Saturday, 19 December 2009
BattleTech Jumping the Shark Reboot
On the official CBT forum there has been a rather long thread about has BattleTech jumped the shark? Warning 22 pages of repetition.
To summarise the thread topic was defined as the moment when a series delivers the ultimate desire of the characters; from the "Happy Days" scene where the Fonz always dreams of jumping over a shark and gets to realise his dream. If your dream has been realised then what is there left to do? I'm not sure I would agree with that interpretation, as for me "jumping the shark" implies more of the idea that a story has gone beyond believability, but YMMV on that, especially with something involving giant walking machines?
Then there is the idea that the in game ComStar aims, namely the coming of the third transfer would also mean that BattleTech had jumped the shark; it is suggested that the formation of a new Star League would be that third transfer. From a meta-gaming perspective I'd argue that one could see the real transfers of the game coming from changes in the rules, as they have evolved over time.
If you agree then using this analogy one can argue that the first transfer was from the 3025 rule-sets to the Clan invasion of 3050 rule-sets. I would argue that the game changed fundamentally at that point. Even though on the surface the rules are the same, the balance of the game changed. Battlemechs became brittle eggs that could be cracked open by superior firepower, rather than something that had to be slowly ground down to be destroyed (barring lucky shots that is). The second transfer was Clicky tech and the Age of Darkness, which unfortunately crashed & burned causing a reversion to the "classic form of BattleTech". Now we have the third transfer, which is the introduction of Word of Blake cybernetics to uplift the Inner Sphere to match the Clans and lead the game into the redefined new Dark Ages of the 3130 Battletech universe.
Rant on: As I said on the CBT forum, my only problem with the Jihad is that there was not enough destruction done by the Word of Blake as of yet. I want to see billions of people starving to death from the repercussions of war. Billions more dying from crops failing due to a lack of fertilizers and pesticides, and I want to billions dying from disease arising from unclean water, and a lack of medicines. I want to see the remains of humanity reduced to scavenging from the rubble. I want a future where a lance of battlemechs can rule a world, where the pilots are like gods, lording it over the cowered and subdued populations of denuded worlds. I want to see the Word of Blake/Comstar reap the whirlwind. If we see thousands of nukes raining down on the planets of the Inner Sphere during the Word of Blake retreat, then I could see how peace would break out and mechs mothballed for later on.
Showing that war leads to widespread famine, the rise of pestilence,and outbreaks of plagues. Would be a good message to send to the players that these are consequences of apocalyptic wars. Of course all the players will be moaning about how their favourite faction was robbed etc., but that is life. Rant off.
Like it or not, we know that due to the "second transfer" that BattleTech moves to the era Republic of the Sphere. For me this is in and of itself is not a bad place to play games of BattleTech. It is an ideal period for small unit actions of giant battling mecha-on-mecha action, which is where IMNSHO the rules work best. As a diehard old time fan, described on the BattleTech forums as a Retarded-Old-RetreadTM, and proud of it too. I welcome the return of BattleTech to its roots of small unit actions, where desperate home defence units field industrial mechs as a futuristic variant of tactical trucks seen today.
However, nothing lasts forever, not even D&D, without a reboot. Will BattleTech need a reboot? Probably over due for one, but I think that the likelihood of it happening is small.