Kickstarter Interview: Sci-fi RPG fans will love The Mandate for its emphasis on crew
When you think of your favorite space themed sci-fi movies and television shows, what do they all have in common? Hint: the answer is the actual crew of the ships. Whether you’re a fan of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, or another classic sci-fi show, it's the characters that really make these series special. The interaction, relationships, loyalty, back and forth, synergy, and family-esque existence are staples to the genre.
This aspect is exactly what Perihelion Studios is focusing on in their sci-fi RPG The Mandate. Currently on Kickstarter, this project takes place on space ship where you play as the captain. During the course of this game, you will build up a crew and your relationships with said crew. Battles will consist of ship to ship confrontations as well as strategic boarding party defenses. In-between battles, you’ll upgrade your crew and your ship, and will have the opportunity to mingle with crew. Your crew will request missions from you. Do you punish someone for being a coward? Do you discover a saboteur?
With inspiration from X-COM, Men of War, and Jagged Alliance , you can expect a full range of gameplay options from base management to boarding combat in The Mandate. I received the opportunity to ask the game’s Executive Producer, Ole Herbjørnsen, a slew of questions about the project. If you’re liking what you’re reading, check out their Kickstarter page, the video below, as well as our interview. Once you find yourself enthralled, back the Kickstarter!
What exactly is The Mandate?
The Mandate is a sci-fi RPG where you are the captain of a starship and must lead a crew through the galaxy where they will adapt and grow as they fight alongside you.
Where did the idea for The Mandate stem from? How long have you had a project like this in mind?
The initial concept was started around two years ago as a side-project since everybody had full-time jobs. We feel there is something missing from a lot of sci-fi video games: the human dimension. So instead of just focusing on the ships, we want to also focus on the crew inside the ships.
What games inspired you for this project?
First of all, its important to note that we were inspired by TV-shows first and video games second. Specifically BattleStar Galactica, Firefly, Babylon 5 and Star Trek. In terms of video game inspiration we draw a lot of inspiration from the original X-COM with respect to base management, research and manufacturing and both Men of War and Jagged Alliance with respect to boarding combat. Ship combat has many inspirations that would be too numerous to list here, but rest assured we have researched a lot of games to "get it right".
How do you plan on putting the emphasis on the crew during game play? Will there be different crewmate options?
We model the chain of command. You will have enlisted, non-commissioned officers (and on bigger ships commissioned officers) who all report to you, their captain. Your behaviour and conduct will affect and shape your crew. Crew can earn promotions and you may take them from green enlisted to specialists or turn them into captains suitable for command of their own starship (not all crew are suitable for command, however)! When off-duty, crew will go about their own business on the ship. You may walk around and interact with them, and some may have quests to offer you. Other times events may transpire on the ship as a response to what recently occured in the game. E.g. perhaps you took on a fresh batch of crewmen to replace losses and one of these turns out to be a saboteur? Or a particular crewman (who you may have grown fond of) displayed cowardice in battle. How do you react to this? Do you court martial that person or look the other way? In addition we want you to be able to take prisoners and put them in the brig for later interrogation. Or you might receive a mission from a faction to escort a dignitary, who would then be on your ship and could offer additional lore or even quest opportunities. We recommend that your readers take a look here for more information
How do you even start the process of writing over 1500 years of history and lore?
We have a broad idea of where we want to be 1500 years into the future. Then we look at historical sources, extrapolate plausible events and start to spin our web from there! We are working with a professional sci-fi writer (sorry, we cannot announce the name yet) who we trust 110% with executing (and improving) our vision for the game and setting.
Will the foot combat be turn based, live with a pause function, or third person?
No, boarding combat (both when attacking and defending) will be real-time and take place at the same time as ship combat. In singleplayer mode we will allow you to pause the game and issue orders to your troops. Combat will be isometric, you see a cut-away of the ship and can order your units around. There will be several tactical options including motion scanners, grenades, tools for hacking security locks etc.
Can crew mates suffer from ‘perma-death’ if they die in combat or if the hull is breached?
Yes! If you take a lot of damage to your ship, expect casualties. Enlisted may die quickly, however, since the player has invested a lot of time and effort into his/her officers and captains, we will provide difficulty setting options so you can decide whether they die or only get wounded.
Will your ship be a sort of character with upgrades, talents, and gear?
Yes, our ships are built from three sections: the forward section, the amidships section and the aft section. These can be replaced individually. Each section provides a number of weapon hardpoints for both primary and heavy weapons. In addition each section provides a certain number of rooms for the interior of the ship. Some of these rooms will be occupied by default equipment, like the bridge. Other rooms will be empty and it will be up to you to install specific modules which you may find useful. We recommend your readers take a look at http://ships.mandategame.com for more detailed information
Also, at the start of the game you only control a small frigate. However, as your captain character progresses in rank, you unlock the ability to command a flotilla with NPC escort ships that are piloted by NPC captains that you have trained up. You may issue them commands to control their behaviour.
Later on when you attain the rank of flag officer, you may take command of your own personal flagship, and lead your own battle squadron into battle. If you decide to activate the cooperative mode we let other players bring their captain officers and personal ships to replace your NPC escort ships.
Will combat take place in real time between space combat and being boarded? Can you only focus at one at a time?
Space combat and boarding operations may take place at the same time. In singleplayer you will be able to pause and issue orders to both. We are planning some smart ways of easily switching between the two control modes, similar to a picture in picture view. One of our backers suggested allowing for the possibility of using multiple screens, which is also a very interesting idea, and perhaps a worthy stretch goal?
Do you plan on getting The Mandate on Steam Greenlight? Can fans help?
We are already on Steam Greenlight! Actually we got approved in the last batch, and we were #3 on the list when we got approved (and still climbing!). This shows there is a clear and strong interest for The Mandate. Fans can help by getting the word out, we need more press coverage, more activity on forums etc to help ensure we reach out to potential backers. Since we do not have our own marketing department and we are all developers, this is an area that is a bit new to us.