Author Topic:  GMan's "Two Cents" on the Re-Scale (and other stuff)  (Read 4034 times)

25 Jun 16

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Offline GMan129

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As it would figure, there actually are two things I really want to talk about.

The first is an issue that has always existed in MWO, and has always really bothered me. There is no real distinction between the classes of mechs. The big, solid differences that tend to crop up are firepower and speed - as you go up in class, the mechs get slower and they do more damage. Except, there's no big jump from 35 to 40, or 55 to 60, and definitely not from 75 to 80. Everything scales linearly, except for the weight of engines themselves (which, when combined with the engine caps, is the only reason bigger mechs don't go as fast as smaller ones). Classes become simple categories, rather than distinct types of mech.

I have decent familiarity with the lore but almost no familiarity with tabletop, so I'm not sure whether there are actual differences between the classes, or if it's all just an easy way to label mechs. That being said, I know I'm not the only one that doesn't like how few differences there actually are between the classes themselves. I'm pretty sure even the devs don't like it, due to their attempts to make infowars a thing and give light mechs more of a role.

I can get why you would want to rescale mechs so that their size is completely in-line with their tonnage; there is sort of a mathematical order behind that which really appeals to me, it feels nice and neat and good. But I think that sticking to this formula misses an opportunity to add something to make it obvious that the Cicada is a medium, or that the Quickdraw is a heavy.

I would still want mechs to get larger as they get heavier of course, but the scale difference between the lightest mech in a class and heaviest should be about the same as the difference between the heaviest mech in a class and the lightest mech of the next class.

This proposal is, of course, not without flaws. It further reduces the incentive to take a mech on the light side of its class (why take a Quickdraw over a Grasshopper, or Locust over a Jenner?) And it's pointless if you don't agree with me that differentiating classes is a good thing. But if you don't want classes to be distinct - both in terms of gameplay and visuals - why bother having them?

My second issue I have with the re-scale is the formulaic approach, and the formula itself. These are more commonly-discussed issues, but I hope to give you my perspective on the subject.

Let's start off by talking about the formula: I'm sure there is a reason why it's based on volume (if I had to guess, cubic meters are relatively easy to calculate and understand), but that reason has little relevance to gameplay. When you shoot a mech, you're not aiming at its water displacement, you're aiming the 2D profile that is currently visible on your screen. Obviously, any algorithm for mech scale should be based on the size of the target that you actually see. Focusing on volume will tend to improve the situation, but it doesn't target the right issue, and you end up with serious problems.

/u/arcangleous made some charts to demonstrate something similar to this. But I don't believe that they quite grasp the heart of the matter.

It is a good stepping-off point, but...there are mechs like the Centurion, whose left arm is a literal shield which is supposed to be particularly large in order to protect the body. There's the Atlas, which is meant to look down on other mechs; intimidating enemies with its appearance and its weapons. And there are other mechs with unique reasons to be larger or smaller, and other factors that must be considered - like the relative importance of a hitboxes width and height, and the hitboxes themselves, and more that I just haven't thought of.

Basically, I'm saying that each mech would need some TLC; you can't just stop tweaking the size when the algorithm says it's right.

I just hope it's not too late. I mainly write these articles to get my thoughts down on "paper", but I always want them to be purposeful, even if that purpose is just to spur conversation or give people ideas. In this case, my goal is more ambitious, and I'm afraid that adjusting the re-scale is too big a thing, that it just won't happen because it would be too large a time investment. And I'm regretting not writing all this stuff out months ago, when I first heard that it would be a linear volumetric approach applied to all mechs.

What does give me hope, though, is that originally they said rescaling all mechs was simply not an option. And somebody figured out a way to do it, which means that maybe, just maybe, adjusting it in a future patch isn't completely out of the question. And all of this stuff is certainly part of the MWO conversation, so there is hope. It's hard to describe this hope as more than a flicker, but it's there.

GMan129 is an officer of the Steel Jaguar competitive team, he is the owner of and writer for MetaMechs, and he does some writing for NGNG as well. He has been playing MechWarrior Online since the early days of closed beta, and has spent far too much time and money on this crap. If you're interested in supporting his self-destruction, consider checking out his Patreon!
« Last Edit: 25 Jun 16 by GMan129 »

26 Jun 16

Reply #1

Offline Trifler

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As far as actual differences between classes go in Battletech, I'm not an expert, but I think I can comment.

In terms of 'Mech design, the classes are essentially meaningless. Likewise in battle, although some non-canon versions of the game have tried to add terrain modifiers that vary depending on the class. I seem to recall a game with different gravity on different planets and not just different temperatures. Gravity would have a greater impact with each higher weight class.

In terms of the RPG side of things, the pilot, or Mechwarrior, could become more proficient in one weight class than another in some games. I don't know if the canon game did this or not.

Let's not forget about battlefield recovery. If you don't have a recovery vehicle large enough, you can't recover it. Oh look your side managed to pop the head of an Atlas, leaving the rest of it almost entirely unscathed, but you don't have a recovery vehicle that can carry a 100 ton 'Mech? Sucks to be you.

Perhaps the most important differences come from the strategic side of things, which unfortunately Battletech never put a lot of attention into (I would love a Battletech 4X game...). Canon sources primarily deal with running your own mercenary company, but it goes pretty deep if you play from that side of things. Most of the larger classes fundamentally cost significantly more, take longer to build, and are harder to repair. You can get into factory output capacity and all that sort of stuff. There are concerns with dropship capacity, both in terms of weight, and in terms of the number of available bays. There are shipping costs and shipping time. It gets into hiring all the personnel. How many technicians you have to repair 'Mechs between battles is pretty crucial, for example.

Ferro Fibrous is harder to repair than standard armor, with stricter rules stating that due to the nature of Ferro, it has to be completely replaced as a single plate, meaning any remaining armor gets removed from the arm and you pay for the number of points starting from zero. Standard, on the other hand, can be patched, so you just pay to replace the number of points lost.

Endo Steel is supposed to be quite hard to repair, with some sources saying it could not be repaired in the field at all, so the 'Mech would have to be transported back to a real base with actual buildings and infrastructure for repairs. That's a major strike against Endo if you have to take that into account.