(Amiga) MechForce and MechCombat by Ralph H. Reed

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09/16/18 05:00 PM

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Hello all,
two years ago I started creating more Mechs for MechCombat, which is basically a successor of MechForce.
I spent quite a lot of time creating about 1000 Mechs of the BT Universe into MC (files are incompatible to MF, and without any Level2 rules quite behind the MC plattform, so I choose to abandon MF for the better level of MC). Nic helped me to add the files to the sarna archive; hopefully there will be one around in time to take use of the work.

Sarna's Admin Nic asked me to do a review and/or update the wiki for MF/MC, but I wanted to use the forum at first for a opinion about it.

Here's the basic discription file readout:

Hardened basement, Operational control Room
Ingolstadt, Germany, Terra
Republic of the Sphere
18 July 2018

Hello friends of MechCombat,
after playing this game for about 6 years now, I feel the urge to give
something back. In 1990 I was introduced to MechForce (same author: Ralph
H. Reed) and played it very often until my first Amiga2000 stopped
working in 1995. Limited to Level1 Rule Set it was far from BattleTech which
I started in about 1996 and learned about the Clans, Rule Set Level2+3,
the Jihad, ..., but I was not aware of anything as stable and versatile as
MechForce was. I knew all of the MechWarrior series, MechCommander,
BattleForce, HeavyGear but nothing was as complete and not ending as
MechForce is. While MechCommander2 was released from Microsofts & FASAs grip,
it gained new momentum by WolfmanX and a lot of other supporters creating
new levels and missions.
Starting again with MechForce in 2000 I found the small community of tools to
expand MechForce (like MechHQ, MFQ, HeadQuarters and lots of new Mechs and
missions & maps). Unluckily MechForce did get pretty unstable starting with
the later editions (~V3.61), meaning the Factory could not repair all damage
and "artefacts" remained which consumed slots + weigth, but had no apparent
function or could not be deleted. I still played about 2000 battles with this
version, but it was sometimes very boring to abandon a mech just because of
one weapon being irrepairable due some bug (Afterthought: that might be a
great feature in mission like playing, e.g. with limited ressources,
overworked technicians, failing spare parts, exhausted local ressources,
empty/stolen spare crates, ...).
While I knew about MechCombat around 2005 I was repelled by its inability
to import the old mechs, companies and warriors. All those things costed me
hundreds of hours creating, praying, careful calculations and nurishing. So
while I tested a bit I stayed with MechForce until 2012 when it was nearly
impossible to be beaten by the engine with its limitations. I started playing
around with MechCombat and created countless Warriors just to be beaten most
of the time by some clan machines (maybe some shots went to aimed shots, but
that is it). As I later found out: only clan machines seems to be chosen by
the MechCombat engine (without tweaking the filesystem).
At first it was hard to stay alive and with enough money, but I grew (with a
lot of stubborness) quite slow into it. I was able to scrap Clan tech,
started a company, raised some good techs and warriors and the world of
MechCombat opened up to me.

So in 2017 I started to import Mech Datas from HeavyMetalPro and the great
website www sarna net with its wiki into MechCombat, which took hundreds
of hours, but expanded the universe due its new mechs=variables enormously.
With the new tech I adopted as much models to the exact specification (arms,
where is what mounted, what component fits best the discription, how much
armor where to attach, ....) as I could.
So here are about 980 Mechs imported & collected into clan, IS and Both.
I put them into three different folders so I could chose against whom I am
up to and rename the folders on demand.
BTW: The MC (V4.0) engine do always chose Mechs with a @ in front of its
marking, normally meaning it is a clan tech modell. So I had to rename every
Mech and adding a @ in front of it, so IS modells are chosen as well.
With no @ Mechs available (in all weight classes) the player engine stopped
working and crashed instantly. So it is necessary to have @ files!
It is up to you to work around that limitation.

-Mechs with RAC, MRM were dropped completely. Partly I changed a MRM to a
fitting LRM Modell
-Light Engines were substiuted to XL Engines, weigth difference was left alone
-InnerSphere LB-X and ER Weapons were substituted for the Standard modells..
.. Ralph stopped too early to migrate. Same goes IS targeting computers or
TAG. I did include C3 equipment to compensate for that function.
-IS Mechs with Clan tech was dropped completely
-Armless Mechs (e.g. Catapult) were made real armless (HeavyMetal Pro has a
limitation there)
-Fancy and Rule Set 3 weapons (Plasma rifles, micro lasers, grenade
launchers, One Shot modells, ....) are not possible at all and therefore
-Name limitations: well only 12 characters are possible so I had to limit the
´not needed´ to uniquely identify it out, which lead to funny names.
-Fancy Armor (e.g. laser reflecting, hardened, ....) Mechs were substituted
with armor of the same weight/strength class
-Fancy composite internals, small cockpits modells are not used at all of
-Due to the discrepancy of BT and MF/MC to not charge weight for "in engine
included" heatsinks of big engines I left the tonage unused
-Due to the discrepancy of the SRM6 which consumes in BT 2 slots and in MC 3
I had to adopt. Same goes for the Light vs. XL Engine with a e.g. AC20

Mr. Reed did a pretty good job 26 years ago, I feel sorry that he was not
cherished by FASA as it was proposed and therefore stopped developing it
further! I tried to contact him in a lot of ways, but to no avail.

to Ralph H. Reed: »»»THANK YOU VERY MUCH !!!!»»»»»»
In 1992 when you wrote MechCombat the Level2 rules were sketchy at best and
you grabbed the spirit in all its depth. I hoped I could find a version in
which the added types (tanks, hovers, planes, LAMs) did work as well....
It took me until about 2010 when I was introduced to the problems you had
with FASA about copyright and where Battletech was moving to.

I would be happy to knew about you as fellow players, so feel free to
contact me at sam.vanratt AT gmx.net

A few hints: a) Its no good advice putting more than 250 mechs in one folder:
Factory and MC crashes on some operations when there are more than 252
mechfiles in one folder.
b) If you got about 44-48 mechs in your company, MechCombat stops working when
you get into the selection menue to chose your warriors for the fight.
The way out is scrapping/selling a few mechs and the selection will work
c) When a warrior/tech has more than 32.768 experience/combat point left one
more will drop all and you restart from 0 (Counter Overflow).
d) When a company/warrior has more than 4.294.967.296 C-Bills, one more will
drop you again to zero (Counter overflow). A way around is buying lots
of 400XL engines before and after the overflow sell them again.
e) In the factory inventory there are a lot of pieces which you could only
have limited stock, else you get a counter overflow (and starting from
a sub-zero value). 256 pieces is on some parts too much, some allow
more than 1024.
Currently I have a stock of -1.013 Clan ER PPCs...
f) When a mech/tank/fortress construction went wrong (e.g. artefacts, no
longer existing weapons, jump jets messed up with engine parts, missing
engine parts, missing life support in head, free slots and/or wight
wrong calculated.....) it is always better to start from scratch again.
These bugs have been present in the MechForce Repair as well, so it was
never corrected to a stable end.
g) When MechCombat gameplay crashed while playing it was (in all cases I had)
connected to "bad" mech configurations (which crashed when saving them
in factory again, see point f)). Sometimes my Amiga screen flashed in
such error handling procedures a few times but continued to worked
again, sometimes skipping ammo explosion or a now defective weapon.
Rebuilding the mech solved such problems. I guess not all Factory/Mech
versions are compatible to itself (same applies as there is no export/
import from older MechForce files...)

Sam van Ratt

P.S.: I hope you mind, I am not using contractions at all ;-)
P.P.S.: I included non-canon mechs as well in the SelfCreated Folders accor-
ding to their specs. These are not made by me, but some fellows I
stumbled upon in some collections (maps, orders, mechs). The Vigalante
and the Viper is a very annoying design as the only defeats I endured
included such sturdy, hard-hitting designs :-(

Edited by Sam_van_Ratt (09/16/18 05:01 PM)
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