Sunday, 25 August 2013

Mechwarrior Online and third person view


The use of third person camera perspectives is nothing new in the Mechwarrior series, in fact it was a pretty useful tool when it came to the singleplayer game.  The ability to hide behind corners but also peek around them to keep your eye on targets made some of the tougher missions throughout the many campaign missions a little easier.

It's impact was only really felt when Mechwarrior 4 was released with it's emphasis on multiplayer.  Players could use the same advantages to basically sit behind cover and target opponents with impunity and obviously it became something of a bugbear amongst gamers.

Mechwarrior Online for a time was touted as the Mechwarrior's Mechwarrior.  The closest you could get to simulating a real battlemech combat experience.  All of the action would be from a first person, in cockpit experience requiring more skill compared to previous titles.  As such it built up something of a rabid fanbase who almost exploded with rage when PGI added a third person camera perspective.

The reasoning for this addition, when in the past PGI had been fairly down on the idea was because at conventions players had trouble controlling their mech because they couldn't see the orientation of the legs compared to the torso, would walk away from the booth unimpressed.  Now personally I feel these people would never have been regular players and definitely not paying customers anyway because they didn't have the intention of learning the games nuances to begin with.

The other reason was because a 5 year old boy couldn't figure out the movement either and so the decision was made to add third person.  It's rare for me to be a little negative toward PGI, after all they revived Mechwarrior and have on the whole done a very good job with the franchise thus far, but this decision was complete bullshit to be frank.  It was made even more apparent when it went live and players began to discover bugs, glitches and ways of cheating by using the third person perspective.  The cheating involves standing behind a building or hill and allowing the drone to float above you so you can see enemy mechs moving without any risk of being hit.  PGI said their third person camera wouldn't allow this but in reality how could they do this anyway?  The camera has to show the legs of the 'mech for noobs which means the view has to be far enough out to show the entire back of the 'mech and with that comes the ability to peek around corners.

Glitches occur when the camera gets stuck on terrain or even other 'mechs which then blocks your view and even sometimes gets stuck preventing you from seeing anything at all.  The camera can also bug out and depending on the map and certain positions, can be used as a type of sky eye to hover over the field and spot everything for your team.

Third person annoyed many fans because they for one didn't want it in the first place.  PGI tried to placate them by saying they need a noob friendly mode to allow newer players time to get to grips with the movement and positioning of the 'mech.  To be honest if PGI had simply completed a tutorial mode instead of spending resources on the third person view you may have solved the problem there and then.  If a player is so stupid that even after a tutorial explains all of this to him/her they still don't understand 'mech movement, then they should just leave anyway.  Mechwarrior like EVE isn't a game you simply sit down and play like a pro in the first hour or so, it takes time and understanding of it's mechanics to become good at.  I have played it for close to a year now on a regular basis and I still get my arse handed to me at times.  MWO isn't like COD or Battlefield where spraying bullets, bunny hopping and camping will net you some kills. MWO is about positioning, calling targets, working with your team and targeting weak spots on 'mechs.  It's also a game that pretty much demands you play with teamspeak because communication is key.  All in all MWO isn't a game for the casual crowd, that's what World of Tanks is for.

Now that PGI have finally seen their arse about the third person debacle and even made a half hearted apology after the evidence of their screw up was made obvious to all, they will have to spend resources and time in fixing this abortion of a camera mode.  If only they had spent that time and effort in fixing bugs, adding more maps, balancing weapons, adding more 'mechs, finishing community warfare and User interface 2.0 or even added a tutorial mode they would have avoided this hassle.  PGI have probably felt this backlash in a more financial way because many players cancelled their project Phoenix orders as a show of protest.  I don't blame them really in this instance as in the past players on the MWO forums have acted like children but this time I agree.  Third person was something that for many months the player base had campaigned against and PGI didn't give a flying fuck about.  It's hard to want to give them Project Phoenix money when you are being ignored while being told they listen to your feedback and opinions.  This applies even more so when the game is still in beta and thus player feedback should be the most important thing to them right now, not the opinions of convention goers and 5 year old children.  Why do we even bother playing if all they are going to do is run ahead with their plans anyway?  Does our opinion really count for anything on the forums?  Like I have said in the past the attitude of many players there is extremely entitled but for once the anger is justified.

Hopefully PGI will make sure to listen next time they decide to implement a new system.  At the least they could explain why they are doing it and let players know their feedback counts.  This issue hasn't dissuaded me from playing Mechwarrior Online or made me cancel my Phoenix Overlord package, but it does make me wonder if PGI have any intention of listening to it's players in the future.

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