I've talked about The Mandate a couple of weeks ago, but I couldn't wait till the weekend to blog about this latest update on the Romanovs-in-space epic. Perihelion Games has released a cool new trailer for their game, featuring Brit David Bradley doing a kickin' voice-over as Admiral Suvarov for an incredibly enticing trailer for the in-development space epic. Now, I'm not familiar with David Bradley (I'm not a fan of Harry Potter or Doctor Who, and I'm too scared of fleshy bits to watch Game of Thrones), but apparently he's got about six miles of nerd-cred. For me, he sounds a heck of a lot like Adam Nicolson, British author of the book examining Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, Seize The Fire. (I absolutely love that book, and Nicholson's wry English consonants most recently accompanied me on a kind of creepy bus ride from Indianapolis to Chicago last summer.)
In addition to the awesome VO quality that we're going to get for this sci-fi gem, I just love the tone they establish in this game. This is going to be a game where NPCs aren't just faceless meeples that you stat-grind as a parallel leveling mechanic--they're an engaging, dynamic, and fragile element of the game. They're your friends and your resources, and nothing you do can shield them from the risk that entails. Your crew will suffer losses, and the way you manage that loss on a dramatic and tactical level is going to be a central gameplay mechanic. It is very Nelsonian in that way, which grabs me all the right ways. (Seriously, check out Seize The Fire--the author-read audio book at least.)
It also makes me think of how exciting and avant-garde Mass Effect was going to be back in the days leading up to the first game's release. In particular, there was this commercial spot that still resonates with me to this day:
The idea of having mutually exclusive, NPC-destroying, time-based decisions to make is so much fun, and we never quite got the pay off in Mass Effect that the above commercial promised. Each game had very specific set-piece decisions that would very transparently give you a choice to kill person X or Y, but it never made it a heavy, pressed-for-time, combat-based choice like you get from this 48 second commercial. The first Mass Effect came close with the Virmire decision, but that still was a very canned moment. No matter how many times your NPCs got railgunned to the face, they were immune to any real injury until the script suddenly decided they were mortal.
With The Mandate, though, they're repeatedly stressing that every time your ship's hull tears open, you're losing crew, and that loss will not only potentially kill off individual characters, but having to replace or evaluate crew will impact the character of your ship and your character. This dynamic will make it where even the most assured victories will still have weight, as you try to grab as much power as you can without losing critical crew.
Oh, man, if this game doesn't get funded to the moon and back, I will be so disappointed in you, internet.