What happens now? Funding after $2.5m will go into polishing the features and content we’ve already committed to. After that, any additional funds will go toward funding a Post-Launch Live Team that will continue developing additional features and content. First among them will be Cooperative Multiplayer, which will allow you and a friend to face-off against AI opponents.
Here’s what you can do to help!
1. Like, Share, and Retweet this video recapping our Kickstarter campaign for new folks. (Or if you're new here, watch this video!)
Don't have a credit card? PayPal is here for you! (Your contribution will still go towards the campaign's total funding level with regards to meeting our various funding goals.)
BATTLETECH is a turn-based, tactical 'Mech combat game for PC. (And Mac and Linux!)
Here's an EARLY in-engine visual exploration that our art team's been working on. It’s still work-in-progress, not final… but we just had to show you guys!
The BattleTech Universe is one of near-constant warfare and feudal political intrigue, where great noble houses vie for dominance of a vast region of space known as the Inner Sphere. It's a universe of flawed heroes, fallen empires and grey moral realities. Great families vie for supremacy, with alliances and betrayals constantly shifting the balance of power.
Our BATTLETECH game is set in the popular 3025 Succession Wars Era of the BattleTech Universe - often referred to as "Classic BattleTech".
The project is led by:
Jordan Weisman, creator of BattleTech and MechWarrior, Shadowrun, Crimson Skies, and more.
Mike McCain, Creative Director of Harebrained Schemes' critically-acclaimed series of Shadowrun games.
Mitch Gitelman, Producer of the classic MechCommander series of tactical 'Mech combat games.
Our studio, Harebrained Schemes, has delivered three successful Kickstarter campaigns - Shadowrun Returns / Dragonfall, Golem Arcana, andShadowrun: Hong Kong- to rave reviews and very positive responses from our Kickstarter backers. Kickstarter allows our studio to remain independent and to focus on making games directly for our fans.
Because we love BattleTech, and there hasn't been a turn-based, classic BattleTech game on PC in over 20 years! Above all else, our goal with this project is to deliver an authentic BattleTech experience. Accomplishing that goal isn't just about designing great 'Mech combat - it's about fully realizing the BattleTech Universe, its characters, its factions, and its stories.
With your help! CONGRATULATIONS ON REACHING STAGE 4 - PVP Multiplayer!
BATTLETECH is in development for PC, Mac, and Linux in English and will be delivered in standard and DRM-free versions on Steam, GoG, and Humble stores. The game will also be made available in German, French, and Russian (with localized text, and audio subtitles) in a post-launch update. Other platforms and languages may be announced later. BATTLETECH is expected to launch in early 2017.
BATTLETECH is set in a universe at perpetual war, fought by militarized factions utilizing huge, mechanized combat vehicles called BattleMechs.
Following centuries of space colonization and the rise of six Great Noble Houses, treachery undermined the Star League and toppled its First Lord. The rulers of the five remaining Houses each proclaimed themselves the new First Lord, and so the Succession Wars began - hundreds of years of mechanized armies, scavenged technology, and political machinations.
Now, in 3025, each faction is near its breaking point. An uneasy stalemate sets in as the Houses scrape to rebuild their holdings, reinforce their worlds, and restock their 'Mech armies. But the conflict continues as the nobility drives their agendas forward covertly through the use of mercenaries…
Whether maintained by a House army, or passed down within a MechWarrior family from generation to generation, BattleMechs reign supreme on the thirty-first century battlefield. These massive weapon platforms - ranging from seven to sixteen meters in height, and twenty to one hundred tons in weight - form the backbone of the Great Houses' interstellar armies.
Over the 200 years of the Succession Wars, attrition has eaten away at the resources of the Great Houses, and the number of working BattleMechs on the field has dwindled. By 3025, field-ready 'Mechs are a precious commodity, and keeping them running is a tactical necessity.
We're excited that Piranha Games, creators of MechWarrior Online, are sharing their incredible roster of Inner Sphere BattleMech models with us for BATTLETECH. Not only are their 'Mechs wonderfully detailed, using the same models adds to the continuity of the BattleTech Universe.
We’re also very happy to be working closely with Catalyst Game Labs, publisher of the BattleTech tabletop board games and novels. Even though Jordan created the BattleTech Universe over 30 years ago, the talented folks at Catalyst have been the keepers of the flame for years, and we appreciate their help in ensuring that we deliver an authentic BattleTech experience.
Because we’re an independent game studio with big dreams for an amazing game.
We know that to do 'Mech combat right will be a substantial investment - in fact, Harebrained Schemes has budgeted over a million dollars to self-fund the STAGE 1 SKIRMISH GAME (see below), and we've already started pre-production. We’re confident that we’ve scoped the project appropriately, and that we can deliver this version of the game without any Kickstarter support.
But, we also know that BattleTech isn't just about big stompy robots battling it out. There’s so much more we’d like to include in this game! A full single-player campaign. Full control of your career as a mercenary. PVP Multiplayer. That’s where you come in!
The scope of this project expands in the four major FUNDING STAGES below - so that no matter which funding level we attain, we’re sure to deliver a great game worthy of the BattleTech name. Help us co-fund BATTLETECH and let’s see how big this game can get!
Naturally, 'Mech combat is the cornerstone of any great BattleTech game, so that’s where we’re starting development. HBS is self-funding a complete 'Mech battlefield experience in the form of the STAGE 1 SKIRMISH GAME.
Our goal is to craft a combat system for BATTLETECH that’s the perfect blend of tactical depth, speed of play, and meaningful unit customization. As we did with our Shadowrun games, we intend to capture the *spirit* of the original tabletop rules, while designing the best PC game we can. That said, Shadowrun and BattleTech are very different games! For one thing, Shadowrunners like to hide behind cover, while ‘Mechs… squash cover. Expect turn-based combat in BattleTech to feel very different than a more cover-based combat system like Shadowrun’s
On the battlefield, you'll command a Lance of four 'Mechs in turn-based combat. We’d like a typical skirmish to be complete-able within about 30 minutes, without sacrificing the tactical depth that any BattleTech game demands. All of our systems will be designed with a “layered” approach in mind - surfacing the information you need for quick decision-making, while also allowing you to drill-down into detailed stats and unit management options.
Think of the STAGE 1 SKIRMISH GAME like a personal 'Mech command simulation - you’ll be able to set the parameters and difficulty level of each skirmish game, challenging yourself to defeat larger and larger AI-controlled enemy forces over more and more difficult terrain. Or, choose from a variety of pre-built combat encounters created by our design team.
Between skirmishes, customize your BattleMechs in the 'Mech Bay. Choose from over twenty-five 3025-era Inner Sphere 'Mech chassis, and configure the weapon loadout, armor, heat sinks, and paint scheme for each. If you want to dive even deeper, tweak their engine, gyros, actuators, and shock absorbers - all of which will impact the 'Mech’s battlefield performance in different ways.
In the Ready Room, select the best pilots for the 'Mechs you’ve configured. Each MechWarrior will have their own 'Mech and weapon specializations, as well as certain special abilities that can be used on the battlefield.
Oh, and one more thing: we want to put the PUNCH back into BattleTech. This game will include MELEE COMBAT and DEATH FROM ABOVE!
>>> STAGE 1+ ADDITIONAL FUNDING GOALS (FUNDED!)
$250,000 - Combined Arms: We'll add a healthy roster of non-'Mech AI opponents to the Base Skirmish Game including tanks, hovercraft, support vehicles and more. But be careful - even the lightest of combat vehicles can still wreck your 'Mechs under the right conditions.
$400,000 - Expanded Mission Objectives: We'll add a variety of mission types to the Base Skirmish Game including Escort, Capture, Defend, and more.
$500,000 - Expanded Environments: We'll add a wider variety of battlefield environments to the game, including time-of-day and atmospheric conditions that affect both movement and combat. Confront enemy forces in the low-visibility conditions of a blizzard on a frigid ice world, or carefully manage your heat in a battle across volcanic fields.
The BattleTech Universe is all about stories - of nobles and MechWarriors, fighting to protect their people and their homes. Of mercenaries, surviving from battle to battle in a war-torn universe. It’s a dynamic science fiction setting filled with intrigue and cutthroat politics that spans centuries. It’s a shared universe that has evolved over 30 years, in tabletop miniatures games and sourcebooks, novels, comics, and dozens of computer games. We want to honor that history and make this perennial game setting come to life with a killer single-player story campaign.
Our STAGE 2 STORY CAMPAIGN will put you in command of your own mercenary outfit, as you find yourself inexorably drawn into a bloody dynastic conflict set in the Periphery of the Inner Sphere. Over the course of the campaign, you’ll manage the finances and logistics of your mercenary outfit - from the modifications and loadout of your 'Mechs, to the salaries and skill growth of your MechWarriors.
At the end of the day, the life of a mercenary is all about money: the money needed to repair the damage your 'Mechs took in combat, to pay your MechWarriors to keep fighting, and - if you’re lucky - the money to put towards buying new 'Mech chassis and weapon systems. Fortunately, 'Mech components salvaged from the battlefield can be both cheaper and better-performing than the oft-refurbished parts available for purchase.
>>> STAGE 2+ ADDITIONAL FUNDING GOALS (FUNDED!)
$1,100,000 - Cinematic Transitions: We'll add short cutscenes for various events in game - such as deploying your forces to the battlefield - and for key moments in the single-player story.
$1,200,000 - Player-Character Origin Stories: In BATTLETECH, you’ll create your own mercenary character to star in the story. If we hit this funding level, you'll be able to choose one of six origin stories for your mercenary commander's career. Are you the only heir of a once noble family that has since fallen from favor? The bastard child of a famous MechWarrior? You decide.
$1,350,000 - Voice Acting: We'll record a cast of talented voice actors to act as your advisers, provide mission briefings, and record battlefield emotes. We’ll also add voice acting to the animatics for important moments in the story.
$1,550,000 - 3D MechWarrior Portrait Customization: We'll build a complete 3D portrait customization system for you to customize the look of both your MechWarriors and your own Mercenary commander.
The STAGE 3 EXPANDED MERCENARY CAMPAIGN puts you in full control of your life as a Mercenary. The campaign becomes open-ended, allowing you to charter JumpShip transport for your mercenary outfit when needed - travel to various hot-zones across the Periphery and Inner Sphere. You’ll be able to choose your contracts and alliances, with both the Great Houses and other subfactions within the Inner Sphere.
Over time, the missions you choose to accept and the objectives competed in those missions will determine your reputation as a mercenary. Your reputation will affect the contracts and contract terms you may be offered in the future. But be wary: each Great House - and in some cases, each House representative - can have their own agendas, sometimes leading you into bad deals or deadly betrayals.
To support this open-ended Mercenary career, STAGE 3 adds a wide variety of “side-contracts” in addition to the story campaign, as well as a procedural contract-generation system to ensure that you always have fresh contracts available, wherever your Mercenary career may take you.
>>> STAGE 3+ ADDITIONAL FUNDING GOALS (FUNDED!)
$2,000,000 - Customizable Home Base: As part of the ongoing campaign, you'll acquire a home base (likely in the form of a derelict DropShip) for your mercenary outfit to call home. At this funding level we'll also allow you to adjust its appearance, repair and upgrade its functionality, and grow and evolve your base as your outfit grows and evolves.
$2,150,000 - Legendary 'Mech & MechWarriors: In addition to the game's standard 'Mechs and customizable, procedurally-generated MechWarriors, we'll include rare legendary 'Mechs to find, and rare hero MechWarriors to hire - including some famous characters from BattleTech history. Such legends may not stick around for long, but will be well worth hiring if you can afford them.
The neutral planet of Solaris VII is home to the Inner Sphere’s most famous gladiatorial 'Mech combat arenas. Here players can challenge each other to casual PvP battles or enter our matchmaking system to be matched against an appropriately experienced opponent.
Each Great House maintains an embassy and a namesake arena on Solaris VII and each has very different gameplay features - from the Roman-inspired Steiner Coliseum to the frozen glaciers of Davion’s Boreal Reach (or one of Davion’s many other holographic environs).
Tournaments and Leagues will reward the victor with various prizes and Leaderboard fame.
Jon Everist, composer for the award-winning Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut and Shadowrun: Hong Kong, is creating the music for BATTLETECH. We’re very excited to continue our collaboration with Jon and you can hear his first BattleTech tune in our Kickstarter video!
Instead of throwing a bunch of random tchotchkes into this campaign, we've focused our physical reward efforts on two really awesome reward levels that we know we can deliver (in addition to all the great digital rewards we've created.) This focus will allow us to devote more of your funding towards making the best BattleTech game we can!
To encourage everyone to get involved and share their passion for the BattleTech Universe, we've created a set of missions for you to collectively complete, listed below. Each mission accomplished by the Global BattleTech Community (GBC) earns a point. Earned points unlock cool content in the game and fun rewards for Backers (also listed below).
Fresh Screenshots & Novella #2 Delivered!
29 days ago
– Wed, Mar 29, 2017 at 12:11:48 AM
Hey y'all, Mitch here!
On behalf of the whole team, thank you for the overwhelming show of support and positive energy we received after our last update. We deeply appreciate it. When you’re flying full-throttle down the Death Star trench with turbo-lasers blazing past your cockpit and the exhaust port coming up fast, it’s nice to know that “The Backers are with you.”
No update on our Backer Beta timing yet - we’re stepping back to make sure our plan is solid, our team is working at a healthy pace, and we have the right level of internal testing before releasing it into the wilds of Backerdom. As many of you have speculated, it’s unlikely we’ll announce a new date until we’re very confident we will hit it.
In the interim, we thought we'd show some new screenshots of the game in action to help tide everyone over. These are unedited shots - though we did turn off the interface and use a debug camera in-game to get the pretty we wanted.
You can click on the images to get a hi-res version for each. Hope you enjoy!
2nd Novella, APPARENT CATASTROPHE, Now Available for MechWarrior Level Backers
We’re happy to announce that the second in a series of four linked digital novellas by Mike Stackpole is now available for Backers at the $50 MechWarrior level and above! Again, if you’re a current Backer and you want to upgrade to the MechWarrior tier to get your copy, email us.
You’ll find a file including the pdf, mobi, and epub versions to download when you hit “Get My Digital Rewards” in your BackerKit account. It takes a little time for the files to populate to everyone's account so please check back in a couple hours if you don't see the files right away.
That’s it for now. Remember that there’s a great community waiting for you on the BATTLETECH forums and the dev team often stops by to say hi and answer questions.
Backer Beta Delayed
about 2 months ago
– Mon, Mar 06, 2017 at 11:16:25 PM
Greetings MechWarriors! Klimecky back again with important news about our Backer Beta. A series of unfortunate events prevents us from hitting our target release date and, as promised in our last update, we’re letting you know as far in advance as we can. This change may come as a surprise, given it’s only a few weeks after announcing the target release date but sometimes game development throws us curve balls at just the wrong moment. As a wise man once said, “Shit happens.”
Developers are constantly weighing risks vs rewards during a project, often with incomplete information. In this case we made two big decisions in the leadup to Beta and both turned out to have a bigger impact on the project than we planned for. Here’s what happened:
Our development infrastructure desperately needed an upgrade but the fixes caused lots of short-term headaches. HBS has a history of “toughing it out” and working with sub-optimal back-end tools because we want as much development time as possible to be spent on game features and fun. Eventually however, a system becomes too painful to use and we bite the bullet and pay the development price. In this case, we had two vital systems that required improvement for the Backer Beta, so we decided to “tear off the bandage”, hire a professional IT contractor, and get all the work done at once so our engineers could stay focused on the game.
Unfortunately, the infrastructure upgrade process caused several issues including delays in getting new versions of the game built. This consumed time from our Lead Engineer, our Test Lead, and myself. Without the ability to test our work in new “builds” of the game, progress slowed. It has taken the better part of 3 weeks to get back on track, but we finally feel like we've cleared the hurdle.
An upgrade to the latest version of Unity brought the game editor to its knees. Unity is the game engine we build BATTLETECH on top of and when the company updates its software, game developers need to take a hard look before deciding to take the plunge and install it. In this case, we determined that the update was required for beta because it contained performance optimizations that would greatly improve the gameplay experience for nearly all our participants and for some, make the game playable at all on their machines.
Now, we know from experience that whenever you update major software in the middle of development things WILL break, so we diligently planned time for integration and bug fixing. Unfortunately, while the upgrade succeeded in improving the game’s performance, the changes in Unity broke a lot more of our systems than anticipated - with these consequences proving more time-consuming to troubleshoot and address than any other Unity upgrade we’ve done in the past (including on previous projects). We were relieved to learn that at 2:30am this morning, our engineering and technical art team removed the final productivity sink and were able to start our Monday with a solid infrastructure and performant game editor.
As you can imagine, it’s been a frustrating few weeks in the studio. The entire project slowed dramatically just as we were attempting to hit the gas for the final weeks until Beta launch. The team continued to push as hard as they could, refusing to give up on our March 15th target date, but the slowdowns and instability were punishing. The leadership group decided to step back and take a good, hard look at the situation. We decided it was best to stop the crunch and focus on finishing the infrastructure and editor work before reviewing our quality level and reassessing the target date for the Backer Beta.
Now that our technical issues are behind us, the team is focused on quality and on delivering an experience that shows the world why HBS loves BattleTech and why everyone else should, too. As soon as we have a new target date that we can confidently announce, we’ll send out another update. We are dedicated to delivering a great Backer Beta, even if that means taking a little longer with it.
Regarding the final release date for BATTLETECH: As noted during our livestreamed dev Q&As and on our forums, once we unlocked all of our Kickstarter stretch goals, our estimated release date of May was no longer valid. Way back then we said things like "Summer 2017.” Now that we're further along, we're targeting a Late Summer / Fall release of the game - but we won't be announcing a more exact release date until we're much closer in!
Again, we deeply appreciate your support for the project.
-- Chris Klimecky, Sr. Producer
Backer Beta Info! Novella #1 Delivered! Another Livestreamed Q&A! And More Merch!
3 months ago
– Tue, Feb 07, 2017 at 10:58:48 PM
Klimecky here. We have good news for you - we're targeting March 15th as our Beta launch date. (As you'll recall, Beta access was a Kickstarter Reward for all Backers at the $50 MechWarrior Tier and above). The team has been hard at work getting the game in shape and we’re almost ready for you to take a test drive.
Now, I bet you have a few questions… well, your friendly, neighborhood BATTLETECH Producer is here to fill you in with a FAQ that should answer your most pressing questions right away. As we get closer to our target date, I’ll update you with any final details you may need to be an effective Beta participant.
After you get caught up on the Beta news, scroll down to learn about our latest digital reward delivery for Backers at the $50 MechWarrior reward level - the first in a series of four novellas by the legendary Michael A. Stackpole. Then keep scrolling to see the sweet new merch AVAILABLE NOW at battletechgear.com!
It’s about to get real - so strap in! Chris Klimecky Sr. Producer
Kickstarter Backer Beta FAQ
Can I still upgrade my reward level or get in as a Late Backer?
If you’re a current Backer and you want to upgrade to the MechWarrior tier at the current $50 price, email us and we will give you directions on how to do this since it’s a manual process.
If you have friends who are kicking themselves for not backing the project earlier, let them know they can still get in on our Digital Reward Tiers, including the MechWarrior level which grants access to the Kickstarter Beta. Just send them to to our Late Reinforcements website to get in on the action. But tell them to act fast! On February 15th, the prices for each digital reward level will go up by $10.
When will the Backer Beta start?
Our target delivery date is March 15th. While we’re on track for this date and looking good, this IS game development, so please take the date with the expected grain of salt. Something may break as we head into this date and it may require us to take additional time to fix it to ensure a good experience for our participants. We’ll let you know as far in advance as possible if something like this comes up!
How long will the Backer Beta last?
We haven’t finalized exactly how long the Beta will remain live, but it should be up for at least two months.
What will the Backer Beta include?
As outlined in our Kickstarter Campaign, the Backer Beta will feature 1v1 multiplayer and single-player Skirmish play. The Beta will include a subset of the 'Mechs and Maps that will be found in the game at launch. Note that the Backer Beta will not include the story campaign or mercenary company management, nor will it include the ability to modify your `Mech loadouts. We hope to update the Beta later with the `Mech Lab feature but can’t commit to that at this time.
What `Mechs will be in the Backer Beta?
We're still determining which `Mechs will be included in the Backer Beta. The target list of ‘Mechs for the full game can be found in our Kickstarter page FAQ.
Will the Backer Beta be under NDA, or restricted in any way?
The Kickstarter Beta will not be under a non-disclosure agreement, though there may be an end-user licensing agreement required to participate.
Can we post screenshots and/or videos of the Backer Beta?
How about livestreaming the Beta or posting YouTube videos? Can we do that?
Oh yeah? Can we write blog posts about it and mini-reviews if we want?
Yes, yes, yes! All of the above.
How will we report bugs? What do you want us to report?
The BATTLETECH Backer Beta (BBB, B3...) is about identifying bugs, collecting data, and gathering feedback. Different mechanisms will be included for each of those three goals. We'll provide detailed instructions to all Beta participants when the Beta is released.
Where will I be able to play the Backer Beta and for what platforms?
The Beta will only be available on Steam for Windows and Mac. Supporting more platforms would require additional development processes that would impact precious development time needed for feature development.
While the Beta keys will be Steam-only, your key for the final RELEASE version of BATTLETECH will still be on whatever platform you chose in your BackerKit survey responses. If you've forgotten what platform you chose, you can check by logging into your BackerKit account and, if you want to change that, contact us and we’ll change that for you manually.
How will I get access to my Steam Key for the Backer Beta?
If you backed the game at the $50 MechWarrior level or higher, you’ll find your Beta Steam key in the Digital Downloads section of your BackerKit account on the target date.
Where can I talk with fellow Backer Beta participants, find folks to play with, or ask questions?
Since this is a Beta, you will not find the regular Community Hub on Steam. Instead, we encourage you to join your fellow MechWarriors on our BATTLETECH Forums. We'll open a new BATTLETECH Backer Beta Subforum on (or a bit before) our target launch date. This is where Beta participants will go to find folks to play with and discuss the game with other Backers who have hands-on time with the game.
Be sure to head to the BATTLETECH Forums BEFORE the Beta starts so you can set up your Forum code to get access to special Kickstarter badges, introduce yourself to the (awesome) community, and get familiar with how the place works.
What can we expect from HBS in terms of feedback on the Backer Beta Forum?
While delivering the Backer Beta will be a major milestone for the project, there’s still a ton of work left to do and the team needs to put their focus on developing the game. For this reason, do not expect direct responses to your feedback or engagement from the dev team in the forums. (But rest assured, we WILL be actively monitoring the Beta Forum feedback and discussions, and it's always very useful to get the pulse of player experiences.)
HEIR APPARENT Now Available for MechWarrior Level Backers
We’re pleased to announce that the first in a series of four linked digital novellas by Mike Stackpole is now available for Backers at the $50 MechWarrior level and above! Again, if you’re a current Backer and you want to upgrade to the MechWarrior tier to get your copy, email us.
You’ll find a file including the pdf, mobi, and epub versions to download when you hit “Get My Digital Rewards” in your BackerKit account. It takes a little time for the files to populate to everyone's account so please check back in a couple hours if you don't see the files right away.
New Crowdfunded Gear: BATTLETECH Stein and Coasters Now Available!
The newest offerings over at BattleTechGear.com hail from the famous drinking halls of Solaris VII, the planet where MechWarriors compete in deadly arenas for the pride of their Noble Houses, Clans, Stables, or just for riches and glory.
We started this crowdfunding round just last week and excited to be just about halfway to our minimum order quantity! We need to hit that by March 1st which gets us plenty of time if everyone helps us spread the word to your fellow MechWarriors!
Our Next Livestreamed Dev Q&A
If you’re not aware, we’ve resumed our monthly livestreamed development Q&As and the next one will be TOMORROW Wednesday, February 8th from 12pm-1pm Pacific Time.
Due to scheduling contraints, twitch.com/HyperRPG (the station that brings you DEATH FROM ABOVE) will no longer be hosting our Q&As but we’re happy to report that our friends at No Guts No Galaxy are ready and willing to take up the cause. We’ll also post a recording of the Q&A on the HBS YouTube channel as soon as we can in case you can’t tune in live.
This month’s topic is the Single-Player Story Campaign. As always, we’ll spend the first half-hour taking questions that you post on the BATTLETECH forums before opening up the questions to our live audience on any topic.
Whew! That’s it for this update. Back to work!!!
Can You Say Melee? How About Merch? Anyone Want a Production Update?
4 months ago
– Mon, Dec 19, 2016 at 11:45:49 PM
Mitch here, back again with our final update of 2016. It’s a long one, so smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em....
Man, what a whirlwind of activity in our little studio! (Did you know we sit at 4’x2’ desks crammed up against each other all day?) The bees are buzzing up the hive but good, pushing hard to prepare for our Kickstarter Backer Beta next year. Expect news on that topic in a KS Update in early 2017. Today, we’ll go in-depth on a feature we’ve been teasing a looong time - melee! We’ll also give you some insight on everything we’ve been working on since we put out our Super-Pre-Alpha video in August. And HUZZAH! The official BattleTech Crowdfunded Merch site is officially open! Woo hoo! I want ALL THE THINGS!
Okay MechWarriors, let’s get to it!
Melee! Melee! Melee!
Hello! This is your friendly neighborhood Design Lead, Kiva Maginn, with some new information about how we’ve approached one of our most-anticipated game features: giant robots punching other giant robots in the face!
When we started working on melee, I proposed a single overarching goal: once you’re close enough to punch someone, punching should usually be the right thing to do (or at the very least, it shouldn’t ever be the wrong thing to do). There are a few reasons for this, mostly having to do with the speed and intensity of battles. When battles get in close, it’s not all that much fun to spin in circles around each other, trying to get a good back-shot but otherwise standing mostly in one place. I wanted the final stage of a battle, when ‘Mechs are in spitting distance of each other, to be brutal and decisive. Once you’re that close, the fight’s about to be over one way or another.
One of the first decisions we had to make was: how many different melee attacks are there? On one hand, offering a wide variety of options makes the experience more involved; when you choose to “kick” and your results clearly reflect your choice, it feels like your decisions mattered. But on the other hand, the risk of offering a variety of choices is that some of those choices are always sub-optimal, and thus act as a trap, encouraging less-experienced players to make the wrong choice.
As well, the more time we spent on the weapons UI, the less we wanted to force a similar level of complexity into other parts of the game. It’s really important that you be able to pick and choose which weapons will fire and at which target, so we can’t really avoid that level of complexity. But melee attacks seemed to come down to a simple choice: do you punch, hoping for a head hit, or do you kick, hoping for a leg hit?
This dovetailed with another issue I wanted to address, which is the frequency of head hits. Generally, head hits are fun and interesting and provide an element of chaos and sudden reversals to battles, and I approve of that (Mitch says, “Watching McCain lose his Atlas in the Super-Pre-Alpha video was one of the great joys of my life.”) but it’s a lot different when the victim of the head shot is your prize MechWarrior, whom you’ve carefully guided through dozens of hours of gameplay. It’s interesting when a veteran MechWarrior dies; it’s less interesting when it happens abruptly, through no fault of yours, at the whim of a single random die-roll from a lucky punch.
The third element that we considered is how melee looks. In an abstract system, we can just declare that a ‘Mech punches, kicks, shoulder-checks, or whatever seems appropriate. Even if it’s an Atlas punching a Commando, we can basically imagine how that would work. But in our game, we’ve committed to animating every single attack so that it looks like something that could hit and do damage. That means the Atlas has to kick a Commando; its punch will swing wildly over the Commando’s head.
Bringing these three concerns together -- complexity, head shots, and visual consistency -- we decided to collapse all melee actions down to just one, “Engage”. When you engage, we look at your relative size, your relative position above or below the target, whether you have arms suitable for punching, whether those arms are intact or blown off, and so forth. Then we pick an attack that best fits what you have available.
To ensure this isn’t unfair to some ‘Mechs, we also collapsed all the consequences of the attacks into one outcome. This means that, in terms of effect, a punch and a kick are the same thing, a shoulder check is the same as a punch, and so forth. Some ‘Mechs are still more powerful in melee than others due to both tonnage and design; the Atlas is always going to wreak more melee destruction than the Catapult. But every ‘Mech can melee, regardless of their build.
The system works like this: every ‘Mech has an “engagement range” at which it can move up and take a swing at an enemy. If you’re within the engagement range of a target when you start your action, that target gets a gold box around it to show that you can punch it. Then, as your entire action for the round, you move up and swing (or kick, or shoulder-check, or stomp).
Which of the possible attacks you perform is based on your ‘Mech, your opponent’s ‘Mech, and your relative heights. If you’re standing on a hillside facing an Atlas whose head comes up to your waist, you’re going to kick the Atlas. If you’re driving a Catapult, you’ll kick or body-check, but never punch (you have no real arms!). If you engage a vehicle or a downed enemy, you’ll try to stomp them instead of kicking. The goal is to make sure that whatever your situation, the attack looks and feels like it solidly connected.
‘Mechs do melee damage based on their tonnage, and whether they’re particularly good at melee -- you can build your ‘Mech to be a punching machine by installing melee-focused actuator upgrades, and Jordan and I both still dream of one day getting the Hatchetman. In keeping with the goal of making close-range melee a decisive moment in battle, the damage is tuned to be quite large. After all, you’ve had to walk up under a hail of fire from every long-range and mid-range ‘Mech, survive all of that mostly intact, and then hit with an attack. Gambling all that on a single attack roll is risky, so we want to be sure you’re well-rewarded for doing so.
Probably more important than the damage of a melee attack is the instability it inflicts. Melee is by far the easiest way to knock another ‘Mech down. Especially if you outweigh the target, you can put them on the ground with just one or two attacks, leaving them vulnerable to further attacks and forcing them to stand up on their action instead of moving. And, of course, when you fall down, if your MechWarrior fails her piloting roll, she’ll take an Injury. Enough knockdowns and an enemy pilot could end up as a red paste inside the cockpit.
We also wanted ‘Mechs to be able to use some of their weapons in melee, but that led to a problem: even as powerful as punching was, short-range, high-damage weapons like the AC/20 were the kings of melee. We wanted melee range combat to be for everyone, not just the Atlas and the King Crab. So when you punch, you don’t use all your weapons.
This turned out to be an excellent opportunity to address a part of the game I wasn’t satisfied with: the small weapons. Machine guns, small lasers and flamers are woefully underpowered, underused, and generally a poor choice when you’re customizing. Especially when melee is so powerful relative to other weapons, why would you ever fire your small laser at all?
So the small weapons are simply incorporated into your melee attack. If you have them, and you punch, you also fire any small weapons you have. For a good time, get in close with a Firestarter and punch the enemy. You’ll also blast them with four flamers worth of damage and heat, on top of the punch itself. It’s pretty great, and gives ‘Mechs with high tonnage and small weapons (looking at you, Battlemaster) a reason to have the small weapons: the punch rips off the target’s armor, and the MGs spew possible criticals into the structure.
I’ve talked about how we rolled most of the melee actions together into one overall “Engage” action, but there’s one melee attack we kept separate. We knew from the start that we’d be including the Death From Above attack as a special and deliberate action. It’s too iconic a moment to not let you choose it yourself.
If your ‘Mech has jump jets, and you’re within the melee engagement range, you can jump and land on top of your target, smashing them to the ground. It’s powerful, does a ridiculous amount of damage, smashes your legs up something fierce, and it looks really damn cool.
In a recent fight, I DFAed an enemy with my Shadowhawk (and let me tell you, the SH is nothing to sneeze at when you use it as primarily a melee attacker). I landed as the enemy ‘Mech’s head and center torso both turned black. I’d basically ripped it in half with the DFA. Mission accomplished.
After several rounds of iteration (as always!), we're very happy with the state of melee in the game. It feels really satisfying to engage in, and ensures that the battles that make it to close quarters become bloody and decisive, rather than bogging down in frustration. We're excited for you to punch 'Mechs in the Kickstarter Beta next year!
Mitch again. We’re still up to our eyeballs in work (gotta end the year strong) so to keep things focused we’ve put together a list of all the stuff we can remember doing since GenCon ‘16. Since we’re not going for a long verbose explanation of everything (or a super-high level overview of everything either) feel free to hit us up with questions in the ASK THE DEVS section of our forums on battletechgame.com and someone will try and answer you when they get some spare cycles.
Updated, expanded, and refined the combat interface
Added multi-targeting (so you can split your fire between more than one enemy).
Added melee (including Death From Above)
Added commander abilities such as calling in airstrikes and artillery barrages
Added pilot skills and activatable combat abilities
Deepened the Line of Sight and detection mechanics to give more utility to careful scouting and misdirection; pilot skill determines how much information you can get from a radar blip
Implemented the first version of the MechWarrior inspiration system, where continued aggression allows you to build and maintain momentum
Created a plot system which allows maps to reconfigure certain areas based on the encounter that uses them, swapping buildings and entire installations to increase reusability
Refined our map-making process for missions to the point that we can create now a final map (on the design side) in a single day
Made a bunch of neat maps of both the highlands/alpine and lowlands/farm variety
Began constructing many cool enemy encounters to place on said maps.
Tuned the bonuses and penalties from environmental features like forest and high ground to emphasize the role of terrain and positioning
Added "Influence Map" system to allow the AI to select intelligent positions and orientations to move to
Increased sophistication of choosing weapons for AI attacks
Configurable AI Heat Management, with tactical withdrawals
AI “personality” support
"Corridor Map" strategic (long range) pathfinding for AI units
Lots of work on weapon visual effects, including lighting effects
Lots of new audio effects
Added heat visual effects for ‘Mechs and environmental features
Added an audio emote system, greatly increasing and prioritizing the list of things MechWarriors could talk about in combat
Massive load time performance improvements
Lots of improvements to overall environment art process to allow for more polish control
Created new road system with several custom art presets to quickly lay out dirt tracks, asphalt roads, and even rivers
Fully revamped rendering with proper physically based rendering and atmospherics
Fog of war improvements, including the ability to coordinate visual effects with mood
Developed a system for mission “moods” which change the atmosphere, lighting, and colors
Set up a proper wind system with better visual results
Made our first pass at water with shallow and deep water effects
Built out a huge set of “environment stamps” for us to quickly create map landscapes
Major improvements to procedural placement of foliage and ground texturing
Revamped and improved environment surface rendering and visuals
Finalized a complete process for creating destructible buildings
Made lots of new buildings and structures
Created two full new “biomes” with distinct geology and vegetation sets
Made lots of small decoration elements like barriers, light poles, decorative vehicles, etc.
Made lots of new trees, bushes and foliage
Made lots of new rocks (Yay rocks!)
Tons of work on animations and ‘Mech functionality
Lots of new ‘Mechs fully animated, textured, and working in-game
Completed an opening cinema for the game. (No, you can’t see it, yet. We’ll release it when the project is ready to get some “buzz”.)
Planned out the entire single-player story campaign, outlined all cutscenes and story events, wrote the opening and closing cutscene scripts.
Planned out the entire mercenary simulation game, and started implementing the infrastructure to support it
Built the first draft of the user experience for the mercenary simulation game
Built the initial skirmish mode interface, allowing you to choose your ‘Mechs, map, and encounter
Ran our first internal multiplayer games!!!
Fixed a metric shit-ton of bugs
And even more things that I’m sure we’re forgetting...
So what does all of this work add up to? In a word, “PROGRESS.” The team is focused, collaborating beautifully, and using their time very wisely. The passion for the work is obvious and we’re having fun making and playing the game. I’m pleased to report that the project reached an important milestone last week, as the team completed an Alpha version of the combat game and sent it out to friends and family for feedback. As mentioned in our last Kickstarter Update, this is a major step in preparing for our Kickstarter Backer Beta next year.
Now that the combat game has reached “Alpha” (note, just the combat game, not the campaign or multiplayer!) we’re rapidly expanding from that foundation, with development of the Mercenary sim-game, story campaign, cinematics, and multiplayer. And from a schedule POV, we’re tracking well towards our Kickstarter Backer Beta target. As a long time Producer and Executive Producer, I can tell you that this is one of the best managed games I’ve ever been a part of and that my overall confidence is quite high. Of course, that experience also tells me that shit happens and to expect the unexpected. I’m still not worried, though. The BATTLETECH team’s ability to “improvise, adapt, and overcome” is fantastic and I’m impressed by their ability to efficiently and unflinchingly attack any problem they encounter.
Remember last update when I said this was gonna happen fast? Well guess what? BattleTechGear.com is LIVE! As in, right freaking now!
If you haven’t heard, thanks to a new licensing agreement with The Topps Company, (who own the intellectual property rights for physical goods) HBS can now able to offer a limited amount of BattleTech merchandise. Because we’re only able to offer a limited number of items, we want each of these limited editions to be special. Say hello to the first batch of items available now!
Again, due to limitations in the license and in order to ensure that none of the funding you put towards developing BATTLETECH is at risk, we’ve set a minimum order quantity for each item and will only manufacture exactly what you order. Think of it kind of like crowdfunding - until we have enough committed orders, we won’t make the item or complete your credit card payment, and then we’ll only manufacture what is ordered.
And Finally, A HUGE Thanks & Happy Holidays From HBS!
Thank so much for all your support this year. Making games is stupidly hard and I can’t tell you how much it buoys us to know you’re out there, excited to play what we’re cooking up and cheering us on towards the finish line.
We held our annual holiday party this weekend and it was warm and wonderful, as always. There’s nothing quite like a horde of well-dressed nerds descending on a local dive bar to make heads turn! This place had a pinball room, an old arcade games room, and a boardgame room, plus a full bar. As you might guess, we were in our element.
Have a joyous and safe holiday and we’ll see you in the New Year… of BATTLETECH!
-- Mitch and the gang
P.S. A Holiday Gift From MechWarrior Online
In addition to being fantastic hosts at MechCon a couple weeks ago, our friends at Piranha have sent along a little MWO holiday gift for everyone. Enjoy!
Introducing the Main Characters of our Mercenary Story + Merch, MechCon, & More...
5 months ago
– Thu, Dec 01, 2016 at 11:37:20 PM
Hey everyone, Mitch here!
Wow, it’s December already! It’s shocking how time flies when you throw yourself into making video games and I think I can speak for the whole studio when I ask, “Where did the time go?” (BTW the answer is, “In the game!”) It’s been awhile since our last update because (as we mentioned last time) we’ve had our heads-down on a major milestone and this is our first chance to come up for air. I know that last time we said you should expect one more Kickstarter update before the end of the year but the team’s been making so much progress in so many areas simultaneously that we decided that we had to write two.
Along with all the great stuff we’ve been working on, the team has been refining our BattleTech story (similar to our process on the Shadowrun series) and we’re itching to share our cast of characters with you. So today’s update is focused on introducing you to some of the main characters and factions of our single-player campaign, as well as some info about the Backer Beta and a couple of announcements. In our final (and I mean it) update of the year, we’ll give you a nice overview of our production progress and maybe a few little surprises.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
For the purpose of making introductions, we're taking you three years beyond the point where our June Campaign Setting Details update left off, into the thick of a conflict that threatens to tear the Aurigan Reach apart.The bios and descriptions below could all be considered MILD SPOILERS - they occur after the inciting events of the game's Prologue chapter - so if you'd like to remain completely spoiler-free, you may want to skip reading this section.For everyone else: let's meet the main cast of BATTLETECH!
In late 3022, control of the Aurigan Coalition was forcefully seized by the old regime's longtime ally, House Espinosa. The rightful High Lady, Kamea Arano, managed to escape the coup and disappear into the Rimward Frontier. Working in secret, she began sowing the seeds for her own return to power: the Arano Restoration, a liberating army with the clandestine support of the Magistracy of Canopus.
When House Espinosa seized control of the Aurigan Coalition, they subjugated the Founding Houses and conscripted their House militias into a standing army. Under Espinosa leadership, the realm has been reformed into the Directorate, an authoritarian power with strong ties to the Taurian Concordat.
The flight and command crew of your own mercenary outfit, these hardened veterans work behind the scenes to keep your MechWarriors fighting and the C-Bills rolling in.
In our story, you’ll interact with your mercenary crew on the Argo, along with various major personages from the Aurigan Reach. Over the course of the single-player campaign, you'll get to know these characters via personal conversations, crew briefings, and story cinematics. And of course, they'll also be communicating with you in-mission while your lance is deployed as seen in our Super-Pre-Alpha gameplay video.
MERCH! MERCH! MERCH!
That’s right, merch baby! Negotiations have concluded and we’re extremely pleased to announce that HBS has secured a license from The Topps Company (who own the intellectual property rights for physical goods) to create and sell a limited amount of BattleTech merchandise. We are also excited to say that we will be working with Piranha Games on this effort, so the merchandise line will support both the video games and the complete BattleTech timeline (yup, including the Clans).
Since we will be offering a limited amount of merchandise, we want each item to be as special as it can be. Therefore, we’re focusing on high quality items which are either artifacts from the BattleTech/MechWarrior universe or sophisticated celebrations of the franchise. The Kickstarter Backers heraldry kit and flight jacket rewards represent the level of detail and quality you can expect from all the items we offer.
In order to ensure that none of the funding you put towards developing BATTLETECH is at risk, we’ll set a minimum order quantity for each item and only manufacture exactly what y’all order. Think of it kind of like crowdfunding - until we have enough committed orders, we won’t make the item or complete your credit card payment, and then we’ll only manufacture what is ordered. That way, we don’t “waste” one of our limited offerings on something only a few of you want or make a ton of stuff that sits in a warehouse gathering dust.
It took us a long time to get this together but now that we’re here, it's gonna happen fast. So start squirreling away some C-bills and look for more info in our next update.
Huzzah for merch!!!
HOW ABOUT THAT BETA?
Whether it’s at GenCon, PAX, or on http://battletechgame.com/, the biggest questions we get these days is, “When’s the Backer Beta start?” The answer we’ve been giving is “Winter”. Well, Winter starts December 21st so it’s time to spill some (limited) info.
Now in case you didn’t know, HBS has never done an external beta before, so we’re entering new ground here. Obviously, we’ll do our best but as you well know, “No plan survives contact...” and all that. Therefore, in order to prepare for the Backer Beta, we’re currently working towards a dry-run of the beta experience for our family members to “blow out the pipes”, test our process, and make sure everything’s ready for you.
Until we complete our dry-run and make any necessary adjustments to our plans, we won’t be able to give you a firmer date for the Backer Beta, but we can tell you that it’s targeted to begin sometime in the late January - early March timeframe and will run for at least a month. Once that beta is up and running, we’ll start things off with SKIRMISH MODE and then add PVP MULTIPLAYER after a period of time. The goal of the beta is to test our core combat system and will only be a slice of the shipping game’s total content, so it won’t include ALL the ‘Mechs, MechWarriors, maps, and environments that will come in the finished game. (Also remember, the open-ended mercenary campaign and single-player story will NOT be part of our Backer Beta.)
As noted in our Kickstarter rewards, only Backers at the $50 MECHWARRIOR reward level and above will have access to the Backer Beta, but there will be no restrictions on participants sharing their impressions, screenshots, etc. so that everyone can stay in the loop.
More Beta logistics and details will be forthcoming closer to the Beta launch announcement.
In Case You Missed It...
If you want to participate in the Beta but aren't at the $50 MECHWARRIOR reward level yet, you still have time to upgrade your reward level. Just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll take care of you.
And for your friends and family who weren’t able to help during the Kickstarter and who want to get in on the beta, our Late Reinforcement Backer opportunity is still available and will remain open until the beta begins!
WE'RE HEADING TO MECH_CON!
Ah, yes indeed, it’s fun time, fun time! A bunch of us are heading north to Vancouver this weekend to participate in Mech_Con. Mech_Con is a special one-day event dedicated to the celebration of BattleTech and MechWarrior. Hosted by Piranha Games and featuring Harebrained Schemes, Catalyst Game Labs, and MechWarriors from around the world, it’s the ultimate MechWarrior event and a front-row seat for the Grand Finals of the MechWarrior Online World Championship Tournament!
Jordan, Mike, and I will do some Q&As and you can meet members of the team, including DEATH FROM ABOVE “stars” Tyler (GM) and AJ (Beta). Hmm, maybe it’s not too late for you to plan a quick trip so we can hang out with you, too!
Okay, that’s it for now. Like I said, we’ll be back before the end of the year with one more update.