Weisman and Harebrained Schemes to make Battletech Returns?

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“TACTICAL ‘MECH COMBAT RETURNS TO THE PC.”

BattleTechGame.com

I was a backer of MechWarrior Tactics before it fell apart amidst development. MechWarrior Online is alright from the first-person view- vehicle simulation side, but I was hankering for something a little closer to the original source material, and with a much richer immersion in the interstellar politics and intrigue that makes up the BattleTech universe. Personae StudiosMechWarrior Tactical Command was, in my opinion, an unsung classic game that gave me a mobile MechCommander fix. But the game was fairly short and its title’s similarity to MechWarrior Tactics as well as its exclusivity to high end Apple mobile products made it instantly obscure and isolated. Of course there is always Megamek, but for one reason or another, I’ve never really had a good experience with it.

Shadowrun Returns: Wouldn't take much to add an Urbie to the environment.

Shadowrun Returns: Wouldn’t take much to add an Urbie to the environment.

In the meantime I am having the time of my life reliving the glory days with the Shadowrun Returns series; including its sequel Dragon Fall and its upcoming Hong Kong titles. Being from the generation of 2D graphics, having a 2D isometric game with painted backgrounds in a game also featured for mobile devices really appeals to me.

So scrubbing through my Facebook feeds today I saw that Harebrained Schemes is going to be launching a fall-slated Kickstarter for a BattleTech title. You can see the official page here, but it’s very bare bones without any concept sketches or plot. However like Shadowrun Returns, BattleTech creator Jordan Weisman will be at the helm of the project. You can also sign up for updates by email.

MechCommander Desperate Measures, the classic isometric RTS title.

MechCommander Desperate Measures, the classic isometric RTS title.

My speculation is that the game might be in a 2D Isometric view with 2D or 3D rendered sprites similar to Shadowrun Returns since they are going to be using a turn-based combat system. Shadowrun Returns also uses a highly intuitive cover system I believe would lend itself well to a BattleTech game, substituting hills, trees, and buildings for cars, building facades and office furniture. It makes the most sense to me from a standpoint of development efficiency. And given the popularity of Shadowrun Returns games, (I think the third installment, Hong Kong, made its initial Kickstarter goals within twenty four hours), If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Political Intrigue is also mentioned in the brief text copy, so I’m thinking that the backstory and plot will be at least as sophisticated and true to the source material as the Loren Coleman-written story arc in MechWarrior Tactical Command. Though it seems like there will be more sandbox elements to it.

In their own words:

“Steeped in the feudal political intrigue of the BattleTech universe, the game will feature an open-ended Mercenaries-style campaign that blends RPG ‘Mech and MechWarrior management with modern turn-based tactics.”

To me, that heavily suggests a turn-based MechCommander Desperate Measures, and I know there are a lot of socks being blown off at the concept in BattleTech fan circles. My own included.

I just hope they make a mobile version as well.

Well bargained, and done.

16 thoughts on “Weisman and Harebrained Schemes to make Battletech Returns?

  1. Colonel Kay Wolf

    With the recent spate of questionable MechWarrior products, I’m extremely leary, I guess you could say, of anything that’s coming out, even if it’s by Mr. Weisman’s direction.

    In case they don’t know what the high-end BattleTech community wants, the people that have been playing BattleDroids since 1982 or BattleTech since 1984, like I have, I want EVERYTHING that’s in ALL of the sourcebooks put into the game, a working universe, where I can deal with contracts, plan strategy and tactics, work my objectives in the order, and with the amount and type of forces I want, and I want to be able to launch into MechWarrior Online or MechWarrior: Living Legends to play the actual missions. PGI are NOT listening, so they need to take a back seat to ANYONE willing to take on the mission I have outlined.

    Reply
    1. Flashfreeze

      I understand your frustration, but we have to be reasonable: “everything and all” is impossible. You’re asking for a degree of content volume and complexity that is honestly in the realm of a high eight or nine-digit budget to please a hardcore fanbase with a buying power of low seven digits at best. Similar to the various Simulator genre games like Euro Truck Simulator or Train Simulator, you’d be paying premium prices for this theoretical game, which you certainly sound willing to do, but is so economically unfeasable in the current market I can’t see any company willing to take a risk on this endeavor.

      There is simply too much at hand to put everything from Battletech into one game, even discounting higher end graphics–the sheer programming hurdles involved to include everything would be astronomically expensive, especially if you omit the human input of a GM (which is the case with a computer game) and force the game to set up possible campaigns on its own. Programming a computer to execute strategies is already a game engine on its own. Programming units to understand tactics is already a game engine on its own. Putting all that into a cockpit simulator, even discounting modern graphics, is easily terabytes of data and work.

      As a bedroom programmer myself, I have to admit that as much as I’d like to see all that in a game, experience has taught me that any potential creator of a game simply has to narrow the scope of their work, or be crushed under the costs unless they find someone willing to finance such a project at a near-guaranteed loss. We simply can’t have it all, and because of the multilayered scope of such a project, I doubt we ever will.

      Reply
      1. Colonel Kay Wolf

        Chicken! The ONLY reason game companies don’t take on and overcome a challenge like this is sheer laziness. It has NOTHING to do with money, and EVERYTHING to do with time commitment. I’m sorry, the stuff you’re talking about being too much would only take time. I’m a “bedroom” programmer, myself, and we’ve seen the better portion of what I’m talking about in previous MechWarrior game leagues online. Don’t give me the money issue, most of this has already been done, it just needs to have that official touch applied to it, and be relatively seamless when it comes to launching particular mission types and then taking in the outcome stats at the end of the mission. Why make it so difficult?

        Reply
        1. Flashfreeze

          Surely you realize that time -is- money to any company, for profit or otherwise. Paying for the programmers and the development cycles of code integration is extremely expensive, doubly so if you actually go back to troubleshoot the numerous problems that will come out of designing NPC AI, including patching exploits, giving them reasonable movement and attack patterns, and actually programming routines that consider more than just a scarce handful of variables.

          Take PC development big-wigs Valve, for instance. I’d dare say they pioneered the whole four player co-op genre with Left 4 Dead, yet in spite of the seven years of support since the release of L4D and the eight years of support for Team Fortress 2, their bots are still idiots on buttered toast. Almost a decade of updates, coding, and programming tweaks since then and these AI enemies are still demonstrably inferior to even a novice player. There are so many variables for those bots to adjust to that they simply become overwhelmed with the AI patterns they have now.

          Could they program better bots? You bet your biscuits they can. There’s been good AI enemies–Thief, Halo, F.E.A.R., even Half Life from Valve again. The main hitch here is that they actually purpose-designed those enemies for those games–which takes dedicated programmers and the money to hire them and the tools allow them to assemble these convincing enemies, and in turn use these programmers for this purpose rather than other games.

          It’s unfortunately the same here. The opportunity cost as well as the raw monetary cost of making such an integrated Battletech game is high simply because your desire for a unifed experience requires a single suite of programs that will run uniformly across all the levels you described. It’s wonderful that parts exist which are quite good on their own, but that is simply the issue–right now, they are parts, and putting them together is going to cost far more than it looks like it does on the surface. An “official touch” or “bit of polish” can cost millions. I assure you that with a fanbase this dedicated, it isn’t laziness–they know a market is there. It’s the sheer, massive scope of what you’re asking them to do that daunts them. Think about it. Why didn’t Mechcommander allow us to go down to the personal view to pilot one of the ‘Mechs we had? Why hasn’t any Mechwarrior game given us strategic options more complex than ‘choose your mission path’? It’s all a matter of scope.

          Reply
          1. Colonel Kay Wolf

            I think I see where there is confusion between what I said and what you read.

            I am not looking for them to allow us to see the live 3D battlefield, as in MechCommander, and then be able to zoom in to see the 1PV for the tactical view; I’m not asking for that, and I know THAT, in particular, would be extremely difficult.

            What I am asking for is a top-down version of a world map for the planet we’re contracted to raid, skirmish, or invade, have the various possible objectives, including those required by the contract, and other targets of opportunity, set up, and then be able to set up drops, in a particular order, or a series of waves, etc., so members of my merc unit could hit those in that order, to play through those games, on the time-frame set, etc. In-between actual missions, players can ghost into other missions, make simulator runs, etc., basically playing as PUGs, much like they do, now.

            I think the largest misunderstanding is that a lot of people think I’m asking for massive graphical or mechanical workings, and I’m really not… I don’t understand why a lot of what I would be asking for couldn’t be done through a web site, out of the game, and then the actual fighting taking place by launching into the game? Why do we have to make things harder than they really need to be?

            I’m asking for what’s been done in multiple leagues for MechWarrior and MechCommander since 1998. There has been seventeen years of development work on the various things I’m asking for, and though each has not been absolutely perfect they were, in general, good enough to play on. They DO NOT have to be integrated into the game itself directly.

  2. thomas balinski

    Reader and game player for 25 years. I loved the build your company and develop your mechwarrior dynamic of mechcommander. A choose your own adventure story with multiple varied out comes would be amazing. As an adult with a limited time to invest in my gaming, I’m not good enough to be anything but the target of derision on mwo. It has made me give up playing that game. I would love to see a new tactical game.

    Reply
    1. Colonel Kay Wolf

      I wish I could like this, here… it’s one of the reasons I gave up, also. A bunch of unthinking apes… you know what I found on the MWO forums, yesterday? Someone complaining about the new collision algorithm in the game getting people stuck when they shouldn’t be. If people would learn to mind their space and their paths, this would be no problem. I got tired of getting shot by my own team mates who are too impatient to get clear of me before they start taking on an opponent. “Oh, look, a red box and a gold cross-hair!!! Me Mungo, me shoot them dead! Ahh, team mate in way… Mungo shoot dead, too!” Stupid.

      Reply
      1. FoShoooo

        I got tired of being nickel and dimed. I hate that a game as awesome as MW is reduced to a f2p where I have to pay more than the price of a full game to have all the content in it at once. The balance is also completely out of whack from customization being so willy nilly + they haven’t innovated at all on the pin-point aim that’s in every MW; maps are really small and gamey; none of the cool modes from original games. Ugh I could go on, but its depressing to think about.

        Reply
  3. Dean saffran

    I would love to see mechwarrior tactics recreated with a strategic level similar to a 4x style. The tactical side would be handled by PvP or computer NPC (if no player available) for battles. I donated to the failed mechwarrior tactics and was disappointed when it went off line. Please creat the tactical side with turn based game though.

    Reply
  4. Flashfreeze

    What I really miss most, more than anything else in the current spread of game options, is playing through a decent single player campaign mode; I don’t have anything against multiplayer (I wouldn’t be going to the tables otherwise), but I really miss being a core element of larger events in a tale. I hope that if Mr. Weisman and his team manage to bring out a Battletech game that they also give us an interesting story to be a part of once again.

    Reply
    1. Colonel Kay Wolf

      Y’know what I would like to see? A campaign where I can get together with my friends in a single-player fashion, where we can have an actual Lance of players against the story and elements of that story. I think that would be awesome beyond belief. Being able to go it alone -and build up NPC forces on our side while I’m at it- would be a nice option to keep, as well.

      Reply
      1. Flashfreeze

        That would be nice, though as I’ve learned by running leagues for Killing Floor, L4D, and other cooperative action games, that’s gonna be an interesting challenge in regards to game balance; ideally a game designed around four players would retain lance-like operations all throughout whether one player is there or four are. I suppose a cooperative mini-campaign to supplement a truly single-player experience would also work. Balancing missions for multiple units gets interesting once you go beyond purely trying to match BVs and keeping objectives within reason, but when you don’t have to try to keep more than a handful of missions within the four-man framework, it isn’t quite so bad.

        Reply
        1. Colonel Kay Wolf

          And that’s another thing… Battle Value… if MWO would move from a solely Elo system to a combined BV/Elo system, so MANY of their problems with matching would be solved. In a four-player/single-player campaign game, though, I think that’s going to be extraordinarily important, using BV to match out missions, to make them truly fair. Beyond that, I’m trying to figure out where further difficulty, other than cleaning up code, would be for taking Cyberlore’s coding for MechWarrior 3 and updating it all for a new game, would be.

          I understand there are that’s a large task in and of itself, and yes it would cost money… I’m just frustrated that I’m not seeing MORE of the BattleTech universe after all of these years of development.

          Reply
  5. I R O N

    Id like to see a battletech game that allows more of a table top like experiance. From painting your mechs to Forming a lance. I’d liek to rigidly follow the Battletech rules. But Keep the battles small. Like they are in Table top. I dont want it turning into a version of Starcraft or Warhammer 40k.

    Reply
  6. Ruebezahl54

    What about a round based simulation, you start in as a House-Lord/Khan/Pirate-King and set up your empire foor the coming…Each round may be a 2week-period resembling jumpcore recharge-time and DS-to/from planet travel-time… Something like in the Civilization series or HoI2 (e.g. several taxes, social setting sliders, state-raison, government-type, civilian missions, espionage, construction of buildings, Institution, industry complexes, Underground bunker complexes, HPGs, merchant fleet, Explorer Corps, Mega Engineering), then you plan your military preparation actions, troop raising, merc-hiring, sibco creation, maneuvers, troop movements, Jumpcore-quickcharge?, pirate jumppoint, LF-jump through void space, assaults, spacedrop-reentry, strikes, sieges, release actions… At the end of the round, an interstellar planetary political map is shown, arrows with symbols and description boxes occur (*great famine in Londerholm System; *Pro-Liao Rebellion on Zurich, *Draconian Invasion of Robinson) and a decision-box for AI-situation-handling or player personnel reaction/decision (*Londerholm: a)Lower local taxes +/- ; b)distribute military ressources to hungry civilians; c)Suppress every sign of disobeyance. *Zurich: ….). AND HERE IT COMES: Now you can chose to end the turn and see what your computer-opponents do and what your decisions effects will become through procession by your own AI, and/OR you can chose to “MechCommand” a single maybe critical invasion or you can chose to fight more or even all of your invasions and defensive actions, as you see fit.
    Several BT universe time frames are known. Do you know the Excel-sheet from VOLT? This is a good basis… Scenarios: Age of War, Reunification War, Hidden Wars, SL Civil War[Amaris], Exodus Civil War, Succession Wars, 3039, Revival-Trials, OP:Revival,…Or small Scenarios single battles or campaigns: Tukkayyid, Misery, Wolf-Jadefalcon-Refusal, Great-Refusal, Fall of Terra, Chaos March pacification scenarion…. — You know what I mean? A “spin-off” with a little more roleplaying might start at Outreach, Solaris, Galatea, Strana Mechty or whereever with/without ressources and must fight or trade or steal or kill to get money/Mech/vessel/Datacore… to handle and raise to a higher Level to leave the first person niveau and get to the regular play with your property. Lets say: You inherited money and land, bought a Mech, shot the Sheriff, the judge and the deputy, took their place and made yourself local dictator, bringing into conflict with local authority, fighting weak garrison forces, declaring Independence, plundering inhabitants gives money to hire Mercs to suppress Rebellion, further invest in local weapons industry and acquisition of a JS made you a Bandit-King or Bandit-Caste leader. With your base ready-now for selfsuficient production you need to integrate your setting into a Scenario and save as an own Scenarion…
    Do I want too much???
    Greeting from Germany, Köln

    Reply
  7. Wrangler

    I guess there striking while the coals are hot video game wise. With success of the Shadowrun game, it would be logical for Haribrainschemes to give this a try.

    If this done way their suggesting, it sounds like it be a blend of the original Mechwarrior 1 (contracts, missions, etc.) and Mech Commander. I’m not entirely sure, if hairbrainschemes is going to use same MechWarrior Tactics engine that was developed, but it possible since they were recently purchased.

    It depends how much money is raised. If it’s funded, it may be better than MWO. MWO is so mindless and all about one-person shooting, while MW4 was about coordinating lance of mechs against other targets.

    Sure there good chance this could crash and burn, but why be negative?

    Reply

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