These easy, player-made speed fixes are BattleTech’s redemption

battletech-speed-fix

Two things stand between BattleTech and true greatness. User guides and videos solve the bonkers decision to not so much as hint at absolute combat necessities that make the difference between grim slugfest and satisfying tactical supremacy, but the other one’s trickier.

The surfeit of frustrating pauses and pretty but time-wasting animations surely require an official patch, right? Hope – turns out that all you need to haul BattleTech out of the quicksand is a spot of ini file editing. The difference is… well, I don’t want to let my prose get too purple here, but it’s so much closer to the turn-based mech combat game I’d long dreamed of.

I had something of a road to Damascus moment during my by-now 50 hours in BattleTech. Its unnatural delays and maddeningly ponderous moving and shooting animations were a massive barrier to enjoyment, but the amount I learned during my first 15-20 hours in its school of totally unexplained hard knocks at least meant I could make my own actions as deadly efficient as possible.

Despite this new affection, the degree to which the game wasted my time with short pauses before and after most actions and lovingly-rendered but passive animations meant I continued to seethe and alt-tab out during endless-feeling enemy turns.

battletech-speed-up

I’m far from alone there, but fortunately others pour their energies into fixing rather than moaning about problems. There’s been a question mark over whether or not the slowness and pauses are baked so deep into the game that we can only pray for official updates, and to what extent the unhurried pace is an artistic statement of intent we should respect. The answer to both those is “yeah, but if you just tweak a couple of lines in Notepad it’s all sorted out anyway.”

The most grating issue is the pauses – a couple of seconds of nothingness before and after many Mech actions and reactions, which add up to several minutes of dead time across the course of a battle. Given BattleTech’s unusually slow load times and graphics card load, it had been tempting to presume this was down to something in the game or the underlying Unity engine struggling to spin its various plates efficiently. Nope, turns out the pauses were a deliberately-made decision on the devs’ part, which is frankly bewildering. Change a couple of numbers and they go away entirely.

Found via assorted good people on Reddit, this fix involves navigating to [your Steam install directory]\steamapps\common\BATTLETECH\BattleTech_Data\ StreamingAssets\data\constants in Windows Explorer, then find and make a backup copy of the file audioconstants.json, before opening the original in your text editor of choice (I used Notepad++).

Find the following lines, and change the number at the end of each to 0, so they wind up looking like so:

"AttackPreFireDuration" : 0,
"AttackAfterFireDelay" : 0,
"AttackAfterFireDuration" : 0,
"AttackAfterCompletionDuration" : 0,
"audioFadeDuration" : 0,

Save, and done. Enjoy the sound of not quite so much motionless silence. You might notice that the variables changed are all to do with audio triggers, i.e. the pauses are not number-crunching, but simply, well, deliberate pauses. Sometimes the reason for this is obvious, such as, once I’ve done this fix, the way the game will sometimes jump directly to another character’s turn without my a chance to take in what happened at the end of the last one. By and large though, it’s so much better this way – as well as the simple fact of less dead time, no more motionless pauses means the game feels far more polished.

Another area of speed-based contention is mech movement speed. There’s a valid argument for the idea that 65 tons of steel staggering across a hilly landscape is inherently going to be like watching a tortoise race. It’s artistic intent, and it’s appropriate to BattleTech boardgame and lore fans’ expectations. That is true! But it is also quite tedious to watch it happen for the umpteenth time, especially on the numerous turns that are simply about getting from A to B across a large and often featureless landscape.

Again, we don’t need to wait for a patch – the community’s dug into the game’s file system and found the variables that need changing. However, as well as the ini-editing option, it turns out that there’s a way to activate an in-game debug menu, from which you can easily increase mech movement speed there (the devs have reportedly been seen playing this way during pre-release streams).

Three options for you then. First, you could go to [your Steam install directory]\steamapps\common\BATTLETECH\BattleTech_Data\ StreamingAssets\data\movement and manually edit the 53 files in there (one for each type of BattleTech mech). Or you could use the executable made by helpful Redditor ciaphas01 here, which just asks you to enter one speed multiplier (e.g. 2.0 to make movement twice as fast) and then applies it to every mech. However, he’s not updating that any more, because of the aforementioned debug option.

The easiest way to get to that is open up Notepad and paste the following into a new document:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Harebrained Schemes\BATTLETECH]
"last_debug_state_h176629417"=dword:00000001

Then save that document as a .reg file – be careful to make sure you don’t save it as .txt.reg thanks to Windows’ unhelpful default file extension ways. Double-click on said reg file, click yes when prompted, and then load up BattleTech. Once you’ve loaded your savegame, press either Ctrl + Left Shift + Minus (the main keyboard minus, not the numberpad one) and you’ll see some tiny buttons pop up top-left. Click the speed one to make everything five times faster, hit Ctrl + Left Shift + Minus again, and you’re done. Again, thanks ever so, Redditfolk.

battletech-ship

Now, despite my prior raging about BattleTech’s speed, I personally find that making everything – walking, firing, the works – five times faster tips the scales from efficient to slightly silly. So I returned instead to that executable that edited all the mech ini files, set it to 2x movement speed and found that was a very happy medium. That, paired with the above pause fix and turning off all the actioncam settings in-game, created a BattleTech that is so much closer to what I’d hoped for when I first sat down with it.

With the pauses gone and Mech movement speed now comparable to how, say, an XCOM unit moves, I find myself fairly happy to sit through most weapon animations at their intended speed now. Especially when it’s a situation I’ve lined up myself, and I get to sit back and watch the climactic fireworks.

Here’s how a sample turn looks to me now:

It’s not lightning fast, and nor would I want it to be as I do want some tension and some plotting time, but it’s a got a sense of natural flow that wasn’t there before. What a relief.

It’s a huge relief to find that BattleTech’s dawdling pace and my deep aversion to having my time wasted aren’t inherently incompatible – just a bit less dead-time makes all the difference between feeling like I’m the main agent in the game and I’m a mere audience to it much of the time.

Also, these discoveries hopefully imply that the devs offering more official speed options in the game’s settings menus shouldn’t be a beyond-the-pale request. I’m sure they need to check carefully that nothing breaks or no important information is missed if the game runs faster, so we can’t expect an overnight fix, but these player-found ones will definitely do the trick in the meantime.

58 Comments

Top comments

  1. lordcooper says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PI0MRyUFIXU
  1. Hoot says:

    I refunded the game because of the awesome amount of dead time in each battle. Just sat looking at a wreck / idle Mech for a good 5-8 seconds every time something happened got old incredibly fast. Coupled with the turn notification pauses even between your own Mechs (when two of your Mechs can act on the same phase, you still get a “Your Turn” pause/prompt between Mechs) made battles pretty unbearable for me personally.

    Alas, my funds are now allocated to Pillars of Eternity 2, but maybe if I’d known about this I’d have persisted with it.

    Oh well, it’s on Steam so there’s every chance I’ll pick it up in a sale a year or so down the line when I’m not swimming in backlog.

  2. BlankedyBlank says:

    I think you most likely mean be careful not to save it as .reg.txt!

    I almost emailed this reddit thread across to you 3-4 days ago, but assumed you’d already have seen it. Oops. I apologise for your lost minutes.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I don’t get why games seem to think I want to stare vacantly at the result of a turn for half an hour before I am allowed to click on anything else.

    Nice the delays can be removed. I wonder if the removal methods will be patched out so that we can stare vacantly as the devs intended.

    • Someoldguy says:

      Editing the .json files is exactly the level of modding that the devs are happy to support, so that’s not going to happen. We are free to speed up our mechs as much as we like.

      Interesting that the dev mode was there for 5x speed. That is at least indicative that they knew that having to sit through all that ponderousness when testing the game was wasting their time!

  4. Flavour Beans says:

    “the way the game will sometimes jump directly to another character’s turn without my a chance to take in what happened at the end of the last one”

    I wonder if leaving one of the variables unchanged would solve this while speeding everything else up. AfterFire and AfterCompletion makes me think this would be possible. Have you tried this?

    • Someoldguy says:

      I haven’t tried that but instead of setting all the delays to 0 I halved them, which I found worked for me. It wouldn’t take much experimenting to find a combo you preferred.

    • Flavour Beans says:

      Also, has anyone come up with an executable that can fix the movement files? My only concern with changing them all would be if the devs put out a patch to solve these issues that would then make the game wonky if you were playing without defaults.

      Then again, I guess you always could just back up the folder, or delete the files and have Steam verify the install.

      You mention that it changes every mech’s movements, but is there a fix for the vehicles as well? The worst missions for waiting time are the escort ones.

  5. jsbenjamin says:

    With four (count ’em! four!) articles on RPS (including the original review) within a week that are predominantly about the speed of playing BattleTech I feel like the issue has been blown a little out of proportion.

    That said, given that this is clearly a serious issue for some people and that it seems to be so easy to fix, I really hope the devs do add some of these speed-up options to the game menu. Personally I find the game very well paced, but options are never a bad thing!

    • Flavour Beans says:

      It’s probably because it’s an unforgivable barrier to play for so many people, and it would be a shame to see people refunding or ditching or passing on what is otherwise an absolutely fantastic game due to an issue that can be fixed fairly easily. I didn’t mind the slowness too much myself, and didn’t think I’d ever want to go editing game files to speed things up, but then I watched the example video above and know what I’m doing before I play next.

    • Sleepery says:

      I haven’t gotten the game yet, but looking at the video above the default speed must have been glacial, glad I stayed away up to now.

    • Ur-Quan says:

      This! I was really worried when I first bought Battletech because of all this discussion about the delays but when I actually played it I found them much less annoying than these articles made them out to be.

      • Caiman says:

        I’ve no idea what everyone is on about, frankly. Perhaps my PC runs it better or something, but there aren’t any mysterious 2 second delays between moving mechs for me. I mean, the walking is slow and ponderous, but then it’s supposed to be slow and ponderous. Sprinting is faster and ponderous, but speeding it up to ridiculous speeds just completely breaks immersion for me. But I guess if people want to do that, more power to them, but I do think it’s a little overblown unless there are performance issues involved.

    • Werthead says:

      I must admit I’m starting to wonder if I had a stroke whilst playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Enemy Within and XCOM2. The turns in BattleTech don’t seem to be any longer than those games, and may be faster overall (because when not in combat you can order your mechs to move simultaneously, which is a massive relief), and that’s without even turning the camera glam moves off.

      • Thants says:

        It’s probably not any slower than XCOM 2, because people had the exact same complaints about that game. Thankfully there were mods and an official update to fix it as I’m assuming there will be here.

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        I’m in 100% agreement with you on this, at least as far as XCOM 2 is concerned. I think Battletech actually plays quite a bit faster than vanilla XCOM 2, and the only reason Battletech is catching so much flak is because it’s not an established franchise.

    • Viral Frog says:

      I honestly thought it was blown out of proportion until I hit around the 10-15 hour mark. I would probably have (what feels like) 3-4 of those hours back if not been for completely unnecessary pausing after every action. Mech movement speeds didn’t bother me, though I do prefer them set to the same speed as seen in the above video. It was the ungodly pause after every single action that irked me.

    • blightor says:

      Oh yeah, you got that right.

      Basically peddling backwards because he didnt play the game for more than a few hours and banged out a crap review. The remaining 3 articles are attempts to justify the first one.

      For once it would be nice to just come out and say, ‘Oh boy I was really wrong’. Wouldn’t that garner more respect? Right now I have lost a little bit of faith the reviews, and I hope this isn’t something to expect from RPS in the future.

      • Thankmar says:

        In his review Alec mentions again and again that the underlying game is great. His two points of criticisms are too long pauses and animations without visual information, and the failure of the tutorial to teach the uninitiated how to battle mechs efficiently. The second point multiplies the impact of the first, and so you get the described slugfest. From his review: “I don’t think that redemption is impossible.”

        So, his observation is that vanilla BT is for the curious new-to-BT-player a very opaque game in very slow-motion, to the point it is offputting. This observation is shared by many. But since Alec sees “the glint of greatness”, he goes out of his way to tell his readers how they can get to the good part, which he thinks is really great. He posts three more articles on the matter. The first article after the review iterates on the combat effectiveness (already mentioned in the review), the second one describes how to unslow your game manually, the third one says that the devs see the problems now as well.
        Thats as servicable as one can get, for the readers AND the devs, which get more publicity and free advice on how to sell their game better. No excuses necessary, for Alec did BT no wrong.

      • Alec Meer says:

        Blightor – your statements aren’t true. The situation is exactly as described across the course of the pieces published so far: an honest document of experience, complete with a publicly-stated shift in opinion subsequent to my initial 15 hours with the game (and now up to 50). I’d really appreciate it if you could think carefully upon your own reasons for so aggressively refuting that.

        • Hoot says:

          I played and refunded the game because of the same issues (the enormous amount of dead time/sitting around watching nothing) that you had.

          The only thing wrong with your review was word choice. It isn’t a boring game. Nothing about it is boring. The animations/pauses are slow and frustrating. Agonisingly so, you might say. Treacle-like. Whatever.

          But boring was the flat out wrong word to use and I think using that word is solely responsible for drawing you as much fire on these comment sections as you have.

          I mean you weren’t lying about the dead time. I’ve played it for myself and the review was accurate. But dem words, my brudda. Dem words.

  6. morganjah says:

    So, it seems obvious that the best method to respect the artistic vision of long pauses between actions, while simultaneously not being annoyed by the long pauses between actions, is to smoke an excessive amount of weed while playing this game.

  7. stonetoes says:

    An all-purpose solution to this issue is to use Cheat Engine: link to cheatengine.org

    Specifically its “speed hack” option allows you to speed up or slow down the game, with configurable hot keys to boot. I used it a lot to play Mordheim, another squad-based, turn-based game.

  8. Winged Nazgul says:

    Do you have to enable that speed debug command every time you load the game or does it remember to do it between sessions?

  9. Flavour Beans says:

    After tootling around with both fixes, I have to say it does make a difference. I set the audio delays to 25% of their usual values rather than going with 0, and it feels like a bit of a sweet spot, for me at least. There’s still little bits of pause, but it’s enough that I can take a drink of something and not miss crucial details for looking away for a moment, and it gives me enough time on enemy turns to realize which of them is targeting which one of mine.

    The movement speed multiplier program works a charm, just be careful with it. When you click Update, it doesn’t give you any visual confirmation of having done anything, but it did happen, and clicking repeatedly just multiplies speed values by whatever the file is now, rather than by their defaults. So just click once and have faith. You can tell it worked if you check the timestamps on the movement files and they’ve all changed to current time. If you go overboard, restore from backup (please backup before doing this!), or just use a value less than 1 to slow it down (use 0.75 after 2.0 to set it to 1.5, etc).

    I found Alec’s 2.0 recommendation to be a bit excessive. It works fine for most mechs, but the light mechs seem comically fast, like footage of a speed-walker sped up even further. The chase cam, if you have it on, can barely keep it in frame. 1.5x speed is just enough to make everything feel zippier without taking away from the character of the game.

    For me, at least. Again, experiment and find out what works for you.

    • Flavour Beans says:

      Upon further tooling around, the 0’s on the audio cues are the best way to go. Even having them set to 1/8 speed still somehow really drags at times. It’s like it stacks cues for certain events, triggering multiple waiting periods. Other times, it feels like it’s delaying for a voice line that doesn’t actually play.

      It’s still dragging occasionally on 0, it makes me wonder if there isn’t more delay variables elsewhere. Everything’s moving along with no delay for me, and then suddenly there’s an attack where it hangs a couple seconds. I wonder if the pause is to play an audio line that isn’t loading right.

  10. podbaydoors says:

    Does everyone else have just way more stuff on than I do, or is my anti-anxiety medication working really well at the moment?

    I do find loading into missions takes a bit longer than would be ideal, but the pauses between turns are negligible, even when I’m not giggling about having taken down a robot the size of a building by kicking it in the shins, or the fact that the best way of dealing with tanks is by literally stepping on them.

    • Flavour Beans says:

      It’s strange, because I thought it was a bit of a drag at times, but thought it was nothing worth the fury over it. But now that I’ve actually tried it? Huge difference, for the better.

  11. automatic says:

    Seems much better. I still think though they should work on inverse kinematics on falling mechs animation aswell. Seeing mechs fall through the ground on uneven terrain is heart breaking. That along with some pretty ugly scenery models that could use a little love. If they fixed that I wouldn’t even mind the lack of a comprehensive multiplayer mode as it would make single player matches much more enjoyable.

    • Werthead says:

      I think this may be one of the things the game compromised on due to time and budget. They could make it so the mechs don’t clip through the scenery sometimes, but it’d cost x thousands of dollars and y weeks of delay, so if it’s not affecting gameplay (you can still shoot the mech if necessary, salvage it if it’s out of commission etc) then it can shunted firmly into the “fix it in an update patch some time later” pile.

      • automatic says:

        It’s not that costy. They already implemented IK for the mech legs. This probably just got pushed to the end of the schedule as a polishment job and never have been dealt with before release. And it’s the kind of thing they will never fiddle with again unless a lot of players complain, as people working on visuals and animation are usually dismissed by the time of release. A shame really.

  12. MazokuRanma says:

    This may get me to pick the game up. I was moderately interested as I enjoy turn-based strategy, though I have no specific attachment to the franchise itself. I’m also pretty big on lore in games, and apparently the stuff in this one is fantastic. At this point in my life, though, about worst thing a game can do is not respect my time. It is limited and I’d rather play something that does than deal with one that does not.

    The worst thing, of course, is a game that simply doesn’t work, which is a game that doesn’t respect your time or your money. Also: loot boxes.

    • Werthead says:

      The lore was previously developed through 34 years of the tabletop game, 116 novels, a dozen previous video games and even a short-run animated TV series, so it’s pretty decent. Even better is how Harebrained present it, so you get a handle on what’s going on with getting confused because you didn’t read one particular novel in 1993 which explains a plot point. It also helps that the video game is set really early in the timeline as well, before about 90% of the gaming materials, all of the other video games and all but a few of the books.

      Same approach they took for Shadowrun: acknowledge the lore for the fans, don’t make it necessary for newcomers and just present everything really well.

  13. Rane2k says:

    Thanks for this one Alec!

    I was similarly annoyed by the long waiting times between turns, so this might just be the thing I need.

  14. Zenicetus says:

    Good info. To start with, I’m using half the default values in the first mod instead of everything to 0, to see what that feels like. I’m a little concerned about missing information.

    I haven’t done the movement speed mod yet. For the early game (where I’m still at), there are many light mechs running around which might get sped up too much.

    Also, this game already sort-of trivializes the size and weight of mechs when you’re working with an overhead tactical view. They tend to look tiny and inconsequential at the zoom level I’m at when choosing targets and movement commands. It’s only the default slow movement speed and associated sound effects that give any feeling that you’re moving huge weapon platforms around the map.

    Then again, I might get tired of it later. Either way, it’s good that we can modify it to taste.

    • llsellers says:

      I totally agree. I’m not sure if I’m just old school in a day and age where attention spans are virtually non-existent, but we are piloting giant mechanized machines of war. I don’t think they should be flitting about the battlefield like fairy sprites. That said, there are times when I sigh a bit due to the wait times between enemy actions, especially on escort or convoy ambush missions. If the delay between each action were reduced some I would certainly not be complaining.

  15. Shacklestein says:

    open up Notepad

    Is Notepad still a thing on Windows? And if so, does it still insert those invisible line break characters?

    In that case, never ever use it to edit files meant to be read by a program. It won’t always be a problem, but when it is the file becomes completely unreadable.
    Notepad++, also mentioned in the article, does not have the same problem. It’s also vastly better in every other way.

    • DeepFried says:

      So far as I recall notepad has never done line breaks with wordwrap (I assume thats what you’re talking about), you might be thinking of wordpad?
      Otherwise if you’re just talking about CRLF characters then any editor will do that, the exact characters will be platform dependent (unix/mac/PC), so sure, you want to be careful editing a unix file in windows notepad.

      • Shacklestein says:

        Definitely thinking of Notepad. And no, not every editor will insert CRLF at will. In those cases where it’s an issue, editing a file with Notepad makes it unusable, doing the same in Notepad++ doesn’t. If memory serves, you don’t even have to make any changes for Notepad to wreck it; it’s enough to open it and then save before closing.

  16. VonTed says:

    Well harrumph. I tried the audio file changes and the game crashed. Restart and the video is all screwed up! Deleted the changed audio file….reverted the old file back to the proper name, and still screwed up :(

  17. racccoon says:

    What they did wrong with the game development was they never made the game free flowing. The game should of been set on a massive open world with a good story line and advancements etc.

    • ilves says:

      You don’t have a massive open map, which, honestly doesn’t necessarily work for a merc group working off contracts for one off missions, but they do have a large number of star systems you can travel to at will and pick up missions and supplies.

    • wiski says:

      Would have taken a larger budget, larger developments team or more time to complete, or maybe all three. This is an Indie sudio with 35 employees.

      I also don’t see how a turn based tactical game would have meshed with ‘open world’, unless you’re just saying you wish they’d made a completely different game?

      • Alec Meer says:

        I dunno about open world, but given the limited number of environments used in the game, I do sorta feel that just setting it on one or a very small amount of local planets would have made more sense than repeatedly travelling for light years to new but very similar worlds.

  18. JiminyJickers says:

    Wow what a difference. I thought there were odd pauses but but weren’t too bothered … until I turned them off, it feels so much more responsive now! Makes it feel so much better, can’t see why they included them in the first place.

  19. TrynePlague says:

    I’ve always been a huge fan of Front Mission 3 (PSone) and Ring of Red (PS2). Does this come close to these two?

  20. wiski says:

    Glad there is an option for people frustrated by the speed of the game. Personally, I never had an issue with it, and the comment about how the game will sometimes jump around and not let you see the completion of actions makes me not want to do this mod.

    I want to see everything that’s happening so I can best know what needs to be done. It boggles my mind that someone would ALT+TAB out of a game during an enemy turn…

  21. bsones says:

    The purpose of the pauses seems pretty clear to me: they are there to compliment the action cameras, so that the camera has time to reposition before the action animation plays. They are really only noticeable if you turn the cameras off (which I did). And really, turning the cameras off should have zeroed out the pauses, but it sounds like the devs are going to roll out an official fix for that anyway, so it’s all good.

  22. pentraksil says:

    I have to agree. Glad it was added for people bothered with it. For me, on the other hands…I never saw the issue. Some actions are a bit drawned out, but nothing major. The game is slow by it’s design, deciding what weapons to use, where to strike, how to position etc. Also, skipping enemies turns? It seems even more of a wait, trying to figure out where they moved on the map etc. Xcom 2 had much more pauses in terms of camera focus, dialog etc. and it was a “much faster” game than this. Surprised people are so bothered by it, but good for them for the fixes.

  23. ArchmageRises says:

    Thank you thank you thank you! You’ve fixed a game that I love yet hated to play! I agree with all of your assessments of BT. The only reason I can think of how it passed QA/Beta as released is the devs never had to play it at the speed we have to.

  24. btonasse says:

    Works like a charm. Instead of setting everything to zero, I have just halved the values.

    Now, has anybody figured out yet how to get rid of the annoying zoom-in when a building is destroyed?

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