Rather, I'm just going to share a few perceptions about this game. Strictly speaking, the logical points anyone writes in an article or post should stand for themselves, but people like to think they're listening to an expert. I don't know if I qualify, so very briefly, I'll say I'm a career IT person who has been everywhere from management to development (IE programmer) and who still works in IT daily. I've also developed some few games, although nothing professionally, and I'm familiar with 3d graphics programming and network code.
What I want to say with this post is this: It doesn't look from my point of view like the Powers That Be on Mechwarrior Online are really serious about building this game into a major success, into THE online game in the genre.
I say this because of the following facts:
- The game is currently in open beta (recently transitioned from closed beta), but is not feature complete, even with the limited set of features most folks would think necessary for a "1.0 release".
- In the time I've been playing (only about three and a half months, admittedly) the game hasn't significantly changed, during a time when it should have had a lot of code and artwork visibly added.
- There are some items requested by players and others which could have been done to improve the game in that time that don't need significant skills to implement and could have been done with minimal resources, but weren't done.
- The game company (or companies, not sure how it divides up) have taken in some funds (not sure again, could be millions, could be a few 100k) from the Founders' program, providing in theory money to accelerate development. There is no apparent change in the pace, however.
- Despite apparently having funding, the dev team is apparently not growing. At this point in development I would expect a big "push" to get the game ready for release. More artists, programmers, etc. should be added at least temporarily to generate the content and do the "boilerplate" coding to flesh out the game once the "rock star" programmers have done the heavy lifting. But the PGI web site currently shows two openings, one for a net coder, and one for an intern.
- Most of what is being deployed in patches seems to be tweaks and fixes, some of which don't work at all. New systems being deployed like BAP aren't really new systems, they're just buffs to existing play mechanics. The same with Artemis IV, it didn't really add anything new, it's just another thing you buy for more firepower.
- Many existing bugs aren't being addressed, they keep existing from one patch to the next.
I don't think this is what you intended, at least from the interviews and articles I've seen.
What's really happening? How many people are working on this game, and when are more going to join in?
Expanding a bit on points above:
Game improvements that could be added without skilled developers: There are a lot of these in any major program, because programs consist of both code and data. Once the code is written, the data can be altered or added to for a big game effect at low resource cost. An example is changing bitmaps for in-game objects. Sure, it takes a real artist to do a mech model from scratch, but drawing a new kind of tree branch should be doable by anyone who ever took an art class and can run a mouse.
Another example is the maps themselves. Cryengine 3 includes a very nice Sandbox based world editor - WYSIWYG even. Yes, making a good map requires more than just the ability to use that app unless you use canned buildings, bushes, and the like. At this point in development however, the art assets for the other maps should be usable.
It should be possible to make significantly different maps using the work already done as a base, and it doesn't need someone with programming skill or software engineering knowledge. They just need basic training on designing a team based combat map for good gameplay. There are dozens of mapping tutorials out there for counter-strike and similar games that cover this.
One of the big complaints from current players is the lack of map variety and map sizes. New maps shouldn't be a Big Deal, but they're not being done.
Mechs are a similar feature. Yes, not everyone can design one or do the great artwork that seems to be the baseline quality for mechs in this game. At this point in development though it shouldn't be *hard* to add new mechs. That is, a new mech should be entries in a database, skeletons for animations, texture maps for coloring, and models for shapes. IE, data, not code. If the artist that builds them is too busy, have a couple office folks help, or hire some assistants. Make It Happen.
Using cut and paste or similar an intern modeler or noob artist could build new mechs or new variants pretty easily. All a new mech variant consists of seems to be hardpoints shifting, different loadout, and a slightly altered model. Not hard for even a new guy to do, compared to the lead artist.
Of course, it's possible that each mech design is hard coded in the game, and that adding a new mech requires actual programming... if that's the case, then this game is definitely not headed a good direction, as that violates a lot of software engineering principles.
We keep hearing how the devs at PGI want to make this a great game. Many of us are emotionally invested in it becoming at least as good as Mechwarrior was (which is a 10 year old game, I remind you), but it seems to be all talk and little effort.
Why is this?
If it's lack of resources, let the community help. Many of the beta testers would work for Free.
As an example, there are talented people in the community who could build incredible maps using Cryengine. Sure, they're not MWO maps, but they can't be hard to convert. Likewise you could have a mech design contest. Let people submit 3d models and textures which serve as the base for new mechs.
Please do *something* and tell us you're doing it. Right now, it looks like you just Don't Care, and telling us how much you do won't cut it. Show us, don't tell us.