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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.

Loose Lips Sink Ships!

Posted by Perihelion Interactive LLC (Creator)
Hi backers,

In this update we are taking a detour to talk about the game economy, cargo and what makes cargo ships stand out. As a side-note we recently hit an important milestone: the art direction and art tests for the ship interiors has been finalized. More on this in update #42 which should be out in a couple of weeks so let's start with the game economy.

In The Mandate the primary focus is not to build a monopoly or become a successful business tycoon. While you may dabble in this, remember that you are a spaceship captain first and foremost. It naturally follows that your focus will be on expanding and supporting your own war efforts. To do this you must establish resource extraction and production centers and set up trade convoys between these. However, once set up by you, these trade convoys will run by themselves. They may require protection, either from enemy factions or pesky pirates.

There will be both short term (gain/loss of resources) and long term (faction strength, diplomatic relations, availability of goods) consequences depending on how well you defend your own trade convoys and intercept those of your enemies. Again, we are not aiming for a full economic simulation but something that gives a clear cause and effect. Your (in)action(s) will resonate throughout the game world/sandbox.

Specifically when it comes to trade convoys we are taking inspiration from World War 2 and the war in the Atlantic. The trade convoys will contain a number of cargo ships and also escort warships whose job it is to ensure the trade convoy arrives safely at its destination. If you decide to hoist the Jolly Roger yourself, you will probably be targeting trade convoys and we expect there to be a bit of "cat and mouse" gameplay where a pirate player will attempt to sneak up on the cargo ships while avoiding or distracting the escorts. Just like pirates in the 16th and 17th century would have done, you may force cargo ships to surrender or drop their cargo which you can then use/trade for your own benefit.

So what types of cargo exists and what can you use them for? We have not finalized the list of cargo/resource types, but they will be used for research as well as crafting and constructing ships, consoles and infantry weapons. Some resources may be needed to recruit personnel (manpower) and we are also discussing whether to have strategic resources (which you unlock by controlling a resource node similar to in Civilization). Below you can see a quick brainstorm of different cargo types that are mounted on pallets. Some of these (but not all) may make it into the game, but again it is just brainstorming for now.

How is cargo stored? Cargo can either be stored inside your cargo hold as pallets or a number of pallets can fit inside a dedicated cargo container. We actually spent quite a bit of time looking into euro-pallets, container sizes etc to work out a scale for containers that sorta make sense. The cargo hold will be a physical room inside your ship where boarding operations may also take place. Below you can see a brainstorming concept for the contents of the cargo hold. Keep in mind that the procedural ammo track as well as visual representation of captured ship weapons will not be visualized in the cargo hold but was more for brainstorming purposes.

Typically a warship would have only a limited cargo hold and carry pallets whereas a dedicated cargo freighter could carry additional cargo inside cargo containers. Below you can see a few examples of cargo containers. The names and decals are just for brainstorming and not part of official lore.

You may be wondering whether cargo freighters are distinct from warships and you would be correct. We have previously talked about how our ships used a three-part design philosophy, with a front, middle and aft section. This applies to warships but NOT to cargo freighters. But before we discuss cargo freighters in detail lets take a step back and talk about our goals with the cargo freighters.

In many sci-fi settings, a cargo ship may have a bulky shape to imply internal cargo holds but is otherwise difficult to distinguish from a ship that focuses on, say, exploration or combat. For The Mandate we decided to go with something that would make the cargo feel tactile and not just a stat in a GUI window. At the same time we wanted something that was familiar and recognizable.

It made sense to mimic present day shipping containers which employ a twist lock system to stack multiple containers vertically on top of each other for transport. The containers themselves have a universal size and we did quite a bit of research on the scale and dimensions.

We think this approach makes sense in space as well, as it would simplify the loading and offloading of cargo containers. From a gameplay perspective a nice bonus is that we can "release" these cargo containers into space if a cargo ship were to be threatened and/or blown up (and allow you to retrieve said cargo containers afterwards).

So what is a cargo freighter and how does it break with the rules for warships? Like warships the cargo ships must have a front and aft section, but unlike warships the cargo freighter can have more than one midsection. This allows us to chain multiple mid sections and create really long cargo freighters. These will feel both vulnerable and can carry a lot of valuables (which is both good and bad!).

All factions will make use of cargo freighters and sometimes trade between factions may also take place. There will be different types of star bases that focus on either military, trade, science or diplomacy. Can you guess what the star base below focuses on?

Hopefully this update has given you a better overview of how we are thinking in terms of the game economy, trade goods and cargo ships. We have not covered fleet auxiliary ships in this update but they are a separate class of ships which focus on troop transport, hospital facilities and tender/refueling tasks. Finally, keep in mind that while the in-game economy will allow you to more effectively focus on expanding and supporting your own war efforts with the trade of resources, The Mandate is not a trade sim or economic simulator.


Your friends at Perihelion Interactive

Scott, Randall Lambert, and 115 more people like this update.


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    1. JD Worth on

      The containers also reminded me of the Solar Clipper SF series of stories. The author defines/describes ships in the story with similar 'rules.' Simply put -any kind of standardization for the shipping process (interstellar, interplanetary, intercontinental) just makes sense. A matter of scale.

    2. Missing avatar

      blackcitadel9 on

      I saw those multiple mid-section super freighters and thought this "Hmm. Replace some or all those cargo containers with fighter bays, weapons platforms, self sustaining factory-complexes and you'd have yourself some kind of mega-monster base-ship" I doubt we'll have such a thing, but I can think it. :D

    3. Quickboots on

      @Joel: I agree! i would love to get a game to replace SWR, and Perihelion seems to be on the right track.

      @Perihelion: on that subject, have you guys looked at Star Wars Rebellion at all for ideas/inspiration? While it's a very aged title I think that its methods of implimenting system blockades, planetary faction support, and personnel distribution could be worth a look.

    4. John Gardner on

      Wow this is sooo incredible.. I love it and can hardly wait to start playing it. You guys are doing an awesome job !! Keep up the fantastic work..

    5. Missing avatar

      Joel on

      This sounds like Total War in space. I am so excited for this game. This may finally replace Star Wars: Rebellion, maybe - that game rocks.

    6. Missing avatar

      Ed on

      This makes me a happy backer!

    7. Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on

      holy shit, this is fantastic stuff! keep up the good work!

    8. Quickboots on

      It's been a while since I was so excited about a game that has yet to be released, great job Perihelion! I like the concept of Civ style resource management, the economics of war has always been something I like to see in games. Having to decide how to handle that backwater corner of the sector with your only viabe source of 'insert resource here' always adds a nice touch. And it always makes me smile to cut a hostile faction off from its weapons grade supplies

    9. Joshua P. on

      I'm physically aroused by your use of pallets and containerized cargo. So hot.

    10. Kjell E on

      Good work, Peri. Impressive attention to detail :-)

    11. LuckyLuigi on

      I really like where you are going with this.

    12. Travis Gaby on

      freighter ship look better than early one, but however, I think they should cover goods/cargo more or most of hull/armor with might show good little bit rather open for all to see of goods, this is future and space. I do question Prison/slave pods together with all other goods/cargo. It's should not together in same room, I think. if prison or slave free, they easy reach those goods that might weapon, or steal/damage goods, beside that, it's awesome news upgrade you showing us.

    13. Missing avatar

      Michael on

      Yay, science fiction.

    14. Missing avatar

      Jymm on

      Like many other backers, I am continually impressed with your well-thought out design concepts. These may be some of the best-designed space freighters I've seen in a game. I'm also really struck by your art design also. I find almost everything you've come out with very visually appealing. Dynamic and eye-catching yet pragmatic and realistic. Incredible.

      My only fear is scope creep. It was a risk I worried about during the KS campaign. The design is so ambitious and includes so many distinct components. If it all flows together well at the end this game will be mind-blowing. Or it could be a half-baked mess if you run out of time or genius.

      I'll be rooting for you right to the finish line!

    15. Missing avatar

      Marsell on

      Perihelion: If I have to deal with that, I will, but I'd really rather deal with the pointy end of the spear, even logistics, but not trade routes. Perhaps consider a "I'm stupid, give me an assistant", or "I'm stupid, leave it to the empire" for those of us who really only care about military matters. The assistant doesn't even need to do anything fancy in-game, just keep some weaponry rolling in.

    16. Perihelion Interactive LLC Creator on

      @Battlement: ;)
      @Marsell: Your main concern will be to set up the infrastructure (bases, trade agreements) and provide resources (freighters, escort ships etc). After that the trade convoys will run automatically while you go off to plunder the galaxy
      @Noah Ellis: Can you be a bit more specific?
      @Kelly: Well what you are asking from a mod perspective seems to be along the lines of a) can you add custom meshes? and b) can you add new resource types? The answer to both questions is YES
      @Asko: Our ship designer and destruction demo shows how the shield work, you can check it in a video by Scott Manley for more details:…

    17. Battlement on

      The title of your update “Loose Lips Sink Ships” reminds me of a PSA I saw on AFN the other day… “Loose Tweets Sink Fleets”… =)

    18. Missing avatar

      Marsell on

      I hope it'll be possible to completely bypass trading, for those of us who are only interested in tactical engagements. A lot of people seem to find trading interesting, but I find it dreadfully dull -- an annoying distraction from the meaty bits, unless it's me disrupting someone's supply chain.

      That aside, the design of the cargo ships is really nicely done. I like the pragmatic angle.

    19. Missing avatar

      Noah Ellis on

      Perihelion, it strikes me that you should check out some images of European barges, in particular German ones that operate on the great rivers of Europe (in particular the Rhine). Certain elements might be useful...

    20. Kelly Costanza, OOoE's Faceless Lord on

      So, I saw the loot picture and in the loot I saw a golden statue and that got me thinking...

      As part of the "Mod Friendly" intentions, could you make, for lack of a better word, "trophy plates" that can be used to select from a database of meshes and skins that modder can add in? Should someone go the piratic route, it only makes sense that they would put their nicer captured lucre on display to show how mighty they are. And normal captains may decide, "You know what, a nice painting of Weapon X clawing the guts out of Omega Red would go nice, right about there. Right between the coat of arms of my family and my knighthood."

      Customizing tools. Heck yeah. :D

      And keep up the good work on the game!

    21. Christopher Wolfe on

      Asko: The ship building mockup that they made earlier showed that warships have some kind of damage absorbing energy shield, if such a thing were universal it could go a long way to explain how they can manage with an open hold like this. Also, depending on the size of the containers, and the details of the locking system, it's not inconceivable that they could pump atmosphere into the containers for the cargo that requires it. It seems unlikely that it would be done this way, but the containers could be converted into passenger cabins if conditions were right. I doubt it would catch on as a way to transport people, but you never know.

    22. RudeReality on

      Peri: you guys are awesome, in both the the fruits of the work you are showing us, as well as the great communication with the backers! You all DESERVE to have massive success with the Mandate and we are all on the edge of our seats waiting to get our hands on it! Keep up the stellar work!

    23. Perihelion Interactive LLC Creator on

      @Joshua Durham: One word, mod support! ;)
      @Lars: The pallets are around 3x3 m and the containers are 42 m long. The size of the merchant star base is not final
      @RudeReality: Q ships is an interesting concept and something we have toyed around with but we will need to see how it will fit in with our existing art budget
      @Christoph Nelles: The brig is shown in the deck plan for the frigate if you go a few updates back. As for enemy crew, several options exist: airlock them, ship back to stand trial (especially in the case of pirates), forced labor (we were toying with the idea of having penal colonies that require/consume prisoners to output valuable ore etc), sell as slaves, interrogate (certain officers or captains) or perhaps try to recruit.
      @Adam Gordon: Depending on where you are travelling and what objective you seek to accomplish, bringing along a freighter or an auxiliary ships (troop transport/hospital ship/tender) may indeed be smart

    24. Missing avatar

      Joshua Durham on

      When I was reading though the different cargo types, for a moment I misread the food cargo as "poop" cargo. I immediately imagined attacking a convey and losing men, weapons and ships only to discover I raided a cargo full of poop.

    25. Lars on

      Instead of typing it all over again, let's just say that I agree completely with the comments below. Very interesting!

      One question though: why is the width of the merchant star base exactly 5750 meters? What measurements are you using for pallets and containers?

    26. Missing avatar

      Matthew Philpott on

      I'm enjoying learning more about the game with every update. I imagine there'll be a interesting challenge, balancing frequency and size of the transports, versus the risk of them being lost.

    27. Geoffrey Hebel on

      with just about every update you guys do i get more excited to play this game. keep it up and eventually the end product will be superb

    28. RudeReality on

      Love it! The modular design is very practical, allowing for different containers with specialized functions like having on-board life support for living or otherwise 'fragile' cargos and more spartan units carrying goods that require no special subsystems, all within a single ship. This is very in-line to cargo haulers used today. My next thought is on the viability of 'disguised' warships utilizing transport hulls, like the 'Q' ships used by the British during WWII. Having a few 'wolves-in-sheep's clothing' would make for a nasty surprise for a prospective pirate looking for an easy mark and likewise make for an excellent pirate raider for those wishing to hoist the 'Jolly Rogers' and go hunting. Not as sturdy as a dedicated warship, but with proper use could be a very dangerous and flexible ship for a would be pirate. Me wants!

    29. tox1c5lug - Evil Banker of the O O on

      Wow, you guys keep blowing me away!

    30. Rand Chua TL on

      Happy to see this update!

    31. Missing avatar

      Ryan Smith on

      Looking at this again. I do like how you need stuff to get manpower. I wonder if it is food or something else. Hmmm

    32. Missing avatar

      Ryan Smith on

      Thanks for the update. It made my lunch break haha. I like how you explained everything. I do like the idea that the freighters can just release cargo and not have to have people go on the ship and ferry it back and forth. Thank you for the wonderful update :)

    33. Missing avatar

      Christoph Nelles

      Are prisoners common or are this some high ranking prisoners? Have you consider POWs, e.g. after capturing a ship and staffing it with a prize crew? Kill them all or are they to put into these pods? Have you planned a brig or something like this?

    34. Kyle Schleich

      Very nice. I never thought cargo could look this great!

    35. Asko Metsäpelto on

      I like the "open" cargo ships. It also gives a very functional/spartan look. Only the bare necessities are on the ship and since the containers are airproof there is no need to keep them inside the hull. (On the other hand, some shielding is nice because otherwise the outermost containers are likely to get hit by meteors and random junk, not to mention weapons fire.)

      This does mean that cargo ships are unlikely to carry passengers unless there is a special section with passenger compartments.

    36. J.L. on

      Oh my, got to love it. (c: Well done, Peri! Can barely wait!

    37. xlynx on

      External containers are a great idea, however, in imagining if ships would really be designed this way, I've realised some cargo would be damaged by lack of gravity or the cold temperatures (moreso than low pressure or oxygen).

      You could get around this by either requiring some cargo types to be only stored in the hold, or highly advanced containers which are like basic mini ships on their own, perhaps containing the occasional platform for subterfuge?

      It could also be that the ships force field protects the containers from the harshnesses of space, but that would imply the loss of some contents if shields go down during flight.

    38. Brett Harrington on

      Thanks for the update, folks! Wonderful attention to detail on these ideas.

    39. Jean-Luc Picard on

      Love how you guys think. You're really nailing down these design concepts in every update. Jury's still out on execution of course. ;)

    40. Missing avatar

      JediaKyrol on

      cargo ship raiding? glee! What about smuggling? ...and HOBOS!?!

    41. Missing avatar

      Adam Gordon on

      makes me think a bit about Nathan Lowell's "Traders tales from the Golden age of the Solar clipper" Interesting update! Will we be able to keep frighters in our fleet to pick up cargo contairers when raiding?