Jason Hughes’s voice failed about ten minutes into the interview. It was Friday morning–the final day of GDC– and so it really shouldn’t have been a surprise to anybody. As a producer at Adhesive Games, he’d spent most of the past week talking with fans, press, and other developers. I offered to pause so he could get some soothing tea, but he decided to soldier on, laying out both the history and future of his team’s free-to-play mech shooter Hawken.
When asked why he decided to revitalize the long-dormant , Hughes shrugged. “It’s a very just ‘real’ story,” he said. “It was: ‘Wow, mech games are cool. We haven’t seen any mech games in a while; let’s make one.’ ‘Okay.’” He continued by explaining how that affected the setting and lore–he and his team realized it would be easier to make a near-future mech combat game than to try and compete in the saturated modern military shooter. “If you only have five or ten people working on a project, you have to be very smart about what you spend your time on.”
One constant worry for the team behind Hawken is balancing the action, in part because the game’s community is extremely quick to voice their complaints. “There are some people who are very vocal,” Hughes rasped. “We’ve had players who have been playing since alpha. They play every day–they have over 500 forum posts! That’s absolutely crazy!” Hughes was quick to point out that the team does accept advice from the forums,but they don’t let it run their game. “We just have to stay focused on the design that we have. We take feedback for polish, but we have to have confidence in what we’re doing.”
Hughes was a bit apprehensive about the community’s feedback on the next upcoming patch, which will introduce a new map and a new mech to the game’s lineup. The new map is meant for the game’s signature siege mode, where teams compete to launch massive battleships against one another. The new mech–the Technician–is unique in the Hawken universe, as it’s the first and only mech to fill the role of a medic. According to Hughes, “It’s really just a support class–it can deal damage, but you’ll do better if you help other people do damage.” When he showed a video of the mech–which you’ll find below–it became apparent that the healing mechanic features a sticky healing beam, much like Team Fortress 2’s medic class.