Sunday, June 19, 2016

She turned me into a newt!

Skip to the bottom couple of lines if you don't want to read my silly soapbox rant:

Well first let me apologize.  So there I was, heavy into programming, working on Battletech Design Works day and night, not thinking of anything else, making great progress.

Then it stopped.  Completely.  I could sit down in front of my computer, with time, nothing else to do, saying to myself "I need to go work on this", and *nothing*.

Time and time again.

I have no idea what happened.  Perhaps its a pattern?  I know throughout my life I've gotten "into" one game for a while, then it goes away and I move onto others.  Eventually I loop back around to my favorites.  This has happened a LOT in my life, and now that it was so obvious I'm now curious if there was some mental pattern to it.  Perhaps I got bored, frustrated, annoyed, came to my senses, or any number of things.  But anyway, from that last update until about a couple weeks ago I made ZERO progress.

Then somebody wrote me an email asking for my "new" version of my Alpha Strike Card Maker (new version, 1.21, more on that in a sec).  At that point apparently the battletech fire under my ass was re-ignited.

So, I jump into the code.  I quickly realized that the cards were simply not sufficient.  Not enough space.  So, I create a new algorithm to completely redesign the cards for 3" x 5" (which is much better for so many of us older folks with crappy eyeballs) so I can support every kind of unit on it.  A few days later I'm done with that, and start plugging in some warship data.  I get through a couple hundred dropships and warships, everything is going ok, then I start to find various errata sort of things to my formulas.  I make a few updates, and then eventually realize that I'm wasting my time and need to be using my database instead of printed stats as something like a gauss rifle doesn't do 15-15-15 damage like various TRO's show.  The stats are all wrong, ugh.

So, I start working on an Alpha Strike Converter.  This is basically just the code that takes a unit, and creates the Alpha Strike stats from it.  I got to the weapons, and then realized I didn't finish updating my data from the release of Interstellar Operations... ugh 

So, I start doing that.  I get about 10% done, and decide to redo some database structure.  I've long kept the same one to support my encyclopedia site, but that is now completely unsupported (though still pretty up to date and functions).

So here I am, back to excel on one monitor and multiple PDFs on the other.  

That may sound crappy, but hey, at least I'm working on Battletech again.  For those of you that follow me you know that once I start working on something, I typically make a lot of progress pretty quickly.

So, that is my focus now.  I am going through all ~3800 items in my database and updating them.  I'm making sure all data is accurate between TW/TM/TO/SO/IO/etc.  I'm noting EVERYTHING I am not sure of so eventually I can post a HUGE list of questions that need errata (Humans often overlook many, many, many rules and situations.  Computers can't do that and need crystal clear rules.)

As of today, I have 3797 pieces of equipment a unit can have on it (ALL canon, 13 more are from an April Fools TRO).  I am currently about 8.6% complete and working on autocannons and their ammo and when completed (a couple hours, TOPS, I'll be at 13.3%).  When this is done, I'll go finish the code to convert all 6932 units (335 are not canon) in my database to Alpha Strike, and create cards for them all.  I'll then put that code into my card maker, and then finally copy that code over to the Battletech Design Works.

There was a pretty big wall I had to overcome with Battletech Design Works.  It *is* possible that frustrated me to the point I didn't want to overcome it.  However, I have since figured out an easy way to handle that, and the next time I get into BDW I should start making a lot of progress quickly.

It seems pretty obvious at this point that Catalyst would rather not have *complete* design software (SSW/MML are *very* far from complete) than communicate with me again, They asked for some help on some thread a while back, but nobody who has the skills is going to dedicate the required time to create such a project.  I manage projects like this in real life, and would easily charge $200K-$300K for such a project, and I doubt it could break even.  Most developers are $40-$150 per hour, and almost all of them come with some baggage that will cause issues.

So, since that is the case, and nobody has ever once asked me not to, I'm not going to worry about trying to "be nice" or "be professional" anymore.  I'll do things the way I want them done, and if I offend somebody well, they should have spoken up.  If they'd rather send me a cease and desist instead of just a nice email, they'll quickly find out I know more about how the internet works than their lawyers do ;)  The offer to help them will always stand though, but I'll need some rules questions answered before I accept any offer.

I will say that based on my experience with a few of the volunteers for the game, as well as quite a few demo guys, has been quite pleasant and cordial.  The official forums are pretty commonly avoided by many fans due to the BS over there, so I haven't felt alone ;)

For those of you smart enough to skip the rest of the message:

New Alpha Strike Card Maker out, v1.21
Working on Battletech Design Works again

Here is a couple of new record sheets, all possible with the new card maker:

The Leviathan attacks are probably wrong:

Still need mobility hits:
Dropships, woot:
Again, attacks probably wrong:

I will eventually add some color/textures, and maybe scale down to 2.5x3.5 in size, or up to 8.5x11 for the Leviathan.