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Dev Vlog #7

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#1 Kyle Polulak


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:14 AM

Darren: Hey everyone, this is Darren, also known as Bombadil from No Guts, No Galaxy, and I'd like to welcome you to the Mechwarrior Online Dev Vlog #7. This is our chance to get the know the devs and hear directly from them on the past, present, and future of Mechwarrior Online. In this episode we'll hear about the upcoming new map, the development of the Vindicator battlemech, as well as various game updates from Paul.

Let's jump right in with a conversation I had with Thad Jantzi, Senior Level Designer for PGI and one of the creative minds behind the upcoming new map, sometimes called factory, sometimes called industrial, with a final name yet to be announced.

First of all, thank you for joining me Thad, and let's get right into the first question. How did the idea for the new map develop, or how was it conceived?

Thad: Well, I think from the very beginning, a big industrial area was one of the main ideas that we always wanted to do. In some of the other maps we have small portions of the map in industrial areas, but in this one the whole thing is. I think that the players want the idea of fighting over something that is worthwhile fighting over, and unlike some of the other maps where it's just like a big barren landscape, this one presumably represents a high value target. And the whole thing is just one big factory.

Darren: When you first sat down to design the new map, was there a gameplay goal you wanted to achieve, and if so what was it?

Thad: The main gameplay goal I had with this map was to encourage shorter range combat. It's divided into several fairly distinct regions. There's not many places where you can get really long sight lines over the map and so my hope is, and this is what we experienced with in the playtest so far, is that it encourages a lot of little fights all over the map in different areas, and it's actually worked out pretty good so far. Of all the times we've played it, I would say none of them really have been the same. And I've had battles *all* over the map.

Darren: Of all of the maps that we currently have in MechWarrior Online, which would you say it resembles the most?

Thad: It has similarities to a couple of them. It's about the exact same size as Caustic Valley. It's similar to Canyon Network in as much as there is a lot of cover, and it is very easy to move large groups of mechs around the map undetected by the other teams. So there are a lot of possibilities for surprise attacks and ambushes. And it's similar to River City or Frozen City in that there are a lot of buildings and cover, and stuff to sneak around and hide behind.

Darren: And how would you say the new map is different from what is currently available?

Thad: Well, it looks a lot different first of all. It's a nighttime map but very brightly lit for the most part. There are a couple of dark areas, but it's a very brightly lit nighttime map, and the color scheme is a lot different than we're used to. There's a really bright set of different colors which is definitely not lot any other maps.

Darren: In terms of design, what are you most proud of in terms of the new map?

Thad: My favorite thing about factory map, and I'll say right now it's my favorite map (and it's not close), I really like it. And the thing I like most about it is there is fighting all over the map. We've playtested it a bunch of times, and no two games have been the same. I've been in battles in probably every spot all over it, and there is a lot of diversity.

Darren: It seems like this is a pretty immersive map, with all of the industrial buildings. Does it feel claustrophobic at all?

Thad: Yes, you're immersed in the factory. I wouldn't call it claustrophobic, as there are a lot of areas where there is open space, and it is a fair sized map. It's the same size as Caustic Valley, except as a factory. There are a lot of open areas, as well as a lot of cover. But yes, there is nowhere in there where you don't get the idea that you are inside a very big industrial area.

Darren: What do you think the players will like most about the new map?

Thad: The players are going to like the same things as me. I play the game a lot, and I'm only going to design maps that I want to play as a player. So they are going to like the new color scheme for sure, and they are going to like that the lighting is very dramatic. I think it looks really cool. And like me they are just going to like being able to fight all over the map, being able to set up ambushes, being able to sneak big groups of mechs all over the place. I think it's going to be really good.

Darren: And finally are there any other cool or unique things you can tell us about the map that we might not have touched on yet?

Thad: There are a couple of cool areas. I've got some little tunnels in there that you can sneak around in. I've got some passageways that are pretty dark, so you should be able to sneak through, out of the bright lights for a couple of inutes at a time. There's sort of a mech hangar with some battlemechs inside it. And my favorite thing is chimneys shooting fire, and we've got a *lot* of those!

Darren: Fire chimneys! Excellent! And thank you for the interview Thad.

And next we'll hear from David, about the process behind building a new battlemech chassis, and all of its variants.

David: When building a new mech one of the first things I do is I get a list of all the variants that exist within the timeframe of the game, and I start looking at them and figuring out potential hardpoints. Once I get them mapped out a bit I choose which ones actually go in the game. Then those ones I finalize the hardpoints on and balance them out a bit with each other, and then I'm able to send that information on to the artists so they can begin modelling and texturing all the weapons.

When choosing variants for the game the first thing I look at is the timeline. Obviously any variants that are from ahead of our current time aren't going to make it into the game, but even some old ones either have obsolete equipment or primitive equipment, or meant to be rare or extinct by this point in time. Then I start mapping out their hardpoints and seeing what those are going to look like. I take one of the variants, the standard variant from one of the technical readouts and use that as the base. And that variant will be in the game. And then I compare it to the remaining variants and look for variants with distinct hardpoints and other ways to differentiate themselves as best as possible, so each variant will feel unique.

For the Vindicator the variants we chose were the 1R, the 1AA, and the 1X. Those are the standard variants. The reason those were chosen was basically for the Vindicator they were the only variants that existed in the timeline right now. There is a SIC variant that is used by the St. Ives Compact, but instead of using that we decided to make our Hero mech for the Vindicator the St Ives Blue, which is the mech that the SIC variant would be based on. So in order to have the St. Ives Blue in the game, we'd have to leave out the SIC. As for why we chose the St. Ives Blue, there is really only two Hero canon Hero mechs for the Vindicator; the Blues and the other one I believe is the Vong. And the Blues had the more interesting backstory and it ties into a faction that doesn't have too much representation in the game right now.

When we're designing mechs for the game, we try to use the lore as much as we can. One of the major things is the timeline and the timeframe that the game is currently in. It limits which mechs and variants are available. And whenever we make a new mech, I read through the TROs, the Technical Read-Outs, and any other canon information I can, to get little bits of lore and anything I can turn into a quirk or otherwise when I'm designing these mechs try to make them play as they are described in the books, to try to fill the roles that they were meant to as best as possible.

When I look at applying quirks to a mech, there are two main factors that come into play. One is the lore. I'll read through the technical readouts and try to pull out anything that can be used as a quirk. Additionally, just the look of the mech can influence that as well, like the Centurion has the big shield arm. So then we're able to give it an armor buff onto that arm.

The other major factor is game balance. First when making a new mech, balancing its variants among each other so that if one of them looks like it might be underperforming we can give it some quirks to balance it out. Or if one looks too good we can pull it back a bit. Once we finish with that we look at the bigger picture and take all those variants and compare them to the other mechs that are already in the game, and make sure everything stacks up pretty evenly with each other.

Darren: And finally, we'll hear an update on weapon modules from Paul, as well as getting a first hand look at the upcoming unit creation tool!

Paul: Hey folks, this is another dev log and just a quick update for somethings that are coming down the pipe. One of them is the new modules. We've taken a look at the current set of weapon modules and we listened to your feedback. They are being re-released and they're getting all 5 tiers ready for you. They are also getting rid of the microheat that has been added to all of them, so basically these modules will no longer generate any extra heat if you do equip them.

Another thing that is coming up is the merc unit creation tool! Now these unit creation tools are meant for you to create your own guilds. They're pretty much ready to go. You're going to have an Inner Sphere map you're going to be able to play around with and look at, and that's pretty much it. It's going to be a pretty big implementation in the next patch. I'm also going to give you a quick preview at the end of the video on how to create a unit, and how you can interact with the current Inner Sphere map.

One thing I do want to clarify is that there was some talk on the forums about using the merc unit coffers as a method of transfering s between players. This is not going to be the case. Those s are meant to be a one way transaction from players into the merc unit. The merc unit leader can then use those s to upgrade defenses on planets, he can bid on contracts for planet takeover, but that won't be in place until the next phase of community warfare comes into place. So don't think this is a way you can share stuff with your friends; that is not what this coffer system is being build for.

Other than that, we'll see you in the next devlog!

Paul: Hey guys, this is Paul here, and I'm just here to show you a quick introduction on how to create a unit in MechWarrior Online using the new Faction page. By clicking this button which is now active, you'll be taken into the Inner Sphere map. This map is scrollable; you can zoom in and out. As you zoom in, you're going to get more and more detail, and you're going to get more planetary information as well.

As you can see here, the main capital planets are listed off, and as you start zooming in you start to see the district capitals coming into play. The further in you go, you're going to see the locations of planets, and as you keep zooming in you'll see the names of planets come in as well. So you can look and find your favorite planet!

Now the first phase of community warfare is not going to have an interactive version of this map. Yes you'll be able to do exactly what I showed you but you're not going to be able to click on a planet and get full details of it quite yet. That's going to come with a major release of faction warfare that's going to be happening along the borders of Rasalhague and the periphery as the Clans start pushing down into this zone.

But onto the thing about creating units. One of the buttons is Create Unit. Fancy that! So we'll click that and this is the first things you're going to see. You're going to be asked for a name for your unit, which has a maximum of 35 characters. We're going to quickly type in a name here... let's try Paul's Ultra Neato Klan. That means my abbreviation is probably going to be <PUNK>, and we're going to submit. Now remember that you're restricted to Latin alpha-numeric characters, so there are no special case characters, you won't be able to use alt codes to enter weird character types. There are a certain number of possible abbreviations and punctuations that you can put in here. That's the hypen, 2 round braces, the space and a quote. That's why I was able to get away with the quote in "Paul's".

So I'm going to click Submit, and here we have it, our entire unit has just been created. Here are all the ranks. Now as I mentioned earlier the default settings for ranks is going to be the standard US military ranking system. Me as the unit leader has been automatically set to General of the Army. I can come in here and start removing all these. There is a maximum of 32 ranks that you can have in your unit, but I will quickly show you what you can do.

Now what I'm going to do is quickly add a rank here. And this is going to be Just Some Cool Dude. So if you know any cool dudes you can just stick them in this rank. Now by default it's going to be the very first rank, so if you're going to want to resort this you can just click and drag. And we'll put this up here and now Just Some Cool Dude is now considered cooler than all these other guys.

Along with the rank itself what you can do is set privileges. Some of the things are locked to the leader only, but if the leader feels fit then Just Some Cool Dude can invite members, he can kick members, he can assign ranks, he can view coffer balances, view coffer transactions which is kind of a general ledger, and I'll say no he can't, and he can't play in officer chat, and no he cannot set MOTD. So I'm just going to save this. And now Just Some Cool Dude has all those permissions. So if I switch away and switch back to him you'll see all those permissions are saved.

Now one thing as the unit leader I can come in here and view the unit coffers. And this is how many s have been donated to the unit. Now remember this is not a free way to trade s between players. Players will not be able to withdraw funds from this account.

s can be donated with a minimum of 50,000 s. So we'll donate let's say 1 million s here. Donate! It's going to confirm that I want to do this, and I say yes. And as you see the player name is listed here, the transaction date which it happened, and the amount. Now this is for the merc unit leader. As he's coming through here and he sets up a rule saying "every week I want members donating a minimum of 50,000 s, well he can come in here and check the transaction date and make sure that everybody had done their fair share.

And that's pretty much it for the original implementation. As you get members added to your unit they'll show up here. You'll have full unit capabilities if you want, you can add members, remove members, you can invite members by name which is something that is very very handy. You do not have to have that person on your friends list in order to invite them. That way you don't have to populate both your friends list and your unit list with the same names. So that's the first look at it, and I hope you guys take a look at it when we put this out very soon. I can't give the exact date yet, but it is very soon. Probably within the month of August. So, we'll see you then!

Darren: And that concludes the MWO Dev Vlog #7. Be sure to stay tuned for future vlogs, including more information on the development of Mechwarrior Online, community spotlights, and the exciting future of the MWO competitive scene. And on behalf of Piranha Games and No Guts, No Galaxy, thanks for watching. And until next time, MechWarriors.

#2 Heffay

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:24 AM

OH YES! Thank you sir! Was wondering about this. :ph34r:

#3 Kael Posavatz


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:36 AM

If mech variants from ahead of the in-game time do not make it in, please explain the Battlemaster-3S.

#4 MechB Kotare


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:38 AM

Lol. I can't wait to see how the overnerfed cERJokeLs will do with their awesome 2s beam duration in this urban-crowded map. Really cant wait...


But hey, the map looks nice.

#5 Dracol


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:42 AM

Good to see Paul got a corp sponsor. Although, surprised a make up store like Ulta is into the MWO scene.

#6 Iqfish


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:45 AM

"Comments are deactivated"

Oh, nice.

"If I can't see it, it doesn't exist!"

Edited by Iqfish, 21 August 2014 - 11:46 AM.

#7 Deathlike


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:45 AM

For Thad David:

This does not excuse the existence of the Spider-5V, or the Stalker-4N.

Of course, that doesn't explain the purpose of the Jenner-K vs the Jenner-D under the new module system...

Also, the Catapult-A1 Champion has less modules than the Catapult-A1... which shouldn't be possible.

Edited by Deathlike, 21 August 2014 - 11:59 AM.

#8 Reno Blade


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:48 AM

It was great to see the map creation cycle and then later the map ingame.

Love the zoom function of the Inner Sphere map !

Edited by Reno Blade, 21 August 2014 - 02:24 PM.

#9 Myfriendscallmecoach


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:49 AM

Its nice to see more progress. The new map looks pretty sweet, cant wait to try it. One gripe i have is the add/remove rank feature, it seems a little tedious to have to click remove then confirm. It would be easier if it just removed the rank as soon as you press remove. looking forward to testing when everything is sorted out.

#10 CoffiNail


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:51 AM

Very nice. That map looks very well done, and it has a very interesting atmosphere. Looking forward to tinkering in unit creation and the new map.

Also loved the detail you go in to for the Chassis, how he reads through the lore, and fluff and tries to work it in the best he can.


#11 Amro One


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:55 AM

Ironically this map is made to suit the IS brawler tactics and harbor the Clanner 1v1 fights.
Well played.

#12 JudgeDeathCZ


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 11:59 AM

Map looks rly lovely.
I do not understand why you removed heat penalty on weapon modules.It was a choice of more range for more heat...now they will be just another a must have module like target decay+sensor range for LRM boats...

Edited by JudgeDeathCZ, 21 August 2014 - 12:18 PM.

#13 WarHippy


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:08 PM

The new map looks fantastic, but I will have to play it for final judgment.

#14 Threat Doc


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:10 PM

Okay, well, Mr. Bradley needs to go back and re-read his lore, then, because he's missed several points. There are several variants in the game that should not be there, period. I realize he probably was coerced into placing those into the game and, since they're there, already, might as well leave them. However, in the future, Mr. Bradley needs to read much more carefully. I began my own study, trying to figure out the rhyme and/or reason certain variants have made it into the game, since some of them should not be there at all, and could only find one reason, which everyone who reads this will already know, anyway.

As for the map and the unit creation, etc., I cannot get the public test installer to work. I've already contacted Support, but they seem to be dragging their feet. I'm going to, in futility, try again in a minute, on my desktop, but I can almost guarantee what error message I will get. I have gone over my computer for errors, names where they shouldn't be, etc., and the only installation that should be in the Registry, at this point, is the standard one, and there is no directory with the name on there, so I need to try this, again. The error I received was that the program was corrupted.

So, let's see.

#15 Kjudoon


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:19 PM

Thank you for the fly-through of the new map! All in all, very happy with what I've seen. (I always want maps Alpine Peaks size, but Caustic sized isn't bad)

The CW info is nice to see, I can't wait for more functionality.

Again, Kudos!

#16 Egomane


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:20 PM

Please keep that about the actual message of the video and refrain from bashing the devs over spelling mistakes. I removed the posts that did that.

#17 Cerlin


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:24 PM

I am very happy to see forward progress in the CW side of the game. It is not all I want but it is moving. Hopefully we can fight over that map by the end of the year.

#18 YaKillinMeSmalls


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:27 PM

Excited to see the new stuff, but as a Southerner, Paul spelling clan with a 'K' made me cringe.

Also, did QA think to put in anything like a profanity filter for the unit names/tags? You know somebody's going to try something...

Edited by YaKillinMeSmalls, 21 August 2014 - 12:28 PM.

#19 101011


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:28 PM

View PostJudgeDeathCZ, on 21 August 2014 - 11:59 AM, said:

Map looks rly lovely.
I do not understand why you removed heat penalty on weapon modules.It was a choice of more range for more heat...now they will be just another a must have module like target decay+sensor range for LRM boats...

HAHAHAHAHA...a choice... It is a great and wonderful choice. I mean, those 12 meters on CERML is totally worth a heat increase, am I right?
EDIT: On topic, will we be able to use a "go-to" function similar to MekHQ's? I do not look forward to having to crawl over the map at 1000x magnification searching for one tiny backworld planet.

Edited by 101011, 21 August 2014 - 12:30 PM.

#20 Gallowglas


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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:37 PM

Will we be able to see unit tags in matches with this update? I didn't see that covered.

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