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.


  1. Hey just notice.. some of the mechs their TMM is 0..

    1. Mechs with a base movement of 2 or less would have a TMM of 0.

      If the mech is faster and has that, it is probably an error in the where I pulled the data from. I'd check it there, and if there is an error let the official folks know so they can update the MUL.

      None of that data is "generated", it is all from the MUL, except some DS/JS/WS which I generated (and they are all wrong, sorry!).

  2. They are showing correct on the mul lists. Assassin asn-21 is one of them. All the mechs seem to be the fast movers.

    1. Ahhhh, great catch!

      Sure enough, looks like an integer/string thing.

      Anyway, I've fixed it with version 2.2, and also added the / so if a unit moves at 14/10j it becomes 3/2.

      New URL is at

  3. Wow! Glad your back! Looking forward to more. I run in cycles like that to. Sometimes the time is right, sometimes you need stoke the fire.

  4. Please keep going! I have just started to get Battletech games going again in the Cleveland Ohio area. I would love to test your work. You may also look to tying your product to the new Mech Factory software on Android. Maybe you can work together.

  5. I found an error in 1.21. If you make all the fields blank (something I was trying to do because I wanted the background as a template) you get a non-recoverable error. Please either allow all blank fields (my preference) or check for blank strings before you attempt to generate the PV. If you open source the C# program I can make the change myself

    1. v1.23 out:

      The only change is if everything is blank, it'll just throw an invalid movement string popup and still create the empty box.

      I did notice if both AP/SP were blank though it screwed up the way the boxes rendered, so if you don't need to make empty cards this update won't get you anywhere over the 1.22 version.

  6. Awesome work. Burn out happens to most gamers. Keep it up. This site helps so many in the BT universe.

    1. Thanks, yeah, its wacky.

      I was pushing through, hours a night, making lots of progress. I worked on it maybe a month, and could have been done in another month. Maybe its just my idiom, though I suspect my subconscious just knows it isn't a priority now that I not only don't play anymore, but am completely kicked out of the community.

      Hell, I'm having a hard time justifying the energy to keep up with errata anymore, and though I did buy a 1/60 resin vulture (that ended up missing some pieces) recently haven't even been purchasing BT stuff anymore :(

      I have spent a lot of time working with 6mm terrain though, maybe once I finish my HUGE city I'll be able to make myself set it up and play out some battletech games. I'll show some pics soon, soon as my body lets me finish up these few remaining buildings (yes, my neck is in pain from the 12 hour or so I've spent on them so far, pics will explain more).

      Thanks for the continued support.

  7. Wish there was a program or application that worked in conjunction with this to convert mechs from CBT to alpha strike... I have a custom design I would love to convert

    1. Well that was what I was working on before my interest waned, and the community desire to have me create it died.

      Unfortunately, we will never have software to do comprehensive designing for the battletech universe unless they completely redo the rules, fix errata, or come up with $300K or so to hire a developer to do the work. Well, maybe another person with development experience, loads of extra time, and a battletech fan will work for nothing. Surely there was more than just me :)