Thursday, January 26, 2017

Its a new year!

Ok, quick 2017 update.  TLDR version:

  • I'm still alive
  • I am still into games
  • I am still healthy (minor scare with a kidney stone surgery, all good now)
  • I am still keeping up with battletech (the field manual beta thing was great)
  • I have done zero work on battletech since the last update.

The reasons I haven't touched battletech are:
  • I feel the community doesn't care about what I have to offer
  • I can't get my questions about rules answered
  • I am not playing anymore
 Over 100K views on this blog though.  On top of that, there have been over 5000 units from the database viewed (many with bugs, I know).  So apparently some people still occasionally use the site.

So, tell ya what.  Since I am not one to let folks down, and honestly I have a ton of time for hobbies that I am simply choosing to spend on OTHER things, I have a proposal.

If I can get $1000 donated to my bad_syntax at yahoo.com paypal account, I will start working on Battletech again, and will stick to it as I'll feel obligated because people gave me money.

Oh, and the money?  100% of it will be donated to the ASPCA, I won't keep a single dime (even if $1k isn't reached).  I'll post updates on here as to the amount if it gets to a significant number.  That isn't the point of this.  I just want to see if there is enough interest left in me bothering trying to write the designer, and anything else for a while.

Note:  I have estimated that development time and resources for such a project (and I do often do projects like this at work) would be at least $300K, so .3% of that is a deal :)

Drink water, and till next time!

Bad Syntax

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Burn In Designs

Well a minor update, since I haven't done one in a while, to let folks know I'm alive.

EDIT:  For those of you with better things to do than waste time reading my rant, just skip to the pics and click on your next tab, I don't say anything important here :)

What has happened in the last couple months:

  • New Job, -2 to -4 hours a day on hobbies for various reasons (Used to be about 6-8)
  • Sick wife, spent a week in the hospital, still not doing so hot
  • Received my Heavy Gear kickstarter.  Unpacked it, haven't done much else.
  • Finally got my HUGE Burn In Designs order.  Buildings, more than enough for a 4' x 8' table now (I still need to make some road/pavement and hex sized bases for them, but mostly assembled).  This sucked up a LOT of time over the last couple weeks at least.  I'll show some pics.
  • Been buying a lot of the old games I had which were punched, in new unpunched mint versions.  No reason really, not like I'll EVER play Grav Armor by Microgaming, but I really wanted a new copy :)
  • Got a lot more military books.  Mostly the 4 sets of Conways Fighting Ships from 1860 to 1995, a few more Janes, and a couple other miscellaneous military books.
  • Got back into Games Workshop epic for a couple weeks.  I REALLY wanna make some counters with vassal40K artwork, but its a pain.
  • Got back into 40K a *bit*.  I love the artwork, love the universe, loathe the 7 editions of rules now and super duper expensive *everything*.  Snagged the rules, and now have a copy of most of the 7E stuff.  Started tinkering with making a 100% tabletop to PC port of the game.  While I can do it as some graphics are available, once I started getting into the rules more and more, I decided it is becoming infinitely more complicated.  I may knock out a "Space Marines vs Tyranids" thing, but I don't know if I can get that into it, if it has a market (I am 20 years out of date with 40K), and I'm sure GW would call their lawyers on me.  Still though, as screwed up as GW is as a company, their $50 codex books are such high quality they are kinda worth the money.  Beautiful artwork, just very well done books.  Their miniatures may be pricey, but aren't they damned good as well?  Granted, my space marines and Tyranids date back to 2E but that recent space hulk game I got had GREAT miniatures in it.
  • Played a few PC games.  No Man's Sky was stupid, I got a refund.  Bought the new 40K Escalation game, it is *horrible* right now, but hopefully will get better.  Played through the 2 Armageddon 40K panzer general clone games, with all their DLC.  Also played Rimworld (fun!) and some Homeworld remastered (and the deserts of karnak ground based version).
So, for a battletech blog, notice how battletech is completely missing?  I know it was my #1 priority, and it is still always on my mind, but it isn't in my work flow.

I think its a subconscious thing.  By being pretty much completely thrown out of the community I just don't think I want to work on it anymore.  No matter what I am telling myself, or the few followers I have left, the fact is my brain is still stuck with the mentality of "if you don't like me, why the fuck would I spend a minute of time making something you want?".  It is a stupid mindset, but let me tell you a *little* something about the way I am:

  • I don't have but a couple friends.  I often moved every year growing up, and even in my adult life.  I have now lived in one place for 5 years, and its a record for me at 43.  So, I'm used to not requiring social interaction to "be".
  • I am very generous, very kind, and often go out of my way to help *anybody*.  So, if I count you as a friend, you can call me at 4am saying you need a ride home and I'll be there, EVERY time.  You can ask me for money and I will flat out *give* it to you (loans + friends = bad).  You can ask me to do something for you and I will.  If I say I'll be somewhere at a specific time to meet, I will, every time, zero exceptions.  BUT, when I have a friend who constantly misses meetings with me with no warning, who takes advantage of me, any BS like that, I'll drop them quicker than a dog that just pooped on me.

So, in this case, I was being a friend, offering my time (which is money), my experience (which is a lot of money), and my desire to help the community.  I was active in the forums, I posted errata for everything, I answered questions, I often wrote little utilities to do things, I did all sorts of what I thought was productive things.

Then, for a *really* stupid reason I probably should have argued more, I got banned.

Whatever.  I eventually got mostly over that, and moved onto facebook.  It was ok, and I was able to get a bit of an audience for something I wanted to help out with.  It was working ok.

Then I sold some miniatures I thought were real, to somebody who begged me to sell them to him (I wasn't actually trying to sell them), I posted very high res pics, comparisons, and told him I'd refund his money fully if he thought they were fake.  He bought them, sat on them a couple months, then RESOLD them (I never would have sold them had he not said he wanted to field them).  Apparently he sold them to an "expert", who said they were fake.  Then the idiots who run the groups decided to take his word for it, without a copy of the conversation, and not only kicked me but banned me from even contacting them without getting BOTH sides of the story.  On top of that, they justified it by saying I had thousands of miniatures and should have "known better", even though I still to this day think they were real, and that same justification should have meant they took my side.

Around that point I also decided that too many of the guys I was gaming with were just assholes to each other.  That, combined with what I felt was a really silly campaign system they ran, and 90% of my time spent gaming just sitting there, I decided to pull out of that and not game anymore.
So basically the community has said "Fuck off Bad Syntax, we don't want you here."

And though I keep trying to look past them, facts are, it got to me enough that part of my brain doesn't want to go back to Battletech.  At ALL.  That part keeps winning.

It could change, but nobody will make it so.  I could "reinvent" myself, I know more than enough about technology to create a new nickname, new emails, new profile, new IPs, and so forth that I could be a completely new person, though I'd still know the truth and that part still eats at me.

Anyway, not sure where I was going with this, my blog sucks.  I dunno when my next update will be, nor if it'll have new content or be another cry for attention, but I'll do another one.

For now though, the good part, some pics of my new city!  NOTE:  All the buildings I have laid out are from Burn In Designs.  I have quite a few more from GCMiniatures and will hopefully find a bigger table to get them all setup soon.
Shortest in front, stuff to left front is walls



The aftermath.  My hobby room. What can't be seen is all the little wood parts in my carpet that I'll have to vacuum up.

Next I'll get these painted, get some dark plastic to put behind for all the windows, and perhaps light them.  Then I'll make hex bases for each building to fit the maps I use, create some road templates, and then I'll have my city!

Why I'm not sure, I'm not actively playing anything :(

Sunday, June 19, 2016

She turned me into a newt!

Skip to the bottom couple of lines if you don't want to read my silly soapbox rant:

Well first let me apologize.  So there I was, heavy into programming, working on Battletech Design Works day and night, not thinking of anything else, making great progress.


Then it stopped.  Completely.  I could sit down in front of my computer, with time, nothing else to do, saying to myself "I need to go work on this", and *nothing*.


Time and time again.


I have no idea what happened.  Perhaps its a pattern?  I know throughout my life I've gotten "into" one game for a while, then it goes away and I move onto others.  Eventually I loop back around to my favorites.  This has happened a LOT in my life, and now that it was so obvious I'm now curious if there was some mental pattern to it.  Perhaps I got bored, frustrated, annoyed, came to my senses, or any number of things.  But anyway, from that last update until about a couple weeks ago I made ZERO progress.


Then somebody wrote me an email asking for my "new" version of my Alpha Strike Card Maker (new version, 1.21, more on that in a sec).  At that point apparently the battletech fire under my ass was re-ignited.


So, I jump into the code.  I quickly realized that the cards were simply not sufficient.  Not enough space.  So, I create a new algorithm to completely redesign the cards for 3" x 5" (which is much better for so many of us older folks with crappy eyeballs) so I can support every kind of unit on it.  A few days later I'm done with that, and start plugging in some warship data.  I get through a couple hundred dropships and warships, everything is going ok, then I start to find various errata sort of things to my formulas.  I make a few updates, and then eventually realize that I'm wasting my time and need to be using my database instead of printed stats as something like a gauss rifle doesn't do 15-15-15 damage like various TRO's show.  The stats are all wrong, ugh.

So, I start working on an Alpha Strike Converter.  This is basically just the code that takes a unit, and creates the Alpha Strike stats from it.  I got to the weapons, and then realized I didn't finish updating my data from the release of Interstellar Operations... ugh 


So, I start doing that.  I get about 10% done, and decide to redo some database structure.  I've long kept the same one to support my encyclopedia site, but that is now completely unsupported (though still pretty up to date and functions).


So here I am, back to excel on one monitor and multiple PDFs on the other.  


That may sound crappy, but hey, at least I'm working on Battletech again.  For those of you that follow me you know that once I start working on something, I typically make a lot of progress pretty quickly.


So, that is my focus now.  I am going through all ~3800 items in my database and updating them.  I'm making sure all data is accurate between TW/TM/TO/SO/IO/etc.  I'm noting EVERYTHING I am not sure of so eventually I can post a HUGE list of questions that need errata (Humans often overlook many, many, many rules and situations.  Computers can't do that and need crystal clear rules.)


As of today, I have 3797 pieces of equipment a unit can have on it (ALL canon, 13 more are from an April Fools TRO).  I am currently about 8.6% complete and working on autocannons and their ammo and when completed (a couple hours, TOPS, I'll be at 13.3%).  When this is done, I'll go finish the code to convert all 6932 units (335 are not canon) in my database to Alpha Strike, and create cards for them all.  I'll then put that code into my card maker, and then finally copy that code over to the Battletech Design Works.


There was a pretty big wall I had to overcome with Battletech Design Works.  It *is* possible that frustrated me to the point I didn't want to overcome it.  However, I have since figured out an easy way to handle that, and the next time I get into BDW I should start making a lot of progress quickly.


It seems pretty obvious at this point that Catalyst would rather not have *complete* design software (SSW/MML are *very* far from complete) than communicate with me again, They asked for some help on some thread a while back, but nobody who has the skills is going to dedicate the required time to create such a project.  I manage projects like this in real life, and would easily charge $200K-$300K for such a project, and I doubt it could break even.  Most developers are $40-$150 per hour, and almost all of them come with some baggage that will cause issues.


So, since that is the case, and nobody has ever once asked me not to, I'm not going to worry about trying to "be nice" or "be professional" anymore.  I'll do things the way I want them done, and if I offend somebody well, they should have spoken up.  If they'd rather send me a cease and desist instead of just a nice email, they'll quickly find out I know more about how the internet works than their lawyers do ;)  The offer to help them will always stand though, but I'll need some rules questions answered before I accept any offer.


I will say that based on my experience with a few of the volunteers for the game, as well as quite a few demo guys, has been quite pleasant and cordial.  The official forums are pretty commonly avoided by many fans due to the BS over there, so I haven't felt alone ;)




For those of you smart enough to skip the rest of the message:

New Alpha Strike Card Maker out, v1.21
Working on Battletech Design Works again

Here is a couple of new record sheets, all possible with the new card maker:


The Leviathan attacks are probably wrong:

Still need mobility hits:
Dropships, woot:
Again, attacks probably wrong:

I will eventually add some color/textures, and maybe scale down to 2.5x3.5 in size, or up to 8.5x11 for the Leviathan.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Dev Diary Week 10 - BattleTech Design Software

Quick update as I'm exhausted tonight.

This week I finished up a lot of the code flow, tweaked the way actuators work, made a LOT of little bug fixes, and started working on supporting all the armor options.

Funny thing.  Buildings can be up to 30 hexes in size, and up to 30 levels tall, and each hex can have a turret.  This means to track building damage you need 900 groups of CF (1 per hex, 1 per level) of up to 150 (1500 for capital scale), PLUS armor, PLUS turrets.... its horrible.  I'll have to create a dynamic system to be able to handle that sort of system... no biggie, just didn't realize it was THAT mind boggling!

I also have costs *mostly* working now.  I can create an AS7-D Atlas and the cost is right except the lower arm and hand actuators, which I haven't written up the actuator allocation part yet (things like PPCs on omni's replace hand actuators, need special handling).

Years of availability are also right, so you know when a unit is available as experimental, advanced, standard, and tournament legal.  Weights are also working in most cases.

I think I'm only getting about 4-6 hours per week on this, so for the 10 weeks I've been working on it it is really only a full week, though probably not that much as I've had a lot come up.

Anyway, chugging along.  I'll try to finish up all the armor combinations for various units next, and maybe work on the critical allocation system after that, dunno yet.

Other battletech news:  I bought 11 of the new lance packs, for the cards and the 2 new miniatures.  Nice stuff.  I *really* hope the alpha strike boxed has 13 reseen miniatures, plus 10 or so clanners and some nifty design, but we'll see.  If they are that, I'll take a dozen please! :)

Been a couple weeks now since the Battletech Kickstarter closed.  I haven't seen a pledge manager yet to add on the $140 in books, but based on their past kickstarters we will only see a communication a month so I guess maybe in a couple weeks.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dev Diary Week 9 - BattleTech Design Software

Sorry I was a day late on this one.  Had a frustrating programming session this weekend and stayed up too late to do the update.

Not a lot new to show, but that doesn't mean the week was without progres!  This week was mostly interface tweaks, adding things like tooltips and changing of the way various item lists are displayed.  I also implemented fuel, and made numerous behind-the-scenes changes, and added saving some defaults to speed up my development time.

I am still tinkering with the interface a bit more before I dive into the 200 or so unique variables applied to various equipment in order to make sure all designs are legal.  This is kinda time consuming, but not really all that hard due to the way I designed the application.  

Once I get those variables done I have to focus on equipment selection.  I want to only show ammo for items you have put on your unit.  I need to ensure proper arcs are shown as an option, consolidate multiple similar items down to 1 line, show the arcs on the same line, and implement "addon" support for things like Artemis, Apollo, Pintles, One-Shot, MG Arrays, and so forth.

I'll then have some minor things that are pretty easy to do, like bay allocation for DS/WS/JS/SS, crew allocation, frankenmech support, and crew augmentations (both for vehicular pilots and infantry platoons).  

After those it'll be BV, which I want to make sure all other things are done first.  Weight, cost, availability, tech rating, and years for each rule level are all ready pretty much done.  BV will be the last consolidation thing.

Then I'll go add the alpha strike conversions, which isn't too hard.

And finally record sheets.  After which I'll start focusing on all the extra bells and whistles I promised.

I am developing slow though, due to a few reasons:
#1.  War Thunder.  I play this game a lot, and sometimes when my brain isn't "into" coding instead of focusing it, I take my tank and go blow stuff up :)
#2.  Real life.  I do have a wife that requires a certain amount of attention or she'll kill me.  Therefore at least 1-2 hours a night I usually spend with her.  This usually means the earliest I code on weeknights is 8:30-9.
#3.  Sleep.  I can stay up till 11-12 just fine, but sometimes when you are doing things on a computer your brain says "Uhhh, nap time!" and I kinda fall asleep in my chair.  It doesn't happen too much, but it happens often.  I'll usually go play war thunder when I get too tired.  I have MS and a slew of veterans related issues, which doesn't help things.
#4.  Sometimes I get a new group of toys in, miniatures/books/etc, that can kill the nights development.  I have 3 tripods on the way and 11 boxes of lance packs for example :)  I also have a LOT of GHQ 1/285 and 1/2400 stuff I still haven't finished assembly on.
#5.  I still play battletech with my group here in DFW.  I often run games, to stay busier during play, but it still eats through 1-1.5 days for prep time and game play.
#6.  Sometimes I get sidetracked by things.  

My anniversary is tomorrow the 11th (married in 11/11/01!) which is also veterans day, but I took Thursday/Friday off to hopefully get a good 8-16 hours by the next update.

I doubt I've put in 40 hours on coding at this point, which means I'm only probably getting a good 4 hours a week in on it :(  It'll get done, but not as speedy as any of us would like.

The official software request thread from CGL on the forums that made me start doing this has ended up where all of them end up.  Zero progress, and 2 sides bickering over all digital or all paper.  One guy did some great HTML5 work, and had a great interface, but we've all seen many mech designers for 3025 stuff with some 3050 thrown in (I could do a designer in excel for any single item in under a day with *most* stuff supported), it is orders of magnitude more complicated to support everything and all the rules.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Dev Diary Week 8 - BattleTech Design Software

Week 8, not a real productive week, I suck, however it was far from unproductive!

Again, I go into more detail on my daily facebook group, so this is just the highlights.

Now, it all isn't done, there are numerous issues I can point out in the attached picture, but it is pretty considerable progress.

Though not 100%, the following parts are now working:
- Total weights (no ammo counted, also did not exclude free HS that come with engine yet)
- Total unit cost (missing life support, sensors, chassis multiplier, free HS, and musculature in pic)
- Overall tech rating of unit, so you know where you can get one.
- Availability of the unit in all 4 (yes 4 now, thanks IOBeta!) eras
- The 5 years are determined (Prototype/L3/Exp, Introduction/L2/Adv, Common/L1/TL, Extinction, and reintroduction) so you know when what you are designing could possibly have been built, and went it become extinct.


Sorry it isn't sized right, blame blogspot.  Click here for full size.

I still have a lot of cleanup, and some item renaming, but getting closer.  It'd help if I spent more than 4 hours a week on it, but you know, life. :(

Other stuff:

I already found a bug in the way SSW deals with actuator cost, which apparently has resulted in at least the AS7-D cost on the MUL being incorrect, though I suspect many others may be affected, and this was just an original 3025 design!  Hopefully SkyHigh will notice and fix it.  Not sure if MegaMekLab does it right, hope so I guess, but I don't really care as nothing ever written in Java hasn't sucked (interface/stability wise - not the developers faults) and I don't use MML.  :(

I wrote a little excel spreadsheet to track the necessary roll and time it takes for a repair based on rules in Strategic Operations.  Note that you always want the best possible techs you get, else you will always be sending your mechs back to the factory for refits, else they fall apart on you.  Interesting stuff, anyway link here.

Looks like the HBS Battletech kickstarter met all its goals, with plenty of time to spare, woot.  Stretch goals are pretty weak IMO which hurt it, and I have like 5% faith the game won't be boring as heck (War machine was made into a great looking turn based game, but it plays so slow I just can't keep interest). Nothing like waiting 15 minutes for your opponent to move something as you sit there and twiddle your thumbs.  They aren't implementing the features necessary for it to have a long life (custom maps, custom units, modding) and are using the unity engine, which nearly always results in nothing more than mediocrity.  But I funded it anyway, because its battletech!

A whopping 12 views last week, probably mostly on my facebook group, hopefully once I'm done the community finds out about it.  I'd hate to think only the 30 or so users on my facebook group are going to be users, but that'd still be enough ;)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Dev Diary Week 7 - BattleTech Design Software

Wow, 7 weeks already!  Well some weeks I'm much more productive than others.  This one I lost a couple days because I didn't want to code at night while we were getting storms, as our power is pretty flaky and I don't have enough UPS's for all my computers.  Also had some work jump in there, and my wife was sick.  Still though, I got quite a bit done.

In short, I am now at the point I need to total up the weight of a unit, then its cost, then years/availability, and finally BV.  Still some little tweaks to make here and there, but darned close to a somewhat usable product.  Record sheets will come later, as they are kinda easy in a way but very time consuming.  I have already done most of them before though, and may get lazy and fall back on those methods which worked fairly well instead of reinventing the wheel.

I won't bore you with the details, as I'm sure if I did some of you would have fallen asleep already, so I'll show a current work in progress screenshot of the unit design page:
Still a few interface changes yet to take place, but getting there!


I figure another month or so until I get all the design bugs worked out, maybe sooner, kinda depends on how many nights I have time, am not sleepy, and am in the mood to code.