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May/June/July Road Map

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#1 Russ Bullock

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Posted 29 April 2016 - 01:17 PM

With last month's April patch we saw the release of Faction Play Phase 3, along with a couple of follow-up hot fixes to settle the feature in. At this point we're pleased to see overall reaction to Phase 3, and in particular the new Scouting mode. With the queues now combined once again we're seeing healthy populations in Faction Play, with more players dropping than ever before. We will take this moment to reiterate that Faction Play will continue to receive more frequent smaller updates on an ongoing basis moving forward, rather than major "Phase" updates spread out over time.

As usual this Road Map covers some of the more noteworthy items coming in these patches, but there will be an array of smaller changes and fixes in addition to the items mentioned here.
Without further delay let's discuss some of the items you can expect over the next three patch cycles.

MAY

Patch Date: May 17th


May is relatively light on content releases when compared to the June and July patches, but nonetheless includes some key items and a lot of quality of life fixes and tweaks, along with the release of the Kodiak.

Release of the Kodiak
The Kodiak must rank close to or at the top as far as excitement level goes. Alex Iglesias did an amazing job with the concepts as usual, and Evan Halim has done an outstanding job taking it the rest of the way. We are really looking forward to releasing this into MWO, and I think you will all love piloting this beast. If you haven't seen it yet, Tina put up an advance look at the retractable claws on the MWO Instagram, and you can find the Kodiak Lore and Blueprint post here.

Spectator Tool Improvements
Some additional refinements to the Spectator Tool have been completed. These features will provide broadcasters from the community as well as our upcoming World Championship Tournament broadcasters with some more advanced and quickly accessible information available for their viewers. How information is displayed has been cleaned up, and there's even a little extra feature concerning Team/Unit names on the scoreboards. Check it out when you get a chance.

In-Game Chat system improvement
In-game chat has had a few of its issues ironed out. A highlight here includes a fix for the issue where chat input that hadn't been committed would be deleted when transitioning to a new screen.

Mech Academy update
Enemy 'Mechs in the BattleZone area have received some improvements to their AI; they will now prioritize their weapon use according to range, and will be able to launch UAVs when fired upon. The Onslaught 'Mechs will also now prioritize their weapon use according to range.
We have also added a Repair and Re-Arm Beacon to the Academy.

Changes to Long Tom/Artillery/Air Strike Behavior
The current implementation of Strike weapons will be reworked to deal with some historical code that is need of a rewrite. The goal here is to make Strike damage behave more consistently, and remove some of the randomness inherent with the current system. The May patch notes will list all the details, but simply put you're going to see changes to how damage is handled, the removal of Crit Damage, and a reduction in the occurrence of headshots from these strikes.

Some other general items
The entirety of these more general items will be outlined in the patch notes, but there are a couple of things that are worth highlighting here.
A few fixes will be going out to resolve some of the issues with mouse cursor/window behavior.
A good array of general UI fixes and changes will be arriving as well. The MechLab Warehouse Owned/Mounted checkboxes will now behave correctly when first accessing those screens; MC coffer balances will update faster when MC has been doled out; equipped Modules can now be moved directly to another available slot, rather than having to un-equip > re-equip; Machine Gun flashes in the Pirate's Bane have been toned down. Look ahead to the patch notes for a complete list of these general items.

JUNE

Patch Date: June 21st


Release of the Phoenix Hawk
More outstanding work from the art team here. Arman Abounourinejad, one of our modelers, has done an excellent job translating the Phoenix Hawk from Alex's concepts; those unique hardpoints on the arms look very cool. The Phoenix Hawk will be the fifth Classic Inner Sphere 'Mech to arrive in MechWarrior Online. As with its predecessors, we are extremely proud to be bringing these 'Mechs back into the fold. You can probably expect an advanced look from Tina on the Instagram prior to the patch, but until then you can check out the Lore and Blueprint post here.

'Mech Re-scaling
June Patch Notes will have some comparison images and a lot of information to help convey the degree and method of these changes, but the scaling of pretty much every 'Mech in the game has been re-evaluated. Existing Quirks will also be re-evaluated based on these re-sizes. It's difficult to convey how important these re-scales are without launching into a full patch notes style summary, so look ahead to the June notes for all of the details; we're going to be providing a lot of comprehensive detail.

New Frozen City
Frozen City will be the fourth 'original' map to undergo an art and design update. This new Frozen City has undergone some pretty drastic and excellent changes, and will be replace both the existing Frozen City and Frozen City Night maps. We think you're going to dig it. Patch notes will have more details covering the changes you'll see.

Team/Lance Command Wheel
While this was originally slated for the May patch, the Command Wheel will now be coming in June to allow some time for additional refinements. The Command Wheel will allow Lance mates and Lance/Team Commanders to issue orders using a hot key/context sensitive callout system. Need help? Press and hold the E key (by default) and click the center of the Command Wheel. Not only will you be highlighted on the minimap/Battle Grid, but a voice callout and a chat callout will also appear.
Commanders can call for battlefield movements, request Airstrikes/Artillery/UAVs etc. and set priority targets. Scouts can indicate spotted enemies.
Make sure you check it out when the patch goes live, this is a big game changer in terms of communicating effectively with your team.

Quick Play Leaderboards
The Leaderboard system we introduced for Faction Play Phase 3 will now cover Quick Play as well.

Catapult 'Butterbee' Hero 'Mech
The Catapult will be receiving a new Hero variant: the Butterbee. Featuring a custom Hero Pattern and the standard 30% C-Bill Boost, the Butterbee comes equipped with 4 Missile Hardpoints and 4 Energy Hardpoints.

JULY

Patch Date: July 19th


Release of the Viper
Probably one of the best and most recent examples of how some 'Mechs are being visually updated and modernized with their introduction to MechWarrior Online. Credit again goes to Alex for his amazing concepts, and to one of our new modelers Mark Nicholson. This is Marks first 'Mech since joining us back in October of last year, and he's knocked it out of the park. You can check out the Viper Lore and Blueprint post here.

Supply Caches
Thread on Supply Cache Update here

Decals
Originally slated for August, the Decal system will be arriving in our July patch. ~90 decals will be available from the outset, with further additions and improvements to the Decal system planned for upcoming patches. All decals are single-purchase items; once a decal is acquired it can be applied to any ‘Mech. The Color system is shared between Patterns and Decals; owning a Color allows you to use that Color for Patterns and Decals. There will be six Decal slots available, all of which will be free to use.

Chat system updates
You’ll see some improvements to the in-game Chat system in the July patch. Chat will now be scrollable when the Chat window is ‘active’, and a few quality of life improvements have been implemented to fix issues related to the persistence of chat input between screens.

Save system improvements
The system for saving changes to your ‘Mechs has undergone an extensive technical overhaul for the July patch. Save times will be drastically reduced for players with large inventories of ‘Mechs and equipment. This overhaul also tackles some long-standing Invalid ‘Mech issues that could be caused by saving errors.

Viridian Bog Update
As mentioned in the June patch notes, with the recent addition of two new Level Designers to the PGI staff we are better equipped to more consistently evaluate maps for potential improvements. Following up on a pathing tweak to Forest Colony in the June patch, July sees a beautification and traversal update on Viridian Bog, in addition to a layout adjustment to provide more balanced access to the central terrace mountain.

‘Mech texture brightness fix
‘Mech textures have been adjusted to minimize the darkening of Patterns in certain lighting conditions. This fix has been needed for some time, but with the addition of Decals the desire for increased visibility of ‘Mech customization will be all the greater. Showing off your customization will be much clearer now.

Long Tom adjustments
Blast Radius is being reduced from 300m to 200m, max amount of Damage to a single ‘Mech is being reduced from 150DMG per component to 120 DMG per component.

Looking Ahead to August


Pushed to August: Multiple Drop Decks
A long-requested feature. Each player will be provided with 2 Invasion DropDeck slots and 2 Scouting DropDeck slots in which to save DropDeck configurations, and each DropDeck can be assigned a name for quick reference. You'll also be able to purchase up to 2 additional DropDecks each for both Invasion and Scouting, for an amount of MC to be determined.

New Item for August: Inverse Kinematics
After being removed way back in 2012 due to performance concerns, the engineers have managed to implement a cleaner, less demanding Inverse Kinematics system. This is currently slated for August release.

The August patch will be comprised of more than those two items. An upcoming August road map will cover some of the additional items currently slated for the August patch.

Assault Revamp


Status of the Assault Game Mode
Originally slated for a (very tentative) July release, the revamp of the Assault Game Mode is now slated as a September item.
Prior to release the Assault revamp will be placed onto the Public Test Servers to garner feedback and test it in the wild, but the exact date of that PTS is still to be determined.

The Assault game mode is being revamped to put the focus back onto the primary objective: capturing the opposing base. Completing the objective will be necessary to win the game mode; even if one team is eliminated, the other team will still have to take their base. In order to make the base assault more interesting the bases will better resemble proper bases, with new fortifications and special buildings, instead of solely having a mobile command center placed in the map.

These additions include (pending full testing and tuning) turrets, destructible walls, a jamming tower that produces an ECM effect, a radar tower that produces a UAV effect, and an air control tower that periodically calls in a DropShip to protect the base. While heavier 'Mechs might be better suited to directly assault the opposing base and team, lighter 'Mechs can hunt down and destroy the generators that power the opposing base’s towers, shutting them down to weaken the base’s defenses.





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