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Author Topic: Mech Behavior/performance, ETC, What source is definitive?  (Read 5641 times)

Pht

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Hey, first of all, thanks for your time & reading this.  O0

The question is:

What written BattleTech materials are considered canonical and used to form the boundaries in which novelists and sourcebook writers stay?

For example, are the Tech Manual "fluff" descriptions of how a BattleMech's targeting and tracking system and diagnostic interface do the grunt work of aiming 'Mech weaponry something that novelists and other writers would have to adhere to? Or can such "fluff" be ignored at will by novelists to provide their versions of how BattleMech's perform and behave?

Or, for example, the Boardgame Rules don't do PSR's for falling over until *after* the 'Mech has taken fire; thus suggesting that the 'Mech has been able to handle the recoil from firing it's own kinetic based weapons and the "knock" generated by taking incoming weapons fire without any interaction from the Pilot (no PSR when these events happen, only after) - thus seemingly indicating that the 'Mechs are able to "handle" this recoil and knock without pilot input? ... essentially meaning that the combat rules would establish the 'Mech's behavior/performance, where those rules touch on these topics?

Did a search, didn't really see anything exactly touching on this topic (maybe I'm just blind).  :D

Again, Thanks.  O0 O:-)
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cray

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Re: Mech Behavior/performance, ETC, What source is definitive?
« Reply #1 on: 15 January 2013, 21:45:59 »
Hey, first of all, thanks for your time & reading this.  O0

The question is:

What written BattleTech materials are considered canonical and used to form the boundaries in which novelists and sourcebook writers stay?

The rule for continuity review of new material is that:

1) Rules take precedence
2) Fluff and novels are next
3) Artwork is lowest on the continuity food chain
4) Newer material overrides conflicting earlier publications
5) The Line Developer has final say. All hail the Herb.

So, if the writer of a new novel turned in a draft to fact checkers that said, "The MechWarrior plotted his next shot with the cockpit's Ouija board," the fact checkers would, by default, turn to Tech Manual for its description of how BattleMech fire control works and provide proper references for the author to correct his error.

Now, if the writer pointed out that a (hypothetical) rule in Total Warfare specified BattleMech fire control was to be handled with a Ouija board, then the rules would take precedence over the fluff. But until contradicted by the rules (or overridden by someone at a higher pay grade), the "fluff" of Tech Manual, Strategic Operations, etc., is very much enforced during continuity reviews.

Quote
For example, are the Tech Manual "fluff" descriptions of how a BattleMech's targeting and tracking system and diagnostic interface do the grunt work of aiming 'Mech weaponry something that novelists and other writers would have to adhere to? Or can such "fluff" be ignored at will by novelists to provide their versions of how BattleMech's perform and behave?

That fluff of Tech Manual would be adhered to by default. I can and have pointed out mistakes in control descriptions in BattleCorps stories and referred the author to the Tech Manual for the correct descriptions. (Not directly - such continuity commentary is subject to editorial / line developer oversight. See point 5, above.) As it stands, Tech Manual has the current descriptions of how BattleMech weaponry and movement is controlled and writers stick to that.

Quote
Or, for example, the Boardgame Rules don't do PSR's for falling over until *after* the 'Mech has taken fire; thus suggesting that the 'Mech has been able to handle the recoil from firing it's own kinetic based weapons and the "knock" generated by taking incoming weapons fire without any interaction from the Pilot (no PSR when these events happen, only after) - thus seemingly indicating that the 'Mechs are able to "handle" this recoil and knock without pilot input? ... essentially meaning that the combat rules would establish the 'Mech's behavior/performance, where those rules touch on these topics?

Well, here you run into an issue where fluff and rules collide, and the rules don't exactly take precedence when writing. The rules on combat turn sequence are not necessarily representative of the actual flow of time in the fictional world of BT. In this case, the rules are an abstraction meant to keep game play organized, sane, and methodical, without translating directly into real world effects.

For example, the rules indicate weapons fire is handled at the same instant in each turn, and THEN damage is applied. This can result in oddities such as one 'Mech blowing another 'Mech's arm off, but the amputee 'Mech still gets to shoot its amputated arm's weapons because damage is resolved AFTER everyone fires "simultaneously." But in fiction, a writer would not be expected to describe every 'Mech on a field firing all their weapons in the same clock tick of a 10-second period, then seeing all the damage manifest afterwards, then make appropriate PSRs. In the novel, the damage would happen more organically and the MechWarriors would be firing at their own pace.

On the other hand, a writer would generally be expected to adhere to descriptions of damage effects in the rules: when an engine is hit, heat flares. When a gyro is wrecked, the 'Mech can't remain standing if it has to make any PSRs. Since the fluff and rules are fairly in agreement about damage effects, the fluff would also be referenced if the author had continuity problems with his draft. (For example, an author that described finding big hydraulic pistons under a 'Mech's blown-off armor would be reminded that 'Mechs use myomers, as described in Tech Manual's fluff.)

In your specific example of handling their own weapon recoil, yes, BattleMechs can handle that without too much MechWarrior input. As noted in Tech Manual, the Diagnostic Interface computer is pretty good about keeping a BattleMech upright. It will be especially good about its own weapons since it knows their recoil values, from what angle and elevation the recoil will occur, and knows when the recoil will occur - the DI computer is, after all, the computer that is overseeing the activation of the weapons once the MechWarrior points-and-clicks with the trigger. The DI computer (and MechWarrior) will have more trouble with the unpredictable onslaught of an attack, which will erratically shed tons of armor (losing about a ton is the minimum to trigger a PSR) and possibly structure, hence the PSRs if enough damage is inflicted.

If that doesn't answer your questions, or raised new ones, feel free to ask away.
« Last Edit: 15 January 2013, 21:57:56 by cray »
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

Pht

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Re: Mech Behavior/performance, ETC, What source is definitive?
« Reply #2 on: 16 January 2013, 13:17:31 »
Thanks!  O0

The rule for continuity review of new material is that:

1) Rules take precedence
2) Fluff and novels are next
3) Artwork is lowest on the continuity food chain
4) Newer material overrides conflicting earlier publications
5) The Line Developer has final say. All hail the Herb.

So, if the writer of a new novel turned in a draft to fact checkers that said, "The MechWarrior plotted his next shot with the cockpit's Ouija board," the fact checkers would, by default, turn to Tech Manual for its description of how BattleMech fire control works and provide proper references for the author to correct his error.

Now, if the writer pointed out that a (hypothetical) rule in Total Warfare specified BattleMech fire control was to be handled with a Ouija board, then the rules would take precedence over the fluff. But until contradicted by the rules (or overridden by someone at a higher pay grade), the "fluff" of Tech Manual, Strategic Operations, etc., is very much enforced during continuity reviews.

That fluff of Tech Manual would be adhered to by default. I can and have pointed out mistakes in control descriptions in BattleCorps stories and referred the author to the Tech Manual for the correct descriptions. (Not directly - such continuity commentary is subject to editorial / line developer oversight. See point 5, above.) As it stands, Tech Manual has the current descriptions of how BattleMech weaponry and movement is controlled and writers stick to that.

Ok, so it's pretty much how I presumed it would be.

I even seem to recall stackpole grousing (I think it was on his blog? Don't remember) about some of the restrictions. :)

 :D ... well, not everyone gets away with the sort of stuff that WH40K allows in their ... I balk at using the word ... "continuity."

No, MR. stackpole, I don't dislike your books. IMO, they're some of the best in the series. :)

Speaking of which, I presume that while the novelists *do* sometimes "get away" with writing in things that aren't considered "kosher" for things like moving their storylines ahead, or things like, say, the now infamous "stackpoling" effect, morgan kell's "ghost mech" skill and the lot, and obviously minor things that are just left alone or missed...

I can't imagine you guys would keep *that* tight of a leash on the novelists.

----

*Wonders what Herb uses for reference material when making the final decisions - maybe an ouija board repainted with "nuke the planet" ... "gas the planet" ... or "destroy this faction" amongst other choices  >:D ;D  :o #P



Quote
Well, here you run into an issue where fluff and rules collide, and the rules don't exactly take precedence when writing. The rules on combat turn sequence are not necessarily representative of the actual flow of time in the fictional world of BT. In this case, the rules are an abstraction meant to keep game play organized, sane, and methodical, without translating directly into real world effects.

For example, the rules indicate weapons fire is handled at the same instant in each turn, and THEN damage is applied. This can result in oddities such as one 'Mech blowing another 'Mech's arm off, but the amputee 'Mech still gets to shoot its amputated arm's weapons because damage is resolved AFTER everyone fires "simultaneously." But in fiction, a writer would not be expected to describe every 'Mech on a field firing all their weapons in the same clock tick of a 10-second period, then seeing all the damage manifest afterwards, then make appropriate PSRs. In the novel, the damage would happen more organically and the MechWarriors would be firing at their own pace.

On the other hand, a writer would generally be expected to adhere to descriptions of damage effects in the rules: when an engine is hit, heat flares. When a gyro is wrecked, the 'Mech can't remain standing if it has to make any PSRs. Since the fluff and rules are fairly in agreement about damage effects, the fluff would also be referenced if the author had continuity problems with his draft. (For example, an author that described finding big hydraulic pistons under a 'Mech's blown-off armor would be reminded that 'Mechs use myomers, as described in Tech Manual's fluff.)

Ok, so in that case, the stuff from TM would, in essence, "clarify" what the rules leave somewhat obscure.

I presume than, that anything that is clear-cut in the ruleset(s) which doesn't contradict sourcebook "fluff" that directly touches on that topic is pretty much is "what goes?"

Quote
In your specific example of handling their own weapon recoil, yes, BattleMechs can handle that without too much MechWarrior input. As noted in Tech Manual, the Diagnostic Interface computer is pretty good about keeping a BattleMech upright. It will be especially good about its own weapons since it knows their recoil values, from what angle and elevation the recoil will occur, and knows when the recoil will occur - the DI computer is, after all, the computer that is overseeing the activation of the weapons once the MechWarrior points-and-clicks with the trigger. The DI computer (and MechWarrior) will have more trouble with the unpredictable onslaught of an attack, which will erratically shed tons of armor (losing about a ton is the minimum to trigger a PSR) and possibly structure, hence the PSRs if enough damage is inflicted.

Pretty much what I expected.

I posed the question about knock and PSR's due to the way the TM (and earlier CBT:Comp) writeups on the topic discussed it - it seemed they were stating, in essence, that incoming weapons fire wouldn't necessarily "knock around" a 'Mech - that what does overcome a 'Mech's ability to keep upright and stable enough to return fire off is when, say, it pretty much instantly loses an arm or a bunch of armor.

So essentially as long as you've not lost a bunch of mass instantly, your 'Mech is pretty much going to "Wade in" to the incoming fire and keep dishing it out.
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cray

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Re: Mech Behavior/performance, ETC, What source is definitive?
« Reply #3 on: 16 January 2013, 15:51:57 »
Speaking of which, I presume that while the novelists *do* sometimes "get away" with writing in things that aren't considered "kosher" for things like moving their storylines ahead, or things like, say, the now infamous "stackpoling" effect, morgan kell's "ghost mech" skill and the lot, and obviously minor things that are just left alone or missed...

I can't imagine you guys would keep *that* tight of a leash on the novelists.

That was my point 5 in the continuity review process: editors / developers will step in now and waive a continuity issue. This seems to happen when it supports better drama and is still reasonably within the bounds of the setting. (Exploding fusion engines remain novelists' favorites.)

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Ok, so in that case, the stuff from TM would, in essence, "clarify" what the rules leave somewhat obscure.

That's the idea: to fill in the blanks beyond the scope of the rules.

Quote
I presume than, that anything that is clear-cut in the ruleset(s) which doesn't contradict sourcebook "fluff" that directly touches on that topic is pretty much is "what goes?"

Yes.

Quote
I posed the question about knock and PSR's due to the way the TM (and earlier CBT:Comp) writeups on the topic discussed it - it seemed they were stating, in essence, that incoming weapons fire wouldn't necessarily "knock around" a 'Mech - that what does overcome a 'Mech's ability to keep upright and stable enough to return fire off is when, say, it pretty much instantly loses an arm or a bunch of armor.

Well, no, some weapons fire carries a lot of momentum and knock around the 'Mech. Being on the wrong end of a hypersonic, 250kg heavy Gauss Rifle shell IS going to knock around the target. Based on the aerospace rules for hex sizes and turn lengths, BT non-energy weapons fire their projectiles at very, very high velocities (or else they'd have shorter ranges). When several hundred kilograms of projectiles (autocannon, missiles, Gauss rifle shells) come calling, conservation of momentum says the target is going to have to answer. Energy weapons, depending on their effects, can also rattle a 'Mech - a fast discharge laser that nigh-instantly evaporates a bunch of armor has just produced an explosion on the surface of the 'Mech that the DI computer couldn't anticipate.

The DI computer will try to weather impacts in order to keep the course set by the MechWarrior (rather like the autopilot of an airliner holding course in the face of turbulence), but there are limits - and that's when the PSRs are called for.

Loss of mass or damaged structure exacerbates the problem, but they're not the only source of PSRs from high damage.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

Pht

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Re: Mech Behavior/performance, ETC, What source is definitive?
« Reply #4 on: 16 January 2013, 18:13:56 »
Well, no, some weapons fire carries a lot of momentum and knock around the 'Mech. Being on the wrong end of a hypersonic, 250kg heavy Gauss Rifle shell IS going to knock around the target. Based on the aerospace rules for hex sizes and turn lengths, BT non-energy weapons fire their projectiles at very, very high velocities (or else they'd have shorter ranges). When several hundred kilograms of projectiles (autocannon, missiles, Gauss rifle shells) come calling, conservation of momentum says the target is going to have to answer. Energy weapons, depending on their effects, can also rattle a 'Mech - a fast discharge laser that nigh-instantly evaporates a bunch of armor has just produced an explosion on the surface of the 'Mech that the DI computer couldn't anticipate.

The DI computer will try to weather impacts in order to keep the course set by the MechWarrior (rather like the autopilot of an airliner holding course in the face of turbulence), but there are limits - and that's when the PSRs are called for.

Loss of mass or damaged structure exacerbates the problem, but they're not the only source of PSRs from high damage.

Interesting.

Is there any "settled source" that would cover this? Or is it currently undefined?

...

Do we know if incoming kinetic fire can not only knock your 'Mech around, but if it can do so badly enough to throw your 'Mechs ability to aim the weapons off?


One more stupid question and I think I'll quit pestering you guys...

Acceleration velocities for the 'Mechs - up to full speed in 15 meters (half their hex), 30 meters (full hex) ... ? Curious if there's any settled source on the performance parameters of myomers as far as acceleration/deceleration.
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cray

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Re: Mech Behavior/performance, ETC, What source is definitive?
« Reply #5 on: 16 January 2013, 18:55:04 »
Do we know if incoming kinetic fire can not only knock your 'Mech around

Quite a few novels and BattleCorps stories, whenever a 'Mech takes a serious pounding in a fictional story.

Quote
but if it can do so badly enough to throw your 'Mechs ability to aim the weapons off?

That might happen in novels, though the rules don't address that. (There's no rule that imposes gunnery skill check modifiers for same-turn hostile weapons fire.) I can't think of a specific instance where a novel/story says, "...and the aim was ruined by hostile fire..." (or words to that effect), but I wouldn't rule it out from all BT fiction.

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Acceleration velocities for the 'Mechs - up to full speed in 15 meters (half their hex), 30 meters (full hex) ... ? Curious if there's any settled source on the performance parameters of myomers as far as acceleration/deceleration.

The movement rules in Total Warfare. You know how many hexes (30m/ea) a 'Mech can cross from a dead start. Average acceleration should be a simple calculation from there. Actual "0 to top speed" distances have not been given, just that you can cover your maximum movement in one turn from a dead start.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

HABeas2

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Re: Mech Behavior/performance, ETC, What source is definitive?
« Reply #6 on: 18 January 2013, 13:35:19 »
Hello,

*Wonders what Herb uses for reference material when making the final decisions - maybe an ouija board repainted with "nuke the planet" ... "gas the planet" ... or "destroy this faction" amongst other choices  >:D ;D  :o #P

A dart board, actually. With the map of the Inner Sphere on it. And dart fins alternately decorated with bio-hazard and radiation logos.

See?



Thank you,

- Herbert Beas

Pht

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Re: Mech Behavior/performance, ETC, What source is definitive?
« Reply #7 on: 19 January 2013, 21:46:49 »
Hello,

A dart board, actually. With the map of the Inner Sphere on it. And dart fins alternately decorated with bio-hazard and radiation logos.

See?



Thank you,

- Herbert Beas

ROFL!

Man, now, why do all of your darts have a habit of mostly going into the 9 oclock to 6 oclock region?  :D

----

In all seriousness, though, I wonder what source you usually use for these kind of decisions.

----

*drools at the idea of having a giant binder with all of the BT stuff collated, even the stuff we don't know that you all talk about at the yearly planning meetings.*
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HABeas2

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Re: Mech Behavior/performance, ETC, What source is definitive?
« Reply #8 on: 20 January 2013, 04:55:54 »
Hello,

In all seriousness, major plot decisions are made at summit meetings held by the core developers and writers every few years, and adjusted periodically as we go, mostly by the Line Developer.

Thank you,

- Herbert Beas

Pht

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Re: Mech Behavior/performance, ETC, What source is definitive?
« Reply #9 on: 23 February 2013, 15:10:34 »
I'm sorry to necro this somewhat old thread, but someone asked me a rather pertinent question on this topic...


Just how long has this process that cray mentions:

The rule for continuity review of new material is that:

1) Rules take precedence
2) Fluff and novels are next
3) Artwork is lowest on the continuity food chain
4) Newer material overrides conflicting earlier publications
5) The Line Developer has final say. All hail the Herb.

... been the operating procedure for the novelists/fluff writers/etc?

Did it go on before "the herb?"
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HABeas2

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Re: Mech Behavior/performance, ETC, What source is definitive?
« Reply #10 on: 23 February 2013, 20:41:51 »
Hello,

Yes. Before that it was "the Randall". Before him, it was "the Bryan".

Thanks,

- Herbert Beas

Pht

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Re: Mech Behavior/performance, ETC, What source is definitive?
« Reply #11 on: 25 February 2013, 19:04:57 »
Hello,

Yes. Before that it was "the Randall". Before him, it was "the Bryan".

Thanks,

- Herbert Beas

So, pretty much from the beginning...
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HABeas2

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Re: Mech Behavior/performance, ETC, What source is definitive?
« Reply #12 on: 25 February 2013, 19:55:09 »
Hello,

Yes.

Thank you,

-