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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.
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Ship layouts, service branches and coat of arms

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Hello backers,

Time for another update! Today we are following up on a previous update about ship consoles. We will be discussing the various types of rooms aboard a ship, deck plans as well as something called service branches. Why are service branches important? How do they affect crew progression and impact The Mandate from a visual and gameplay perspective? Read on to find out more!

To get a good overview of what we will be discussing today, let's start with this diagram which depicts a basic frigate and its various decks. All capital ships have between one and three full decks (not counting the Bridge, Cargo Deck or the Observation Deck) but our frigate only has one full deck, the 0 deck. You may recall that our ships also consists of three sections: the front, the midship and aft section. Each ship section is also separated by blast doors (marked with red colour above).

As mentioned, our frigate has one full deck and this is where most of the rooms are located. The rooms are connected via corridors and each room houses a number of consoles that can be operated by individual crew members. The consoles affect the behaviour and efficiency of your ship. So what are all the room colours? They represent what we call service branches and we will discuss them a bit later in this update. The colour pink represents unassigned space.

Immediately above this deck we have the bridge deck. This deck holds the bridge as well as the captain’s quarters and on larger ships additional staff rooms and security checkpoints. The bridge itself is well protected inside the ship and a myriad of sensors and scanners ensure that the captain and officers have all the necessary data to coordinate the crew during action.

Above the bridge is the observation deck which has several functions. For example this is the place where you may conduct ceremonies such as promotions, funerals and dignitary visits but we are also discussing a few other interesting options.

Last but not least we have the cargo deck which houses the ship reactor, cargo hold and shuttle bay(s). The latter is important since it allows you to launch assault transports to board enemy vessels or send shuttles on planetary investigation a.k.a. away missions.

Now that we have an idea of the ship layout let us discuss the service branches. There are a total of six of these and they are important for crew progression and specialization. Above you can see a representative from each service branch as well as the name and colour of each service branch. The officer does not represent a service branch but prior to his promotion he may have served with one of the service branches but more on that later. Keep in mind that both the headgear and colours for each service branch are not finalized. None are wearing combat armour as this would be too bulky and restrictive for normal ship operations. Finally we are discussing internally whether the name “service branch” or “department” is the correct term to apply or whether we should use some other term.

So what gameplay impact do the service branches have? Well, fresh recruits start out as "enlisted" and only have a few basic skills. They may be assigned to operate vacant consoles in a room and each room is operated by one service branch (with a few exceptions like the bridge). Consoles grant enlisted experience points over time and eventually they will qualify to become specialists. Upon becoming a specialist the enlisted joins one of the service branches and can learn new skills. Each service branch has unique skill types which corresponds with its focus area. There are skills that affect both space combat, boarding combat, away missions etc.

Initially as captain you will probably be "hands-off" and not concern yourself with individual enlisted or even specialists. However as individual crew members level up, you will get more and more influence over their career and education. You may wish to review individual dossiers and check not only skills but also personality traits that may make somebody especially suited for a particular role. Each character has several personality traits which are revealed over time as they become an integral part of your crew. Certain situations and events may also trigger hidden personality traits (positive or detrimental).

Ultimately it is up to you as captain how you manage your crew and how to get the most out of them. Both senior specialists, senior warrant officers and commissioned officers are valuable. You need to train all types to replace battle losses and also grow your fleet. It is up to you to select who will stay as specialists, who will become warrant officers and who should become junior commissioned officers (and later on full captains). We believe the approach outlined above will feel organic and intuitive. You will make the decisions that really matter but not be bogged down with pointless, repetitive micro-management.

Currently the team is building all the room types for the frigate as well as consoles and corridors. This has already proved useful for scale prototyping and boarding combat tests. Above you can see two example rooms. The blue room is run by engineering and the yellow room is run by the artillery service branch.

We will round off this update with a faction symbol test. Obviously the first image was not made by us but is an interesting historical reference and shows the lesser coat of arms of the Russian Empire anno 1883. In The Mandate each of the major factions will receive its own symbol or coat of arms. We also plan to add a feature which allows players to design a ship’s crest or ship’s badge (basically a coat of arms for your ship). The ship’s crest could be displayed both outside and inside your ship, for example on the bridge. Your crew would wear the ship’s crest as a shoulder badge on their uniform and your light craft would also carry similar markings. Furthermore, if your captain is knighted(*) you may design your own personal coat of arms. Finally, if you rise in the nobility you may earn the right to upgrade and modify your coat of arms to reflect your new rank and position.

* Your captain’s backstory may include a knighthood but you were stripped of all rank and privileges as part of the court martial sentencing

Your friends at Perihelion Interactive

Comments

    1. Creator cortney on June 1, 2014

      some of this terminology is making me wonder more than it should and the way the compartments are layed out on the ship looks good. if you wouldnt mind could you add bullseyes to the compartments, along with tac numbers when laying them out so especially in bigger ships you can easily fin the locations of things. i understand that the ships wont be to overly massive.

    2. Creator Alan Heck on May 8, 2014

      Department does make more sense to me. Service Branch sounds like it's referring to your Service Branch in the military i.e army, navy, air force. Where departments refer more to your profession within that branch. As we're all going to be in large ships it makes sense that we (as in the players) are all navy and our trades within that navy would be referred to as Departments.

    3. Creator Michael Caldwell on May 8, 2014

      My part is, think of what "service branch" actually means. Meh, it's whatever. Division and Department makes more sense to me because that is now ships are divided today, but ok. As for Sky Cavalry, that would be cool, except it's not...it's space cavalry, and that just sounds weird. Artillery actual does work, it would be different but still cool. And infantry....that's ground-based troops. So it really just doesn't work, I don't think. Back to cavalry, think of modern cavalry: it's not fighters, it's essentially fast moving scouts and transports. It gets confusing if they use that for fighters. Just my two cents.

    4. Creator Derek Billman on May 8, 2014

      This game is gonna be so amazing when it finally comes out, possibly even game of the year material by far. Can't wait to alpha test the bugs out of this too :D

    5. Creator John Gardner on May 7, 2014

      WOW !! I love your updates.. you guys are doing amazing work. I'd vote for Service Branch too.

    6. Creator Timothy Cook on May 7, 2014

      @Perihelion: Thanks so much for the response! Glad to see that you could tell what I meant in the example and that it's not a well founded concern, and that there's a wide range of play styles represented in the team. (And yeah, classic X-Com, which is only distinguished in name by the dash. Reboots are weird.) I'm looking forward to this more every update.

      Personally I like "Service Branch". Even if it isn't the 100% most accurate, it sounds cool. So long as a term sounds believable and it's obvious what it refers to, I lean towards things that make the setting sound a little unique, and I haven't seen "Service Branch" as a term in other games. If there's so much variation between real world military terms in different countries, or the same country over a few decades, projecting this far into the future gives pretty much unlimited aesthetic freedom. Same for Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery, really. Every game has marines and pilots. Not every game has SKY CAVALRY and it sounds badass. That's just me though.

    7. Creator Michael Caldwell on May 7, 2014

      Infantry, cavalry and artillery are generally terms not associated with a navy. Security/Marine detachments, Air Wing (or fighter/star fighter operations, etc) and Weapons are more apt terminology. As for branch/etc, Department is the correct terminology.

    8. Creator Chris Short on May 7, 2014

      Simple reply to this one: GOOB GOOB FROTH FROTH (basically translates to OOOMMMGGGGG can't wait for this)

    9. Creator James on May 7, 2014

      Another great update, as always!
      Super excited to hear about personal and ship crests. Sounds like a nice little way to personalize your ships.

      Also makes me wonder if we could start our OWN faction.

    10. Creator Helena on May 7, 2014

      Like the uniform designs for the different branches.

    11. Creator Julio Torres on May 7, 2014

      PI, everything is looking great.

      I echo a lot of the comments above regarding "service branch" vs. "department." Service branch is certainly more military in verbiage, and in the US Army "branch" is used to denote your operational field (ie- Infantry, Signal). I'm not sure exactly what terminology was used by the Russian Navy in the late 19th century but it may fall more in line with the "Rate" system used by the US Navy that others have mentioned below.

      Regarding Army vs. Navy, I noticed you had Cavalry and "Infantry" included as service branches. How do you intend to employ "cavalry?" If these are fighter pilots, wouldn't it be more apt to label them different, considering how cavalry are typically used (scouting and exploitation attacks)? Also, Infantry are typically "Marines" aboard a ship, though you have them working "Master at Arms" duties in the Brig and Armory as well. Regarding the US military, red is typically the color of artillery and gold the color of cavalry; I can't speak to whether this comes from older European customs. Just nitpicking here, really; it's not too relevant.

      Echoing Sumerisle's concern, I hope there is an intelligence function as well! I'd understand if you lumped this into "Science" branch but in space intelligence would seem to be everything from object detection (hostile ship or asteroid?) and ship scanning to communications intercept and jamming. Intelligence personnel are part of every military component, and can usually be found at all echelons of command but the most junior.

    12. Creator cybertom on May 7, 2014

      Looks very promising. As far as the faction symbols go you obviously borrowed heavily from Warhammer 40k's Imperial Eagle, or Aquila. You might make that a bit more distinguishable, but I understand it's a test so you might do so anyway.

    13. Creator Perihelion Interactive LLC on May 7, 2014

      @Seag: The captain, officers and crew have their own quarters. The majority sleeps in the room called crew berth which is located in the front section.
      @Sleet: The colours are not final.
      @Sumerisle: We are trying to keep the total number of service branches at a minimum. There is a "com" room in the midship section and it sorts under science.
      @Con: Exactly what fringe benefits you will get access to is TBD. But keep in mind that your sandbox / game world is on the fringe of Mandate space. The core worlds including Novy Petersburg (capital of the Mandate) are far, far away.
      @Timothy Cook: We have min/max players on the dev team as well. Your example about X-Com [assuming you are talking about the original game] is very relevant as psychic potential is discovered late in the game. First you have to invest significant amount of time in each soldier and afterwards a majority of enemy encounters will have some form of psychic abilities. The hidden personality traits in The Mandate will have less impact and not cause you to stop using particular soldiers altogether.

    14. Creator Seag on May 7, 2014

      Where does the crew sleep???

    15. Creator Sleet on May 6, 2014

      Service branches and all that sounds awesome, but I hope you guys are going to coordinate them by more than just color, or at least keep color-blindness in mind when you design the finalized outfits.

    16. Creator Devon Mullane on May 6, 2014

      So good. You guys are the hope of all future.

    17. Creator Ray Naula on May 6, 2014

      NOTE: To those that dont scroll down, the chats up.

      ---
      Man you guys don't go half-way on your updates always something big... but department... I'd go for 'service branch' I keep thinking of clothing department and bad memories with department...

      HIdden stats always fun! For those who don't mind a bit of random in hteir games. For those that want to be able to plan for every detail and don't like random elements it could be a bad thing though- so maybe consider an option to turn it off?

    18. Creator Jess Montgomery on May 6, 2014

      I think that crew variety through hidden traits and stats is cool, and that are both good and bad popping up without warning will be fun.
      More variety in play throughs and more unknows. The fact that it could come up at any point makes it a cool challenge. But to balance that the pros and strengths that may rise within your crew should be equal to balance those bad moments with the good. Got me bouncing with excitement keep up the good work.

    19. Creator Jason Garner on May 6, 2014

      @Timothy Cook

      You're going to hate me but reading your post makes me hope that the game is exactly as you hope it won't be, I think it would be awesome if you send a team to go do a job and one of it's members has some kind of breakdown due to a phobia/mental condition that you (and maybe even he) didn't realise he had.

    20. Creator Sumerisle on May 6, 2014

      Can you add Signal Corps to the Services Branch, please? I mean, communications are important nowadays, and will always be.

    21. Creator Timothy Cook on May 6, 2014

      I'm never not excited. This is great stuff, and I LOVE games where you can dig through dossiers to optimize your crew. (Anyone remember the old strategy game Maelstrom?)

      Part of me cringes at the "hidden personality traits" though, at least if they are always there and just not revealed until a critical moment. They sound cool, but they also sound really frustrating to deal with as a player. How much complexity do they add to the game, and how much of that is good complexity vs. bad complexity? Also, I really don't want to feel like I would benefit from unwanted player behavior ("okay, I just hired some guys, let's save the game and go jump into a suicidal fight to see if any of them will crack under pressure and then reload the game"). Seems more fun gamewise to sometimes tack new traits onto people, *visible*, when they get promoted.

      Either way is vulnerable to savescumming, but it feels uncomfortable if I might be doomed later on because one of my repair crew is phobic of fire and I *don't know it*. Knowing that I can savescum back five minutes to get out of a bad situation is one thing, but feeling like I have no choice but to savescum early on if I want full information is more of an issue.

      (Witness: The original X-Com and not knowing that one of your super soldiers is so stupidly weak to mind control that he's completely useless. Some people say that's part of the challenge, I say that's no fun.)

      Witness my gaming neuroses...Sorry.

    22. Creator Con on May 6, 2014

      This is an incredibly bold update. I find myself both extremely excited/hopeful it all gets implemented and worried it might all prove too much. Fingers crossed it proves all good.

      So one can rise both in the military ranks and also the nobility/society? Does this mean one is granted rewards such as planetary estates and assets? Can one grow in influence this way and assuming the game has a currency then assets can earn one an income? Again I know unlikely, much too big. But maybe a trade/economic expansion after the games release, I know I'd buy it.

    23. Creator jamoecw on May 6, 2014

      russians do have something like rates (u.s. navy term for job) i don't know what it is called. it would definitely not be service branch though, and probably not division either. within a rating you still have a specific job classification (an NECC).

      the hallways seem rather large, 15 feet wide for the narrow ones. maybe the future has really good miniaturization and they have extra space to use.

    24. Creator Rand Chua TL on May 6, 2014

      If we play as pirate and Rebel, do we also unlock those faction coat of arms to use?

    25. Creator armored_mammal on May 6, 2014

      Service branch I think is usually like Navy, Marines, Army. I think division/department would be a more true to life usage, but not sure. If you did that you'd probably have departments Science, Command, Operations, and Tactical, with divisions like so: Science divisions: Research, Medical, Engineering,
      Command divisions: Diplomatic, Supply, Combat, Covert,
      Operations divisions: Logistics, Security, Finance,
      Tactical divisions: Artillery, Infantry, Cavalry, Light Craft.

    26. Creator J. on May 6, 2014

      Every update you post gets me more and more excited for The Mandate because your updates continually show us how much thought and effort is going into this game. It'll be hard to wait but it'll be worth every minute!

    27. Creator Lawrance Williamson on May 6, 2014

      this game cant come any faster i want ittt!!!! and grate update cant wait for the next one

    28. Creator TanC on May 6, 2014

      @Jean-Luc Picard you don't have military experience? I call BS on that one. ;)

      Seriously though, great update! Please add another vote for "Service Branch". "Department" sounds too corporate. :)

    29. Creator Doug Johnson on May 6, 2014

      Sounds good, but a note on service branch. The Navy and Army are service branches, but engineer is a Rate or MOS, military occupational specialty. It is this way at least for the US military, I don't know how it is for the Russian Navy.

    30. Creator LordCrash - OD | OOoE | WoOS on May 6, 2014

      Three words: pretty fucking epic! :)

    31. Creator Jean-Luc Picard on May 6, 2014

      Excellent. If you guys can actually pull all these gameplay elements into a functional cohesive playable whole this game will blow my mind (and possibly my body as well).

      I don't have military experience but "service branch" sounds good to me.

    32. Creator kirill filichkin on May 6, 2014

      '' but not be bogged down with pointless, repetitive micro-management.''
      thank you !
      micro-management is fun sometimes ,but after 30 hr of the same thing it, just kills the mood and forces me stop playing most grand strategy's and RPG . where i just love it if there was autopilot button somewhere...

    33. Creator saodhar on May 6, 2014

      Great update! So many cool things.

    34. Creator Peter Holthaus on May 6, 2014

      Service branch or department:
      Since it's the area where a crew member serves for the ships well-being and function please stick to service branch. The trunk of that tree are the enlisted that then branch in different directions according to their skills and predispositions.
      A department sounds more like something you'd find on a space station/in a colony: the R&D department that churns out new blueprints for the engineering department to translate into working orders for the manufacturing department that then creates the product...

      Coat of Arms:
      Go with the second from left, it should look less cluttered if the central symbol is not in the eagles chest but instead replaces the galaxy symbol between the wings.

    35. Creator Dennis Peter Gudbrandsen Schmidt on May 6, 2014

      OMFG! This sounds so damn AWESOME!!!!! And the fact that there is a two headed eagle in worship of the Emperor is a big YES to me ;)

      I cannot contain my enthusiasm about this!
      Its THE game that i have been waiting for all my life.. I so look forward to the release of this game.
      I love you guys!! <3

    36. Creator Perihelion Interactive LLC on May 6, 2014

      @All: We forgot to mention that the community chat is now live and all backers can login on the community site and access the chat from the front page. The 30 minute limit to make changes to this update on Kickstarter expired before we had a chance to mention the new community chat.

    37. Creator Patrick on May 6, 2014

      Looking and sounding better and better! :)

    38. Creator Devil Khan on May 6, 2014

      Excellent, not just one level when boarding. Anyway, great job so far.

    39. Creator Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on May 6, 2014

      looking gooooooooooooooooooood

    40. Creator Per Kristian Brastad on May 6, 2014

      Hmm, I do hope, despite lacking i those plans, that there are toilets/restrooms around the floors in the ship(s). or the crew would soon get consentration problems and embarasing incidents.. ;)

      Now bit more serious, looking good. Looking forwards to playing.