Hey Reddit! I’m a Seattle artist and game developer working at Harebrained Schemes. I’ve worn a variety of hats over the last few years, including: art director for Shadowrun Returns, game director for Shadowrun: Dragonfall, co-director of Shadowrun: Hong Kong, and I’m now co-directing HBS’ latest game BATTLETECH. You can read a little bit more about me in our latest Kickstarter Update.

If you have specific questions re: BATTLETECH, check our FAQ and this nifty site where you can see every comment left by HBS on our Kickstarter page. It’s possible it’s already been asked and answered.

Art, game development, Shadowrun, BattleTech, cats - ask me anything!

Proof of me: [https://goo.gl/Lq5Kwc] Proof of my cats: [https://goo.gl/jiOXAY]

EDIT: Alright guys, it's been a blast! I gotta get back to game-making though. Thanks for all the great questions and to everyone who's supported BATTLETECH on Kickstarter! Let's do this again sometime. : )

Comments: 473 • Responses: 79  • Date: 

Ikohs35 karma

Will you be able to create and test mechs from scratch like the tabletop version?

mmccain_hbs31 karma

Yep! The game will include a full Skirmish mode, so you'll be able to experiment freely in the 'Mech lab for Skirmish play. (Within the constraints of our 'Mech customization system.)

Grillburg12 karma

No question, just a thank you for Returns and Dragonfall. Supported the Kickstarter, loved them both, and looking forward to Battletech as well!

mmccain_hbs12 karma

Thanks for the support, and you're very welcome!

Coopering7 karma

Could you please expand on this? What kind of constraints do you think will be notable?

mmccain_hbs17 karma

We're still exploring designs for this system - we want to allow for a wide range of customization, but still preserve some of the core identity of each 'Mech so that the choice of a chassis has real gameplay implications.

PnzrDrgoon28 karma

What is the level of involvement with Piranha Games and what are they getting out of the deal?

mmccain_hbs31 karma

We're very glad Piranha agreed to share 'Mech models with us, they did a great job with the design updates and we love the idea of having that consistency to the world. Beyond that, no development involvement - we're separate companies making separate games!

HighTechnocrat7 karma

How much detail will we be able to see on the mechs in your game? Will we be able to zoom in really far and see as much detail as we can in MWO?

Not that I necessarily need to be able to do that in a turn-based overhead game like Battletech.

mmccain_hbs14 karma

Not sure yet! If I had to guess, we probably won't have quite the individual 'Mech fidelity of MWO, but we'd like to be able to bring the camera in fairly close when needed for some XCOM:EU-like cinematic presentation moments. How much of that we can pull off is to-be-determined still!

dskou73 karma

Any thoughts on shots from inside the cockpit for those cinematic moments? I'd love to see the pilot's perspective on some close-range kills

mmccain_hbs7 karma

Not ruling it out, but from an art scope point of view it's not too likely!

FBMWhite24 karma

Hi! For the upcoming Battletech game, I have some questions.

  1. Are you a channeled lightning or energy ball PPC guy?
  2. Do you prefer the walking tank aesthetic or the more Macross/Robotech style of the early novels (Shoulder Rolls and Hand Chops in the early GDL novels)
  3. Will Mechwarriors have their own skill trees/abilities?
  4. Can the SHD-2H blind itself when firing the SRM-2?

mmccain_hbs24 karma


  1. I was all about PPCs in Mech2. Also for some reason all my 'Mechs kept overheating.

  2. Hmm, for me it's all about selling the scale of the 'Mechs in both their designs and the way that they move. These are giant machines not humans, there is a weight and power behind everything they do. I guess I'd lean towards the former but I feel like there's important parts of the experience in both areas.

  3. Yes!

kahb00m7 karma

I think his question was more about the aesthetic that you're planning to use for the PPC, or at least your personal preference between the two different visual representations of the PPC's discharge over the different BattleTech games - (Lightning style or Energy Ball)

mmccain_hbs22 karma

Ahh sorry, reading too fast!

The lightning stream/beam approach just feels more plausible to me visually, my nostalgia for MW2 notwithstanding.

bvgeorge9 karma

  1. Do you prefer the walking tank aesthetic or the more Macross/Robotech style of the early novels (Shoulder Rolls and Hand Chops in the early GDL novels)

This is my #1 question for the game right now. The mechwarrior PC games have always felt so rigid with their perfect postured backs and 90 degree angled arms. Free motion is the primary necessity for neural helmets, otherwise there isn't a lot to set mechs apart from giant tanks with a gas pedal and a trigger. And I understand that the gas pedal situation is the hardware limitation holding back mech sims but since we're not directly controlling motion in this game I don't see an excuse. Beyond sheer speed differences, I feel that agility really sets light mechs apart from larger chassis. For me its the difference between a 'living' mech and a big action figure.

mmccain_hbs9 karma

We definitely want to highlight the agility of light 'Mechs on the battlefield and differentiate them from their heavier counterparts! As far as movement specifics, we still need to do some prototyping to determine what will read best from our elevated camera angle, and best highlight the scale of the 'Mechs. I'd say it's a spectrum, and Assault 'Mechs should feel generally stiffer and more lumbering than Light 'Mechs.

krdshrk5 karma

Love the PPC question!

Also - Chain-fire LRMs or group fire? Will they be switchable?

mmccain_hbs5 karma

Too early to say!

JFc_Seth22 karma

Will you expect to update the game (Battletech) regularly with new content? How mod friendly do you think the game well be?

Also, the unseen Mechs were a much greater part of the lore in the 3025 timeline. Do you guys plan on taking advantage of the versions of those Mechs that PGI is creating to bring them into your game?

mmccain_hbs23 karma

We'd like for BATTLETECH to have a long development life here at HBS, especially if PVP is funded in the Kickstarter. As far as modding goes, it's hard to say yet! We won't be doing anything to active prevent modding, but I'm not sure how accessible some of the Unity parts of the game will be.

mmccain_hbs20 karma

Oops, missed your question about the Unseen. We're not committing to that yet, but I think it would be cool.

Xentax21 karma

Battletech question: This game is likely to be appealing on two potentially opposed fronts: 1. Diehard, grognard table-top fans, who love the idea of a fresh experience in a very rules-driven system. 2. Raving lore/story fans who love the idea of a fresh experience in this war-torn, gritty universe.

(I'm sure some people are both, self included :)

My question: At the principle/high-level goal level, how are you thinking about delivering on expectations from both sides? How do you think about 'sacred cow' elements vs. what's "on the table" for change or adaptation?

I realize you might not be the arbiter of the dilemma of whether and how to tweak the stats/rules/balance, etc. but I'm sure your voice is relevant to that kind of decision making.

mmccain_hbs18 karma

Good question!

I like having AND eating cake. : )

But I do believe it's possible to accomplish both goals. What's important to us is capturing the spirit of the game and the world and staying true to the ideas that make BattleTech BattleTech. As we've said in the Kickstarter, we won't be simply porting the tabletop rules. We'll be doing everything we can to make a great turn-based PC game and to ensure that the game "feels" like BattleTech, both in terms of gameplay and in terms of the world. This is the philosophy we approached Shadowrun with, and overall I'm pretty happy with how we were able to balance rules and story in those games.

dakkster9 karma

Am I out of line if I want to say that I love you guys?

mmccain_hbs11 karma

I love you guys, too.

Cryp71c3 karma

Out of curiosity - did the Mech Commander series follow table top rules or was it made merely in the spirit of BT? Those games were what made me (a young BT fan by most standards) fall in love with the universe.

mmccain_hbs15 karma

MechCommander definitely didn't follow tabletop rules - in fact, if I recall, Heat wasn't in the game at all! But I think it's a great example of adapting to a different medium - real-time combat is a very different animal from turn-based. In fact they added a pause button later on in the expansion to give players more control.

I can see why the game sold you on the world, by the way. I was just playing it at home a couple weeks ago (MechCommander Gold installed and ran surprisingly without issues on my Win8 rig) and from the intro cinematic to the missions themselves its a great BattleTech experience! I wanted to give Mitch shit about it but then I played it and it was good, so. Oh well.

ChapDude18 karma

In my experience most games with 'generated' mssions (as I believe will be found in the open ended campaign) tend to feel like your doing the same handful of missions on different landscapes over and over again, so my question is what's planned to insure that the open ended camgain avoids this scenario?

mmccain_hbs22 karma

I really liked how XCOM:EU was able to keep their missions feeling pretty fresh just by the sheer variety of maps in the game and the randomized starting locations and force compositions, so we'll be looking to that as one source of inspiration there. We also plan to design environments themselves as three separate components - map, scenario, and "mood" (time-of-day, weather conditions, etc) - so that even if you have played a particular map before it could be very different the next time around under different mood conditions and with a different gameplay scenario attached. Not to mention facing a different type of enemy force with probably a different Lance of your own.

ChapDude3 karma

Thank you for taking the time to address my concerns, this puts alot of my worries to rest.

mmccain_hbs3 karma

No problem and that's good to hear!

kahb00m17 karma


I have been waiting for a new tactical Battletech property for a long time, very excited to be a backer!

I know you guys have stated that you're focusing on the 3025 era. I assume this also means you aren't able to utilize the IP-embattled unseen/reseen mechs? I loved the Warhammer and Marauder.

Are there any thoughts to a 3050 update/expansion in the future?

mmccain_hbs13 karma

Awesome, we're very excited to be making it!

In success, we'd love to reach 3050 at some point. As far as the reseen - it's possible and I think it would be pretty cool but we're not committing to it just yet.

strong_grey_hero14 karma

What are the odds that we can get a Mechwarrior movie? I'd love to see Stackpole's "Blood of Kerensky" trilogy put on film. It's got the political intrigue of Game of Thrones, the space battles of Star Wars, and the giant robots of Pacific Rim. It's a winner all the way around in my mind.

mmccain_hbs11 karma

Haha, good question! I have no idea, but Hollywood should really get on that.

BZArcher12 karma

Mike, thanks for the AMA!

One of the things that a lot of fans love most about Battletech is the depth of the setting's lore. As more content is unlocked, how much of that lore will we get to explore in the game?

mmccain_hbs14 karma

That's one of my favorite things as well. It's too early to quantify, but I'll say directionally I'd like to include as much lore as we can cram into the game in an elegant way. Definitely want item/'Mech descriptions, planet description text and things like that, too.

Markemp11 karma

Will there be Achievements?

There definitely should be Achievements.

mmccain_hbs19 karma

There will definitely probably be Achievements.

uebersoldat11 karma

Hello Mike! Can you comment on any voice acting? It would be really neat if Carole Ruggier was brought in among others such as George Ledoux who have a historied past with the IP.

mmccain_hbs17 karma

Mitch is actively pursuing such voice actor arrangements among others! : )

DataDemon11 karma

Hi Mike - Usual comments, love the stuff you guys are putting out, and have helped kickstart everything but the miniatures game.

How much of the campaign is planned out so far?

Have you determined how much of an impact the Great Houses will influence it other than offering various contracts/missions? Following that, will our decisions on each contract/mission change the campaign further on?

As always... #HouseDavion

mmccain_hbs10 karma

Hey, thanks, and thanks for the support! : )

Right now we're iterating on a high-level story outline for the campaign. The main campaign is set in the Periphery, but we want interactions with the Great Houses to be an important part of the Mercenary experience. Expect to be able to build reputation with any of the Houses based on the contracts you take and how you complete them, and to have that reputation impact subsequent relationships with the Houses and other factions too.

Katrar5 karma

If the high-level story outline will be Periphery based, is it likely we'll see a couple of Periphery states included in the scheming and conflict? Or will the Periphery be more background, with focus solely on the Great Houses?

mmccain_hbs7 karma

The focus will be on a story we're crafting within the Periphery and about Periphery factions. That said, the Great Houses may be tangentially involved in those events and of course will also be important clients for your Mercenary outfit during your career. (Assuming Extended Mercenary Campaign here, which it looks like we'll be reaching pretty soon on KS, which is awesome!)

aiden_is5 karma

Will the Inner Sphere politics follow the same storyline as the novels, or will our interaction within the campaigns dictate different outcomes for the houses as time progresses?

Expanding on that, will the game clock actually change the years of the game setting, so 3025 goes into 3026 etc? How does this affect the open-ended campaign that could potentially move into 3050 and 3055, where new tech is supposed to be introduced? Or is the technology stuck at 3025 no matter what the game clock says?

mmccain_hbs6 karma

Good questions! I don't think we'll have decisions for the player that would significantly alter the course of events for the Houses in their game - after all, you're just one Merc - but we'll see.

We intend to measure time in terms of the length of your career rather than calendar years. So time will definitely be a gameplay factor in the campaign - for example waiting for a MechWarrior's injuries to heal, or taking a contract before it expires - and our story will also advance over time - but the BattleTech world at-large will not evolve past the 3025-era during this game.

Steiner_Soldier10 karma

First off hello Mike and thank you for doing this AMA. If I may be so bold I have two questions at this time. My first question is about possible co-op play with friends and others in the future? I know at this point the scope of the game is very single player oriented (which is very understandable) but a co-op ability would be wonderful for a future DLC or expansion. My second question is about the overall setting this game will be in. Being we are getting near the “Expanded Mercenary Campaign” threshold, will the “artistic” direction with the Inner Sphere powers be as they were in the 80's or will you guys be writing a more robust and healthy story-atmosphere for the in game universe? The reason I ask is I've already “noticed” a leaning towards the Davion House in the art and comments released at this time. Once again thank you very much for everything.

mmccain_hbs16 karma

You're welcome!

We would love implement co-op play in the future, post-launch. If we fund past the $2.5m mark on KS, we're looking at being able to get a live team working right away on new continuing SP and MP content for the game - including co-op MP scenarios against AI.

Dirk_Hardbody10 karma

In your posts yesterday, you mentioned taking questions about your cats. I'm taking you up on that: what role do your cats play in the game design? ;)

mmccain_hbs15 karma

Khan is retired, but he consults on a lot of our ideas. Or just lies on my keyboard. 50/50.

PseudoArab4 karma


So he lays on the left side or right side of your keyboard?

mmccain_hbs11 karma

Khan is... rather large. He definitely occupies the entire keyboard, plus slopover.

(It's all muscle.)

BoukObelisk10 karma

Hi Mike,

With the huge interest in the old Mechcommander and Mechwarrior games, have you guys at HBS considered doing a stretch goal to hire an employee to get the old games on GOG/Steam? Mechcommander is already free to download from Microsoft and the publicity and mindshare by getting it on popular storefronts like GOG and Steam would be incredible for both fans, new fans, and HBS. So with Jordan's contact to Microsoft in regards to licensing, Mitch's past with Mechcommander, and the fans' support through this Kickstarter, why not make an effort to get the old games available for digital distribution?

It's a crime that these classics still aren't being properly commemorated through digital distribution, whereas stuff like Grim Fandango, Homeworld, Dark Reign, and tons of other old games are getting their due recognition. It would be great to see HBS doing an effort with this.

Thanks in advance,

mmccain_hbs5 karma

I would love to see those old games revived as well, that kind of stuff's way out of my area though! : )

Man, Dark Reign, I'd forgotten about that one...

cylentwolf9 karma

Hi Mike.. Thanks for doing this. Will we be getting Multiplayer later on? unless we are getting 100k a day which is doubtful since we have definitely slowed down. Do you think there will be expansions like Shadowrun had to get multiplayer going in the future?

mmccain_hbs12 karma

I think we've got a good shot at it still! We've got a few more things coming to the Kickstarter too which might help. : )

Khavi_V9 karma

Another battletech question: Location based damage is a huge part of battletech, can we expect to see the traditional battlemech armor locations and component damage, or will it be done in a different fashion?

mmccain_hbs13 karma

We'll have location-based damage!

aiden_is9 karma

Will we be able to use scout mechs to target for indirect LRM volleys?

mmccain_hbs12 karma

As with everything, we have to prove in prototyping that it's actually fun for our game before it makes the cut, but - yes this specifically is something we've been excited about and would like to include as an ability!

LeSquide9 karma

I love the succession war period, but know a ton of Clan fans. Have people been requesting clan invasion era content?

mmccain_hbs14 karma

We've definitely heard from a lot of both IS and Clan fans! In success, we would love to move forward in the BattleTech timeline after this first game. : )

Heffe37378 karma

Have you ever played the classic TT version this game is based off of? What did you think of it?

mmccain_hbs18 karma

The first time I played TT was when I was like 10 or something, actually. I'd found a used copy at the local game store and bought it solely based on the cover art. (The Atlas cover, part of the reason why that's my favorite 'Mech). Anyway, my dad didn't really get it, but I thought it was super cool at the time. My own robots with armor pips and lasers and everything!

A few years later my friends got into 40k so that was my tabletop game for the rest of high school.

We're getting an office group together for weekly TT BattleTech so I'm looking forward to seeing how my memories line up with the experience.

Heffe37374 karma

That's such a rad answer. Thanks for sharing! 40k and Battletech are the best sci-fi IPs out there IMO, so it's great to hear that you're a fan of both. Are you guys planning to share anything about your weekly TT exploits? I have a feeling that a lot of fans would love to hear about how the games go.

mmccain_hbs3 karma

That sounds fun, I'll mention it to Mitch!

azmodiuz8 karma

Will we be able to salvage mechs and create our own "Frankenstein" versions out of whatever we find on the battlefield ?

I ask this, because I personally believe, it would draw double the number of interested people to the game, and it would create emergent gameplay, and even allow an easier multiplayer possibility

mmccain_hbs16 karma

Salvage definitely yes - we've talked a little bit more about that here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/webeharebrained/battletech/posts/1377931

As far as Frankenstein-ing, we definitely want this to be a game where you'll have to cobble some 'Mechs back together with parts from a variety of sources. But not to the level of, say, here's an Atlas arm I think I'll bolt to my Hunchback.

kaffis8 karma

As somebody with an art and design background, can you elaborate about yours and HBS's design philosophy with regards to user interface? Previous entries in the computer gaming space for this license and setting have leveraged diagetic interface elements hard to great immersive effect; is that something you're keen to carry forward, and if so, how are you looking at achieving it?

mmccain_hbs5 karma

The biggest thing I can say about our UI/UX approach is that we're always trying to improve it. Diagetic can be a more challenging mark for a turn-based command game like this, since you don't have the cockpit itself to use as an in-world UI canvas. But it's not out of the question. Satellite Reign did a cool thing where ostensibly your elevated camera view was a camera drone of some sort, it had some occasional interference and a bit of drift wobble and everything. Anyway, I'd love to explore it but we'll see what works best in development!

ballthyrm7 karma

If this game does well would you like to do a Mech Warrior like game in the future ?

mmccain_hbs6 karma

Speaking for myself, I'd love to make a MechWarrior game sometime! But yeah I'm not sure it's in the scope of our rights for the property.

krdshrk7 karma

Mike - is there going to be fluff attacks available in the game? Such as Jumpjet "attacks" a la Aidan Pryde or Joanna?

bvgeorge5 karma

Yeah, they've mentioned that melee and death from above attacks will be featured in game.

krdshrk2 karma

Those I know of - I'm talking about "Fluff" damage. Like Aidan Pryde and Joanna did using their mechs' Jumpjets to kill their opponents... or "Stackpole" fusion engine explosions causing damage to nearby mechs...

mmccain_hbs14 karma

Yeah to early to say really as far as jumpjet attacks... as a general rule we'll be looking for what's fun in our prototypes and if something proves to be fun then we'll take it a step further.

Explosions are cool but we definitely don't want fusion detonations leveling entire city-blocks - from a gameplay POV that's just frustrating!

KnoxvilleBuckeye7 karma

How much time will the game cover? Or is that something that has yet to be determined?

Also, will there be a possibility of recovering a Star League Memory Core, a la the Gray Death Legion @ Freeport?

mmccain_hbs7 karma

We'll be measuring time in terms of your career, and the events of the main story, but we won't be advancing along the BattleTech canon timeline significantly - trying to account for eventually hitting the 4th succession war for example and make the whole game react to that event would get pretty hairy to develop for.

Not necessarily a Memory Core, but we love the idea of being able to find Star League relics and LosTech in the game.

BaggerX7 karma

Hi Mike! Thanks for doing this AMA!

Is there any chance of increasing the size of engagements in the future, from single lance to perhaps company-size? I think it would be a ton of fun and open up a lot more potential tactics and strategies at that level.

mmccain_hbs4 karma

You're very welcome!

I think a lot of it comes down to our goals in making a squad-tactics game, not a larger-scale wargame. 4-6 is really a sweet spot for this style of combat where you're intricately managing a small squad of units. (Our Shadowrun games, XCOM:EU, Jagged Alliance, Fallout Tactics, even Bioware stuff despite the different game type there.) Our emphasis is on detailed unit control over sheer numbers.

That said, there will certainly be opportunities to command larger forces on specific missions where that's a part of the mission. For example you might deploy to a planet and then be joined for a while by some additional allied units you can command.

Insaniac997 karma

How many cats, and what are their names & breeds?

mmccain_hbs6 karma

Two: Khan is a regal Siamese, Khaleesi is a not-so-regal tabby mix.


Khavi_V7 karma

For Battletech: Will ammunition be tracked in actual numbers or will be abstracted away as in Shadownrun Returns, or similar to the tabletop Battletech?

mmccain_hbs10 karma

Too early to say exactly how it will work! We'd like it to be a resource, though, not an unlimited supply.

enderandrew427 karma

I think it is fairly safe to assume from the history of Battletech games and the previous HBS games that we're going to get entertaining and challenging turn based combat.

But can you tell us how much focus is being put on story? With factions being included as stretch goals, is the story locked down?

Do you think there is a unique challenge to create empathy and personal investment into a story about robots (even with pilots)?

mmccain_hbs12 karma

We're still fleshing out our story plans for the Extended Merc Campaign but yes, it is absolutely always a challenge to create REAL empathy and investment in the stories we tell. And it's one of the challenges I'm most passionate about here. It took a lot of iteration to really start to hit that mark in Dragonfall and Hong Kong. Even though BATTLETECH will be a very different form of storytelling (it's not an RPG) I'm sure the iteration required to resonate will be the same here. Everyone on our writing team is really, deeply committed to getting it right and connecting with the player.

I think one thing we've been really consistent about internally is that this is a story about flawed human characters doing flawed human things - it's not a story about robots at all, though they are very important tools.

Insaniac997 karma

The way I see it, there are quite a few people saying they want a package with all the physical goodies that you are already offering and they are not balking at the mentioned $600+shipping, so what will it take to convince HBS to add an all banners + jacket tier to the Kickstarter?

The way I see it, since we are willing to pay shipping and since you don't have to make anything additional to offer it, any sales would just be profit without added expenditure over the regular banner tier.

Edit: Formating.

mmccain_hbs9 karma

We're still looking into different reward tier possibilities like that!

keless7 karma

I backed MechWarrior Online when it came out and love it. I then backed MWTactics (turn based) when it came out, but the art was weird and the game was laggy as hell. Then they went under. I'm excited that you are able to use Pirhana's assets to ease development and carry a similar look-and-feel.

Will you be able/interested to feed back into them (ex: mech builder UI, tanks/VTOLS/defenses, etc)?

mmccain_hbs4 karma

We don't have any plans for that at the moment, but if we end up making new 'Mechs or other units that they're interested in, we'd be happy to talk about it.

Winterplatypus6 karma

What is your favourite piece of work that you have done (a specific character/portrait/scene?) and out of all your jobs, which did you most look forward to doing each day?

mmccain_hbs11 karma

Oh hmm, that's a tough question!

As far as illustrations go, I guess I'd say I'm most proud of the key art I did for Necropolis (http://mikebot.net/Necropolis-Concepts) It felt like in that piece I was able to really capture (with Chris Rogers' and the team's help!) some of what would make that game tick and feel visually unique. It's always fun to try something really different like that.

The job question is tricky because within my job here I have a lot of very different dimensions to my job, so to speak. I think I'm happiest when I can balance team management and collaboration with a little hands-on painting time each week.

Khavi_V6 karma

How soon (or later) after the Battletech Kickstarter finish do you expect to have the skirmish game beta ready to go? Can you give us a little information about your planned development schedule?

Doing things out of order, but it's great to have you here Mike. Thanks for taking the time to do this for the community.

mmccain_hbs8 karma

Very happy to, having fun talking about the game here.

We're pretty early in prototyping, so it'll be quite a while before we're ready to Beta. As a total guess - about a year from now.

Khavi_V4 karma

Thanks for the answer Mike! If you have time for a followup, how often do you think you guys will be doing updates after the kickstarter ends? Similar to the Shadowrun development cycles?

mmccain_hbs2 karma

We definitely want to keep you guys in the loop. It will slow down as we get into the thick of development but we won't go months at a time with no updates. We'll also be sure to keep everyone up to date with any important happenings. So yeah, I would say generally similar to Shadowrun!

jacobkosh6 karma

One of the things I really like about HBS's Shadowrun games is how your studio managed to take the core experience of Shadowrun and repackage it, refocus on the important parts, in a way that made the setting feel modern and relevant in the present day.

What I'm really curious about is to what degree (if any) you and Mitch and Jordan have talked about this with regards to Battletech. I love the core concept of Battletech (feudal war with robots? heck yes!) but from my perspective as a grown-up in the year 2015 there are things that kind of make me suck my teeth a little bit. Like, okay, take the Draconis Combine: when I was ten, everyone knew that katanas were the sharpest swords ever and were folded a million billion times and could cut through a tank and omg ninjas were totally tubular - but that was the 80's, and now the idea of an entire country and ethnicity being represented by samurai movies feels kind of...at odds with the gritty sci-fi quasi-realism the rest of the setting tries to go for. Or the way 3/5ths of the Inner Sphere seem to be populated by European-influenced cultures.

I need to be very clear that I'm not like, mad about this or DEMANDING ANSWERS or whatever and I'm definitely not looking to pick a fight with any fans - I'm a fan too! I am literally reading a Mike Stackpole novel right now! As far as I'm concerned, it was the 1980s, it was a different time, and the people who both made and played wargames and sci-fi RPGs were not the kind of global audience we have now. What I'm curious about is if this is something you guys have mulled over at all, given that this game is the first visual-media Battletech product in...ten years? It seems like going back to 3025 and back to basics is a great opportunity for HBS to chart a course for how to tell Battletech stories in the 20teens and forward.

mmccain_hbs6 karma

Thanks for this question Jacob, and I'm glad you felt like we were able to achieve that goal with Shadowrun - it was definitely a conscious effort on our part and one that I've been very passionate about!

I share your concerns and it's something I intend to get right in BATTLETECH as well. I think you put it perfectly - time passes, and what was normal (and in a lot of cases, really forward-thinking) in the 80's sometimes needs to be recontextualized for our world-view of today.

Hopefully some of the illustrations in the Kickstarter page are a good example of how we intend to refresh without rebooting. There's an extra layer of general "groundedness" we've been really trying to achieve in the art, and narratively it's really important to me that we develop a very human complexity to our characters and story events - this is not a simple world of right and wrong or good guys and bad guys.

svanxx6 karma

What is your favorite Mech and why is it Awesome?

For my real question, how does it feel to work with one of the best game designers of all time, Jordan Weisman? He's been a part of the creation of some of my favorite games, it would be very cool for me to learn from him as a hobbyist game designer.

mmccain_hbs9 karma

Hmm well it's the Atlas, not the Awesome. ; P Said a bit more about this above https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/3p0i7m/hi_im_mike_mccain_a_creative_director_at/cw27d5g

And I love working with Jordan! He is a fountain of ideas and he's really good at drilling into the underlying ideas of a thing and figuring out how to make it resonate. One lesson of his that I've really taken to heart is the idea of identifying the "core fantasy" of an idea, for example, "you get to pilot giant robots." Who wouldn't want to do that?? It's that initial seed of an idea that makes the property so great and everything else is built on that armature.

So many times I see games or ideas of stories that go something like, "Well it's a dystopian world where X and Y and Z, and this character is all about..." and it's tough because it's easy to create a world and be really passionate about it but if you can't really focus the core proposition to the player (or the reader or the viewer) down into something more primal then it's a really hard sell sometimes.

Faltnor6 karma

Thanks for the AMA, I backed as soon as I saw the Kickstarter. My question is: Will this be the beginning of the revival of Battletech and Mechwarrior franchises?

mmccain_hbs8 karma

A rising tide floats all boats and we certainly hope for there to be lots of BattleTech and MechWarrior in our future!

Heffe37376 karma

According to Sarna and lore: "The Particle Projector Cannon (or PPC) is a unique energy weapon. PPCs fire a concentrated stream of protons or ions at a target, causing damage through both thermal and kinetic energy." So my question is, ball or stream PPC fire? Would love to see a return to stream PPC fire. Also, are you planning on having PPCs have a chance to do sensor/electronics damage?

mmccain_hbs6 karma

I prefer the lighting stream+beam style personally! Just feels more visually plausible. It's not something we've discussed at all here yet though, so not an "official" answer.

Chance to do electronics damage is a good example of the kind of thing we think would be cool to include but as always it's predicated on those things proving themselves fun in the prototyping process.

rodvil26 karma

I was wondering if you ever played Battletech: Crescent Hawks Revenge. If you did is there anything you would bring from it to this new Battletech game?

mmccain_hbs10 karma

I didn't play it back in the day, though I was just checking it out a few weeks ago online (http://www.myabandonware.com/game/battletech-the-crescent-hawk-s-inception-ev/play-ev) I think there may be some weird race conditions going on because I wasn't able to get very far.

So let me turn the question back to you: what were some of your favorite things about that game?

FrontalMonk5 karma

Are there any plans to bring ComStar in as a faction? I know at this point in the timeline the Com Guards were pretty under the radar, but they were a force to be reckoned with all their own.

Also are you looking at conflicts that took place during the 3025-3030 era or are you planning to set this storyline as separate from that? I'm thinking of the fact that the old Crescent Hawk games were a lot of Steiner-Kurita conflict (if I remember correctly), but I was reading back up on the timeframe and a large part of the 4th Succession War had to deal with the Steiner-Davion alliance (aw yeah, FedCom) attacking the Capellans.

mmccain_hbs7 karma

Our core storyline will be largely separate, but ComStar is always mysterious and always present in some way or another. Even if you don't always know it.

Heffe37375 karma

How much of a role will transportation logistics play?

mmccain_hbs8 karma

We're still determining exactly where the line is between fun and frustrating, but we want transport logistics to play a role for sure.

Heffe37375 karma

Why is the Atlas your favorite mech?

mmccain_hbs7 karma

Partially because it was on the cover of the first BattleTech game I played as a kid - this one http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Aj5ChdgJN_o/TKqMhYahjGI/AAAAAAAAEew/Ei5wRmkxsDo/s1600/Fourth_Edition_Battletech.jpg (and in about the same condition!)

But also, art directing this project now, I think it's a really simple but iconic design that manages to say a lot about the world and tone of the game. It's always instantly stood out to me (in a good way).

Plus walking death is cool.

majesticjg5 karma

art director for Shadowrun Returns

That's a huge credential considering how beautiful that game turned out to be.

Personally, I don't care for turn-based games, but SR:Returns pulled it off so brilliantly that I couldn't help but back Battletech on Kickstarter.

  1. Were the hand-painted backdrops difficult to work with in SR:R? Will you be using a similar technique with BT maps, or can I hope for procedurally-generated semi-random maps?

  2. Will there be provisions in BT for non-mech combatants like tanks and infantry? I've got a Hetzer Wheeled Assault Cannon with some mech's name on it...

  3. Can I convince you to include the Shadow Hawk and Warhammer as playable mechs? They're my favorites from the old days.

mmccain_hbs3 karma

Hey thanks, that's great to hear!

  1. Yeah, the hand-painted 2.5d isometric approach definitely had its pros and cons. It wasn't suited too badly for the kind of grid-based, urban, squad combat that game featured, but it also wasn't always the easiest limitation to work with. Visually though, it was a great way for us to realize the mood and details of the world in a way that we simply wouldn't have had the budget for in 3D!

For BATTLETECH, we knew from the get-go that that approach wouldn't scale well. For starters, 'Mech combat is all about destruction! And large-scale damage and destruction is really difficult and time-consuming to pull-off in 2D isometric. Secondly, for the much more naturalistic environments of a game like BATTLETECH, a tile-based approach is much more limiting visually. Lastly, and I know this bothered some people in Shadowrun, the additional freedom of control that full 3D offers (rotating the camera) can definitely be really nice in gameplay.

  1. Yes! Combined arms for enemy opponents was unlocked as a funding goal, so at a minimum we've got things like tanks, hovertanks, support vehicles, artillery etc. Probably AeroTech strikes too. How much you can command non-'Mech units is still an open question, we want to keep the game focused on 'Mech command. But fighting enemy tanks, absolutely!

  2. The Warhammer's not on our list yet, but we do have the Shadow Hawk! https://s3.amazonaws.com/www.harebrained-schemes.com/kickstarter/BATTLETECH-03.jpg

Korval5 karma

Hi Mike! Thanks for doing this AMA. As a Backer I would really like to know what steps are you taking, personally, to prevent scope creep on Battletech?

mmccain_hbs6 karma

You're welcome! Scope creep is a concern on every game project, I'd say probably everywhere without fail (Though I'll admit that a counter-example could exist). But anyway, I think for me it's less about "preventing scope creep" and much more about "creating focus". I'm a big fan of refining and filtering and iterating and really trying to find the "core" of an idea - there's an elegance to design and art and storytelling that I'm always after. With a strong, small set of core ideas, I find it makes it a lot easier to let go of other things that feel arbitrary or don't support those core pillars. We've gotten better at scoping on each of our past projects so we'll be taking those lessons to BATTLETECH as well.

Sly_Lupin5 karma

Is HBS shelving Shadowrun to focus on Battletech, or what?

mmccain_hbs3 karma

We've got a team working on the mini-campaign for Shadowrun: Hong Kong right now! Which I'm pretty excited about, actually. Something a bit smaller in scope can be really satisfying and refreshing, both to create and to play. As far as longer term plans, BATTLETECH and Necropolis are our next big titles at the moment, but doing more with the Shadowrun license in the future is not off the table.

Ikohs5 karma

Any plans for an end of battle replay/photo mode? It would be cool to be able watch the entire sequence and move the camera around the battlefield.

mmccain_hbs6 karma

Not sure about that, but at a minimum we'll have a post-action mission report.

Ikohs4 karma

Will there be city maps?

mmccain_hbs8 karma

Really want to have cities as well as naturalistic terrain, yeah!

muzzlehead4 karma

Will heat factor in the pc game at the same level as the table-top game?

And are you going to include or exclude head-shot critical hits or Gauss rifle head shots?

mmccain_hbs7 karma

Heat management will play an important role in gameplay. And yeah, no Gauss rifles yet! (Or rather, no Gauss rifles anymore, and the IS hasn't rediscovered them yet.)

KiboshWasabi4 karma

I don't want to ask specifics because I know its so early in the process. So please feel free to generalize and reference what you hope to do, goals and so on. So, regarding the new Battletech game, how complex are you guys shooting for in regards to tactical and strategic play? Starter Box? Tactical Handbook? Maximum Tech? Total Warfare? Or to describe it another way maybe; Checkers or Chess? Stratego or Risk?

mmccain_hbs2 karma

Well! We have a lot of hopes and dreams but as far as complexity, we want layers. It's BattleTech - it's gotta be a deep, tactical, heavily customizable experience. But there's also a design elegance we strive for, where depth doesn't have to equate to sheer complexity for complexity's sakem or missions that take hours. So layers - relatively easy to understand, difficult to master. (Kinda like Chess, I suppose!) And being able to present high-level information cleanly and also allowing the player to drill-down much deeper when desired into specific systems. But not designing a game such that you HAVE to be on top of every stat and every customization choice every step of the way in order to succeed. I'd like most missions to be completable in 30-60 minutes, so that you have a nice gameplay loop bouncing between battlefield play and in-between-mission management of your unit. I'm probably referencing XCOM:EU too much at this point, but that game has a fantastic core play loop where you always have something else you want to do and you never feel like you're in a deep slog.

MrPopoGod3 karma

Assuming the game does well enough to warrant more content/expansions/sequels, is there a chance we could see a Battletech game set in the Amaris Civil War period?

mmccain_hbs2 karma

Nothing's impossible, but it's much more likely we'll be moving forward in the timeline than back. That'd be a fun time period to explore though.

guardian_20003 karma

Just curious. Mike do you play MWO and if so what do you play? Also perhaps you wouldn't mind sharing your in game name as well if you do play?

mmccain_hbs4 karma

I've only hopped in a couple times for research, though I'd love to play more if I get the time!

AUSwarrior243 karma

Hi! So, you'll be using PGIs game models. My question is... Are you going to modify them for your own game beyond their vanilla state? For example, textures to suit your own art style, your own animations, maybe other slight visual changes?

I'm concerned because PGI's animations are very dull, and many of the mech designs feature joints that enforce a very stiff stance (whereas classic BattleTech designs tended to be more flexible and human like in movement).

mmccain_hbs2 karma

We'll definitely be applying our own texture and material approach for our 'Mechs, and that may include some other adjustments along the way. We've yet to really dive in to the animations but at a minimum there are some new movement sets we'll want to support (melee, for starters!)

JKWSN3 karma

Will we be able to choose paint schemes for our mechs? Sadly, dress-up for giant robots is one of may favorite features

mmccain_hbs3 karma

I also love that feature, so yes we want some cosmetic customization to be a thing!

Anomalous_Entity3 karma

By using the PGI models are you limiting yourself to only those mechs that already exist in MWO?

mmccain_hbs3 karma

There's a few of our own we'd like to add but we're still evaluating that.

TwitchPlaysHelix3 karma

Hi, big Battletech fan, can you see indirect benefits from this shared relationship with PGI happening? Like, what with essentially parallel development, can you see this relationship enhancing both games in any way, even on the level of mutually lifted spirits to do a good job? :)

mmccain_hbs4 karma

Mutually lifted spirits, I certainly hope so! Otherwise, the games themselves are so different (and built on completely different tech, Unity vs. CryEngine) - I think we both feel like sharing 'Mechs is the right approach for the BattleTech Universe, but outside of that, that both of our games are best served by independent development.

Kkrae663 karma

First, thank you for creating my friend Johnny Clean in Shadowrun. My friends and I all appreciate the homage. Second, what do you look for in creating a secondary character? Someone you can interact with but do not necessarily have to in order to further game play.

mmccain_hbs3 karma

Absolutely, we were very happy to be able to do that. I'm glad you liked it.

I think a lot of times, secondary characters give us great opportunities to either tell more self-contained stories, or to explore other aspects of the world that our main story doesn't necessarily touch on. A lot of times, the big narrative beats and characters come with a lot of pressure and iteration, so it's nice to be able to tackle something a little less critical-path sometimes as a change of pace, plus it makes the game world feel a lot broader!

JTsyo2 karma

Will the campaign be one continuous story or broken into multiple different ones?

mmccain_hbs3 karma

There will be a single overarching story campaign, but also a lot of separate smaller story arcs and one-off missions you can engage in over the course of your career as a Mercenary. We don't want the story to feel like it's keeping you on rails at all. Still exploring how it works, but we'd like you to feel a good bit of agency over how and when you engage with the story events.

TheScotchDivinity2 karma

Thanks for doing this Mike!

Since we're coming up on beating the expanded merc campaign, can you give us any hints on the stretch goals will be in this section?

I'm really looking forward to the game.

mmccain_hbs4 karma

Hints, eh? Hmmm.

Well it rhymes with... Chop... uhh... ChopSlip.

Jeremy_Crow2 karma

Hey Mike. What kind of music do you listen to?

mmccain_hbs3 karma

Haha, quite a range. It usually goes in phases, not so much techno or country. I was listening to Hozier on the drive in, and the Deus Ex: Human Revolution soundtrack while answering questions earlier.

washoutr62 karma

Hand to hand combat? Is it going to be in the game??

I know practically everyone would like to finally see a hatchetman chopping arms off.

In the board game hand to hand has it's own special phase and is a super important part of the game, and critical to winning and taking out enemy mechs. I'd like to finally see it realized in a video game adaptation.

mmccain_hbs6 karma

Yup, we're doing melee!

MrGunny2 karma

Hi Mike!

Assuming the Expanded mercenaries campaign is funded along with its subgoal, how long of a single player experience are you guys expecting? Some of my fondest memories are playing the lengthy MW2: Mercs campaign, reading the Comstar Network News, and completing as many side missions as I could between the campaign missions. It'd also be really neat if some pilots could only be recruited after very obscure conditions were met to make campaigns truly an individual experience. Is any of this something that we can expect to see? And thank you for putting your time in to a franchise so many of us love!

mmccain_hbs5 karma

You're very welcome!

We don't have a good sense of length per se yet, but we want the campaign to be open ended so that your career can continue even after the events of the main story arc are resolved. We're big fans of MW2 Mercs.

And as far as certain pilots that may be more unique or difficult to recruit, I think you might like one of our upcoming Stage 3+ funding goals... : )