Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dev Diary Week 9 - BattleTech Design Software

Sorry I was a day late on this one.  Had a frustrating programming session this weekend and stayed up too late to do the update.

Not a lot new to show, but that doesn't mean the week was without progres!  This week was mostly interface tweaks, adding things like tooltips and changing of the way various item lists are displayed.  I also implemented fuel, and made numerous behind-the-scenes changes, and added saving some defaults to speed up my development time.

I am still tinkering with the interface a bit more before I dive into the 200 or so unique variables applied to various equipment in order to make sure all designs are legal.  This is kinda time consuming, but not really all that hard due to the way I designed the application.  

Once I get those variables done I have to focus on equipment selection.  I want to only show ammo for items you have put on your unit.  I need to ensure proper arcs are shown as an option, consolidate multiple similar items down to 1 line, show the arcs on the same line, and implement "addon" support for things like Artemis, Apollo, Pintles, One-Shot, MG Arrays, and so forth.

I'll then have some minor things that are pretty easy to do, like bay allocation for DS/WS/JS/SS, crew allocation, frankenmech support, and crew augmentations (both for vehicular pilots and infantry platoons).  

After those it'll be BV, which I want to make sure all other things are done first.  Weight, cost, availability, tech rating, and years for each rule level are all ready pretty much done.  BV will be the last consolidation thing.

Then I'll go add the alpha strike conversions, which isn't too hard.

And finally record sheets.  After which I'll start focusing on all the extra bells and whistles I promised.

I am developing slow though, due to a few reasons:
#1.  War Thunder.  I play this game a lot, and sometimes when my brain isn't "into" coding instead of focusing it, I take my tank and go blow stuff up :)
#2.  Real life.  I do have a wife that requires a certain amount of attention or she'll kill me.  Therefore at least 1-2 hours a night I usually spend with her.  This usually means the earliest I code on weeknights is 8:30-9.
#3.  Sleep.  I can stay up till 11-12 just fine, but sometimes when you are doing things on a computer your brain says "Uhhh, nap time!" and I kinda fall asleep in my chair.  It doesn't happen too much, but it happens often.  I'll usually go play war thunder when I get too tired.  I have MS and a slew of veterans related issues, which doesn't help things.
#4.  Sometimes I get a new group of toys in, miniatures/books/etc, that can kill the nights development.  I have 3 tripods on the way and 11 boxes of lance packs for example :)  I also have a LOT of GHQ 1/285 and 1/2400 stuff I still haven't finished assembly on.
#5.  I still play battletech with my group here in DFW.  I often run games, to stay busier during play, but it still eats through 1-1.5 days for prep time and game play.
#6.  Sometimes I get sidetracked by things.  

My anniversary is tomorrow the 11th (married in 11/11/01!) which is also veterans day, but I took Thursday/Friday off to hopefully get a good 8-16 hours by the next update.

I doubt I've put in 40 hours on coding at this point, which means I'm only probably getting a good 4 hours a week in on it :(  It'll get done, but not as speedy as any of us would like.

The official software request thread from CGL on the forums that made me start doing this has ended up where all of them end up.  Zero progress, and 2 sides bickering over all digital or all paper.  One guy did some great HTML5 work, and had a great interface, but we've all seen many mech designers for 3025 stuff with some 3050 thrown in (I could do a designer in excel for any single item in under a day with *most* stuff supported), it is orders of magnitude more complicated to support everything and all the rules.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by!


  1. Thank you for your continued work. Happy Vet/Anniversary Day! I don't stop by often enough to check but I really should.

    1. Thanks! I'll try to get this weeks update online in a few hours.

  2. Hi, I've only recently stumbled onto your blog and I have a pretty clueless question- are you working on an entirely new design program that isnt available yet, or is it one that you've previously released but are expanding/revising? Thanks.

    1. Making a completely new designer system. I'm finishing up a pretty complicated chunk now (mech critical allocation) and once done (a few weeks?) it'll be downhill from there.

      In the past I made an infantry platoon designer, alpha strike card maker, and a few other things, but this will basically replace the entire line of Heavy Metal products, Solaris Skunk Werks, Megamek Lab, and every other designer ever written.

      And yes, I'll have support vehicles, buildings, mobile structures, warships, *everything*. RPG characters will come later but are in the pipeline.

      I need to get this blog updated, but my readership is so low it just hasn't been a priority :)

    2. OK thanks for the clarification. Good luck with finishing it up!