'The Mandate' Sci-Fi RPG Aims For A 'Firefly,' 'Star Trek' Level Of Captain Experience

the mandate sci fi rpg
Character lineup for The Mandate. (c) Perihelion Interactive

At E3 2016, we spoke with Perihelion Interactive’s Art Director, Garret AJ, about its successful Kickstarter and upcoming sci-fi title The Mandate. According to AJ, The Mandate takes influence from sci-fi classics like Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek and even Firefly.

“We’re inspired by all these shows that we know and love, where you have a captain and there’s a crew and the crew are characters on your ship,” he said.  

The captain experience is a major concern of the development team. Part of making the captain experience rock solid is making the crew vital to the gameplay, which blends a sandbox-style, sci-fi RPG with RTS elements. “So an RPG has attributes that you can upgrade, but in this, your crew are your attributes. You have your science officer, your engineering officer, your weapons officer, your security guy, your astrigation -- that’s like navigation - and as you upgrade them, you as the player get better at controlling your ship,” he said.

For example, if you receive a transmission from someone who needs help with an engineering issue, your engineering officer will be able to speak up and resolve the situation in a way that wouldn’t be possible without them.

There are two modes: an overworld exploration/adventure mode, and an RTS space combat element. “You’re flying around the open ocean of space, someone doesn’t like you, they want to fight you. You zoom in and end up in space combat,” AJ said.

“However you’ve upgraded your ship, however skilled your officers are, will build your stats. You go in and you try to out-do the enemy. You either blow them up or disable them. If you have a disabled ship, you’re safe to board the enemy ship. You can go inside with an elite team and you can capture it from the inside.”

But here’s where the captain experience becomes critical: you don’t want to lose that high-leveled engineering officer and all the dialogue options they can offer you. “So many times you have like 100 crew, and then you get into a fight, now you have 75 crew. Now you have to refuel the crew. We want these characters to have names - you don’t want to lose them,” AJ said.

If the crew is one half of the captain experience, the ship is definitely the other. The Mandate boasts several different factions which change both gameplay and aesthetic elements and has an extensive set of completed assets for ships of each faction.  

“Your ship is essentially your set of armor,” said AJ. “So the same ship [can be] upgraded in different ways... There’s different upgrades for each part. There’s 30 different ways you could arrange your ship. Each faction currently has - and I’m not telling you we’re planning on this, I’m saying this stuff’s done - five ships, from frigate, to destroyer, light cruiser, heavy cruiser, to a battle cruiser. And they all have 30 different variants too. It’s the beauty of doing things in a modular way.”

Of course, as you progress, you’re able to buy bigger ships with different add-ons that give you distinct advantages in combat. “As the art director, my goal is: you jump into battle, you see your enemy’s ship, and I want people to see - oh my goodness, that’s the heavy weapons, or they’ve got a hangar bay,” AJ said. You even have a home base where you do upgrades and repairs, or customize your ship if you’ve obtained the right blueprints. Each ship’s bridge is unique to their faction, with its own look and feel.

“The orientation of each bridge, we kept it similar because the bridge is an interface for you. We didn’t want the player to have to relearn an interface every time they decided to fly in an Arkwright ship or a Romanov ship,” said AJ.

The factions’ design differences extend to the space stations encountered in the overworld. For example, the wealthy Romanovs have “really fancy and kind of pompous-looking ships” and stations like floating hotels, while the stolid and aggressive Arkwrights field “big chunky ships” with a station design to match. “Currently, the ships and the space stations are built. At the moment we’re still pre-alpha, putting everything together. We’ve got a lot of toys in our toy box,” said AJ.

If you’re interested in checking the game out, even though it’s currently at pre-alpha, you can. “This started with a Kickstarter, so we do have Kickstarter backers who will have access to the alpha. As we go on to beta, I think we’ll be allowing access to that as well. It’s all on Steam,” AJ said.

You can check out more at The Mandate’s Steam Greenlight page here, web site here, or Kickstarter page here.

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