From the makers of Shadowrun Returns comes another RPG that was originally created in the 80s but will get a new cRPG treatment. Harebrained Schemes plans on launching a Kickstarter for Battletech soon. Read on to find out what they had to say about this RPG about big robots and their human pilots.
In this interview we talked to Mike McCain. Mike was the art director on Shadowrun Returns and the Creative Director for Dragonfall.
MMORPG: What can you tell us about Battletech? What’s new since GenCon and the announcement?
Mike McCain: We are bringing classic Battletech back to the PC. There hasn’t been a turn based Battletech game on the PC and we want to change that. We were successful in reviving Shadowrun on the PC so we are hoping to do the same thing here.
MMORPG: Is it going to play a lot like Shadowrun?
MM: Actually no. Mechs are very different. A human scale game such as Shadowrun or XCom is very cover dependent. Mechs tend to stomp on cover more than hide behind it. I think the feel of our turn based combat will be fairly different. We want to make sure the weightiness and scale of the mechs come across in our game.
MMORPG: So who is the star? The Mechs or the Pilots?
MM: Both. A Battletech game is all about customizing and outfitting your mercenary outfit. You’ll command a mercenary unit over the single player campaign. In between missions you’ll hire new mech warriors. You’ll customize your mechs from the engines to the weapons, the heat sinks and all that. You’ll be choosing which contracts you want to take and choosing how your mech warriors grow over time through customizing their skills.
MMORPG: Will it be multiplayer?
MM: We really want to do PvP multiplayer so we are looking at that as being a stretch goal in our Kickstarter campaign which is going to launch about a month from now.
MMORPG: What can you tell us about the Battletech universe?
MM: Battletech has been around for 30 years. There is so much lore and history to draw upon. Our version of battle tech is going all the way back to the 3025 era of the world. This is before the clan invasion happened and focuses on the inner sphere politics. You have the warring noble houses of the inner sphere. It’s very game of thrones like. You’ll be taking contracts for the various houses set in the period of time just after the third succession war for the throne of the star league has wound down without any decisive outcome. Our game will take place between the third and the fourth succession wars. There is a lot of behind the scenes intrigue. One noble house might hire you to pose as another house to sabotage a third house.
MMORPG: Will it be up to you to decide who you want to side with?
MMORPG: So will it be very choice dependent?
MM: We are still working on the details of our single player campaign but you’ll also be able to take contracts from a variety of houses and choose how you want to negotiate that.
MMORPG: Going back to the battle portion of it. Big robots, cover is not really important, how is it going to play out?
MM: You’ll command a lance of four mechs. Now it’s probably not going to be just mechs on the battlefield. You’ll see in other mech games there are support craft on the battlefield. Tanks and things like that. We would really like to do that as well. We are still looking into it. I’m trying not to promise too much. Som, four mechs on the battle field and you’ll be customizing the mech warriors and their load out before you go into the battlefield. We are still dong some prototyping on how the actual combat will play out. We know it will be turn based. We want a lot of tactical depth there of how you use your mechs on the battlefield. Mechs will fall into several different roles on the battlefield. It will be important to have an advance scout. There will be support units, assault mechs, mechs have typically fallen into four categories.
MMORPG: What about having your own set of support craft that aren’t mechs, like tanks?
MM: We really want to explore having those on the battlefield but we are not sure if a player will command those or not.
MMORPG: So they would more likely be AI controlled on certain missions?
MM: Yeah or you could call in an airstrike for example.
MMORPG: In dealing with interparty mechanics we saw a progression in Shadowrun. In Dead Man’s Switch you were very focused on the protagonist, then in Dragonfall you focused more on the party, the same was true in Hong Kong. Is Battletech going to be more focused on a single pilot and his mech or are you more concerned about the group?
MM: With Shadowrun we crafted very character driven and story driven RPGs that also had tactical combat systems. With Battletech it’s going to be a tactical combat game that also has some RPG systems. So we are reversing it a little bit. As far as the party itself we are looking at more of a XCom model for how that works. You’ll be recruiting from a variety of mech warriors. Once mech warriors die they are dead. So opposed to having a core party of persistent characters like Dragonfall or Hong Kong does you are going to have more mech warriors rolling in and out that you get to know.
MMORPG: So Kickstarter next week?
MM: Hahah. No more like next month.
MMORPG: Is development dependent upon the success of the Kickstarter?
MM: We have some budget. We are still so early that we are trying to make sure that we scope it right. The Kickstarter is going to be a big part of making sure we do scope it correctly. So we are still working out the full budget and where that lies as far as it pertains to Kickstarter.
MMORPG: Tactical games really lend themselves to tablets. Can you see a mobile version of this?
MM: We are focused on PC right now. I believe we don’t currently have the rights to expand past that but in the future anything is possible.