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Microsoft The Almighty Buck Games

MechWarrior 4 Free Release Delayed By Microsoft 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-for-a-game-insurance-reform-bill dept.
Vamman writes with a followup to news from 2009 that MekTek.net was going to release MechWarrior 4 for free after obtaining permission from Smith & Tinker, who licensed the MechWarrior rights from Microsoft. Now, almost a year later, the free release has yet to see the light of day, in large part due to Microsoft. Quoting: "... the Free Release is held up at Microsoft and it is unknown to us and our studio when the Free Release will be given the final go ahead. Due to the demands placed upon us by industry lawyers to release the Mechwarrior4 Free release we were forced to insure our studio at a premium rate to meet the Microsoft standard. Our insurance policy is a one year lease and we are unable to tap out of this policy until next fall. In addition to our insurance costs we are also struggling with our server costs. Currently, our server fund has run dry and staff and beta members are paying out of their pockets to help keep MekTek online. At this point we don't know from month to month if we will be able to stay online." Vamman adds, "MekTek has released a major update for their existing community, expansion MekPak 3.1. They are also promising their new expansion, MekPak 4, in a few weeks as open beta!"
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MechWarrior 4 Free Release Delayed By Microsoft

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  • Antithesis of Free (Score:2, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448)
    Microsoft seems to be the antithesis of free especially when you look at their Xbox network. They don't allow user-generated content at all. Perhaps, just perhaps, they don't want people coming to expect that you don't have to pay for everything.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      Hey! we have almost the same sig! Way to go!
    • by WWWWolf (2428)

      Microsoft seems to be the antithesis of free especially when you look at their Xbox network. They don't allow user-generated content at all.

      Halo 3? Trials HD? And that's just a few on top of my head, from Microsoft-published games. Granted, more than slightly lame compared to mods in PC games, but still, some user-generated content is better than no content at all...

      • Fallout 3 (Score:3, Interesting)

        by headkase (533448)
        On the Fallout 3 forums it was specifically stated that the reason no user-generated DLC would be available on Xbox 360 was because of Microsoft's policies. Perhaps someone can dig up a citation?
        • Re:Fallout 3 (Score:5, Informative)

          by headkase (533448) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @12:58PM (#31725082)
          Here [mtv.com] is an article that talks about why user generated content is restricted so much on an Xbox 360: Microsoft is afraid someone will draw a penis. So, no opportunity to community vett content before it goes to general consumption just ban it from everyone and leave the job to the professionals.
          • Re:Fallout 3 (Score:4, Insightful)

            by davester666 (731373) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @01:17PM (#31725256) Journal

            So only professionally drawn penises are acceptable to Microsoft for distribution?

            • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

              by Pingmaster (1049548)
              Exactly. How would it look for Microsoft's image is screenshots of poorly drawn penises in their games were splashed all over the internet? No, only high quality penises will be allowed in their games.
          • by WWWWolf (2428)

            Microsoft is afraid someone will draw a penis.

            Right, young gentlemen, show of hands: how many of you have made... certain object shapes in Super Smash Bros. Brawl's level editor? ... Quit blushing now, young lads, this is a serious issue! Surely Nintendo is more conservative about these issues than Microsoft! Out with it!

            In other words, I think such fears are sort of justified, but *ahem* sufficiently motivated people can, and will, find ways around the limitations, so I think Microsoft is being more than a little bit too strict here.

        • Re:Fallout 3 (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Beelzebud (1361137) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @01:10PM (#31725188)
          Epic also wanted community made maps to be added to UT3, and MS told them no.

          Valve Software wants to release their DLC on Xbox Live for free, like they do on the PC, and MS literally will not let them do it.
          • Does Valve pay for the servers and bandwidth required to serve the DLC, or does Microsoft? I'm all for free, but if it's costing Microsoft money to distribute the stuff, I see no reason why they should give it out for free.
            • by hedwards (940851)
              Because, unless I'm missing something, the only way that you can use DLC is through their store. There is an exception for PCs, as you can mod them, however if you're using the XBox, you're kind of out of luck, even if you want to download them from the internet.
            • That's pretty ironic considering that most Xbox Live games are using peer to peer networking, even though they charge you a subscription for it. If the company creating the content wants it to be free it should be. Paying for Xbox Live should be enough to give you the ability to download free content a developer wants to give out.
              • by Haymaker (1664103)
                Not that I'm disagreeing with you, but Xbox LIVE silver accounts are unpaid and "let" you buy content on the store.
            • Valve doesn't pay for the DLC servers on steam unless you download directly from them. The rest are local mirrors, selectable via the steam settings.

              Do we pay for each match when it's hosted on EA or MS servers? Didn't think so, we pay for XBL subs so I think it's a bit rich to say we shouldn't be allowed to have free downloads.

          • by jittles (1613415)
            Uhhh they offer free maps and other DLC on Xbox live ALL the time. I never pay for anything on there. Sooo do you have some sort of source for this story about Valve software?
            • by DrGamez (1134281)
              As an xbox owner myself I have to debate the parent's claim, just how often is "ALL the time"? I can't say there has been a major DLC for a recent game that hasn't cost something in a bit now. (Unless you want to say things like gamer pictures for free are DLC)
            • Of course there are sources.

              EuroGamer reported on it [eurogamer.net], and it's quoting Valve's Chet Faliszek.

              Note: This is for the already released Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 DLC, and not about the vaporware that is the 360 Team Fortress 2 update (which makes engine changes).

      • - Visual Studio Express Editions
        - Windows API
        - XAML Development Tools
        - Microsoft Virtual PC
        - Windows Movie Maker
        - PhotoSynth
        - Windows Defender Anti-Spyware

        almost everything they release is free (except for windows, office, and visual studio pro)... granted it's all part of vender lock-in so that Windows stays #1 for market penetration, but you can't say they don't give out free stuff. (not to mention they mailed me a free office 2007 t-shirt for beta testing and a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate and Office

    • by the linux geek (799780) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @12:59PM (#31725100)
      Xbox 360 is the easiest console to do indie development for. Just look at XNA.
      • No joke. XNA is awesome. However, indie dev != user generated content. Forza 3 seems to have plenty of opportunities for user generated content though, so clearly Microsoft isn't sitting in their heavenly throne frowning at all the game devs who want their players to be able to customize their gear a little. As far as custom maps/mods goes, I can envision a slew of technical reasons why that wouldn't be attractive to MS, in addition to the issues mentioned elsewhere of users drawing penises on every surface
        • by Bakkster (1529253)

          Forza 3 seems to have plenty of opportunities for user generated content though, so clearly Microsoft isn't sitting in their heavenly throne frowning at all the game devs who want their players to be able to customize their gear a little. As far as custom maps/mods goes, I can envision a slew of technical reasons why that wouldn't be attractive to MS, in addition to the issues mentioned elsewhere of users drawing penises on every surface they can touch. I don't think Microsoft is quite as anti-free as everyone seems to think. They just like control over what's free.

          Forza 3's studio, Turn 10, is owned by MS. So, the rules are obviously different for a 1st party dev. Of course, this also means they take moderation of content very seriously, and hand out lots of bans for even relatively minor issues. They also are required to use only matchmaking with TrueSkill for public online play. The older games allowed players to set up PC-style public lobbies, but that went away with 3, likely at MS's request/mandate.

          I think you're absolutely correct that MS just wants to con

    • by Toonol (1057698)
      Microsoft's XNA platform is really the only way a hobbyist could get something on a console. They're far friendlier to the amateur developer than Nintendo or Sony.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'll come pay to play; Just give me a "Donator Mech" that can unload a Macross Missile Massacre [tvtropes.org] at will and I'm in!

    • That's basically what Alpha Strike did with any 'mech in MW2 and 3. I never played 4, but I'm assuming it's the same.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 04, 2010 @01:03PM (#31725132)

    I had the thought of 'microsoft will NEVER put out anything free thats any good' back when they announced this.

    I'm a big mechwarrior fan and i own all their games. And holy crap its a pain in the ass to install mech4 series with all the packs, keys, drm, patches, updates, and other hoops to jump thru.
    A free all in one pack would make it so simple.

    Mechwarrior is also what got me started on piracy. The retail version had that horrible copy protection running sucking up resources and causing crashes. Kill that during the game and it runs fine.
    Till the next game looks for it. And you have to reload. But the pirated copy didnt have any of that problem.

    So mechwarrior was the first game i owned that i pirated. because the pirate version ran BETTER!

    Since that day its been pirate first. Buy if its worthy. (Looking back, there were not a lot of them worth buying. maybe 3-5 games a year max.)

  • MechWarrior series (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jhoegl (638955) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @01:33PM (#31725358)
    I have to say, when Mechwarrior was owned by FASA it was an exciting universe, I had a lot of ideas. I played MW2 back in the day online. Was in a Merc group for online play and we did rather well. I mean think of it, there were clans, Federation groups, and merc groups. it had a money system and you could buy/sell things. They had planets setup that would produce so much a week, etc. it was a full economy that this gaming group did on their own. There was even travel time between planets, and you had to "own" your own ships.
    I left it after a while, but I enjoyed it and thought that it was a fun experience. That is an MMO, IMO. Eve is okay in this area, but MechWarrior just had the stories and the background. When MW3 and MW4 came out I was hoping to see that they were still around. They kind of are, but not in the scale that I speak of above. People didnt like MW3 or MW4 in the dynamics it provided like MW2 did.
    One day I hope for a MW Universe based off the MW2 online community, but it may never happen because WizKids made it the lamest piece of crap I have ever seen.
    • by greymond (539980)

      I agree with everything you said.
      However, I wish the game could have been re-skinned to be more modern.l On the video I see on MekTek it still looks like something out of the 90's

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        However, I wish the game could have been re-skinned to be more modern.l On the video I see on MekTek it still looks like something out of the 90's

        In order to accomplish that the engine would need substantial updating. Essentially, the source code would have to be released, as it was for Allegiance [microsoft.com]. Only, I had never even heard of Allegiance until Microsoft released the source; Mechwarrior IV is one of the more popular PC games out there. And I, for one, will play the living heck out of it if it will run on WINE, and see if I can get back to the top of the Attrition and Team Attrition rankings :) My gigabyte mainboard produces black screens when tryin

        • by makomk (752139)

          Apparently, Allegiance is from Microsoft Research. They really don't seem to commercialize their software much...

    • by Draek (916851)

      Honestly, I don't think MW3 & 4 are to blame for it, MW2 was simply made in a different era. I mean, back then MS Flight Sim was one of, if not *the* biggest PC franchise of all, yet the last one sold so badly it killed both the franchise and the studio that developed it. Racing sims, space sims, new installments in those genres used to get front-page ads in gaming magazines, nowadays you're lucky if they get a short review alongside the latest Bejeweled clone.

      For whatever reason, PC gamers seem to have

      • by Stray7Xi (698337) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @06:25PM (#31727524)

        MW2 was simply made in a different era. I mean, back then MS Flight Sim was one of, if not *the* biggest PC franchise of all

        The different era is the standardization of computers. Back with the early mechwarriors not even mouses were a standard on all computers. The standard PC didn't have a sound card. You bought a sound card specifically for games (which is why sound cards have gameports for joysticks). Every PC game released in that era required setting up. So an extra $50 for a joystick and dozens of keybindings wasn't considered that much of a pain.

        Nowadays PC games are standardized, they assume you have a keyboard+mouse (or are using an xbox gamepad). With DirectX it's mostly seamless for controls, sound, and video. Joysticks are a very niche product. What's common about mech/space/flight sims is they all basically require a joystick. Gamers with joysticks nowadays are so few that the market is small.

        • The last serious giant robot sim would have been Steel Batallion. Which came with it's own control panel plus pedal assembly. (You cannot, in good faith, refer to the controller with came with Steel Batallion as a 'joystick.')

        • Good old joysticks (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I am 20 years old software engineering student and moved away from home about a month ago. As I was packing my stuff and rummaging through all the crates, I found a dusty joystick. I remember using one of those when I was a kid (some of the older people here probably would still consider me to be one...). I used that controller so much in games like Descent and MechWarriors (I just checked the Wikipedia. Seems like I was about 10 when MechWarrior 4 came out)... And then forgot that it ever existed.

          Finding t

          • My younger brother and sister (19 and 16) always had the joystick (a Gravis two-button) when we played Jazz Jackrabbit 2 or some stuff on emulators (Gunstar Heroes and Puyo Puyo, mainly) when we were young. But that's because we considered the keyboard to be inferior control device back then. Heh, that's certainly changed.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The different era is the standardization of computers. Back with the early mechwarriors not even mouses were a standard on all computers. The standard PC didn't have a sound card. You bought a sound card specifically for games (which is why sound cards have gameports for joysticks). Every PC game released in that era required setting up. So an extra $50 for a joystick and dozens of keybindings wasn't considered that much of a pain.

          This is only completely true for Mechwarrior, the original, which was only a DOS game. So was Mechwarrior 2, but then it became a windows game, and didn't require setup. What it DID require was that you had the right version for your particular video card; at the time, there was no Direct3D, and PC gaming wasn't yet using OpenGL. About the only games that actually came in a version for every card were Mechwarrior 2, and Tomb Raider. But if you ran Windows, sound and video configuration were taken care of fo

    • I agree entirely - Battletech was my hobby and passion growing up, and it's not what it was under the reign of FASA. Wizkids just about ran it into the ground.

      That said, compared to MW2, MW3 was beautiful but ultimately limited. The options for random scenario play was pretty constrained; it was a sterile environment compared to the first two games that gave you dozens and dozens of chassis' and planets and scenarios. MW4 was even worse - not only was it sterile, it was also unfaithful to the mech build
      • There certainly were plenty of things in MW4 that made it a lesser sequel to MW2... however I have to say the weapon customization based on hardpoints was actually a really good idea. I always thought it was strange that in previous mechwarrior games you could put every weapon on just your legs and torsos and get away with it. Now I know classic battletech let you do that too, but you also had random hit tables too so it didn't matter as much.
      • by Moryath (553296)

        MW4 wasn't "unfaithful", it merely incorporated more material (specifically, the hardpoint limitations and more faithfully applied the weapon reload times) from the Solaris VII material and Mechwarrior RPG books that FASA themselves wrote, in order to make you have honest choices between mech chassis.

        Remember, in the tabletop game, if you want a "custom" 'mech, you have to either be (a) an elite front-line Clan warrior or (b) insanely fucking rich (Solaris champion, IS House, owner of a mech factory, etc).

        • The hardpoint system had much more in common with the loadouts in Mechcommander than Solaris VII. Sure, custom mechs are expensive. However, if that's the tack you're taking, why have hardpoints at all, instead of just stock configurations? More importantly, if you have an omnimech, say, why aren't all its hardpoints generic hardpoints, rather than having them typed like they do in the game? It would have bothered me less if IS designs had limited hardpoint configurations but omnimechs had full flexibili
          • by Moryath (553296)

            More importantly, if you have an omnimech, say, why aren't all its hardpoints generic hardpoints, rather than having them typed like they do in the game? It would have bothered me less if IS designs had limited hardpoint configurations but omnimechs had full flexibility.

            Because even Clan "Omni" 'mechs weren't all Omni? If you had read most of the sourcebooks, many of the Clan "Omni" mechs still were (at least as far as sourcebook/novel) limited to certain areas being Omni. Arms were especially good for this

            • I would dispute this. The limitations on what can be mounted where are pretty minor, and mostly pertained to autocannons and gauss rifles being unable to mount hand actuators, if I recall correctly (I believe that was specified in the old Batteltech Compendium). It was actually pretty rare and aberrant omnimechs that had fixed weapons (eg. the Adder's flamer).

              I disagree that most clan units were only partially omni. In fact, by Battletech Master Rules standards, a unit is either all omni or not omni at
  • "You fucked up! You trusted us!"
    - Otter

  • I've read the post and links three times. There is no statement of fact that makes any sense. At all.

    I will now guess at what the problem is. The terms of the license from Microsoft require Studio MekTek to have some level of insurance -- possibly to indemnify Microsoft. MekTek doesn't have enough money to purchase said insurance. So the gating factor isn't Microsoft, it's Studio MekTek's lack of money.

    And by the way, Studio MekTek doesn't have enough money to keep their servers running.

    So what we have here

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Gwarsbane (905113)
      MekTek got the insurance a while back, but Microsoft still hasn't gotten back to MekTek for what ever reason. "Due to the demands placed upon us by industry lawyers to release the Mechwarrior4 Free release we were forced to insure our studio at a premium rate to meet the Microsoft standard. Our insurance policy is a one year lease and we are unable to tap out of this policy until next fall." Does that sound like MekTek didn't get the insurance? Everything was done on MekTek's end. We got everything we n
      • by Vamman (1156411)
        Indeed. Proof of coverage was shown months ago.
      • by jamesl (106902)

        Perhaps a series of simple fact filled statements would have been better.
        1. We (MekTek) were required to purchase insurance indemnifying Microsoft before we could release the software.
        2. We purchased this insurance on (date).
        3. We notified Microsoft of this according to their instructions on (date).
        4. Two weeks later we had not heard back from Microsoft.
        5. We then contacted (name) at Microsoft on (date). ... and so forth.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Vamman (1156411)
      Allow me to make some sense for you. In order to release the said software Microsoft requires all companies to have insurance coverage ($5000/year) incase everyone ends up in court so you can cover yourself with a couple of million in coverage - its a safety net for a bunch of lawyers. Anyone doing software distribution should have coverage especially if they are profiting - which MekTek isn't. MekTek has paid for the insurance under the agreement but assumed the release was forth coming much faster. That w
  • I thought Microsoft said it would fully 100% support free and open source software including games.

    Thank you for proving that you are jerks once again Microsoft by stopping this free Mechwarrior 4 release. It could have been good public relations and got you more business. Now we FOSS developers are going to have to speak against you for some bad public relations and hurt your sales and business and reputation.

    Only Microsoft can beat Microsoft in this way and put themselves out of business by 2017 [kuro5hin.org], indeed!

    • by ben0207 (845105)

      If you honestly think that a few pissed off FOSS developers are going to even slightly affect the sales or reputation of MS games, you are quite terrifyingly deluded.

  • by StupidKatz (467476) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @03:43PM (#31726402)

    With the advent of the open beta of Mechwarrior Living Legends [mechlivinglegends.net], the "official" games may well be eclipsed by a fan-made total conversion mod for Crysis/Crysis Warhead. MWLL features, among other cool things, combined arms: air, mechs, infantry, and tanks are all playable and useful on the battlefield.

    • by Vamman (1156411)
      I'll wager that MWLL is as vulnerable in this situation as MekTek is whether they like it or not. Their agreement with Microsoft Canada was a game usage rights agreement which from what they posted long ago appeared to be a rather similar type of agreement to what MekTek has. These are vulnerable agreements for modders. If Microsoft can shut down the free release then Microsoft can shut down MWLL/Crytek pretty easily as well. Crytek took advantage and publicity and likely made some sales off it.
  • Battletech on the SNES was my favourite. It had a story line and you could customise your mechs for each mission. Mechwarrior I on the PC was clunky in comparrison, but it did have Inner Sphere Mechs which was great. Mech II had awesome cut scenes but no real customisability. FASA selling to MS sent it over the edge. I can understand the financial reasons, but the passion for the Battletech universe was never there. VR Battle Tech [wikipedia.org] was fun, but it died in Australia. Never got to gain full control of the coc
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Not sure what game you played, but Mechwarrior 2 was the first battletech game where you had as full customization as you did in the board game, right down to placing each "critical" slot for each weapon and ammo installed. Of course mechwarrior 2 for playstation 1 didn't have this ability if I remember correctly, so the PC version may have had the advantage of full customization.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Are you sure you played Mechwarrior 2? It was the most customizable of the lot, by far. It was also the Mech game with the best gameplay, single and multiplayer.

  • Once they figure out how to make it free and overpriced at the same time they will release it.

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