BattleTech Interview on Animation Speed and Pacing

When Harebrained Schemes released BattleTech, a certain number of users and reviewers were unified in their dissatisfaction with the game feeling too slow, drawn out, and sluggish. And so now, we have this Rock, Paper, Shotgun interview with BattleTech's game director Mike McCain, where he addresses those concerns, explains why the game is paced the way it is, and outlines the upcoming changes aimed at making it feel more brisk and responsive. An excerpt:

RPS: Can you tell us more about the official speed tweaks you plan to offer in the forthcoming update? How extensive will they be? What are the red lines you don’t want them to cross, in terms of preserving your original vision for this game?

McCain: Good segue. In our first big update, among other things, we’re adding a full speed-up mode that can be enabled or disabled at any time from the settings menu. It greatly accelerates the majority of a given action, then eases out of the acceleration at the end – so that you don’t miss where a unit ends up on the map, or seeing the results of an attack. We’re also adding an “on-demand speedup” function – basically, you can hit the SPACEBAR during an action to accelerate only that action. I’m excited about this one for players like me who might often want to watch the action play out, while still having the ability to “fast-forward” when desired.

And yeah it’s an interesting question about “original vision”, I’d say we don’t really put too much stock in that. During development it’s important to have a clear set of goals, and selling the scale and weight of ‘Mech combat was definitely one of those. Post-launch though, right now it’s all about reacting to player feedback. And that includes re-evaluating things like pacing.

If enough players would like better pacing control, then it kind of doesn’t matter what our original thoughts and desires on pacing were. It’s really important to us as a team that we’re willing to update our goals and plans in light of new information. In this case, player reactions to the game at launch. Sometimes people can really hunker down on a position and have a hard time shifting their viewpoint, even as all the data changes around them – we try really hard not to be guilty of that. For that matter, I appreciated your willingness to re-assess BattleTech as you got deeper into the game.

Anyway – if we can give players more options to customize the experience as they like, that’s good for us because it’s good for them.