The Mandate Producer's Letter #2
two weeks ago was Gamescom and it was super nice meeting some of you. Unfortunately, I was still busy during the afternoon but I really want to thank Mr. Seeker for his commitment and his engagement in the community – he took the time to meet Josef and Iain at Gamescom. In the evening we had a nice dinner with some more members, which we really enjoyed (despite some hard questions). Thank you for coming and thank you for the good conversations :)
I am using Netflix. I mostly watch TV series but sometimes I get interested in a movie and start watching it. My usual behaviour is that after a while I stop the movie, go to Wikipedia and just read the synopsis. I know that this is a stupid behaviour but I seem unable to stop doing that. That’s part of my/our problem right now when it comes to features or even more intricate story and lore for the mandate.
I know that you want the information and to be honest we also want to tell you much, much more about our game and why we are excited to do it and what cool feature we are working on right now.
Unfortunately, this is somewhat counterproductive since after all we want to surprise you and give you the experience we think you will enjoy when playing the game. Also of course, in the past this behaviour led us to talk about things that we really loved but later figured out wouldn’t fit the vision or that it wouldn’t be possible to include for technical reasons.
That’s why we decided to do the following:
When it comes to features, we will talk about it in more detail only if we are sure that’s where we want to go and that we can deliver.
When it comes to story and lore, we are now incorporating the updates as part of the game’s narrative, as you will see when the first instalment of our web comic is uploaded next week. It will not be directly related to the player’s story but it will give you a feeling about the universe; and as it progresses will reveal some of the key players and cabals in the Mandate universe.
During our meetup and also when reading the forums however, I see a lot of questions which are more high-level and asking about the general direction of the game.
Before I talk about what’s coming next I want to answer a few of them.
We have had some questions concerning story driven vs. sandbox RPG. We are building a single player, story driven roleplaying game with a fair amount of sandbox elements. If anything the roleplay elements in the game have increased, as well as the meaning and importance of the story. When we reviewed what we had back in April, we saw a huge lack of player motivation and we decided that it is absolutely necessary to give you guys a personal reason to be out there.
Also we wanted to give the crew/officers a big boost. They won’t just be cannon fodder that you assign a name to and give you a tactical advantage in combat (basically a bunch of Redshirts if you think in Star Trek terms). We want you to be able to interact with the crew, to learn about their motivations, fears and points of view and if they trust you enough they might ask you for help, this means crew related missions. It is about forming a team out of a bunch of cutthroats :)
What can you expect in terms of “Sandbox”? Now, this is a huge word to begin with and everyone has a different definition in their head. In our game, what we describe as sandbox elements is, in my opinion, best described as player freedom. The changes concerning the universe are also tied to the player interaction, which means for example if you attack Romanov ships (which you can do) – they won’t like you and at some point hunt you. We want you to be able to be a trader or a pirate or just roam the galaxy killing pirates – if you like you could do just that in the game – for hours. When it comes to exploring you can find loot of course – but there will also be lore, trigger events and encounters to discover on the way.
There also will be resource extraction and some crafting elements. You are going to need resources to buy upgrades for your ship.
Later during EA we want to have ground combat/boarding combat. As explained above, right now, I don’t want to talk about it in any detail, but it will work similar to space combat.
From a technical point of view, we have the option to do coop but since that is not the focus of the game we aren’t planning to do it unless there is a huge demand for it and we don’t have any other priorities.
During our GamesCom meetup there have been some questions regarding the fringe clusters and how they are different from the “storyclusters”. I think here is some confusion – probably caused by me. The correct answer would be – there is no difference. From a world building point of view we have the core worlds, where the political force is relatively strong – based on the faction who owns these clusters and we have the outer edge of the Mandate universe. That’s what we call Fringe Clusters; everything can happen here. It is a defacto lawless space. Houses might fight a secret (or not so secret) war with each other over these clusters. There will be a fair amount of cutthroats and pirates in these clusters as well. But of course they are officially claimed by someone. This is the edge of the Mandate space and a part of the main story will also happen in the fringe clusters. From a game design perspective, the fringe clusters will have a larger amount of sandbox elements.
Below you’ll find the roadmap, which describes how we want to move along until January. We are also planning some internal test and feedback rounds around November with some of you. This feedback will help us to fine-tune our systems and of course also somewhat depending on this feedback we will decide how to prioritize future elements of the game and when exactly we will start with Early Access.
Finally, I should also let you know that our Community Manager, Donna has left us for personal reasons. These aren’t related to the project and we are very sad to see her go. We wish her all the best in her future, and we hope that she’ll be able to return at some point. In the meantime, community updates will be the responsibility of Josef (Burian on the forums) until we find a replacement for Donna.