BattleTech Update #51 - Launch Notes

Mike McCain, the game director on Harebrained Schemes' BattleTech and Jordan Weisman, the studio's co-founder who came up with BattleTech in the first place, share a couple of open letters in the first post-launch Kickstarter update for the newly released mech-based strategy/RPG. These letters look back at the game's development and the rich history of the BattleTech IP while spreading plenty of gratitude around. Check them out:

In May of 2015, I emailed Jordan a sketch I'd been working on - the iconic Atlas, looming over a party of nobles and MechWarriors meeting on a snow-swept plain. (Subject Line: "Too many banners?") This was the very first piece of concept art for the project, and we ended up using it at Gen Con 2015 when we unveiled our plans to take BATTLETECH to Kickstarter.

Turns out, a lot can happen in three years.

When I look back on this painting now, I'm still really happy with how it was able to capture the tone and aesthetic that we wanted for BATTLETECH. But sheesh... the quality of the art, writing, music, gameplay, and audio on-display in the game today - everything about the BATTLETECH experience has blown so far past this initial goal-post, it's come farther than I could have imagined.

It's been a long (and sometimes arduous) road from the Kickstarter campaign that September 2015, to the version of BATTLETECH that launches this morning. And in success, this is just the beginning!

We can't say this enough - without your support as Backers, this project would not have been possible. THANK YOU. And thank you also to Piranha Games for their fantastic 'Mech designs, on whose shoulders we were able to build and expand the visual trappings of BATTLETECH. To Catalyst Game Labs for their lore support over the years (even if they did steal our beards...) And to Paradox Interactive for their support and expertise in bringing this game to market. To Jordan, for the opportunity to come full-circle, to work with you in crafting a new experience for this universe that I (and so many others on the team) grew up with.

And, most of all - thank you to the incredible team here at Harebrained Schemes. No one idea or person makes or breaks a game, at least not at this scale. There's no "eureka" moment or single hero who always saves the day. Games are always bad before they're good. And good games are the result of years of hard work, passion, and slow incremental change, channeled into a single experience by talented collaborators with a shared vision. BATTLETECH may not be perfect, and our sales and review scores remain to be seen, but by all metrics of game development and teamwork - I am proud to call this project and team a success.

From all of us here at HBS: Thank you again, and enjoy BATTLETECH!

-- Mike McCain, Game Director

A Note From BattleTech’s Creator

The future history of BattleTech has a storied real-world history as well. Starting as a tabletop game 35 years ago, BattleTech merged the rich narrative setting of a role-playing game with the mechanics of a competitive multiplayer miniatures game.

Hundreds of game products, novels, and miniatures later, the video game Crescent Hawk’s Inception was released in 1988 by Infocom, becoming the first graphical game for the previously “all text" publisher. The game, developed by Westwood Studios, was a classic RPG with tactical combat and was a touchstone for our team as this new BATTLETECH game (which you helped create) is the first turn-based ‘Mech combat game since then.

In 1989, the first BattleTech Center opened in Chicago, offering the world’s first publicly available Virtual Reality multiplayer game. Over the next couple of years, BattleTech Centers opened around the world, and in 1994 we held our first World Championship with teams competing from Center-to-Center and a live broadcast of the finals from the BattleTech Center in Las Vegas.

Of course, a landmark for BattleTech and the video game industry was the release of MechWarrior 2 in 1995 which, according to articles released last year, is still Activision's highest unit seller to-date. MW2 introduced millions of people to the BattleTech universe and to 3D gaming. The MechWarrior series went on to be one of the most successful video game franchises of the 1990s and early 00s.

MechCommander, released in 1998, took the real time strategy genre in a tactical direction by focusing on the management of a smaller set of highly detailed units rather than generating large numbers of disposable units and over the years, many games have taken this approach.

BattleTech again made history in 2002 when MechAssault became the launch title for Xbox LIVE, ushering in the current era of online console gaming. All up, more than 20 video games preceded ours in the BattleTech / MechWarrior franchise, and, along with your help the Harebrained Schemes team is proud to contribute BATTLETECH to this outstanding lineage.

On a personal note, I am so happy with what this team has accomplished, as I feel that it represents the most immersive dive into the universe of BattleTech that’s ever been realized. The game really allows you to feel what it’s like to be responsible for the lives, fortunes, and futures of the men and women of your little mercenary company within the context of a large and complex world of deadly politics surrounding you. The turn-based nature of the game allows you to engage in the balancing act (in more ways than one) of effectively managing a lance of `Mechs in combat and finally frees the game’s camera from being locked into the cockpit so that it can really tell the story of how these huge machines dominate the environment and decimate each other. But most importantly, the campaign makes you cringe every time one of your `Mechs loses a limb and swear to whatever gods you hold dear when one of your MechWarriors takes a wound, or worse dies in combat.

I could not be more in awe of the team’s creativity and talents, or prouder of the enormous effort they invested over the last two and a half years of the game’s development - a game that we could not have made without the enormous financial and emotional support that you, our Backers provided us.

So it is to you that my heartfelt thanks go out on this very exciting day, for without you, none of this would have ever happened.

Jordan Weisman

The update also features a helpful FAQ that answers plenty of backer reward-related questions.