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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.

Operation Reclamation

Posted by Perihelion Interactive LLC (Creator)
Hey backers,

Time for another update! Today we start by outlining a schedule for the next few updates: 

  • Update #42 boarding combat (this update)
  • Update #43 space combat
  • Update #44 (tentatively) status of development

When discussing the boarding combat it makes sense to first talk about some of our goals for the boarding operations.

The Mandate focuses on the crew inside your space ships and the marines are an important part of your crew. We want boarding combat to come alive with drama and action. These interactions will be more high-paced than space combat, with ample explosions, memorable characters and the occasional acts of heroism or stupidity. After a firefight, the corridors should look banged up with bullet marks and bodies.

Scalability is an important property for two reasons. First we want you to be able to manage anything from a couple of fire teams to a dozen squads as you build up your strength. Secondly some players prefer to be hands off while others like to micromanage. We plan to facilitate both approaches and this requires clear communication through the GUI to give feedback and critical information on anything that could affect your decision making process. Furthermore, the marines need to be semi-autonomous and able to act without detailed input from the player.

We touched on the GUI and familiarity is important and we also acknowledge that space combat and boarding combat in The Mandate have a lot of depth and there will be a learning curve to master each mode. Therefore we are investing time and effort to ensure the space combat GUI and the boarding combat GUI use similar metaphors. As part of this process we reached out to select members of the community who have provided very useful feedback. When we present the space combat GUI in update #43 you will see the similarities with the boarding combat GUI later in this update.

Moving along, we want to make you feel like you are commanding proper marines (from rookies to battle-hardened veterans) and their behaviour should be suitably "military". This means that the traditional real-time strategy approach -which involves box-selecting a bunch of different units and telling them to go somewhere- does not really work for us. Instead we are relying on concepts like fire teams, squads, battle drills and the "maneuver wheel". We will explain all these terms a bit later in this update.

So what are the steps a boarding operation will go through? First of all you need to decide how many marines to assign to a boarding operation as well as what type of equipment they should bring along. There are several things to consider here including the expected enemy resistance, the skill of your marines as well as what type of equipment you have in your armoury.

So who are your marines? A marine is a member of your crew who belongs to the security service branch and has received training in boarding operations. Marines can either be generalists (riflemen) or specialists that focus on for example breaching (combat engineers) or first aid (combat medics).

Once the equipment loadout has been selected you can then assign your marines to assault transports. As part of this process you, the captain, also define the Mission Order which is basically a fancy word for informing your marine commanding officer about which ship should be boarded as well as how many marines are available. We are not expecting you to sit and type this document out but rather we plan to use the choices you make to generate the Mission Order for you. This is similar to the character prologue tool where we put together your military dossier based on the choices you made when generating your character.

One part of the Mission Order where you do get to give input is Rules of Engagement. It defines (among other things) how to handle non-combatants (neutrals), what to do with enemies that surrender as well as weapons posture: basically whether your marines can open fire at will or first need to identify new contacts as enemies. For example you could imagine a hostage situation where you really want your marines to be careful. Similarly if you are playing as a pirate you may not care or wish to restrain your (pirate) marines. If Mission Orders and Rules of Engagement does not sound like your cup of tea, do not worry, you will be able to select from pre-made templates instead. In addition to specifying the Rules of Engagement we are discussing ways to allow you to inject extra side objectives for your marines which if completed successfully may grant extra experience to your marines.

Speaking of experience, at the start of the game you will start out with green marines. They know which way to point their weapons but that is basically it. As your marines take part in (and survive) boarding operations, they will gain experience and become better marines that also work more efficiently together. There are three components that factor into the performance of your marines: their individual skill, their formation's experience and the skill of their squad leader.

Formations, you may be asking? Well, initially your marines will be organized into fire teams of up to four marines each. In The Mandate the fireteam is your basic tactical unit. Later on you may promote experienced marines to squad leaders who can lead squads. A squad contains two fire teams and up to eight marines. Squad leaders may in turn be promoted to platoon leaders and your best platoon leader can be promoted to company commander. A platoon contains four squads and a company contains three platoons; for a total of twelve squads or 96 marines. Since this is a lot of numbers, the diagram above should sum this all up nicely.

Now, assuming that our assault transport managed to successfully dock with the target ship and unload marines, we may start the boarding operation. Remember that this takes place in real-time while space combat is going on outside the ship. In any event you can pause the game at any time to appraise the tactical situation. For space combat we showed off the battle orchestrator earlier this year and you may remember that we also demonstrated a waypoint system to plan the movement of your ships. For boarding operations you will have access to similar planning tools to maneuver your fire teams and squads.

Before we continue we want to introduce the boarding combat GUI which you can see below. It has five major elements:

  • the picture in picture which gives you an idea of what is going on outside the ship that you are currently boarding
  • the objectives tracker which lists what objectives your marines must accomplish
  • the mini-map which gives information about your immediate surroundings
  • the action panel which contains the ability buttons and the maneuver wheel
  • the squad panel which lists your squads and individual soldiers as well as their status  

The first three elements should be familiar from other games so we will skip over these and instead focus on the last two: the action panel and the squad panel. The action panel contains ability buttons, the "maneuver wheel" and go codes. Each ability button icon corresponds to equipment or skills for your selected squad and so is based on the experience of your marines or the equipment you issued them with before they boarded the assault transport. Examples of abilities include grenade throw, snipe, suppressive fire, first aid and hack.

Moving on we have the "go codes". If you place out multiple waypoint orders (see below) for a squad, you can use “go codes” to inject artificial pauses, causing a halt for that squad. This could be useful when maneuvering several squads and you want squad A to reach a waypoint and then wait for squad B to get into position before moving to the next waypoint. Our goal here is to make the planning and syncing the squad maneuvers as easy to manage as possible.

Next up we have the maneuver wheel. It includes an outer ring with three initiative stances: reactive, balanced & aggressive. The initiative stance allows you to set how much speed and risk your marines should take when performing the orders that you give them. Should your marines move slowly and use cover, or sprint and move quicker but exposing themselves more to enemy fire? Inside the maneuver wheel you will find a total of seven waypoint order buttons. You can click a waypoint order and then place it in the main view to issue an order to your selected squad. So far, so good. Where things get a bit more tricky... uhm … interesting is that an order is modified by the current initiative stance. Let us take an example in the form of the "move to” waypoint type (three arrows pointing up):

  • reactive stance: move to
  • balanced stance: attack
  • aggressive stance: assault 

If you think about it, most real-time strategy games already have these commands. The combination of an initiative stance and a waypoint order result in a specific movement pattern (formation) and pacing (slow/fast) for your selected squad. This is what we call a battle drill, which is a military term that defines specific formations and maneuvers. Our battle drills are based on the ones used in close quarter combat but we are modifying them to work for our purposes.

With three initiative stances and seven waypoint order types this gives potentially 21 battle drills. Another way to look at battle drills is to think of it as choreography and how to show unit behaviour. You may think that 21 battle drills is a lot but keep in mind that at the start of The Mandate you will only have rookie squads and these only have access to the first initiative stance: reactive. In addition they have access to only a couple of the waypoint order types but as your squads gain experience they unlock new initiative stances and waypoint order types and by extension new battle drills. Alternatively, you really only have a total of seven waypoint order types, but you on top decide to be defensive, neutral or aggressive. 

For boarding operations we model both suppression (your marines being shot at and pinned, slowing them down) as well as morale. Suppression is tracked on a squad basis and is embedded into the maneuver wheel (red colour). Suppression is a counter to initiative and as you take more suppression, your squads may not be able to operate as fast or swiftly as before. In game terms this means that an initiative stance becomes unavailable due to suppression. As squads take more suppression this may affect morale. Morale is tracked per marine and unless your squad leader is able to rally marines, they may start to panic, run away or go berserk.

Now that we have gone over the major elements of the action panel it makes sense to turn our attention to the squad panel which is situated at the bottom center of the screen. The squad panel gives important information about the squads under your command including how many marines are in each squad, whether they have taken casualties or something urgent requires your attention. Hostile contacts in the form of enemy squads will also be listed in the squad view.

Your units can be controlled in one of two modes: squad mode or individual mode. In squad mode you give orders to your squad as a whole by using a combination of initiative stance and waypoint order type which will execute a specific battle drill. In addition you can toggle on/off individual abilities to allow/disallow your squad from using these. For example you may want to disable the use of grenades if the squad is moving through a volatile area or there is a lot of expensive equipment nearby that you wish to preserve and not accidentally damage.

In the example above we have selected squad Alpha and picked the “move to” waypoint type. Since our squad is in the balanced initiative stance, squad Alpha will attempt to execute the “attack” battle drill.

The other mode, individual mode, can be activated by selecting a marine within one squad. This allows you to activate his/her abilities directly as well as specify where he or she should move. So ability buttons function slightly differently in squad mode and individual mode.

In the example above we have selected squad Alpha and then Asbury who is the squad leader. We are currently checking the range of Asbury’s rally ability to see if it can reach Nahasa and Haywood in order to rally them. Nahasa is the leader of fireteam #2 in the squad and her morale is wavering. Haywood and Kennie were bunk buddies, and Haywood who is also the squad combat medic panicked upon seeing his best friend killed in front of him.

Well there you have it, our goals with the boarding combat and quite a bit of details about how exactly your marines and squads will operate. We hope this overview of the boarding operations was an interesting read and gave you some new insight about The Mandate.

PS! Whereas the GUI is tweaked in Photoshop the corridors and associated art assets that you see are taken from our prototype


Your friends at Perihelion Interactive

Ronald Wanders, Vojta Růžek, and 125 more people like this update.


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    1. Jesse Pope on

      PI, I know you're busy and everything, but I'm dying over here. Can I get the space combat update yet? I'm stuck in Kuwait on active duty and I can't wait for this game to get to alpha/beta.

    2. Missing avatar

      SpaceVoyager on

      A question on boarding; will it be possible to shuttle in reinforcements from other ships if your ship is being boarded and will your opponents be doing the same? Also, can you add additional soldiers when your boarders are in a tight spot?

    3. Missing avatar

      ChrisD on

      This update is so promising :)

    4. karl smith on

      Can't wait to get my hands on the beta

    5. Missing avatar

      Dipree on

      Great work, love it!

    6. Missing avatar

      Jabberwok on

      Now I really want to play as a pirate.
      I am very, very curious as to how you are going to balance boarding and ship combat so that they will work well simultaneously. Seems like it could be difficult, but also really great if done correctly.
      I am wondering how realistic suppression is going to be. Will it result in soldiers spending more time in cover, or will it just slow movement? The latter seems like it would look very unrealistic in real time.
      Also, I like that abilities can just be toggled on and off, instead of always requiring my input to be used.

    7. Missing avatar

      Chlom on

      Way to go! This is by far the best consept I've seen and\or heard of in any strategy game. If you can make this work, then hooray!

    8. Amenomade on

      @PI Agreed on multi monitor for separate activity support, the only game that use it properly ( for me ) is SupCommander and it's useful, it does it by having another process running in full screen on the other monitor.

      And if you can support more, like any number of monitors, as I have 3, I would happily appreciate managing my base, commanding the fleet and watching boarding at the same time. :)

    9. Tobi (Crusader Kickstarter pls!!) on

      this stuff looks fantastic! really looking forward to the game. I just hope you have the ressources to implement all your great ideas...

    10. Daniel Berke on

      This is something I've been wondering, about, since I couldn't see how to get a traditional RTS-style interface to really work, and a turn-based system would be out of the question due to the demands of simultaneity. This system looks quite fun and interesting – I like the proposed method of starting rookie squads out with limited options that then expand along with a new player's ability to comprehend them.

      Chong Yee Chia brought up something I thought was interesting further down regarding the picture-in-picture capability, and the possibility of having it be its own separate window that could be run on a second monitor if the player has one. I have two monitors myself for increased productivity, but most games don't take advantage of or don't work well with two monitors (unless you like a large bevel between the two halves!). How awesome would it be to fully utilize both monitors with a full-size view of a boarding action going on in one and an overview of the space combat in the other!

      I'm not experienced enough with programming to know if this is utterly infeasible, so feel free to ignore it if it would be too much work.

    11. Missing avatar

      Iustin Pop on

      Awesome update! but… they killed Kennie???

    12. Derrick Hayden on

      Holy....this is insane. If you manage to get just half of what was described here it would make the best tactical game ever, let alone if you implement all of it. Well done, so far i am very impressed.

    13. Missing avatar

      Thomas on

      Wow this looks amazing. You are pleasantly surprising me!

    14. Sean Frank-James Bongiovanni on

      21 Battle Drills isn't a lot, it's not something you'd think about on the fly. "Oh, let me just look at this 21-order list here..." You choose one, then you choose the other. It's really just two choices that you can have in a myriad of ways. It's simple, it's complex, and I like it. You boys have done a good job on this update.

    15. NobleBrutus on

      I can't wait to see a functional implementation of this - I love where you're going!

    16. Devon Mullane on

      I suppose I should type a longer comment, but honestly I'm just excited. This sounds really awesome and I wholly support your design.

    17. Jason Garner on

      Wow so impressed by this update and love the fact that one of the secondary objectives is to complete the action within 20 minutes because it means internal fights aren't going to be two minute jobs but actual proper little skirmishes in their own rights leading to an epic game overall.

    18. Missing avatar

      SpaceVoyager on

      Love it. Bill Schneider more or less summed things up for me, too.

    19. David Nemeskey on

      Very nice and well thought-out control scheme, but I still think that 21 options are way too much. But we'll see. However, my question is: will it be possible to board a ship without _any_ input from the player (i.e. having the operation complete in a fully automatic fashion)? I am pretty sure I will enjoy boarding ships as the next person, but maybe not the fifth identical cargo freighter.

      Another, but related question: if there is a fully automatic mode, will the marines also gain ship type-related experience? I.e. will they be better at seizing controls of a ship type which they know better (either because they have fought a lot in that type of ship or because it is of the same class as the player's)?

    20. LuckyLuigi on

      My smile is so big I worry about my jaw falling off

    21. Missing avatar

      Lars Møller on

      Probably one of the most promising and extensive KS updates ever! I am so looking forward to this!

    22. Rune

      Oh my! What a read! If you manage to pull this off, the Mandate is going to introduce a new era in the RTS genre. I particularly liked how you have come up with a system where the individual squad members relations to each other can affect their morale.

    23. Rand Chua TL on

      The fire team group of 4 units, remind me of the game Company of Heroes.
      Noted crew member death effect morale during combat a lot. Like the other marine that is shouting angrily in the picture. ^_^

    24. Michael Jones on

      Objectives: hang on, so is the game selecting objectives for your squad or are you? because being captain and all....if the objectives are set by us will it make the troops auto-complete those objectives if we dont want to micro-manage? also side objectives are set by us? to i dont know...increase need/desperation of our marines? or just auto-set to complete for bonus veterancy? whats the point of the objectives panel? =)

    25. Daniel McMinn on

      And here I thought I couldn't get more excited about The Mandate. I was wrong. If you can pull this off, it won't just be a great part of the game mechanically, it'll also have a great battlefield atmosphere.

      Can't wait to enter into the service of the Empress. /salute

    26. Kjell E on

      Wow! This is a VERY impressive set up for boarding combat! ... If you guys are able to pull off a smooth gameplay experience with the combat system you've described here, then - really -The Mandate will knock the socks off other contemporary squad-combats such as "new" X-COM.

      Keep up the good work!

    27. Johan Nilsson on

      Wow! This update was a really awesome read. The Mandate will be an amazing game. Keep up the great work!

    28. tox1c5lug - Evil Banker of the O O on

      Always a pleasure to read The Mandate updates. I cannot wait for this game to be released.

    29. Missing avatar

      Ryan Smith on

      This made my week. I knew we would get one soon. Also thank you for letting us know what the next few updates will be. I like knowing. Everything sounds really good. I am excited to see how it will all play out. Can your squads earn any experiance from drills? Or is it all combat? Also the art looks beautiful :).

    30. Zombra on

      I especially love the concept of stances influencing the exact nature of orders. Should make commanding squads very fluid. Well done!

    31. Chong Yee Chia on

      Wow this is incredible!
      Just the picture of the marine assault force forcing entry to the engineering is already pumping up my adrenaline!
      The high resolution, texture and the details tells me great amount of effort has been put into making them!!

      I have 2 suggestions.

      As said, the ship battle and the boarding party action take place simultaneously.
      Is it possible to have a separate window appears for the boarding party together with the main window showing the ship battle actions --> dual monitors. This allows the captain to control both the ship battle and the boarding party actions at the same time.
      Unique situation where the captain can coordinate ship battle actions to the boarding party action or vice versa. e.g. captain timing a beam attack at certain position of enemy ship to coordinate with boarding party assault at the same position.

      Second, is it possible for the boarding party to do EVA during the boarding action?
      Say, a marine boarding party encounter strong defensive position, say 2-3 marines exit out nearby airlock and scale the outside of the ship to another airlock and come up behind enemy and flank enemy's position.
      This also provide another unique boarding situation for the marine boarding party to support ship battle actions, taking out enemy ship special powerful ship weapons.
      Also possible to have battles between the marine boarding party and enemy security details fighting on the ship surface defending/crippling this special powerful weapons!
      --> like the Star Trek: First Contact space walk battle between the Borg and the Jean Luc Picard team on the surface of Enterprise scene.

      I am so looking for The Mandate beta's!!

    32. Missing avatar

      Scott Sanford on

      This update may push this to my most anticipated game, and I am anticipating a lot of games. The boarding combat makes this a unique game in a pleasantly crowded space combat genre. Looks awesome!

    33. Missing avatar

      Ferdinand Fuchs on

      I really love the concept and tactical depth - the only thing I'm a bit worried about, is that it could become overwhelming to manage multiple squads in different parts of a ship, or even multiple ships, while at the same time also managing the ship to ship combat.
      I know that you can let AI take over the other squads, ships, etc., but have you considered a real time with pause(or greatly slowed speed) approach? (Where pausing e.g. limits your tactical overview but gives theplayer a breather to issue commands)

    34. Gabriel on

      This is so cool, I can't even begin to explain. I'm excited! I'm a huge fan of everything you guys have decided on. The game looks great so far, both visually and mechanics-wise.

      My only real comment is that I don't really see the ''hands off"' approach being useful right now. I really liked playing games like Magesty, where you couldn't control your soldiers at all! I hope you guys make it so you can't instantly control your soldiers, though. As much as I like having the pause element (since so much stuff is happening, and since you can apparently get up to ~90 soldiers into a fight whilst still fighting a space battle) I hope that there will be some delay to factor in the time it takes to communicate over the radio. This leaves more to the individual soldiers' AI, which I think would feel more like BSG. Having the commander instantly micromanage everything is a little over-powered. That, and it would add some of the real-time stress back into the game, since even if you paused to check out the board, you know that you commands might not get to a particular unit in time to save it from something bad.

      Still, you guys clearly know what you want from the game, and all of the decisions you've made have been really incredible. No mater what, this game looks like it's shaping up to be pretty amazing. Nice job!

    35. Johnny Go-Time on

      lol at screenshot #5: The Mandate by Trey Parker & Matt this confirmation of the long-rumoured South Park DLC???

      These updates are blowing my mind! If you could offer another chance to get a discount on the first 3 Content Packs, I will throw more $$$ at you :)

    36. Missing avatar

      r hale on

      An incredible amount of work went into designing this process, very nicely done. I am afraid to ask specifics because this is just design stage work, but if there is boarding action in multi-player are you planning to elaborate on defending against boarders?

    37. Jean-Luc Picard on

      Wow, just wow.

      I hope you guys can achieve a good pace of battle that allows ship combat and boarding to happen in parallel without feeling messy so that boarding is viable mid-battle (in conjunction with ship combat) and not just as a post-battle operation to capture disabled ships.

      Making that happen probably requires a slower pace and ships that can withstand punishment for an extended time so that all the tactical options can come into play.

    38. Missing avatar

      Skiddywinks on

      Guys. Guys. I need to play this game.

    39. Missing avatar

      Darkwhite on

      The more I see, the more I wish there were ways to add some more $ to the pledge...

    40. Bill Schneider on

      This is actually amazing. I was worried that boarding might be a bit secondary and kind of like 'box select, move here' RTS but what you've shown is actually awesome and looks like it would feel really authentic and fun. I especially like how, in the images, marines are behind cover - cover-to-cover fighting is what I was hoping for.

      I would like to know if your ROE and their execution is going to affect your marines, crew, officers and the enemy (their likelihood to surrender, morale and morale/response to you after you've won). I.E. if you are running a mandate ship and you've told your marines to indiscriminately kill anyone they see, and take no quarter, will this affect their morale badly? Whereas pirates would not necessarily respond badly to this. Similarly, will your officers or crew be a bit disturbed seeing your disregard for enemy noncoms or your orders to take no quarter? And if you are shooting prisoners, will the enemy be less likely to surrender? Can you get a reputation for ruthlessness that causes the enemy to fight all the harder (or panic more quickly)?

      My second question is what is the interaction between space and boarding combat? Can you target parts of a ship to aid your shipboard combat (even targeting a part of your own ship with another one to try to take out boarders). Can holes be blown in the hull and expose corridor fights, changing the surroundings and maybe exposing enemy to your own marines by blowing away bulkheads (with the obvious risk that you'll kill your own troops instead - shipboard weapons would be overkill to an individual marine I imagine!)

      And thirdly, can you train your men outside of combat? If you could only get experience by fighting it may be a bit odd. For example, crack troops now aren't constantly in combat, they are trained and trained and trained. Obvioulsy combat experience is vital and in the game should be much, much better, but can you also train your men up in exercises aboard your ship or at your stations? It could even be really fun to set up and play through 'exercises' where you have part of you noncom crew play 'enemy boarders' or defenders and play through an attack with weapons and armour programmed to 'exercise' mode, i.e. laser indicating where shots would go and armour immobilizing 'hit' marines.

    41. J.L. on

      Looks positively lovely. (c:

      Looking forward to the day we can play, keep up the good work!

    42. Robert Stewart on

      One question about the marine organisation: are platoon leaders included in the platoon's 4 squads of 8, or are they (and the Company Commander) additional personnel bringing the total up to 100 marines?