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them though, and the rate of new items being released from CGL, even if he does eventually get HMP 6 finished, it'll be outdated within a few months.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.