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).  


  1. Yeah, I've thought about this from time to time, but I really don't like computers being part of the game. I work with computers all the rest of the time, and wargaming/RPGs/etc. are a pleasant change from that. If I wanted to play MegaMek, well, I'd play MegaMek, and not go to all the trouble of getting people over.

  2. at least making a digital version of a blank record sheet you could fill out manually would get rid of the hassle of printing and wasting paper. the calculating and rolling though is the meat of the game so imo, don't make it automated.