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MechWarrior Tactics Developer Roundtable

Posted by: Travis at 4/23/2012 12:00 PM
Last week, I attended a developer roundtable for upcoming browser strategy game MechWarrior Tactics with Tarrnie Williams, President of Roadhouse Interactive, and Chris Cleroux, Lead Designer for A.C.R.O.N.Y.M Games; along with a host of other media on hand for the event. I have a ton of various new details concerning the game to share, in addition to some exclusive screenshots.

Built on the flexible and powerful Unity engine, MechWarrior Tactics pits gamers against each other in asynchronous turn-based battles run entirely in an internet browser. Each match places one player against another, with both having a set, or known as a lance, of four mechs from the BattleTech universe. The developers chose the BattleTech tabletop series of games as both a starting point and source of inspiration with MechWarrior Tactics. The title shares some gameplay similarities with the tabletop series, but focuses more on providing an accessible and entertaining game for both newcomers and fans of the BattleTech universe. The developers aim to bring players into the game and have them instantly enjoy the combat and mech customization aspects of the title. Unlike some other free-to-play titles, MechWarrior Tactics doesn’t contain any sort of filler missions for grinding. The game’s primary focus is engaging battles that allow players to gain further mechs and parts for customization.

Matches
The primary aspect of MechWarrior Tactics is battling with either friends or other similarly ranked players in a wide range of matches. For launch, the game will revolve around one versus one player deathmatch battles that can be set up with an unlimited or limited turn duration. Players seeking quick battles can create matches between friends that force each other to pick their next action in battle before the timer runs out. On the other hand, players can partake in matches that allow for unlimited time to carefully choose their next strategy for battle. The number of mechs that a player has acquired determines the number of concurrent matches. Since each match requires a lance of four mechs, a player with eight mechs could take part in two matches at the same time.

The matchmaking system is built around the multiplayer norm in which players of similar skill are placed together on the battlefield. Players can advance in levels, but these simply function as unlocking additional content and have no effect on actual warfare. The player’s skill in battle and in customizing their mech are the sole factors in deciding a victor. With the matchmaking system, gamers can battle in both custom or ranked matches that contain support for friends and global leaderboards. MechWarrior Tactics contains bot matches that act as both tutorials for beginners and testing grounds for new mech loadouts.

Customization
Along with the battle matches in MechWarrior Tactics, the other major focus of gameplay is customizing units in your mech bay. Players earn scrap from battles, which acts as the game’s form of currency for buying additional mechs and parts. The in-game store sell various booster packs, or known as stacks, that are similar to trading card games. Each stack contains an assortment of random items ranging from mech chassis, stock and unique mechs, decals, paint colors and patterns, and weapon parts. The items found in stacks have their own sets of rarity along with being built by a range of manufacturers. Mechs that are outfitted with items built by the same manufacturer can receive bonuses in battle. Chassis act as shells for holding individual parts and are unique to the various mech models in the game. For example, a certain Atlas chassis might allow for holding a greater number of weapons than other versions.

At the beginning of the game, each player will receive a starter pack that includes enough mechs and items for jumping straight into battle and customizing units in the mech bay. Gamers that love to battle can focus on matches using pre-built stock mechs, while those that enjoy studying various chassis and parts can spend their time creating an effective lance for the battlefield.

Balance
The balance in MechWarrior Tactics is based on a combat value system that takes into account the effectiveness of every resource in battle including mechs, chassis, weapons, and lance setup. Each of the player’s lances must not exceed the maximum combat value, which enforces battles are fair and balanced. With the combat value system in place, match victories are based solely on the player’s skill in battle and in customizing their mechs and lances.

Since MechWarrior Tactics is based on a free-to-play model, the developers have made sure to keep battles balanced with the combat value system. Players that wish to acquire various parts and mechs without much effort can simply buy stacks with actual money. Most of the items in the game are acquirable with the in-game currency, while other items will require actual money for purchase. The developers are staying away from the pay-to-win model and focusing their efforts on balanced battles for both paying and non-paying players.

I look forward to further information about MechWarrior Tactics and can't wait to partake in some intense online mech battles. MechWarrior Tactics will be available in 2012 for browsers compatible with the Unity engine.