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Backer Beta Delayed

Posted by Harebrained Schemes LLC (Creator)

Greetings MechWarriors!  Klimecky back again with important news about our Backer Beta. A series of unfortunate events prevents us from hitting our target release date and, as promised in our last update, we’re letting you know as far in advance as we can. This change may come as a surprise, given it’s only a few weeks after announcing the target release date but sometimes game development throws us curve balls at just the wrong moment. As a wise man once said, “Shit happens.” 

Developers are constantly weighing risks vs rewards during a project, often with incomplete information. In this case we made two big decisions in the leadup to Beta and both turned out to have a bigger impact on the project than we planned for. Here’s what happened:

  • Our development infrastructure desperately needed an upgrade but the fixes caused lots of short-term headaches. HBS has a history of “toughing it out” and working with sub-optimal back-end tools because we want as much development time as possible to be spent on game features and fun. Eventually however, a system becomes too painful to use and we bite the bullet and pay the development price. In this case, we had two vital systems that required improvement for the Backer Beta, so we decided to “tear off the bandage”, hire a professional IT contractor, and get all the work done at once so our engineers could stay focused on the game.

    Unfortunately, the infrastructure upgrade process caused several issues including delays in getting new versions of the game built. This consumed time from our Lead Engineer, our Test Lead, and myself. Without the ability to test our work in new “builds” of the game, progress slowed. It has taken the better part of 3 weeks to get back on track, but we finally feel like we've cleared the hurdle. 
  • An upgrade to the latest version of Unity brought the game editor to its knees. Unity is the game engine we build BATTLETECH on top of and when the company updates its software, game developers need to take a hard look before deciding to take the plunge and install it. In this case, we determined that the update was required for beta because it contained performance optimizations that would greatly improve the gameplay experience for nearly all our participants and for some, make the game playable at all on their machines.

    Now, we know from experience that whenever you update major software in the middle of development things WILL break, so we diligently planned time for integration and bug fixing. Unfortunately, while the upgrade succeeded in improving the game’s performance, the changes in Unity broke a lot more of our systems than anticipated - with these consequences proving more time-consuming to troubleshoot and address than any other Unity upgrade we’ve done in the past (including on previous projects). We were relieved to learn that at 2:30am this morning, our engineering and technical art team removed the final productivity sink and were able to start our Monday with a solid infrastructure and performant game editor.

As you can imagine, it’s been a frustrating few weeks in the studio. The entire project slowed dramatically just as we were attempting to hit the gas for the final weeks until Beta launch. The team continued to push as hard as they could, refusing to give up on our March 15th target date, but the slowdowns and instability were punishing. The leadership group decided to step back and take a good, hard look at the situation. We decided it was best to stop the crunch and focus on finishing the infrastructure and editor work before reviewing our quality level and reassessing the target date for the Backer Beta.

Now that our technical issues are behind us, the team is focused on quality and on delivering an experience that shows the world why HBS loves BattleTech and why everyone else should, too. As soon as we have a new target date that we can confidently announce, we’ll send out another update. We are dedicated to delivering a great Backer Beta, even if that means taking a little longer with it.

Regarding the final release date for BATTLETECH: As noted during our livestreamed dev Q&As and on our forums, once we unlocked all of our Kickstarter stretch goals, our estimated release date of May was no longer valid. Way back then we said things like "Summer 2017.” Now that we're further along, we're targeting a Late Summer / Fall release of the game - but we won't be announcing a more exact release date until we're much closer in!

Again, we deeply appreciate your support for the project.

-- Chris Klimecky, Sr. Producer

Adam Kuphaldt, James Duck, and 488 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Asherum on

      Ill take it when its ready. Unlike MWO which is a smash and grab pile of garbage(In my opinion ,not happy with Piranha), I know I can have confidence with this project. The people who are making this seem to have the backers/players, needs/wants at heart.

      Keep up the good updates and great work.

    2. Missing avatar

      Carson on

      That is a very detailed developer update.

    3. Missing avatar

      Utgaardsloke on

      It's ready when it's ready!

    4. Missing avatar

      Chris Duval on

      I remember Mech 2 being released in the summer which was very unusual. Personally I dont mind a delay and a Christmas present. (I do want a nice one!) Summer Im trying to enjoy the non-cyber world more and early fall is nuts at work. Summer is turning out to be nuts too but IT is usually nuts all the time. BTW, I remember Crescent Hawks and managed to get the Phoenix Hawk intact.

    5. Darmin Hadzic on

      I do want to play the game, but not if it means people die from exhaustion. Take your time, give regular updates, and I'll be happy. Thanks for the hard work!

    6. Missing avatar

      Dunc Wilson on

      I'm sad about this, I'll need to console myself by reading the melee update again.

    7. Khell

      I would say that there is much less chance of HBS burning us the way Piranha did, strongly based on one fact - Jordan Weisman. HBS is owned and directed by the very man who created Battletech (and other wonderful games). This is a passion project, and I wouldn't believe any other studio or team could be more invested in doing justice to the brand and its fans than the literal founder of FASA, plus Mitch Gitelman, Mike McCain, and the stellar codesmiths and other talents behind Shadowrun Returns and its sequels. It's not fanboying, it's simple fact - we have a great team with every reason to do solid by us, without the overbearing corporate-money / publisher influence from above that traditionally ruins games...that sounds like a safe bet to me.

    8. Missing avatar

      andrew on

      Seems a legit reason for a delay. I mostly agree with Khell below however after getting burned by the lies and money grab that was piranah games and mwo i seriously hope i havent made the same mistake again =[

    9. Ram71 on

      happy to wait for what is sure to be an amazing game. Cheers for the heads up and don't worry about the trolls they are probably star citizen backers.

    10. Lee Sweeney on

      Also now we hit Con season, that will eat another few months as they rush builds that are to only show at Cons. Then mostly scrapped.
      I wish the game makers would avoid the Cons until they have a stable Beta to show, when I see a game these days at a Con, I know if it is new no real reason to look as it will not be out for a few years at least.
      I understand getting the word out but so many do it way too soon.

    11. Icehawk101 on

      @Blackghost Kickstarter isn't a store. Most projects here get hit with a delay of some sort during their dev cycle. If you can't handle that then wait for the game to hit retail. This is part and parcel of being a backer. You get stuff at a discount/earlier/bonus stuff at the risk of delays or possibly not getting anything is some rare cases. HBS has turned out some truly great games and have kept their backers in the loop, both of which have resulted in great customer confidence.

    12. Khell

      For anything other than a digital game, I'd say you're right. But PC/Console game development is a special case. You can keep to an estimated schedule, or you can have a good game - the two are almost always mutually exclusive. This isn't some product held up at the factory as the Chinese manufacturer doing the work over-promised and under-delivered. It isn't some kickstart delayed because the creator nail down competent fulfillment partners or the all-too-common Chinese New Year causing shipping delays. Game development doesn't hold to any schedule, and you basically have to know that going in. And if you want a functional, fun, and fairly bug-free experience, you need to give the creators time to do their job. HBS has delivered above and beyond on their previous PC releases, and that buys enough good will and faith from most of us to let them miss the estimated deadline for the sake of a good product. It's not Robotech RPG Tactics, delayed beyond belief then craps out sub-par goods. And they're not EA/Ubisoft/Blizztavision/Squenix with multiple studios, who can pull talent from one team to another to make up extra hours of development, or shuttle off extra work to a B-Team. And in between all the work they're doing, they also bent over backwards to strike deals and prototype merch offerings for interested backers.

      I don't at all see where HBS has disrespected backers, only the other way around. And if the choice is between an on-time game, and a good game, I'll take the good game.

    13. PPOKURO on

      Well too bad for the delay, but personally I can wait. I also appreciate the information why there was a delay.
      Only thing I'm really unhappy about is one comment down here...but I'm not going to feed that troll.

      Again thanks for the information and hope to be melting mechs in the very near future :)

    14. Blackghost on

      WTf, take your time?
      No.. just no. Companies need to learn to respect their timeframe.

      All they have to do. Say, Im sorry. We need more time ? really?
      They dont show any respect at all and you guys are.. OHHH.. yes pls!! Take all the time you need.. I call BS.
      And the customers.. US , the money behind the game.
      The people who gave their earn hard cash , gave their money ON TIME.
      Not a week, not a month or a year after. They took it saying, yes we will delivrer. Pfff..

      Once again..excuses, excuses and excuses.
      Stop being sorry and make it happen.

    15. Khell

      Am I happy about news of the, not at all.
      Am I surprised about news of the, not at all.

      That said, take what time is needed.

      I have a friend who once worked for Bioware (hooray for expired NDA's), and through this person I learned first hand what rushed production gets you. Dragon Age 2 was an experiment on EA's part (during their "lets sh!t on our best brands" phase), to see if their top studio could crank out a AAA-tier game in under a year (I believe it was 9 months specifically), presumably to compete with Ubisoft's near-annualization of their franchises. While DA2 was a great innovation mechanically, and a solid entry in the franchise from a plot perspective, it was horribly short of content, with too much recycling of too few assets and most zones just pallet-swaps or re-skins of the same three dungeons. Dragon Age 2 had the player literally running in circles over a too-small world. Three or four more months in content development could have added so much to the game, instead DA2 is now a mostly forgotten game overshadowed by its sequel and Iron Bull's humorous romance scene.

      I would rather Battletech be the game I'm still playing a year after release, and not another one-playthrough experience or short-lived multiplayer fad. If you need a few extra months to make that difference, I for one am willing to wait a little longer.

    16. Vance Walsh on

      As a 25 year IT Professional and 15 year Game Industry IT Systems Engineer I empathize with your pain. Engine upgrades are mules to move and beasts to beat into submission not matter when you bite the bullet. Either you take the hit how and have minimal impact or you are doing an engine upgrade post launch but before initial patch push and then folks get even more upset with delays.

      That being said I hope you were both kind and cruel to your IT contractor as this level and length of downtime is never acceptable, but its good to hear you're stood back up. Best of luck chugging along and while you'll of course never please everyone all the time, Backers are backers because of love for the genre/game and trust in the product/team. you have a solid track record, so we trust your ability to communicate and execute.

      Additionally as I stare longingly at my box of battledroids on the shelf, I want you to bang this out as quickly as you can, but hey, what kind of fan would i be if I didn't.

      P.S. If you ever get crushed like that on the IT side again look me up ;)

    17. Geomancer on

      Not surprising at all with doing an engine change. Honestly I'm a bit surprised you guys didn't know better in that regard, seems like *every* indie loses weeks to months every time they decide to update engines. You guys are more professional and won't lose as much time though.

      In the end, a better product is always a good thing so I'll be glad for it, but I'd think twice about changing the engine mid-stream next time. Kudos for being upfront about it too.

    18. Daniel V. Sullivan on

      As a fellow member of the development community (switched from developer to business analyst) I am all too familiar with such frustrations and as a consumer I must say that I have been never been happier with the sincerity and transparency offered by HBS. I trust that when the final product is delivered it will not only meet, but exceed my expectations and am looking forward to it!

    19. Shaun Farol on

      I appreciate how transparent and communicative you are being on this issue. Tech debt is a sad but understandable hurdle, delays for updated Unity version and performance gains even moreso. Take the time you need, make the best game possible, just keep us updated with your progress or lacktherof. It is updates like these that are a mark of a responsible Kickstarter.

    20. James Anselment on

      It's all good, take your time and do it right.

    21. James Anselment on

      It's all good, take your time and do it right.

    22. Missing avatar

      Ayur Sandanov on

      It's great when developers can free the workers from crunch. I hope that more developing studios embrace this "when it's done" concept, since the crunch is not strictly analogous to cinema shooting or editing, it's eating into the quality big time. Even discounting quality of life for devs, it's the thing we got to leave behind. I'm really comfortable with a reasonable release date postponing.

    23. Missing avatar

      Daniel Taylor on

      Well done. This was absolutely the right set of decisions. You can't let technical debt keep piling up; sometimes you have to *pay* it and work from a solid base.

      I've been waiting a decade for a game like this; I'm not going to panic and abandon you over a few weeks. I'd rather know that my fellow coders are working well, in decent working conditions, well treated.

      Thanks for your honesty in keeping us fully informed.

    24. Missing avatar

      Sami Kuutti on

      No problem. Thanks for the update!

    25. Talizvar on

      I actually like updates like this.
      You make decisions and not just let things happen to you.
      All the problems make sense and no need to set yourselves or us up for frustration.

      So many working parts, how far to work on things until "good enough" until it is proven not to be...
      Battletech is a well fleshed-out universe, the devil and joy is in the details, looking forward to seeing where you decided to draw the line between enough and too much.

    26. Missing avatar

      Martin Sweeney on

      Great to get the update and feel your pain. Software and hardware have a habit of doing the unwanted.

      Keep plugging away and know that we're all behind you.

    27. Akule

      I am fine with waiting. Take your time. :)

    28. wayne-o-rama on

      And as a fellow Unity developer, I really ... really feel your pain re: the upgrade ...

    29. Nicholas Faubert on

      No nonsense update. I take news of delays in stride, and you've got my sympathy for things going pear-shaped.

    30. Missing avatar


      This has got to be the most patient group of backers I've ever seen, and I agree. Don't rush it, take your time, get it right. Thankfully this dropship is pretty nicely furnished, we can wait a little longer before we get deployed.

    31. Erinn Hamilton on

      Please don't rush it... We've been waiting years for this, a few extra weeks won't kill us. :)

    32. Missing avatar

      Simon Oberbrinkmann on

      What I read here somewhat scares me.
      Not because of the few weeks or months I have to wait longer, but implied "crunch time". It is possibly the most infuriating thing about the gaming industry.
      Please take your time, you have a great track record and I don't think anybody could feel "cheated" by waiting a bit longer, but I would feel a lot more comfortable if I knew the Coders are treated well.

    33. Jan Haluza on

      Take your time and don't worry, good things are always worth the wait.

    34. Robert Gaspar on

      The best pilots know better than to go into battle on schedule with a non-functioning Mech. We'd prefer to go in knowing we can trust our machines as much as we trust the people working on them.
      So go make it work!

    35. Blue on

      Echoing everyone else, and make sure your management team knows - be upfront about these things and don't worry heavy crunch. We're all in it for the long haul, do it right. If you need to pay your technical debt, do it. It sounds like you are making the right calls; we appreciate the updates.

    36. Jason Pelletier on

      Thanks for the update! Everyone loves the transparency. Your track record speaks for itself. We know you'll do the best you can in regards to timeline and game quality. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to playing!

    37. Jason Frey on

      Minor bummer, but I'll echo many of the others here - THANK YOU for keeping the timeline front and center and sharing the status! Things do happen, and I, too, would much rather be thrilled with the end product a little later than "meh" about it a little sooner.

    38. Missing avatar

      Robert West on

      Thanks for the update. By all means, take the time you need to get things fixed and running again and make the final release even better.

    39. Missing avatar

      David Leiserson

      It's all good! Happy team = better game :)

    40. Forar on

      Appreciate the heads up. As I'm a fan of saying, Updates aren't just for good news. I'd rather be treated like an adult and told that things went awry than have people transparently lie to me for weeks and months on end. Kudos for that.

    41. Azegoroth on

      This is kinda a good thing, too many games to play right now, getting the beta in april will allow me to finish up some of the games on my queue and focus on the beta.

    42. Thomas C Murphy III on

      You guys have a great track record, so I'm not worried. Delays happen, and I'm sure you're doing everything you can to manage them. Infrastructure and upgrades are important and there's never a good time to take care of that stuff. I understand. Thanks for the transparency.

    43. Missing avatar

      Johannes on

      Don`t sweat it. I supported the game not only to play it but also for the humans behind it. Take your time. ♥

    44. wayne-o-rama on

      Guys, I backed The Mandate - I can handle a few months delay, that will cause me zero heartache ...

    45. ThomasN on

      Other KS when problems arise:
      - Sit in corner put thumb in mouth and refuse to communicate

      - Identify problem
      - Nuke from orbit
      - Talk to us about it

    46. Graeme Bayless on

      Get it right, not fast. We'll wait :)

    47. Jeff Allison on

      Hey, no problems. I'm currently sitting through the Robotech and Axanar kickstarters, so being ONLY a few weeks behind schedule doesn't bother me one bit.

    48. Missing avatar

      Chris Antos on

      Yup, I think any software engineer can relate. :) Thank you for putting people first. KCCO!

    49. Aviel Novakouski on

      As long as the final product rocks. Delays are expected. Better then a rushed crappy product. I love with a computer engineer and I know you fix one thing and 99 more things rear their ugly little heads. Good luck and thanks for bringing us this game!

    50. Dustin Ballard on

      No worries guys. We can't wait to play it, and we know you're working hard to get us there. Take the time you need.