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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.

Q&A, development schedule and... Battle Orchestrator?!?


Hi Backers and Happy New Year!

PS! If you read this update from your email, please remember to enable images. There are several interesting images at the bottom of this update.

Welcome to the first Kickstarter update for 2014. As mentioned in an earlier update we plan to do at least one update per month, perhaps more. Keep in mind that we prefer quality over quantity and do not want to spam you unnecessarily.

Today we are going to talk about what we have been up to and our focus going forward. But before we do that, let us do a Q&A to answer a few questions which have popped up from you, our backers:

What is the status on funding? Back in early December we received $677,000 out of $701,000 from Kickstarter but in addition we got around $24,000 from PayPal backers. With new donations from PayPal as well as BackerKit pledges we are currently at around $725,000. Given the fact that we have done NO MARKETING and people have been on holidays, this is actually a very good result. We are closing in on the $750,000 stretch goal which will unlock free digital add-ons for everybody who donated $25 to $49 (those who donated $50 or higher in total already get these digital add-ons at no cost). The digital add-ons in question are the character pack #3, the strategy guide and the art bible. We are assuming we will eventually hit $800,000 (extended mod support) and are planning accordingly... Kickstarter backers can upgrade their pledges inside BackerKit while PayPal pledgers can do a second donation via our PayPal store and contact BackerKit to have their pledges merged.

Who and where are those mystery developers? We are both recruiting old colleagues and new ones but there are still some legal obstacles we need to sort out before we can provide an updated team overview. That being said our programming team in particular has received reinforcements! This is essential for pre-production to allow us to estimate the cost of game features and plan out a smart architecture which will be easy to maintain, as well as data structures that make it easy to release expansions and community mods...

I pledged for design tier X. Where do I submit my designs? We are really happy with how enthusiastic many of you are to contribute lore and designs but please be patient. Our writers are working on both more examples, as well as typing up writing instructions to help you create better designs that work effortlessly with our existing lore. Also keep in mind that we are not locking down the design tiers until 31st of March. Due to the way our game is being developed, there is no rush to finalize the player designed captains, officers, starbases, weapons etc. In the mean time go read up on fan-made lore and stories. There is some good stuff to be discovered there!

Next we want to give a broad outline of what will happen in 2014:

  • We are currently in pre-production, and we are investigating optimal pipelines and workflows. Also, we are still evaluating various middleware solutions that will free up coder time to focus on the features that make The Mandate unique and providing good tools. This will allow designers and artists to produce content for The Mandate more efficiently once we enter production. The difference between good and bad tools is really night and day!
  • Since both our space combat and boarding combat need to play well, our initial focus will be on getting these game modes feature complete so we can evaluate the fun factor
  • In parallel we will do design work on RPG mechanics, the adventure mode where you explore your sandbox and also the starbase mode where you research new tech, upgrade your ships, recruit & train crew. That being said these are lower risk as we have both design notes and game references to fall back on
  • We are not going to waste our time chasing external milestones or events like E3. If we have a version of The Mandate we feel we should present, we will, but we won’t actively work on making temporary “hacked” versions of the game as this would take away time from developing the actual game
  • You can see an outline of how we will approach the development of features for The Mandate in the illustration below. Check the arrows and you will see that we start with the high value - high risk [top right quadrant] features and then proceed to the high value - low risk [top left quadrant] as depicted with the grey arrows. We will then focus on the low value - low risk [bottom left quadrant] features and either avoid or save for last the low value - low risk [bottom right quadrant] features
  • How did we calculate the value of each feature? Our first source is our game vision document. Secondly we had internal discussion on the developer team and we also looked at feedback from backers on both Kickstarter comments and the official forums. We appreciate that you may disagree with the value we have assigned to specific features but keep in mind that we leave the door open for some of the low value - high risk features in the future by virtue of mod support...

So, over to some specifics about what we have been doing lately. First of all, Garret’s wacom tablet broke, but not to worry, a replacement tablet is on its way! So we put Garret on merchant concept duty instead. These sketches are not final, but they did allow us to ask questions like: Will we have kids in The Mandate? [Probably no, depends on final art budget] Can we use the same animation rig for male and female characters to save time? [Probably yes] Of particular note are the concepts for the two middle woman and the kid that is second from the right. These three dress shapes are less than ideal as they will require custom rigging or run-time calculation of the cloth pieces to look natural. Since we want to support large scale boarding battles, we need to think and plan for performance from day one. These are the types of questions and discussions we are having during pre-production.

Finally, we wanted to touch on one of the features that we believe will make The Mandate both easier and more immersive to play. This is also the feature we teased a bit right before Christmas. Remember that while you start out as the captain of a small frigate, you will eventually control a flotilla and later a full battle squadron as well as squadrons of light craft. You may also remember that we posted an example of Battle Squadron Azimov(go down to “ORDER OF BATTLE”). How do we plan on making it possible to coordinate multiple ships and boarding operations in real-time?  Our answer: the Battle Orchestrator (NOT FINAL NAME!). In addition you will of course be able to pause The Mandate and issue orders to your marines and ships in singleplayer. Now let us take a closer look at this feature with the odd name. 

At Perihelion Entertainment we believe that the RTS genre as a whole has stood still for some time. Sure physics and destructible terrain, bigger battles and AAA graphics add “something”, but after a while it gets repetitive. We believe game developers in general misunderstand or ignore the important distinction between strategy and tactics, often sacrificing the former for the latter. The end result? A tactical click-fest that needs lots of micro managing. Suffice to say, Sun Tzu would not be amused!

So what will the Battle Orchestrator allow you to do? It will allow you to easily switch between the 3D space battle view and a stylized planning mode where you can plan out movement curves for your ships and visualize these. You may assign specific stances to ships (defensive, aggressive etc) as well as set rules of engagement for usage of fighters, heavy weapons etc. In addition you may “preview” the future position of your ships to sync up the movement of your fleets. Our goal is to make it easy to plan and modify orders for your AI escort ships which leaves you more time to manually control your flagship.

When you look at the pictures you may see the timeline feature and if you have experience using video editing tools, you will understand how we plan to make this work. By traversing left/right on the timeline you can see phantom overlay images of where your ships will be in the future. Also, it is worth keeping in mind that we are designing the Battle Orchestrator to support both NPC captains and other players. To facilitate cooperative play we are evaluating some additional planning and drawing tools which should make pre-battle strategy and changes in strategy quite easy to discuss and communicate [no need to yell at each other over Ventrilo or Teamspeak].

What about boarding? Well, you start with a small frigate and can only deploy a handful of marines. However, later on you will get multiple ships and can assign multiple squads, platoons or even a full company of marines to take part in boarding operations. Our goal is to adapt the Battle Orchestrator so it can be used to coordinate boarding operations and the user interface and control methods will be identical to how you issue commands to ships.

So what is next? We expect to have a video that shows a prototype of the Battle Orchestrator within the next few weeks and will do another Kickstarter update then. Already this feature is looking very slick and we have gotten some good feedback both internally and externally. Also we will be ramping up the PR and marketing (propaganda machine) and continue detailed planning for The Mandate. Please visit the official forums and leave your feedback and input on the Battle Orchestrator. Constructive criticism is welcome but trolls and flamers will be air-locked!

Your friends at Perihelion Interactive

Mikhail V. Platonov, Chill, and 126 more people like this update.


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    1. Jesse Pope on

      Thanks for the heads up PI. We're chomping at the bit here! I'm really hoping that in the update we can get an idea of how the timeline looks for alpha/beta. I know you previously outlined a rough concept for this but I'd like to know if we're still looking at January 2015 as I'll be on deployment overseas and really want to play this while I'm sitting in Kuwait where internet is less than ideal.

    2. Perihelion Interactive LLC Creator on

      @Jesse: For the next update we plan to include a bunch of cool stuff. We hope to have everything ready by end of February, if not we will do an update in February and a second update a few weeks later. We always send an email to Kickstarter backers and PayPal backers when a new update is rolled out :)

    3. Jesse Pope on

      New update soon I hope! I'm always looking forward to the next update and its been almost a full month. I check this site every day as we approach 30 days since the last post to see if a new one is up.

    4. Andrew B. Goodwin on

      ---Feature Flow Chart---

      I do like the idea of Romantic Missions a lot more than PVP...hopefully that will be rolled into Dynamic Crew Relations? Honestly, I'll be happy with most everything else in the first three sections. I like the Co-op gameplay ideas, the RPG elements, the space combat and the emphasis on Captain and Crew. As long as those goals are met, I shan't complain about anything else.


      Honestly, cloth is such a pain in the butt to look natural. Efforts would be much better used in other ways.

      Plus, (Coming from a part-time writer's perspective) think of the story of the clothing. How do these characters get the clothing? Is it passed from generation to generation? Is it imported from Farming planets? Does the culture of the Mandate admire efficiency, or tradition?

      For efficiency purposes, clothing could use less cloth, and cut more closely. Uniforms could be interchangeable...using the same textures if not the same polygons. Cloth or not, a miniskirt over pants would likely look fairly natural without a lot of rigging or run-time calculations.

      Another option: Since a great deal of the universe is made of Iron, Silicate, and Carbon, it would be possible to use more Synthetic clothing...denim woven from metallic strands..which would allow the clothing to look more, "Weighted" or "Stiff" which would help reduce the strain on runtime calculations. In the end, whatever parts that drape could be shortened, and turned into plate form...

      ...maybe I'm just eager to see tinfoil thigh-high boots and miniskirts (*cough* Mass Effect reference)

      ----Boarding and Battle Orchestrator---

      I do like this idea a lot. I'm eager to see if the game might not pick up on a few strategies and tactics of various players, and use them to create "New" or "Fresh" as well as Challenging tactics. Personally, I'm more eager to see how boarding operations will take place. Something like the shooting portions of Cover-shooter games wouldn't be too hard to replicate, but I wouldn't mind the option of leading a squad of Hikaru Sulu's armed with fencing sabers into battle...

      And that's about it. Thanks for the update guys. Let me know what you think of my suggestions if you find them worth considering. Thanks

      Andrew B. Goodwin
      Writer, Student and Programmer

    5. Kjell E on

      Nice! A system like the battle orchestrator has been missing in rts games over the years, imho. Usually I try to use the queue-up-commands, but they're seldom precise enough. Can't wait to try the orchestrator during alpha-test ;-)

    6. Paul Usher on

      The battle orchestrator looks very BSG inspired I like it :)

    7. Missing avatar

      Adam Gordon on

      Battle orchestrator looks really cool, I have been reading the Honor Harrington Novels by David Weber and this makes me think of the master plots they are using to control task force or larger battles. Looks interesting!

    8. Missing avatar

      Robbert van Giffen on

      This might have already been answered somewhere but what was the outcome of the court martial we voted on?

    9. Missing avatar

      Dipree on

      That is really an interessting question. I think, It depends on which article is more important for the court. And, of course, endangered disregarding the commands his ship or the fleet? If yes, he must be punished. Otherwise, the fleet wishes safely officers who think for themselves.

    10. Perihelion Interactive LLC Creator on

      @Dipree: Actually this does raise an interesting question. How open should your orders be for interpretation by NPC captains based on their personality? This is TBD. However, your scenario is interesting since article #5 would seem to support the actions of this young captain while article #29 could perhaps warrant the death penalty (

      #5. "Every person in the fleet, who shall not duly observe the orders of his superior officer, for assailing, boarding, or making defense against any foe, or shall not obey the orders of his superior officer as aforesaid in the time of action, to the best of his power, or shall not use all possible endeavours to put the same effectually into execution, every person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of the court martial, shall suffer death, or such other punishment, as from the nature and degree of the offence a court martial shall deem him to deserve."

      #29. "Every captain who, upon sight of a broken or retreating foe, and in the absence of other constraints or concerns, shall not press the advantage and pursue the foe will full vigor for as long as possible, shall suffer such other punishment as the court martial shall think fit to impose, and as the nature and degree of the crime shall deserve."

    11. Missing avatar

      Dipree on

      Battle Orchestrator looks great.
      While reading, i got an idea.
      In TV Series often the Captains dont follow the exact orders they got from their leaders. Will you have such an feature in the game?
      For example:
      You command 5 ships all in formation.
      You fight an enemy with 6 ships. After battle 5 are destroyed and one is fleeing.
      Your order is not to go after that fleeing ship, but one of your captains do it. He is a young captain and will earn honor for himself.
      Then you have to rebuke him for that action.

      Sry, for bad english :D

    12. Howeln on

      Battle Ops is very cool. Video would be nice when you have it, but I'd say it looks like you have the right objectives in mind.

    13. Perihelion Interactive LLC Creator on

      @Helena: It is more impressive at run-time... ;)
      @Richard: If this was your speech to the crew over the intercom before each battle, it would surely be inspiring!
      @Tobi: We may try to include a bit more of this in future update as well, "think out loud"
      @Jason: 10-4!
      @Devon: A former colleague of ours once said that "There are no bad game ideas only bad execution"

    14. Helena on

      Quite a meaty update there! I have to say, the concept art of the Battle Orchestrator looks pretty impressive.

    15. Richard Luijten on

      Having just seen Ender's Game in theaters, I've got to admit..the Battle Orchestrator makes me moist.

    16. Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on

      great update and comments. i love the creativitiy and the glimpse of how the designs are done (i.e. the design notes on the sketches).

    17. Jason Garner on

      @Peri, thanks for explaining about mod support, yes that does make perfect sense about why you are working on it pretty much from day one, I understand now :-)

    18. Devon Mullane on

      Obviously sounds super awesome. I appreciate you guys going into detail about how you are going to try and make all this work. It's become obvious over the course of several Kickstarters than having a good idea is far from enough to make a good game work. I look forwards to seeing this develop over the year!

    19. Perihelion Interactive LLC Creator on

      @all: If you wish to upgrade your pledge (not only by digital add-ons) then just contact BackerKit. So say you had originally backed for $20 reward tier and want to upgrade to $40 reward tier, then you would add $20, and leave these unused and tell BackerKit to instead upgrade your pledge
      @Christopher: You will be able to swap around your digital add-ons all the way until 31st of March. We will inform our backers once we hit $750,000 so you can switch to another digital add on.
      @Daniel: Good input. Whether we can blend over "conditions" like wounded with a limp etc is TBD, but our tech director will investigate this.
      @Bill: Understood. But keep in mind that Frozen Synapse or games like Gratuitous Space Battles are turn-based and the core gameplay experience here involved "what if" scenarios. The Mandate has a very different focus and also takes place in real-time. You make plans and then execute these. Choices and consequences ;) There is no way for you to know how the enemy will respond and this requires scouting and scanning. That being said, having the ability to insert some dummy 3D objects with a specific movement speed could be useful. TBD.

    20. barbarian_bros on

      "Kickstarter backers can upgrade their pledges inside BackerKit"
      seems like I can only add 'digital addons', can't find an option to upgrade pledge level....

    21. Missing avatar

      Marsell on

      This is fulfilling all my military SF fantasies. I signed up for this Kickstarter primarily on the strength of its setting, but now it sounds like it could contain some gameplay elements of Nexus… even better! Whatever you guys are doing, please continue pursuing this line of gameplay further.

    22. John Gardner on

      Wow............ Thanks for an awesome update !! Enjoyed all the information that you included. The photos were great too. the H-ICD looks amazing & unbelievable.. Looking forward to more monthly updates !!!! Keep Up the fantastic job your doing.

      @Christopher I believe that you'll get a credit in BackerKit that you can spend on something else that's there.

    23. Rand Chua TL on

      +1 for Daniel Eisener suggestion
      When in "Battle Orchestrator" mode do we have some great pre-battle music?…
      Do the mode mean the game is pause mode in a way?

    24. Christopher Wolfe on

      I'm mildly curious as to what happens if we bought say the strategy guide as an add on, and then thanks to the stretch goal it gets added as part of the level I backed at.

      Aside from that, it seems the wait for this game gets harder to bear with each update. I'm rather glad about your stated priorities, by the way. There wasn't anything in the HR/LV corner that I'm much interested in.

    25. Missing avatar

      Daniel Eisener on

      Definitely use the same animations for male and female characters. 98% of the time, when games include different animations for different sexes, the male characters get a pretty neutral, reasonable animation, while the female characters get a ridiculously exaggerated Disney princess-esque flouncing animation. This is because when writers/artists/designers create male characters, they tend to create people (with all the variety and complexity that people have), but when they create female characters, they tend to create (their internalised conception of) "girls." This is why female characters are so much more uniform in their portrayals in media.

      You might imagine that you aren't a sexist, and therefore not susceptible to this bias. But so did every other studio in the 98% that made this mistake. The easiest way to avoid this is to just accept you've got that internalised bias and work around it. In this case: don't even attempt to create different animations for male and female characters. It's not worth it.

      Besides, it's a patently ridiculous thing to say that literally every man walks in exactly the same way as every single other man, and every single woman walks in exactly the same way as every other woman. They don't, everyone has a different way of walking. People from different planets in your setting would have different ways of walking; people from different socioeconomic circumstances; people with different physical disabilities, or past injuries, or fitness, or height, or people wearing stiffer clothes versus people wearing more flexible clothes; your mood also affects how you walk, and so does the way other people near you are walking, as you alter your gait to match theirs. Are you going to make separate walking animations for all of those cases? Then why would you arbitrarily pick /just/ gender as the thing to differentiate?

      If you were going to make different animations, it would be of substantially greater value to have a more casual, slouching walk for off-duty personnel; a more confident, straight-backed walk for officers and people of high social rank; a stiffer, slightly limping walk for characters who were previously wounded; etc.. It would be much more interesting--and characterful!--to see a marine walking with a slight limp and think, "that's the marine who was wounded in a grenade blast on the last boarding action; looks like she's on her feet again."

    26. Bill Schneider on

      @Peri I was more thinking about the ability to place and give orders to enemy troops, to simulate out possible scenarios before acting them out. Same could apply to space battles too - while looking at the simulation table, you could set the enemy ships move orders to see what happens if they do that - for example finding a balance between flanking the enemy but not taking so long they'd be able to retreat (for an in-game use).

      In the boarding, it'd be so you can see what'd happen to your troops if the enemy were round a particular corner etc. Just to play out possible scenarios before giving your orders for sure.

    27. Scott on

      I'm in love, all over again. Great up-date Peri! Thanks so much.

    28. Missing avatar

      paydirt76 on

      The last pic of the Battle Orchestrator is bad arsed!

    29. JuhoL - Virtuous Cossack Captain - WoOS on

      Okay, you guys just made me feel like it was Xmas Eve again. :) And personally, I love the sound of "Battle Orchestrator". You are not merely leading a battle, you are orchestrating a ballet of fire and destruction muahahaHAHAHAH!
      ...*cough* Yeah, I like it :) Really love the idea of using this to control a battle around a space station, no matter which (me or the computer/opponent) is the attacker. So much potential fun...

    30. Perihelion Interactive LLC Creator on

      @JasonG: Because this ties in with the architecture of The Mandate and we need to plan for it from the start. Ideally our designers would use the same tools that the mod community would get access to later. We may release these tools after launch but use them internally first. Makes sense? :)
      @Julius: Fair point, but keep in mind that you will see the characters at a distance. Furthermore, even if we use the same rig, we may do some gender-specific offsets for things like walk cycles.

    31. Jason Garner on

      Why is mod support one of the very first things that is going to be worked on? although the modding community can be very vocal the reality is that most players of games do not use mods at all.

      I'm not saying there should be no mod support but I do think it shouldn't be a priority of the first order but more around the level where the Trophy room is.

    32. Julius Ter Pelkwijk

      Just a note many people tend to forget: Man and woman do NOT walk the same way... A subtile yet mostly forgotten feature is the way the hip functions. If you look carefully at how a man walks, and how a woman walks, you will notice that a woman actually "wiggles" with her hip.

    33. TheChosenOne on

      Looking good so far. Love the look of the left woman. And yes for some kid victoms. <3

    34. euansmith

      "Battle Orchestrator", it even sounds cool

    35. Missing avatar

      Adham Sherif on

      I cant describe how happy i am to hear from you guys again! Glad to see how you are honest with everyone who backed you up telling us about all the obstacles and issues facing the project while mentioning the progress without 1 percent of inflation...definitely going to use backerkit!

    36. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      The author of this comment has been deleted.

    37. Perihelion Interactive LLC Creator on

      @Glen: Scanning enemy ships may reveal areas that are more susceptible to attack and you may want to plot specific paths for your bomber squadrons, torpedoes etc which exploit this. Also, positioning your capital ships will be important, but as mentioned in the answer to alcaray, how far we will go (barrel roll etc) remains to be seen.

    38. Perihelion Interactive LLC Creator on

      @Glen: Ships will move in 3D
      @Bill: Yes we have played Frozen Synapse it is indirectly a reference for the Battle Orchestrator. However, two other titles that are more relevant are good old Harpoon (originally released in 1989) as well as the first iterations of Rainbow Six (which had go codes for alpha, beta, gamma etc, allowing you to gradually execute your plans and have units pause and wait for further orders)
      @alcaray: Combat will take place in 3D but we have not decided on whether we will feature the ability for ships to barrel roll or not. We are experimenting to find the right balance between a tactical space combat simulator and a sci-fi RPG.
      @Bzxrqy: Anything in "low value, high risk" is by default CUT and will not be a focus of the initial launch for The Mandate.

    39. Glen Bodor on

      Looks so cool! Love the concept!
      How will it handle 3D space? Can you design a flow to flank from above/below etc?

    40. Bill Schneider on

      With regard to the use of the 'H-ICD' and its use in boarding operations - have you guys ever played frozen synapse? I feel a few 'features' could be useful for boarding operations, specifically in the area of previewing your positions.

      The problem is that you may issue movement commands to marines/squads of marines, and then want to see them all converge on one point at the same time or just preview their actions together. However, what if the marines going down the right corridor run into a group of enemies, while the left ones don't?

      What you want to be able to do is put into the simulation where you think an enemy might be and simulate the outcome of the encounter. To this end, a system like frozen synapse where you could preview your turn ahead and you could move enemies around, give them orders etc. In that game, this was so that you could pre-empt your opponent's orders and thus play out the next five seconds to see what would happen to your troops following your orders if the enemy play out various orders they might possibly get.

      In this game something similar could be used. You could be able to put enemy units onto the ship schematic at wherever you wanted, and even give them orders like your troops (move here, crawl, run, aim this way, defend this position, tactically withdraw etc).

      Then you can play forward to your heart's content what will happen if your marines run into their forces and they are following those orders. You could see an approximation of how long the fight would take, casualties etc. It wouldn't be exact, and you'd never be able to actually know how many enemies, where and doing what you are going to encounter, but it would allow you to simulate approximately what might happen so you could plan for if there were indeed forces this way and if other troops could get there in time, or what the best course of action might be.

      I don't know how clear this is, but hopefully you understand what I'm trying to suggest. Might move this to the forums.

    41. alcaray on

      Your fire arc/radar circle *might* imply a 2D approach to combat. You aren't planning an early Star Trek sort of space where all encounters are on a plane and all ships are oriented "up", are you?

    42. Missing avatar

      Bzxrqy on

      This is all looking very exciting. I personally wish you'd minimize PVP content, though, and am glad to see it a least-priority goal.

    43. Manolis Krestas on

      Damm i totally forgot that i was a last minute backer :P

    44. tox1c5lug - Evil Banker of the O O on

      WOW!!! The H-ICD looks amazing! You guys are really creative. This game is going to be the best thing ever!

    45. Mario Malnar on

      Im dead happy. Add orders as a programming language for ships like dominions have for the sdvanced players and you will be crazy successful. Something like when you plan moves of ship and finalize them if u enter orders mode, you can add sth like this:" if hostile (any/smallcraft etc) in range, use full weapons/point def weapons ; full speed ahead to destination. If hostile (large) engage full; alert fleet command.

      Something like that.
      Or for stealth craft or flankers"wait until hostile in range of bombs. Or wait until main fleet engaged"

    46. Kris Mark Andress on

      You guys are awesome! Super excited for this game, really looking forward to the next update :) Also happy new year!

    47. Missing avatar

      saluk on

      Battle orchestrator looks absolutely killer!