One of the under-the-radar games we’re looking forward to in 2012 is that of MechWarrior Online, the play for free title coming from Piranha Games that promises to deliver the authentic MechWarrior experience we know and love from the core video game series on the PC.
Last month we delved deep into how the game’s factions, mercenary groups and general warfare would work and today, we’re going to explore the community and informational warfare aspects of the game, as covered in the latest dev posts from Piranha Games.
The Community Warfare topic was covered through a community Q&A where a few questions about gameplay were cleared up. We’ll start with that through a brief bullet point list, then we’ll show Lead Designer Paul Inouye’s explanation of player progression and loyalty points, with a big bit on Information Warfare at the end.:
- Matches will max out at 12 vs. 12 or 8 vs. 8, depending on player experience during testing.
- All players have equal access to weapons.
- All ranked matches affect the Inner Sphere in the persistent online world which forms the backbone of the game.
- Historically-important worlds where important events took place int he Battletech universe cannot be fought for by factions for obvious reasons and Piranha is trying to find a way to get players involved, knowing the outcome of these skirmishes. Remember, this is in canon and each day in the real world is a day in the Inner Sphere, beginning in 3049.
- Playing as a Lone Wolf offers no advantages but after release, they may be given more roles.
- For Mercenary Corps bidding on contracts, there will be a minimum reserve set for each, to prevent rich corps for bidding the minimum amounts to continue fighting on the same world, etc.
- Players can switch from being a faction player, a lone wolf and a merc but at a cost.
- To discourage faction imbalance, there will be rewards and incentives for joining smaller houses.
Loyalty Points & Player Progression
Pilot Leveling – Experience Points (XP) are rewarded for in-game actions and completion of objectives and winning matches. XP is a running accumulator that does not decay or take anything you’ve earned away. This is the same mechanic found in most games that have an XP leveling system. We’ve added a slight modification to this system in which you can train your pilot using the XP you’ve earned.
Mech Leveling – You earn Mech XP (MXP) for some in-game actions and match wins. This information is stored on a per chassis basis. Similar to the Pilot Tree, BattleMechs have an efficiency tree. Mech XP is used to purchase these efficiencies.
Faction Leveling – For certain in-game actions and fighting for a specific House, you will earn Loyalty Points (LP). LP does start to decay after a grace period of in-activity. Accumulating LP allows you to get a military rank within the House you’re being loyal to. The ranks in a House give you benefits and rewards that vary as you climb the military tree.
Now concerning Rank and Loyalty Point Decay…
Once you have achieved a rank, you keep that rank and all of its benefits… PERMANENTLY. Loyalty Decay starts to happen when you as the player have become in-active for a long period of time. Yes, there is a grace period during with Loyalty Decay will not happen. We fully understand that not all players will be able to play every day and we take this into account with this said grace period.
If you as the player are MIA for an extended period of time, it is understandable that you lose loyalty with the House you are representing. While you may lose loyalty, you do not lose your benefits and rewards. Let’s say for example that you’ve reached the rank of Captain and have 5,000 LP. If your extended leave causes decay to kick in, you will not lose the rank of Captain. Instead, what will happen is, your rank will change to Honorary Captain. Now let’s assume that you are away for so long that your LP has dropped to 3,000 LP. In order to remove the “Honorary” part of your rank, you’ll have to gain 2,000 LP. All the while, you will NOT lose access to the rewards and benefits of a regular Captain. As a Captain, you would have been entitled to X C-bills as a salary per day as long as you logged in. As an Honorary Captain, your salary will be reduced slightly but returns to full once you become an active Captain again.
One last point, Rank does NOT equal command during a match. You do not get to tell people what to do because you’re senior rank, you do not make important faction calls, etc. Rank is purely a reward system for consistent and successful gameplay.
At its heart, Information Warfare is about controlling the flow of information on the battlefield.
- Knowing where your enemy is.
- Knowing the current status of your enemy.
- Understanding your enemy’s intentions.
- Sharing information between units.
The core of information warfare is the BattleGrid, a combination of command center and dynamic battlefield map useable by players during gameplay. The BattleGrid is an extension of the HUD and allows players to quickly review the tactical situation at hand. Players will immediately recognize elements from other successful shooters and previous MechWarrior products.
- A scalable battlefield top-down map.
- Object and waypoint markers.
- Friendly and Enemy Unit Markers
- Support Units
Modules – A New Concept
In order to evolve the concept of MechWarrior®, we needed a new layer of customization. After several scrapped ideas, we settled on a module concept. Modules allow players to customize their BattleMech with functionality without having to deal with the existing slots and tonnage rules.
Each BattleMech will come with Module Board. Players can insert modules of their choice, provided they have space. Each module adds a layer of functionality. Modules are linked to the Pilot Tree and are unlocked by training various skills.
Modules are also a very important part of Role Warfare – a topic for a future blog.
We’ve changed how targeting has worked by layering and controlling what players see and know about the opposing force elements.
Target information is now exclusively Line of Sight/Detection (LOSD). Simply put, if you, a teammate or support unit can’t directly see or detect a target using a module, that target is invisible. Target information decays rapidly. This means if you lose LOSD, you will lose all knowledge that target’s position and current status.
Details about a target are not inclusive, and is now layered based on the type of modules and BattleMech you are piloting. The concept helps emphasizes using specific `Mech and Module combinations to gain and share enhanced targeting information.
Sharing of target information is also no longer inclusive and requires a Module or C3 Master/Slave unit.
So how do you gather LOSD information? Well there are several ways.
- Direct – You can see the target directly (LOSD).
- Radar – Your radar can detect a target in a predetermined arc, also LOSD.
- Satellite Scan – Orbital scan of the battlefield, highly efficient however still limited to top-down LOSD.
- UAV – Similar to a Sat Scan, but localized to a specific area on the battlefield.
- Detectors – Dropped off on the battlefield.
- Units – Any non-BattleMech present on the battlefield.
Each type of detection device may also have different primary or secondary modes of detection as follows:
- Night Vision – Allows players to see more detail in low light situations.
- Thermal Vision – Allows players to see heat signatures that can be detected through obstacles.
- Magnetometer Assisted – Allows players to detect metal and metal densities which can uncover a BattleMech hiding behind a building.
Some of these modes will not be available at launch, but I want to give you an overview of where we plan to take this concept.
With such an emphasis on detection and tracking, we also needed a counter balance, something that players could equip. Using the module system, we allow players to equip Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) devices in the form of:
- Spoofers – Beacons that send out a false target signatures.
- Disruptors – Disrupt or block modes, communication, target acquisition and locks.
- Surveillance – Allows a player to intercept and decode enemy intel.
So far, the elements are in place and they’re on the right track for building the structure for MechWarrior experience fans desire, but a screenshot is worth a thousand words and some gameplay footage is worth a million. With the game coming this summer, we’ve still not see what the game actually looks like so we hope that changes soon as the months count down.
If you’re at all interested in checking out the game when it launches (it’s free!) be sure to sign up for your pilot name at mwomercs.com!
MechWarrior Online launches summer 2012.
Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.
Source: Piranha Games