Producer Letter: The Technician Update
If you can believe it, April is already on its way out and all of us continue to burn through long hours working on HAWKEN. There is plenty of work on our roadmap with so much still in development, but for now it's time to talk about what's dropping this month! Patch notes are already available as I write this, and it looks like players are looking forward to diving in. Good!
Starting off, you'll notice a whole bunch of balance updates and tweaks, in addition to a wide variety of general improvements and bug fixes. Let us know on the forums how this updated experience plays out for you, and if you notice any issues surface after the patch. We're always watching! As always, if you don't see a particular issue fixed this time, I ask that you please continue to be patient as we get to everything on the list.
Now, onto some of the larger topics of conversation!
Deconstructing the Technician
Back in October of 2012, I made a small appearance on GT.TV where I talked about the Repair Torch. Yup, this is that Repair Torch! I've loved reading all the speculation about this new release, especially after the large amount of information we released during PAX East. It's a class that's been in our minds for a while now and it's great to finally see it out there and generating lots of attention.
The Technician is different from the other mechs we have available, and it's sure to be the center of attention for many weeks to come. You'll quickly find that it's played differently than other mechs and takes more of a supportive role, something we've wanted for the game. It gives those who aren't as motivated to be on the front lines of battle a way to play an important role in a different way.
We always attempt to reward players for positively contributing to the team, and the Technician is no different. We award XP for repairing teammates and performing other supportive acts, and I can tell you that we have some excellent Technician players here at the studio who can top the TDM scoreboard without having the highest number of kills. Now, it doesn't always guarantee a victory, but good Technician players can help quite a lot, turning the tides of the fight in your favor.
I can't take credit for it but someone here has an excellent way of describing playing a Technician: "If an opponent can see you, you're playing it wrong." It can be quick to pick up and start supporting your team but this mech takes a lot of experience to master its subtleties. The new primary weapon, the Redox-O2 is an excellent example of this, and takes some time to get used to. Pay attention to its projectile arc because that will help you get the hang of it faster.
Preview the new Technician mech!
Introducing Service Awards
Yes, HAWKEN now has an achievement system, and we have an insane number of Service Awards available for players. Open up your profile and you'll see the Service Awards tab with ways to filter by category and completion level. You'll notice that our achievements give not only Award Points but also HAWKEN Credits (plus, in one rare instance, Meteor Credits). Players will be able to rack up a large amount of Credit rewards in a relatively short amount of time, so we are no longer providing the initial 5,000 HAWKEN Credits that new accounts used to receive. It's simply no longer necessary to help get players rolling quickly. But don't worry; we're not removing any credits from existing accounts!
In order to get this and other future systems functioning properly, we had to upgrade our stat tracking system to give us a greater amount of flexibly. As we told the community earlier this week, we also made the difficult decision to reset select player stats. This is not something we enjoy doing but it was a necessary evil in order to grow the game beyond where it is today.
This will not impact your mech levels, your rankings, or your currency, but it will impact pilot specific stats such as kills and deaths. These will be zeroed out with the patch, putting all players at the same starting line. We can't maintain two separate stat systems without generating a high probability of error. Plus, Service Awards use the new system, and maintaining two sets of stats would have generated player confusion, (for example, when the game's stats list 60 kills, but a pilot hasn't unlocked a Service Award for 50 kills yet).
I know I will be spending my time unlocking Service Awards like a madman after Thursday!
Fighting on the Front Line
We are really pleased to have a new map available for you: Front Line (previously named Valkirie [sic])! This was an unskinned map we had available for our some of our players before Open Beta, much like we now have Facility in the game as a test. It was a favorite of early players, and I often got asked about the status of the map. Well, now you know!
When you jump into combat, you'll notice two distinct sides defined by the architecture: Sentium and Prosk. The Prosk side looks a bit run down and tired (much like what you see in the Prosk map), while the Sentium side is much more modern and clean in style. Front Line feels more open than other maps we have available and is certainly brighter. You'll immediately notice a difference around the AA as well. It's a bit more open, and we've really enjoyed that change in gameplay. The map supports all modes so you finally have more places to play Siege and Missile Assault! The team did an amazing job with the map, but don't take my word for it. Go try it out when the Technician Update hits on April 18!
Preview the new Front Line map!
What's Next? Lots More!
Improvements, bug fixes, and balance adjustments aside, I'll give you a peek into some of the new features we're focusing on right now, just as a tease. In the works we have our party system, a new early player experience (to make it easier for players to ramp up their skills), an updated user interface, and a new progression system. No, this is not a list of what's in the next patch but it's all really good stuff that is coming down the road. As always we'll provide more information as soon as we have something to share. Our community is amazing, with incredible passion for the game, and we don't take that for granted.
We will continue to work on fixes, balance issues, new features, and new content for you every day, but until the next patch I say thank you from all of us on Team HAWKEN. We'll see you in the game and on the forums!