Saturday, 9 October 2010

BattleTech 2.0


Having gotten back into playing
BattleTech over the last couple of years, after a 16 year hiatus consisting of work etc, I'm not necessarily the worlds most experienced BattleTech player. The addition of new weapons and rules into the game over that 16 year period, has expanded BattleTech far beyond what was available in 1992 when I stopped playing. Though I had to chuckle a bit when I found out that the current line developers had rewritten the pulse lasers and targeting computers rules due to certain designs I wrote for them that appeared in the 3055 TRO.

I can't say I was completely innocent of pushing the boundaries, but there again I only designed what the rules allowed me to design, and IMNSHO the problems with a lack understanding the consequence of rules written by FASA is still a problem 25 years later, because largely it's the same crew writing stuff for the game.

Okay, they are brilliant, creative people, but none of them has the will, or desire to crunch the consequences of the rules as written, rather than the underlying intent of the rules.
Heck, at some points I get this image in my head of the CGL crew as all rather left wing, vegetarian carrot crunching, social science majors, who hug plush toy cat girls when they go to bed at night. Seriously, what BattleTech has always needed is some hardcore "right wing" game design munchkins to break the game in every possible way they can. Someone who will go in, kick over the dustbins, take names and chew gum.

Having now ruined any chance of ever working for CGL let me tell you what I do. I only really play
BattleTech with the introductory rules, using the Total Warfare rules as something one dips into to be able to use select pieces of hardware that are cool. Everything else is covered by house rules, with the aim being to keep the flow of the game going. To keep it cool. In my experience it seems to me that what new players want are games that they can play over a course of an evening, and that allow them to field a larger number of miniatures on the table. Something that BattleTech delivers rather poorly.

Disclaimer: All posts are condensed & abbreviated summaries of complex arguments posted for discussion on the internet, and not meant to be authoritative in any shape, or form on said subject, T&CA, E&OE & YMMV.

7 comments:

  1. Damn, Pink. You caught me with my wife at home, hogging the computer and preventing me from expounding at length. So you were the sick puppy who designed the Clan's 'Second Line' Viper?

    I flew one. Once. After that, my Game Master said 'no more targeting computers for you, Steve!'

    I think you may be spot-on with the personalities, but I don't know them very well. I too stand little chance of working with them in the future, but that's due to criticism in a different department. Wouldn't it be great if they could get a person like Joe Haldeman to write some of their fiction and vet their rules?

    Steve

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  2. I was one of the playtester's tasked with breaking the Total Wars rules any way we could. Sometimes it worked (1) sometimes it didn't (2). Sometimes the good ideas got shot down because there was no good was to implement them (3), and sometimes things were changed that we never saw in testing (4).
    I've been thinking about this lately, I really ought to write up something about my playtesting experience.


    (1) Next time you skid _into_ a building, you can thank me for the fact that you probably don't skid _through_ the building.
    (2) All that work, and skidding is still messed up.
    (3) If only I knew then what I know now.
    (4) Who thought Punching needed to change?

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  3. Okay, so what we fans have here is (at last!) a pair of names and faces to associate with some of the most wretched 'Mech designs and the screwiest rules this degraded planet has ever seen.

    Thank you, Dan, for not letting me continue through the building. My poor tank was merely destroyed. Waiiittt... that NOT good!

    And Pink, thank you for letting me run amuck with probably the munchiest machine ever designed until the Saggitaire came out in 3067.

    DOES Punching need to change?

    Steve

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  4. Heck, at some points I get this image in my head of the CGL crew as all rather left wing, vegetarian carrot crunching, social science majors, who hug plush toy cat girls when they go to bed at night.

    You couldn't be any further from the truth when it comes to Herb and I.

    Seriously, what Battletech has always needed is some hardcore "right wing" game design munchkins to break the game in every possible way they can. Someone who will go in, kick over the dustbins, take names and chew gum.

    This is what Herb and I do, constantly. And my (former) game group of 10 years had a wonderfully nasty habit of shattering nearly every rule put forth in all of FanPro's books. They're still doing it with CGL's newer stuff (without me, since I moved five years back); be thankful some of the original wording and intent was resculpted, as the 100 playtesters we have had for these core books take a pretty vengeful glee when new rules come up.

    The great thing about BT, unlike many other wargames, is that there are multiple ways to play it, with as many or as few rules as you choose to include. It's all up to your group and your rules-to-fun tolerance level.

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  5. A 16 year break! A mechpilot is never off-duty :) Nice blog, spotted you on the LOTB site, my aka is also inrepose on LOTB. You have my vote on the slow issue of BT, I also have house rules which strip down the game to make it faster play. The days of playing until 3am are long since over for me.

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  6. I'm been away for a few days, hence the group reply to all the comments...

    Steven S: I thought you knew that the Clan second line mechs (apart from the Jenner) were all my fault. Though I will also say that the Phoenix Hawk 2C was originally called the Matador by me, as it appears I was sent the wrong artwork. Had I known it was going to be the PH, my design would have been entirely different.

    Eastwood DC: I will second the request for some anecdotal reminiscences of your play testing. Sounds to me like too may chefs.

    Benhrome: Ah, the power of the internet to consign any attempts at humour into the vortex and generate specious arguments from misunderstanding instead. I'll repaste and expand the important sentence I wrote, as my observation is based on this; none of "them" (CGL et al writer's) has the will, or desire to crunch the consequences of the rules as written, rather than the underlying intent of the rules (but rather impose the company interpretation of the intent). This was where my left wing visual joke was being driven from BTW.

    However, I think your last sentence is enlightened, though as a pedant I would add the observation "unlike many other wargames" is too generalised a comment to be meaningful.

    Inrepose: Hey welcome to my blog. Sorry I haven't rolled out the red carpet for you, and all the other readers, but after all it is only a blog.

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  7. Commenting almost nine months late:

    EastwoodDC, I third the request to read about your stint playtesting, more for the process of it than the could'ves and should'ves of specific game mechanics (though of course ALSO for the could'ves and should'ves). Provided that your NDA allows, of course - if it doesn't, maybe other NDA'd playtesters could still appreciate such a writeup.

    Benhrome, I'd also be interested to hear anything your former group can say. Your own present WOR post-mortem looks to be fascinating.

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