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As the captain of a Mandate starship, you lead a crew through the galaxy where they will adapt and grow as they fight alongside you.
As the captain of a Mandate starship, you lead a crew through the galaxy where they will adapt and grow as they fight alongside you.
As the captain of a Mandate starship, you lead a crew through the galaxy where they will adapt and grow as they fight alongside you.
16,408 backers pledged $701,010 to help bring this project to life.

Set Controls for the Heart of the Sun

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Hey backers,

Today we will first focus on a part of the game which we have not discussed in detail before, namely the Adventure Mode. Secondly we have had several requests to do a “meet the team” feature and we are kicking this off today. Actually, we decided to split it in two and the first part will focus on the art service branch while the second part will introduce the other service branches.

Before we begin, a quick word about our backer design pledge tiers and sign-off dates to purchase these. We originally set 31st of March as the deadline but we have received several requests from existing backers to postpone this deadline. So we will push the deadline to correspond with the next Kickstarter update which should be out on 16th of April. This is the final deadline so if you have been on the fence about upgrading then you should make a decision soon.

Instructions for how to upgrade via PayPal are provided at the end of KS Update #47. Pledge tier templates are available HERE. When your pledge upgrade has been confirmed you can post and receive feedback from other backers on the pledge sub-forum (which is invisible unless you login on the community site). Only backers at the same pledge tier as yourself are allowed to post feedback directly (everybody can send a private message with feedback, however). If you forgot your community site password then click HERE to reset your password. All backers now have an account in BackerKit and this is where we will later distribute your game keys. If you need to check BackerKit then click HERE to request an invitation.

Anyway - back on topic: Adventure Mode. As you may recall, the Adventure Mode is featured quite prominently in the game flow sketches in update #47. So what exactly is the Adventure Mode? Well, its the main gameplay screen in the game where players will spend the most of their time.

The Adventure Mode allows you to view and interact with your sandbox, move your fleet, interact with other factions, as well as build and upgrade your logistics, production and training capabilities. Whenever you are not doing space combat and/or boarding combat you will be in Adventure Mode.

From a design perspective the major goals with the Adventure Mode are as follows:

  • Background story - a rich history that helps make the sandbox an interesting place to explore. Player choices during character creation will affect starting conditions and generate certain future events. The player will evolve the story through his or her actions such that it is unique for each player.
  • Sandbox gameplay - a living world where events take place and factions work towards their agendas even if the player does not participate.
  • Longevity & replayability - the Adventure Mode itself must have sufficient depth to support hours and hours of gameplay. Scripted chains of events should be avoided. Player choices made during space battle and boarding operations must be echoed in the Adventure Mode.
  • Tactile - All objects in space (planets, stars, asteroids etc) should serve a purpose and interacting with them will yield a corresponding and logical gameplay effect that is internally consistent in the game world. As the player gains more knowledge about the underlying game mechanics, more optimal usage of these objects should be possible.

On the design side what we are doing right now is prototyping our sandbox generator. The player sandbox will contain stellar objects like planets, stars, asteroids, gas giants, moons etc that you can interact with (ref “Tactile” above). We are planning how this interaction will happen and what the impact will be in early, mid and late game stages.

These stellar objects are logically grouped into star systems and of course each star system will have one (possibly two) stars at its center with the other stellar objects in orbit around. Zooming out, adjacent star systems are grouped into what we call clusters. Together the clusters form the player sandbox / game world. Each cluster, star system and stellar object will have a naming convention according to which faction is in control at the start of the game.

As part of the process we have used official data from NASA as well as other sources as a starting point to see the type of star systems we can generate as well as what type of diversity is possible. One key finding is that a “full real life simulation” would be boring as star systems would either be empty or have a lot of similar stellar objects. So we have already made several changes to the weighting and probability of generating certain types of star systems as well as the chance to generate specific types of stellar objects.

On the programming side we are working on having the Adventure Mode, Space Combat and Boarding Combat all running in parallel with the ability for the player to seamlessly switch between each of these three modes. If you remember update #45 from before Christmas we gave a brief description of the custom object entity model. Well, here it comes into play and is starting to pay off.

In terms of design and programming it is not that easy to visualize our progress right now. On the art side this is naturally a lot easier. One of our new artists, Chris, has been working in Substance Designer to create procedural textures for habitable planets, rocky planets, gas giants and stars.

Just for fun we tried to see how flexible the procedural textures are and whether we can recreate some of the more well-known gas giants and planets inside our own solar system. Original images above and our procedural versions below.

We also built a test star system to check how these objects look when placed together. Keep in mind that planet orbit and rotation speed is not finalized and for testing purposes only. This test star system spurred the discussion about how to handle asteroid belts as well as whether we want to visualize the solar wind. Chris, Garret and Vegard put together the video below to give you a glimpse of how a star system can look inside Adventure Mode.

As you can see the procedural textures are very powerful and allow us to create a wide variety of interesting looking stellar objects to populate the sandbox with. Of course we will continue to tweak and refine these further in the coming months but already we have a lot of parameters that we can randomize like cloud layers for planets or storms for gas giants. 

That’s it for the Adventure Mode for now and we look forward to reading your comments and suggestions both here on Kickstarter and over on the backer community site.

Now it’s time for the “meet the team” feature. During the last few months we have been staffing up quite aggressively and the art team has grown from 4 to 13. The breakdown is as follows:

  • 1x art director and 1x technical art director
  • 6x environment artists (including 1x lead artist)
  • 1x animator
  • 1x character artist
  • 2x concept artists
  • 1x VFX/particles artist

Most of February and the first half of March was spent getting everybody up to speed on the project. There is a lot of documentation to read and the procedural texture pipeline was quite new for most of our artists. The influx of new blood and the quality of the artwork that is being produced is already very inspiring. We thought it would be a good idea to let each of the artists introduce themselves and after that we will show some of the recent work that has been completed.

Art Team Presentation (PDF)

The art team is organized into two teams; one interior team and one exterior team. The interior team focuses on the rooms, consoles, corridors, characters and animations needed for boarding combat and planetary missions.

For the crew we plan to have four uniforms per faction: a duty suit (vac suit or jump suit if you will), a light armour, medium armour and finally heavy armour. Each uniform is split into four parts: lower body, upper body, arms and head. Below you can see some of the Grand Fleet faction uniforms. The heavy armour is still a work in progress. Note that the duty suit is currently equipped with the light armour helmet since the side cap is not completed. Since the textures are fully procedural we can change the material type as well as the armour into whatever we want.

The exterior team focuses on starships and starbases for space combat. We already revealed the concept for the Arkwright heavy cruiser earlier. Below we have a “family photo” without textures that shows off all the 9 ship sections (3 front, 3 middle and 3 back). This allows us to create 27 types of Arkwright heavy cruisers before doing texture modifications.

Below you can also see the Osmani heavy cruiser with some of its upgrade sections. The first image is the initial concept art that sets the art direction while the second image is an actual 3D model with textures.

That concludes the first segment of “meet the team”. The focus of the next couple of updates will be lore and backstory. This should prove helpful when designing backer content for inclusion with the game. If our lead writer’s task list is any indication, we suspect you will all be doing quite a bit of reading in the next couple of months:

Cheers,
Your friends at Perihelion Interactive

Don P, Vojta Růžek, and 84 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Perihelion Interactive LLC Creator on April 20, 2015

      @Alexander Brown: Q1 2016 is our release target. You should have ample time to upgrade your laptop before that time. That being said The Mandate will be a game that can scale with your computer specs
      @cybertom: Please jump on the forums and create a list of the specific stellar objects you would like to see (as well as suggested gameplay impact)

    2. Missing avatar

      Alexander Brown on April 20, 2015

      Looking forward to this. Glad you guys keep everything updated. Just eagerly awaiting getting this on my greedy little lap-top! Of course, the estimated fulfillment date was March, and I generally expect any kickstarter project to have delays and be late. I am curious if there is an estimate as of right now when we will be seeing this? 6 months or a year late? (So I have an idea how long I have to save up and get a new computer! As I think my current one would be stressed to try and run this!)

    3. Missing avatar

      Brett Schwartz
      Superbacker
      on April 9, 2015

      Looks fantastic! Great update :)

      Good question Cybertom, since I'm also looking forward to gawking at the ships and settings in space, and stuff like that would make it even more beautiful, and perhaps have some effects as well, when we're exploring.

    4. Missing avatar

      Matt on April 9, 2015

      If you've been looking at data like Kepler's and have been taking that as representative of how star systems are, don't forget that the planet hunting programs are extremely skewed. I've seen a lot of people look at the number of large planets, particularly ones close to their star and compare it to the lack of smaller earth sized planets and declare that our system is unusual. That's not something that can be inferred, because large close planets are simply the easiest to detect. It's like looking at an aerial photograph of a region in Africa and declaring there are only elephants, and the numerous ants we find where we live is an oddity.

      Besides, gameplay is more important than reality. I'm not going to Alt-F4 and uninstall because I see a system that I feel couldn't possibly exist in reality.

    5. Daniel Berke on April 6, 2015

      As an astronomer, those preview pictures of the gas giants brought a tear to my eye. I can't wait to find such planets in the game. The fact that you looked at actual astrophysical data from NASA is also quite impressive. Deviating from a realistic distribution of stellar systems for the sake of gameplay is perfectly acceptable – just knowing that you looked at it in the first place is enough for me. Every update you guys put out is impressive, fun to read, and makes me want to play the finished game ever more. Kudos.

    6. Missing avatar

      Michael Nagy on April 4, 2015

      Best looking Kickstarter game ever. Keep up the amazing work, guys! Can't wait to play your finished creation. :)

    7. Anaxphone
      Superbacker
      on April 4, 2015

      Another enticing update. Are we there yet? ;)

    8. Austin48 on April 3, 2015

      I swear every update you guys release gets me so hyped for this game. The Osmani ships look freaken epic. :D

      We will be able to create and fly a Osmani fleet if we want right?

    9. Missing avatar

      Alan Heck on April 3, 2015

      I'm very excited to play this. This is literally my dream game coming to life!

    10. Rand Chua TL on April 3, 2015

      The numbers of sub-factions had expanded a lot.

    11. Claus Bornich on April 3, 2015

      Excellent stuff, very excited! If full astro dynamics like Ben suggests is overkill perhaps just some sort of slingshot option? Also, don't dismiss "habitable" moons with water and atmosphere (just see our own solar system) where augmented humans can live or at least suitable for military outposts. Of course the greatest potential for space is the fact that you can put space habitats, stations and other structures everywhere in almost any conceivable shape and configuration. Hollowed out beehive asteroids, enormous cylinder habitats, rotating wheel stations, conglomeration of basic "container" habitats linked together in great communities or trade outposts and so on. PS! The Osmani is a beauty!

    12. Rand Chua TL on April 2, 2015

      Loving this update! Keep up the good work peril!
      The Osmani ship is looking great!
      Too bad during Kickstarter there wasn't a name a planet or moon pledge, there would be people who want to name it and would help with the funding process.

    13. Missing avatar

      Paul on April 2, 2015

      I´ve backed quite a few game kickstarters, most of them from "big" developers. You´re putting them to shame with your updates, they are always rich in content and show a roadmap. Good job @peri!

    14. Missing avatar

      cybertom on April 2, 2015

      Very nice update as always. Being a little hobby astronomer I gotta ask if you will include any other stellar objects beyond the obvious stars and planets, i.e. black holes, neutron stars, magnetars, pulsars and the like. You mentioned exploration, things like these would make beautiful settings for deeps space discoveries in my opinion.

      On another note I'd like to know if time dilation, either caused by relativistic speed or gravity plays a role in The Mandate. The movie Interstellar gives interesting clues on this phenomenon.

    15. Kjell E on April 2, 2015

      Looking good Peri. Good looking planets, and nice to see that they're not just pretty, but have impact on actual gameplay :-)

      Also, nice teaser on upcoming updates. Can't wait.!

    16. VastGameMaster on April 2, 2015

      Vast is very pleased

    17. Perihelion Interactive LLC Creator on April 2, 2015

      @Ben: Yes, goldilocks habitable zone is part of the design. We have a prototype that generates systems and takes this into account but it was a bit outside the scope of this update (alternative explanation: we forgot to mention it ;) Regarding astro dynamics this is TBD and will come down to play testing and whether we think it adds sufficient value.

    18. Missing avatar

      Ben Solish on April 2, 2015

      Looks very cool, what do you think about making the systems follow a goldilocks zone mentality, ie, too close to the star has no life because its too hot, too far from the star its too cold, but the habitable zone is where it is just right for liquid water? Also any thoughts of using astro dynamics to dictate how the spacecraft moves in the Adventure mode viewer, eg. gravitational effects from the planets that increase as you get closer and decrease as you get farther away?

    19. J.L. on April 2, 2015

      Positively lovely, magnificently done -- keep it up, Peri! (c:

    20. Missing avatar

      Jacob on April 2, 2015

      Awesome! I can honestly say of all the projects I have backed, this is the one I'm anticipating the most.