BATTLETECH

Platforms

PC, Mac, Linux

Date

2018

In BATTLETECH, the player takes on the role of a mercenary commander caught in a civil war the edges of settled space. Using their wits, determination, and the skills of their hired pilots, the player engages in both a hand-crafted story campaign and systemically-generated mercenary missions. The core gameplay is tactical turn-based combat, but with additional base management game loops. The player's BattleMechs are customizable, allowing the player to change weaponry, armor, and 'Mech enhancements to suit the needs of upcoming contracts. The player must also balance allegiances to the Great Houses, or the nobility may not be willing to hire the player's company, as they've earned that House's enmity.

Role

System design, level design, UX/UI design, scripting, writing.

Goals

BATTLETECH was a very challenging game to make, requiring constant collaboration with the UI team and engineers. We had to stay true to the feeling of the franchise, even while modernizing game mechanics and systems. The player had to be aware of a hell of a lot of information at a glance, so we spent a lot of time making rapid prototypes to test out user experience, combat systems, and combat displays. This included not just weaponry, heat management, and combat messaging, but also the incredibly complex 'Mech customization system and ship enhancements that the player unlocks as the game progresses. We also wanted to ensure that the game would be viable as an ongoing service, with regular balance patches, additional content, and new gameplay. All of this meant that we had to have a long pre-production period, a lot of variety in terms of what players could do, and ensure that patches and content could be added with minimal code changes.

Combat

The core gameplay of BATTLETECH is turn-based tactical combat. The player maneuvers their 'Mechs around the battlefield, destroying opposition in pursuit of their goals - be it an assassination, base capture, theft, et cetera. Terrain alters hit changes, detection range, damage received, et cetera.

Pre-Alpha

All of our combat was fine-tuned using rapid prototypes, a pre-alpha demo shown at GenCon, and a long PvE and PvP beta for our kickstarter backers. Drawing on feedback we received from players allowed us to really zero in on what made combat fun, and what was extraneous and could be left behind.

Mechbay

It's not just combat that the player must concern themself with, but also crew management, 'Mech customization, and the repair and refit process that inevitably takes place after each engagement.

Mechlab

Players can - in fact, must - customize their 'Mechs to survive. One of the most common phrases during development is that the 'Mech Lab "is the wheel upon which many UX designers have been broken", referencing the difficulties other games have had in implementing 'Mech customization.

Argo

As the game progresses, the player also must make choices about how to upgrade their base ship, the Argo. They can enhance the ship to improve morale, decrease healing and repair times, reduce transit time between systems, and provide XP bonuses to their crew.

Contracts

Choosing which missions to take involves looking at available contracts, negotiating for salvage, money, and reputation, and ensuring that appropriate 'Mechs are available for the map the mission will take place on. Bringing hot-running 'Mechs to a desert biome can be disastrous, for instance.

Crew

The crew of the Argo is made up of varied individuals, each with their own outlook. As with the Shadowrun series, a robust dialog system allows the player to engage in deep conversation and world-building, as well as plot advancement.