Roll Call on the Observation Deck
In this update we are going to cover the game flow, show how we are building star bases, discuss ship deck plans (both frigate and destroyer) and last but not least talk about the backer pledge templates.
IMPORTANT: On the 31st of March 2015 we will lock down the ability to pledge for or upgrade to backer design tiers. This will be your final chance to upgrade existing pledges or purchase new ones. See the end of this update for further details.
As you know we are in the process of growing the development team. To introduce our new developers to the world of The Mandate we created a “game flow” overview to give a visual concept of what the game is about and how the different game modes are interconnected.
We think this diagram does a good job of explaining the different game modes and how they come together. Of course this diagram is a bit abstract so it can help to have a more graphical version which shows a thumbnail picture of what each game mode will look like.
As you can see - the battle orchestrator is the glue that holds the entire game together. As an example: When you are looking at the miniature galaxy map from afar, this is the battle orchestrator in action; you can see the edges of the table in the background. When you are in this mode, you are really looking at a representation of the galaxy projected onto the battle orchestrator table as opposed to the galaxy itself (which would require something like a "God view" and we didn't feel it would be appropriate). The battle orchestrator representation displays everything slightly out of scale to more easily be interpreted.
When you zoom in on specific objects such as planets or space stations, the battle orchestrator is working at a closer zoom level and will display more information and a more accurate rendition of the object. You may remember our video from last year which showed exactly this kind of seamless transition between the battle orchestrator and space combat.
Last update we gave you a sneak peak at the Osmani star base. In The Mandate, each major faction will have a unique star base design and ship designs that mirror the traits of that faction. This will make it easy to recognize exactly who controls a star base. We are going with a modular approach for the star bases which is similar to how we tackle space ships; Star bases will have one major module and several minor modules that connect to the major module. This allows us to create a lot of visual variety from relatively few pieces. In terms of scale, the star bases will be anywhere from 2 km to 8 km long. Some factions will have symmetrical designs whereas other factions will have asymmetrical designs. The shape of the star base also varies, from cylindrical to toroidal.
The production of star bases is still very much work in progress but we thought we would show you a bit more; this time, the Arkwright star base. Let’s first start with some notes from our Art Bible about the Arkwright star base:
“The Arkwright SS should look hardy and metallic. Imagine this station floating in the rings of a gas giant with the constant potential for collision with asteroids. This station and it's parts should look tough enough to withstand such collisions.
Key aesthetic features for the Arkwright star base:
- There should copious dust or fog around the station. Drones should be collecting and ferrying rocks back to the station
- This station should always have one module devoted to melting and crushing rocks. Like the jaws of a hungry molten rock monster
- Each station should have at least one port area for ship repair and trade
- Each module will need to look like it does something
- When submitting a design, each one should be labeled with its function and how it connects to the rest of the station parts
This station should not look pretty and is not designed for looks. It should be boxy with cross-beams and struts because an engineer at one point did the math and said “We need something here for stability”.
So what does it look like?
This is a concept piece to set the art direction for the station. Next up we have a blockout which shows the modular pieces arranged next to each other.
By combining the modular pieces we can create different star base configurations. Below is a configuration that closely follows the initial concept above but we could also have a smaller or bigger base as well.
Next up we want to talk about deck plans. Last year we shared some preliminary deck plans for a basic frigate. We have since iterated on these deck plans to find the right balance in terms of which rooms will be represented inside the ship, what function they will have and how they are linked to crew skills and consoles.
After calculating the deck plans all the way from frigate up to battleship it soon became apparent that scaling the ships proportionally would result in a boarding operation on a frigate being fairly straightforward while boarding a battleship could take a very long time. Two solutions we came up with to tackle this was a) to reduce the overall space available as the ship gets bigger and b) to make the rooms for bigger ships bigger in size.
In terms of available space a frigate uses approximately 90% of the available interior space. For a battleship we are around 60%; this can be explained via bulkheads and additional armour that takes up additional space. Keep in mind that the frigate is 200 m long and the battleship is 800 m long. The frigate has one full deck and the battleship has three full decks (in addition to cargo hold, bridge deck and observation deck). So there is still a lot more real estate available on the battleship.
For room sizes we had originally planned each room to be 10x10 meters. However, after doing pathfinding and boarding tests we saw that we had to change this to 15x15 meters. This is what we call a “small” room, and it is used for frigates and destroyers. For cruisers we switch to 25x25 meters, or “medium” rooms. Finally, for battlecruisers and battleships we switch to 35x35, or “large” rooms. Each of these room types also has a “double” version, e.g. 15x15 has 15x30 etc for specific room types (hangar, mess hall, gym etc).
The deck plans you will see below are one way of configuring them. We are building content design tools inside Unity which allows us (and later modders) to create new deck plans. The deck plans are created on a per-ship-section-basis. For example a frigate with a midship hangar section can have a different interior layout than a frigate with a standard midship section. Furthermore, we can easily extend this approach to also differentiate between factions i.e. an Osmani frigate could have a different layout than an Arkwright frigate. The tools are powerful so for us it is more a question of time and game balance constraints.
One more thing before we show the actual deck plans: The basic grid/cell size is 5 m which is the area that would be occupied by a 4-man fire team or single-wide door. This is our basic scale of measurement if you will. So here is the updated frigate deck plan:
We also wanted to share a preliminary deck plan for the destroyer. With twice the length of the frigate there is more space to work with. The destroyer comes equipped with heavy batteries and mounts an extra offensive battery. The destroyer also has more redundancy so in case one room is knocked out during combat, this can be less critical than on a frigate.
There are a lot of details we could go into for the deck plans, room types, crew positions, ranks etc. For example how we have rearranged and classified the “weapons” service branch rooms into “offensive batteries”, “defensive batteries” and “heavy batteries”. We could also talk about what upgrades would be required on a frigate to allow it to match or exceed the firepower of a standard destroyer (hint: ship section upgrades + tier quality). But we will save this for another update. In the mean time - feel free to study the deck plans and post your comments either on Kickstarter or over on the backer forums on the community site.
Moving on, as a follow-up to last update, we have now posted the pledge tier design templates for the various tiers. CLICK HERE to read the templates and to understand exactly what you are expected to deliver.
After you have checked your pledge tier then the next logical step is to login to the forums on the community site and visit the pledge forum called Pledge Tiers Design Discussion. This forum is only visible to registered backers and contains one sub-forum per backer design tier. In each sub-forum you will find sticky posts that outline the process, rules and guidelines that you should follow when doing your designs. All registered backers can read everything in this forum but only backers who pledged for a specific tier can post in that respective sub-forum.
Our train of thought is that you should be able to give and receive peer review feedback from other backers who are working on the same designs as yourself (If you wish to provide feedback in a pledge tier outside your own then feel free to send a private message to a backer. However, remember to be civil, respectful and constructive).
If you have lore questions then the volunteer scribes will help you out and if you run into any other problems then our volunteer moderators will also be there to help you.
IMPORTANT: On the 31st of March 2015 we will lock down the ability to pledge for design tiers. This will be your final chance to purchase or upgrade existing pledges. During April we will contact everybody who pledged to a specific tier and provide a link to which sub-forum on the community site they should use for posting their designs for peer feedback. During April and early May we will launch lore updates for the major factions as well as important NPC characters. This means that you will soon have a lot more lore and backstory which you can use as hooks for your own backer designs.
If you have an existing pledge and wish to upgrade it before the 31st of March, then the easiest way is to:
- goto store.mandategame.com (our old store)
- click on the top-most “donate” button on the page
- this takes you to a custom paypal store
- you can pick the desired amount to donate and then send us a message via Kickstarter with your transaction ID and also tell us which pledge you wish to upgrade to
- we will handle the rest
For the next update we plan to do a “meet the team” segment. And as a brief intro to this we wanted to share a video from Francisco “Kiko” Buyo who is our senior animator. Here is a video that outlines his work process as well as a few example animations that he did recently. We are working hard on gameplay examples and Kiko's animations tie-in with these... More to come soon!
Your friends at Perihelion Interactive