HBS Dev Diary #14: The Nuts & Bolts of Heavy Metal (Part 3)

HBS Dev Diary #14: The Nuts & Bolts of Heavy Metal (Part 3)

  • Pre order now!

    Paradox Development Studio brings you the sequel to one of the most popular strategy games ever made! Crusader Kings III is soon upon us and you can pre order it today!


    Releasing September 1st 2020

HBS_RedMenace

Corporal
1 Badges
Feb 23, 2018
48
0
  • Harebrained Schemes Staff
The Nuts & Bolts of Heavy Metal, Part Three: Refresh

Hello again, ‘MechFriends! Ryan Burrell, Lead Designer of BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal here. I hope you've all been enjoying Heavy Metal so far. For the last part of my dev diary series, I want to talk about the design work that’s gone into the existing game as part of the free 1.8 update to refresh and improve things.

For context, you should check out my previous post about the planning involved in Heavy Metal and how we defined its design space: https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/foru...the-nuts-bolts-of-heavy-metal-part-1.1283539/

I also wrote an in-depth breakdown of the thinking behind each new addition in Heavy Metal, and you can check that out here: https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/foru...the-nuts-bolts-of-heavy-metal-part-2.1285041/

A huge thanks goes to Andrew McIntosh for editing these posts for both length and clarity!


Ripple Effects
Any time something new is added to a game, it’s like adding a drop of dye to a bucket of colored water. Too few drops doesn’t change the color at all, while too many colors create a muddy, obscuring brown. Generally, the best approach is to pick a color that enhances the existing pool and add a healthy amount of it, causing the water to become deeper or more saturated in its expression.

In my first post I went into detail about the creation of pillars by which we measured our Heavy Metal design work, and how we also defined target audiences to guide our approach. The work in Heavy Metal is intended to be a vibrant splash of color to invigorate the existing game, but these goals weren’t applied only to our new work. Our new color informed substantial updates to the existing game which are intended to enhance the experience for all players.

Building a Shopping List
A common bit of player feedback since 1.0 release is how awesome it feels to find better gear in stores, but also how frustrating it can be to track down because it’s so random and extremely sparse. There are many items in the game that have been functionally absent because the chances of finding them have been staggeringly low. A passion project for me in this update was to address those challenges as part of the goal of making players feel more powerful. This would also work to provide better access to new toys (even if those toys have been in the game for some time).

This was no small task: our stores operate via a fairly convoluted loot system with weighting tables. This was compounded by having few “buckets” for items to be sorted in, yielding an exceedingly small chance that any given item would appear in a star system’s shop. To fix this, I intended to add new, exclusive loot tables that would reliably provide more specific types of gear (lasers, autocannons, gyros, LosTech, etc). I then wanted to make certain these were dispersed across our star systems, tied to the tagging of a planet’s main industry (manufacturing, mining, battlefield wreckage, and so on.)

Making any sort of adjustment to this would be a massive drop into the BATTLETECH bucket, so I had to be extra certain I knew what color I was using. My first step was to create a new series of loot tables to use in stores that were exclusive to a thematic category of gear. For example, I made a set of tables that contained only gyros and arm/leg actuators with the intent that a planet tagged as a “battlefield” would always generate items for purchase only from its list.

I’m attaching a PDF print of my planning matrix for this and the subsequent loot tables if anyone is curious about a look under the hood (also useful for modding!) : https://forumcontent.paradoxplaza.com/public/515807/Stores_Heavy-Metal.pdf

Fun Fact: I was a web developer before I starting working in games. To approach the task of overhauling the tagging and store assignment, I made myself a tool using a combination of Python and JavaScript set up on a local webserver. This mini-site ran through all the JSON files for our star systems and then displayed them in a map similar to the one shown in-game. This local map had iconography to reflect the specific tagging of planets and the ability to re-tag them easily.

Here are some screenshots I took that show the progression of my editing process. You should be able to click on them and expand to the full size of what the page spit out:


Start: The planets and tags present in pre-1.8 BATTLETECH.


Midway: Planets now tagged with broader industry types and more even distribution.




Finish: Last distribution tweaks and an added legend for QA debugging.




Console output showing the total assignments.


It’s important to note that all the work above is “just” in regards to the underlying data that powers the BATTLETECH economy. Planets have a lot of tags on them beyond just their industry, so more work would be required to surface these updates to the player: that’s where the new store filter dropdown came in. Creating a new filter on the navigation screen with a tooltip now gives players the ability to understand what these store types mean and to seek them out specifically.




On the right: the new store filter dropdown for the star map.


Newfound LosTech
Another colorful drop I wanted to add in was a rebalancing of the LosTech weapons that have been present in previous updates. We’ve received feedback over time that LosTech feels underwhelming compared to ++ versions of standard tech weapons. Given the store overhaul above and that finding existing LosTech is more reliable (due to storyline outcomes from the Heavy Metal flashpoint campaign), that feeling would be even more pronounced in a post-1.8 world.

My goal was to make the baseline LosTech gear as powerful as the ++ versions of standard tech, and to grow from there via ++ versions (yes, they do exist!). LosTech is incredibly expensive, so if a player buys it they should definitely feel it’s worth the cost. To this end, every piece of pre-existing LosTech — ER Lasers, Pulse Lasers, ER PPCs, and the Gauss Rifle — has received a re-tuning of some of their attributes to make them feel as powerful as they are expensive.

In a way, this is a soft addition of a brand new line of weapons since they now behave differently and were previously almost non-existent.

In Conclusion
Thanks for reading! If you’ve managed to make it through all three of my posts, you’re extra special and I applaud your fortitude. I hope these posts have conveyed the amount of thought and reasoning that we’ve put into the Heavy Metal release and the 1.8 update. Just as importantly, I hope you’ve been given a bit of understanding as to why and how we approach our work and the things we were trying to achieve in bringing new experiences to you.

We're excited for everyone that's got their hands on this update so far, and are excited to hear your feedback and your stories from the battlefield.

O7, MechWarriors!

- Ryan (RedMenace)
 

Attachments

Spartakus

Major
46 Badges
Feb 22, 2018
794
346
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal
  • BATTLETECH - Initiate of the Order
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • BATTLETECH - Beta Backer
  • BATTLETECH - Backer
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • BATTLETECH: Season pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • BATTLETECH
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Stellaris
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Cities: Skylines
I love to have these peeks behind the HBS-curtains again.

I hate that Paradox never bothers to put any of them on the Forums' front page... and that my questions about a paradox wiki for BATTLETECH keeps being ignored. Seriously what's wrong here?
 

Zolotaya

Field Marshal
25 Badges
Mar 10, 2009
5.404
1.563
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • BATTLETECH: Flashpoint
  • BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal
  • BATTLETECH: Season pass
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Age of Wonders III
  • BATTLETECH
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
Thank you for the extended look behind the curtain of Battletech.

I hope that the pdf file and the maps in the screenshots help those wishing to mod the store system success in their endeavors.
 
Last edited:

Timaeus

Moderator
Moderator
29 Badges
Jan 4, 2018
2.425
30
  • BATTLETECH - Initiate of the Order
  • BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal
  • BATTLETECH: Season pass
  • BATTLETECH: Flashpoint
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong

Prussian Havoc

BATTLETECH Multiplayer Advocate
45 Badges
May 12, 2017
7.934
110
forum.paradoxplaza.com
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Premium edition
  • Surviving Mars: First Colony Edition
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Surviving Mars: Digital Deluxe Edition
  • BATTLETECH - Digital Deluxe Edition
  • BATTLETECH - Beta Backer
  • BATTLETECH - Backer
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • Victoria 2
  • BATTLETECH: Flashpoint
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Surviving Mars: First Colony Edition
  • Imperator: Rome Sign Up
  • BATTLETECH: Season pass
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Deluxe edition
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Season pass
  • BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Tyranny: Gold Edition
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • BATTLETECH
  • Tyranny - Bastards Wound
  • BATTLETECH - Initiate of the Order
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Surviving Mars
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Revelations
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Tyranny - Tales from the Tiers
  • Crusader Kings II
I am almost sad that the HEAVY METAL Series of Dev Diaries is now complete!

I was getting very used to the sure knowledge that Ryan and Team HBS would have another Dev Diary nugget of HEAVY METAL gold coming to us in the following week. This was fun. :bow:

But Ryan’s mission is now complete and he can get back to working on whatever is coming next! : )
 

Ken-Sw

Major
26 Badges
Nov 22, 2009
521
44
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Season pass
  • BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal
  • BATTLETECH: Season pass
  • BATTLETECH: Flashpoint
  • BATTLETECH - Backer
  • BATTLETECH - Beta Backer
  • BATTLETECH - Digital Deluxe Edition
  • BATTLETECH - Initiate of the Order
  • BATTLETECH
" common bit of player feedback since 1.0 release is how awesome it feels to find better gear in stores, but also how frustrating it can be to track down because it’s so random and extremely sparse. There are many items in the game that have been functionally absent because the chances of finding them have been staggeringly low. "

Sorry Disagree strongly - It is supposed to be very rare - I do not like the new store system at all personally - Just my opinion
Considering rolling back to 1.71 but have stopped playing in the meantime
 

Ghostbear_g

CAG Enthusiast
39 Badges
Aug 10, 2009
76
23
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Semper Fi
  • BATTLETECH
  • BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • BATTLETECH - Beta Backer
  • BATTLETECH - Backer
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury Pre-order
  • Cities: Skylines Industries
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • BATTLETECH: Season pass
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Hearts of Iron IV Sign-up
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife Pre-Order
  • BATTLETECH: Flashpoint
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
would it be possible to add an option to reduce the Lostech availability? I am a grognard, and when i think of 3020, i think of the lack of lost tech. Finding even a single ERLL in the ruble of a Star League base was HUGE, and that's how i like it. Now, i found LB-2X ammo (which shouldn't even exist yet) for sale on the starting .5 skull world in the middle of the periphery. I find that jarring, and it breaks my immersion.

I know other people like all the new toys, but i would like an option that reduces them to a more lore friendly ratio.
 

MajorPrankster

Second Lieutenant
Jun 6, 2018
188
0
Absolutely love the current state of the game, this is right at what I was hoping for after year one and the revamp of the stores give so many cool possibilities!
Thanks for all your work!

Darius might give crap intel, but I guess we get to have a more complete Amazon.com available!

With all the details and modding available, the players that want to change the percentages can, so we all win!

Rock On!
 

Space Bob

Private
Nov 26, 2019
23
0
As already said above, that change made people wanting easy access to stuff happy and people wanting hard access to stuff unhappy. I've only recently bought this game because I was told it was supposed to be a 3025 experience. It is not. It was a week ago, but not anymore.

Why weren't the rich stores introduced as an option? This game is 1,5 years old, there are tons of descriptions of it and discussions about it already on the internet. In terms of player progression, all those descriptions and discussions are now rendered untrue.

Not a good move.
 

Kereminde

Field Marshal
27 Badges
Feb 22, 2018
2.986
8
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • BATTLETECH - Backer
  • BATTLETECH - Beta Backer
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • BATTLETECH - Initiate of the Order
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Surviving Mars
  • BATTLETECH
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Stellaris
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • BATTLETECH: Flashpoint
  • BATTLETECH: Season pass
  • BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II
Uh . . . huh.

So who's going to be the one to make the one singular "Unofficial HBS BattleTech wiki", rather than the two-to-four I recall running across?
 

Jonathan8883

Second Lieutenant
8 Badges
Apr 27, 2018
196
0
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Magicka: Wizard Wars Founder Wizard
  • BATTLETECH
  • BATTLETECH: Flashpoint
  • BATTLETECH: Season pass
  • BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Magicka
would it be possible to add an option to reduce the Lostech availability? I am a grognard, and when i think of 3020, i think of the lack of lost tech. Finding even a single ERLL in the ruble of a Star League base was HUGE, and that's how i like it. Now, i found LB-2X ammo (which shouldn't even exist yet) for sale on the starting .5 skull world in the middle of the periphery. I find that jarring, and it breaks my immersion.

I know other people like all the new toys, but i would like an option that reduces them to a more lore friendly ratio.
If you play the Heavy Metal campaign, you find out that there's a specific entity responsible for a bunch of these items hitting the stores.
 

Nick_S

Second Lieutenant
Jul 18, 2018
130
2
In a way, this is a soft addition of a brand new line of weapons since they now behave differently and were previously almost non-existent.
I appreciate the whole post, and that sentence in particular clarifies something for me (and helps me set me own expectations for the experience).

I'm a long-time Battletech fan, so I had some initial skepticism of the ++ weaponry, which felt like a way to make the players more powerful while departing from the board game.

Over time I appreciated the ways in which that helped the feel of the game (gave individual mechs more character, made rewards (or losses) more varied and interesting, made the combat faster, . . . ) but my tabletop roots also meant that I was happy with it being rare.

However my play style is such that I've started a couple of campaigns but never finished one yet -- I tend to stop around the point at which I'm consistently doing 4+ skull missions. For my tastes the game slows down at that point and eventually I end up starting over to play with lights and mediums again.

That influences which rare items I end up using. Because SRM6+++ are fairly common (as loot from killing SRM carriers), I tend to use a lot of them and that's an incentive towards SRM-heavy builds. By contrast, I've never gotten a Gauss Rifle in any of my careers. The only time I've used one was in my original Campaign.

So the change to the shops might just mean that I have the option to make builds other than SRM-boats and still be able to have an ample supply of shiny toys.

I like that idea. It wasn't something that I would have asked for, but I now understand how it will add variety to my BATTLETECH experience, and that's a good thing!
 

HBS_RedMenace

Corporal
1 Badges
Feb 23, 2018
48
0
  • Harebrained Schemes Staff
Thanks for all the feedback - I'm glad you appreciate the look behind the scenes!

If you're interested in modding the balance of items in the game, I'll direct you to this thread I responded to over in the modding subforum to get you started down that path: https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/foru...-a-mod-to-make-rare-stuff-rare-again.1288158/

I don't disagree with the desire for wanting another setting to more finely tune your difficulty and gameplay arc. Rigging those up can be at times more difficult than it might seem, but in general that we've been happy to look into adding those where possible.
 

Kereminde

Field Marshal
27 Badges
Feb 22, 2018
2.986
8
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • BATTLETECH - Backer
  • BATTLETECH - Beta Backer
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • BATTLETECH - Initiate of the Order
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Surviving Mars
  • BATTLETECH
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Stellaris
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • BATTLETECH: Flashpoint
  • BATTLETECH: Season pass
  • BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II
I'm just amazed at the menu of 'Mech parts which are popping up now, it went from a "few" to a rather broad selection. Only one or two usually, so it feels a lot like slowly piecing something together from several systems of battlefield salvage . . . but it's jarring!
 

Eelectrica

Major
77 Badges
Nov 12, 2016
791
21
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Season pass
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Tyranny - Tales from the Tiers
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Surviving Mars: Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Age of Wonders III
  • BATTLETECH - Beta Backer
  • Tyranny - Bastards Wound
  • BATTLETECH - Backer
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars Pre-Order
  • Imperator: Rome - Magna Graecia
  • BATTLETECH: Heavy Metal
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • Crusader Kings III Referal
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Premium edition
  • BATTLETECH: Season pass
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Surviving Mars: First Colony Edition
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • BATTLETECH
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Tyranny: Gold Edition
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Sign Up
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Revelations
  • BATTLETECH: Flashpoint
Love the new store system.
I feel like I have a choice between upgrading the Argo or buying that piece of a King Crab and telling the crew they're eating lettuce leaves for the next few months.