Developer Q&A 3 - Information Warfare

by InnerSphereNews in [ Inner Sphere News ] on, Jan 18, 2012 10:00 AM UTC 104  comments

Community Q&A 3 – Information Warfare

 

Participants:

Matt Craig – Technical Director – Head of Engineering

Bryan Ekman – Creative Director – Head of Design and Vision

Paul Inouye – Lead Designer – Game Systems and Presentation

David Bradley – Game Designer - Overseeing 'Mech combat and BattleTech® rules

Garth Erlam – Community Manager - Editor

Matt Newman(?) – Producer – Project Planning and Management

Modules! We thought we'd answer all the modules questions (or at least most) in a single question, so here we go!

[PAUL] For every talent unlocked on the Pilot Skill Tree, the player unlocks a module. The player can now purchase the module in the Store. These modules are purchased with C-Bills, the in-game currency.

Every BattleMech will have a specific amount of slots available for modules. The number of slots will vary depending on the BattleMech chassis the player chooses to play with. The device that houses these modules is a small electronic device that has no effect on BattleMech weight or critical space.

The module designs are created by the design team as a way to augment the piloting skill of a BattleMech without affecting the firepower or base rules of how a BattleMech operates. As to what the skills are, we are currently testing them out in gameplay. We want to ensure that these modules do not throw gameplay out of balance before releasing details on exactly what they do. Trollollololololllolllollololooooo!

Okay okay… put the pitchforks away… here is a THEORETICAL EXAMPLE:

Module: Enhanced Night Vision Effect: Increases the detail of objects while in Night Vision Mode at the cost of reduced range. Cost: 4500 CB The player equips this module in their BattleMech. The module instantly takes effect and anytime the player switches to Night Vision, they will see more clearly but not as far as the default Night Vision mode.

As a pilot becomes more experienced, he is sure to learn a little bit more about controlling a BattleMech as well as what to look out for. Now imagine if we apply this to the pilot’s situational awareness. A module could be implemented that plays off of this notion and increases the range of the pilot’s Anti-Missile System because he’s more aware of what to look out for. It’s like his mental/physical skills are embedded into a circuit in the form of a module, so the neurohelmet interface can take over, allowing the pilot to concentrate on other things. Neat huh?

When we design a Module, we try to stay away from interfering with historical/canon abilities of the pilot/Mech but there are some cross over designs that may contradict this. An example would be what our modules may do that normally requires a C3 unit equipped to a BattleMech. Or maybe they won’t! :P

I think that covers most of the questions concerning the modules.
Can anybody use the BattleGrid or will it be linked to either a commander or a specific module? –Skwisgaar Skwigelf

[DAVID] All players will be able to view the BattleGrid. Those with commander abilities will be able to issue orders through it, as well as receive more detailed information.

Does this mean that if I am in a Catapult and (an enemy) mech is detected behind a hill and I do NOT have direct LOS/D I can still launch LRMs at him and they would arc over the hill to hit him? –VanillaG

[DAVID] Yes, if you receive the target data from an ally, you’ll be able to lock on to that enemy and indirectly fire LRMs at it. Of course, you still have to allow a reasonable path for those missiles to travel. If you’re standing directly in front of the hill, those missiles aren’t going to have anywhere to go other than straight into the cliff face.

What will happen to a pilot when their mech is destroyed, from the angle of information warfare? Will the pilot be booted from the match, allowed to observe as a "spectator" or locked to their destroyed mech (with a voluntary or involuntary ability to exit the match)? –Mezzanine

[PAUL] If it were up to me we’d format your C:\ drive but Bryan has suggested that we auto eject the pilot into a first person spectator view.

[DAVID] There will be no free roaming spectator mode. Dead players will likely see their destroyed ’Mech for a few seconds and then be able to cycle through the viewpoints of their living allies.

[BRYAN] We’re very aware and concerned about spectator mode giving teams using Teamspeak like communications and advantage. More than likely we only allow spectators to view what the current target view (pilot) can see.

What kind of information does surveillance (give)? Positions of enemies on the map, communications, etc.? -Adridos

[PAUL] Positions of all units, yes. Communications… no.

How will the draw distance of graphics affect the LOSD? Will there be a "hard stop" on draw distance, and therefore a max limit to the actual LOSD? –GargoyleKDR (EDIT: LOSD=Line of Sight/Distance [GARTH])

[PAUL] I’ll let Matt C answer this.. I don’t speak Bocce or know anything about moisture evaporators. (I think PAUL just called MATT C C-3P0 [GARTH])

[MATT C] LOSD is related to the rendering but not directly linked so if we decide to limit LOSD range separate from the draw distance we can. At this time we don’t know if limiting LOSD will be necessary or not for gameplay, from a technical standpoint there’s nothing stopping the range being whatever we choose.

In reference to the Object and Waypoint markers. Will these markers be added by the unit commander or set by the match maker? If they are added by players is this the sole realm of a commander or can all units add to the map? –Arden Sortek

[DAVID] Most orders will only be able to be placed by those pilots who have invested in commander modules. The exception is that everyone will be able to issue basic commands such as “Help me! I’m under attack!” to all allies, and these will show up similar to orders from commanders.

You state details on a target are not inclusive; does this mean that Mechs with particular modules will be able to better obtain detailed information regarding a target? If so, will they be able to propagate that data instantly to other teammates whom are carrying particular info-sharing modules? –Aegis Kleais

[DAVID] There will be various levels of detail when you target an enemy ’Mech. The levels that you can access will be determined by how long you target the ’Mech as well as which modules you have equipped on your own ’Mech. For example, you may be able to first just target and track the ’Mech, then after a couple of seconds your computer identifies it as an Atlas, and then you receive a report from your scanners about the ’Mech’s overall damage state. If you have a specific module equipped you would then receive a detailed damage breakdown of the ’Mech’s components.

This information will be shared to your lancemates as you gather it, but they may require their own modules or other equipment in order to receive some of the more advanced scans.

Can you tell us how many "tech-trees" are available for the pilots, if you have to upgrade the pilots to get special modules. –Grayson Pryde

[PAUL] Right now there are 3, but that may or may not change at launch.

[BRYAN] More details about the pilot trees will be revealed during Role Warfare month.

Besides passive actions such as blocking communications or inhibiting a target-lock, will there be more "aggressive" forms of electronic sabotage such as IFF-flipping, sending fraudulent transmissions to enemy units, or other kinds of overtly offensive acts? –Prosperity Park

[DAVID] Initially, the more aggressive forms of electronic warfare are likely to be limited to ways of countering and knocking out enemy’s own electronic warfare and communications equipment. Additionally there will be equipment like Narc Beacons and TAG systems which are harmless on their own but allow for more accurate missile attacks. As we go we’ll look into implementing some of the more covert sabotage-oriented attacks that you mentioned.

Do factions have access to unique mechs or weapons? -cobrafive

[BRYAN] No. Prices may vary, but everyone has equal access to items.

Can you powerdown like in older games to avoid detection? –Rathverge

[DAVID] You will certainly be able to do so. The obvious downside is that you’re helpless while powered down, but it will be the best way to avoid being detected by others.

Will a satellite overview be a sort of "ping" on the map of all enemy targets that lasts the duration of the satellite or will you be able to hide from it? –Damocles

[DAVID] The satellite scan will be like a radar sweep of the map, revealing information about enemy positions, but this information will quickly decay. We have not yet decided if or how a ’Mech can escape detection (other than taking shelter in a covered area like a cave) but there will likely be methods of doing so. This is more likely to be true if we implement different kinds of satellite sweeps (i.e. thermal, magnetic, etc.).

Traditionally, some Mechs were considered better at detecting other Mechs, or better at information warfare. For example the raven, the Rifleman (radar) or the Cyclops come to mind. Will some Mechs be better/have more module slots than others? –Salesninja

[PAUL] Right now, our module plans are generic across the board. They will fit into any open slot in any BattleMech chassis.

Are there plans to have map related intel systems, beyond passive environmental effects and buildings? I.E. Is there a possibility of being able to target installations like listening posts to "blind" the enemy forces? –Hayden

[PAUL] While “listening posts” are not part of our current game modes, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be added fairly quickly to new game modes released soon after launch. We do have hard location objectives that you will be targeting during matches.

Will there be a persistent (and unpopulated overhead map) always available, or will you only have a map when there is overhead? –Omigir

[DAVID] The minimap and BattleGrid will always be available to you and will constantly update with all the information currently at your disposal.

Will radar still have a passive mode, and if so, how does it work? –Octobit

[DAVID] Yes, radar will have an active and a passive mode. Our current plans are for the passive radar to have a reduced detection range and limit a lot of the electronic and information warfare equipment on your ’Mech as well as the electronic communication between you and your lance. The benefit is that you become a lot harder for enemies to detect, leading to greater chances to surprise or spy on them.

If I produce a lot of heat like shooting (an) alpha strike, a PPC or something similar, will I be more (easy) to spot on the radar? –Sir Aaron

[DAVID] Running around with excessive heat won’t affect how you show up on normal radar, but you will stand out to enemies using thermal vision mode as well as any thermal sensors in the battlefield.

Are Hula Girls available as modules? -Red Death

[MATT N] Hula Girls are a cosmetic item only. However they will give you a +10 happiness boost IRL

[DAVID] The concept of hula girls has evolved into full-fledged HulaGirl class BattleMechs. Picture the Erinyes ProtoMechs in grass skirts and playing ukulele music through external speakers.

[PAUL] Why do you guys keep letting Matt out?? David… quit encouraging him!

 

That's all for now, folks! We hope you enjoyed our third developer Q&A, and we'd like to thank you all for your questions. Comment away, discuss, and remember that next Wednesday may just be a special treat ;)

Or maybe I'm the trololo... -GARTH

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