A Suggestion and a Solution to Balance in Multiplayer

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Zakhodit

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Last September I started a thread with the intent to provide a community solution to balance in Multiplayer. That concept didn't pan out the way I hoped. If you want to read my tale of woe, click the spoiler. If you want to skip the background, see below. The content of this post is very different than the first thread so I felt it needed its own vein of discussion free from the clutter of the old thread.

The seemingly simple question of how to balance the Multiplayer aspect of this game has plagued me for the better part of a year now. I started this endeavor with a naive assumption; if we as community looked at the problem closely we would find a solution fairly quickly. The challenge of presenting a solution was further complicated by the fact that not all of the players involved see balance in the same way.

Even if I found a solution it would only be viewed as such by someone with my same perspective. What I saw as balance may be seen as gross imbalance by someone else. I have spoken with several players on this subject. I received a lot of mathematical assistance from R1H1. Prussian Havoc and I have discussed this. During matches simple points of view from players like Horus and Raxxel have given me perspectives I never considered. Some of the players I spoke with disagreed with me so much that the topic steered away from constructive reasoning to combative language that didn't solve anything.

To quote a character from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, "I'd rather be happy than right any day."

That thought popped into my mind after one of the ugly word fights I had with another player. In the end neither one of us was happy. Nor can either one of us claim we are "right" simply because we say so. Even worse, that argument may have closed the door to playing a game with them. That is the very opposite of what I'm trying to do. I want more people to play with. I want a larger MP community. I want rivals like William Von Billhelm Helmet who are good friends and a joy to play even when I know victory is going to be nigh impossible.

But the argument left a bitter taste in my mouth. I was as much to blame as he who I had the argument with. I felt defeated and quite frankly I gave up on this for a while. I had too much in the real world I had to deal with. I certainly didn't have time for a game. More specifically, I didn't have time to work on a solution that in the end would just be a suggestion that may ultimately end with a polite "thanks but no thanks" from the developer. I had lost and it was time to move on.

I've got a desk valet with an inscription on it that states, "You win or you learn. There is no losing." I see it every day because it holds my keys, my glasses, and my wallet. I hadn't lost. I'd quit. If I wanted to avoid failure I needed to apply the lesson and try again.

This is my humble second attempt at suggesting a solution to balance in multiplayer. It is a paradigm shift from the concept of battle value. Or rather a static battle value that becomes stale over time and would itself need to be adjusted. This concept is dynamic and adjusts as the mindset of players adjust.

This concept is not borne entirely from one person but is a chimera of ideas from several players. Most notably @Prussian Havoc @WilliamVonBillhelmHelmet and @R1H4. I'm simply putting them down to collect the idea in one place. I hope it is clear as it may seem complex at first. It is as simple as drop down menus. Please consider the below and comment, question, and debate. I'll do my best to answer questions and resolve concerns. My sincere hope is our discussion helps HBS with a way forward that is in the best interest of the players and the game.

When a player clicks on create game and is brought to the game settings screen, I suggest the following additions:

1) Under the Lobby name is a dropdown menu that needs to have "Mech Draft" added as an option.
A) Selecting Mech Draft will grey out the check boxes for "Require Full Lance" and "Require Stock Mechs"
B) Selecting Mech Draft will auto uncheck "Require Full Lance" and auto check "Require Stock Mechs"
C) Selecting Mech Draft will populate a new button labeled "Mech Draft Settings"

2) Clicking on Mech Draft settings will bring the host player to a new window much like the difficulty settings for campaign and career mode with the following drop down selections:

A) Lance size: Options are 1, 2, 3, 4, or Asymmetric (Suggested Default: 4)
I) Asymmetric will allow a lance to reach the Funds Limit without being required to fill the lance with 4 mechs.

B) Funds Limit: Options are 15 Million C-Bills, 20 Million C-Bills, 25 Million C-Bills, or Unlimited (Suggested Default: Unlimited)

C) Chassis Availability: Options are Open, Limited, or Exclusive (Suggested Default: Open)
I) Open: Any mech may be selected for the lance regardless if it has been selected before or how many times before. The only limit is the Lance Size, and Funds Limit options. In the case of a funds limit, Mechs that would max out or surpass the funds limit would be grayed out and non-selectable.
II) Limited: A chassis may be selected a maximum of two times. In the case of a Mirror Lance, two of the same chassis in the lance. In a Unique Lance, only one of the chassis can be in each lance. I.E. the Guest picks HBK-4P. That is one selection. Now the host Picks HBK-4P. That is two selections and the HBK-4P is grayed out and no longer selectable.
III) Exclusive: A chassis may only be picked one time. Once picked it cannot be picked again.

D) Lance Type: Options are Mirror Lance, Unique Lance. (Suggested Default: Mirror Lance)
I) Mirror Lance: Both players are going to use the same lance. (If Lance size is set to 1, the first mech picked ends the draft. See pick order.)
II) Unique Lance: Both players will select their own lance based on availability as set by Lance Size, Funds Limit, and Chassis Availability.

E) Blind Pick: Options are Yes or No (Suggested Default: No)
I) If Yes then opponents cannot see what their opponent picks. When the Guest Picks a HBK-4P the Host will know that the Guess has picked, but will know nothing about that pick.
II) If Chassis Availability is Limited or Exclusive the option for Yes is unavailable
III) If Lance Type is Mirror Lance the option for Yes is unavailable.

E) Pick Order: Options are Alternating, Weighted, Full Selection (Suggested Default: Alternating)
I) Alternating: The guest player will pick a single Mech first. Then the host will pick a mech. This continues until the max number of Mechs per lance has been reached, or In the case of a funds limit, Mechs that would max out or surpass the funds limit would be grayed out and non-selectable. Players cannot undo a pick during the draft so if the funds limit was reached the players picks are over.
II) Weighted: The guest player has the first pick. The host then picks twice. After that the picks continue in alternate fashion as described above. Funds limit restricts selections the same way as described above.
III) Full Selection: The guest player picks all of the mechs allowed by lance size and funds limit. Once the lance for the guest is complete, and if Mirror Lance is selected the draft is completed. IF Unique Lance is selected the host then selects their entire lance.

F) Pick Time Limit: Options are None, 30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds, or 120 seconds (Suggested Default: None)
I) On time out the player forfeits his pick. If the player forfeits two consecutive picks the draft is ended and the lobby is closed without a battle played as it is assumed that the player is AFK.

G) Mech Ban: Options are None, 2, 4, or 6 (Suggested Default: None)
I) If 2, 4, or 6 is selected then before any chassis is picked, players alternate banning chassis from selection. The order of ban is the same as selected in Pick Order. A banned chassis may not be selected for a lance and will have a big red X over it.

H) Mechwarrior Ban: Options are None, 2, or 4 (Suggested Default: None)
I) If 2 or 4 is selected then the players alternate banning Mechwarriors from selection. The order of ban is the same as selected in Pick Order.

Once these settings have been selected by the host, they click done. Once the map and mood are set the host clicks "Create Game." The host waits for their OPFOR to join the match. When both players click ready they are bought to the Draft Screen which should show available mechs much like the mech bay, a window for each lance as it is selected and who's turn it is to pick. A timer if selected in the options should be near the players name who is picking. As mechs are picked they populate in the window for each lance (In both windows in the case of Mirror Lance). After all the mechs are picked each player is then moved to the lance window where pilots are selected for each mech. The difference is that mechs cannot be changed in this window. Banned Pilots will have a large red X over their portrait and will not be available for selection. Once the pilots are picked and both players ready up the battle will start as normal.


So how does all of this solve balance in any way?

With the exception of the funding limit, none of these options rely on the price of the mechs. The price of the mechs is the primary factor in the perception of if that stock mech is balanced or not. A favorite example among players who participated in the Valhalla Tournament of Champions is the Firestarter.

A Firestarter is very fast, has good armor for a light mech, and has a powerful tool with it's flamers. While almost any player from the Valhalla Tournament can agree that the Firestarter is priced incorrectly for what it's actually worth, not a single player I talked to could agree on what it should be priced.

These options remove the price from the question of balance. The settings will determine how many Firestarters are going to show up on the field. None if it's banned. @Prussian Havoc who organized the Valhalla Tournament could have required that Chassis Availability be set to limited and the Pick Order be set to Alternate. With these settings if the guest picked a Firestarter, the host would then be able to pick a Firestarter. After that no more Firestarters would be selected. In a way this artificially raises the price of a Firestarter. It can't be selected a third time.

The options allow for numerous scenarios to develop on how many Firestarters would be in a lance. Or they could be banned all together. The tournament could have been a mirror match. It doesn't matter what a Firestarter costs or how many there are when both players have the exact same mechs. The deciding factor now is how well they are used and RNG. (With Battletech there is always RNG)

The players who enjoy Inner Sphere Wars may not use the mech draft at all. And thus their system is not affected by price changes. OR they may find use of the mech draft system. Again how those players chose to use the available options gives them full control of their own experience. Changing base settings like price could alter ISW and how they play. That's not fair for them and this avoids the problem.

I'm not sure I can articulate this idea well so please, comment and I will do my best to clarify. I intend to submit the above as a suggestion. Any feedback here will help me write a more clarified post in the suggestions forum and I can link back to this post for the Devs so they can see the full community response.

Thank you for your time.
 
Last edited:

Prussian Havoc

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Great ideas, Good @Zakhodit! :bow:

Our BATTLETECH Community has hemorrhaged many, many a player familiar with Solo-Campaign BATTLETECH but new to Multiplayer BATTLETECH.

Without the HBS matchmaking feature listed in the BATTLETECH Kickstarter, but cut under Update 47 to the BATTLETECH Kickstarter, there is no means to ensure first-time BATTLETECH Multiplayers will "be matched against an appropriately experienced opponent."

So, during the last 8-months when someone has sampled BATTLETECH Multiplayer for the first time, odds are they've faced someone considerably more experienced in BATTLETECH Multiplayer and lost. Odds are...

Between this dynamic and the BATTLETECH Multiplayer features lost under Update 47 to the BATTLETECH Kickstarter, our BATTLETECH Multiplayer Community is...


...not what it could have been. :bow:




@Zakhodit, your ideas above could go a long, long way toward reversing the dynamic I mentioned above. I like your ideas quite a lot.

But it needs something more. Something only HBS can provide.

In the two weeks prior to the release of FLASHPOINT we saw a surge in new and returning players to BATTLETECH Multiplayer. This bump in the BATTLETECH Multiplayer Player Base offers an opportunity that in my opinion will reoccur with each BATTLETECH expansion as new gamers try BATTLETECH for the first time, as well as prior BATTLETECH Customers who return, at least for a limited time to buy and enjoy the latest HBS expansion to BATTLETECH.

HBS "...recognize(s) that Solaris VII is a great setting for BattleTech experiences, and in success, we still hope to explore different ways to bring Solaris VII to life."

If HBS does offer different ways to bring BATTLETECH Solaris VII to life, and succeeds in further stabilizing BATTLETECH Multiplayer's Lobby to Match Transition, I have not the slightest doubt we'll see an enduring resurgence in our BATTLETECH Multiplayer Community.


And @Zakhodit, your Mech Draft ideas could be the centerpiece of BATTLETECH'S Solaris VII game experience.

From your keyboard to @HBS_HighCommand and @HBS_Kiva's forum notifications queue. :bow:
 

Zakhodit

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Thank you @Prussian Havoc.

After some sleep, I had a few more ideas pop in my head. And some explanations. I thought about just editing the above, but instead I just corrected my spelling. Below are additions:

What the heck is the "Full Selection" pick order for? Clans. Or someone who wants to play under the rules of Batchall. Here is what I chose to fight you with! What do you bring to defend yourself?

If I was to suggest settings for ranked play, it would look something like this:

Lance Size: 4
Funds Limit: Unlimited
Chassis Availability: Exclusive
Lance type: Mirror
Pick Order: Weighted
Pick Time limit: 90 Seconds
Mech Ban: 2
Mechwarrior Ban: 2

Under these settings players are tested on their Battletech skills. Any mech could end up in the field of battle which is more exciting than seeing Firestarters and Hunchbacks all the time. Banning mechs allows players to deny OPFOR of a favored machine. (Guest Bans a Firestarter, Host Bans a Hunckback. 6 Months of meta is destroyed!) And if your sick of Archlight going first all the time you can pull a Tanya Harding and send her the med bay for a bit to think about how awful it is to be the best at something.

IF the community adopts a standard for "Ranked", Any standard, we can track games for Elo purposes as we patiently wait for HBS to give us ranked multiplayer.

The Blind Pick option doesn't have to be limited to a binary response: A third option could be "Partial Intel."
Example: the Guest picks an HBK-4P. The Host sees that the guest has picked a Medium Mech, but no further detail.

Even before HBS adds any of these features (If they chose to add them) The community can hold Mech Drafts under defined rules. We already have in the Ragnarok Tournament. But the experience for new players in multiplayer is still harsh. And more features for multiplayer would need to be added to soften that experience.

Since I brought up the Clans, I'll finish with my adopted Clan motto. (Adopted? Pfftt!, I was their damn bondsman.)

We will wait and see.
 

sounderdisc

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Hello,

I saw this post from an "@Multiplayer - PvP" role ping on the discord. I very much appreciate the thought and effort that goes into the discussion and drafting of solutions for multiplayer balance, and I think the very existence of a community run discord of such size as well as the volume of discussion about multiplayer balance speaks to the enthusiasm of the multiplayer community. In fact, I even went as far as to write a program in C and make a multiplayer league idea out of it. However, this is ultimately wasted if there are no people to play with or no way for those people to play matches with each other.

At the risk of sounding rude, I am going to be blunt. Harebrained Schemes needs to fix the problems concerning flashpoint and non-flashpoint pvp capability, resolve whatever is causing all of these cosmic rays that terminate matches mid way through, and deliver on their kickstarter promise to include a matchmaking and leaderboard system with a deadline of April 24 2018, because these things should have shipped with the game. Fixing multiplayer balance without fixing basic connectivity and matchmaking would be like fixing the AC of a car while it's sitting on cinder blocks missing the transmission, fuel line, and alternator.

Happy 2019, and best of luck to HBS as they make like Starship Troopers and kill some bugs.
 

OathOfFealty

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Fix connection issues of any kind.

  • NEUTRAL MECHWARRIORS (mechwarriors without abilities)
  • DIFFERENTLY SKILLED MECHWARRIORS (Rookie (2/2/2/2)-Veteran (4/4/4/4) )
  • TOGGLE ON/OFF FURY
  • BALANCING (same CBILL values as in SP simply don't work)
  • MISSIONS
 

Juodas Varnas

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I just want to be actually able to get into a match, cause i've not been able to at all. o_O
 

Zakhodit

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  • BALANCING (same CBILL values as in SP simply don't work)

This is the issue I'm attempting to address here. The concept is that by providing multiple options for players to set up their match, the CBILL value is irrelevant.

A Mech draft using the options outlined above, provided it is set to unlimited, creates the following dynamics:
  • Mechs are picked for their intrinsic battle value, not a price tag
  • Intrinsic battle value as perceived by the player at the time of the pick
  • That value may change in a month or in the very next match
  • A chassis that is perceived to be too powerful may be banned
  • In a mirror match cbill value is meaningless (Both players have the same mech. The price of the lance defines nothing about how it's used in battle)
  • Mechs of any weight class are used more often rather than meta developing around mechs that best fit into a price range.
  • The players have full control over how the match is defined.

I agree with every statement you made. I'm just trying to keep the focus on this specific topic. Multiplayer needs a lot of work, and I think this is a key place to start.
 

OathOfFealty

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This is the issue I'm attempting to address here. The concept is that by providing multiple options for players to set up their match, the CBILL value is irrelevant.

A Mech draft using the options outlined above, provided it is set to unlimited, creates the following dynamics:
  • Mechs are picked for their intrinsic battle value, not a price tag
  • Intrinsic battle value as perceived by the player at the time of the pick
  • That value may change in a month or in the very next match
  • A chassis that is perceived to be too powerful may be banned
  • In a mirror match cbill value is meaningless (Both players have the same mech. The price of the lance defines nothing about how it's used in battle)
  • Mechs of any weight class are used more often rather than meta developing around mechs that best fit into a price range.
  • The players have full control over how the match is defined.

I agree with every statement you made. I'm just trying to keep the focus on this specific topic. Multiplayer needs a lot of work, and I think this is a key place to start.
I like your suggestion a lot. Please note - I'm not saying anything about how balancing can be achieved. Your proposal is a very good method, maybe even the best.
As to the other points - I simply want to hammer them in and repeat them as often as I can.
 

Raxxel

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Hi guys,

first i want to thanks Zakhodit for his extraordinary and detailed explantion of how he think BT might be better balanced in the future. We sometimes talked on discord chanel or in games over some balancing Problems. He did it first "official" here in forum. Thz Zakh for your efforts ...:bow

After playing this game also since beginning i might as well give some comments on how it might be better balanced in the future to make multiplayer better and exciting.

1. Fury System

All of us players count the possible fury gain you and your oponent gets during the game, so you can - at least - try to estimate your and oponnents fury. I makes it even more powerful after new 1.3 update when Sumo lost his "juggernaut" ability. So the only possibility of influencing the initiative system is by knockdown or even "precision strike" with using fury.

When i remember it correctly you got following fury:

a.) 10 points - every round
b.) 5 points - destroyed arm
c.) 10 points - destroyed torso
d.) 10 points - destroyed leg
e.) final kill of a mech - dnt remember the Points

Considering that, you can get max. 50 fury points (2x arms, 2x legs, 2x torsos) by destroying a mech pice by pice.

However if you destroy oponents mech torso (!! directly attached with the arm on it - with out destroyed arm) you gain only 10 points.

So when your oponent gets a "lucky" or good shoot destroy your torso (with a functional arm on it) you should get 15 points of fury.

You should also get the full 50 points or the "rest" (fury points) of your mech if your mech is killed by headshot or death of pilot.

(For example, your mech has still 2 legs, CT and one torso left, which means 30 fury points, if this mech is killed by headshot or pilot death, you should get 30 points not less than that)

That would make the game more balanced regarding that.

In my opinion i would also say there should be an adjustement of fury points for destroyed areas.

For example more fury for losing torso/legs etc. of heavy mechs compared to mediums.

Like its used in instability pool (100 for lights, 130 mediums, 160 heavys, 200 assault)

Lets say for example, for every class higher you get one more point of fury of every destroyed location (this would consider you get more points for destroyed assault mech Locations cos its even more difficult to destroy them)

But its only a thought ......feel free to comment, how you would make it more fair more balanced

2. Heat sink system

This comment posts the heat sink system only when standing in water, which causes an increase of heat sink abiltiy of !!! all heat sinks with 50%.

It should be that only the heat sinks, which are located in the legs got that increase, not the others in torso or arms etc.

That might be more logical for me.

(its not a unique balance problem cos both players got it, but it would make the game more realistic)

3. Mech shut down and knockdown together

This might occur if you attack with flamer mech, mostly firestarter, in melee and attack besides with flamer support weapons. You could cause both, a Knockdown on enemy mechcos of melee, and a shutdown cos of flamers.

But your oponent can then restart !! and stand up in one turn.

I might be a thought that you need 2 turns for restart and stand up.

I would say its more fair.

4. Melee part / direction

We are sometimes confused what melee direction or part you hit. f.e. got a head hit with a foot. Ok might be possible, but its still sometimes unlogic.

I would consider the already destroyed mech parts of a meleeing mech and its size.

For example, how can a meleeing firestarter without arms and one leg perform a head hit melee to a heavy or assault ???

He is physically to small and has no arms anymore nor a leg to make a kick to the head.

But by now its still possible in game and makes no sense.

5. Knockdown and falling backwards

Sometimes it occurs that you backstab a mech with melee - exposing his rear - and besides causing a knockdown.

So by now in game the mech fall to his back - but it also means that his backstabbed rear is laying on the ground and its "safe" while laying there.

Why does the mechs always fall backwards???

I would say, it must be adjusted to the possiblity of falling backwards and Forwards, at least basically 50%/50% chance.

And how to determine which direction, i would have a look whether the mech is on slopped ground and which direction he got meleed or attacked.

So we would finally consider gravitiy and where Comes the (weapons) energy from in falling direction forwards or backwards.

6. "Clan" Trial

On multiplayer there are alwys favourite mechs and pilots, for example, Firestarter, Centurion, Hunchback,......etc. and Arclight, Apex, Sumo.....etc.

There might be a nice possibility, to gave one Player the first pick for a mech, and the other first pick for a pilot.

So the picked mechs or pilots are not available anymore for the other player.

This would consider "a bit" the clan battle system, one player has an advantage in a mech the other in pilot.

(i already announced that to PrussianHavoc for next Valhalla torunament as possible style, but might be nice if it would be supported by the game itself)


So by now These are my comments of possible adjusmtents on the game to make it more balanced, exiting and interessting as it already is.

You guys feel free to comments my thoughts :)

cyu on the field
 
May 20, 2018
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I just want to be actually able to get into a match, cause i've not been able to at all. o_O
Seriously, it's so infuriating how little attention was ever given to the MP experience. This is the BEST PvP game I have ever played. This game is not about playing against an AI. The marrow of this game is playing it against another person. How could they have lost sight of that? Now there are are so few people who play, I can only get a game with the same 3 or 4 people, or I wipe the floor with some poor new person.
 

Prussian Havoc

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  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Tyranny - Tales from the Tiers
  • Crusader Kings II
Seriously, it's so infuriating how little attention was ever given to the MP experience. This is the BEST PvP game I have ever played. This game is not about playing against an AI. The marrow of this game is playing it against another person. How could they have lost sight of that? Now there are are so few people who play, I can only get a game with the same 3 or 4 people, or I wipe the floor with some poor new person.
HBS has the opportunity to further develop BATTLETECH Multiplayer... I believe they will. Whether that development will eventually approximate a fun and interesting Solaris VII BATTLETECH game experience remains to be seen. : )
 

Raxxel

Corporal
Apr 24, 2018
41
0
Seriously, it's so infuriating how little attention was ever given to the MP experience. This is the BEST PvP game I have ever played. This game is not about playing against an AI. The marrow of this game is playing it against another person. How could they have lost sight of that? Now there are are so few people who play, I can only get a game with the same 3 or 4 people, or I wipe the floor with some poor new person.

Gey Ghost ....:)...we havent played a game together.
Just ad me on discord, so we might have game so you ll have more then 3-4 people to play.

cyu on the field ;-)