Today I wanted to post an updated explanation on the recent patch which added the third person view into MechWarrior Online. Although we have long known this was a contentious issue and adding it to MWO was going to meet resistance, there was also a major failure in community management and communication. I will endeavor to explain how we got to this point. A couple of weeks ago I created a command chair post about “Why Third person” which explains the process in which we decided that adding a third person perspective was essential for teaching new players how to play MWO. During that time period some news leaked into the MWO community from a podcast on our intentions of releasing a third person camera and the reaction was very negative. Here is where we made a critical error with the community and it wasn’t because we don’t care about the community but quite the opposite, you could even say we cared too much. Instead of weighing the impact of the feature in every way we simply reacted very quickly and told the community that you will not have to play against players in third person perspective. Now this was many months ago and we weren’t even close to working on third person yet as it needed to find its way into our feature backlog. Now we fast forward many months and a design for third person is created. The mandate applied to the designer was something along the lines of “create a third person mode that mainly allows new players to quickly learn the nuances of a Battlemech’s movements” and furthermore that “the more experienced the pilot becomes the more time he will want/need to spend in First Person”. In order to accomplish this the HUD was reduced with the removal of the mini-map and Lance mate information and the camera was brought in tight with no ability to pan around your mech, finally there was a floating drone behind your mech to give explanation for the view point but would also act to give your position away. Once this design started to come into focus both on paper and through early test sessions I think the overwhelming feeling in the office was very closely along the lines of “Wow were going to split the community into two different buckets for this?”. The feeling was that the original design goals had not been achieved 100% but very close to it and it was feeling like a non-issue from a competitive perspective. I guess it really felt like we shouldn’t be splitting the matchmaking pools especially in public drops until we at least had more real world data. This is where the next big communication failure happened. It was the intention at this point to communicate all of these findings to the community and ask for some leeway while we released third person into the general population without segregation so that we could collect real world metrics on everything from how many people were using it to determining if there really were any unacceptable tactical advantages. This communication just never happened and I can blame staggered vacation time for various executives to other management types but regardless it was a failure. In the end Bryan put up a brief post after the feature went live which may have seemed like our attempt to sneak it in after the fact but it only came across that way because we missed the window we intended to use.
So here we are and all I can do at this point is reiterate that we truly feel we made the best decision for MWO and its future but this meant we needed to go back on previous statement and then we communicated it poorly to boot. To make it perfectly clear, there was never any meeting or particular moment at PGI where we decided that we would never provide the separate Queue’s for “Hardcore” (the mode where third person is not allowed). We simply decided that we felt it was likely not necessary and probably detrimental to split the community and with that in mind not worth delaying or holding out of the product when we could possibly see great benefit from the feature as we approach and cross over into official launch. But again it’s not impossible that we will provide the segregation. But this is where I need to be real careful to not make the same mistakes again with some kind of promise. Perhaps the community would not care if there was no segregation in Public matches if for instance Community Warfare provided the segregation. Final answers or decisions just can’t and shouldn’t be provided yet.
Since the patch went live we have played hundreds of matches, Ghost spectated hundreds more and have yet to see evidence of third person being used in any significant way. However were still willing to say that at the moment we don’t have enough data and were still working off our assumptions. I really want to remove the assumptions from the process and hopefully we can work together to uncover the full truth of the features impact. I’m positive we will be more than willing to make any number of small tweaks and adjustments to third person as we go along. In the end I think the community has shown amazing acceptance of our proposed direction of MWO if they feel it would be best for the future of MechWarrior Online and growing this great brand. So I assume the community is much more upset about the broken promise then how they have seen people using third person in matches.
In Summary we apologize for the manner in which communication failed over the release of this major feature and in closing, it is still possible that a separate Queue will be created but the timing just isn’t right for that currently as we just need more time to gather conclusive facts about its impact in the live game sessions.
Thanks for reading.
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