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Microsoft Clears MechWarrior4 Free Launch 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the done-and-done dept.
Vamman writes "If you've been following the drama surrounding the free release of MechWarrior4, then you're probably aware that the initial announcement, made last summer, was a bit premature. Now, nearly a year since that announcement was made, MekTek Studios has announced that Microsoft Legal has given clearance for the free release of Mechwarrior4. This move by Microsoft Games couldn't come at a better time for the community, as the owners of MechWarrior are attempting a reboot of the franchise."
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Microsoft Clears MechWarrior4 Free Launch

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  • Can't be... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jedi Alec (258881) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @02:43AM (#31936370)

    Microsoft is evil...but mechs are soooooo cool(and impractical).

    Yet Microsoft is evil...

    But mechs are really, really cool.

    *head explodes*

    • Well... (Score:3, Funny)

      by Cryacin (657549)
      How's it feel to be strapped into a 45 ton walking nuke reactor at 6am?

      Damn fine, that's what. Damn fiiine.
      • by Jedi Alec (258881)

        Damn, now you got me pondering who said that. Was it Deadeye in MW 2: Mercenaries?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Sulphur (1548251)

        I love the smell of neutrons in the morning.

        • by TOGSolid (1412915)
          Reactor...online...
          Sensors...online...
          Weapons...online...
          All systems...nominal..

          Oh hell yes. I own the entire MW4 series, but it'll still be awesome to see MW4 get released like this. MekTek has been fantastic with keeping the community going and with MW4 being green lighted for a free release, I know I'll be eager to introduce a few friends of mine to the game and getting into some heated mech battles.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by deniable (76198)
      Alright, double six.
    • You have absolutely NO idea how much this made my day. You think your head exploded? I gibbed every single one of my limbs in the process!

    • The solution is simple: They won’t be cool anymore, when MS has gotten its dirty hands on it.
      I bet the mechs will include a R2D2-shaped “assistant robot” called “Blippy”.
      “I see you are getting close to overheating. So I’ll shut you down in the middle of the fight!”

      Also good luck trying to get a game onto consoles, that requires a mouse, a joystick, a coolie hat, AND a keyboard!
      It’s part of the definition of a mech game. You can’t leave it away and

  • by assemblerex (1275164) * on Thursday April 22, 2010 @02:47AM (#31936390)
    You need to check out this mod, it probably better than anything MS will ever kick out the door. http://www.mechlivinglegends.net/ [mechlivinglegends.net]
    • As much as I would have loved to hear about this mod like a year ago, I see the words Beta and I see that Mektek is releasing 4 for free.

      'Tis a shame.

      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        Just because it's Beta doesn't mean it's crap. What's your hang up?

        Considering that MEch 4 barely ran stable when it was new and networking was always a hodgepodge of doesn't-work, that's kind of an odd dismissal. And you can download MW:LL now, not "at some future date" as you can with MW4.

        Add to the fact that MW:LL has many, many more gameplay possibilities than MW4 ever had, and it's kind of a moot point.

        I just wish I had a graphics card capable of playing Crysis - then I could attempt MW:LL. :-/

        • I never had any issues when I ran Mech4 way back when, though I never did any networking besides LAN.

          I just get wary when things are in "Beta" without a stable release. It's on 0.2.0 - which means they are out of Alpha, which is good, but how much can there be in a Beta? Does it have 100+ mechs and everything else the MW4 Pack is advertising?

          If MW:LL has more game modes than MW4 then perhaps I'll still check it out. I just have to wait for my Crysis Capable machine gets shipped, I placed the order like a we

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      For all that it broke with the traditional model of mech design as presented in previous titles, Mechwarrior IV is one of the best-loved PC games of all time, which is to say that there is a rabid continuing fanbase. Since they've recently got 16x9 and 16x10 resolutions working, including support for 1080p, this is an especially epic moment for Mechwarrior fans. I may have to buy some rudder pedals...

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Or a Steel Battalion controller [beckament.net]. Also works for Freespace 2!

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I actually have a joystick for each hand (er, wait, again) and plan to do speed and turning on the left with torso twist and elevation on the right, x axis done aircraft-style to leverage old reflexes. I have a seat from a Nissan 240SX that I plan to use to make a 'mech and car driving seat that folds when not in use. Just got a MIG welder recently :)

  • by cheesethegreat (132893) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @02:51AM (#31936404)

    Releasing the one-before-last as freeware seems a pretty sensible move for anyone marketing a franchise (yes, I know that MS aren't the ones pushing the new MW to market, but this is still relevant).

    Releasing Bioshock 3? Put Bioshock 1 out as freeware. You're not going to lose any money, the people who were going to buy it won't wait 3 years just to get it free (especially when you've already released 2). All you do is potentially pull more people into the game who will take a look at it and think "hmm, if I like this one that's 3 years old, maybe I'll like the one they're about to release".

    Developers are starting to talk about not wanting to release demos, and instead going with payware. This would allow multiple tiers of demo-type experience for the consumer. For example, with Mass Effect 3, it could work like this:

    Tier 1: Freeware of ME1, released onto BitTorrent or equivalent to minimize distribution cost
    Tier 2: Payware demo from the current release (perhaps including a full-access version of ME 2)
    Tier 3: Full-cost version of ME3

    This may be the way forward. I might be okay with losing demos, if I'm going to be able to see previous versions of the game in freeware form.

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      "hmm, if I like this one that's 3 years old, maybe I'll like the one they're about to release".

      You may sell a bit more on the first week but it your sequel is significantly worse than the first game, you'll receive a much larger impact.

    • by twokay (979515)
      It's an interesting move for sure, and may well make sense for Mechwarrior. But i think the amount of people that have bought classics like Doom or Fallout on Steam -- for example -- are enough to show publishers they can make some money off old games.

      I hear Nintendo sell quite a lot of old games on the Wii Virtual Console too.

      Once you release something as freeware its going to be tough selling it again, when that cult following finally builds up.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by delinear (991444)
        I'm not sure that's necessarily true - I've been able to easily find Doom and Monkey Island "free" for many years, and even downloaded and played the first Monkey Island through again about five years ago, but that hasn't stopped me playing these again on the 360 (admittedly ME has updated graphics, but it's essentially the same game). The key thing is pricing, people don't want to pay a fortune for such old games, but offer them at a pocket money price and plenty of people will re-buy them. Of course if th
      • Well I would say it depends on whether they give you good value for the money or whether they just stick the old game on a server and expect to rake in more cash. Because funny that you should mention it but I just bought the original Fallout [gog.com] from GOG when they had it on sale for $3. Why did I buy it when there are still sites that offer the old free version they released a few years ago?

        Because GOG goes out of their way to make sure the games play nicely on today's hardware without hassle. Thanks to their customized DOSBox install I have Fallout, Redneck Rampage, Beneath a Steel Sky, and all work perfectly on Windows 7 x64. No tweaking, or dealing with sound issues, or fiddling with DOSBox, it all just works without having to do anything more than install and click on the desktop link. And if that alone wasn't worth $3, they give you soundtracks, strategy guides, wallpapers, etc, and all with NO DRM and easy to backup installers along with unlimited downloads and installs.

        So I'd say it all comes down to giving the customer the extra value to make buying an older game worth it. Would I buy Mech 4 off of GOG? If they did it like many of the others, with the expansion pack, mech packs, soundtracks, and all the extras already installed and ready to go, yeah I'd consider shelling out another $5-$10 just to not have the hassle of digging out my old Mech 4 discs and getting them set up for x64. If you want customers to buy older games, especially those for dead OSes, you really need to go the extra mile to make it worth buying. Oh and for those that haven't checked out GOG yet, set you up an account and you can get 3 free games [gog.com] including Beneath a Steel Sky to get you started. But I have a feeling once you see how easy shopping at GOG is, and how nicely they treat you, you'll end up hooked like me.

        • Yup, Gog is awesome & they just re-released Master of Orion 1 & 2 earlier this week.

        • I wish GoG would be a bit more open about exactly what their games need. I don't have a Windows install anywhere anymore, but a lot of the games they sell run very nicely inside DOSBox or WINE. It's difficult to tell this from their site, however, when they say things like BattleChess (which I ran on an 8086 with 640KB of RAM and an EGA display) require:

          Minimum system requirements: Windows XP or Windows Vista, 1 GHz Processor (1.4 GHz recommended), 512MB RAM (1 GB recommended), 3D graphics card compatible with DirectX 7 (compatible with DirectX 9 recommended), Mouse, Keyboard.

          Why on earth would a DOS game and wrote direct directly to the framebuffer benefit from a DirectX 9 GPU over a DirectX 7 one? It works fine in DOSBox on

          • by billcopc (196330)

            Ludicrous overkill ? The DirectX 7 requirement is simply a way to screen out those few but fervent imbeciles that run XP on a K6-233 with a 512mb Cirrus Logic VGA, you know, the types who tolerate waiting 10 minutes to boot to a login screen. On the Mac it's a lot simpler, you can specify the lowest Mac and OS you'll support and that's the end of it. Combined with Mac OS' limited selection of device drivers, this ensures a reasonably narrow window of hardware to worry about.

            On the PC, you can throw a 15-

            • The DirectX 7 requirement is simply a way to screen out those few but fervent imbeciles that run XP on a K6-233 with a 512mb Cirrus Logic VGA, you know, the types who tolerate waiting 10 minutes to boot to a login screen.

              The game ran on an 8MHz 8086, with 640KB of RAM and EGA graphics. What on earth makes you think that a K6 would struggle? As long as XP is using less than 95% of the CPU, it would be fine.

              • by billcopc (196330)

                Does your XP machine have an EGA graphics adapter ? No ? Then it needs to be emulated. Emulation is, be definition, less efficient than native execution, because you have to intercept the memory accesses and port I/O and translate those to suit your current system. Another important distinction is that DOS games had exclusive access to your hardware, whereas Windows needs to make sure all software plays nice with each other.

                DOS game emulation is particularly difficult, because of the many dirty optimiza

                • If the game starts cycling the palette, the emulator must update every single pixel on the screen, up to 60 times per second.

                  Do you have any idea how little CPU power that takes? EGA gives you 64,000 pixels. At 60Hz, that's 3.84 million updates per second. Each one is a load, a lookup in a table, and a store in the new frame buffer. The EGA colour values are 4 bits, so you're looking at one load per 8 pixels (or per 32 if you use SSE instructions). Then a mask, an indirect load, and a store per pixel. Add in a cache prefectching instruction (since we're doing 100% predictable reads) and you're talking maybe 5 instructions pe

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            It is actually pretty simple, as most of the early games (I'd say up to 2000) are set up to run in a custom DOSBox, like the Redneck Rampage I bought from 97. So if your PC runs DOSBox it should run the GOG games just fine, although you'll probably have to copy the DOSBox setting into your Linux DOSBox to get it going.

            If you do buy and try a few (the prices are so cheap there it is impulse buys for most of us) and you get them going on Linux, would you please post to their forums? They have an excellent fo

        • by yukk (638002)
          Yes. I love the gog concept and fully support it with my wallet too. They're working with the rights holders to re-release these old games so we get a guaranteed working version of our old favourites and in return these companies get new press and a kickback for playing nicely.
          When my son's old enough he's going to be playing gog games. I'm sure the games I loved as a teen will be fresh for him too before he becomes jaded.
          Seriously ? 3 free games ? Sheesh. I signed up too early. Anyway, I'm not rea
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No thanks to payware.

      All in all your payware aspect of the free release of older games seems pretty irrelevant to me, and it isn't even new. You've gotten old Command&Conquer free with the new ones for who knows how long.

      The only thing new is paying for demos which makes absolutely no sense to anyone. If it's advertisement, you want it to reach to widest audience possible. If it's the product, why would I pay to see that the pig in your sack is actually a pig?

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Developers are starting to talk about not wanting to release demos, and instead going with payware.

      Ugh, really? I hadn't heard about this - it's like they want to encourage piracy. It's already hard enough to choose the good games from the masses that get released every month, and I don't have time to waste on rubbish games, I have so little gaming time now I want it to be quality time. Demos are the best way to judge this (too many reviewers have seemingly ulterior motives for awarding unduly high scores, even if I could find a reviewer who had exactly my tastes) and now they want to charge people for t

    • by asdf7890 (1518587)

      Not a bad idea, though there is one flaw that immediately springs to mind that might put off the publishers: if they are officially releasing the earlier version then people will expect support. OK, so they should support the old version anyway as it is no doubt on sale still somewhere but they probably don't. And you might argue that people shouldn't expect the same support for an old freebie that hey get if they purchase a new title, but if the old game fails to work on some combinations of new hardware a

      • by billcopc (196330)

        What do you mean by "support" ? Maybe I'm weird, but aside from bug fixes, I've never needed any support from a game developer. If it's a 10 year old game, chances are there won't be any new bug fixes coming down the pipe. Install it, play it, delete it. At no point does the developer/publisher need to be involved.

        I guess I was blessed with a little too much common sense, but in my mind if you're getting something for zero dollars, you're entitled to zero complaints. If it works for you, great, if it d

        • by asdf7890 (1518587)

          I was meaning support for new problems that were not around when the game was first released. Issues with newer hardware (timing code that gets confused if something takes a much shorter time than was thought reasonable back then) and operating systems (will it run OK on XP? will users need instructions to run it in compatibility mode or as an admin?)

          As an old game that someone just decides to pick up one day this is not an issue - the user should know to expect problems here or there in some cases. But as

    • by jittles (1613415)
      Actually Amazon did this with Bioshock 2. I still haven't had the chance to play either but I picked up both for $50 from Amazon right after release. That was for the 360.
    • by tgd (2822)

      Very few games are 100% internally developed code these days.

      If the engines and other libraries used are not free, the game will not be either.

    • Or use Steam to bundle ME1 with pre-orders of ME3

  • they didn't release the source code too! My head would explode if somebody rigged up the engine to play turn based Battletech rules.
    • by Osty (16825)

      But they did release the source code [microsoft.com] to MechCommander [wikipedia.org] some years ago. What with that being a "real-time tactics" game, that's probably a much better place to start if you wanted to do a turn-based MechWarrior.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by walshy007 (906710)

        That's the source code for mechcommander 2 not mechcommander, still very neat but if it was the first game I imagine it would already be ported to linux.

    • Re:Too bad... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by deniable (76198) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @03:26AM (#31936532)
      For now, there's Megamek. [sourceforge.net]
    • by zero_out (1705074)
      I spent many hours, and many dollars on Battletech, during my HS years. The only way I could describe it to an outsider was to say "it's like chess, but 100x better." The problem was knowing all the rules, because a single turn could take 15 minutes, easily. Depending on how many mechs, vehicles, and troops were in play, a single turn could take well over an hour. Now, if all that could be streamlined into a turn-based computer version, then I would be in nerdvana. Or an MMO version of MechWarrior...
  • Ok, so where do we download it then?
  • The current licensee is trying to renegotiate their terms with Topps after plunging into debt [catalystgamelabs.com] via some astonishingly poor management [catalystgamelabs.com].

    Catalyst has been in negotiations with some additional parties for weeks concerning how to pay down debts, including making partial payments, turning over stock and so on, as they’ve requested. We’ve been notified that some of these parties are pursuing additional legal means to secure the monies owed despite the negotiations. Our legal counsel has advised that t

  • by swotl (24969)
    There's no such thing as a free launch.
    • Actually this is free, as in beer. We're targeting this weekend for the free release patch. In meantime go to http://www.mektek.net/ [mektek.net] download MTX and get the .0017 and .0018 patch. When betas are done going over .0019 update (which removes the CD requirement), you'll already be 90% of the way there. And, yes, we will continue to move this old game back into the 31st century where it belongs. Did someone say MMO? :O
  • Microsoft's intention to "reboot" the MechWarrior franchise would be a good sign of future computer gaming to come, but there are two other issues: copyright and the intentions of the current owners.

    The issue is that while the computer gaming rights were being traded around, the MechWarrior name itself was being traded around too. It is currently held by a company called WizKids [wizkidsgames.com] which has granted full publication rights to Catalyst Game Labs [catalystgamelabs.com], and is being rather proactive with it [classicbattletech.com].

    WizKids was nice enough wit

  • I was always told, there's no free launch.

  • All of you are forgetting that MW 3 was the pinnacle of the series. And MW 4 was horrible.
    • yes because Bushwhackers with absolutely no armor loaded down with nothing but medium pulse lasers should be able to cripple Atlases and other Assault Mechs with ease.

      (Fun bug in MW3: Put "zero" for tonnage for each part of your mech, and you get free armor. No one at MW3 LAN parties i went to figured it out until I told them about it)

      • yes because Bushwhackers with absolutely no armor loaded down with nothing but medium pulse lasers should be able to cripple Atlases and other Assault Mechs with ease.

        According to the board game descriptions. The cockpits were always exposed and barely armoured. A single lucky strike there can kill the pilot, crippling the mech. I never understood why they didn't put the pilot in the torso.

        • Re:All of you ..... (Score:4, Informative)

          by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @11:58AM (#31941488) Homepage Journal

          yes because Bushwhackers with absolutely no armor loaded down with nothing but medium pulse lasers should be able to cripple Atlases and other Assault Mechs with ease.

          Speaking as someone who's been at the top of the attrition and team attrition rankings at the ends of months and not just at the beginnings, once you get good with lasers, this is totally reasonable. That's why energy weapons are so very desirable, and why Battletech probably ought to have had even higher heat penalties, or lower damage, for all energy weapons save possibly PPCs, which are at least slightly challenging when you consider the long recycle time. I guess that's another option that could have been explored.

          The way to defend against 'mechs like that is to have a good assortment of long-range heavy weapons. My favorite tank is the dieshit with the 6 ER LL; if you fire them one at a time, and you are good, and the lag is low, then you can watch to see when the opponent's torso has swung in your direction, and you can ding them on the arm on the side that they're turning towards, which causes them to be facing way past you. With 6 of them your recycle rate is such that you can do this more or less continuously. Another option is to stack 5 LRM15s onto something that can actually mount that many missiles; if you are a good enough gunner you can stay to long ranges and keep their cockpit full of fire nonstop to where they can barely see you.

          I really loved playing Mechwarrior, as compared to playing Battletech with miniatures (I think I still have some minis here somewhere) because it's about skill, not rolling dice. You're as successful as you are good. There's a real sense of achievement when you climb to the top of a stat ladder of thousands or even tens of thousands. Even if it was on the points-for-damage and not the kill board, I don't think I ever topped destruction but I acquitted myself well enough there. And CtF was also great fun in Mech IV, the Shadow Cat is your friend. Put one AC10 or a couple AC5s on it, make it go fast, max the armor, give it jump. I am so eager for this release I can almost feel the joystick. Er, wait...

          • For MW3, I designed a mech with a single ER LL, no heatsinks, minimal armour, and a massively overspec'd reactor + jump jets. A single shot from most weapons could kill it, but it could cross the entire map in a few seconds, so hitting it was a problem. It also had to run away and cool down in a river after each shot. The vulnerability in the head, however, meant that a single head shot from its laser would kill any other mech, irrespective of size.

            I only played a few games with this mech, but it real

    • For online battles, MW4 beat out MW3.

      As for compelling story and gameplay, yeah, 3 had it going on.

    • by Draek (916851)

      No, it wasn't, and no it wasn't. The best of the series was either MW2:Merc or MW4:Merc, depending on who you ask and how successful you were at trying to run a late-DOS game on Win9x and above, and MW4 was quite good actually, though like MW2 its "Mercenaries" expansion overshadowed it in all aspects.

  • by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @11:13AM (#31940870)
    More companies really need to do this to older games! Starcraft sort of did it by including a no CD "crack" in one of their updates a few years back. Dungeons and Dragons Online went free to play after several years of falling $15/month subscriptions. Now I think they have more players than they did at the peak of their subscriptions! Newegg included a free copy of Rainbow 6 Vegas 2 in one of my orders just labeled "free gift" and I totally love it! It made me seriously consider playing other versions (until the reviews said they sucked). There's no better way to get someone involved in a series of games than giving them an older version of it for free. It reeeeeally makes them wonder how awesome newer versions of the game are.

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...

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