Thursday, March 22, 2012

BattleTech: Final Rating


BattleTech somehow makes owning a giant, missile-wielding robot uncool.

BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception
Westwood Associates/Infocom (1988)

Date Started: 11 March 2012
Date Ended: 19 March 2012
Total Hours: 8
Final Rating: 37
Difficulty: Easy

Look, even though I came into BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception with a little bias, I was ready to give a game about giant anthropomorphic tanks a chance. I even overlooked the misplaced apostrophe in the game's title (hint: there are multiple Crescent Hawks). But the game managed to undermine its entire purpose. You could get through the entire game without fighting a single combat, and the last third of it doesn't even give you a chance to engage in combat. I was fooled by a promising beginning and utterly taken aback by a sudden, pointless ending.

I've never tried a speedrun before, so I gave it a shot tonight, and the results are in the YouTube clip below. In about 37 minutes, I made it from the beginning of the game to the Star League Cache.



After reaching the Star League cache, I declined to go through that ridiculous keycard/door puzzle again, but I'm guessing it would have taken me, at most, another 40 minutes. So this is a game that could easily be won in 1:15. In order to win the game, all you need is: a) to view your dad's hologram; b) to get a pilot, medic, and tech with advanced enough skills to answer Dr. Tellham's questions; c) go to Dr. Tellham's house and then the cache. Technically, I don't know if the NPCs need to have "excellent" skills, but I got them there by simply investing all of the cash I made in school and withdrawing it to pay for their training. If you'll watch the video, you'll also note that I had to repeat one training mission in school, that I backtracked quite a bit, and that I forgot I could change the movement rate until late in the game. This was only my second time playing it. I bet if I tried again, I could get from the beginning to the StarLeague cache in 25 minutes.

You'll also note that I evaded every single combat except one. I probably could eventually have gotten out of that one, too, but it failed several times so I figured I'd better fight before I got killed. In the 37 minutes, I saved a couple of times but I never died once.

Some readers might be puzzled by Matt Barton's review of the game in Dungeons & Desktops. He says, "Jason's only hope is to unite with the mysterious Crescent Hawks and organize a guerrilla army to retake the Pacifica." Actually, no, you don't get to retake the colony. That would have been a good game. He also says, "The game also features an enormous gameworld, which even has Jason traveling to other planets." Ha! I can only assume he was fooled by the planetary map that came with the game--which is necessary to solve the last puzzle--into thinking you could actually go to those places. But if Barton was fooled, it's not his fault. I mean, I didn't expect him to play every game to conclusion for his book. The game actually presents itself as something worth playing.

Here's the GIMLET:

1. Game World. As with Dungeons & Dragons CRPGs, I have to judge this category partly on the overall franchise and partly on what's presented in this game. I find them both rather silly, but at least they exist and you can get involved in them if you feel like it. The game is only a small piece of the universe, of course, but as you start out, you have a pretty good sense of your overall place in the grand scheme of things. The world (island) itself is fairly bland, with a bunch of nondescript towns that basically have the same buildings. Your actions don't do much to affect the world, but otherwise this one category isn't bad. Score: 5.

I was about to call this the one nod to my actions in the game, but I realized that the "Mech Stolen" isn't the one I stole from the jail but someone else's theft. Maybe this was supposed to give me an idea to do the same thing, but I didn't need another mech.
2. Character Creation and Development. Unsatisfying on several levels. First, you don't get to "create" your character; you're just told who he is. The characteristics of body, dexterity, and charisma are immutable throughout (I'm not even sure what charisma does). The various skills (piloting, gunnery, technical, medical, and the various weapons) could have been cool, but bafflingly, with the exception of technical and medical (which you can raise one level each through training), you can only improve these skills while you're in the academy. Once the Kuritans invade, you're locked with whatever you have. That means that the game actually rewards dithering around the school and failing missions so you can purchase training in small arms and so you can keep piloting the mechs in failed missions over and over. So it's hard to really see any of this as "development." Your other NPCs can't develop at all; you take them as you find them. Score: 2.

Russ is essentially good for absolutely nothing. He can pilot a mech but he can't shoot.

3. NPC Interaction. Again, going around and finding the members of the Crescent Hawks, and adding them to your party, could have been interesting, but it was bungled. Much like Ultima IV, they cease to have individual personalities once they join you. There is no dialogue with them (or any other NPC). There are some bizarre text "cut-scenes" with other NPCs that ultimately don't make much sense. Having one of the Hawks turn out to be a traitor is one nice twist, as is the way your fellow cadets make fun of you if you bollix the training missions. But ultimately most of those little icons wandering around have nothing useful for you. Score: 3.

The townsfolk scurry when the mechs come to town.

4. Encounters & Foes. There are no encounters in the game that force you to make any kind of role-playing choices (or any choices at all). Your foes are faceless humans and mechs that are thrown at you with alarming frequency, but from whom it is very easy to flee. There's plenty of re-spawning, if you want to grind, but there's no reason to do so--as we just saw, it's possible to win the game without any kind of combat. Worst of all, there is only one scripted encounter (when the enemy attacks the training academy), and you're left at the end without the satisfaction of dishing any sort of revenge. I give it points for original foes (there aren't armored robots in many other CRPGs) and the randomness to the encounters. Score: 3.

Isn't that just like a Pacifican? Brings a longbow to a mech fight.

5. Magic and Combat. No magic, of course, but it's a sci-fi game so it doesn't lose any points there. The combat system in BattleTech is fairly original and could have been a strong point to the game. The tactical combat grid recalls the best SSI games (Pool of Radiance, Demon's Winter) in its complexity, it has some amusing animations, and I like that you can give things over to computer control if you get bored. Balancing logistics like terrain and weapons and overheating could have been fun and rewarding. But the game managed to mess it up by a) giving you too few choices in your mechs (there are only three types) and the weapons you can outfit them with; and b) making combat too easy to avoid. Still, I rate this reasonably high for what could have been. Score: 5.

6. Equipment. You get a weapon and a suit of armor, and each character can carry only one at a time. There are entire classes of weapons (melee and pistol) that are pointless to own because anti-mech weapons work fine against ground troops and never run out of ammunition. Weapons and armor have limited utility anyway, because you'd have to screw up pretty badly to end up fighting on foot (at least, after you reach Starport the first time). There are a couple of other bits of equipment to buy, including advanced medical kits, but they're nothing to sing about. Mechs come soldered with specific weapons already in place, and you have to keep repairing them an replenishing the ammo. You can "upgrade" them for a hefty fee, but you'd have to do far more grinding than it would be worth to make that kind of money. I suppose your mileage may vary on this one, depending on whether you think it's worthwhile to micromanage your mech fleet when combat isn't even necessary. Score: 4.

I never made enough money to indulge in this, but it would have been pointless.

7. Economy. The stock market is an interesting and original element. It allows you to have some fun with your finances without breaking the game. Two of the stocks seem to grow very slowly, and the third seems to have a 50/50 chance of gaining or losing 50% of its value every round. Because mechs cost a lot of money to repair and replenish with ammo, and because the upgrades are so much money, cash never really loses its value. I have to give a high score on this one: 8.

This game offers the ultimate day-trading experience.


8. Quests. The game has a main quest, but it might be the least inspiring main quest of any game I've ever played. Your world has just been invaded by a faceless horde, and the main quest revolves around finding a cache of mech parts. Wow. Call the screenwriters. There isn't even a "villain," really--just a villainous faction. Given that there's only one way to win, and no side quests, I have to give this one a low score of 2.

Victory smells like motor oil.

9. Graphics, Sound, and Inputs. As you can see, the graphics are good, and the little battle animations are fun. (Note how I managed to avoid saying anything, until now, about the obviously anime-inspired portraits. I'm working on my issues there.) The sound isn't painful--unlike with many games of the era, I didn't turn it off--but also nothing to praise. The controls and inputs are intuitive and easy to grasp, with the possible exception of combat movement, which seemed needlessly clunky. The automap and the ability to adjust the movement rate were nice features. Score: 6.

10. Gameplay. I almost wish I could give a negative score on this one. The game is completely linear, non-replayable, too easy, too short, and it ends with the worst puzzle inclusion I've ever seen in a CRPG: a completely rote, bang-your-head-against-the-wall slog through a twisty maze, involving no intelligence and no tactics. I just finished giving The Bard's Tale III a score of 1 in this category, and I can't do any better for BattleTech.

Imagine doing this roughly 300 times.

This game could have been redeemed easily. If the developers had ditched the puzzle maze at the end in favor of a series of increasingly difficult, unavoidable combats (perhaps culminating in Jason finding his father's old super-mech and being able to use it in the final battle), for which you really needed to get a good army of upgraded mechs (requiring some grinding and financial wizardry), it would have been twice as good. Add an actual villain (who you'd defeat at the end), reduce the frequency of the encounters but make them less avoidable, and you'd have a legitimately good game. As it is, I give it a final rating of 37. The scores add up to 39, but I'm using my "bonus" category to take away two points for having such a dumb ending and for essentially betraying its name through some staggeringly awful gameplay decisions. It started out with such promise, too.

Computer Gaming World reviewed BattleTech in January 1989 (Page 36) in a rare CRPG review not written by Scorpia, but by Vince DeNardo. He praises the combat but doesn't seem to acknowledge that none of it is really necessary. He quotes Infocom as saying that the game was designed for younger players and at "beginning to low intermediate" levels. His final conclusion is similar to mine: good framework, questionable execution.

More laughable is a review that appeared in the October 1989 Compute! in which the author concludes, "As you'll discover, when you complete your Mech Warrior training and begin venturing away from the (raining center, the world of BattleTech is huge and it can take weeks, perhaps even months, to explore all of it." Between this author and Barton, I'm wondering if I really played the same game.

My next trip will take me back to Sentinel Worlds, a game that I didn't give quite enough of a chance last summer. We're getting close to the end of 1988. I'll explain my game order for 1989 in a later posting.

105 comments:

  1. Thank you for saving my time (by wasting yours). I was always curious about this game because I went through a BattleTech phase as a teenager, but your playthrough has completely removed my interest in bothering with it.

    The writeups you described by reviewers almost make it sound like there was a director's cut or extended version of the game that you missed out on. Like when a buddy of mine bought a surprisingly cheap "Limited Edition" Deus Ex years ago that was basically a demo of the first level or two. Oh well, on to bigger and better things.

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    1. I've posted a question on http://gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/57617/how-long-is-battletech-the-crescent-hawks-inception asking about it, in case this is the case. However, http://www.sarna.net/wiki/BattleTech:_The_Crescent_Hawks%27_Inception seems to match the Addicts experience. I am curious though, as all of these things were probably written well after the original game, so it is possible they are all based on the same crippled version.

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    2. I think it's unlikely that I played a "truncated" version. As Canageek points out, all the online FAQs end where my game ended, and the original CGW review, while suggesting the game would take longer than it took me, doesn't mention any game elements (other planets, etc.) that I didn't experience.

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    3. Having played this game when it came out, I can attest that it really is that short a game. Either this is another case where the reviewer is guilty of gross exaggeration, or this is another case of a reviewer who didn't finish the game and writes based on a false assumption that there are multiple planets to explore.

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  2. Thank you, mate.

    I always wanted to know what was behind some names of old games, like Wizardry I without actualy playing them or playing them in distant future. Reading your writing is like experiencing them myself, its special moments of game and plot twists (minus grind and repeating combat).


    I also notice, i enjoy OLD crpgs more then NEW ones. I dont know, maybe its my age (31) or just they were made differently?

    I do play old games, Crystal Dragon atm (and plan to do Black crypt next). Though you ptobably will miss this ones, since they require amiga emulator (i spend 10 minutes to configure it for my PC).

    Thank you once again, always eager to read your new posts


    Whisper

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    1. Hmm I haven't heard of crystal dragon, will have to look that one up. Black crypt was rather fun though, it's one I think would be a shame for cprgaddict to miss

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  3. Maybe this was a half finished game, maybe you were supposed to be able to go to different planets and so forth. Or maybe the developers were too "grown up" to actually play the game itself. I don't know, I'm trying to guess why the game is what it is. And why didn't the reviewers play the game before they reviewed it? If you wanna review a book or a movie you're typically expected to read or watch it first, but for some reason it's OK to review a game without playing it. What if I reviewed Shake Spear and said that the warmonger is an utter lunatic with his "shaking the spears" all the time, that would just prove that I havn't read the book, but I did watch Bowfinger.

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    1. Well, Barton wasn't "reviewing" CRPGs so much as cataloging their history, so I'm not so upset about his. The Compute! one, on the other hand--MONTHS?!

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    2. I disagree. While Barton's Matt Chats have been entertaining, that book has come up with too much questionable content in your writings to warrant me even having my local library order it (the line that inspired 'What Have We Learned from CRPGs?' posting still kind of infuriates me for its off-the-cuff-ness). I think the word's spoken on Battletech by Barton and others are pretty much the same: poor research, did it for reading filler, got publisher paycheck.

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    3. Maybe Barton made his comments based on the Compute! review. Many times there are multiple games the reviewer has to get through in a week, and can only devote a few hours before needing to finish up a review. Other times, the writers will only get a demo, and an explanation from the developers about what's going to be put into the full version.

      Once the full game does come out, there's no time to do a full review after completing it because the next new game is just around the corner. It is very disturbing how little time gets spent with each game before a reviewer needs to make up a score. Imagine trying to review a movie based on the trailer, or a book based on just one chapter.

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    4. It's because games are not being taken seriously by these self proclaimed "intellectuals". Google mass effect fox news scandal, there was some kind of psychic expert on fox news who said there was a sex scene in Mass Effect, there isn't, and she hadn't even played the game! Actually she took insult at the ridiculous slight of even asking her if she had, or something stupid like that, I don't remember the details. Anyway, not even game developers take games seriously sometimes, playing to lose??? Oh, so I'm supposed to feel good about your failure to make good AI, since you wanted to fail in the first place? It's stuff like this that makes me appreciate Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto's term "to upend the tea table", meaning that if a game isn't good enough Nintendo simply wont release it. If this had been one of Nintendo's games they would have rather taken a loss of profit than to push crap on their consumers.

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    5. Technically there WAS a sex scene. The Fox expert said it was the most realistic virtual sex ever. It was something you could easily see on prime time TV in Canada. Have you seen 300? It was oh, 1/10th that amount of nudity. I think they showed a bare bottom at one point.

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    6. Giauz, you make me wish I hadn't said anything. Barton's done more than just about anyone to preserve the history of CRPGs, and I wouldn't want anyone to get a negative impression of his book and his work just because he got a few facts wrong. Yes, I disagreed with him on CRPGs being the "best learning tool," but beyond this I can't think of any other "errors" in his book.

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    7. I cannot praise Matt Barton enough. Besides doing so much for CRPGs, past and in trying to bring about a better future, I can tell in my correspondence with him (though limited, admittedly), that he's one helluva nice guy.

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    8. Yeah, I guess I just got a bad impression. That whole "... Learned from CRPGs" post long ago and that self-unsubstantiated comment by Barton that inspired it has kind of eaten at me. Then there was a Matt Chat linked at the RPG Codex (I will never go back there again; there is just nothing that hasn't become decomposed cud they're still chewing on), which was quite unlike his earlier, more comprehensive reviews. And now I find this semi-popular at the time of its release game mentioned with error (and excluding its errors).

      Fine, I'll have my library order the book tomorrow. Then I can gain my own impressions and not just focus on the more questionable bits of writing. It's like I know he seems pretty cool and a nice guy, but what if I don't enjoy the book myself (it just kind of hurts me if I can't honestly say I liked the work of someone people actually know and respect).

      To Matt and all you guys, I'm sorry.

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    9. I worked at a library once, not a real job but I was a kid. I learned how to sort books and how to borrow books and how to return books, which was done on a computer. I got to work like 15 minutes a day, the rest of the day I could just read books.

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    10. That's cool, innategamer. Too bad my Library hasn't seen a new face since before I moved to my current town in 2003. I think all positions are filled for the long haul.

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  4. Here's hoping you bump Chaos strikes back close to the top of your 1989 list.

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    1. I'm doing a Let's Play of CSB right now if you're interested. I'm also looking forward to seeing CRPG Addict play this one. *evil laughter* ;)

      http://www.youtube.com/user/AmethystLunitari

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  5. I had the same thought someone mentioned that said maybe this was a demo or incomplete version. Turns out that's not the case, and the only FAQ on the game agrees with you. Here's what he says about the maze:

    "Get ready for the most mind-numbing, frustrating part of the game. Actually,
    you will probably be spending more time in this segment than you have in the
    whole game thus far!"

    I'm a bit dumbfounded how the game manages to garner favorable reviews at all. It has a 3.6 at MobyGames based on 26 user reviews. Again, this makes me doubt if this is the same game. I've heard of some companies that will end games in bad ways if it's detected that the game was pirated. Probably not the case here though since no one makes mention of it.

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    1. I have a copy on C64 disks. However, it destroys any disk drive it is put in, no idea why. If anyone knows more about C64s and wants a copy I could probably arrange to sell it to them (Since it is my Dad's game, I'd have to get permission).

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    2. I thought of that, too, but I checked out several walkthroughs and a YouTube "let's play" once I was finished, and all of them agree that that the end I experienced is the end.

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    3. Ah, ok. It does seem to match people's impressions here, so I've deleted my StackExchange question.

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  6. Funny thing is that I really enjoyed this game back in the days.
    I guess it's one of those games where it pays to be young and inexperienced, and where too much critical analysis ruins the experience.

    But too bad that not more could be made with such a good premise. They already had all the world building and rules, and could have concentrated on the other stuff, like encounter design, but didn't.
    That an Infocom game would feel more like an Adventure/IT game than a proper CRPG is perhaps not surprising, but one would think that Westwood Associates could have done better.

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    1. Do you remember the same ending as the Addict found?

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    2. All I remember is that since I played a pirated copy (Amiga version) I wasn't able to complete the game due to not having the starmap.
      But I remember trying several times to beat the Kuritans but not succeeding. Due to loading times I didn't try many times, though.
      And there was definitely not other planets to explore in the game.

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  7. I worked as game reviewer.
    For big, well-known games you are supposed to finish them. For small games, that few will read about (or old ones) its OKay to write review based on previews found on net.

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  8. I do have to agree with your rating on the whole; I ended up taking longer to play it- I reloaded multiple times until I was able to escape with the Chameleon; I got completely lost getting to the starport, I bought the mapping upgrade and explored the whole continent(really not much to see).

    The combat is actually loads easier with the Chameleon- it is a whole size class higher than anything you fight(50 ton vs. 35 or lighter). It carries far more lasers than anything else, and still has room for more armor. The Jenner is the only thing that comes close in total firepower, but it has less armor(and with critical hit rules/abstraction, its really hard to get a feel for how much armor makes a difference). But since you are outnumbered and surrounded, fighting a pack of them is a losing proposition.
    http://www.sarna.net/wiki/Chameleon
    http://www.sarna.net/wiki/Jenner

    The upgrades for the Commando mech were strange- basically remove all the missiles and add far more lasers than would seem wise.

    I would actually rate the economy a little lower- because I was wandering for so long, by the time I reached the starport the random number generator behind the stock market had garnered something like a half-million C-Bills. And at that level there was nothing I couldn't really afford.

    I think there are slightly more than just 3 enemy mech's to run into, but they are either extremely rare or only appear in a specific place(the opening Jenner attack, the arena).

    I was probably less hard on the ending; at the time I just reloaded a save and kept wandering through the countryside until I got bored and moved to a new game.

    The only other thing I can say in its favor is at least there weren't random encounters mixed in with the keycard puzzle- yes they might have broken up the monotony, but imagine losing your place or having to leave to heal up.

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  9. I like the summary at the top! (start/end date, score, etc)

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    1. It was a suggestion from a recent comment, but now suddenly I can't find it.

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    2. I was going to say that I really liked it, then forgot. I ended up looking for the last rating post, and found it wasn't there. I thought perhaps I hadn't noticed it before. Anyway, it is a nice addition. In regards to the difficulty of "easy," is that part of your rating, or the setting in which you played the game?

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    3. I think I was the one who suggested it, and I still wonder how anyone can beat the bastards in the Rope Guild in Pool of Radiance. Maybe I should go back and give it another try.

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    4. innate, If you go back and look at my entries on POR, I think I even have a video of my fight against that pack. The solution is just to leave for a while--perhaps do Sokol Keep first--get a couple of levels, and come back.

      Amy, I'm glad you asked because I can see where that might caused confusion in the future. That's my assessment of the game's level. Good god, I would never PLAY a game on "easy." BattleTech doesn't have a difficulty setting. I don't think I've actually played any game yet with a difficulty setting.

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    5. I really doubted you would, unless maybe it was only a choice between "easy" and "nightmare." I'd be tempted. ;)

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    6. Thanks for the advice, I'll try to take them on again! But I did get killed by poison frogs on Sokol though, maybe I should start using more magic. Yes, I'll give it a try, I even tried killing some Bugg Bears, but they were even harder. I've played Doom 3 on easy, or "recruit", I wouldn't survive long on nightmare.

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  10. Time can definitely make things seem better than they were. I remember playing this game back when it came out. Since that time, I have remembered this game fondly.

    It took me a couple of weeks to complete, but I loved to explore and fight combats.

    What surprises me is that there isn't more to this game. In my mind's eye, I remember far more about it than there actually is. When you said that finding the cache was the end of the game...I thought...hell, that can't be all there was..can it?

    I remember playing the sequel as well, and hating it. Most of my friends who liked the original hated it as well. It wasn't a CRPG at all.

    Oh well, I guess I won't bother playing it again. It was fun to me back in 1988...but I must have been really bored.

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  11. "Mechs come soldered with specific weapons already in place"

    In later games, and I think the tabletop version, a lot of parts on mechs are customizable.

    The mech parts plot makes more sense in universe, but they've totally failed to convey that fact, so I agree with the rating.
    The idea is, due to the total war engaged in at the end of the Star League, a lot of tech can't be made anymore, or it takes a long time to make. The Mechs made today are far, far weaker then the Mechs of the Star League (Or whatever it was called). Technology is advancing, but still behind what was once had.
    For example: Everyone has agreed not to attack ships capable of FTL, since each nation can only build one or two a year. Attacking them with ground troops and stealing them is fine; blowing them up in space is a no-no.
    So a cache of mech parts and an assault mech (The largest class, what I'm assuming you found) is actually huge: a mercenary company numbering with a hundred mechs might only have one of those. The parts would take years to rebuild, and depending on the quality are the type of things that could turn a feeble resistance force into a serious contender.

    Not that they managed to put any of this into the game.

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    1. I appreciate the history, though. It does make more sense now.

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    2. Yeah. It's poorly handled in this game because you don't wind up actually -doing- anything with the Star League cache, (and the challenges you face getting there are apparently tedious and sidestep the core gameplay). But in a better game, a cache of Star League era tech would be a major find - well worth being an endgame goal. It's far superior to the default tech level of the setting and they simply don't know how to make that stuff anymore. (At least, at the point in the setting timeline that this game is set. And Battletech was probably young enough at the time that things like the Clan invasion and Helm memory core were not even conceived yet.)

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    3. In one of the latter plotlines an army of Star League ear mech allow Comstar to wage war on just about everybody at once. Yes, the guys that run the communications. I have no idea if this plot was as dumb as it sounds.

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  12. @PetrusOctavianus : This game has NOTHING to do with adventure or adventure influences either.. And as already stated in previous posts' comments, this was NOT developed by Infocom , but by Westwood.. This game is a mess and just fails..

    @CrpgAddict: I like the new addition of the 5 first lines on your post :) Nice :)

    I would expect though that Matt has had researched the game a little more, still I will order his book someday :)

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  13. There's a bonus category? You can take points away?

    I'll admit, I'd been looking forward to reading your posts on this game, since I'm a fan of the Mechwarrior games. After reading, I guess I'll just avoid this game, though. :)

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    1. I added it a while back to make tweaks on things that didn't fall squarely into one of my existing categories. I've only used it once before, to give 2 points to Scavengers of the Mutant World for the way it used radiation. I would never use it to add or subtract more than 2 or 3 points.

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    2. Wizardry 5 should get -100 points for jeopardizing the survival of this blog.

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    3. I don't think that the value of a game is a sum of it's components. Let's say that a game has perfect graphics and story and npc and economy, but it wont let you play without spending hours on something boring, then that game would get 10,10,10,10 for graphics, story, npc and economy and then it would get a zero for gameplay, giving it 40/50 in total, but the game would still be bad. I think a bonus category is good, another idea is to multiply the score instead of adding it, that way the example above would be 0/100.000 If a game is good, except it ends before you've even had a chance to fight, then that sort of negates the scores in other areas.

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  14. I have a radical idea for continuing your quest of playing every CRPG ever made. Skip a few years to say early 90's or even late 90's and go forward from there. You will never actually play every CRPG ever made. You can't even get through 1988 in less than a year and a half so why torture yourself with mostly crap games like Battletech. If you somehow manage at to get through games from 1997 to present you can return to 1989 in your retirement :)

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    1. Maybe you could start a blog like that.

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    2. Yes, start from today, and go backward in time.

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    3. You would race to the past whilst the crpg addict is racing towards the future, that way you would meet the crpg addict some time in a distant future, perhaps some time in the 90ties.

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    4. The rate at which CRPGs are being released has slowed greatly. Assuming a CRPG Addict never prevented from playing more games through economic crisis, loss of will, collapse of civilization, or death, and a CRPG industry that remains mostly niche, he is virtually guaranteed to catch up to the present eventually, simply because games are now released at a much, much slower rate than they were before and are often much easier.

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    5. There are a lot of rpgs released today that would be full fledged titles back in the day. If you google for role playing games you'll find a lot, for instance I played a game with elf girl dating once, the goal of the game is to hit it off with one of the elf girls. GAME And I did play "Stick City" once, barely a rpg since you can't even "win", but it still had leveling up of various traits, but later I couldn't find it.

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  15. A question...

    I see that it took you 8 days to play 8 hours of this game. So I take it that either you are exceptionally busy, or this was a very demanding week for you? I ask, because if your rule is that you devote a minimum 6 hours to every game, I'm concerned you will go painfully slowly (for those of us eagerly waiting some of the more modern titles!) through your timeline.

    Just a suggestion, that if you can't devote many hours that maybe you might want to reduce your minimum-hours rule. You did spend a whole week playing a game whose Gameplay you rated 1 after all...

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    1. I played about 2 hours on March 11 and about 6 hours on March 18. There's no consistency. There are weeks in which I can play for a couple hours every day, and there are weeks I can't play at all. Some weeks, it definitely will be painfully slowly. But I don't want to reduce the rule because it keeps me from bailing on games too quickly.

      I haven't really been applying the 6-hour rule literally as it is. I've included the time it takes to install the game, read the manual, etc., plus the time it takes to write the first blog posting. If I reduce it any further, I'll get to a point where I barely have an impression of the game before I decide to move on.

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    2. Seeing that you spent 42 hours on Bard's Tale III, I get the feeling that you're really trying to beat a game. I know you've spent a good amount of time on Wizardry V already, but what good is the 6 hour rule if you don't use it to end a game you're not having fun with?

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    3. Having fun is only one of my goals. I'm actually more motivated to quit a game when I can't think of anything more to write about it than when I'm not having fun.

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  16. Skipping years wouldn't be about playing through all the PC RPGs, and this crazy idea is what drew me in as a reader. There are gems in each period, and stinkers in each period, and I personally like reading about both categories. I don't really think that the stinker/gem ratio improves that much with time.

    Both BT:CHI and BT3 strike me as games that have all the necessary elements in them to be fun, but just don't put them together right. The beginning of this game really did sound promising. Tragic!

    --Eino

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  17. The thing is , in the early 80's there were not too many games so got through the stinkers and the gems quick. By 1988 it explodes and there are so many games that are not worth playing by 2012 standards. In the day I had Battletech and Bard's Tale 3 and I thought they were good games. Today it's a different story. All I'm saying is the goal is to play through all games ever made so what does it matter if it's a bit out of chronological order. I just read the addict's manifesto when he started this blog and no mention of it having to go in order of release. Just a suggestion to consider..

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    1. I appreciate the suggestion, Blacbraun. But I'm not inclined to make any changes to my plan at this time.

      I may not have liked BattleTech as a game, but I like that I played it, and I liked the things I was able to say about it in my blog entries. A bad game doesn't necessarily make for a bad blogging experience--or, I like to hope, for a bad reading experience.

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    2. I (Mr. Faceless Anonymous CRPG Addict Blog Reader) enjoyed reading the posts about this game, for whatever that's worth. :) If nothing else, you make me feel no so bad for not having played this game, a game which would have disappointed me as it looked like it might be a fun and rewarding experience.

      I'm also a big fan of your blog in general and am glad you decided not to leave. :)

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    3. After binging on this blog for two days straight, I'd like to chime in and encourage the Addict to continue.

      Overall, I think that the 90s should go faster (at least, on a per-game basis.) The games should soon become more streamlined (and there will be less and less permadeath games, which are the worst offenders.)

      And of course, if the addict ever reach the 2000s, then it becomes easier to plow through years (at least until the indie renaissance.)

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  19. When BT:CHI first cam out, I avoided it because the concept of giant man-shaped fighting machines with men driving the from inside was just too hard to swallow. But when I read your first blog entry on this, I was wondering if I had missed out on a good game. I see that I did not. Thank you for playing it so I don't have to.

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  20. I'm kind of saddened by some of the comments straight out dismissing this game outright. Yes, it had large shortcomings and wasted potential. But it was also the first attempt at translating a very different RPG system(including that system's flaws) to the PC.

    In the end, BattleTech has been implemented better as a simulation or strategy game. Some of that may be scaling issues(people on foot vs. 30 ton mech tends to be very lethal; large numbers of casualties would happen even if the infantry succeeds). Choice of mech's is hard to justify for individuals- they are supposed to cost several million C-Bills minimum.
    ========================
    Question for the Addict- I know you have had trouble feeling as involved on the science fiction games vs. the fantasy ones. Do you think that is more an unfamiliarity problem(having to learn a new system without much reference; vs. fantasy games that share more common ground) or a missing sense of progression(how are harder enemies different? do I have new powers and things to do or just shinier new equipment)? Or something else entirely?

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    1. I cannot speak for Chet, but from what he's written before, perhaps his problem isn't with science fiction generally so much as with human controlled giant anthropomorphic fighting vehicles. That's true of me anyway, I like science fiction CRPGs (StarFlight, Star Control 2, Buck Rodgers to name a few) but the premise behind this game is hard to swallow.

      I'd expect properly armed infantry squad to be able to take out a 30 ton mech with minimal casualties by using laser-guided rockets; they just need to disable it not destroy it. Compared to a tank, it presents a huge profile and thus is an awfully inviting target. And fast moving aircraft (fixed wing or rotary) would have an even easier time, and a cruise missile would be an automatic kill. I just cannot take this stuff seriously.

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    2. One thing that I've wondered in these late posts about the arguing about how crappy mechas would be in real life and how infantry/tanks/fighters would blow them left and right, is how the suspension of disbelief works for about anything else BUT mechas.

      I could argue that mecha's sensory suite recognizes infantry squad painting it with laser targeting, destroying them in instant or argue that missiles or major indirect fire ordnance could be ID'd, tracked and destroyed with phalanx-type laser defense beyond effective range. or swarm of anti-tank missiles / heavy autocannon from from launched from mecha's shoulder are in good position hit tank's weaker top armor like modern antitank systems.

      Can't prove a thing, of course, and someone could certainly answer "yeah, but they'd have X and mecha can't do Y..."

      In games like Battletech, mechas rule the battlefield and that's fictional in-universe fact without trying to justify/debunk with real universe facts.

      Point being that I don't see people getting passionate about how fantasy worlds should be totally different places due magic if mages just used their powers in more creatively than launching fireballs.

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    3. I will never be a Codexer again, but BROFIST! man.

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    4. "Point being that I don't see people getting passionate about how fantasy worlds should be totally different places due magic if mages just used their powers in more creatively than launching fireballs."

      Worlds should be consistent with themselves. If it's trivially easy for wizards to generate food or water out of thin air and wizards are reasonably common, for example, then any kind of poverty in your world is immediately suspect, for example. A setting should be reasonably consistent with itself, and if it's science fiction (as opposed to space fantasy like Star Wars or Warhammer 40K), it should also be reasonably consistent with known laws of physics.

      Mechs in particular require a very specific set of justifications to make them combat viable, and most mecha anime or games don't actually provide those justifications. They're way too big, or way too slow, and are sometimes presented as being just barely superior to in-universe tanks and fighters which would logically be WAY cheaper to produce.

      That said, there ARE hypothetical situations where mechs could easily be useful. Arguments to the contrary typically rely on saying that this or that technological breakthrough is too unlikely to be considered plausible, an accusation that takes virtually all of science fiction with it. The teleporters, warp drives, and phasers from Star Trek are all based on some pretty shaky science, but people don't typically pitch a fit over it.

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    5. I think that one of the problems are not taking full potential of mecha on account. Even if it is basically a walking tank there is no specific reason to treat it just as tank.

      Granted that tanks or fighters probably are more economical, but if mecha is fighter AND tank like in Macross, and capable of performing both of their duties in same fashion wouldn't that change the equation.

      Same applies to Battletech - I'd remember from that heavy forests or deep waters doesn't do much more than slow the mechas, but would completely stop wheel/thread based tanks and mountains are passed quickly if mech had jumpjets. In Mechwarrior 2 there was missions in space and quick look at forums told how to handle mech fighting submarines in crushing depth with references to rulebooks. You would need lots of specialized vehicles and crew in them to cover what one 'mech could do.

      That being said, I don't expect seeing real mecha. Ever. And ain't defending all of fictional ones either as even leafing through Battletech's technical readouts causes in most cases facepalm moments.

      But all the naysayers to concept itself should have a look at Raytheon's Sarcos XOS 2 military exoskeleton and BigDog robot mule, and add few dozen years.

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    6. It probably goes back to the whole probable impossibility vs. improbable possibility thing. Sci-fi is often manifestly set in the "real" world, but in the future, so that you're supposed to accept the technology as probable. To me, things like teleporters and food replicators and giant robots create too many problems for me to accept them. Fantasy, on the other hand, is explicitly set in worlds where "magic" exists, and you just go with it as part of the world.

      That explanation is why I generally prefer fantasy to sci-fi. But I don't think my overall preferences or base of knowledge have had THAT much impact on the way I feel about games. Any time I've rated a sci-fi game low, I feel like I can justify it based on gameplay, not based on the genre. BattleTech just wasn't a good game, and it wouldn't have been a good game if it was about knights in plate mail instead of mechs.

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  21. I finally remembered to peek ahead at upcoming games again.

    I see MegaTraveller 1 is in the upcoming list for 1990. I haven't played it, but it is based off another sci-fi pen and paper RPG, Traveller(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveller_%28role-playing_game%29). Some background info might help alleviate some of the confusion you had going into the BattleTech one.

    I've wandered into collecting some Traveller books in the last few years. It is almost as old as D&D, but never hit the same level of popularity. But I see echo's of its setting and design in a range of games and fiction. MegaTraveller was technically the 2nd Edition published.

    ---
    Dragons of Flame- I've played it and wouldn't really consider it an RPG; it is nothing like the Gold Box games. Most of the gameplay is side-scrolling arcade-like combat; there are some items that can be picked up(slightly nicer weapons and potions); the only NPCs are either monsters to slay or generic fighter hirelings; there is only a single overall mission from the manual. It adds a few new features over Heroes of the Lance(2 slots in party for hirelings, an outdoor area at the start).

    Hillsfar- this one ties into Pools of Radiance/Curse of the Azure Bonds as side questing. You can borrow a character from your party in either of those games to re-use in here. You can gain experience, but can't really use your equipment or magic directly. This is instead setup more as a series of minigames with quests from your local guild driving your exploration and accomplishments. This game probably is close enough to an RPG to qualify for inclusion(I first played it in a 3 pack with Heroes of the Lance/Dragons of Flame, and I could never get Heroes of the Lance to work right either(best I could do had the screen/graphics messed up badly; the top display portion of the screen was on the bottom and the bottom character info was on the top).

    Chaos Strikes Back- I had found a Java based port of the game a while back, and tried it for a bit. That game is ridiculously convoluted and difficult. Trying to avoid spoilers, but there are 4 main paths(representing each of the jobs/classes in the game), and those paths overlap heavily. Be very careful mapping things, often rooms are revisited in different directions changing the needed approach greatly.

    Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday is a modified Gold Box engine game; you should feel mostly at home. It just replaces the D&D classes/races/magic with similar sci-fi things; the graphics and interface are very familiar.

    Dragonstrike(another D&D game) was supposed to be a dragon flying simulator. I haven't played this one, but mostly the descriptions I saw was comparing it more to a fantasy version of a flight sim.

    #230 Hero Quest- this is a computer implementation of a board game(this is the game that forced Sierra to rename theirs to Quest for Glory). I've played the board game, which is setup to basically do a simplified dungeon delve(one person controls the monsters and reveals rooms as the players explore). I fiddled with the PC version briefly, and it plays basically the same. Probably this still fits close enough to be included.

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    1. I appreciate all these comments. I've added some notes to my play list so that I return to this posting when I get to them.

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  22. Yeah, an additional confirmation that that's all there is to the game is the walkthrough in the Quest for Clues III book by Shay Addams. Each walk-through is prefaced by a description and mini-review of the game. Strangely, Battletech gets praised, even though it's clear the reviewer/walkthrough-writer (in this case, Frank Chin) obviously played the whole game:

    "...Unlike most RPGs, the story in Battletech is advanced with each encounter and each area you explore, making the game somewhat more linear than your typical dungeon quest. But the game's most distinctive feature is its use of "emotive outtakes" - close-ups of character's expressions, drawn in the Japanese manga (comic-book) style. This technique is also used to illustrate fiery explosions and other special effects. Rather than displaying numbers to show the amount of damage done to various parts of robots, Battletech employs colorful bar graphs.

    In addition to being one of the first Infocom programs to take full advantage of the graphic capabilities of computers like the Amiga and IBM, Battletech also marked Infocom's move from puzzle-solving adventures like Zork into the exciting world of graphically rich roleplaying games. It is one of their best."

    (Previous comments have noted how Infocom didn't develop this game, only published it, so that's a factual error in that last paragraph.)

    The emphasis on the graphics in this mini-review makes me thing the "wow" factor of the graphics compared to what else was out at the time may account for some of the positive reactions from reviewers and players, maybe blinding them to the actual gameplay and length deficiencies.

    In any case, I'm glad to have your warning, CRPGAddict, because I was going to try this on the Apple II and will now avoid it. :)

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    1. "The emphasis on the graphics in this mini-review makes me thing the "wow" factor of the graphics compared to what else was out at the time may account for some of the positive reactions from reviewers and players, maybe blinding them to the actual gameplay and length deficiencies."

      This could be. I know that as bad as BT3 seems to have aged, I thought it was the coolest thing ever when it was new due to the music playing for the bard songs, the animated monster portraits (something like 4 frames of movement) and the animated introduction scene. Even Ultima IV was cool since its stickmen moved their arms and legs a bit whereas earlier games just had un-animated stickmen.

      People still get wowed by graphics and sound but the bar got set a lot higher. ;)

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  23. I'm disappointed you found the game so pitiful, though I had never played more than a few minutes of it, decades ago. I am a hardcore Battletech fan, though. Love everything about it. Very detailed universe with rich and intricate history rivaling Frank Herbert's stuff. But more importantly, an awesome simulation of mech combat. There's a free online version of the board game, with excellent A.I. for single player gaming, if anyone's interested. Just google megamek.

    JS

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  24. The stock market is a nice addition and one I wish more games included. My favorite part of Suikoden 3 was figuring out the commodities, deciding if it was better to buy rice in town A and sell it at town B or iron from town B to town C, thus obviating the need for a lot of grinding for cash.

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  25. I accept the points about anthropomorphic tanks being a "turn-off", but c'mon, they're just WAY COOL.

    I guess you can also say it's unrealistic for women to fight in scanty armor or do martial arts in high heels. But it's also WAY COOL. Let's be fair here, alright? ;)

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    2. I may have written multiple rant about sexism in RPG art, so no, I don't generally go with it being cool at all.

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    3. People always rant about sexism in RPG in relation to females, but rarely in males. How many balding fat men are protagonists in RPG?

      For my part I don't see it as sexism as much as our cultural tendencies to look down on and not want to identify with what is considered unattractive.

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    4. However, in most RPGs the men wear armour that would stop a sword, while the women run around in armour that wouldn't do anything at all. There were a number of threads with many, many examples from the D&D books on Wizards of the Coast's message boards a few years ago if you want me to look them up.

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    5. @UbAh: Torneko is the only one I can think of at the moment.

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    6. @Carnageek: Just out of curiosity, were there also included all those conan-clone barbarians who wield only battleaxe and fur loincloth and looking like they came straight out of full-body brazilian wax.

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    7. That I don't have a problem with; It matches the attire worn by some real world groups. I do have a problem when the female paladin has a giant hole in the middle of her armour, breasts visible through the breastplate (It weakens the armour, what you actually do is curve the hole breastplate) and obvious exposed areas that the male fighter does not.

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    8. Also, why does everyone get my name wrong? Cana = Canada. Geek = Geek. Geek from Canada. Canadian geek. Canageek.

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    9. I concur with Canageek that there's a sexist double standard. It's no secret that the main demographic for RPG art is heterosexual males, so the depiction of men will tend to be what they want to be, and those of women will tend to be what they want.

      I accept that Conan was very unprotectively clothed, but it could be argued that you could never get close enough to strike his bulging muscles because of the reach of his longsword. And speaking as a person who is not a heterosexual male (ahem), I find most men in fantasy art as not really, well, my fantasy.

      Female warriors, however, tend not to have the physiques that suggest that they are warriors, but are usually deemed to be sexually attractive. Here's a particularly famous picture:

      http://www.weekendwastemonster.net/crpgs/curse/curse1.jpg

      Granted, she has chain mail, but there is no practical reason I can think of to have that unprotected gap between her breasts. A well-placed sword thrust could devastate what little Armor Class she has.

      I will not be convinced that there the same standard applies to men in fantasy art until I see a paladin in chainmail chaps or a garment that bares his groin. Then I will concede there's equality. :)

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    10. Indeed...From fighting point of view torso do not require that much protection if fought melee against one opponent like thracian gladiator but regardless the cover her shield could provide, the swordarm is also unprotected and slicing the tendons would make her drop the sword quite easily.

      To analyze it further it actually doesn't protect from much else than scrapes and slashes, good strike to side and her ribs would be gone but from medical point of view solar plexus is quite good natural armor in human torso against blunt trauma compared to soft tissue which protects kidneys and liver, which in her case are quite well protected by kidney belt...

      Nah, just kidding.

      Fantasy armor, but for honesty's sake it is this time completely in context, impracticality and all, as it was given to Alias in Azure Bonds for ceremonial purpose.

      "She wore an ornate girdle at her waist, with the skull of some creature etched in silver at the front. She had been given a chain shirt split open at the middle, baring the flesh between tier breasts and offering any sword an easy target. Shoulder plates of lacquered black, a red velvet cape, and a collar of black and silver completed the showy, but impractical, ensemble. "

      And it isn't that nobody forced her to keep wearing it as says in Song of the Saurials:

      "For months the paladin had tried to talk Alias out of wearing the chain shirt she'd gotten from the evil sorceress Cassana. The piece of armor was exceedingly immodest and consequently earned Alias a good deal of unlooked-for attention from men, but it also carried powerful enchantments that protected her far more than a full breastplate could. After she'd worn it for over a year, Dragonbait had ceased objecting to it."

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    11. ronaldsf, I think the difference is that giant battlin' robots are "way cool" to people who have not quite reached the puberty line, and scantily-clad female warriors are "way cool" to those of us on the other side.

      Still, the more intellectual part of me agrees with Pandageek's rants. It's hard to see how anyone is directly harmed by a big cleavage gap in the chainmail, but it does contribute subtly to cultural attitudes that objectify women and turn even the most heroic and complex female protagonists into soft-core porn stars.

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    12. I...do I really need to cite a bunch of examples of historical armour based around the torso? For most of history (Including the non-historical CRPG period) weapons are heavy enough that you are basically bashing them into people full force, not flicking them around trying to cut the tendons in the arm. Therefore armouring the torso was very, very important.

      I'd cite examples of the problems with female armour, but my thesis is due next week, so I'm writing this on break while still in my lab, so viewing such things would probably be a bad idea.

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    13. Apparently you missed the words "Nah, just kidding", but whatever...

      I never wrote that there weren't armor around torso, but compared her fighting style like thracian gladiator's (See the painting "Pollice Verso") as the thin chainmail doesn't protect from any hits but slices and cuts and blunt trauma would go through without absorption.

      But... Let's take another look at Alias. It should be apparent that she does not face the enemy at that stance (nor in that makeup). Check how boxers or martial artists move and model it after that - slightly sideways shield on left hand towards enemy and covering most of her upper torso. For anyone to get through to torso would need to pass both shield and sword she wields on right hand. Therefore her upper torso is not as defenseless as would be at first look and cleavage doesn't matter that much.

      I also didn't say that tendons at arms were the only target to strike, but compared to previously mentioned thracian Alias' swordarm is quite bare regardless bracer. And in her case I say tendons at arms would be first to go - she strikes lunging forward and opponent could parry or block with shield and could, instead using force to strike, just slice arm with blade of sword. Less force used, less tired, but the effect being that Alias drops the weapon and can't even get a hold of dagger she is wielding at her hip. Opponent could do that safely without risking getting his body to Alias' sword's range which would happen if he went striking to legs or head.

      About female armour I didn't say a word. Only that solar plexus (and ribcage) protects heart and lungs better than abs for kidneys, liver etc. so her having the kidney belt's good thing.

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    14. I'm still looking at all the historical armour that only protected the torso: Viking, Roman, Greek, many forms of breastplate. Remember that the armour you are pointing two is gladiator armour for one on one duels, not the open battlefeild.

      Also: If that was true we should see the men wearing the same types of armour. I really don't care if the women are running around in next to nothing, as long as Conan and Fabio are there in loincloths. However, if the men are wearing fullplate then so should the women be.

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    15. Using bodyarmor is also cultural thing.

      There were Celts wearing bodypaint but what you really should look is outside european history, whole lot of African continent cultures from different era fought without bodyarmor (from Egyptians and Thracians sans their chiefs to Zulu warriors of Rorke's Drift fame), native american cultures and south-east asian cultures fought mostly without bodyarmor and I don't believe them having been any less peaceful or wars less bloody.

      What my point originally could be told as story (based on real conversation): There was a couple driving from city to city, when they noticed H&M had launched another underwear ad campaign. Man looked at one depicting Bar Rafaeli. "You know", said woman. "Most of women don't look like that. She has had nose job, boob job, botox and photoshop" "Yes, of course", said man and continued driving. Came another ad depicting David Beckham which attracted woman's attention. "You know", said man. "Most of men don't look like that." "No", said woman. "But they should."

      Told this way just amusing, but if I changed order it would suddenly be offending.

      But otherwise I agree with you. Even Twilight would've been better if also Bella had been topless :)

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    17. I know this is old, but I thought to make the comment that leather armor has essentially never existed. In fantasy studded leather, leather armor etc. are not historical. Of course full plate armor existed but a person never "walked" they had a crane lift them up and place them on a warhorse, and if unseated was the same as a turtle on its back.

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    18. There was a bit of non-metal armor going around. Not leather breastplates ala D&D but rather hardened leather pieces sewn together. The style is known as Lamellar.

      Perhaps D&D leather came into being because Gygax envisioned protective clothing you could do stealthy wall climby things in.

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    19. Actually, the bit about plate armour is very wrong; that is a common myth, but knights got knocked down all the time on the battlefield, and could indeed get back up on their horses. There was one specific type of armour that was like that, but it was only used for tournaments, and was a lot heavier since a) you could use a stepladder to get on your horse, and b) you only had to protect against one type of attack.

      Knights fought dismounted all the time, when their horses were killed, for example, and they were very, very good at it.

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    20. I stand corrected, and wonder where my knowledge comes from hmm, but for others here is a good link I found. It is a good read.
      http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aams/hd_aams.htm

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    1. Sorry about the deleted comments. Chock it up to technical difficulties.

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  27. I remember liking this game as a youth but I don't know how well it would hold up if I were to play it again.

    I do have to say though that in reading about what upset our addict and other so much in this game sounds like something I would find as a bonus. That being optional combat, you are not forced to fight if you do not want but you can fight if you enjoy it. I wish more games had this and less forced grind.

    I have a memory of getting the mech that can change into a fighter and doing something with it but that memory may be something my young mind extrapolated from the context of the game (meaning I daydreamed it).

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    1. Choosing not to fight can be a cool CRPG decision. I just read about a woman trying to get through Skyrim as a pacifist. But in BattleTech, combat is the entire purpose of the game. If you avoid it, it's not so much a "role-playing decision" as a decision to not really "play" the game at all.

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    2. I've got to go with the Addict here; If you turn a wargame into a CRPG, I think it is totally fair to except some cool combat.

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  28. It's a shame this one ended up being so dissapointing. It started of very promising from your initial posts but it looks like it fell apart hard by the end. I'm a huge Battletech fan, so this one held some interest for me. I guess I'll be passing up on it now. It looks like they lost sight of their goals halfway through, or maybe they were just rushed to finish it. I guess we'll never know at this point. If it had continued on like the beginning stages I probably would have picked this one up.

    As for the lore, I find the Battletech universe very interesting. I think if this game presented it better you would come to the same conclusion. Maybe not.

    There was an era of Battletech lore I particular dislike, however. The early stages were very interesting with ComStar providing a sort of underlying Illuminati-like manipulator with plenty of political intrigue. The real-world parallel factions also held a lot of interest to me. I ran a few Mechwarrior/Battletech hybrid campaigns and we had a lot of fun for them. Unfortunately, with the introductions of the lost tribes, the writing took a sophmoric tone and sort of replaced the political, sci-fi intrigue with almost high fantasy nonsense. Though I never got into the Mechwarrior minis (which were distinctly different from Battletech and closer to Heroclix or Horrorclix) the lore was interesting and took a rather post-apocalyptic turn.

    Within the universe, mechs being the end-all of combat does make sense. I'll spare you the details, but they go to some length to make the mechs believable. At least we still had the Mechwarrior simulator games to properly present the universe. I still hope we see another in that series one day.

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  29. Wow, what a letdown. I guess it's only natural that even a developer like Westwood had room for improvement in the beginning. BTW, did you, Chet, ever got to play Lands of Lore in the past? I think it's one of the best Dungeon Master clones out there.

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  30. ah Battletech fond but short memories of youth. I enjoyed the game back than, but completely agree with the review, that end game was crap and the rest of the game had much promise. The article of the arena and the person escaping with the rented mech, can be about you. You just have to do it before some stranger does it. you fight in the arena and blast the spectator back wall stand (killing a lot of civilians incidently ;p ) and escape with the mech.

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I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) THIS ALSO INCLUDES USER NAMES THAT LINK TO ADVERTISING.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters.

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

Also, Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

NOTE: Spam has gotten so bad lately that I've had to turn on comment moderation for posts older than 10 days. I apologize if it takes a little while for your comment to appear.