Friday, May 12, 2017

My Life as a Gamer: Harebrained's BattleTech is Needlessly Complex

Harebrained Schemes, the makers of three successful videogame adaptations of Shadowrun, are at work adapting BattleTech as a videogame. They had a very successful Kickstarter campaign to fund it, and they have not been slacking. Last night, at their YouTube channel, they released this gameplay preview video. It's nearly an hour long, so you may want to skip around if you're pressed for time.

Uh, yeah.

All that Harebrained Schemes needed to do was directly translate the tabletop game into a videogame format, make it look pretty, and then add multiplayer capability. There is no need whatsoever to make any changes to the rules or the mechanics to increase complexity whatsoever. Yet that is exactly what they did, and it did not make the game better at all. Hell, MegaMek already proved that doing just a straight adaptation works; all they had to do was that, but better.

Indeed, all of that needless complexity did nothing but make it harder to pick it up; you're aiming this as tabletop players, not the folks who want a new mech-pilot sim. (That's Mechwarrior 5.) Deviating at all from the tabletop ruleset means that you done goofed, and I want the Beta players to hammer that home like the fist of an angry god.

If this needless complexity goes live, you're going to see a failure of transition between tabletop and this game. Why? Because there is no audience for this game that is not a current or former tabletop player, and the last thing that BattleTech needs is yet more fracturing of its brand and the fans that suffer for it. This is especially so if there are any plans to expand the game's playable units to include infantry, vehicles, or the entire AeroSpace sub-game (and thus make playing full and proper wargame campaigns viable). Direct adaptation or Get The Fuck Out.

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