A few hours from now the Xbox 360 version of AirMech will go live. We don't know exactly when, just a window of time, so I should probably get some sleep. Tomorrow should be interesting. Time to dump out some thoughts before everything catches fire...
The Xbox 360 version of the game is called AirMech Arena, though don't confuse that for a port or an offshoot. As we want to update and expand the game for a long time, the code is the same and it was done inhouse by Carbon Games. It has a slightly different name to make clear that it is a separate playerbase, much like World of Tanks has a subtitle on Xbox 360 and the same playerbase division. We don't need to get into why they are separate here, since I think that's something that experienced players are used to with these platforms, but the short answer is it's just not possible. We would have if we could have.
Looking back at the path to get here, there's many "what if" scenarios that come to mind. For sure, doing the Xbox 360 version slowed down development of the PC version (and pushed back other platforms), but it was a calculated decision which ensures we will have more time to work on the game and make it better. Players are transitioning to next-gen (current gen?) and currently there are still many more active players on 360 than Xbox One, but who knows how long that will last. We wanted to establish a presence on consoles earlier rather than later.
While I love the freedom of PC development, I'm just tickled to have the game come out on a platform where the default control method is the gamepad. AirMech was designed to work with a controller from the start, and mouse/keyboard added after. It works way better than I expected, and of course most of the PC players use mouse/keyboard, but I still love the way AirMech feels in your hands with two analog sticks.
The entire reason I wanted to make AirMech was to remind everyone that RTS with a gamepad was solved a few decades ago, and with modern controllers it's even better! RTS + gamepad controls + console-paced action is just peanut butter and chocolate to me. I've loved this concept for the past decade in my head, and am so happy to bring it back to life and be able to share it with players.
I don't even know how we ended up here. More than 10 years ago I dreamed of making this game and releasing it on Xbox Live Arcade. I wanted an oldschool feel where you played missions and earned credits to unlock new units and mechs. I wanted there to be a demo version for free where if you bought it you'd keep all your progress, and you'd play with the whole community the entire time. Ironically, this is sort of like the "free to play" model, except some companies have pissed in the well and gave those of us trying to make a fair model a rough time. I don't blame players for being skeptical of free to play, as many games offer a horrible value proposition to the player. It sometimes makes me want to un-F2P the game it's so frustrating when players write us off due to some other bad experience. Ugh.
But I can't quit on the idea that I want everyone to try it for free. In an age where some reverse-world exists and now we pay to even get to play alpha/beta games (cue some "back in my day" stories), I love AirMech so much that I want you to play it without paying first. Don't like it? Totally cool, I don't want to take your money if you don't enjoy it. I've had plenty of purchase regret myself as a gamer, and it sucks. I want to lead by example. I want players to see what we have done with AirMech's evolving model and hold other companies to that standard.
I'm also torn about the term Moba and how people use it for AirMech. Technically it means "multiplayer online battle arena", which is pretty much everything from Unreal Tournament to Call of Duty multiplayer. However it's most often used for fantasy themed 5v5 games where heroes fight heroes. AirMech is quite different than that, and I don't really know of any games that are a true mix of RTS and direct action combat (unless you want to bring up Herzog Zwei) so maybe AirMech is not a Moba? But if it helps players understand that you have a "super unit" and it levels up and has abilities, then maybe it helps to call it a Moba? Honestly I don't know anymore. It's just AirMech, and it's free, give it a test drive and see if it gives you that special feeling.
Back to the Xbox 360 launch, I'm kind of terrified that it's launching. This isn't like PC where we can patch super easy, so I'm crazy nervous about both the unknown problems, and the totally known unfinished state of things. Wait, unfinished? To me AirMech is a continually evolving thing. We add significant features and content all the time, and move the game in the direction the community pulls it. Developing a game this way feels so right and natural, except for trying to reconcile where I want the game to go and where it exists right now. All I can say is to remember that this is being developed in a "new" way where the launch really is the beginning, not the end as it is for so many games. I never want to make "AirMech 2", because I think for this kind of game that's just dumb. Let me know if League of Legends 2 pops up and I'll reconsider, but for now a sequel is off the table. It's just AirMech, and it will evolve and grow over time in a way that will surprise you. We have big plans, I can say that much.
Thank you everyone for your support to get this far. I hope to start the next chapter in AirMech history now, so wish us luck with the Xbox 360 launch. Even if you don't play on that platform, the success of any one platform is additive to the whole game. This has always been our plan, and it's coming together nicely.