given the chance to choose what events led to the court martial. A series of challenging scenarios will allow you to define your character by your responses. These situations will include boarding operations, diplomacy, on-board hazards, war, criminal activity, collisions, merchant convoy situations, and eventually the court martial. Questions will include: Did you abuse your former position in the Fleet, or were you brought down by rivals? Are you a wrongly accused patriot, or a monster? The developers tease that the ultimate result may “change the game significantly” later in the game, with history catching up with you.
Players will start with a small ship, tasked with moving swiftly to the far reaches of Mandate space. You can recruit and build a crew, and later a fleet, whose skills will be an asset the longer they stay alive. Their effectiveness will grow stronger with strong leadership, or wilter with your mistakes.
Each commanding officer will have a personality, skills and battle philosophy, which affects your other officers and crew. The intention is to have a crew that reacts dynamically to their officers. Every soldier will have a name, a family and limits, and can be lead to victory or death. You will be able to see them go about their daily lives as usual, or frantically move to their stations when attacked. Players can choose to decorate, promote, demote or scold officers, and even hold court martials to punish them and conduct funerals to honor their sacrifice.
Although war can bring uncivilized behavior, players must keep in mind how their actions will reflect on their character. Players can choose to cripple or destroy enemies, with each being more appropriate at certain times. Players must also keep in mind the political repercussions of their actions, and the personalities of their crew: become what they abhor, and they may mutiny against you. The developers encourage players to lead with vigor, compassion and strategic insight.
Ships and crews were influenced heavily by Battlestar Galactica, especially the dynamics between the crew and “those in charge.” Martial law plays a heavy part in The Mandate, and each officer and captain have variable flaws and philosophies which dictate their actions and the repercussions. The ships have been designed with living in mind, and will include quarters, common rooms, and dining areas. Ships are home, and crew are family, an important factor driving The Mandate, that the developers feel like have been left out of many games. Seeing your crew flushed out into space after your hull has been attacked and breached is meant to leave a mark in more than one way.
Inspired by Mount & Blade, or Pirates!, The Mandate will allow players to capture and control sectors in space, with the ability to take prisoners and release them. The developers want to reinforce the idea that the empire is fallible, and fleeting is mistakes are made. Dignitaries in your control can be used in numerous ways, like being taken captive and brought to the brig, or invited to the captain’s quarters.
Players will be able to rescue, recruit and team with NPC captains or other players, with the ability to come to their aid, or plan and coordinate “intense fleet actions.” These actions include boarding enemy vessels, allowing the player to seize heavily defended prize ships and all the cargo within. Cooperative play will allow players to use Steam to find friends, and use FTL drives to warp into their action and save them from doom.
Cooperative play will begin with players completing a tutorial within a single sector of their own. Afterwards, up to six players can play in a sector at once, with fierce end-game boss battles impossible to tackle alone, with some of the toughest challenges in the game requiring a diverse team of captains. The Fleet Commander stretch goal will allow a player to act as a battle orchestrator, issue orders to the captains from a top down perspective for even more tactical gameplay.
The Mandate can be played alone and still complete much of the content, but cooperative play will offer “ramped up” challenges, longevity, and will keep content “fresh and new.”
Similar to Men of War, Jagged Alliance and XCOM, boarding operations will features a tight cover system, and line of sight mechanics that allow for tactical flanking, breaching and rushing. All operatives will receive XP during missions.
Players will be able to explore “the cold depths of space,” and establish a presence by exert diplomatic and politic influence. Players can seize hold of sectors and attack those held by others. The storyline of the game will continue to be forged by the player’s choices.
Players will lead their troops from the deck of their ship and command the fleet from the bridge. The Mandate will be a top-down isometric strategy RPG, where the player’s tactical decisions will affect the crew. Players can choose to play however they like, playing smart and careful, or gambling away lives. Players can also visit foreign vessels, and attempt to broker an agreement; failing can lead to violence while on board, or in space.
All lives lost under the player will be forever marked on the wall of remembrance, a move that the developers hope will haunt players for the rest of their journey through space. This is to reinforce the idea that you are crafting not only your captain and the empire, but the lives of everyone on your ship. “Every man counts.”
Exploring space will consist of both hand-crafted experiences and procedurally generated content, and will be packed full of “historically relevant easter-eggs” offering insight into The Mandate‘s rich lore.
Gameplay will include reactive content like invasion fleets from rebels, threats from enemies and pirates, or even the Empress herself, depending on how players approach the game. More content will be offered depending on the success of the Kickstarter campaign.
Players will be able to scavenge derelict, ghostly wrecks and salvage resources to survive. Players can also read about the fate of “those less fortunate.” Scavenging is a necessity, to patch up your ship after a battle, especially since certain radiation damage can only be prevented with certain materials found in other vessels.
Your ship can be created through thousands of ship design variables, built from a modular system. Your ship will gain character over time, with dust particles, radiation and other space matter wearing down your ship over time. Not all of the superficial damage can be repaired, but the developers want players to “wear your scars with pride” as a veteran commander.
There are no traditional hit-point bars in The Mandate. Player’s vessels and their systems and various subsystems are all unique and targetable. Each can be damaged, and each needs to be protected or repaired. Success in combat comes from tactically and surgically removing your enemy’s ability to fight, and salvage what remains.
With The Mandate a “fully fledged” RTS and tactical space shooter, players can also make use of environmental hazards, such as anti-gravitation grenades, radiation, and attacking a ship’s weak points to vent enemy units out into the darkness of space. Combat also features cloaking, ECM and ECCM, subsystem targeting, mines, missiles, turrets and more.
Players will be able to acquire military assets, including infantry upgrades, starbase research, and recovered blueprints and schematics from vanquished foes. There will also be a “rich” crafting mechanic, which can be used to improve and add expansions to ships, provide equipment for your units, and more.
Players will be able to design and build starbases within a “lively ecosystem,” which can be upgraded through modular design. Players must keep them defended and may seek out enemy starbases.
Players will find a unique array of planetary types in the universe of The Mandate, including Earth-like planets with liquid oceans and a life-sustaining atmosphere, frozen worlds covered in mile-thick glaciers, desert planets seared by their harsh suns, and many other places where humanity has managed to find a home. There will also be planets uninhabitable to man, marginal planets, hostile planets with low or no atmosphere, and various satellite or asteroid structures.
Scepters are a symbol of authority, the literal embodiment of Mandate rule. Military installations and vital systems have been locked down with only the genetic code of the Romanov dynasty as an authorization code, meaning only a member of the Imperial family can activate hidden Imperial bases and weapon depot facilities and command the automated systems. The Empress has entrusted these scepters to a handful of Corsair captains for use in their adventures.
The Articles of War are inspired by the Royal Navy, 1757, with the developers looking to infuse the game with the idea of warfare and honor at stake.
There will be a 1500 year codex that will give The Mandate a level of depth unseen in most space RPGs (besides perhaps the Mass Effect series).
The scale of the game will depend largely on the success of the Kickstarter campaign, which is currently at $230,423 pledged of its $5000,000 goal with 23 days to go. The Mandate is set to release to Windows, Mac and Linux platforms for a Q1 2015 release. For more on the game, check out the gallery below, check out the Scourge of the Mandate text-adventure game (which puts you in the shoes of feared and hated space pirate Jameson Howth), check out the previously released trailers and screenshots, and check out the recently released developer diary.