Still longing for MechWarrior Online

The more I play EVE Online the more my thoughts turn back to an MMO I have desired to play for years now — Mechwarrior Online (MWO).  There were rumors back in 2008 and early 2009 that a Mechwarrior game was in the offing and I had hoped it would be an MMO, though it turned out to be Mechwarrior 5.  Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved for the next installment of the popular game series, but I was most hoping for an MMO because only in an MMO do you find long term immersive, engaging, entertainment.  Unfortunately the developer ended up getting bogged down in the legalities that have confounded the IP for years and so here we are two years later and no Mechwarrior 5, let along an MMO.

More than any other IP Mechwarrior/Battletech holds the most promise for intense, sustained, entertainment in my view and I’ve talked about this on a few occasions in the past.  The possibilities are endless with the game encompassing space combat, ground combat, air-to-air/air-to-ground combat, crafting/industrial, trading, and gathering/mining as core game play systems.  In fact lets just say that I’d love a MWO to look like EVE Online, with a ground system, and the mini-games such as Diplomacy that go along with it.  I’m as convinced as ever that Mechwarrior online should be a skills based game, similar to EVE Online’s system which enables a character to learn any skill set they desire over time.  Unlike most traditional MMOs that feature class-based systems where characters are locked into specific roles and have very limited abilities outside those roles, classless systems offer complete freedom.  Want to be an industrialist and still want to be able to go out and PVP?  All doable.

Above all the story of Mechwarrior/Battletech is about the turmoil between the great houses — the kingdoms.  The Mechs, the diplomacy, the turmoil, and the wars are plots in that greater story.  And that’s what I’d love to see a MWO MMO bring to the forefront.  bring that story to full and vivid life.  I see a MWO MMO having a strong PVE foundation that would predominately have root in the interior of the kingdoms, but a strong PVP environment along the border regions between the kingdoms.  I believe the best PVP environments are those that offer strong incentives and toward that end player corporations would be able to conquer worlds and systems.  Even when those systems technically lie within the bordering kingdom.  In my MWO MMO the border regions would be somewhat pourous and the systems within that region would always be at risk.  Of course taking systems that were too far into a border kingdom would become progressively (massively) more difficult to conquer as game mechanics would start to kick in that would enforce that difficulty.  The areas along a border are areas where the kingdoms play chess with one another, but no kingdom will countenance open warfare beyond those accepted regions.  What kingdom wouldn’t send reinforcements to systems when they felt their greater continuity was at stake?

Those conquered worlds would provide the best resource spigots for corporations and kingdoms and would be key to the industrialists who fuel the massive war machines of the empires.  Players could be part of those massive war machines either by enlisting in the armies of the kingdoms, or by taking mercenary contracts with them.  It would be through mercenary contracts that player corporations would be licensed to take, and hold border systems.

I’m a big proponent of strong NPC interaction in the game-play of players, so I envision NPC forces (mercenary and crown) taking part in defensive and offensive actions, either in concert with players, or stand alone.  Wouldn’t want corporations becoming too comfortable in the status of their conquered possessions.  Nor would we want to tame the aggressiveness of the players to too much of a degree.  And by that I mean that corporations could have “misunderstandings” from time to time about just who should, or does, control systems.  Kingdoms won’t look too closely at what happens in the border regions as long as resources and taxes continue to flow freely.

NPC mercenary units could be hired at any time to supplement whatever activity happened to be the focus by the employer, which would bring us to the fact that MWO does not have to be entire about PVP.  The best MMOs balance PVP with PVE game play, so there would necessarily need to be a system for PVE players to see some action.  Easily accomplished through instant missions, which would amount to a type of raiding, and could come in varied sizes and intensities.  Players would be paid for completing the mission, but would otherwise not enjoy the system of territorial control the PVPers would enjoy.  Perhaps larger, more intense missions would also grant access to certain types of resources.

And all this so far only speaks to ground combat and industry.  I haven’t even touched on what I envision space combat to entail.  Or how air-combat would interact with ground and space combat.  Unlike in EVE I would see conquering systems as somewhat more complex, requiring controlling space around worlds so that ground forces could be introduced to the surface, and those ground forces taking the world through destruction of defenses and occupation.  Each of the worlds in the system would have to be conquered in like manner for the system to be officially and fully conquered and space units would be a key part of that.  Also, not all resources would be gleaned from worlds.  Some resources — gases and minerals — can be mined directly in space and naval units would be key to patrolling/protecting, and accessing those resources.

Drop ships are integral to the process of moving forces from space to the ground, but it’s the massive jump ships that are key to movement across the vast distances of space.  And those would be built in space-borne shipyards that also need to be protected as those areas would be strategic targets for kingdoms and corporations alike.  The sky’s the limit here!

Someone please tell me why one of the most iconic intellectual properties in science-fiction gaming hasn’t yet been made into an MMO already?

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