Three UI/back-end issues that I'd like to see solved

While PGI keeps improving the user experience in MWO and introduces more and more polish, I can't help but feel like some major problems are being neglected in the process. These are long-occuring problems that we all became accustomed to during the years. It doesn't mean they should stay this way though. In fact, if solved, these things will be a huge quality of life improvement for the current and future players.

Unfortunately, despite these being a constant source of complaints in the community, to my knowledge PGI hasn't acknowledged these problems and put it on their agenda yet.

What am I talking about? Well, let's get on with it:

1) Saving loadouts takes forever

When you make a new MWO account saving loadouts is zippy and fast. However as you acquire more and more 'Mechs and equipment, it progressively gets worse. So much that after a while it becomes borderline unbearable. How unbearable? To quantify, I measured the time it took me to save from three different random occasions during my streams in the last two weeks. Here are the results:

  • First save: 28 seconds
  • Second save: 30 seconds
  • Third save: 30 seconds

I find these times unacceptable. MechWarrior Online is all about customization. We try to create effective builds that fit our playstyle and keep iterating on them. This means we work in the Mechlab a lot and create different builds. Think about it; when you save 10 times a day, you're wasting 5 minutes staring at the spinning saving wheel. God forbid you forgot to put on modules because that's going to be 30 seconds extra! I just can't understand why these saving times are so long in a game all about customization. Sometimes instead of building 'Mechs I simply pick another one, as I don't want to wait 30 seconds just because I put a new engine in. When it gets annoying I even Alt-Tab and catch up on my mails as my loadouts are saving. 

Mind you that I own 160 'Mechs (and growing with the C-Bill releases) and probably hundreds of in-game items such as weapons, engines, cockpit items, consumables and such. Despite that, I want to think that there must be a more efficient way to do things. Can you imagine waiting for 30 seconds every time you changed your loadout in Diablo 3 or in World of Warcraft?

2) You can't do anything while searching or saving

This is a big one. I get it; the matchmaker doesn't have many people to work with. This means long queue times are unavoidable and I have come to accept that. There are times of the day when you can wait up to 10-15 minutes to get a match in the group queue. Yet, I just don't get why we can't interact with the game while searching for a match. Currently the only things you can do during these soul-crushingly long searches are either staring at the spinning wheel as it sucks the will of life out of your body, do mundane household tasks such as the dishes or simply Alt-Tab and watch cute cat videos to save yourself from insanity.

The obvious suggestion in this case is, why can't we interact with the game in the meanwhile? Let us create builds, browse our 'Mechs, manage our inventory, check up on Faction Warfare or simply chat with our friends. Keeping players engaged with the game at all times should be a priority. Heck, I'll even take long loadout saving times if they allowed us to manage our builds during searches. 

Just don't force me to alt-tab and forget about the game until the icon starts flashing orange on my desktop.

3) Module (and cockpit item) management is a mess

Those modules are not going to find themselves, get to it!
This has been brought up and dodged by PGI so many times that it's quickly becoming a running joke in the community. The module and item management is one of the most infuriating aspects of this game. Simply described, you have to remember where you left your items. This is obviously not a problem when you only own 5 'Mechs as it's very clear where you left them. But fast forward a year and now you own tens of 'Mechs, perhaps even hundreds. Can you remember them all?

Let's say you came back from a two weeks long business trip and you want to create a new CW deck since your unit changed sides in the meanwhile. Where did you leave those Radar Deprivation Modules? Well, good luck finding them among your hundreds of 'Mechs. You have to check each 'Mech to do so. There have been times when I simply sat there and clicked on each 'Mech for 20 minutes. Remove module, save for 30 seconds. Put the module on, save 30 seconds. Rinse and repeat. God forbid when you decide you want to find your Comstar Warhorn after this.

They're certainly aware of this problem though. They actually tried to make this module hunt easier with the recent UI updates. You can now see a list of modules and cockpit items without going into loadout and doing 100 more clicks to get into their respective menus. This is a massive improvement but it still doesn't change the fact that you still have to click perhaps hundreds of 'Mechs.

The obvious suggestion has always been "Give us a button to strip every module (and cockpit item) at the same time!". Yet as far as I remember, PGI told us that it's not feasable. Surely, there has to be a more feasible way to save us from going through hundreds of 'Mechs, short of keeping a pocket notebook beside your monitor with the whereabouts of your modules and cockpit items.

Why haven't they tackled these issues yet?

I'm not a computer science engineer and I don't know about all the science about databases, database queries and managing huge databases. I'm just willing to bet that the way they (perhaps inefficiently) structured their back-end has simply become "too big to fiddle with". Perhaps getting rid of these problems will cost them a lot of money. They haven't talked about this much so we can only speculate at this point.


I just wanted to raise more awareness for these issues while PGI makes a push for the eventual Steam release and polishes up the game for its second but perhaps biggest launch. I really hope they haven't forgotten about these issues and if they did, it's our job as the community to remind them.
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About Rak

I'm an engineer who likes to write extremely long articles about games that border simulation and mainstream.
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