Expendables Arena

I wasn’t planning to write anything about it here since it’s really an unprofessional side project at the moment, but Expendables Arena is sucking up so much of my time today and causing me to touch so many new tools that I just had to sit down and write something about it if only to get the absorbed mass of information out of my head.


I started playing Mechwarrior Online when it became “open” in a buy-in closed beta form summer of 2012. While I enjoyed the game, I wasn’t really loving playing by myself as MWO:Mercs places a lot of emphasis on teamwork by virtue of being (at present at least) a no-respawns arena team deathmatch with “big stompy robots”. At some point I discovered cReddit, a Reddit-based and Reddit-affiliated clan of semi-serious MWO players who I just have a good time hanging out and playing casually with (I go by the callsign “Wayde Willson”, I was reading a lot of Deadpool prior to making my account).

Now about six months after I entered the MWO scene MWO is a really solid beta that looks like it will continue to be an engaging and relatively competitive community in the coming months despite the various bumbling and underestimations of the developers when it comes to how some new features such as Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) impacted gameplay and the unofficially official Run Hot or Die league which currently constitutes the majority of the MWO competitive scene.

I have been interested in eSports for a long time now, and when I got into the MWO scene back in July/August, one of the ideas that’s been floating around pretty persistently is “what does it take to organize and profit from eSports play in MWO?”. So I’ve been looking into casting and talking to some people I know here at UT who are managers for Starcraft players (Polt is living in Austin right now taking classes and learning English, TeSPa organizes major SC2 events in Austin as well) about their exposure to the pro scene and what it takes to build and have a successful community. So TL;DR my evil plan is to open an RHoD competitor league and try to make money organizing and casting a game I enjoy playing.

##Expendables Arena

Recently, the cReddit company I play with which goes by the name “Expendables” has begun experimenting with alternate game modes such as 1v1 duels and other silliness in no small part because I and the other Expendables pilots get our fill of MWO playing together in four-man teams and when we do full team practice we don’t really want to do more of the same. As a result our fearless commander Bralhe had the idea to put together a community portal of 1v1 duels and mechs to try and clean up our otherwise scrappy brawling with the long-term goal of transitioning Expendables Arena into the full blown RHoD competitor I had pondered and joked about with the other officers.

Today DrAmnesia and I hope to debut our handiwork to cReddit in closed beta form and ultimately to the MWO community at large but doing so has not been free of challenges. Originally we had planned to develop the site as two separate components: the UI which I would do in CSS and JS as entirely static files in my customary Unix-based development environment with a Javascript (breeze to be exact) API to Amnesia’s database.

Unfortunately due to the same-origin policy, we were really forced to consolidate into a single project. As a result of the C# platform Amnesia based his backend on and the fact that my frontend has to share the same source as the backend to work we wound up consolidating in unfamiliar territory: Visual Studio and Microsoft Azure.

##It’s Not Unix!

Yep, it’s not Linux development. I’m stepping outside my home of nigh a decade.. The first part of the project is theming and most of that work will be done on static HTML files using DrAmnesia’s Breeze api over JS and then will get refactored into cshtml templates for us