Monday, October 12, 2015

Dev Diary Week 5 - BattleTech Design Software

Quick BTE Note:  I removed all fluff entries (deployment, variants, overview, etc) from all units, even though not asked, to "play nice" with the BT community.  I now have *NO* information on my site that cannot be found on other more acceptable places like and Megamek.Info.  This shouldn't affect anything negatively aside from the fluff being gone, and many didn't have it yet anyway.

Howdy folks!  This last month has been mostly me importing all the Interstellar Operations Beta data.  There was a LOT of issues, and it is a Beta so I'll have to do this all over again when it is released.  While the issues were plentiful, luckily none will prevent me from moving forward with development.  In the end I'll have to assume a lot of things and there could be buggy units pop up for years to come until I get all my questions answered and Catalyst Game Labs fixes all their errors, inconsistencies, and missing data.

Here is the current software functionality:

  • Tech base selection (Inner Sphere, Clan, or Mixed).
  • General class selection (mech, industrial mech, protomech, SV, BA, JS, WS, DS, etc.  All but hand-held weapons, conventional infantry, maglev's, rails, and roads work right now).
  • Mobility type (hover, wheeled, fixed-wing, aerodyne, etc) selection for those units.
  • Weight class (assault, heavy, light, etc) and tonnage (a number in that range) for those units.

So not a huge amount of coding progress, but I only really started coding today ;)

Issues though:
#1.  Medium/Large Support vehicles are indicated as having .5 ton tonnage increments.  While this is fine technically and it currently works, it means when you select a 9 hex naval vehicle that goes from 30,000.5 to 100,000 tons, I have to populate a drop down with like 140,000 items!  This takes 80 seconds on my machine, which is pretty beefy (all others take about .05 seconds, except small support vehicles with their 1kg weight increments that takes .3 seconds, but is acceptable today).  So I am going to stray from canon a wee bit.  With large naval/submarine support vehicles that are over 500 tons, I am going to change the increment from 0.5 to 5 tons and 25 tons for the 30,000+ tons.  This will basically fix that issue. Eventually I will re-implement the 0.5 ton increments, or add in a way to just put in any number you want.  For now however I'm removing it for performance reasons.

#2.  I will not be using "primitive" as a tech base.  Just clan, inner sphere, both, and mixed.  Later I'll include "3rd Generation" as a possibility to support the April Fools product that had that in there (a sign of things to come?).  This is mostly because there aren't really primitive weapons, just prototype.  So primitive just applies to chassis.  The way I'm doing jumpships for example I have 6 rows, one for each tonnage increment that results in differing fuel points per ton and burn rates.  I now have 4 MORE sets where I set the weight class to things like "Primitive (Terran Hegemony)" where you can select a primitive chassis, which can be differing tonnages, instead of creating entirely new everything to support primitive.  So, you WILL be able to make 100% canon primitive stuff, but it won't be a new tech base (clan/IS already confuse stuff enough!).

And a new screenshot, which I'll try to include in each update, though they won't be very pretty for a while :)

(yes, according to IOBeta, the Terran Hegemony had 1.8M ton jumpships in 2400!)

I also have some functionality I am working on that'll show various other drop down boxes popup depending on the unit.  A mech has a required cockpit, engine, musculature, and actuator types for example so it'll see 4 more drop downs popup.  The gyro may popup if you select all but 1 cockpit type.  Many units don't have many other options like that, so the interface will stay cleaner.
I have tested all of these, and all work except the conventional infantry (they are kinda different), hand-held weapons (will need some work), maglev/rails/roads (not sure if these will even stay in, they are not really units but perhaps I'll treat them as addons to units).  I should have all errors removed from those in the next development session.

My goal is by the next update to have all the additional popups working which will let you basically design a unit up to the point of adding equipment.  I won't have things like tonnage totals, costs, BV, availability, etc, etc, but all the other stuff should be functional, and those sums/values are extremely easy to implement.

If I am very productive this week, which I don't suspect as the wife will have been out of town for 4 days and will want some quality time, I hope to actually implement the equipment selection as well.  After that I'll start running through all canon units validating designs and fixing all the little bugs that will come up.  That'll take me at least another week or two, maybe even a month, as I'll constantly find little things I gotta go fix in code, my data, or even have to restructure in my data to make it work in the best possible way.

Anyway, a lot more to come, and I think progress will be very quick if I can stay focused!

Again, feel free to request access to daily updates on my facebook site which I have been pretty good about updating daily.

Ok, next topic.  This week I used the 3028 battle on Crossing between the Wolf's Dragoons against 4 Galedon Regulars regiments (after losing nearly half their force against Ryuken a few months earlier, and fighting those same 4 Galedon regiments on 3 planets after that!) as inspiration for a scenario here in Dallas.  We used a mech to represent a company, and so the Galedon Regulars and DEST commando's had a total of 41 3025 old tech mechs.  The "Dragoons", in this case the "Iron Phoenix Legion" which is what our group calls themselves, had the dozen or so mechs in defense in a caldera.  It played out pretty well, and I think folks had fun, but it ate through some of my code time this week setting it up.

ANYWAY, to my point, I didn't want 41 pieces of paper to track mechs, so I figured out a way to put 4 mechs on a single page of paper. It worked pretty well in the game, and when taking a dozen SRM2 hits it really sped things up.  I tweaked after and made a little excel file if you need to have a bunch of simple mechs in a game and don't want all the record sheets.  Some stuff is missing (heat chart mostly) but 4 mechs on a page seemed like a fair tradeoff :)  Here is the link, hope it proves useful or inspires you in some way!

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