Sunday, December 30, 2012

Technical Difficulties

First of all I apologize for a lack of updates, I added all the new RS3067 units like 3 weeks ago and still haven't gotten the refresh on the database done yet.  Between the holidays, a car accident, and serious computer issues, my productivity is down to crap.

And speaking of computer issues.  I live on my computer far more than most and my computer is far more valuable to me (monetarily) than most of ya'lls.  My current configuration cost me almost $10K and is about 4 years old now.  It is actually the oldest computer I've owned in 20+ years, typically I buy a new one every year.  My servers are up, and it isn't like I have a dozen other computers in the house, but none are my "primary" with the 4 monitors, all my play files, a good video card, and 12GB of ram (yes, I actually use that).

So anyway, the first week of December my SCSI RAID card decided to throw errors when I rebooted.  I hadn't backed up that drive in about a week, and didn't want to lose my work.  The drives appeared fine, just the controller card that lets the OS see them.  So I scoured ebay and found a replacement, got it ordered, and received it about a week before Christmas.  I was able to get my OS running, got everything backed up, but after about 20 minutes it died again.  I figured I had another bad card (it was used) so ordered an Intel card instead of the old LSI card.  It ended up having the same issue, ugh.  So I swapped slots in my motherboard, disabled the memory on the card, and my computer can run for maybe an hour or two, then it dies again.  By dies I mean the mouse cursor even stops responding, the system locks up completely, and requires me push reset.  So I turn it on to get some files occasionally, but leave it off most of the time.  I think I've troubleshooted everything, and it just appears this motherboard doesn't like SCSI controllers anymore.... or a lot of coincidences are throwing me for a loop.  So I'm just kinda sitting on it until I figure out what to do.

Normally I'd just go buy a new computer, which is about due.  I haven't needed to upgraded as my system still runs everything fast, and processors and drives aren't getting any faster.  I ran Linux for a week to give it a thorough chance at being my new OS, but it sucks horribly, and its my professional opinion that its a poor man's OS, with no advantage at all over windows, unless your dirt poor.  Anyway, I haven't bought a new one as taxes are coming up, plus the "fiscal cliff".  Even if we don't cross over the cliff I expected to have to pay $10K or more this year (tax return, wtf is that?) even after both the wife and I have 0 deductions set... damned IRS, plus the $1000 deductible on my car.  Anyway, I want to get my taxes paid off before I go buy a new big machine, so it may be as late as May before I can get running again.  Probably a lot sooner as I'll just reinstall windows on one of the 10 SATA drives in my computer and I think it'll be ok, it'll just be slower and annoying to me :).

But anyway, just wanted to let readers know why updates have ground to a halt.  They aren't halted, just delayed for a bit.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Errata in me

So I'm big on details in game universes, one of the reasons I enjoy the BTU so much as its just soooo full of detail.  Anyway, I, like many of you, get a bit frustrated when I purchase a new product and find it filled full of errors.  I'd be ok if it was a PDF, and a new updated PDF got released every month or so with any errata that was discovered.  That is why PDFs are so great.

Anyway, to my point.  I started entering in the 3067 Unabridged stuff into my database and immediately start to see errors (FYI, I'm 27% complete now, but haven't updated the DB yet).  Not huge numbers, but not just a couple either.  I am not sure how they make them.  If they are using MegaMekLab or some other software to create them, the software is probably at fault.  If they are making them by hand, well, they are insane, and that'd be the reason for the errors.

I know CGL internally is frustrated by the lack of good software to make and print units and RS books.  I'm sure they are more frustrated than we are (and by some internal emails I saw a couple years ago, perhaps a LOT more frustrated).  I don't know what Rick Raisley's real world issues are, but they have pretty much killed any new HMP software.  Based on the way he writes them though, and the rate of new items being released from CGL, even if he does eventually get HMP 6 finished, it'll be outdated within a few months.  Heck, and that is only HMP.  What about infantry, battle armor, protomechs, space craft, support vehicles, buildings, etc, etc???  Yeah, dead end IMO.  Solaris Skunk Works is better these days in about every way, and even its pretty limited and slow going.

But all my recent work on TRO3063 really showed just how annoying it can be to create these applications.  There are just soooo many special case rules that have to be looked at.  Mechs are the hardest, as the critical slot diagram can be a real pain, but the other units aren't so bad.

I offered a couple years back to write them a HMP style replacement, for nothing, and my only request was that they can give me timely answers to issues that pop up with designs and missing information.  That is where it all died.  Since then, I've completed my database of equipment in a modular enough format that adding new stuff is a snap, and I even have data for all 5500 units or so that have been created done.  With the work on TRO3063 I've written code to calculate battle values, costs, years of introduction/extinction, and even the tech rating and 3 era availability codes. I can enter a mech, or *any* design possible in the BTU into a single line in excel (as its MUCH easier to update excel than a database), run a little script to update the database with the new unit and/or equipment, and bam, all finished.  The way I wrote the calculations is nearly identical for every unit type, with only very minor differences.  The code is all modular, and highly adaptable for an ever changing game system like Battletech.

So, wanna know why I haven't written software to do this (this being a designer for *everything* in the universe)?
#1.  (75%) No support from CGL.  Even when I posted questions on their "rule questions" forum it'd often take months to get answered, if it ever did.  No way I can write software, hit a roadblock, and wait 6 freaking months for an answer.
#2.  (15%) Nobody has asked me to.
#3.  (10%) I need to feel like what I'm spending my valuable time for is worthwhile to more than just a couple people.  If I dive into a project like this, I need a few dozen folks asking me every day "is it done yet?" to keep me on the project.  I don't like to let people down, but if nobody is counting on me I'll drift off into other projects.

Its getting hot in here!

So I built this whole encyclopedia site this last spring.  I powered on a 2nd server (huge rack mounted things, not just some PC) in the extra room in my house.  All was well, though it probably costs me $50 a month in power to run these suckers.  Anyway, once we stopped using the Air condition (its December now, and though it dropped down to 40 a couple times already, its 80 outside now in Dallas, woot!) that room got *VERY* hot.  Even 2 little servers, barely working, could easily throw that room up to 100 degrees.  Crazy.  So I had to leave the door open, and those things are kinda loud and annoying.  Anyway, a month of that and I was sick of it.

So I got my previous "primary workstation", which was a Dual Xeon 3.6 Ghz with 6GB of ram.  I upgrade the 8 SCSI hard drives to 146GB/15k/U320, and installed Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012 (an upgrade from the 2008 R2 versions).

I had some various things that slowed progress in the middle of all that, but end result?

The entire site, as well as my internal network, is now running on a SINGLE sever that is far quieter, with less power consumption (even though it had 14 fans in it!), even though I had to give up a bit of memory (I wasn't using it anyway).  My storage is redundant, but if the server exploded I'd be down a day or two while I built a new one.  Also, I'll be putting these servers at my datacenter at work soon, and will move the site back over to them (and their gigabit+ internet connection) so eventually the site will be much faster.

So what does this mean for the site?  Ummm... absolutely nothing.  However I do have the new forum software also installed on it, and will be launching it soon.

Now, onto Battletech stuff!

First, my old MUL_QS application I wrote a long time ago that used the API that Skyhigh had added is now defunt with their new updates, and the application basically doesn't work anymore.  I could probably make it work with my database instead, but I think time would better be spent just making a simple website that showed you the QS cards all by themselves, easily viewable on phones and stuff.  Chime in if you disagree and I'll rethink it.

Next, a couple new products.  First was a PDF of the FedCom Civil War.  I bought it, as the version I downloaded long ago kinda sucked.  Guess what, so does the new one.  Just crap.  Total waste of money.  Ugh.

However, they also finally released TRO 3067 Unabridged!  I know lots of people were really anxious for this, there is a total of about 315 units in it.  The designs are always, well, new designs that people could make themselves. It'll take me a week or two to get them all entered into the database for ya, but they will all be there soon.

There is a new Interstellar Operations beta thing out, a force generator.  I perused it, and thought it totally sucked.  It wasn't quite a mercenary unit generator, and wasn't nearly as good as what was already in Strategic Operations.  I have no idea what it is supposed to be used for.

I still read the official forums as I still have some accounts on there, but I've ceased posting entirely.  It really seems their forums kinda suck and the topics the epitome of lame.  Even if I was never banned, the only even remotely useful forums anymore seem to be the errata ones, although they accept errata, they never say its confirmed or update the PDFs, which is amazing.

I get the feeling the BT community is just dying, more and more every day.  I love the whole universe, but the game... well, I think I'd rather play 40K or anything with counters.

Somebody mentioned that I should just do my own miniatures based rules system.  While I've thought about something like that before, it is just a lot of work and I'm pretty sure I'm already making more money than I could doing a board game system.  Computers are the future, and that is something that CGL just hasn't quite been able to grasp.  Old non-tech people probably, its common among games like this.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Interstellar Expeditions & XTRO Succession Wars Reviews!

New products, awesome!

First up, another XTRO.  Great idea these XTRO's are, they are TROs that come out more often.  I would like to see them eventually compiled (and the massive amount of bugs fixed) and released in paper form however.

Anyway, the Succession Wars.  First, I must say, this cover is absolutely beautiful, one of the top mech color images I've ever seen (it just *feels* like BT).  It is a Marauder with dual blazers and dual SRM6's, plus some freezers.  The book has 7 mechs and 7 other vehicles.  I noticed that CGL apparently still doesn't have a decent method for making record sheets.  Freezers for example are just listed as double heat sinks, and its a bit confusing.  Think of a freezer as not a heat sink, but a device that uses 3 crits and eats up 2 heat.  Heat sinks are completely separate.  The designs are interesting, and we *finally* get stats for the Super Wasp and Super Griffin from the original Black Widow Company scenario book.  They don't match up unfortunately, but they can't, and the attempt was sufficient to make these units playable IMO.  Some designs were interesting and potentially usable (Marauder), others not so much (Buffalo).  In fact, the Buffalo is a 100 ton hover with a booby trap and drone OS.  Neato, but it also carries 900 shots of MG ammo to help make the boom bigger.  However, there are no rules that say carrying more ammo makes the boom bigger so it was kinda silly.  Oh well.  Anyway, in short, another XTRO, if you liked the others, you'll like this one, and for $5 you really can't go wrong.

And onto Interstellar Players 3, Interstellar Expeditions.

A pretty good looking cover.  A 120 page book filled to the brim with words.  I typically don't read the books, only skim them, but this one had a lot of little things that jumped out at me.  I will be taking some more time to skim it more thoroughly.  We do get a couple Clan Industrial Mechs plus a jumping vehicle along side the the Bug-Eye and Faslane updated warships.

We also get system stats for 27 new periphery systems.  More details on the 5 hidden worlds, though 2 are still "unknown" for location, which stinks.  This book feels like a GM's wet dream for scenario ideas and campaigns.  Though I do have my beef with various aspects of CGL, I really can't denounce their writing abilities in any way.  There are a few new critters, a couple RPG character generation templates, and a random assignment table.

Though I haven't read the thing, I can say if your into the RPG at all, its a must have.  If your into the universe, its also a must have... heck, unless all you care about it is simply rolling dice it really looks like a great book.  

Oh, and the best part IMO, we get maps of all 4 directions of the deep periphery, not just toward clan space.  While the maps aren't real detailed (they are like most deep periphery maps) they do give us a lot of information we have simply never had before in any way.

And, a surprise... took me an hour, but I merged all 4 of those deep periphery maps into 1.  Do NOT take this as exact, some didn't quite line up perfectly and could be off maybe a quarter diameter of a system circle.  BUT, it does let you look around a bit easier and see what all is out there.  Download the PDF here.

And finally, I added all the unit data from these 2 books, so I'm 100% updated again on my data.  However, like usual, many of these units don't work yet until I update my code for the record sheets.  I'll get to it eventually :)

If anybody is interested in an API for my data, let me know, I can put one together pretty quickly.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Encyclopedia Updates!

Just a quite update as I did a lot of work today on BTE due to a user requesting a bug fix.

I fixed all the primitive stuff, I think.  I went through all the mechs from the 3 XTRO Primitives books and they all loaded.  May not be correct because of other issues, but at least they no longer result in errors.  I think some other units were broken as well due to an engine bug, but its fixed now too.

I went and updated my code to read from the recently redon canon Master Unit List site.  They made lots of code changes (it looks nicer, but still not nearly as good as mine!) and all my code needed updating.  This of course broke the app I wrote a while back that used the site to generate quick strike cards.  They also apparently stopped supporting the XML data, which kinda sucks, but as I bet I was the only person using it I can work around it.

I have a big request for folks.  I can make record sheets (QS or Regular) in 2 methods.  One is a PNG, this is like you see on the encyclopedia now.  The other is PDF.  PNG allows you to view the record sheet quickly and easily online, as its just an image.  PDF allows easier printing and *much* smaller file sizes, especially if I combine multiple sheets together into 1 file.

So yeah, PDF sounds better in pretty much every way, but its soooooo much slower to work with. I can generate a 300 dpi PNG in a second, it takes 6 or so for each page of a PDF, plus 10 to create the PDF.  Another downside of PDF is the way I make them.  With a PNG, each value has an X/Y value, which corresponds to pixels on the screen.  I can jump into paint, and my mouse quickly tells me where I need to write text or a circle.  PDFs though, well, they are vector not raster.  That means that a line in a PDF is 2 points, with data for the line between them.  Raster would be every single point on the line.  This is why PDFs are much smaller (plus I can use an empty mech sheet as the background and it is only 1 image in a big file).  But when I need to put text on a PDF form, its wacky.  I can't just use the same coordinates, so making a PDF takes a LOT more time as I gotta write a bunch of them, wriggling the text around until it is in the right place.  Its amazingly painful.

So, do people have an overwhelming desire for one format or another?

If not, I'll probably do everything in PNG for now, then I'll print gridded PDF files so if you want PDF, just shoot me a list of the coordinates for each value on the page.  FYI a mech is about 90 various coordinates.

Also, a follow up.  If I make record sheets with all the same data as the canon ones, but change a few things around, perhaps the background silouhettes or logos, is that totally ok or would ya'll rather me make my sheets 100% canon (even circles instead of hexagons, though I liked hexagons as it differentiated mine from canon)?

Oh, and just FYI, the Encyclopedia is now 100% updated with data from every single unit in the game that has ever been published.  I also have TRO 3063, a few from Battletechnology (the ones with not-crappy art), and stubs for the big tri-legged MWDA mechs.  By default you only see canon designs.

Oh, and since I always seem to go off-topic.  I have 5 planetside 2 beta keys.  If anybody is interested shoot me an email.

MINOR UPDATE:  I've gone through my database and compared it to the latest canon Master Unit List   Roughly 3.8%, or about 200 units, exist in my database that do NOT exist in the canon database.  There are also quite a few units in the canon Master Unit List that do NOT exist in my database.  These are always simply units that haven't been published yet, with a few incorrect names tossed in.  There are about 517 of these, or about 9% of the canon Master Unit List   Not much point in having units in the master unit list when there is no record sheet or quick strike card available to support it.  If anybody wants a detailed list shoot me an email.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Products!

TRO Primitives volume 3 and the FWL objective books are out.  A quick review:

The objective book is, well, just like all the others.  If you liked one, you'll like this one.  Same format, template, map, descriptions, etc.  

TRO Primitives has a bunch of earlier models of designs we are already familiar with, though the 6 mechs have new (and very good, by 'JSN') art.  I hope this is the art style of the future, I think overall it looks a lot more pleasing to the eye.  I am very happy CGL has found some better artists over the last few years.

However, 1 glaring "oops" in the TRO.  It does have a TDR-1C thunderbolt within it, however, the cover is of a Thunderbolt that is a much later design and looks completely different.  I don't really review books for their words as much as their technical info and art, but in this case the only negative thing I can say about the book (aside from the horrible non-mech armor circle distribution) is that the cover has a pretty pic of a mech that technically isn't even in the book.

I'll get the new designs inputted from TRO Primitives v3 tonight.

However, the most exciting thing to me was the what is coming page.  Not the interstellar expeditions which I'm totally meh for, but the 2765 books for each faction.  That means we'll *hopefully* have orders of battle for the SLDF, and all the factions, at the time of the periphery uprising, and maybe a single update so we'll have data for the 1st Succession War... you know, the fun one.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Good News!

First thank gosh Romney didn't get elected.  I'm no Obama supporter, but to think that 50 million Americans are stupid (or racist) enough to vote for Romney, well... we obviously need a better education system.  Romney/Ryan never actually had any plan at all, changed their stories daily, and neither was of good character.  Obama, well, he sucks too.  It'd be nice if we could get a good candidate that would get over 55% of the vote again (meaning people aren't voting for the lesser of 2 evils).  Enough of that, I probably just lost 49% of my viewers :)

Anyway, a minor update....

Though I *really* wanted at *least* 10 folks to vote, it really appears that the people still around want to see me do what I've always said.  Makes sense.  So, it looks like my next big project will be the update to the Encyclopedia.  I won't be using all my free time, as there just isn't that much support (that could change), but I will "get er done!".

My tentative list of "todo's" for the Encyclopedia v2.

  • Standard record sheets for everything, that includes buildings, mobile structures, warships, power armor (both ATOW and CBT), etc, etc...
  • Quick strike sheets for everything.  That will include various options (like 5 point damage instead of 10, and my own math intensive but far more accurate attack factors)
  • You'll have a login.  This will allow you to have force lists.
  • Ability to mark damage on online sheets, with options for automatic damage.
  • Calculation of repair times, do the repairs based on provided techs, track every little detail of your whole force.  Display your force in ATOW, BT, QS/BF, or any scale.
  • Ability to design all the unit types online, including custom weapons if you so desire (canon and non-canon will be shown on final RS's).
  • Ability to get a PDF of your force, with every detail you could ever want
  • Save to various file formats a possibility, but there will be a web services API for those of you more web savy who want to write applications that integrate with it.  This could even support a web based version of megamek, as my system can track all stats on units by turn.
  • Ability to upload/add your own designs
  • Screen saver ability, that'll sit there and randomly show RS's and graphics while your computer is idle.
  • Ability to play another player, and show limited intelligence version of sheets (so an arm may be green, or blue, and no longer have circles)
  • ATOW character generator
  • A random force generator, random unit selector for any year, random system generator, any other random stuff I can think of.  
  • Support for multiple images (you can select one of many for printing on RS/QS, or just to see)
  • Better support for colorization of B&W images (adding your faction colors to the units themselves).
  • Much better and more complete searching, by any criteria
  • A planet database.  Very similar to ISAtlas, but with updated data from more recent books.  You can make a game from this, and move your units from planet to planet, do combat, and slowly implement various IO rules until its a complete web based game.
  • A forum.  I already have it setup, though I will probably redo it.  I will need a moderator or two (not for banning folks, but for watching spam and reminding people when they are being a troll).  Apply within.
  • A real time chat system.  Think of it as IRC, but it'll be Battletech based, with things like die rollers available.  It'll also integrate with the forum.
  • Fix the online displays so you get a much more "browsing a TRO" like experience.
  • Ability to take any 2 units, give them a to hit mod and pilots, and have them slug it out a few thousand times to see which is the "better" design in a very specific situation.
  • I'll be trying to make the site very touch friendly, for all the tablets and smart phones out there.  Its idiotic IMO to write an "app" these days, when everybody has fast web access and can just use their browser instead of VERY proprietary interfaces for Android/iPhones.
  • Of course all the units from the game in the encyclopedia.  I may add characters later, but as of today it has every single unit ever published, even some fan ones.
  • I will be supporting some "2nd generation" Battletech equipment (optional of course) that some of ya'll may find kinda cool.
  • I'll be moving my server to a hosted environment which means it'll never have a bandwidth issue again, and should be extremely fast.  I may even upgrade the hardware.
Timeline?  Beats me, but I'm betting me saying I'll be done with it all at my current job it'll be unlikely to be finished in 2013.

Other stuff:
  • I'll give somebody my MWO founders account ($120, 80 or so days left with bonus xp) if they get me reinstated on the official forums under my old account.  Tracking my other accounts and keeping them bouncing around is tedious and silly.
  • I need moderators (1-2) for my forum.  I can have this up and running, well, yesterday (guess a port and you can find it now!).  I won't be banning, and my only real rules are "don't be an ass" which kinda encompasses "no commercial advertising".  I say moderation, but right now somebody helping create the various boards would be helpful too.   I was using phpBB.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Interstellar Operations Beta!

So Randall finally released a beta of the Interstellar Operations system generation rules.  Awesome!  I got one of my accounts banned downloading it, oops, shouldn't have checked it from home.  Its ok though, I have 17 more accounts on the site and a near infinite amount of completely unrelated IPs to access it from (the company I work for is an MSP, and each customer has their own IPs, so its easy for me to jump around to IPs all over the nation).  Kinda wish they'd stop being annoying, every time they do I think "Screw em, I'll zip my PDF folder with *every* BT book, put it on, and ensure it stays updated with all the latest!".  But I talk myself out of it (so far anyway!) for a single reason:

Just because somebody else is being an ass, doesn't give you the right to be one back.  

I do hate that I still buy their products, however, I think I'll get them from ebay when people resell them in the future, so CGL will see no more profits from me. My impatience and hefty income probably will never see me wait that long.  Maybe I'll at least stop buying the PDF+Book combo's, just get the PDF, and THEN get the book off a ebay or something where CGL will less profits.

It absolutely amazes me how they can "cut off" paying fans like they did, its the exact opposite way of keeping the doors to a small company open.

Anyway, onto the rules.  First, they are an early beta, and I REALLY appreciate CGL putting this out there.  Unfortunate that I would be their #1 errata submitter and tester for it, but hey, their loss.  I won't judge it harshly as it is a beta (and unlike MWO, which blows and is stuck in its path, this could change dramatically before release).

First, I do love the cover, its been printed before, but there is no way in the milky way galaxy you would see another galaxy like that, and that should probably be a planet, but I'm nitpicking.  Great pic regardless.

The first 2 pages are really elaborate charts with all the star classes and stuff.  They could have created a formula for this to make it a bit less intimidating to me, but lots of BT folk are kinda dumb (no offense!) when it comes to science or a calculator, so a big table may be more to their liking.  It gets the information presented, so it works, but they do have formulas throughout... whatever.

Lots of rules for generating a generic BT themed star system.  It is pretty decent, pretty detailed, and good enough for the BTU.  We do now have rules for determining USILR, which is nice, as well as colony populations.  Also rules for determining HPG and Recharge stations, which has always been missing.

There are some good explanations of why some things were done the way they were, which is nice.  Ignoring non-main sequence stars for example (which are VERY uncommon).

Overall I think Randall is on the right track to a pretty good system generator.

I think there is one huge part missing however.  That big part is helping people create maps.  Just a page or two of text describing how things like rain shadows or deserts are formed could help people when making maps.  Even better would be a table saying something like "if a planet is this big, with this much water, and this kind of atmosphere, it is 20% table1, 20% table2, etc", with each table being a 1d6 or 2d6 roll for random BT maps.  They had something similar to this in the Reaving book, and its sorely missed here.

I think they need 2 forms in the back.  One for for the star system, and another for the planet.  The planet form is kinda like the one in the book, but with a bit more space for the details of the planet. The system form has the top chunk, or even better an area where you can draw out the map of the system and the orbit locations.  The system map could have a method, like on all the planet maps we have, to determine the chance of jumping successfully at various points in the system.  It could be pretty generic, but having some la-grange points, the zenith/nadir, plus places to put the # of recharge stations would be super handy.  Making it a hex map would also allow tracking of deep space interceptions and let you move around the system.  Would require a lot more thought but I think its really needed as otherwise there will be a huge chunk of invasions that is often spoken of in fluff, that will have no method to be modeled.

This *completely* replaced the generation in ATOW, and I don't think they are related.  The ATOW rules for system generation are pretty much now completely obsolete and should be ignored.

I'll go through and create a computer application that will create a few million systems using the method in the book, and probably post it online for everybody, but I'll have to keep up with errata or it could be buggy.

I do ask myself since when is the BTU about "exploring", but am quite happy to see it go this direction and upcoming books may flesh out some neat stuff with jumping into the unknown.

Some other stuff:

  • I still need votes on my last posting.  I need at least 10 votes with a predominate winner to start doing any of the projects on that list.  Sorry, but I simply can't dedicate that much time to a game that, well, even though they have new products coming out, appears to have a near dead fan base.  Plus, I'm really losing my love for BT, maybe if I could find a local player who didn't make me feel ashamed to be a gamer.
  • I think the NRA hates black people.
  • I had half a dozen slots in my voting district that somebody ran completely unopposed.  I abstained from voting for those folks without having a choice, but sheesh, people sure bitch, but nobody wants to step up to the plate.
  • Most of my "game time" lately (last couple months) has been taken up with playing Federation and Empire on Cyberboard.
  • My wife still gives me a hard time on why I haven't sold 1000+ BT miniatures... just not worth my time and they don't use up *that* much space, but I sure as heck don't want them anymore.  Got a few grand handy send me an email :)
  • I read up on IP law a bit more.  As wacky as it seems, you can't protect a rule system.  I can build an editor for everything BT, sell it, and CGL/Topps/etc won't be able to do crap, as long as I don't call it "Battletech" and don't use any of their graphics.  If I do it, I think I'll slightly watermark the images so CGL won't be able to use them without acknowledging I made em :)  Lets face it, they have no warship, mobile structure, building, etc, etc designer at all now.
  • These dice rings are cool, but I really wonder about their accuracy: (I try to avoid kickstarter, watching a few grand go away in a month for stuff I didn't really want is kinda silly)
  • Planetside 2 is awesome, Mechwarrior online makes me regret giving them $120 for a crap pay to win game.
  • The new Xcom game sucked, why they dumbed down a winning system I'll never know.
  • Borderlands 2 is still kinda fun, its a great game, one of the better ones out there, and so far, it doesn't feel *too* redundant.  At least it throws some unique stuff in while killing the same spawn groups in an area.  Some of the voices are just awesome, especially killing engineers in Opportunity (not finished yet, so there could be more, but those guys are funny dying!)
  • is the best site on the internet, well, at least tied with wikipedia.
  • A Person of Interest is still the wife and I's favorite series, followed by Arrow (green type), Elementary (Sherlock Holms reinvented), Burn Notice (great, when its on), Royal Pains (the Hamptoms is a dangerous place!), Suits, Alphas, Last Resort (neat idea, getting better), Revolution (kinda stupid premise tho), Castle (always good), Continuum (awesome!), Falling Skies (kinda silly), Go On (hilarious), How I met your Mother (Barney Rules!), New Girl (its ok), Sinbad (in break, but good), Newsroom (great plots), Vegas (its ok), White Collar, and Two and a Half Men (still funny).  Basically we watch a lot of TV, but don't have cable so we just watch series.  Some of those we like more than others (they aren't in order) but those are the ones we like together.  Not sure why I posted this :)
I blab a lot eh?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Question for the readers!

I have a big question on where ya'll would like to see me direct my efforts towards most.

#1.  Updating this site, and giving ya'll everything promised.  This will have record sheets, unit trackers, campaign stuff, etc, etc.  If your a reader of my silly blog, hopefully your aware of the promises, if not, you may have to read a few pages to get them :)

#2.  A computer based, real time, top down version of megamek essentially.  I'll use megamek graphics, so it'll be all top-down, but it'll play real time.  You'll be like a single tank in command and conquer.  And yes, it'll have multiplayer support.  It'll support everything so things like sensors, fuel, supply, and even RPG elements.  

#3.  A turn base, interstellar game, BASED on the BT universe.  So unit names will be different, faction names different, characters different, planets different, but it'll play just like the succession wars would (the historic, not the original game).  There will be thousands of units, as every regiment, many battalions, and some companies will be modeled.  Think Master of Orion, but far more detailed, and far more modular (you can mod it to *BE* BattleTech if you so desire, but I can't release it that way)

#4.  Run for Mayor of Dallas and focus my efforts there.  This will kill all of my support for games.

#5.  Run for President of the United States, because my left hand has more integrity than any major candidate we have had in the past few elections.  I won't accept money from anybody to avoid being biased, so people on the internet would have to get my name out in their neighborhoods.  This will of course kill all of my support for games as well.  FYI, I've attempted to run for congress in the past, but last yer I got sick in the middle of getting my 500 signatures so fell through, and previously I had the libertarian candidate talk me out of running (stupid me, but it isn't a dream job by any means).

I'm serious about all 5, but I'm betting most of ya'lls votes would be for #1 to #3 :)

Let me know, if I get enough votes for any particular item I'll set my focus on it and spend 100% of my free time towards finishing it as my next project (starting in November at the latest).

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New products, and other musings

First yet another apology for a lack of updates, there have been a few things in my life sucking up my free time, in no particular order they are:

Borderlands 2 (great game, I cheat so am getting bored)
X-Com (not nearly as good as previous incarnations)
Planetside 2 Beta (awesome)
A cyberboard game of Federation and Empire (ongoing)
Strike Legion Designer (nearly done)

Before that I was spending some time in the Mechwarrior Online beta.  I got bored with it really fast and regret blowing $120 for it as I really doubt I'll ever play it.  The game is horrible.  Defenders say its a beta, and will get better, but I have never seen a game in a beta state get *completely* redone, and without starting over from scratch, well, it sucks.  Some people are fans anyway, and love it, but there are also still fans of Doom playing it, so take that with a grain of salt.

World of Warplanes sucked ass too, it has promise, but the free to play model makes it a worse grind than WOW ever thought about being, and WOW at least has depth.

I stopped playing Tribes Ascend.  I put a lot of money and time into it, but now every time I log in it seems every other player is just a childish asshole, so it has turned me off to playing it.  The free to play model there got excessive too.  I put over $100 into the game, didn't have everything, and then they release the cool voices for yet more money, ugh.

I played Hawken too.  This game is with mechs, but feels much more like a FPS.  The graphics are pretty cool, the game play nifty, my only real complaint was the maps made all the fighters REALLY close up.  It has a lot of potential, and if you really want a mech game it blows MWO away already.

Ok, now onto Battletech stuff!

3 new PDF releases this week, WOOT!  I wish they'd scatter em about a bit so we don't have so long between releases, but any new releases are great.  Quick review!

Dossiers Bounty Hunter.  Like the other dossiers products, with history of the Dread Pirate Roberts Bounty Hunter, all his mechs (most of which we have seen before).  If your interested at all in the Bounty Hunter (who isn't?), pick it up.

Historical Turning Points Antallos:  Like all the rest basically.  I get the HTPs for the maps, planet data, and occasional record sheets (this only has a combat version of the Buccaneer dropship).

And the XTRO Phantoms.  I didn't know what this was going to be, and now that I see it I'm quite unimpressed.  Basically take a dozen units, add some mixed tech, and there you go.  Its an XTRO, and worth the $5 for the history.  Some unique units.  I didn't notice as many issues in this one as some previous ones which was a nice relief.  There were a few interesting units like a Grand Titan with a Thumper, and an IS Tornado PA(L) that moves 7 with clan VTOL equipment.

Handbook House Kurita will probably come out by spring of next year.  Once it does, I'll go back and update my mapping programs since we'll FINALLY have complete maps of various eras.

Don't ask me how I know, but I know what the hold up is with Interstellar Operations.  Hopefully they can work through it and get at least some rules out for us to playtest soon.

Oh, I added all the new units to the BattleTech Encyclopedia, so feel free to peruse.

And speaking of, yes, I said I was working on it, and I am... partially.  Playing F&E over cyberboard plus other things listed have killed any real progress with it.  I am going to try to get my Strike Legion designer out TODAY.  After that I'll still waste my weekdays playing cyberboard, but my weekends will be devoted to the Encyclopedia.

Again, I apologize for the lack of any progress, but it isn't like ya'll keep commenting "when will you update the BTE?!?!?!" to keep me on top of my game either ;)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Robotech Miniatures?

Well I was sick over the last 2 weeks, so didn't get crap for work done.  One heck of a cold or something :(

Anyway, I came across something REALLY REALLY REALLY interesting.....

Scroll down to the Robotech Tactical Role-Playing game update...

Lots of 1/285 Robotech miniatures comming, WOOT!  PLEASE let them have a MAC II as well as all the destroids/mecha from all 3 series.  I'll go broke buying these.

I hope the game is great too.  I've always thought that Heavy Gear, aka the DP9 Silouhette system, would be *perfect* for Robotech as it has the "anime" feel, and a hero can be nearly invincible until  overwhelmed or fighting another hero, and can easily trash scores of stupid baddies.  I loved Heavy Gear before they went Blitz (to me they went from tactical miniatures game to 40K clone).

Anyway, lets home great things come from that.

Heck, maybe it'll work for Rifts too.  The Rifts universe is really cool, don't care much for the rules, but its a universe that allows ANYTHING you can imagine, which is kinda cool.

Anyway, stayed up too late playing Borderlands 2.  Not sure why I'm still playing it, feels like BL1, and I spend WAY too much time opening stupid crates with garbage in them, though I bet its a blast multiplayer.  I cheated and level 50'd my characters pretty quick to keep going, but I think its days are numbered for me.  Great game tho for those who dive into FPS games like that.  

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Reply To My Ineptitude

I had a viewer send me this email, and wanted to reply back to everybody in case other people felt the same way (I believe all opinions should be heard).  My original text is in orange, his comments in green, and my replies in red.  Feel free to comment below or just send me an email at bad_syntax over at  Sorry if your color blind (or if this posting MAKES you color blind) :)   I also made it smaller so its easier to skim, if its too small just hold down CTRL and use your mouse wheel.

If you don't care about opinions, just scroll to the very bottom and grab a copy of the system generator using these rules, as well as my earlier one using explorer corps rules.  Both are in excel, if you peruse my blog I think there is a website that does the same thing but I don't remember the URL, and am too lazy right now to go try to find it.

"The rules state that orbits 2-4 are in the life zone. However this means that often there are 2 or even 3 occupied terrestrial planets in a single system. There is no difference in these systems, all 3 could be a high population colony, or whatever. So in essence, many times, there is no single world in a system that is predominate."
No, it says that 2-4 are in the life zone. No where does it say that there are 2 or 3 occupied planets in any given system. And there are many differences, for example, you roll for equatorial temperature and that is modified by orbital slot. Different planets may have different atmospheres and gravity even. I doubt that modern day Venus (that would be in slot 2) is that same kind of planet as modern Mars (in slot 4). You pretty clearly didn't read these rules closely.

Actually it says *terrestrial* worlds in the life zone, which my (attached) spreadsheet takes into account.  No, not every system has 3 terrestrial planets in that zone, however, the rules state nothing about what happens if you do roll up 3 terrestrial planets in the life zone, as all 3 would have populations, which could each be in the billions if its an “important system”.

"The USILR code (p366-376 ATOW), or the A-B-A-D-E thing planets have is said to need to be created, but there is no way to do this without, well, pulling numbers out of your ass. You don't have any idea how many of any type of world there may be."
In response, "Settled worlds must also establish a USILR code (see pp. 366-376, AToW), as well as the nature of local government, the presence of recharge stations, HPGs and the like. ***These details are largely left up the gamemaster***, though pp. 146-149 offers a means to randomly determine a settled world’s government."
So best judgement on the gamemasters part. Its your game, do with it that you will.

Yes, like I said, if you are a GM, just make your own systems, these rules simply aren’t complete enough to randomly generate one.

"Giant/Dwarf terrestrials are mentioned to be habitable sometimes, but no rules, nor sizes, nor any details can be gained."
page 140, "For players interested in even greater levels of world-building
detail and development, a more sophisticated version of these rules will appear in the Interstellar Operations core rulebook." While you complaining that those rules aren't there is actually valid, the solution is already provided.

Yeah, again, the solution is just do it all yourself, and ignore these rules entirely… PERHAPS IO will have a very detailed and complete system, but I’d bet money it won’t as there isn't but a couple (like Galtor III) really detailed systems in the entire game.

"The stellar subtype, a number between 0 to 9, which can be considered a decimal number between 1 start type and the next, is on a 2d6 table. In stellar terms, this should be a 1d10 and there should be a pretty equal chance of each, not mostly 5's"
Maybe because they didn't want to make people use dice other than d6's. I.e., "The following rules represent a basic guide for generating detailed
star systems (page 140).

That was my assumption as well, but seriously, what person who would use these rules does NOT have a d10 around?  And there *are* ways of using d6 to produce 10% results, and they have been in the rules before (explorer corps book).

"Nothing whatsoever on terrain generation"
So what did you want, software provided that would generate terrain for you? Maybe you should use your imagination on what your planet should look like? If your planet has 70% water coverage...draw a planet with about 70% water coverage, and a variety of land cover types. Seems simple enough to me.

The Wars of Reaving book has terrain for planets, nothing too complicated but easy to implement rules, so that isn’t a new thing.  This book would have been a great place to have those.

"The record sheet has stats for only a single habitable world, when a system could have up to 3. This isn't really a flaw, as you would use one of these per world. However, it would have made a lot more sense to have a simple system sheet on 1 page, and a world sheet on another."
So print out three sheets if there are three planets!

That is what I basically said, but then with 3 world sheets, you have the system info 3 times, so its redundant and a waste.  They didn’t even include space for all the planet details that you could roll up.  An empty box would have been helpful for GMs.

"Overall its a very generic and abstract system without really giving much detail. If your a GM, and want a world, just make one up on your own and avoid this whole section. If you really want to generate a detailed system, avoid these rules entirely and go get GURPS Space 4e (or some of the older GURPS Traveller or Traveller products) which does a far better job at creating a more realistic system."
From page 140, "The following rules represent a basic guide for generating detailed star systems where players can set adventures and campaigns
in the BattleTech universe. As the universe itself is filled with infinite
possibility, this three-stage system is merely a means for GMs and players to create believable—yet unique—worlds without requiring advanced degrees in physics, geology, and astronomy to do so. For players interested in even greater levels of world-building detail and development, a more sophisticated version of these rules will appear in the Interstellar Operations core rulebook."

Which is what I said, if you want detail, don’t use these rules, but GURPS is FAR more detailed, and doesn’t require a degree in anything to accomplish far more.

"No details for moons, but we have lots of MW/MC games that have had moon based battles :("
Moons are small terrestrial bodies, maybe use some of the rules on terrestrial planets about making moons? I'm not an astronomer, but even I have enough of a clue to go there. Do you want orbits, and periods? I refer back to page 140, "worlds without requiring advanced degrees in physics, geology, and astronomy to do so."

So you are a GM, your players raid on a moon, and there is no method to determine gravity, atmosphere, etc.  So these are simply *not* rules by any means, as there is nothing complete about them at all.  They aren’t even a decent guideline, and are better left ignored.  Why in the heck would you print something that is best ignored and even in your own text say “these aren’t complete”???

"I'm sorry, but who really cares what the highest form of life is on a planet??? Isn't it always humans anyway? :) This is something that I think long ago should just be ignored, as it isn't very relevant when BT isn't as much about "exploring the universe" but "exploring ruins""
I wasn't aware that humans were native to every inhabited planet in the BattleTech universe, didn't they all come from Terra? Seriously, it even says, "Step 7: Determine Highest Local Life Form. To determine the highest native life form..." And why should it be ignored when a large section of the AToW *and* this book go into details about native life forms, how to make them, what they are good for, etc?

Because the GM will determine if there are dinosaurs on the planet, not these rules.  I was being a bit sarcastic though, as every planet with a population is going to have humans, and thus mammals are always the highest level of life J

To sum up my wall of text:
You need to:
A) Use your own imagination.
B) Read the book you are complaining about.
C) Stop assuming things

      A)    These are RULES, they are there to assist when my imagination can’t do it.  By that statement, why have any rule books at all, just “use your imagination”.
      B)     Uhhh, I did, I went through every single line of the system generation, often more than a few times
      C)    I didn’t assume anything, not sure where you got that

My main beef is why bother printing some half-assed rules, when you have a full system on the horizon, and even better stuff already printed?

While I can NOT recommend this book to people who want to generate systems (use this or cheaper/older this instead), it still looks go be a good book for any GM or people playing the RPG.  I haven't read through the new rules for battlearmor (that look cool at first glance), creature generation, high level npc generation, or some other sections that also may be awesome (or not).  

Here (right click, save as) is an old download, 2.8mb, that has a system generator using the older (and more detailed) explorer corps rules for system generation (as well as a bunch of other stuff in it that may not be updated).

And here is the new one.  Both are excel 2010 files.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Time of War Companion System Generation

I jumped in excel today and spent a couple hours making a spreadsheet that can easily use the system in ATOW to generate, well, tens of thousands of systems in <1 second on my machine.  I now have gone through the whole system generation rules, and its fell short in a few ways.

  • The rules state that orbits 2-4 are in the life zone.  However this means that often there are 2 or even 3 occupied terrestrial planets in a single system.  There is no difference in these systems, all 3 could be a high population colony, or whatever.  So in essence, many times, there is no single world in a system that is predominate.
  • The USILR code (p366-376 ATOW), or the A-B-A-D-E thing planets have is said to need to be created, but there is no way to do this without, well, pulling numbers out of your ass.  You don't have any idea how many of any type of world there may be.
  • Giant/Dwarf terrestrials are mentioned to be habitable sometimes, but no rules, nor sizes, nor any details can be gained.
  • The stellar subtype, a number between 0 to 9, which can be considered a decimal number between 1 start type and the next, is on a 2d6 table.  In stellar terms, this should be a 1d10 and there should be a pretty equal chance of each, not mostly 5's
  • Nothing whatsoever on terrain generation
  • The record sheet has stats for only a single habitable world, when a system could have up to 3.  This isn't really a flaw, as you would use one of these per world.  However, it would have made a lot more sense to have a simple system sheet on 1 page, and a world sheet on another.
  • Overall its a very generic and abstract system without really giving much detail.  If your a GM, and want a world, just make one up on your own and avoid this whole section.  If you really want to generate a detailed system, avoid these rules entirely and go get GURPS Space 4e (or some of the older GURPS Traveller or Traveller products) which does a far better job at creating a more realistic system.
  • No details for moons, but we have lots of MW/MC games that have had moon based battles :(
  • I'm sorry, but who really cares what the highest form of life is on a planet???  Isn't it always humans anyway? :)  This is something that I think long ago should just be ignored, as it isn't very relevant when BT isn't as much about "exploring the universe" but "exploring ruins".
Some EASY potential fixes:
  • For a system with 2+ terrestrial worlds in the life zone, roll a 1d6/2 if 3, or 1d6/3 if 2, to determine which planet is the predominate one.  Other planets are always lesser population.  If the predominate planet is a colony, other planets must just be settlements.
  • Random USILR codes.  Roll 2d6.  2-3 is an A, 4-5 is a B, 6-7 is a C, 8-9 is a D, 10-11 is E, and 12 is F.  Roll Technological, Industrialization, Raw Material, Industrial Output, and Agricultural dependence in order.  To make more sense add modifiers.  If Technology A, -4 to other rolls, if its a B -2, if its E +2, if its an F +4.  Raw material is never modified.
  • Giant terrestrials are 14000+1d6*1000 km in diamater, dwarf are 1000+1d6*1000.
  • Stellar subtypes are a d10 roll, treating a 10 as 0.
Overall like I mentioned, I'd use GURPS/Traveller to create a system.  They have rules for everything ATOWC has, and lots more, plus the ability to detail things out a lot.  Granted, their rules are far more complex, so go download Heaven & Earth and have a fully detailed system in minutes.

I had an epiphany last night on how to generate my own universe that feels like BT, but isn't.  One word:  Supernova.  More to come soon.

Oh, if anybody wants the spreadsheet, make a comment below or send me an email, its a bit under 300k with 50 worlds and a crappy record sheet generator.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Time of War Companion Quick Review

First, I love new BT products, even if I don't really even use them.  There is something seriously wrong in my head I think.

Anyway, a quick review of the latest release. 

If you play the RPG, this book is mandatory.  Its filled full of new rules.  I'm sure there is a table of contents out there, and I'm not going into too much detail on stuff.  Here is what I thought was kinda cool though:

  • Rank tables, both old and new for all factions
  • New rules for battlesuit combat, including a critical sheet for battle armor that looks just like the mech criticals (6 slots per limb, 12 in body, etc).  
  • Advanced creature creation... maybe I can write a computer program to randomize critters?
  • System generation rules.  Some very simplistic ones anyway, but it beats the old ones in Explorer Corps.  I'll write a version that'll do it for you on the computer maybe this week.  I know I wrote an old one that I think is still around, so this will replace it.
  • Rules for personal vehicles, basically some really simple stats (table, not a TRO) of the vehicles you see behind the infantry in TRO 3085.

I need to dig in and see how well the combat system works.  I had more fun playing Battletroops in about 1989-1990 than I have ever had playing Battletech.  With all the new rules in this book, if I get rid of extra stuff, rip out a few dozen pages, I may just have BattleTroops 3!  Hope so anyway.

And the negative.  I noticed quite a few pics in the book I'd seen somewhere before.  Not that big a deal  tho.  Page 272-273 is an add for, which I was stupid and joined, and it is a waste of money (oooo, 5% discount, saved me $2.73 on this order).  And my biggest beef, the $60 for the book+PDF.  I go to amazon, the book is $30, i have to pay $7.50 through battlecorps for shipping, freaking outrageous (and they usually ship 1 book in a big empty box with lots of peanuts).  My biggest problem is I bought the hardcover, why in the hell am I also paying for the PDF????  I can see why you'd sell the PDF for $15 and the book for $30+, but if you buy the hardcopy, you should get the PDF for free, period.  Otherwise I see it as basically charging me twice for 1 product.

If you buy a physical book, the PDF should always be free, otherwise its just not ethical IMO.

But I buy it anyway, cuz I'm nuts, and I know I make more than most people who play this silly game and want to support it, but ugh, that is just wrong.

Anyway, enough ranting.  If you play the RPG a lot, I'd recommend buying this book, but I'd recommend buying the PDF as you can search it easier and it won't fall apart on you.

Oh, one more thing.  They do now have a map for planets, its the typical 20 triangle icoshedron that Traveller I think started decades ago.  It looks nice, but I had really been hoping that Interstellar Operations wouldn't make planetary level combat stupid, and this map really hints that it'll be lame.  First, there is only 1 size of map, meaning all maps will have different sized hexes, meaning that movement and stuff will be so abstracted to lose all sense of fun.  There is only 6 different sizes of planets (8000km+1d6*1000km).  The planet given is about 25 hexes in diameter.  On average about 450km per hex.  They could very easily have made 6 of them, from 20 to 32 hexes or so in diameter, so the hexes could be consistent and your regiment move at the same speed on every planet you land on.  Another thing, there simply isn't *enough* hexes.  North America would be at most probably 4 hexes across, and 2 hexes vertical, meaning all of North America is only about 8 total hexes to fight on.  How are you going to fight the retaking of Terra by Kerensky or from the WOB when all of NA, with divisions of divisions of troops, is on EIGHT hexes?  May as well just give you a counter per regiment, with an attack and defense, and really dumb it down.  Plenty of games follow that model and work I guess.  This is how I know that the planetary scale of BattleForce in Interstellar Operations will suck, just like the Planetary Assault rules from BF2 sucked.  Hopefully I'm wrong, and perhaps IO will come out with regional maps, where it is a "megahex" with perhaps 10-20 hexes across, and each represents a single hex on the planet.  A system like that would be cool as you may only be fighting in a few of them at a time, and each could probably fit on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper, and dozens could be create pretty easily (1 per terrain type on the planet).  If a system like this is done, there is still hope I think, otherwise imagine how non-fun it'll be to drop 8 counters on Tikonov in 3029, against 8 other counters, where you maybe move 1 hex per day, and no terrain really matters.  I sure hope they don't do drugs and decide to give units on this scale a range of combat, that'd just make me go ballistic.

Friday, September 21, 2012

MasterUnitList v2.0

Ok, design work has now begun on the new MasterUnitList.  The official MasterUnitList was just updated, though buggy I think it looks a bit better.  They did implement quick strike cards, but they are all text and would require you do a screenshot, jump to paint, paste, then crop the image to print it.  I'm sure they did this to save CPU on the web server, storage on the web server, and probably most of all bandwidth, but oh well.

The MasterUnitList 2.0, well, my BattleTech Encyclopedia 2.0, will have a LOT of new features.  I'll list them here, feel free to chime in any ideas you may have for it:

  • A fully functional phpBB forum to discuss all things BattleTech, with far less censorship and moderation (if you want to be a mod, apply now!) as I am not a company :)
  • A fully functional real time chat engine that supports die rollers and I'll add any tables such as random unit tables, Xotl's tables, location tables, etc.  It should run on your phone, and may help people play.
  • Battletech record sheets for *everything*.  That includes things like warships, buildings, mobile structures, and even characters for ATOW/RPG.
  • The website and chat logins will be the same as the forum password.
  • You can create your own lists of units.  Create your own 2nd ACR, add all the units of any kind you want to the list, and print them out as QS, BF, or BT.  When you print, the output can be PNG or PDF.
  • You can share your unit lists with some people, or everybody.
  • The ability to search for units based on ANY criteria.  Want to find units with only 100 shots of MG ammo?  Done!
  • You lists of units also map to lists of characters, so you can give each unit a pilot from your list (or have them randomly generated).
  • All units in your list, as well as all personnel, can have all their attributes modified.  Want to use up some ammo on some units?  How about apply damage or do crits?  What about a refit?  Or give the unit some heat.  All will be implemented.
  • With a single click, you can get the BV of a unit list, the time it takes to repair it, the cost of repairs, my own strategic scale battleforce data for a unit of any size, average armor or damage over the whole unit, heck, the sky is the limit :)
  • A page to verify designs.  Not really a unit builder yet, but you'll be able to put in all the info, and it'll create a QS/BT/BF card, tell you the overall cost/BV/etc, and let you know if some rules  were broken in the design.
  • Battle simulator.  Specify 2 units, give a range, give pilot skills, give modifiers to hit, and the simulator will determine with those circumstances, which unit will triumph and how often.
  • Bug submission button on most pages to help me fix things you find that are broken.
  • I *might* give the ability to export to megamek/SSW/etc, but I'm not real sure yet.  If I do, I'll probably be able to create an entity list for megamek scenarios based on your own unit lists.
  • I *might* give the ability to upload your own record sheet backgrounds, but you'll have to spend some time configuring it if number layout is different than the ones I already did.
  • And more I'll find when I finish going through notes :)
Due to my new job making me come up at 6, and spousal commitments, the best ETA on all this being done I can give is about January, but don't hold me much to it, as variables get thrown into the schedule of life more than I'd like.  

I did find it kinda funny that the canon MasterUnitList had a dozen or more people listed as assisting with the project, and it is nowhere as complete or detailed as mine is with only me doing it.  I actually have all the stats for every unit, not just some horribly inaccurate and partial faction lists.

More to come soon!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Forum, Webchat, and the meaning of life

EDIT:  Mk 33 TRO 3063 Record Sheet Here

So I've been all over the place the last week or two in regards to projects.  Been hard to focus on finishing the last one due to work and life, so I've been tinkering.

I installed and configured phpBB (forum software) and could open it to the world, well, by releasing the domain its located at.  No biggie, lots of forums out there, but I plan on using it to support my projects and allow a lot less moderated forum about various games I'm interested in.  However, it is on my home internet account, and I'm betting pretty darned slow if a few people are online.  Good news is I'm working at a hosting provider now, so I can probably get near infinite bandwidth by just plopping a server in our data center.  This will drastically speed up my site as well (the encyclopedia, the blog is on blogspot and out of my control) and hopefully make it a more pleasant experience once I get the updates out.

And also, I downloaded probably 20 examples of a chat software that is 100% browser based, that was versatile enough for me to add my own commands like "/roll 2d6" and such.  All the examples sucked in some way, so I decided to write my own.  It took me no more than an hour to do what I wasted 8 looking at others do.  I still need some polish, but basically when I launch the forum I'll have web chat that authenticates with the forum's password, that'll allow folks to talk together, do things like us it to get a real time die roll (believe it or not, I could find no app out there allowing this!), and integrate things like the random unit tables or search rules for references, the sky's the limit!  I did this part mostly for Federation and Empire support.  Basically when you play that game you do moves, 1 hex at a time, asking if the opponent reacts to your move.  Its MUCH easier over a real time system like this, plus, they can roll die (and even hide results until both do a /reveal).  I think it'll be awesome, though it'll need lots more polish (like a weeks worth of coding).

I haven't forgot about updating the site, my new job is just a lot more time consuming than my old one (or the 4 months I took off) and I don't usually get home till 6-6:30.

I blew $546 on the Reaper Kickstarter bones miniatures, not real sure why, I haven't played a game in well over a year, and no more than 5 in 10 years, but it seemed like a great deal.  Ogre got me started on Kickstarter, and I've also been a supporter for Traveller 5 and a few other projects.  One I'm excited about is FTL, which gets released tomorrow (buy it from their site for the best deal, they'll give you a steam key).  It looks well worth $10.

I stopped playing the MWO beta already, its just so boring, really kinda pissed I paid $120 for it.  I've said it once and I'll say it a hundred times, The F2P model destroys games.  People *DO* pay for games, look at COD or BF2, so these nickel-and-dime you out of a lot more than $60 over a year or two really suck.  I also really don't care what any developers say, the games are *always* "pay to win", and MWO is no exception regardless of what they tell you.

Speaking of games, I really wanted to do the Planetside 2 beta, $40 and your in.  However before I bought it I jumped back into Tribes Ascend, one of the better F2P games (but still pay or play excessively to win) and determined that the majority of people playing these games as just assholes.  In real life they'd get punched in the face or at least have zero friends for the way they treat other players, its horrible.  People are so uncivil, with comments so uncivilized that the next time I play, I'll just turn off the chat all together if I can, so I don't have to see the idiotic gibberish and childish insults flying back and forth.

I looked into Android development again, and it won't happen.  Its dumb to spend time writing code for an iPhone or Android, when both of those items have 24/7 internet access and a web browser.  Both of those devices are *completely* different code bases, have compatibility issues, etc, so I'll just write a browser based game and not care what device you look at it on.  It is the way of the future anyway, big companies want you online, so they can charge/track you more, and big companies get what they want.

And not to go off topic *too* much, ok, it is too much, just what the fuck does anybody see in Mitt Romney?  I'm not a democrat, nor a republican, I am proud to be American, but while I can see some redeeming factors about Obama, I seriously haven't seen one consistent or intelligent thing come from Mitt.  If your a supporter, please, and I mean PLEASE, shoot me an email or forum message and just let me know something you support about that man so I can hopefully understand why somebody would put his sticker on their car or go to a rally.  One catch, its gotta be true.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Another TRO 3063 Update

Well a few more changes, and enough complaining that I made the center torso criticals like "canon", and stopped putting all engine crits first.  Though the chances are identical, some just couldn't grasp it, and it was an easy code change.  Also could be some other updated files.  All those text files are ugly debug like code I use to determine if my BV, Cost, Availability, etc calculations are correct.  If you see an error take a look, let em know what you think it is, and I'll go fix it asap.

Still working on the Steel Legion unit designer, between work, my crazy biker dad being hunted by the Amigo's (like the Banditos, but less "nice"), plus playing SFB's Federation and Empire over cyberboard development hasn't gone too fast.  Soon as I finish the Strike Legion editor I'll get to updating the encyclopedia though, and will have things like warships and dropships done very soon after, then onto the whole logging in thing and generating force lists.

If ya'll could chime and let me know whatcha think of my mech/vehicle/fighter record sheets I'd appreciate any input, good or bad.

Here is the latest TRO 3063 link.

Oh, I have also been playing around with some web chat software.  This would allow you to log on with somebody else, roll dice, get various table results, etc.  However my ajax experience sucks, and I'm having a hard time using other people's code and adding in functions like /roll 1d6.  It seems simple, but I haven't gotten a good solution yet.... 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

TRO 3063 - New RS File! (02 SEP)

Since apparently some of ya'll are downloading slowly from lordsofthebattlefield (I can't even log in that site its so slow!), I put the files on my free mediafire account.

Enjoy, it took a lot of work from a lot of us, and a lot of money from Steve Satak, to get it all done.

EDIT:  There were a few bugs in the release that are being fixed now.  There should be a new RS file out tonight, and Steve is updating the TRO with better graphics.  Original RS was the Mk26 version.

30 AUG 2012 16:14 CST Update:  I updated the RS file to make it more usable.  The BV's still have some bugs, but at least all the armor circles are there and nothing has too many slots.  It is at the same download link, and is called mk27 now.  This was the Mk27 version.

31 AUG 2012 09:16 CST Update:  Lots of BV changes, a new variant (PV-2K), the fixing of the BJ2-OG G2 Blackjack, and the MUL at the back of the RS doesn't hide the first entry on the page anymore.  Quite a few little issues were fixed that were brought up over on BattleTechReader comments. This is the Mk28 version.

01 SEP 2012 17:50 CST Update:  Mk 29 out, lots more updates, should be the final one but we'll see!

02 SEP 2012 03:23 CST Update:  TRO 3063 Update Released, all files (including my "debug" files on weight, cost, bv, ratings, etc) available on that mediafire link.  Enjoy!