Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March's Ramblings

Been out of a job an entire month now, sure doesn't seem like it, and I haven't been nearly as productive (non-bt wise anyway) as I would have liked, I think waiting for my severance and all the cash sent my job not really have "closure" for a few weeks.  Its wacky working somewhere 7 years and not being there anymore.  I've never even lived anywhere over 2 years before, so for me it was, well, weird.  However, its quite nice to have time to do things, and not always feel stressed.  I highly recommend not working if you can get away with it ;)

Ok, onto Battletech!

First I'd like to say thank you VERY much to CGL for producing the Liberation of Terra historical.  I am *SO* much more interested in 2500-3025 than I am 3075+, and the book is pretty darned good.  I would have liked a few more #s (like how many of what kinda SDS per system, and a breakdown of all the divisions, all that detail stuff) but its a great purchase!  I also bought the 2 hard cardstock things, just to support them, as I haven't played in a long time and doubt I will anytime soon.

I made a HUGE amount of changes to the MUL_QS thing, its really a finished application now.  I do plan on one more update I think, and that'll be reading in data from a CSV so you can make your own BF/QS stats.  I was thinking of using the SSW BF file, with a column added for image location and skills.

I spent a lot of the last few days helping out the upcoming fan produced TRO3063 over at Battletech Reader which is coming along nicely, and I think a lot of you will enjoy.  But it gave me some ideas.

Idea #1:  Using a list of SSW files (or whatever format I eventually go with, probably my own), create your own TRO.  This would take all the fluff/images and stuff from design software, and create a PDF that reads like any modern TRO.  Same thing with a record sheet file.  If I could produce something like that, CGL could make new TROs and RS's with a lot less errors a lot easier.... *IF* they used it.

Idea #2.  A Reunification War board game.  I played with this earlier, made a map and some counters, but just didn't have enough detail to finish it out.  I started doing the same thing with a Liberation of Terra game, basically a map, maybe 3' x 3', that lets you use 1 counter per division (or maybe corps) and slug out the battle towards Terra.  I decided I'd wait until the next volume to pursue it further.

Idea #3.  A real time version of battletech, with a top down view, utilizing megamek style icons with camo applied.  You would control 1 unit (perhaps more later), initially just 3039 units and basic rules.  I actually wrote up a system that allocated damage and criticals to mechs using megamek data files.  It worked great, then project creep set in, and I got off track.  I eventually decided to just have tanks for now, as the rules are far simpler (loading up all the crits on mechs was an issue, split criticals, artemis, multiple slot items, it all just got annoying), and could have something pretty soon.  This leads to #4.

Idea #4.  For *years* I have wanted a fully blown game of BT.  By fully blown I mean you control every single lance (or just the regiments if desired) for an entire house, and battle it out.  If we had 100% data on units, production numbers, planets, etc, I would have finished this years ago, but since I never wanted to fill in the blanks with my own stuff, it always stalled.  Stupid reason, but it wasn't like I had a deadline.  Anyway, based on #3 I decide I *had* to have a map system to go further.  I designed this map system years ago, so I could map out an entire planet in 32mb or less, with single hex accuracy and persistency.  So I finally wrote it, and its working.  My 10km "regional" maps are all pretty darned boring, but the whole system works, and though all terrain will be flat with only trees and rough, I think I may start moving forward with a real time game based on this.  This means with a mech moving 12 MP per turn, it will take you nearly 2 weeks of *REAL* time to run around the entire world.  Yes, its *that* big, and honestly I have no idea why games aren't all that big, technology has been here to do it for years.

And the bad news.  I talked with the Secretary of State today, and apparently I processed my paperwork correctly, so I can indeed be a US Congressional Candidate (District 32, Texas) in 2012.  I was hoping I messed it up, as I do NOT want that job, but feel it is my duty to do it until somebody who gives a crap about their constituents steps up and lets me forget about it.  And this year for Texas elections are wacky, we had some redistricting that went to court, and tinkered with our election cycle and areas.  As I refuse to run as an idiotic republican, an idiot democrat, or any of the other crappy parties, I am running independent.  This means I need 500 signatures to get my name on the ballot.  Normally I get 30 days or so to do that after the primaries, but this year I get like 3 months!  Woot!  So I need to knock out my website, some various flyers/cards/signs, and start going door to door.  Hopefully people will want to help with their time, as I refused to accept any monetary donations from anyone, as people may have a different amount of money, but everybody has 24 hours in a day.  Anyway, back to BT, assuming you read past this, most people *hate* talking about politics, even though its their own lives that suffer when they ignore it.

So I'm staying focused on this project this time.  This last BT project I actually named "DoItOrForgetIt".  If I don't finish this, or start to stray, I'll give up on it.  It has been nearly 10 years since my first thoughts of it, and without progress I can call it a dream and move on.

There are a few parts of this last project:
Part #1.  A designer for every type of unit in the universe.  The interface is by far, the hardest part of this, and the one that has caused me the most headache.  However I'm about 30% on my way to finishing it.
Part #2.  A system to map out and fight on up to an entire planet.  Though I don't have random 10km regional maps like I'd like, what I do have no will work good enough to continue.
Part #3.  Data entry.  I need everything in the universe put into a computer format.  I have a *LOT* of this done already, and can fill in the blanks with random stuff if absolutely necessary.
Part #4.  A stellar interface.  This is much like my Cartographer was, but with more game functionality.  This will be the core part of the game system.  I've written 90% of it once, so doing it again (my code wasn't real efficient, and I want directx in the next version) shouldn't be a problem
Part #5.  Automated battle system.  This will scale from you controlling a single trooper on the battlefield, up to launching a full 8 RCT's against Tikonov with just a few mouse clicks.  The level of detailed desired is configurable.

So, I'm off to work on #2 and #5, those will be my focus for a short time, followed by going back to #1, adn lastly #4 and #5.

If *anybody* can help me out with 10km tileable map generation I *really* could use the help.  My maps will suck horribly until I get some, as I just can't seem to get a decent grasp on how to create it.

Oh, and I have a stack of battletech and starfleet battles books if anybody wants them, I put an add on craigslist  but haven't gotten any hits.  Pay for shipping and $10 for my time and *all* of it is yours.  Its a stack of books like 15" tall, not sure what that'll cost to ship.  If your local (DFW) and want to stop by its yours for free.


  1. Hi BattleTech Engineer,

    Good luck with your projects! I look forward to seeing your progress. Better not stop working on them as you get deeper into the world of politics.

    I'm doing a lot of programming at the moment so I know how tough it can be. Would love to hear more about the programming problems you're working through.

    I'd love to grab all of those books but I'm a on tight budget. I'm currently reading through the Introductory Rules in an older version of the Boxed Set I found online (paper maps and minis for me), and I'm working on drafting my friends in to play.

  2. I look forward to your efforts. And if I can help let me know. I am a systems analyst with light programming skills so no help there (unless you want PHP) but I can break crap pretty well! So if you need a QA guy or a beta tester, I am your guy!

  3. I would pay 10 plus shipping, my sons are getting into this great old game and their pops is pretty happy :). Email me a shawn350@gmail.com

  4. Hey Syntax! Will you still be making a stand-alone cartographer app based on the stellar interface (#4) of the game you're making? the DX-based app you sent me was a leap in the right direction, it just needs to display system names and maybe a dynamic background (oh and the bug with displaying the wrong year needs to be looked at, but it already has the important things, it's easy to use and it displays the systems) and of course the option to print the displayed portion to a white background PDF of course :)

  5. Thanks for all the input folks.

    Volt, you can easily use that tool as cartographer, if you don't use the "game related" features. The DX version I sent you was just to see if DX could handle the rendering of so many sprites. While it does do the 3000 planets ok, it doesn't handle the 110,000 uninhabited systems like the current GDI+ version. I also tried WPF (think of it as the aero interface API in windows 7), but it couldn't handle crap. I didn't test the DX version with hexes, but if I use triangles and do it as a big height map (with no height), I'm pretty sure it should be able to handle it quite easily.

    Once HBHK comes out, and we can finally get a full map of the inner sphere, I'll dive back into making and finishing an interstellar mapping project.

  6. Cool, at this moment I'm loading up the 3060 mapped systems on the latest cartographer app. 2765 is by far the most dense map we have and I wanna see how it looks with 10LY hexes. This should be great! I'm also hoping the upcoming Star League-themed books bring new maps to the table.