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Shadowrun Returns Devs Bring Back BattleTech, Is Successfully Kickstarted Almost Immediately

Edit: now at over $800k after less than a day. Lawks!

BattleTech is/was the setting for the beloved MechWarrior series, but began life as a 1984 tabletop wargame, long before it was a mech combat sim. Though MechWarrior pops up again now and then (usually involving some tortured development process), the BattleTech name itself didn’t get a whole lot of use when it came to videogames – although Command & Conquer creators Westwood had a go at one. But now it’s getting its first non-spun-off time in the PC gaming sun since 1994, as a new turn-based mech tactics game being developed by Harebrained Schemes, of Shadowrun Returns fame.

BattleTech reached its $250,000 Kickstarter goal within around an hour of announcement. Blimey. However, the game won’t have a singleplayer campaign unless it reaches one million dollars. Wait, what?

One of Harebrain’s key devs is Jordan Weisman, who co-created both Shadowrun and BattleTech. Additionally, Mitch Gitelman was producer on the MechCommander series, which is somewhat closer in style to the new game than the FPSish MechWarrior titles were. HBS have got form when it comes to resurrections, of course – the Shadowrun Returns series of cyberpunk RPGs is pretty darn solid, has had two highly successful Kickstarters and is blessed with an ardent fanbase – so hopefully the new Battletech is in safe hands.

See what you think, though; they’ve gone back to the Kickstarter well for a fourth time, and are after a minimum $250,000 to make their ‘tactical mech command’ game. Which they’ve already hit, so… Anyway, here’s the pitch:

It’s set in the ‘classic’ 3025 BattleTech Succession Wars Era, which refers to the fact that the in-game fiction has roamed across some 1150 years. So while we don’t get any in-game footage to speak of yet, HBS are talking quite a bit about the new BattleTech’s place in the overarching lore. There’s much more about that on the KS page, as well as a great deal of focus on stretch goals, which are apparently key to dev plans.

For instance – and this makes my eyebrows do a very frantic dance – they’re not including a singleplayer campaign unless it hits $1 million – i.e. four times the target. You just get a Skirmish mode against AI otherwise. Multiplayer isn’t in the mix unless it hits $2.5m – i.e. 10 times the target. Wowzers. Big numbers, but we’ll have to have faith that it’s reflective of what modern dev costs for a project like this.

HBS say they’ve already self-funded the project to the tune of $1 million, which they claim will be enough to fund the base Skirmish mode, which they’re now in pre-production on. The initial $250k crowdfunding purportedly adds the ‘combined arms’ module to it, which adds non-mech AI stuff into the game, “including tanks, hovercraft, support vehicles and more.” The funding tiers only get more granular from there:

It’s already well passed £300k at the time of the writing, and given how fast it hit the goal I’d be surprised if it didn’t reach at least the $1m mark – especially as there are 35 days to go. People do love their mechs, and they haven’t been too well catered for lately. Hopefully a footage reveal is in the pipeline for mid-way through the campaign, however. More on this soon, I don’t doubt.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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