Introducing the Main Characters of our Mercenary Story + Merch, MechCon, & More...
Hey everyone, Mitch here!
Wow, it’s December already! It’s shocking how time flies when you throw yourself into making video games and I think I can speak for the whole studio when I ask, “Where did the time go?” (BTW the answer is, “In the game!”) It’s been awhile since our last update because (as we mentioned last time) we’ve had our heads-down on a major milestone and this is our first chance to come up for air. I know that last time we said you should expect one more Kickstarter update before the end of the year but the team’s been making so much progress in so many areas simultaneously that we decided that we had to write two.
Along with all the great stuff we’ve been working on, the team has been refining our BattleTech story (similar to our process on the Shadowrun series) and we’re itching to share our cast of characters with you. So today’s update is focused on introducing you to some of the main characters and factions of our single-player campaign, as well as some info about the Backer Beta and a couple of announcements. In our final (and I mean it) update of the year, we’ll give you a nice overview of our production progress and maybe a few little surprises.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
For the purpose of making introductions, we're taking you three years beyond the point where our June Campaign Setting Details update left off, into the thick of a conflict that threatens to tear the Aurigan Reach apart. The bios and descriptions below could all be considered MILD SPOILERS - they occur after the inciting events of the game's Prologue chapter - so if you'd like to remain completely spoiler-free, you may want to skip reading this section. For everyone else: let's meet the main cast of BATTLETECH!
In late 3022, control of the Aurigan Coalition was forcefully seized by the old regime's longtime ally, House Espinosa. The rightful High Lady, Kamea Arano, managed to escape the coup and disappear into the Rimward Frontier. Working in secret, she began sowing the seeds for her own return to power: the Arano Restoration, a liberating army with the clandestine support of the Magistracy of Canopus.
When House Espinosa seized control of the Aurigan Coalition, they subjugated the Founding Houses and conscripted their House militias into a standing army. Under Espinosa leadership, the realm has been reformed into the Directorate, an authoritarian power with strong ties to the Taurian Concordat.
The flight and command crew of your own mercenary outfit, these hardened veterans work behind the scenes to keep your MechWarriors fighting and the C-Bills rolling in.
In our story, you’ll interact with your mercenary crew on the Argo, along with various major personages from the Aurigan Reach. Over the course of the single-player campaign, you'll get to know these characters via personal conversations, crew briefings, and story cinematics. And of course, they'll also be communicating with you in-mission while your lance is deployed as seen in our Super-Pre-Alpha gameplay video.
MERCH! MERCH! MERCH!
That’s right, merch baby! Negotiations have concluded and we’re extremely pleased to announce that HBS has secured a license from The Topps Company (who own the intellectual property rights for physical goods) to create and sell a limited amount of BattleTech merchandise. We are also excited to say that we will be working with Piranha Games on this effort, so the merchandise line will support both the video games and the complete BattleTech timeline (yup, including the Clans).
Since we will be offering a limited amount of merchandise, we want each item to be as special as it can be. Therefore, we’re focusing on high quality items which are either artifacts from the BattleTech/MechWarrior universe or sophisticated celebrations of the franchise. The Kickstarter Backers heraldry kit and flight jacket rewards represent the level of detail and quality you can expect from all the items we offer.
In order to ensure that none of the funding you put towards developing BATTLETECH is at risk, we’ll set a minimum order quantity for each item and only manufacture exactly what y’all order. Think of it kind of like crowdfunding - until we have enough committed orders, we won’t make the item or complete your credit card payment, and then we’ll only manufacture what is ordered. That way, we don’t “waste” one of our limited offerings on something only a few of you want or make a ton of stuff that sits in a warehouse gathering dust.
It took us a long time to get this together but now that we’re here, it's gonna happen fast. So start squirreling away some C-bills and look for more info in our next update.
Huzzah for merch!!!
HOW ABOUT THAT BETA?
Whether it’s at GenCon, PAX, or on http://battletechgame.com/, the biggest questions we get these days is, “When’s the Backer Beta start?” The answer we’ve been giving is “Winter”. Well, Winter starts December 21st so it’s time to spill some (limited) info.
Now in case you didn’t know, HBS has never done an external beta before, so we’re entering new ground here. Obviously, we’ll do our best but as you well know, “No plan survives contact...” and all that. Therefore, in order to prepare for the Backer Beta, we’re currently working towards a dry-run of the beta experience for our family members to “blow out the pipes”, test our process, and make sure everything’s ready for you.
Until we complete our dry-run and make any necessary adjustments to our plans, we won’t be able to give you a firmer date for the Backer Beta, but we can tell you that it’s targeted to begin sometime in the late January - early March timeframe and will run for at least a month. Once that beta is up and running, we’ll start things off with SKIRMISH MODE and then add PVP MULTIPLAYER after a period of time. The goal of the beta is to test our core combat system and will only be a slice of the shipping game’s total content, so it won’t include ALL the ‘Mechs, MechWarriors, maps, and environments that will come in the finished game. (Also remember, the open-ended mercenary campaign and single-player story will NOT be part of our Backer Beta.)
As noted in our Kickstarter rewards, only Backers at the $50 MECHWARRIOR reward level and above will have access to the Backer Beta, but there will be no restrictions on participants sharing their impressions, screenshots, etc. so that everyone can stay in the loop.
More Beta logistics and details will be forthcoming closer to the Beta launch announcement.
In Case You Missed It...
If you want to participate in the Beta but aren't at the $50 MECHWARRIOR reward level yet, you still have time to upgrade your reward level. Just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll take care of you.
And for your friends and family who weren’t able to help during the Kickstarter and who want to get in on the beta, our Late Reinforcement Backer opportunity is still available and will remain open until the beta begins!
WE'RE HEADING TO MECH_CON!
Ah, yes indeed, it’s fun time, fun time! A bunch of us are heading north to Vancouver this weekend to participate in Mech_Con. Mech_Con is a special one-day event dedicated to the celebration of BattleTech and MechWarrior. Hosted by Piranha Games and featuring Harebrained Schemes, Catalyst Game Labs, and MechWarriors from around the world, it’s the ultimate MechWarrior event and a front-row seat for the Grand Finals of the MechWarrior Online World Championship Tournament!
Jordan, Mike, and I will do some Q&As and you can meet members of the team, including DEATH FROM ABOVE “stars” Tyler (GM) and AJ (Beta). Hmm, maybe it’s not too late for you to plan a quick trip so we can hang out with you, too!
Okay, that’s it for now. Like I said, we’ll be back before the end of the year with one more update.
Talk to you then!
- Mitch and the BATTLETECH team