Only a cat of a different coat
In this update we are going to cover several topics. First we are going to touch a bit on player customization options, specifically Coat of Arms. Next we will discuss the backer design pledges and what each backer who pledged to a specific tier is expected to design for inclusion in the game. Finally, we will also give you a short production update.
Ok, so what exactly is a coat of arms? It was a design worn by medieval knights on their shield or coat. The purpose was both to protect and identify the wearer in battle. Historically the coat of arms included many different elements to uniquely describe and identify them as you can see in the picture above.
Both Garret (Art Director) and Vegard (Technical Art Director) have been exploring heraldry and armoury books recently and now we want to share with you the first fruits of this labour: In The Mandate you will get to create the personal coat of arms for your captain character! Your coat of arms will be displayed both outside and inside your capital ships; on your light craft and on your marines.
Initially your ability to customize the coat of arms will be limited to the shield itself. However, based on your actions during the game (which factions you join, which knighthoods you unlock, your noble rank etc) you may unlock upgrades for your personal coat of arms (like the ability to select a mantle or wreath) as well as additional options (new faction specific motifs). In this way the coat of arms is both a visual chronicle of your journey and a unique identifier when joining a cooperative game. As a side-note whenever your christen a new capital ship you will also have the option to assign it a custom ship’s crest to uniquely identify it. Marines and light craft assigned to that ship will display the ship’s crest in additional to your personal coat of arms.
Above you can see a video that shows an early version of the coat of arms designer. It uses procedural textures and gives quite a bit of control over how the shield will look. The selection of motifs are quite limited for now but the final version will include both more motifs and allow you to pick signifiers, wreath, motto etc. The “random” button already produces some very interesting shield designs.
To test the coat of arms designer yourself CLICK HERE!
We decided to make this early version available for testing and feedback similar to the interactive demos we had online for our Kickstarter campaign. Keep in mind that this version runs via the Unity Web Player as it allows us to upgrade to latest version if we do fixes or improvements. If you have problems running it in a particular browser then we recommend you test with another browser instead. We have tested with the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome.
The coat of arms designer is actually relevant for our next topic which is backer design pledges. As you know from our previous update we aim to finalize these during February but we may slide a bit into March. In the mean time we wanted to give you an overview of what exactly you get to design for each pledge tier.
In the table above you can see what each pledge tier includes. You can also see the approximate number of pledges for each tier. For example the “Design an Officer” allows you to write the backstory, allocate skill points and pick personal traits. The Officer will be a mid-level subaltern character and the backstory will be accessible from inside the game. This character may be recruited later by the player if the faction allegiance of both player and character are compatible.
The “Design a Captain” has many of the same design elements as the previous pledge but adds a few new ones: “Character visualization” and “Personal Coat of Arms”. The former will allow you to specify the visual look of the captain using a standalone version of our character creation editor whereas the latter enables you to use a feature-complete version of the coat of arms designer. Also the backstory for the captain will be included in the Great Captain Doc (which will include up to 400 captains and be around 700-800 pages long!).
For most of the tier designs we are implementing a point-buy system where you get a pool of points which can be allocated to different areas. An example of this is the $500 pledge tier “design a ship encounter”. This pledge tier actually includes several designs and you can see advanced (but not final) versions of these templates below. Keep in mind that it is not completely final yet but probably 80% complete.
Our writers are busy working on the back-story for factions, sub-factions and major characters (faction leaders etc). Who exactly are the Explorer’s Society and the Unknown Legion? How are they related to the Duchy of Penrose? We expect to release more background info and lore starting in early April. This should be both an entertaining read to help immerse yourself in the universe or if you pledged for a design tier it can give you a starting point for your custom design.
Hopefully this has given you a good overview of what to expect from the design tier that you have pledged to. We will continue to work on and flesh out the templates so they are easy to understand and gives you a lot of flexibility when designing your character, weapon, starbase or cyber-parrot!
Finally, we wanted to give you a production update. Right after Christmas vacations we began the search for additional talent. We also had a few developers on stand-by who were ready to jump onboard as soon as our contract with Eurovideo was signed. The development team is growing rapidly from 12 before Christmas and we expect to be at full strength (around 30) by the end of March. The team is quite diverse and includes members from ten different nationalities and our combined development experience now includes over 100 years of AAA development experience. This helps reduce risk and allows us to iterate and polish on both visuals, story and gameplay.
Due to the team growing we are also spending time to reorganize our internal documentation and bringing it up to date. We have a lot of knowledge in our head that needs to either be put in writing or the previously written version was out of date. For example both art direction (style guide, signature colours, designs), technical art guidelines (how do we actually build a ship from A to Z, what restrictions apply to the bipedal animation rig) as well as story and game design documents are being reviewed and fixed.
The impact of new team members should be quite obvious by the time the next Kickstarter update is ready to roll out. We expect to have a healthy mix of environment art, character art and animations to share with you. Next update we also want to talk about battle drills and adaptive formations. However, we are currently waiting on a third party to deliver crucial code to get everything working together (we want to avoid hacking something together just for demo purposes as that is wasted effort). If we have something good then we will show it. Alternatively we may split the next update in two. Time will tell.
We will round off this update with a concept of an Osmani space station. The scale object (ship) on the left is a Black Eagle heavy cruiser (the same model we showed in drydock a few updates back).
Your friends at Perihelion Interactive