Yesterday, MWO Lead Designer Paul Inouye hosted an "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit. We've summarized the most important and interesting answers for you below.
Current Game Issues
Inouye began the interview strong by acknowledging several player issues. The last patch introduced a game-breaking disconnect/lag spike bug, causing matches to shut down after a few players disconnect. Reddit was joyful to hear that the developers "are madly addressing the lag issue (which directly relates to the disconnects) and once that's cleared up, you'll see some big improvements."
Related to the lag/disconnect/crash issue is that paid Founders of the game are concerned because the premium time they've paid for will start running when Open Beta launches; many would prefer to be able to initiate their Founders Premium at a later date, when MWO is less buggy. Paul stated this:
"We are looking into how we can ensure the Founder's can be happy with their purchase in terms of the Premium Account timeline and when does the time start ticking away. I've seen all suggested solutions and all of them are definitely in the best interest of the Founder's packages."
Is the game ready for open beta?
Many players are worried that the upcoming open beta for Mechwarrior Online will result in new players coming into the game and being turned away by a lack of support. Reddit user soapyluggage mentioned the issue specifically with this comment: "Aren't you worried that players will try the game, find it lacking in content (4 maps, 1 gamemode, like 7 mechs), and very barebones and just forget about it? First impressions are so important, especially with this type of thing."
A two-word post by Garth Erlam, the community manager, confirmed that a tutorial element will be going into MWO within a week along with default fire groups. Hopefully this will end the problem of new players starting a match, firing all their weapons once, and immediately overheating or even exploding.
Another related shot was fired by Reddit's Khan Warlock in asking this question: "Is it because of financial reasons that MWO is going into open beta so early?" Garth Erlam responded with a pretty definitive "No," continuing a trend of blunt brevity. Mr. Erlam is apparently not a man of many words.
Continuing replies from MWO devs illuminated that "While some companies have used the term Open Beta to be in line with launching their product to the general gaming populace, it is not the case for our title. [..] The launch window is always ambiguous but that is the joy and opportunity of the F2P business model." Is this reassurance that "MWO is still a work in progress" going to be enough to prevent new players from trying the game once and then leaving?
Redesigned UI, weapon balance changes, and More
The lack of a pre-game chat lobby is a concern of many, especially those used to the League of Legends pre-game chat format which gives teams opportunities to communicate before getting into the actual game. Inouye answered that the "Chat Lobby and chat interface is currently being redesigned. The interface team will have some spare cycles coming up and we want to get this addressed as soon as possible."
Paul Inouye's comments on weapon balance were intruiging, citing 'Rock Paper Scissors' as the general design strategy and commenting on AveDominusNox's excellent question "What is your personal [..] view on mechs like the Gausepult or some of the more extreme laser boats?" Inouye's reply: "There are some factors (weapon mechanics) that will be affecting those who rely on a single weapon system to succeed. This is one of the reasons the AC/2 now fires a very fast projectile at a high fire rate. The AC/2 isn't the only weapon that is going to have adverse effects on single weapon reliant Mechs, look for a future tweak to PPCs that will also have a similar effect on other Mechs."
On a very interesting and revealing bent, Inouye continued to mention weapon balance. His humorous statement on the UAC-5 weapon system, a heavy cannon that highlights the ability to fire twice as fast as normal but with a jamming risk, was amusing:
"Our plan to unjam the Ultra AC/5 is to include a DDR dance mat with any MC purchase you make and you will have to score 350,000 points or higher on Difficult setting while doing the Gangnam Style dance.... okay okay... serious... We know it's an issue... no one likes it... I tried it and threw my keyboard across the studio. We are looking at possibly just making it a time penalty to firing the weapon again instead of playing DDR."
As a UAC-5 enthusiast who has also thrown his keyboard across a room, this solution satisfies the author totally. Keep an eye out for more dual UAC-5 Cats coming soon (TM).
The Elephant in the room: Matchmaking
Matchmaking is an issue for both 'pick up group' players, the MWO equivalent of solo queuing, and also for premade 8-man groups looking to actually improve their teamwork. Premade 8-man teams looking to mercilessly stomp pub teams seem rather satisfied, however. Inouye's midlength reply about the matchmaking system, linked here, might not satisfy our immediate needs, but it does show that it is an issue the devs are looking at. This author is quite surprised that the devs are even considering moving MWO into Open Beta with the current matchmaking system.
Overall this Reddit interview contained a lot more substance than previous 'Ask the Devs' features, and shows that the artists, coders and developers at PGI are not going to settle at taking your Founder's package money and running. Goons, Redditors, organized gaming teams and solo queue enthusiasts alike are fixated on Mechwarrior Online's next move.