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Dev Blog 0 - Reboot

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#1 InnerSphereNews

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 07:32 PM

Welcome to Dev Blog 0!

Why is it called Dev Blog 0? Well, a lot has happened in the two years since we first announced MechWarrior back in 2009, and we felt a quick recap would help bring everyone up to speed on the events of the last 2 years. In order to make this blog a little more personal, we have referred to many people by first name.
The usage of we generally refers to:
  • Jordan Weisman founded FASA and co-created BattleTech. Jordan has also been responsible for numerous other ventures including WizKids, and Smith & Tinker.


  • Russ Bullock, Owner/President of Piranha Games Inc.


  • Bryan Ekman, Owner/Creative Director of Piranha Games Inc.


  • And sometimes the entire team at PGI, some 50+ awesome developers!
So let’s go back to the beginning before the 2009 announcement, when Piranha Games first began working with the MechWarrior license.

Rebooting Piranha Games

Three years ago, during the summer 2008, we put in motion a new strategy for Piranha, one that would focus our efforts on building killer original action games. With this ultimate goal in mind, we focused on three key areas.
  • Only take on action based work-for-hire games, such as Transformers 2 and Duke Nukem Forever.


  • Build an experienced development team, capable of creating fun and engaging products.


  • Develop a game by acquiring or licensing an existing intellectual property (IP).
With these goals in mind, we began identifying properties that fit the bill. In October 2008, while looking into the MechWarrior rights, Russ, learned that Jordan was working on a new venture at Smith & Tinker. Jordan, through S&T had licensed some of the digital FASA rights back from Microsoft. Not long after the initial call, we began working with Jordan on a new concept, a major update to the MechWarrior franchise.

Rebooting MechWarrior

The initial ideas revolved around revitalizing or rebooting the series by focusing on two areas:
  • Increasing the overall graphical fidelity of the entire game, especially the BattlMechs.


  • Solve some of the long standing gameplay issues from previous MechWarrior games.
From these two key areas, early design pillars emerged in the form of:
  • Urban Combat to address circle strafing and long range sniping.


  • Dynamic Battlefield further expanded on the concepts of Urban Combat and mechs having roles.


  • Dynamic pacing, introduced an early version of one of the final pillars, Information Warfare.
It would be designed for the Xbox 360 and PC. The game would take place on the planet Deshler, in the year 3015. Single player would revolve around Adrian Kohl and his exploits during an invasion by Kuritan forces. A gritty series of missions, designed to draw people deep into the rich vibrant and treacherous world of BattleTech. Multiplayer was a blend of features from previous MechWarrior games and modern FPS experiences. The package as a whole was the first step in making MechWarior cool again.

We continued to iterate on the design for several weeks, then started developing a plan of action.
Early on we decided to produce a marketing video that would demonstrate many of the core features and rebooted art style. We had three goals:
  • Announce the project and generate a major buzz within the gaming community.


  • Generate publisher interest.


  • Increase Piranha’s profile as a quality developer with publishers and the community.
The marketing campaign contained 3 teaser videos , the final full length trailer, and a feature interview on IGN. We rolled out the plan during the second week of July, 2009.

The reaction was overwhelming. We anticipated the announcement would generate a lot of buzz, however the end result outperformed even our highest expectations.
Oh Yeah, Harmony Gold

Contrary to all the press and speculation that Harmony Gold was getting in the way of a deal or development, this had no impact whatsoever on development or signing a deal for MechWarrior.
Closing a Deal

The hard work began in earnest after the video release. We had an aggressive schedule to visit publishers and gauge interest. In the month of August we met with all of the major publishers, pitched the MechWarrior game to a captive audience and waited. The answers rolled in slowly, starting with the smaller publishers. Then word showed up from the big five. The answer was no.
We knew going in, there were two major risks. No PS3 version due to a Microsoft restriction, and the epic market collapse and major recession. In the end, it was mostly the lack of a PS3 option that did us in. The scope and budget required to develop a console reboot needed the support of a PS3 SKU and we just couldn’t convince publishers to take a risk. By late fall 2009, our dreams of making a MechWarrior game, began slowly drifting away.
Through the end of 2009 and into 2010 we rallied numerous times, reducing scope and budget, re-pitching the concept as a LIVE only title, etc. etc. In the end, nothing stuck.
To be honest, 2008/09 were some of the hardest times this company has ever seen. We spent a lot of time, resources, money and energy on MechWarrior, and it wasn’t looking good.
Then, in the spring of 2010, we secured the Duke Nukem Forever contract. This was a huge achievement and a cornerstone in our development history. MechWarrior played a large role in helping us secure the deal. A few key hires filled out our incredibly talented multiplayer AAA team.
MechWarrior took a back seat, as we focused on a very challenging and time compressed project.
2010 ended, and we rolled into 2011 without much fanfare as Duke Nukem Forever entered the final phases of development.
The Birth of MechWarrior Online

In the winter months of 2011 we assessed the state of MechWarrior. We came to the realization that any further work on MechWarrior would come at great risk to PGI. If we planned to take on significant risk, we needed to control the IP. After several sessions of deliberation, we decided to plunge in head first. Russ approached Smith & Tinker with regards to licensing the MechWarrior rights and within a few weeks, we signed a deal.
Not long after signing, we quickly realized licensing the rights was one of the most important and future sighted decisions made by us in the last 12 years. Offers were coming in from all over the planet, especially to make or license a free-to-play MechWarrior game.
Because of the overwhelming interest, we decided to spend some time researching what a free-to-play (F2P) MechWarrior game would look like. We spent some design cycles adapting our previous concepts and quickly realized a synergy between F2P and the BattleTech universe. We worked hard through spring, negotiating, designing, and rejecting a few potential partners. As it turns out, we didn’t have to look very far.
During much of the past 12 months there was a local group that also had a large amount of interest in developing and publishing a MechWarrior title. Once Piranha had become the license holder they came over immediately and met with us. From this point onward we decided to combine our efforts with Piranha as the rights holder and with them as the Publisher. After about 6 months of hard work together, funding had been secured, Infinity Game Publishing was born and development could begin.
The most positive thing that can be said about the relationship between Piranha and IGP is that both companies wanted to make the same game and Piranha was free to execute upon our vision.
The road to this Blog was an adventure filled with many hurtles and momentous occasions. We are excited and proud of the direction MechWarrior is taking as a PC F2P game. It offers us the ability to make a successor worthy of the MechWarrior name, and one that fans will enjoy for years to come!
Welcome to MechWarrior Online.

#2 Halcyon6

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 08:40 PM

I can't believe I'm the first to reply...

Well, I hope that the F2P PC things works out very well...
I was an avid MW for many years and only walked away when things were simply so stagnant as to make it not worth playing anymore... From what i see that is about to change and I for one am ready to jump back on board...

#3 S3dition

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 08:43 PM

I started with Mechwarrior 2 on the PC.

I also played the Battletech RPG and I'm an avid player of the card game, though opponents are tough to find these days.

Hey, maybe a reboot of the PC game will also allow a reboot of the card game :). Just keep the same rules. It's one of the best card games in existence (if not the best).

#4 Youngblood

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 09:01 PM

You guys at Piranha and IGP have come a long way by my standards. Keep up the good work.

#5 HIemfire

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 09:06 PM

Thanks for sticking with it and giving those of us who have to choose between console or PC (PC wins out) back the franchise that started here. MA felt like a slap in the face to me, this looks like it is going to be fun.

#6 Fragtastic

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 09:12 PM

My first PC game was EarthSiege2. I fell in love with giant fighting robots on that day in 1999. Soon I was borrowing friends copies of MechWarrior 2. I purchased MechWarrior 3 the moment I had saved up enough allowance. I grabbed StarSiege when I found out it existed too. I played the BattleTech board game, read the books. Then came MechWarrior 4 and Mercs.

Life was good for a time. Then... nothing.
Life became a barren wasteland of burnt out mechs and HERC's. I was so desperate for more BattleTech that I even spent hundreds of dollars on MW: Dark Age figures.

Now there is hope on the horizon, like a friendly assault lance cresting the hill. It'll take some time to get here, but by *** it will be glorious.

I welcome the NWO of MWO.

#7 RexfelisLXIX

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 09:13 PM

I hope you make a PS3 Mechwarrior game someday.

#8 SilentWolff

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 09:14 PM

I wish you guys the best of luck. Do the franchise proud!!!

#9 Habokku

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 09:19 PM

Firstly, thank you for your continued effort and long-standing dedication to bring Battletech and Mechwarrior back to the legions of fans who still hold on to hope and wait patiently for the revitalization of a game that, in my opinion has few equals.

I salute your dogged persistence, and offer my humble respect to everyone at Piranha, and IGP. I look forwards to watching the development process grow and to finally be able to play a new, fresh and above all else FUN game set in what is probably one of the most interesting and diverse science fiction universes ever created.

Stay the course, and know you've got at least one Mercenary watching your back, ready to bring a Battlemech to bear on any who would try to stop the completion of this game.

Thank you once more, and Godspeed all of you.

<S>

Havoc
A.K.A. Habokku

#10 The Kraw

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 09:43 PM

I applaud your perseverance!

For too long has gaming been without a proper Mechwarrior.

As long as I can cripple a larger mech with a smaller one with superior tactics (read: Locust v Battlemaster) I will give you my money.

#11 Myrotvorec

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 10:13 PM

Ну что Россия, уже тут!
Наши американские друзья конечно же молодцы, будем с нетерпением ждать начала тестов.
Землякам привет!

Edited by Myrotvorec, 31 October 2011 - 10:13 PM.


#12 SirWolfgang

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 10:15 PM

I hope I speak for all of us fans, and programmers, and game devs, and warriors:

Make a simulator.

A great simulator will be a great game, but a good game will not be a good simulator. MechWarrior, and battle tech has never been about the easy.

#13 banagher links

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 10:25 PM

Excuse me if I don't believe the excuse the "big five" would turn you down. Unless you have no clue how to sell a pitch to somebody, there's no reason why it'd fail. As somebody who has experience in sales (D2D and R2R), the only reason the pitch would fail is you, Piranha Games, have zero ability to talk to people.

It comes off like cheap reasoning to go the "safe" route, and not bother to take a risk.

#14 flashdim

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 10:34 PM

I can't believe you guys pulled through after all of that. Thanks for putting the time and effort into the franchise.

Banagher: The reason the pitch failed is because they were a company that hadn't made a triple A title on their own asking for money for a console exclusive. That works for companies like Bungie, and Epic, and id because they are known quantities. They were asking for too much in the eyes of the publishers.

Think, if all your company had done was the artwork for a Transformers game and some other licensed titles; why would Activision offer you millions for that? MechWarrior is not a shining jewel in console gaming history. They were basically trying to pitch a gamble, like the original Halo, in the worst economy in decades.

Edited by flashdim, 31 October 2011 - 10:36 PM.


#15 Grismar

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 11:44 PM

Good luck with development in the upcoming months. You'll be facing some stiff opposition in the SciFi MMO market, so tip of the hat for trying anyway :).

Dev blogs? Awesome, but only if you keep it coming - and I would post them somewhere more publicly available than the forums, preferably somewhere Googleable to generate a little more traffic. I'm sure you guys are familiar with CCP's EVE Online - now there's a company who knew how to build community and buzz, although recently they've also demonstrated they're pretty good at tearing it down... But you could do worse than taking some cues from their approach to userbase interaction.

#16 Mota

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 11:52 PM

Thank you for picking up what will be a long overdue game for us mech lovers.

I started with MW2 on PC, to MechAssault, etc.

Good luck guys do us proud!

#17 Mifun

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 12:01 AM

Mechwarrior online! Is it for real? :)

#18 Blackout

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 12:07 AM

The very first game i ever played on the PC was Mechwarrior. The very first game i ever bought, for my pentium 2 processor, was Mechcommander (i was a late starter). In fact, embarrassingly, the very first piece of terrible fiction i ever wrote was basically Mechwarrior fan fiction.

Today, i'm currently an indie games developer/writer, and i can honestly say that without Mechwarrior, i would probably have a real job :), instead of doing what i love. No game has ever captured my imagination quite like Mechwarrior.

I think you guys have the makings of something really special here, and i wish you the absolute best of luck. I personally, cannot wait to see what you guys come up with. You've already shepherded one beloved IP, so i can't think of many developers more suited to the task.

Anyhow, this is one long standing Mechwarrior saying Good fuggen luck! You have a tonne of support, and the eager eyes of many.

#19 Quothe

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 12:10 AM

It sounds like Pirahna Games found out very quickly that there is widespread interest in an online Mechwarrior game. If I were a rich man I would have invested in one without a second thought. I say this for two reasons:

(1) It will set itself apart from the major upcoming online games, if done properly.

It's not fantasy, it's not in the universe of Jedi, or any of the Blizzard stuff. It's not pidgeonholed in to a pure FPS or strategy game. I foresee a straight and clear path to a strong user base, as there is very little in competition with this particular game. Perpetuum Online is the closest, and it is more of a very good tech demo of an engine for a game, rather than a game itself (it's well done, but very little actual content, and zero story).

(2) There are hordes of PC gamers that **** for "moar Mechwarrior".

There has been an enormous void in the games market for years now. I have felt the need to play the Mechwarrior of yore in a persistent-ish world, doing missions and building a name for myself. I had lost all hope for an update since the hype died down after the 2009 announcement. It was heartbreaking, as the untapped potential for an online game in this rich universe is extremely strong.

TL;DR

This game could easily be differentiated from the slew of big upcoming PC titles, and set itself apart from the tide of massively multiplayer IPs. If they let the rich universe shine through, it will be absolutely huge.

I cannot wait.

- Quothe

#20 Alistair Steiner

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 12:14 AM

Guys... this is incredible. I started with MechWarrior 3 (my good friend brought it to my house and showed it to me). When I found MechWarrior 4 on a field trip, I nearly hyperventilated. I have NO idea what else happened on that trip. Not to mention my quick adoption of every BattleTech novel I could get my hands on. Fast-forward to MechAssault, I... coped. I looked good, but all of the stuff I loved was gone. It wasn't a simulator anymore. It was an arcade game. MechAssault 2 ALMOST made me buy Xbox LIVE, with the idea of massive online multiplayer, but... things just didn't work.

As the years dragged on, nothing came out. Even the novels seem to have stopped printing, after going into the "Dark Age," which I've been a tenuous fan of. Then the MechWarrior reboot video, and... nothing. I was worried things had fallen apart again, with Modern Warfare games earning my ire when people began talking about "MW3."

I've happily discovered a PC game mod (which I won't name, since this isn't the place to advertise), which helped me out a lot. They were running a mod without any sort of profit. This helped with the trademark issues, but still, it's still quite rough. Nowhere near completion.

After reading everything about this, I have to say I started out skeptical. The failure of fruition from the reboot video has taught me to be cautious. But now that I see what is planned... Well, years ago, the friend who introduced me to this amazing universe and I spent the entire night talking about a sort of MMO MechWarrior game. We spend the ENTIRE semester working out plans of how it should work, pilot stats, 'Mech attributes, forming lances, and the universe reacting in real-time. And here it is. Almost everything we dreamed of, is in the works. I hope that I can find him and get him into this. Fighting side by side again, up against the Clanners. If this turns out the way you're making it sound, I can promise you'll get money from me, if only to thank you for doing so much work for such a beloved, but beleaguered franchise.

Good luck, guys.





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