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The Five-hundred Thousand Dollar Question

“How are you going to pull this off?”

October 7, 2013 Perihelion Interactive has had a busy week following coverage from RockPaperShotgun and The Escapist, who said that “there are still many [Kickstarter] ideas we'd love to see completed. One example is The Mandate”.

In three days, the team managed to raise $43,000, with more than 1,200 backers. On Steam Greenlight, The Mandate is 54% of the way to the Top 100, with over 14,400 unique visitors to the game’s page.

On the content side, the team has released a featurette introducing the composer to the game’s magnificent theme, which can be viewed on the Kickstarter update page or on YouTube. Update number 2 also included a role-play Twitter account for one of the games leading characters, the Empress. The Twitter page, found here, introducers players to the life of The Empress, and the unique lore of The Mandate. Written by the lead story writer, Tweets will be posted daily throughout the campaign and offer insight into the Empress, her tragic past and rise to power.

“The burden of the Mandate is the burden of history – we take the burden from our ancestors and pass on to our children.”            - Anastasia Romanova.

Perihelion Interactive has rolled out a new ‘Imperial Propaganda Machine’, which allows people to deface various concept art posters with their own propaganda messages, acting as a meme generator for the game. These are then uploaded to our imgur account and can be linked to Facebook. There are plans to create competitions for the most inventive, or those which use the lore in the most unique way -- that will be announced officially in the coming weeks.

Most importantly of all, Perihelion Interactive has addressed the most pressing question being asked: “how can you deliver all of your promises on $500,000?” The official statement can be read, and published, below:

We are taking the pre-production process very seriously indeed. The combat prototype has been in development for almost a year, and only a subset of it is shown in the ship designer. We will get back to this in more detail later in the campaign.

Pre-production features a skeleton size unit of full-time staff. Other staff are kept informed of creative decisions and when their roles will be needed once production starts. This saves time, money and allows the skeleton team to focus their efforts. Once the production tools are ready, we will ramp up and assign additional full-time staff to their positions. Additionally, we have no big corporate HQ and minimal expenses. Our producer does not have a driving license and as such expenses for company cars will be minimal... (but we might buy him a bicycle).

Our staff understands our budget limitations and the implications for roadmaps and scheduling. We will only hire for position X when it is necessary -not before, and since we have access to a large network of game industry professionals this simplifies the recruitment process. Because we have a clear focus we do not need to give people a task to do merely because they are sitting around. This would be inefficient and wasteful. We will not have Day1 DLCs for the Mandate, and our focus is on delivering the best possible experience at launch to everybody who buys the game. Proper content updates and expansion packs will be planned before launch but developed after based on input from the community, particularly the Kickstarter donors who are our bosses.

On the technological side, Unity3D (the game’s engine) comes with a working world editor, a build system for creating versions of the game, and the ability to deploy to multiple platforms including Windows, Linux, and Mac. In addition we have licenses to a stable, tried and tested network engine which we have already gained valuable experience with. This greatly reduces the time and effort needed beyond integration, bugfixing and maintenance.

Our team has half a century of game development experience between us, including major MMOs. This is a much smaller project than an MMO, which traditionally demands very capable content production tools. We are taking our combined knowledge and experience to setup and structure efficient workflows and production pipelines. This includes decoupling dependencies between art, code and design to minimize the amount of wait-time and avoid blockers.

Middleware is the key and we would prefer to license something which has been tried and tested rather than reinventing the wheel. This frees us up to focus on the game and avoid unnecessary distractions.  At the moment, we are evaluating several character creation middleware tools which will make the process of setting up characters a breeze for the artists. At the same time players will have access to extensive character customization options. A common theme for both art and game design is to apply a modular and reusable approach. On the art side the procedural textures are an excellent example and if you have tested our ship designer , you will appreciate the versatility it provides even at this early stage. On the design side we are heavily data-driven: our tools must support major changes to content without requiring the involvement of programmers, which would create unwanted dependencies and blockers.

One final point to make, if you inspect our reward tiers you will see that we do not have any physical rewards. This means we do not divert Kickstarter funds to produce physical goods and instead we can use the funds to fully realize the actual game. To compensate for this we are providing what we believe are fair reward tiers where backers even at lower tiers get to put their mark on the game. Higher tier rewards are bundled with additional copies of the game so backers can split the cost among friends.

Still, we understand that some backers would prefer physical copies and merchandise and here is a promise:

Once our funding goals are reached, we will add physical reward tiers and outsource the production and shipping to our backers who will pay for only production and shipping. If people want t-shirts made we will supply the graphics to make your own t-shirts or other merchandise. We will not make a dime off of you ordering any merchandise. We are game developers - not Manchester United!

To summarize: we have the necessary know-how, experience and technology, and our overhead is minimal. The Mandate is the love child of some very experienced game developers who all want to see this project succeed. We are doing smart things with smart technology and will pick the right tools for the job to optimize the work-load and streamline our production pipelines and workflows. This allows us to produce content in modular blocks which is more efficient and allows us to reuse, thereby saving time.

So could everyone and their grandma make The Mandate for $500,000? Probably not. Can we? Hell yes we can.”

If you haven’t already, do check our Facebook, Twitter, and Kickstarter pages.

For more in depth information, access the extensive press documentation here.

Game information

Title: The Mandate

Developer: Perihelion Interactive

Contact info: contact@perihelioninteractive.com

Genre: Sci-fi RPG

Platform: [Windows, Linux, Mac]

Release date:  [Q1 2015]

Website: www.mandategame.com

Twitter: @mandategame          Roleplay account:  @AnaEmpress

About Perihelion Interactive

Founded in 2013 by a team of internationally based veteran game developers, Perihelion Interactive’s first project is the science fiction RPG The Mandate. Members of the Perihelion team have previously worked on projects including Assassin's Creed 1 and 2, Mafia 2, Far Cry 2, Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures and The Secret World.  
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