Sunday, December 1, 2013

Censorship and Alpha Strike

So I still kinda follow the forums.  Mostly so I can see the massive amounts of errata and when new stuff comes out, but also as fans occasionally have some great new ideas (like AS point values).  Anyway one of these threads one user was asking about Alpha Strike Unit Card Templates.  This is a pretty important question, as right now there is no "official" way to make your own cards, and not everybody is a photoshop (or even mspaint) expert.  It went for quite a while with NO answer, but a lot of views.  One day I noticed an answer, which happily linked back to me.  However, the next day that posting was GONE.  I presume they gave the user that posted it warning under maybe rule #12, though honestly I have no more stuff violating IP on my site than Sarna.net or in many cases MegaMek and/or Skunkworks.  I did do that torrent posting a month or so back, but as nobody has inquired yet I presume most people can use google and get the books themselves, or just don't care (which most of the folks I game with are like, they simply don't care about most of the IP, hard for me to understand!).  Here is the posting if ya don't believe me (you can still get to the topic now.... until they delete it).

Anyway, my point was even as much as every single person on those forums may hate me personally, a link to an application I made is hardly a violation of any rule, and #12 is *really* stretching it.  Hopefully the user just got a warning, and not an outright permanent ban (totally possible based on their stasi style forum rules, created I assume from overwhelming amounts of those in power... kinda like our own US Government).  It was nice to see a reference to something I did, but sad to see some user punished for it.

What really sucks is even if I took my whole encyclopedia site down, and started over with only utilities, I'm positive they would still be asses towards me.  Perhaps that is justified, but as somebody who gives them a lot of money it doesn't seem right (though obviously I am biased in that opinion).  I dunno.  Maybe I'll go to GenCon next year and see if I can get a straight answer to my face, since people can be much larger asses online than they could ever be in person.

My buddy that got banned a while back that I think I mentioned just said "he doesn't care".  I think only 1-2 of the 10 guys I game with ever go to the official forums, which is sad.  If 80% of the players of battletech don't visit the forums, many of which due to the prevailing attitudes there, well, its sad.  I don't want to see Battletech die, but it sure feels some people are making it so.

There are a few things that irk me to now end.  One is hypocrisy, another is secrecy/censorship.  Those 2 things are 2 of 3 of the biggest evils I see in the world (#3 is a lack of empathy).

Anyway, since I'm sure ya'll don't care about my opinions, and maybe just come here as I'm the only relatively frequently updated Battletech blog I know of, I'll talk about battletech!

/END RANT

Played a game today, saw 2 of my WLF-2X wolfhounds (out of 4) go down in a single turn to a Banshee and Atlas.  Wowza, light mechs just can't survive these days.  Still tho, at least my turns are fast with just 1 gun :)

We play games every other weekend, sometimes more.  If folks want me to take pictures and do AAR's let me know and I can do that.

I had another thought.  I don't really have a "website" per se.  I have this blog, my master unit list clone which does have a landing page, but I don't have a website where you can easily just browse what apps I have and their status.  The forum kinda works, and lets people give feedback, but I know many of you simply don't want to log onto it.  Soooo, I'm going to put it in my queue to make a simple little battletech website to host all my apps and stuff.  Nothing dynamic or fancy, just an easy place to go browse without having to go back through 100 posts of me bitching about something to find some download link.

I drew out on paper today the little icons I'll use for the next generation of Alpha Strike cards.  These will be little things you can cross off if critical hits occur.  I will start trying to work on the new version very soon, even though the poll is now tied with an update, and doing my own thing.  Most of the features aren't too hard, so once I start working on it I should have a huge chunk done in a couple days.  One feature I wanted to implement was dynamically getting the AS card data from my site, and I have to write an API for that.  Not *that* hard, but will take me quite a few consecutive hours.

Other stuff:
I went to BGG Con.  It was poorly organized, and as I'm not a big board gamer it was a waste of time.  $110 for 1 hour, and I bought a subscription to the 3 Strategy & Tactics magazines.  Never again.

Kickstarter not only sucks up a lot of my time, but a lot of funds as well.  Some Kickstarters I spent too much money on:
Robotech RPG Tactics (like $5K)
Aliens vs Predator ($500 or so)
CastVR ($1k)
Reaper Bones I and Bones II ($1100 I think)
Zombicide Season 2 ($450)
Heroes of Normandie ($400)
Battletech WOB LAMs ($250)
Sedition Wars ($360)
Ogre ($350) + $50 for the launch party in Austin
Battle Systems ($200+, not done yet)

I spend far too much on KS, and am on there far too often (comments sections).  If you want to see what I'm currently backing (I do sometimes pull out), check it out here.  Hopefully I can find some folks to play some of those games with.  I'll be doing a huge push with Robotech and AVP when they come out here In Dallas.

More to come soon.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Battletech Record Sheet App

So I was playing our game today, and one of the guys uses a tablet computer with PDF notes to track his sheets.  It isn't as fast as paper, and doesn't really buy him anything, but as a computer professional and avid gamer I really can't see why a computer couldn't be used to speed up play... especially in BattleTech.

So I started thinking about how much work would have to be spent on such an endeavor.  While technically any aspect of it wouldn't be too hard, design wise I really wonder what people would really want to see, and just how much they'd want to see automated.

For example, one option would be to just have the entire mech armor diagram be a single "hot spot".  Press on it, and it asks for how much damage, what grouping, various special abilities, incoming arc, partial cover, etc.  From there it could automatically calculate all the locations, roll all the crits, update the sheet with the new weapons/heat capabilities, roll pilot skills, and so forth.  This would be the *most* automated method, and IMO probably what people would want most.  

The other option would just be a "hot spot" for each location, where clicking it brings up a drop down with, say, 1 to 25, for damage to that location.  Internals would be selected individually, damage transferred manually, and so forth.  This would be the *least* automated method, and would probably be slower than just using paper.

However, rolling dice is a key part of enjoying a game, so removing that aspect (as in the *most* automated method) would maybe make people enjoy the game less, though speed it up by an order of magnitude.  Heck, if your like me and would love to take 4 SRM carriers, but rolling the dice or "box of death" makes you cringe, the fully automated way would be totally worthwhile.

Either method could include double blind.  You could push a button and then show the mech to your opponent.  Instead of seeing circles, they see black/red/yellow/green for each location, and no critical details.   Other things they could do is track unit position on the battlefield, and automatically determine line of sight and to-hit numbers.  This would be close to playing with Megamek, except you'd still manually move your miniatures but everything else could be done by computer.  Either method could also determine time and success of repairs, current "bv", overall force capabilities, ammo resupply required, etc, etc.

An Alpha Strike version would, of course, be far simpler and the only randomization I think would be an option for each structure hit to "roll critical?" as an option. This is already planned.

So let me know if you'd like a fully automated record sheet utility, or just more of a replacement for paper (I'd be less likely to be interested in the latter).  Who knows, if I keep playing the game, I'll feel a need for something better, and that motivates me to actually do things.  Feel free to post on the forum.

On another note, I haven't done much the last couple weeks.  Just not "in the mood" for some reason.  I did fix a bug today in regards to things like "EndoSteelEndoSteel" in mech structure diagrams, but it shouldn't have been broke so my fix could have already broke it (and I didn't clear the cache, so if the time/date of generation is before this morning, it is an old PDF and wasn't regenerated yet).  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Alpha Strike Card Maker Update Next

Well thanks to the whopping 5 people that voted, I know what I'll work on next!  The overwhelming majority (3 of 5!) said they wanted an Alpha Strike Card Maker Update.  So, I'll start working on over the next few days.  My preliminary list of "todo's" for it.  Let me know if I'm missing something you wanted:

Primary Enhancements, WILL be in the update:

  • Define all the colors, textures, fonts, font sizes, orientation, location, etc.  These settings can be saved/applied in various ways.
  • Ability to highlight certain special abilities in different colors.  Weapons could be red and defenses green for example.
  • Ability to create a "roster" you can load/save/print.
  • Ability to specify special Alpha Strike abilities (those on the Ad-Hoc cards from ATOW) on your cards.
  • Option for each of my various enhancements like separate rocket launcher attacks and rounding.
  • The heat area is hidden for units that do not use heat.  Weapons area gets larger for units with multiple arcs, etc.
  • Dropships and all smaller units will work.  Mobile Structures/Warships/Stations/Jumpships may not however.
  • Search and filter ability with the MUL data.  This includes filtering by special ability, faciton, TRO, type, as well as tech/cost/year which isnt really supported in AS anyway.
  • Specify DPI and card size, and the output will be scaled accordingly
  • Option for hex or miniature play.  Hex = 1 MP per Inch, Miniature = 2" per MP.


Optional Enhancements, will probably be in the update:

  • Use my data as well as the MUL
  • Output a "roster" to PDF for printing, or sending to a specific company for printing on playing cards.  A back image would have to be specified as well in this case.
  • Pre-existing damage.  Crosses through circles, abilities crossed out, etc.
  • Ability to print out counters, on square or hex
  • Options for circles, ovals, or hexagons for the armor/structure
  • Submit a bug, auto-update check


Possible Enhancements, *might* be in the update:

  • Option for my custom looking cards
  • I may support much of the data I have as well, like factories, weapon types, various equipment, etc.
  • Ability to colorize units, much like what I do on my BTE website.
  • Interface to track your cards, and fill in circles/add crits, from a web interface.
  • Support various random unit tables, and my unit generator I built a while back, to generate a PDF for a unit of any size.
  • Cards like this, but for planets.  Shows their location, nearby worlds, who owns them in each era, various stellar/world attribute, units on planet, etc, etc.
  • Pre-existing lists of units.  Royal mechs, phoenix mechs, WoB units, etc.
So in short, it'll be a vast improvement over the previous version.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Banned User

After talking with a buddy of mine over the weekend who ended up getting banned because CGL doesn't understand network address translation, and then seeing links on the Iron Wind Metals site that went to the official forums, I came to a revelation.

When you get a "perma-ban", Catalyst Game Labs is saying that they no longer want you as a customer.  You are not allowed to ask rule questions, download files, or communicate with CGL partners.  CGL is, from a company standpoint, saying they no longer want you as a customer.  They may argue this, but it is kinda obvious what their stance actually is by their actions.

Basically, that is "perma-lame" on their part IMO.


Go Vote!

On another note, I put up a link on my forum asking the viewers what they want me to work on next.  Go vote, once I get a few more I'll start working on my next update and/or new product!

Till next time, happy gaming!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Slow month!

Well its been a couple weeks since my last posting, so I figured I'd throw something up.

First, while reading the official forums the other day somebody mentioned the 2 month moratorium and it made me wonder if you users think I should do the same.  I'm ok with it, but if most people don't want me to I can continue to post all data within days of release.  Anyway, go vote.

Next, what have I been up to lately.  Well, the last 2 weeks I've spent FAR too much time prepping a big scenario here in Dallas.  I've been making maps, terrain, buildings, airports, etc, etc, etc, and since its tomorrow, I'm ready now (I think).  I may post some pictures of the game, not sure yet, dunno how many folks care about other people's games.

I haven't done much on the code side, and I really need to jump back into it.  I get really frustrated when I go over to the forums, see people posting things like this starmap which is still in progress, yet I finished *YEARS* ago.

I've also spent a lot of time reading up on local traffic law.  I have gotten a lot of speeding tickets over the years.  When I say lot, I mean at least 50 or more.  Deferred adjudication keeps them off my record, and I have plenty of money to just pay fines typically.  However, this time the cop literally jumped out in front of the street in front of my "dangerously speeding vehicle", without any identification, and he was very unprofessional. So I figured I'd try my hand at fighting one.  I've got like 6 precedents now, and will be spending all next week preparing to get in front of a judge to justify all the information I've requested in the discovery process. Fun stuff, but time consuming.  It gives me a lower level of respect for lawyers, as all they really do is find a way to manipulate words instead of doing what is morally right/wrong.  Oh well, that'll be my time soon.

I've also spent a lot of time with the new Ogre kickstarter boxed sets.  Sheesh, $120 for like 30 pounds worth of stuff.  The maps are just slightly bigger than my never used, but pretty, new hard battletech maps, which is slightly unfortunate.  But the 3D ogres are a pretty cool concept.  I'd LOVE to see somebody do that with some mechs!  However now I'm stuck with 2 extra HUGE boxes in my closet, probably soon to be joined by my Zombicide 1 & 2 boxed sets due any day now.

And finally I spent some time with the Bladestorm boxed set by Iron Crown Enterprises.  I *really* love this system.  It is much like Silent Death, and is a great way to not only use miniatures, but to play even a modern game.  I'm just digging it, and may base a ruleset on it since its totally out of print.

Speaking of rules, did you know you can't copyright rules at ALL?  So I could make a new game, call it "Wartech", have "robots" 10 to 200 tons each, and have weapons like "cannon/1", "Heavy laser", and "Short Range Missile Pod" and CGL could do *nothing*.  Maybe once I get this site done, and my full blown succession wars game, I'll dive into that.

Speaking of polls, I think my next posting will be a list of things "on my plate", to see which is in the most demand and which I'll focus my time on once I get back on BattleTech.

Friday, October 18, 2013

3145 Update!

Just a quick note that I've updated the database with all the units from all the 3145 books and new record sheet files.  My database is now 6476 entries.

Still buggy though, and slow as hell because of the PDF generation.  Been busy and inputting data the last week or so, site updates have been slow.

I'll start working through bugs again next week, though I also have another pet project of converting the Victory by Any Means campaign game system into a stand alone counter based mass starship battle system.  That system is, by far, the best 4X sorta game system I have ever found, and very easy to play.

More to come soon, though my readership has tanked lately without any advertising :(

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fixing Alpha Strike Part 2

This is a more thought out update to Fixing Alpha Strike (Part 1) I shot from the hip a few weeks ago.

Forget everything I said, well, enough of it to look at this with a new mindset.  This is a new proposal, with a bit more design math (and thought) and a lot less math and die rolls.

Each Alpha Strike, or BattleForce (which I'm far more interested in) turn is 30 seconds, or 3 BattleTech turns.  As damage is averaged out in the conversions, it makes sense to average their damage output as well, instead of the all-or-nothing approach that exists now.

This chart is used *instead* of the normal to-hit roll.  All the modifiers for things like terrain and target movement, and skill are added together, which is compared to your attack factor, and the damage done is what you look up on this chart (created using standard deviations).


The times you see a number, like "3+".  These results mean you do get to roll a 1d6, and when you exceed the number you do 1 damage.  This can be assumed to be 0 if you want, but some very weak units could get stuck doing 0 damage forever, which is kinda unfair IMO.

So, no dice rolls... at all.... well, you get your crit rolls, but over 3 turns the damage of a unit, against the same unit, is typically very similar.   But people love die rolls, and there should be a bit of a surprise.  So, lets add one.  Roll 1d6 when you attack, if you roll even, you add 1 to your to-hit number, odds subtract 1.  If you roll a 1, you subtract 2, if you roll a 6, you add 2.  There, some variety (if you want it, as I consider it optional)!  If your modified roll is under 2, you do full damage, if over 12, you do no damage.

Hopefully I didn't lose too many folks with the reduction from 2d6 to 1d6, but just think, now you can have 4 colors on your 4 mechs, target 1 baddie, and roll 4 colored dice and quickly determine how you did!  No more bell curves, which shouldn't be very apparent at the larger scale anyway.

What this does is gradually wear units down, just like BattleTech.  Right now many units are simply destroyed in a single shot, and most units only take a few before dying.  It doesn't really "feel" like BattleTech.  If you removed the miniatures and 2d6 rolls you'd be hard pressed to identify it as BattleTech.

Also, one more thing.  This lets you *split* fire.  Target 3 units, pick the highest to-hit number, and split your damage as you like (round down) to those 3 units.

Introduce these into BattleForce and you get a lance, with say 3+4+2+5 attack at medium range.  Look at the to-hit number for the enemy *lance*, and use the 14 attack factor column and allocate your damage as you like.  Optionally if your damage modifier roll was even, the enemy allocates the damage, if odd the attacker.

So with this method, the amount of time it takes to fight out 30 elements, each of 4 mechs, is very comparable to the time it takes you to slug out 12 mechs.

Also, on a BattleForce scale, special ammunition is eliminated (I think it shouldn't be used at any scale actually).  This means the AC #/#/#, SRM #/#/#, LRM #/#/#, and IF # factors can all be ignored, though perhaps an M #/#/# should be added to indicate how many attack factors are missiles, for Anti-Missile systems.

This of course means lots of special damage type things need to be addressed.

If anybody wants to do some quick scenarios by setting up a map at both houses, and using PBEM, let me know and we can give it a shot.

I think I like this though, thoughts?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

BattleTech Record Sheets 3145 Unabridged!

Well I woke up today to a great email.  New stuff!

I purchased TRO 3145 Republic of the Sphere, TRO 3145 Record Sheets Unabridged, and TRO 3145 Record Sheets New Tech, New Upgrades.

First, this totally explains the lameness behind not having a PDF for TRO 3145.  Even though Herb specifically said that the TRO 3145 RIS didn't exist, sure enough, it did. 

What this means is those new units in TRO 3145 that weren't in any of the other TRO 3145's are actually in TRO 3145 Republic of the Sphere.  In fact, if you have all the TRO 3145 *name here* series, you simply do not in any way need TRO 3145 as *everything* within it is duplicated.  So, get those 8 TRO 3145 PDFs, then the 2 new record sheet files (or just the 2 RS files if you don't care about fluff) and your set.

However, hopefully they do come out with a TRO 3145 PDF soon, I'll still buy it.  I do have a consolidated TRO 3145 somebody made, that has stuff from 7 of the 8 TRO 3145's released so far, which is cool, but its non-canon.

So anyway, a bit of a review:
TRO 3145 Republic of the Sphere:  If you don't have TRO 3145 yet, get it and skip TRO 3145.  If you do have TRO 3145, you do not need this book.  However, if your like me and support the butt-heads over at CGL even though they don't support you, buy it anyway :)

Record Sheets 3145 New Tech, New Upgrades:
This book has the pages from the back of TRO 3145 with the new ProtoMech quirks, and technological advancement.  It also even has the little text descriptions of each variant from TRO 3145.  I won't go over all 200 of the designs, but its a record sheet book like any other.

Record Sheet 3145 Unabridged:
480 pages of goodies.  LOTS of TSEMP's it seems.  Lots of battle armor with 3+ weapons and other units with 6+ weapons to attempt to slow down the game some more.

Anyway, I'll start getting these inputted into my site within the next few days, though it'll probably take me a week or two to go through 700 pages of record sheets.

Soooo, enough of that, what else is new?

I am actually coding for the BattleTechEngineer site almost daily.  I have worked through dozens and dozens of bugs, many of which revolved around the way I did data entry.  I went through the McKenna and Nekohono'o designs the other day, and have most of their calculations working right.  I've cleaned up much of the output (though its still VERY ugly and buggy) that spits out below the Alpha Strike cards on the page.  I am sorry the pages can take so darned long to load.  The primary reason for this is the PDFs I am generating each page load.  I plan on going back to PNGs soon, which will make it MUCH faster, but haven't gotten there yet.  I only have 207 items in my task list, though it seems like for every 3 I remove, I add another :(

I also implemented small craft, most non-large support vehicles, WiGEs, and should have dropships very soon.  The history link at the top of this page is usually pretty updated, and will give far more insight.

I updated my MasterUnitList data to 8 October.  I hope they get more stuff up soon.  Heck, I'd be 100% happy giving them my database to use if they wanted it :)  The main reason the MasterUnitList site is so much faster than mine is they use static data.  I'll eventually do the same thing, but need to fix all the bugs so I know once data is generated once, its correct.  When that day comes, I'll have 100% static data (even the web pages will be static and no longer generated on the fly) and the site will be *much* faster.  Till then though, sorry, hopefully it doesn't discourage use.

Looks like my forum idea has kinda proven to be a bit of a waste.  Not many posts there, nor much activity.  I'll keep using it, and will respond very quickly to any posts there, but it isn't quite the magnet for traffic I had hoped.

I've been spending a lot more time the last couple weeks actually assembling the massive amount of miniatures I have since I'm actually playing again.  I also plan on trying out some painting techniques on some of my many "extra" miniatures (non-BT for now) to see if I can get good enough to do them myself.

Monday, September 30, 2013

BattleTech Tripod Record Sheets? Yeah, I got em!

First of all sorry for the last few days without updates, it isn't like I wasn't doing anything BattleTech, I just wasn't updating the blog :)

I've made a few more changes to the Alpha Strike card generation algorithms.  Fixed a few "bugs", though I still have yet to design out the single universal card template that'll work with everything.  It is hard :(

I did re-enable all the record sheet generation for mechs, fighters, and combat vehicles.  There are a few bugs (mostly with armor slots showing as blank, but I'll fix that this week).  I'll also try to get small/medium support vehicles implement this week, and *maybe* something else like dropships or buildings.

However, what I have done was get Superheavy Tripods working, mostly.  The record sheets come up, and work, but there are a couple bugs.  One is the number of weapons, which I need to support up to 25-30 types and/or ammo, when right now I'm only supporting 20.  So when you pull up a superheavy tripod (one of the few canon ones) the weapon listing overwrites itself.  I'll figure it out.  Another feature not yet implemented is removing the 3rd crew block if the tripod isn't over 100 tons.  There is also an extra number down by the right leg structure that I *think* I have no removed.  Plus, the head criticals aren't 'canon', though that really doesn't matter.  Oh, and the tech rating, availability, and rules level aren't displaying correctly.  The sheets *are* usable though, the armor circles and crit diagram are correct.  The bipedal superheavy's still work, like they have for quite a while.

However, I *still* think my hexagon based armor/structure circles look 'cooler' and are easier to use, and they will be  easy to implement as an option.  Which do you prefer?

View on the Record Sheet

View on the Record Sheet
(notice some of the 'gray' on the CT/RT/LT is gone, sorry, I had no good template for the Tripods yet and had to mspaint one from FM3145)

And just FYI, the Poseidon, Ares Omni, and Omega are the only canon superheavy designs that exist right now, if you want to view the record sheets on the BattleTech Encyclopedia site.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How to Fix Alpha Strike

UPDATE #1:
- When rolling, instead of Skill+2d6, just use 2D6 and use the difference between skill as a bonus.  Natasha Kerensky with 0 gunnery skill would 2d6-4+modifiers, while a green pilot would be 2d6+1+modifiers.
- Rolling less than a 2 is treated as a '2'
- Rolling a modified greater than 12 is treated as a '12'
- Minor table change:


OPTIONAL UPDATE.  If you really prefer the whole "rolling higher is better" thing, then reverse the sign on every modifier.  A +4 would become a -4, a skill of 2 would become +2, and use the following table (identical to the one above, just inverted numbers) instead.  If people prefer this one, I can redo the hit charts to show all the new modifiers.

Again, please let me know any thoughts or results.

OPTIONAL RULE:  Subtract (or add) the difference in force initiative as a modifier to your rolls.  This represents the greater chance of getting in, or out, of a good firing or target position.  

<Original Message Continues>


First of all this isn't an all encompassing article, I have lots of ideas, many of which I'll list below, but the ONE thing that I think makes all the difference in the game I've mentioned lots of times.

That ONE thing, is instead of rolling 2d6, adding all the movement/terrain modifiers, and doing ALL your damage, or NONE of your damage, instead take that exact same roll, and look it up on the table I have below.  This makes *much* more sense, and while it does add slightly more time to the game (well, until you have the table memorized, which doesn't take too long), the end result will be far more fulfilling.  It'll help fix the folks turtling, and keep so many units from getting obliterated so easily (lets face it, an Atlas vs a bunch of stingers each turn sees the atlas wasting much of its firepower overkilling stingers).


So, take your base skill, add all the modifiers just like Alpha Strike tells you.  Just use the following table to determine the amount of damage you do, based on your attack factors:





For the mathematically astute of you, you'll see that the table is just the percentage chance to hit based on the 2d6 bell curve.  A 7 would hit 21 out of 36 times, or about 58.333%, which is multiplied by the attack factor and rounded normally.


The various modifiers to hit for alternate ammo apply just as always, including their effects.  Flak ammo would simply do a bit more damage (-2 to your roll) if the target is flying.  Simple!


Now, for those of you wanting a REALLY fast game, and just hate rolling dice, don't!


Use the 7 row for your damage, and you don't even need to roll dice to attack anymore!  This would truly be the average damage your unit would do, over 3 BT turns, with any number of weapon systems.


I ran the table to 20, so *something* does at lest 1 point of damage while rolling a '12' (representing about 2.8% accuracy)


HOWEVER, the down side, this means if you had 12 medium lasers, and fired all of them in each of 3 turns, and rolled as '12' on the chart, you would only get 1 hit during those 3 turns.  That isn't quite right.  Though it does feel more Alpha Strike, it isn't a decent representation of 3 turns of BattleTech.


So instead, here is another table you could use.  This one assumes you usually roll about average over the 3 turns, sometimes more, sometimes less, but <4 or >10 aren't so common, and aren't consistent.  I assume a '2' means you had about a 90% success rate over those 3 turns, a '12' means you had about a 15% success rate.  This table means you pretty much always hit with *something*, and rarely hit with *everything*.  Good units with a skill of 0 are, of course, extremely effective.  They often hit with nearly everything, while horrible pilots never do, but usually hit with *something*.  This means the super fast, hard to hit units, fighting from cover, still take *some* damage, and a point or two to them is usually pretty critical.  Thus, they are better off maneuvering.


I highly recommend this table for your games, and would love to hear any feedback from your attempts at using it:



Superheavies!

First, I haven't done much the last couple days.  The cards mostly work, but I'm having to think up how to do the new cards.  I think I have it now, but gotta spend time on the designing of them.

Anyway, played around a bit tonight...


So I welcomed superheavy mechs.  Unlikely most games, where the new bigger thing would be uber-munchy, these aren't.  Tripods or Bipeds, it doesn't matter, you don't get a very good design.  This is mostly as engine weights over 400 are just too much, so they are just slow lumbering beasts.  I spent a couple hours trying to see how good I could get one, you know, to see if they are useful....

Here is my monster.  As these are large targets (the Omega right now has "LG", so I presume all superheavies would) they are going to be easy to hit, always, by everything.  That just has to be accepted, they *will* take damage.  The good news is you can make one take a freaking LOT of damage.  Up to 42 armor with hardened, though I chose Ferro-Lamellor and 25.  I also went with a standard engine, giving it roughly 15 structure (I'm not 100% sure, they didn't update Strategic Operations conversions to include superheavy designs).

So, here is the rundown:
200 Tons
Inner Sphere, but of course most stuff on it is Clan, so its Inner Sphere Mixed
1/2 Movement (just sit there, really, no point in moving)
39 tons, 624 points, of Clan Ferro-Lamellor armor.  25 armor points.
Standard engine with endo-steel structure gives it about 15 structure, though again I can't be 100% sure.
12 Clan iATM9s with a total of 133 shots of ammunition
It has 37 Clan double heat sinks.
Clan Laser AMS, Clan ECM, and 2 C3 Booster Master computers
No slots, actuators, or tonnage left.

This is a whopper, check it out for yourself:

Now, the point value I completely guessed at.  I have no idea, I didn't tally it up.  But it'd be up there, ATMs are BV expensive!  Ignoring the point cost I think it is *extremely* close to a valid design.  I'm not 100% sure on the IATM5 ability, and had to guess at it based on the Turkina Z.  The CR is given because of the Ferro-Lamellor, MHQ12 for the 12 tons of C3 Boosted Masters.

So, at long range, this kills pretty much anything except an assault mech, and many of those.  At medium range, well, it dies with 1 hit.  At short range, heck, there is so much firepower there, that even most support vehicles die.  It sucks doing that much damage, as most of it is overkill.

I would take a company, or battalion of these mechs, toss them in a high thrust cargo dropship and leave them at strategic jump points.  When you get word of an invasion, they jump into the system, do a high-G burn to the planet, and land outside of your important bases.  They are essentially instant build pill boxes.  A dozen (all in a single C3B network of course!) could easily hold off an assault battalion, or most mech regiments.  Heck, a dozen of them would have 144 battlefield intelligence points, and pretty much guarantee a never lose initiative bonus for you as well!

This mech should have like a -1 gunnery or something to account for the 3 crewmembers.  I tried some configurations with a dozen medium lasers instead of the 2 C3BMs, but the heat spiked up, overall damage reduced >4 points at short/medium, and overburn was 4, so it was pointless.  I could probably tweak it a bit more, reducing ammo for a missile or two and still allowing rounding to get me those high numbers, or maybe dropping a couple heat sinks, but this is a legit design I'd take in a heartbeat in any BattleTech game.  I wonder if we'll see the tripod miniatures???

If anybody wants to let me know the BV I'll update the card (I may knock it out tomorrow).  If anybody knows what the IATM# ability does and how to calculate it I'd appreciate that too.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Need Input

I need some input to determine which direction I continue with.

Forum poll here
Please go vote, it can change the future of my site!

Until then, I finished inputting 3145, and here are the Tripod Superheavies to prove it!  Granted, things like TSEMP I am not sure how to implement yet as we have no rules :(





Friday, September 20, 2013

Mechwarrior Online & Stuff

So I am a sucker for BattleTech stuff, and purchased the Legendary Founder's pack a long time ago for MechWarrior Online.  I played a few of the beta's, and it was terribly boring and horribly uncreative.  It didn't progress much, but I tried to do my part in the beta.  I purchased wacky configurations, went into games with no armor, and did all sorts of things to help them test the system.  11 months ago they sent an email saying no more resets.  It was still a very early Beta, but apparently I should have stopped beta-testing at that point.  I didn't, and blew all that cash I gave them on stupid shit to help their "beta".

End result, all the money I blew was for nothing, as they won't give it back, citing "technological" reasons for their immorality.

So, MechWarrior Online is dead to me.  Its a shitty game anyway.  The interface is bland, the game as uncreative as Angry Birds, the engine mediocre, and it is nothing like BattleTech anymore.  Heck, they even did the stupid crap some games do now, which basically rewards you against other players if you spend more time in the game.  If you jump into a MWO game now, against somebody who has blown 40 hours a week for a year (yes, people do that), you simply can't win against them.  They shoot faster, turn faster, cool down faster, and you have no hope.  Adding cool skins sure, maybe neato looking effects, hell I'd be ok if playing more got you a higher resolution tree mesh.  But making your Awesome better than your opponents Awesome because you spent 500 hours of your life in it, and they spent 5, is just idiotic.

And unfortunately, MechWarrior Tactics blows too.  Browser based games always do :(

Now, off my soapbox.  I've been doing a huge amount of work with Alpha Strike conversions, well, and many other things that don't apply to Alpha Strike.  Just about every unit will produce a card, though many still aren't right.  Today I fixed the HT ability, added support for the new CR/CRW/RFA/RCA abilities, fixed PPC capacitors (which *reduce* your damage in Alpha Strike, seriously!), fixed long range damage calculation to no longer look at only short range weapons (which is so barely even a change, as hardly any weapons shoot to only SR anyway), added the IF ability, fixed Hardened/Ferro-Lamellor armor, added MML to the LRM and SRM factors, oh heck, I just made a butt-load of changes.

I am randomly picking units, and fixing everything on them I see broken.  If you want to help out, go randomly pick stuff (or let me know if you want a random unit feature like the MUL has) and let me know what you see broken, or different than the canon MUL!

The following I *know* have issues:

  • Infantry that were NOT in the 3085 books.  I don't know the primary/secondary weapon types and counts.  Eventually I'll try to reverse engineer them.  Plus, I am not looking up the infantry armor type yet, so if it has special abilities and a damage divisor the stats will be wrong. I am also including field guns in the standard attack, like ALL other units.  Not sure if that is bad or not.
  • Buildings and Mobile Structures do not support multiple hexes yet.  Well, they do, but not on the record sheet.  So only a third of their boxes show up.
  • I need to re-input the items on most vehicles, large support vehicles, and structures.  Most are probably ok, but some may have items off.
  • I am not automatically calculating BV yet, so if there is no PV in the MUL or when the unit was published, it is probably 0.
  • I am not multiplying speeds by 2 yet.  Not sure why, maybe because its so easy :)
  • No coolant pod support yet, not a big deal.
  • Right now everything is as canon as possible.  I have added support in code so you'll eventually be able to say "use Bad_Syntax' optimizations" or not, but for now its just canon.
I am working on some new cards.  All dynamic so you can define stuff (including the colors, to save toner, or identify factions).  I don't think they look great, but I can fit everything *except* the larger warships on it:
Notice the text is more courier new, that is all text is the exact same size (so a W and I use the same screen real estate).  This makes it uglier, but makes various things work a bit better (movement, attacks, etc).  This supports 2 attack types, with up to 4 arcs.  So a large support vehicle with a sub-capital laser *OR* a sub-capital missile can fit on there, but add another weapon and it breaks it (types are standard, CAP, SCAP, and MSL, plus 4 arcs for large support vehicles, 6 arcs for space stations, and 8 arcs for warships)..  The heat area would go away for units that don't track heat.  Point value/Tech Rating would go on there somehwere, hopefully the year in service too, but I don't know where.  I was thinking of merging the AP/SP into a single row and just making the SP darker.  I'd like more on there but the card is already very crowded.  Optimally, I'd have 1 card for every unit type, but my artistic ability and excessive need to show everything cripples that idea :(

Anyway, things are coming along.  I've also started prototyping a new point value calculator on the Forums!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Medal of Honor Recipients

/NOT BATTLETECH

While creating names for my Mech unit today, I went with Medal of Honor recipients.  If you are needing some names for your unit, how about using real heroes?  There are 3096 names (32 are duplicates) as of today, and here is a little EXE to download and run until your rosters are full:

Medal of Honor Name Generator

No frills, but it'll require .NET 4.5 so make sure you have it, if not, well, update your machine, if you are still having issues I'll downgrade the .NET requirement.

/BACK TO BATTLETECH

Fixed a lot more bugs today, just about every unit now should come up in the BattleTech Encyclopedia, though many will still be wrong.  Fixed some of the big ones I noticed yesterday while posting the teaser list.  

Here is a new teaser, which threw a dozen or so errors while creating... I'll get it fixed:
Need a comma before the ARTAIS-6, need better support for  up to 3 hexes on buildings, TP broke, need to shrink the name, no points, etc, etc... but almost :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lame Teaser

Since my last post was a lot of words, and very little pictures, this time I'll show pictures.  After an absolutely daunting amount of coding time this weekend (wife is sick), I am making significant progress getting everything working.  

Here are some examples of my not yet finished cards, but I think accurate data (please point out anything that isn't).  There is a lot missing from the Strategic Operations conversions, like what if I have a long tom on the rear of a vehicle, but more BV up front, does it become a worthless item?  


Anyway, here are a few ugly pics of a work in progress, of my totally dynamically created cards, with *no* optional rules of mine:

I think this one is a first.  I made stuff fit, but it got a bit small.  The Luftenburg has even more armor and I'll be making the card double up in size when the circles get too small to use.

I haven't implemented the IF ability yet...

Oooooo, scary.

One of the more complicated tanks, and kinda scary too :)

The mech I lost in 4 die rolls over the weekend.  Die roll 1, landed ok.  Die roll 2, missed with my charged HPPC.  Die roll 3, rolled '2' for my supercharger. Die roll 4, rolled '12' for criticals taking out 3 engine slots.  Quickest game ever!

My original favorite.

And the Royal SLDF version.

I think the points may be wrong on this one.  I kinda think that the armor/structure should be split by entities.  So, if you did 5 damage, you would kill 1 with 1 armor and 1 structure hit, while the other 3 was wasted as you focused on 1 target... I dunno.
An old favorite... this one looks good and may be right.  Oh, my point values will eventually include the tech rating beside them (so 18C or something in this case). This is so when you play games, you get a gist for just how advanced your force is.

The doors are wrong, I just fixed that code.  Looks like I shouldn't have the LRM/FLK in there either (that is an optional rule of mine).  Also gotta work on the fonts in the attack block, and figure out why ER isn't showing.  The 2nd attack is capital missile, it'll show a "MSL" after the bracket typically.  "DT" is damage threshold btw.
Again, doors not right, but check out how perfect the nose fit in the gap!
Many warships *do* work, though obviously some have FAR too much armor.  This one fit ok, though I'm not sure why I don't have TP defined, the doors/cargo are broke, and the attacks are a bit small.  The first attack I believe is capital, the second capital missile.

 And what happen when things go wrong, very very wrong.  The attacks are overlapping (and still not showing ER for some reason.. it *used* to work!).  The armor is just, well, too much at 2000 points.  The structure of 99 is even pushing it.  There is just no way to fit 2000+ points of armor on this little bitty card.  I'll be checking for this in the near future, and if the number is too high the height of the card will be doubled.  The extra room will be used for more armor/structure.  I *might* instead double its width, move the special up beside the top and middle blocks, and make the entire bottom row a big armor block.  The image will get a bit smaller and be placed up top to the left of the PV.  Lots to do to make the Leviathan II work, but it does create the card with only a couple minor errors (my bay door format is broken for pretty much all DS/WS/JS/SS and large SV right now, so I gotta redo those units).

Again, these are *NOT* finished yet.  I'm pretty sure the Jormungand is 100% right, as I was using it to test against the example in Strategic Operations (which was wrong, with no errata, ugh).  I have a lot of minor typo's to fix in my database to get more up and running, and a few sequencing thing.  If I can be productive again over the week, I may have a roughly 90% success rate by next weekend.

After stuff gets working I'll start working on allowing you to specify the skill of the crew, the environment your fighting in (so you get a different card for underwater battles, and another if there is high winds, high temp, high gravity, etc, etc).  Oh, and all the settings of the cards are configurable, so if your Davion and print your cards, you can make the back of blocks yellow.  You can add textures as a backdrop, change colors of *everything*.  I'm hoping the color cards can be fully supported with the right user settings.

I updated the Battletech Engineer site with this code, so know most stuff is broken right now.

Go post on the forum!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pieces Coming Together

I haven't been updating the blog as much lately, instead focusing on my far easier to use, and easier for ya'll to reply to, forum at http://battletechengineer.com, however, since not many folks are posting there, nor creating accounts to download the latest versions of various apps, I figured I'd throw out a blog posting for the few of you left reading it :)

Well the forum is up an operational.  The original black theme I had the highlighting was screwed up, and polls didn't work.  I reverted back to the default, but it was ugly as American politics.  So I found another more black one, made a little header, and left it at that.  I kinda wanted to move towards the color theme I have on the color Quick Strike cards, but, well, its a pain and I've been spending time on other things.  If anybody knows how to skin phpBB and wants to take it on, be my guest!

As for the other things.  I've been working on the BattleTech Engineer site, quite extensively.  Not many huge code changes, but a lot of minor bug fixes.  See, the way I've been designing things from the start was in a modular manner.  This means I tried to avoid hard-coding anything, created equipment and chassis tables with hundreds of variables, and essentially created a format that would be versatile enough to not require much work when things like superheavy mechs come out.  In many cases, new equipment can come out and I make a simple change in an excel file, run a script, and the application handles it from then on out.

Another thing this modular system allows me to do, that *nothing* else out there does, is design every single type of equipment with almost the exact same code.  For example, I made mechs work first with the Alpha Strike cards.  It took me under 30 minutes to get Aerospace and Conventional Fighters implemented.  It took a couple hours to get Dropships *nearly* done.  In fact, with just a few more days of good programming strides like today, and I'll be able to design, validate, and create record sheets and Alpha Strike cards for *everything* in the BattleTech universe.  I will be the first to get a mobile structure generator out there, the first to programatically determine things like warship factors in Alpha Strike, the first to let you build a city with unique buildings, and the first fully functional support vehicle creators (excluding excel, which is NOT fully functional).

Right now however, the site is an eye sore.  Its ugly as sin, and full of bugs.  I *am* working on it, but the aesthetics are low on my priority list.  For example, many dropships now work and you can see the Alpha Strike cards, in both color and black and white.  BUT, they have screwed up text (the abilities are most of what is screwed up right now).  When I finish the back end code I'll be changing the way I'm doing the Alpha Strike cards.  

Speaking of Alpha Strike, I am going to stop using the canon templates as I find them extremely non-functional with a lot of wasted space (do you *really* need to see "ALPHA STRIKE STATS" in big letters on them while movement is shrunk to tiny text?).  I have been creating a new card drawing system, about 95% done, that no longer uses a big file template.  Instead the entire card is rendered from nothing.  It resizes blocks and scales all the stuff so things can fit.  For example, a dropship can have a capital, sub-capital, standard, and capital-missile S/M/L/E values.  There is simply no way to do that on current cards, not to mention armor points.  My new system will increase the height of the attack block, remove the heat block, and add armor rows as necessary.  This method will actually work with all but the most powerful warships, and I'll be working on a way to programatically create those too.

Oh, and all that garbage underneath the Alpha Strike cards on the Battletech Engineer site is unformatted debug like data.  Eventually it'll show every calculation step on how the final tech ratings, battle value, cost, earliest date, date extinct, date of reintroduction, rules level, cost, all the Alpha Strike data, and the 4 availability ratings (yes, there are 4 now) are determined.  The record sheets may or may not work, they used to work, but I haven't double checked them.  If they look ok (no blanks, missing stuff, etc), they are probably right still.

And a surprise for those of you who have read this far.  If I can get a few people to say they want it, I'll finish another project I started.  This project is a web based Alpha Strike game play assistant.  Basically, create a game, select the armies and players, and then everybody can sign in on their tablets and/or phones and play against each other.  Well, they still have maps and miniatures, but it'll let you track damage, crits, hidden stats, etc with Alpha Strike cards.  This is a preliminary design to test out how I'll be doing it for full blown record sheets later.

Please go post stuff on the forum.  The more people are showing activity around what I'm doing, the more productive and less distracted I'll be towards these projects.  Plus, it'll give you a head start when I start my "he who contributes the most on my forum gets a company of miniatures in the mail" contest ;)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Most ____ Mech Ever!

So I was playing around when I should have been coding, and came up with some interesting designs.

First, the most complicated mech you can ever see within Alpha Strike, the AS-01 Alpha Strike!  It isn't a good design, but it essentially tries to get the most capabilities in Alpha Strike as it can.  Here is the lowdown:
100 Ton Clan (Mixed) OmniMech
Endo-Steel Chassis
200 Compact Fusion Engine
1 Jump Jet
Compact Gyro
Small Cockpit
17 Tons Standard Armor
26 Compact Heat Sinks (16 internal to engine, other 10 use 5 slots)
Laser Anti-Missile System (Armored)
BattleMech HarJel (1 slot)
Small Shield
Triple-Strength Myomers
Retractable Blade
Remote Sensor Dispenser
AEP
ECM
TAG
C3S
CASE (since its an Omni)
HAG20 w/12 Shots
Twin LAC5 w/20 Shots total
Twin SRM4 w/25 Shots total
Twin LRT10 w/24 Shots total, mounted in a turret in the right shoulder
Carries a 10 ton hand-held weapon (LRM20 w/12 shots, Narc with 6 shots)
I don't know the BV/Cost, it wasn't very pertinent to what I was attempting.  I am *pretty* sure its a legal design, but may have screwed something up.  Its darned close surely.

And now its insane Alpha Strike card, check out that ability count!:



And the next mech, a whopping 200 tonner, with 75 tons of hardened armor.  I created this one to test just how durable a design could be.  I envision it very slowly heading towards a very heavily defended position.  It has a turret in each torso that hold twin ERPPCs, and 3 micro-pulse lasers scattered about for anti-infantry work.  Its also got Angel ECM, AEP, and TAG, plus a whopping 40 double heat sinks.  Here is its card:


This next one is stupid and munchy, but I wanted to see just how hard a unit would be to hit.  This 15 ton mech has a speed of 18/27 with 1 jump.  It has ZERO points of armor, an XXL engine, Endo-Steel Structure, and an XL Gyro.  It also has Null-Signature System and Chameleon Light Polarization shield.  Its weaponry consists of a single gun... you know it, the Clan ER Large Laser!  In BattleTech this would be +2 to hit at medium range, and +4 at long, as the NSS/LPS are cumulative.  However that doesn't appear to be the case in Alpha Strike, so it kinda gets screwed.  But anyway, based on the movement it is +5 to hit, another +1 for being jump capable, so for SR/MR/LR to hit it is a +5/+6/+7.  Its one structure means if it gets hit it does, but it can harass a slower force from a distance with near impunity.


And lastly for tonight, a uber-munchy Manei-Domini Platoon.  This sucker eats mechs for breakfast.  The platoon of 30 soldiers has a whopping 1563 BV, speed of 3, range 2 AEP, acts as a C3I node, takes -1d6 burst fire damage, doesn't take double damage in the open, and half damage from flame based attacks.  It also has FIVE field guns (AC/2).  In a point blank attack it could do up to 66 damage, or 7 in Alpha Strike.  Unfortunately Alpha Strike doesn't support that, so its damage is only 5, but I gave it MEL to compensate. Actually Strategic Operations and Alpha Strike showed some questions with this unit.  For example what do you do with enhanced point blank attacks?  What about all the special abilities various prosthetics can give, and how do you deal with field guns and can they use special ammo? However you look at it though, it is simply a brutal platoon, see for yourself (notice its skill is 2, not 4)!  Disclaimer:  This design doesn't include any errata from anywhere.


I'll tinker with more later, but I really need to get coding to finish up the automated way of doing it.  Nobody has complained about the BTE site being down yet, but hopefully lots of people miss it.

I've been dragging ass lately for a couple reasons.  Thoughts of my dad and cat keep me from being as productive as usual.  I'm going to see some folks play BattleTech tomorrow, hopefully I end up joining in and like them and it can break me out of my rut.  If not I may try somewhere else.

Not many posts on my forum, well, 1 in fact.  A dozen registered users.  Kinda was hoping for more activity.  I'll start doing releases there to make people get involved and hope for the best :)

Plus, soon, I'll give away *companies* of miniatures to folks that post the most *good* messages ;)