In an alternate reality where Star Wars doesn’t exist and BattleTech reigns as the penultimate science fiction franchise, it wouldn’t be called BattleTech – it would be called Battledroids.
The combination of striking and exotic art, war machine romanticism, and epic history would prove to be a winning formula
While the art was licensed from anime, the game’s design and story were all American. Jordan had the idea of removing the mystical element of the anime robots and replacing it with a more classic affection that a World War Two pilot would have for their fighter plane or tank. Patrick Larkin and Steve Peterson would come up with the back story of a Star League, Great Houses, Succession Wars and centuries of warfare. The combination of striking and exotic art, war machine romanticism, and epic history would prove to be a winning formula, eventually producing a much larger universe than the original board game intended.
But it wouldn’t be BattleTech without legal issues. After 5000 units in sales, Lucas Arts sent a letter to FASA explaining that the term “droid” was trademarked to the huge Star Wars franchise, and demanded that FASA stop using it in their games. Explaining in an interview, Weissman contended the word “droid” predates Star Wars, however would eventually back down and change Battledroids as not only could FASA simply not afford a legal battle with a much larger company, but FASA was also in negotiation with Lucas Arts to produce a line of Star Wars board games. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valour in the face of a double financial whammy, Battledroids became BattleTech in its 2nd edition printing.
We really should thank Lucas Arts for forcing the game to become BattleTech. The term would eventually produce BattleMech, giving us the word ‘Mech we all know and love.
And by the way; ‘Mech is trademarked. Just incase Star Wars wanted to use it.