Sunday, February 19, 2012

Feburary's Blabbering

My company was nice enough to "eliminate my position" this last week, but with a nice severance, my vacation, and last years bonus I don't really have to work anymore... ever (my wife has a great job).  While I don't want to waste all my time doing BT stuff, I am going to waste some of it :)

Today I spent a couple hours tinkering with the quick strike cards.  I had recently "re-ripped" the entire MUL site to get some data for another project, and many of the MUL units had QS/BF2 data (lots of errata needed though).  So I basically wrote up a quick app that uses that data I downloaded, and then lets you scroll through what is essentially the MUL, but in a quick strike card format instead of a web format.  You can copy the cards but I didn't write in any printer functionality, copy them to word or something if you want them printed.  I have included just about everything from the MUL as well, and it'll even attempt to download the images (which are saved locally in a cache) too!

This program lacks any polish, but it is a single EXE that requires the .NET 4.0 Redistributable (google can find it for you).  Actually, if you don't have that installed you really need to go to or your control panel and run *all* the MSFT updates... if you get something bad chances are it was from an exploit that was recently patched.

Anyway, back to the app.  If this gets popular for some reason, I can do a lot more with it.  I can add print support, force creating, a list to more quickly find units, allow you to have your own skins and define where the variables are printed (font, x, y, size, etc).  There are some *really* nice color ones people have done, but they weren't canon so I didn't add them, but the code can support it easy enough.  Also, somebody is doing some mod that I've seen that has pilots and some stats by each card, that also could be easily supported.  I can also support using a text input file for all the variables and stuff, so you can quickly print out your company or whatever for each week in a campaign game.

Also, MANY units will simply not work on the canon QS cards, period.  Just try to put a dropship, large templated naval vehicle, warship, etc on them, it just doesn't work.  IMO they need a more standard format that can simply be extended vertically (or horizontally) for units with a lot more data.  Oh, and if you know what font I need let me know... I tried Eurostile but it didn't look right, so I just fell back to Verdana which was ok.  Link is

Other BT stuff I've been working on:
 - My encyclopedia of all units in the universe seems to be a never ending task.  I started pulling MUL stuff, which is why I eventually ripped the site, but found a *huge* number of errors and just gave up on the whole thing for a while.

- I went through a bunch of production data from the new objective books.  While I like the books, I do wish they listed some hard numbers... not like we don't have hard #s on mech regiments, not sure why production numbers are such a big deal.  I did come up with some numbers that are a guestimates from published figures:
  • 8 mechs are produced per regiment in service per year
  • Fighter production is 2/3rds mech production
  • I'm betting vehicle production is 2x mech production
  • 1 Dropship per year per about 666 dropships in service
  • 1 Jumpship per year per about 180 jumpships in service
- I went through a bunch of printed stats, mostly Marik/FRR and determine what I think is the ratio of BM/CV/etc in the inner sphere:
  - For each ONE mech regiment, there are:
  • 2 Tank Regiments (Roughly 25% are militia)
  • 10 Infantry Regiments (Roughly 40% are militia)
  • 2 Special service battalions (Artillery, Psyops, Specops, etc)
  • 1.5 Aerospace Wings, typically 1.0 is with each mech regiment
  • 5 Jumpships (Roughly 50% are civilian)
  • 64 Dropships (Roughly 50% are civilian)
  • Roughly 1 Warship, when any exist
- I tried yet again to come up with a board and counter solution for playing out the succession wars, and again failed.  I really want *some* detail, but it really looks impossible to handle.  The last thing I was looking at was giving each unit the following statistics:
  • Defense (Defensive BV)
  • Repair Cost (Tons of armor on unit)
  • Energy Attack (Offensive BV, when all ammo consuming weapons removed)
  • Support Attack (Offensive BV with just LRMs/Artillery)
  • Support Attack Supply Consumption (Tons of supplies needed for Support Attack)
  • Standard Attack (Offensive BV with no support weapons)
  • Standard Attack Supply Consumption (Tons of supplies needed for Standard Attack)
  • Assault Attack (Full offensive BV, uses Support+Standard supply)
  • Movement rate (not 100% sure this is useful, Defensive BV takes it into account)
  • Cost (as production lines are rated by cost, a line must have this capacity to produce this unit)
- I tinkered with getting all of the BF2 data on a single counter and create counters to play a BF2 game so no paper would be needed.  While I love counters, and have hundreds of thousands of them, it just seems a lot easier to track the things on paper and I gave up.  I did make counters that if 1" could be easily readable, with megamek style mech views (with camo's) on one side.   That could be used for people just wanting to use counters instead of miniatures, and .5" hex maps could be used and the game be a lot more portable.

- I took a look at ripping/linking to the site for various information, but inconsistent URLs killed the idea pretty quick.

- I took a new look at cartographer, the amount settings are getting crazy, as well as the amount of stuff I was having to generate/render each loop.  I may look at starting it over again, using DirectX and caching a lot more data to help performance.  All of the settings will be in a text file and easily editable, plus you can save multiple ones.  I'll be sure to have a lot more support for things like waves of a war, units, factories, changing system ownership, system stats, moving units around, etc, etc.  A complete rewrite though, which isn't as bad as it sounds (its only a few thousand lines of code).

- And for those of you who read this far, a special announcement.  One of the dependencies I have for a game, and many other BT things, is a freaking editor for stuff.  I need to know how much stuff costs, ensure all the designs are valid, programatically do damage and repairs, and many other things.  Well We have a couple mech editors out there, all of which aren't very versatile and extremely fixed.  There are no designers for thing like buildings, mobile structures, support vehicles, etc.  I'm a big fan of object oriented stuff, basically keeping a project into very set and fixed blocks that inter communicate only when necessary.  I have a huge excel file of all the equipment in BT, basically a compilation of every table in the 5 core rule books, plus all the additional rules scattered everywhere for stuff like retrotech and superheavy mechs.  I am writing an editor that dynamically looks at all of this data, and lets you use a single interface to build *anything* in the universe (well except infantry platoons, which may be added later, and RPG stuff which will probably never be in there as thats another project).  Right now I can get to the point of choosing equipment, but it isn't a real fast interface.  Changing a mech from 10 to 15 tons may involve tens of thousands of loops through lots of text.  I have some thoughts to speed it up, so it'll get better.  This application will never be beautiful or well designed, but what it will be is versatile and dynamic.  If TPTB add a new piece of equipment in a new book it'll be easy for anybody, no coding involved, to add it to the system.  The ONE *major* issue with this program is errata.  There are multiple printings of each rule book, errata and questions scattered all over the place, and a large number of inconsistencies, missing data, and outright errors on those tables that haven't been resolved.  I have the descrepancies flagged, but TPTB haven't been very kind in answering them.... in fact, they usually just ignore them, and I know they need this application as much as or more than everybody else to make new products and print out a freaking record sheet book or XTRO without a bunch of typos.

If anybody wants to help with the designer, scouring the forums and errata for the latest and correct answers I could use the help, and you can have access to the application... well, now :)

I do plan on an RPG designer using a very modular system too, but simply haven't wanted to type up every single career path everywhere.... if somebody wants to do it I'll write the software around it ;)

Some pictures of various things I've worked on, cuz everybody likes em:

Using a single counter for all BF2 or QS stats:
 The unit builder:
 A little app I wrote to make MegaMek+Camo units
 A 50% done app that makes icons
 A random unit generator using SO rules
 Another 1 mech = 1 counter idea
 A thought for an icon for a large scale strategic BT game, showing a whole regiment on a screen at once if necesary
Just PART of a big excel worksheet I have showing sales of ships.  Not sure how that Behemoth is gunna hook up to a scout.... 
 My idea for "Intertech", a hybrid between QS and BT (made long before QS).  Basically getting rid of record sheets, but mechs still play uniquely.
 Another 1 company = 1 counter thing, eridani light horse was below it.
 A quick strike idea, with more blanks for units that have IF 1, TUR 1/1, AC 1/1, LRM 1/1, SRM 1/1, FLK 1/1, etc, etc... Ammo could be tracked too
 Yet another QS style idea, far more detail on the page
 1 counter = 1 company, this was the latest counters I was referring to above
A much older idea for 1 counter = 1 regiment
This is a map I made a long time ago, I think it was 1 hex per 30 LY, and the X's are production factories.  Plotters are great :)  I even had all the counters for the 4th succession war and could slug it out!  I don't have a pic, but I have a large posterboard with the same map in 1 hex = 7.5 LY, allowing jumpships to move 4... its not in color but it lets me fight out the 4th SW in significant detail.
This is a small tactical map I made for running campaigns at my kinda local gaming store.  It gave a small planet, with every kind of terrain, every kind of weather, and would allow a pretty simple campaign game to be fought out... I think it had a page of rules, but that was too much apparently and it was never used.

I welcome any comments and questions!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Never say never!

Well never say never I guess.  Due to popular demand, and FM 3085 having *full* data for the whole IS in a single year (first, time EVER in the BTU), I'm slightly back into it.

The files are back online, but are probably out of date, get a newer version here:;topicseen#new

Cartographer is another story.  I put together a quick DirectX version that ran *really* fast, but it'll require less than crap hardware to run.  While normally I'd try to avoid that, I noticed that with a lot of eras and grids loaded cartographer was using nearly 2GB of ram anyway, so maybe I'm aiming for too low of a common denominator.

I have been tinkering with a design system.  Something that lets you, within a SINGLE application, and a SINGLE interface, design the following unit types:
BattleMechs (including superheavy)
IndustrialMechs (including superheavy)
ProtoMechs (including ultraheavy)
Battle Armor
Combat Vehicles
Support Vehicles (including very large ones)
Conventional and Aerospace Fighters
Small Craft
Space Stations
Mobile Structures

What it doesn't have is infantry platoons and RPG characters.  I *might* be able to have infantry platoons later, but the RPG stuff will never fall within this application.

This program will be highly dynamic and object oriented.  It'll be versatile, so when new rules come out anybody can add them.  Hardly anything is hard-coded.  It won't be the fastest thing as there is a LOT of enumerating through 2000+ pieces of equipment and 200+ different chassis configurations, but it should work for *everything*, which is something we've never had before.  Not sure if I'll finish it, I do have a congressional campaign that *should* be using up all my time (if only I really wanted to win, instead of feeling compelled to run) so no guarantees on anything.

I may post some succession wars ideas here soon, for posterity reasons just in case I can never finish my projects based on that.