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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.
16,408 backers pledged $701,010 to help bring this project to life.

Bunch of (cool) stuff!

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Hi Backers,

Time for another update. We have been quite busy lately so there is lots of ground to cover. Actually, we have decided to split this update into several parts otherwise we would end up setting some kind of world record in terms of number of pages. Instead of one enormous update, we are going to do more frequent updates for the next month or so.

The upcoming updates will cover (in no particular order):

  • Game flow with the main GUI screens
  • Boarding combat visuals
  • Battle Orchestrator video
  • Design tiers & lore
  • New team members
  • New community site

While we are not going to talk about the new community site today, here is a very quick preview of what we have planned.

In this update specifically we will discuss a couple of the things we are working on and then share something cool: physically based shaders. “But Peri, why should I care about physically based shaders?” you ask, well our answer to that is more sexy looking spaceships! Actually we decided to create a little interactive demo for you to play around with but more on that later in this update!

As you may remember from the previous update we showed you “The Plan” with the high-risk & high-value matrix. It should therefore come as no surprise to you that our focus these last few weeks has been on boarding combat, tools & mod support and the battle orchestrator (among other things).

For boarding combat we have been prototyping and testing pathfinding, the cover system, line of sight as well as fog of war. We have interactable objects like doors which can be opened and closed and destructibles like explosive barrels. We can put units into stances like crouch or prone which will take advantage of nearby cover and make units more difficult to spot or hit. Next up we will be prototyping the morale system (remember to bring along those officers and NCOs and try to keep them alive...).

On the art side we have been experimenting with how to build the ship interiors efficiently. Furthermore, we have brainstormed how doors should look and we are taking inspiration both from submarines and naval ships. Doors will play a crucial part during boarding operations. Boarding operations should feel quite intense and we want the interior of the ships to reflect this. 

Also, in the name of efficiency we are testing how we can create a bunch of hallways and rooms that reuse similar types of textures. Below you can see concepts for three different hallway types which are all standard Mandate / Grand Fleet. We will show the actual 3D models and textures in a future update.

Of course all these hallways and doors need to lead somewhere, right? So we have started to plan out how the rooms will look, what functionality they will add to your shop (and what gets turned off if they get damaged or destroyed!). Below is a quick concept of a communications room, again in the style of the standard Mandate / Grand Fleet.

Moving along, let us talk a bit about mod support & tools. We are pretty confident that we will hit the $800,000 stretch goal for extended mod support via extra funding through PayPal and BackerKit during development. So we are moving ahead with this stretch goal now as this would not be easy to introduce later. First we asked ourselves: What if we wanted to create a total conversion for <insert your favourite sci-fi game>? What tools would we need to avoid any programming? So we started to discuss how best to organize our engine and how to separate code and data. Of course we also looked at how other developers have tackled this challenge and some of our developers are modders themselves. In parallel we have started to write the tool designs to allow us to design weapons, ships, missions as well as build the world map. We kill two birds with one stone this way: The Mandate will be more mod friendly and a more intelligent engine architecture benefits us developers since expansions and sequels can be created more efficiently.

Last update we also revealed the Battle Orchestrator (BO). You responded with a lot of good feedback and suggestions both on Kickstarter and on the forums. So far you have only seen the concepts and design mockups. Internally, however, we have a working prototype that looks almost identical to the concepts and it is pretty cool. We are still doing some tweaks and tests but we expect to share a video with you of the BO in action in the not too distant future. Specifically for boarding operations we plan to implement something similar to the BO but it will work a bit differently there. Oh yeah, we discussed using a different acronym than BO (body odor) but after a few funny misunderstandings in the office, we decided to keep it ;)

Before we continue, here are a few mockups for the Mandate destroyer class. You may remember we released a concept of one of the destroyers during our Kickstarter campaign. Well, actually in the image below you can see a "family photo" of sorts since we have all 27 possible combinations on display. These are just simple Google Sketchup mockups but will turn into sleek ships sometime in the future.

In the introduction we mentioned physically-based shaders and made the case that this is actually useful. Here to tell us a bit more about physically-based shaders is Vegard, our tech director:

The standard lighting model has been with us in computer graphics for a long time and works by adding up a bunch of different algorithms that roughly describe the way one element of light works in nature. One of the results of this is that in the standard model, a surface can quite easily reflect more light than comes into it! Physically Based Rendering (PBR) considers all materials to be energy conserving, so it’s impossible for a surface to reflect more light than comes in, whether that light is described as reflection, specular or diffuse light. Another big benefit of using PBR is that it’s a very good way of describing metals, which often tint the specular highlight towards their colour. Even a perfectly smooth surface of gold will tint the reflections yellow. Since we’re using a great deal of metals in The Mandate, it’s important to have a good and predictable way of shading them. The third big benefit of PBR is that the specular highlights are much more accurately described based on viewing angle. A surface in the real world that is facing nearly flat on towards the viewer appears a great deal less reflective than one facing at a glancing angle. You can see a good example of this if you drive down a wet road towards the sun, and compare that with what you see if you look straight down onto a wet road. But don’t take our word for it:

For a video of the physically based shaders in action CLICK HERE

To download the interactive demo [Windows only]:

Keep in mind that these visuals are highly WORK IN PROGRESS and by no means final. Well that’s it for today. Hope you found it interesting and we expect to have another update for you within a couple of weeks!

Jack Silvers, Vojta Růžek, and 92 more people like this update.

Comments

    1. Creator Arvid Granat on March 4, 2014

      Good update! The PBR video looks good. Also, the room concept reminds me a bit of Starcraft/BroodWar, which is very much a good thing :)

    2. Creator John Gardner on March 1, 2014

      Awesome update !! really enjoyed looking at the pictures you used. Sounds like things are progressing very well. Looking forward to the other update too. Keep Up The Great Work !!! :)

    3. Creator Evmeister on March 1, 2014

      For the cover system, I hope you'll be able to use walls as cover and shooting around corners. Perhaps even blasting through walls, and decks. Dangerous yes, but it could be very rewarding too.

    4. Creator Christian Berger on March 1, 2014

      Wow, your PBR demo looks very cool, very impressive. - I agree with Jason Garner: A brand new ship should look like this one!

    5. Creator Jason Garner on March 1, 2014

      http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/Shireknight/Mandateshadertest_zpsa6f3cdce.jpg

      My picture looks crap but OMG live on my monitor this ship is one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen in a space game and I disagree with previous comments about the effect looking too shiny, as the ships age they should become naturally duller with use but I think ships straight out of the spaceyards should look just like they do in the demo.

    6. Creator James Casey on March 1, 2014

      Looking really nice. I do think the spaceship in the demo is way too shiny though I suspect you already know that and were just making a stark example of the shading technique?

    7. Creator Rand Chua TL on February 28, 2014

      For the hallways and rooms that "reuse similar types of textures".
      Command hallway (near the ship bridge)
      hospital hallway (near the hospital or First aids station)
      http://newsjunkiepost.com/2009/08/15/right-wing-rhetoric-on-health-care-%E2%80%93-a-page-from-last-centurys-playbook/
      .
      Found a web page showing all the corridor or futuristic hallway in science fiction TV and movies. It’s a tool that has been used over and over again to show a utilitarian function that we use today as we might see it in the future.
      http://borg.com/2011/11/21/tool-of-science-fiction-the-corridor/

    8. Creator Rand Chua TL on February 28, 2014

      How to install & use the tech demo?

    9. Creator Rand Chua TL on February 28, 2014

      Our spaceship look shiny in outer space. :p

    10. Creator ScoHook on February 28, 2014

      The tech demo looks absolutely stunning. Will we be able to shoot at it at some point?

    11. Creator Patrick on February 28, 2014

      Really impressed with your project management with such a big project... looks great!

    12. Creator Anaxphone on February 28, 2014

      Looking very nice so far, and the progress' details are quite promising.

      did you ever get a chance to play around with "Escape Velocity?" I am already half-jokingly working out what I'd do for an EV conversion mod in honor of it being the game that got me into modding in the first place.

    13. Creator wolfgang on February 28, 2014

      LOOKS AMAZING, Can't wait! :D

    14. Creator euansmith on February 28, 2014

      If first person shooters have taught us anything it is that, in the future, there will be exploding barrels and no health and safety.

    15. Creator Perihelion Interactive LLC on February 28, 2014

      @all: We just called it "explosive barrels" as this was for a test. What we were really checking was more on the mechanical side: Are of Effect damage formulas with duration which affects other objects (other barrels and NPCs). So feel free to read explosive barrels as "gas traps" or "shock land mines" or whichever will allow you to relax :)

    16. Creator just_Zombie on February 28, 2014

      Good update, liked much of it. It somehow reassuring, I suppose, to know what developers are working now for and what plans they have for nearest future.

      Well, there is one moment that disturbs me, those „explosive barrels” in boarding combat. I just hope those things will come with some explanation about why they are where they are. Because I, as a captain, wouldn't tolerate useless and dangerous objects lying in rooms and corridors of my ship. Maybe it would be nice to make them optional backup power sources for rooms, or something else potentially useful, and give player a choice: risk to use them on ship or not.

      Keep up with the good work, I would love to see your game finished.

    17. Creator Florestan Trément on February 28, 2014

      Oh, no, please no explosive barrels! I hate these highly unlikely objects of difficulty lowering.
      Not that you would remove them for my sake, but this has to be told now and again, to remind developers like you some of us, well, at least me, don't like them.
      I’m glad that you plan making stances for the soldiers, as it seem some devs think they don't add any value these kind of games that are just mandate boarding part.
      Said like that, it makes even the ones with stances appear quite cheap, even if we are talking about my beloved xcom or silent storm! Well, except they're turn based, of course.

    18. Creator Turk on February 28, 2014

      will there be an Auto Resolve feature for boarding actions etc?

    19. Creator ekster on February 28, 2014

      Awesome... And that demo definitely makes me care about physical based rendering. :p

    20. Creator Bill Schneider on February 28, 2014

      Nice work, loving it :)

      Looking at those ship interior sketches - they do look good. I do however think there needs to be more 'access points'. For example all those pipes and wires (which I love, many people forget how much wiring, piping etc is actually strung through ships) need more access points for maintainance and repair.

      What would be especially cool (but I'm not sure how well it would actually work in game or if it would mess up the gameplay) is if the soldiers could lift up the covers/access points and use them as cover.

      Finally, when you have the internals of the ship planned, I'm assuming all the space will be filled? You won't have corridors with nothing in the neigbouring rooms etc? Not everything needs to be important - crew accommodation, administration, galleys and messes, storage, machinery spaces etc all take up lots of space.

      It would be nice if you could then, for example, blast your way through a bulkhead from the corridor into for example a briefing room because the corridor ahead is well defended, and go round the defenders and blast your way back in behind them or next to them. Or as defenders have a division of troops wait in a galley until the boarders have progressed passed, then come out and attack them from the rear (encouraging attackers to check the compartments as they pass).

      I'm just thinking, a lot of tactics using the non-essential rooms as places to essentially hide or use them to get through the ship avoiding detection or having to use the defended corridors would be cool and allow lots of freedom, rather than just progressing down a set of corridors to the room you want to get to.

    21. Creator Raine スコット on February 28, 2014

      Great update! Thank you so much. I'm really happy things are motoring along nicely.

    22. Creator John Lacy on February 28, 2014

      Impressive start on PBR, it's tricky, but in the end the look is just so very nice :) Keep up the good work guys and gals!

    23. Creator Zombra on February 28, 2014

      Great update. Love the ship concepts. Nice to see so much thought going into layout and art design. I want to send my crewmen there!

    24. Creator Icinix on February 28, 2014

      How good is does that demo look?

      Nice work you wonderful people you!

    25. Creator Ryan Smith on February 28, 2014

      Not gonna lie. I may have been refreshing this ever hour at work. This is a great update! Keep up the good work!