Disclaimer: All of the points below made are mine, and mine alone. They don't represent anyone but me and I am writing this in response to a very good, if a bit testy point made on the CBT forums.
By now, you have read this missive on the Classic Battletech forums. And I wanted to respond here because I feel I have the freedom to do so in a more free-wheeling atmosphere, and frankly, some of what I may have to say is some very hard truths from my own perspective as a Battletech player of 32 years (God has it been that long?).
My first response to this missive is a short answer. "Yes, Classic Battletech is in trouble." There are also sorts of issues going on with the game. Some I am at liberty to talk about, some I am not. I will discuss the issues I can talk about, the ones I cannot, I won't, so don't ask.
But Jason, why is our beloved game in trouble? Well, there's a lot of reasons, some of which the OP in this post lays out in a fairly devastating manner. We don't have an entry level means for new fans to enter the world of Classic Battletech. Or, we do, but the Powers That Be (hereafter referred to as the PTB) will not give it the support it deserves IMHO. (Hint: It's the subject of this blog).
The game has become impenetrable, with the Total Warfare books consisting of 5 very heavy tomes, mostly full of rules most of us will never use. Worse, the editing of some of them is atrocious (and as a Tech Writer, I ought to know, books this size should be indexed. I have yet to see a CBT rulebook that has EVER had an index except for the old House Books in my memory, the rule books should have an index, at the minimum). The rules are becoming a series of tacked on additions with endless special cases and new rules. Advanced Squad Leader is more seamless these days. We're nearing, if not already at Star Fleet Battles levels of "rules for the sake of rules".
Second, the release schedule is becoming a lot of "wishful thinking". I am hearing a lot of promised products, but other than a lot of straight to PDF travelogues and unit profiles, what I am seeing is a whole lot of nothing. Now, as a small press publisher of my own stuff, I know it's hard putting together anything for market, and it takes time. But CGL is a lot bigger than me, and the Shadowrun stuff, for the most part, is coming out like an assembly line, what aren't you telling us, PTB? Is Battletech becoming what the industry calls a "loss leader"?
Next, the Jihad did a number on the game. Sorry, but it did. While sacred cows do make the best burger meat, it's not a good idea to screw too hard with people's nostalgia. Ask Hollywood, the endless remake cycle is making them less and less money every time because when they re-imagine something, they have seemed to do a good job of screwing it up. The Jihad and endless retcons have done similar to CBT. People are playing more and more in 3067 and earlier because they didn't like the shaft their faction got. Yes, Herb did say he was screwing everyone, but that just made everyone mad. Simply put, Davion fans have become the new Capellans. I am not saying factions don't deserve their own time in the sun, they do. But sometimes, the extent of the hatred the writers have had for some factions has been a bit..unappealing. (and I won't even mention how screwed over Clan fans have felt).
Battletech is a large, multi-faceted universe at war. Somewhere, in the Classic Battletech universe, someone is shooting at someone else. That by it's very nature, is a bit grim. But the focus has been and should always be, our big stompy 'Mechs. Now the Beta of the Battletech Manual is a bit hopeful, but it's an intermediate level book meant for lance on lance fights. And at the rate we are going? When is it going to see the light of day in a final version? I think I will have to be pleasantly surprised when I see it in a store.
In short, CBT is in trouble, but there are fixes. It's going to take some time, effort, and willingness to make some changes, and perhaps some retcons to the retcons, as much as that might cause some new angst. But I don't personally see a another way out. But hey, this is only my opinion. I'd love to hear yours.
Please keep it civil, however.
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