In Her Majesty's Service
Spurred on by the positive reaction to our “soft” update on “Dressing an Empress” yesterday and at the request of community member Kelly Costanza [Kelly means “warrior” and is a male name in Irish we have been told!], we will endeavour to do another “behind the scenes” developer update and trace the origins of the Mandate officer uniforms. This update was not really planned for so consider it an extra bonus. It does require taking a bit of a detour first and we start with reiterating a few key points:
- The Grand Fleet and House of Romanov are two distinct factions
- The Grand Fleet is a sub faction in The Mandate and permanently allied to it
- The Grand Fleet does not traditionally take sides between squabbling Houses
- The Grand Fleet owes its allegiance to the holder of The Mandate (Anastasia)
- The player can stay loyal to Anastasia (as one of her Corsairs) while at the same time ignoring the Grand Fleet. You are free to throw its sacred Articles of War out the nearest airlock! How you related to the Grand Fleet will, however, impact your game in several ways...
- The Rebels in The Mandate are not space communists (just to avoid confusion relating to some references further down)
So with that out of the way, all ships shown so far in our campaign are based on standard designs for the Grand Fleet. They are produced at various shipyards spread across Mandate space. Like with Anastasia’s dress, priority is given to function & robustness. The angular hull shapes are designed to allow for mass production, flexibility and extended deployment. The ships of the Grand Fleet may not be as sleek, comfortable or visually impressive as some faction specific ships. However, few ships can match the combination of speed, firepower & armour/shielding and go to to toe with the largest warships of the Grand Fleet -unless trickery or superior numbers are stacked in their favour [and no, we have not revealed the largest ships yet...].
Now, how does this relate to the officer uniforms for The Mandate? Well, remember the guiding principles for Anastasia’s dress and visual appearance? We had similar guiding principles for The Mandate officer uniforms as well, partially inspired by the art direction for The Grand Fleet:
- Efficient and functional but also dashing
- Trace the lineage of The Mandate to Imperial Russia / Napoleonic era uniforms
- Provide protection to the wearer in case of a hull breach or boarding
- Modular and upgradeable
- Should not restrict movement and be comfortable for wearer
- Must include some sci-fi elements to go with our setting for the game
- Clear distinction of rank, unit badge and service branch [not covered in this update]
With these principles in mind we started to look into historical references. Here are a few of them (but we have many more!)
- Tsar Nicholas II
- Russian Life Guard officers
- Russian Imperial Air Force uniforms -designed before World War 1 after Royal Air Force (UK) patterns but never fully adapted due to outbreak of the Russian Revolution
So with these in mind we set out to concept the first batches of officer uniforms. Keep in mind that the following are designed for use by officers -not enlisted. Your marines may be equipped with a wide variety of armour types and the officers leading them may wear heavier but less flexible armour too. Also, these are NOT galla/court dresses but standard issue for use aboard space ships in and out of combat.
We had four different uniforms to choose and pick from. Each had some individual elements that we found especially interesting. #1 and #2 did not satisfy our requirement for basic protection and looked more like regular cloth than a space suit. We especially liked the torso/chest on #3 and the boots for #4. The torso/chest in #3 gave a bit of samurai armour feel mixed with 17/18th century uniforms which we found especially interesting. We also liked the gloves from #4. In addition we did a bunch of hat tests which you can see at the top and also some coat tests which are show on the right side. This was more of a test as the final armour suit would contain the necessary equipment to regulate body temperature.
The next batch of concepts focused mostly on the lower half of the uniform, the legs and boots in particular. In addition to this we also played around a bit with more hats. We tested a Russian general hat which has a distinct silhouette. However, after some digging this design is too modern. Likewise we tested a US N.Y. police officer hat with angled shapes but that did not work out so well either. In the end we settled for a “sci-fi” hat that could transform itself and provide an emergency mask in case of hull breach. We went with the middle uniform but extended the lower part of the chest piece downwards to protect the crotch area.
Next we switched our focus to colour tests. Garret did a whole bunch of them, including a special Christmas edition! Some of these suggestions were more serious than others. Initially we thought about using different colour schemes for different ranks, e.g. admirals would have a different colour schemes from captains and regular officers.
Ultimately, after revisiting the original source references, we settled on the black/gold/silver/red theme. This ensures that our basic colour scheme looks good and if you meet representatives from the Grand Fleet during your travels, you will be able to easily recognize them. The standard Mandate colours also means that while sneaking around in low light corridors during boarding operations, you will not stand out like a sore thumb. Notice one small detail added to this version: There are screws/attachment points added near the shoulders. These would allow you to add on extra armour or other equipment and fasten these securely to the uniform.
Here is a version with a helmet as well. Keep in mind that for the full game, you as captain will be able to modify the colour pattern of the uniform for your captain, commissioned officers, NCOs and enlisted, similar to in our interactive ship designer. One area you will not be allowed to customize is the service branch colour scheme. This will indicate on the uniform whether a particular crewman belongs to naval infantry (marine), communications, engineering etc. As this ties directly into gameplay during boarding, we want to retain control here. We are not ready to talk about exactly how service branches will be visualized but we are going to look more to historical sources than to modern day adaptations. For now, for the sake of clarity, take a look at this reference.
Hope you found this article interesting. Next week we return to more “hard” design updates. However, feel free to write comments on our Kickstarter page about other areas of The Mandate where you think a “behind the scenes” look could be interesting. Who knows, we might have some text and concepts hidden away somewhere!
Your friends at Perihelion Interactive