The Design Philosophy of Battletech

The First Principle: A Game About People

I didn’t want to make a game about robots. Frankly, the Battletech IP was my least favorite part of the project, and I nearly turned down the job because of it. Robots don’t interest me, people do.

The Roster

On the Argo, the barracks is always bigger than the mech bay. This is intentional. You have more capacity to hire and maintain pilots than you do ’Mechs. From a practical standpoint, injuries are brutal and will take your pilots out of the action long after the robots have been repaired and readied for battle, so you need extra pilots available to pick up the slack and keep the company in the black.

The Medbay

We went around and around about injuries and how they’d work. I tasked another designer to figure out how pilots could take damage, how often they’d take damage, and what the consequences in battle would be. Meanwhile, I tried to develop the simulation side of injury and recovery, treating combat as a black box. In retrospect, this was a mistake, but frankly we had too much to do and not enough people to do it, and I couldn’t possibly tinker with every piece of design myself.

End of Service

In The Company, my Facebook game that was in many ways Battletech 0.1, soldiers would grow old and retire (or die). Old soldiers would request retirement; middle-aged soldiers would want to get married and leave service. And a soldier injured frequently enough might get sick and die; even a brush with disease could leave a soldier vulnerable to a wide array of lethal events that might crop up, without even considering the potential of their death in battle.

Next Up

Next time, I’ll talk about the event system, why it exists, why it failed, and what could have been done differently.

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