MechWarrior Online Q&A with Russ Bullock

Piranha Games' president talks about MWO's current state, what's to come, and more

Piranha Games has been busy so far in 2013. We're only a few weeks into this year and MechWarrior Online has seen the launch of the new Spider light mech as well as the first Double XP event of the year. With the Death's Knell Hero Mech coming up right behind the Spider, it looks like they're not planning on letting up the pace any time soon. This week Piranha Games' president Russ Bullock took some time to answer a few of our questions about MWO, from the roles of the new mechs to what the future brings and even a few tips for inexperienced mech pilots.

With the amount of flexibility available from module and weapon swapping, what distinguishes the Spider from other light Mechs?

Well I think it’s worth noting that with a lot of games sometimes it’s just about how the character/vehicle and in our case, a Mech, looks.  Certain Mechs will just speak to people and I think our Concept Artist, Alex Iglesias and the team did a great job implementing the Spider into MWO; I know it really speaks to a lot of people.

The Spider is a 30-ton Mech, and with the other light Mechs currently in the game at 25 and 35 tons, it is currently in its own category.  It’s worth mentioning that the current selection of modules is just the beginning.  The team will be adding new modules at a constant pace, therefore the opportunity to distinguish one’s self on the battlefield will only get more pronounced as the game progresses.

What role do you see the Spider and the soon-to-be-released Death's Knell playing on the battlefield?

Both the Spider and Death’s Knell will make excellent scouts on the battlefield. In the case of the Death’s Knell, it’s a great opportunity for players to take advantage of a Hero mech’s C-bill bonus for lower price than the previous released Hero Mechs.

Currently there are two game modes available in MWO: Assault and Conquest. Both are built around capturing points (Assault focusing on the enemy base, while Conquest has five capture points). You can also win by annihilating the enemy since there is one death per game (this is usually how my games go). What gameplay aspects made these modes your first choices?

I think Assault was chosen for its obvious properties as being a good, fun and basic game mode to build from; in fact I can think of another game that pretty much exists solely off of that mode.  Conquest was the first obvious evolution where the biggest change is in encouraging smaller conflicts on the battlefield as teams spread out to the various capture points.  This should only be improved upon when the next new map is released into MWO, which is far bigger than previous maps!

How has player reaction been to the new Conquest game mode? Has there been a rush to try out the “new toy” or is there a balance between those who prefer Conquest and Assault?

As with all new content, there was an initial rush. Things have settled in where we are quite happy with the balance the modes are currently enjoying.

What game types are you considering for future updates? A Capture the Flag variant or a traditional Team Deathmatch with respawns perhaps?

The only other mode I can mention is Dropship, which will be a part of the upcoming Community Warfare features.  In this mode, players will have a leopard class dropship, which holds 4 Battlemechs.  In essence this is a limited respawn mode where you get to play out in sequence the 4 Mechs you brought to the battle. It allows us to create a much larger conflict that will go on for four times as long. Players will love the strategy needed for configuring their load out of Mechs in this mode.

There are the Training Ground videos to teach the basics, but there's more involvement in piloting a mech than there often is in running around in many FPS games. Inexperience can lead to a series of short games when a new player gets torso twisted or overheats because of poor weapon grouping. Do you have any plans to further smooth out the new player experience?

While we have the tutorial videos, the new player forums and content updates such as the “Cadet Bonus” designed to get new recruits up to speed quickly and having fun as soon as they jump into MechWarrior Online, we are constantly discussing how we can improve the new player experience.

In most cases these sorts of systems need a lot of underlying systems to be implemented.  We feel like we’re getting close to the point where in the near future we will be addressing these aspects of the learning curve with better in-game training.

I encourage anyone who has difficulty learning MechWarrior Online to come back and try the game with each content update.

Since I would be one of those "blown to kingdom come while torso twisted and overheating" players, any suggestions for new or inexperienced players? Perhaps a mech type that's rookie friendly or a weapon load out to avoid rapid heat generation?

For you and players like you. I would suggest continuing to practice but please be patient and come back to play the game each time there is a patch update.  Chances are some updates will be coming soon that will be of great help to you. Also, you might benefit from reading this guide written by Lead Designer Paul Inouye.

What is your favorite Mech and why?

I really like the Dragon Mech.  It’s fast for a 60-ton heavy Mech but also has lots of armor.  I usually customize my Dragon to brawl at close range, using quick strikes on an enemy before making my way to cover.  Most other heavy and even medium Battlemechs can’t match my speed and maneuverability.

What is your main focus for MWO in 2013?

Our focus for MechWarrior Online is continuing to make regular content updates and changes as we approach the official launch of the game, which we hope to announce in the near future. Launch will contain countless improvements to the new user experience as well as the much-requested Community Warfare feature.

That's all the questions we had for Russ this week, but if you've got any more questions about giant mechs, head on over to the MechWarrior Online site. The Double XP weekend is over, but you can still jump in and play the game for free.

Michael "Ragar" Branham


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This game needs pve...
# Jan 23 2013 at 8:00 PM Rating: Good
111 posts
This is actually a very fun game, but I was sadly surprised that there was no PVE content. I don't believe they need a full blown out sandbox world or anything like that, but the original mech warrior from the early 90s (possibly late 80s?? i forget) had standard missions type content that you could undertake and get paid for. Escort missions, base defense missions, and base assault missions against essentially bots. The story line was played out through these. Seems like it would be something to do other than just fighting other dudes all the time. My .02

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