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The Mandate isn’t about being a ship in space. We have worked hard to create a dynamic chain of command flowing through both metal and flesh, ultimately giving you in-depth strategy, and exciting role-play mechanics with events inspired by the themes of science fiction TV shows such as Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek.
Please be aware that the following is subject to change throughout the pre-production phase, and this space will be updated according to current and future design plans. Also, battles conducted in space will be explained in a follow-up article but for now we’re focusing on the crew management and the isometric view with which you explore the ship, and control your crew.
With the Character Prologue (which we will launch a preview of soon), you will design your own spaceship captain, pick his/her attributes and chronicle the events that lead up to your court martial.
Remember, you are at the top of the chain and get to handpick your officers who will serve below you and direct your crew. Each officer can be put in charge of a work crew that manages one system aboard the ship, like the reactor, engines, weapons or defensive systems like shields or cloaking devices. As your ship takes damage and your crew is wounded or killed, each system will work at a reduced efficiency, and if you do not issue orders to repair in time, the damage may be permanent and require a refit at a friendly starbase.
Depending on your difficulty setting, your officers can be severely wounded, or die permanently (roguelike). On the higher difficulty settings you may need a constant stream of new recruits and officers to replace your losses. However, the officers that do survive will become battle-hardened veterans and may qualify for command of a starship or a star base. Train your crew into a well drilled war machine.
As the crew is layered according to title, so too is the ship according to system. Pierce the energy shields, then the armor plating and bulkheads before puncturing the hull. Once the hull is breached, watch as the crew within that area - or subsystem - is vented into space. You’ll see the inside from the outside, and the outside from the inside.
As the captain you can move around freely inside your ship. Depending on how strict you are with discipline, your crew and officers may stop to salute you, or they may ignore you, especially if off duty. As captain you can set the crew shift roster or delegate this to your 1st officer. Via the shift roster you can manage how the crew will be deployed for different action-states: “battlestations”, “repel boarding party”, “ramming speed”, “condition clear” etc. You create templates for each action-state and customize crew deployment for later use.
To summarize, you will directly control your captain from an isometric view and can move him or her around the ship and also issue commands directly to crew members. Alternatively, you can use predefined action-states (as discussed above) which will define unit formations as in soccer, or a war game.
The formation determines how many, and where, the crew is deployed, which in turn affect the performance of your ship. This way you can effortlessly switch between different action-states as needed without having to switch between 3D space view and isometric view.
Enlisted and Officers
You will begin the game with a skeleton crew aboard a single frigate. As you explore the universe and progress through the game, your relative weakness should be short lived. Larger ships require larger and more specialized crews, as well as more experienced officers to lead them on your behalf to offload you and let you focus on the important decisions. As captain you do not normally deal directly with every individual enlisted and instead you rely on your officers to manage them on your behalf.
The crew on your ship is divided as follows:
- ‘Enlisted’ make up the bulk of your crew and are the seaman, able seaman, petty officers etc that run your ships
- They are lead by non-commissioned officers (NCO) who report to you, the captain
- On larger ships the non-commissioned officers may report to an intermediate level which are the commissioned officers who in turn report to you
- Once you become a flag officer, you may commission your own flagship and pick a capable captain as your 1st officer while you yourself command and oversee your battle squadron and focus on the big picture. Of course you are free to continue managing your crew as before if you prefer this.
As your crew gain experience, they will become more efficient and candidates for promotion. As the ranking officer in your sector of space it falls on you, the captain, to promote deserving crew members. This is both a good way to improve morale and nurture talented crew members. Eventually a crew member will reach a natural plateau and cannot acquire more skills. As captain you have options:
- Keep the crew member in his/her current position, the crew member will continue to improve in terms of efficiency but not acquire any new skills
- Enroll the crew member in an officer training course at your starbase provided the necessary upgrades are built
- Assign the crew member as an instructor back at your starbase to improve the quality of raw recruits so they have more experience before you take them into battle
- Depending on the crew member, you may need an officer school, a war college or naval academy for either some or all of these options to be available
The Grand Fleet traces its origins many hundred years back and its ranking structure and hierarchy are inspired by that of the navies of old Earth. Below is an illustration that shows how the officers progress through the ranks. On the rightmost row is the final rank that any officer can achieve before he/she must be sent to the officer school, war college or naval academy to continue his or her progression.
Note that enlisted ranks are NOT covered in this overview!
The first row covers the NCO ranks while the commissioned officers are featured on the 2nd and 3rd row. Technically a captain is both a role and a rank and so could occupy any rank on the 2nd and 3rd row. The fourth row is for admiral rank officers who command larger formations of the Grand Fleet like divisions and fleets. The Grand Fleet as a whole is commanded by the Lord High Admiral who is only accountable to the Emperor or Empress or if the Sovereign is indisposed, to the council of Grand Dukes.
As you progress through the game, you will earn promotions, recruit and train officers, and research and construct bigger ships. By mid game you will be able to form a flotilla and bring along escort ships to boost your strength. Eventually you will progress to flag officer rank and may commission a flagship to direct your own battle squadron. While you control your own ship, the other ships in your flotilla or battle squadron are either controlled by NPC captains who report to you, or you can invite other players to join for a shorter or more extended period of time. Transitioning between singleplayer and cooperative mode will be effortless.
We mentioned earlier that you would start the game with a small frigate and a skeleton crew, and we thought we would give you an idea of what the mid to late game could look like if you decide to bring along more than one ship. Below is an example of a fairly powerful battle squadron.
Order of Battle
Battle squadron Azimov - Rear Admiral Cromwell commanding [player character]
- First flotilla
- HMS Admiral Makarov, Battlecruiser [Flagship]
- HMS Warspite, Heavy cruiser
- HMS Hornet, Destroyer
- Second flotilla
- HMS Collinder, Heavy cruiser
- 131st Fighter Squadron "Georges Guynemer"
- 12th Bomber Squadron "Tiger Sharks"
- 71st Bomber Squadron "Red Devils"
- HMS Endeavour, Light cruiser
- 23rd Interceptor Squadron "Richthofen"
- HMS Endurance, Troop Transport
- HMS Collinder, Heavy cruiser
The player character has opted to stay loyal to the Empress which can be seen by the "HMS" prefix [Her Majesty's Ship] in front of the ship names. That being said you can rename all your ships and squadrons as you see fit. Notice that both the Warspite and the Collinder are heavy cruisers and that the latter is configured as a carrier. Of particular note is the troop transport HMS Endurance, which carries both reserve crew to replace crew losses on the other ships as well as a large complement of marines to use for boarding operations. In addition she has extensive medical facilities to hasten the recovery of wounded crew.
Where does your crew come from?
Initially your crew will be a mix of veteran and green crew. Some are pulled from the ranks of the remnants of the Grand Fleet while others are adventurers or maybe ex-cons like yourself. This may create some friction on your ship and it is important that you and your officers do not let things get out of hand or there might be a stand off in the mess hall or worse...
Beyond your Grand Fleet and ex-con crew their background is also defined by which faction they belong to. The faction is important for determining initial starting skills but any crew who works hard may eventually learn any skill. From the four factions (...) we can see their starting skills are as follows:
- Romanov: very good commissioned officers, excellent captains
- Black Eagle: excellent marines, very good non-commissioned officers
- Europa: excellent science officers
- Arkwright: excellent engineers
As you progress through the game you may rescue or hire more crew to join your fledgling fleet. After you have established a base of operations, you may construct crew recruitment facilities which increase the speed of crew recruitment and increase their starting skills. You may also assign veteran crew as instructors to help boost the quality of new recruits.
How do crew gain experience?
All crew will gain experience over time as a function of how long they have served on the ship. In addition crew that are exposed to particularly dangerous situations like taking part in a boarding operation or defending against a hostile boarding, will gain experience quicker. There is a clear risk & reward element here and as such your marines will level up fast, but they are also the first to be put in harms way. It is important to equip them with the latest and greatest personal arms and defence to increase the likelihood of them surviving. Once they hit an experience milestone, they will “level up”. At the same time they will gain new skills which make contextually sense given where and on what type of tasks they have spent the most time.
For enlisted the level up process is automatic and not something the captain would need to concern himself with. For NCOs and commissioned officers, they gain skill points when they are ready to level, and you as captain can assign their skill points and approve their promotion to the next higher rank.
What is the difference between a raw recruit and a veteran?
Beyond the obvious skill difference and efficiency, a veteran crew will generally have higher morale and it will take more to break him or her during battle. Veteran crew may also have a positive morale effect on the crew in their close proximity who feel reassured that they have competent crew backing them up. Veteran marines will be less likely to be suppressed in combat and more deadly.
Wait... morale? How does that work? What about fatigue, eating, resting?
Morale is an important crew statistic, especially during boarding operations. If morale drops too low, a crew member may panic and no longer respond to orders. Having veteran NCOs and commissioned officers close by to rally and lead by example, can help offset low morale. However, if an NCO or even worse a commissioned officer is killed in battle, it can have a devastating effect on the crewmen in his immediate vicinity.
In addition to morale, we also have fatigue which models the level of physical exhaustion. This means that as the combat drags on, both you and your opponents will start to tire out. You can equip your crew with various utilities and consumables that help replenish fatigue, however. In addition making sure your crew gets ample rest will remove fatigue and consequently improve morale.
As for eating, we have not decided exactly how to handle this, after all you are the captain and your quartermaster will see to the provisions of the ship. You may be able to provide exotic foods that can boost the morale of the crew, however.
What other ways are there I can boost morale?
Well, first of all, your behaviour and conduct will set an example for your crew. If you are a pirate captain it makes sense that you behave like a pirate, especially if most of your crew lean in the same direction. Alternatively, acting like a pirate captain who plunders and attacks merchantmen without cause while having a crew of mostly loyalist Grand Fleet crew, may not be such a smart idea -unless you fancy yourself commanding an escape pod!
Secondly, winning battles, while taking minimal losses, and taking prize ships will also improve morale. If your crew is mostly loyalist Grand Fleet, and you behave mostly in accordance with the Articles of War, your crew will respect you for this. That does not mean that you need to be a goodie two shoes all the time, but you should be able to justify your actions, especially towards civilians and merchantmen.
Thirdly, you may customize what type of facilities is installed on your ship. Facilities will be used by crew that is not on duty. For example a holo-deck or an auditorium or a café. You could add facilities that will let crew relax to improve morale and reduce fatigue more quickly.
What other types of facilities can I install and can they affect something else than morale or fatigue?
Sure, depending on the size of your ship, you may add several non-essential facilities. For example you could add additional crew rooms to house more crew, or an armoury to equip your crew with better weapons. Alternatively you could install a gym which will let crew blow off some steam and increase or maintain their physical attributes at the same time. An improved sickbay would speed the recovery of wounded or sick crewmen etc.
Beyond your crew and captain, who else can be on your ship?
Certain quests given by factions may require you to bring along or escort NPCs, like a dignitary (Grand Duke or high ranking officer). In addition if you have taken prisoners, you may hold these in the brig and you can interrogate them later. If you captured a notorious pirate, there may be a sizeable bounty on his head. Also, if you have upgraded your main base with an admiralty court, you could ship him off to face a court martial not unlike the one you faced during the prologue.
Are there other ways to obtain quests as well?
Yes, sometimes there might be an opportunity to accept a quest from one of your crew members. This could involve helping them somehow with a problem they might have, resolving a conflict or similar.
Beyond actual quests what else can happen on the ship?
From time to time, and depending on the state of your ship, we may have certain events. Events are not quests but more situations where you as captain must respond. For example, if during a boarding operation one of your crew disobeyed orders, perhaps due to panic, this is a breach of the Articles of War and may prompt a response one way or the other. Of course if you are a pirate you are free to ignore the Articles of War completely. This also comes down to what type of captain your crew see you as; are you a by-the-book captain or more pragmatic and prefer to improvise? Other examples of events could be saboteurs, stove aways etc. The Articles of War may give further hints as to what we plan on putting in, and we are also listening to the community!