Sarna Interviews Ray Arrastia, BattleTech Line Developer At Catalyst Games

courtesy of Catalyst Games

A little while ago, BattleTech got a new line developer. We wanted to interview him back then, but he was busy with the Clan Invasion Kickstarter, then ilClan, and then there was a global pandemic, and it just never really worked out. But now that Wave Two is on its way and ilClan has shipped, we’ve finally got a chance to sit down with Ray and get to know a bit more about him. Plus, I got to ask a few questions about what’s next for BattleTech from the guy who should really know.

Today, Sarna talks to Ray Arrastia, BattleTech Line Developer at Catalyst Games. Enjoy!

Sarna (Sean): How about an easy one to start us off! How would you briefly introduce yourself?

Ray Arrastia (Catalyst): Hi there. I’m Ray Arrastia, I’m the Line Developer for BattleTech at Catalyst Game Labs.

Sarna: Hi Ray. Let’s start at the beginning. When and what got you into BattleTech?

Ray: Late 1986. Made a new friend in high school, he introduced myself and a couple others of my group to BattleTech. We were all hooked on the game and the lore. Our appetite for playing, buying, and reading BattleTech was voracious.

Sarna: So would you say you collectively had the entire collection of sourcebooks, novels, expansions, and such? And if so, did you have any particular favorites of them? Novels or sourcebooks?

Ray: I wasn’t, and I’m not, what you’d consider a BattleTech collector. But I did tend to get most things as they were released. I remember picking up The Star League sourcebook when it hit the shelves, and everyone thought that was a waste. “It’s a dead faction, that’s ancient history,” and so on.

So because of that, over the years, I did amass quite a BattleTech collection, with just a few holes here and there. I can’t pick out one single item. The Mercenary’s Handbook and the Davion and House Kurita books were so used and perused that all three fell to pieces.
Technical Readout 3025 as well. Now that one got so much use, I had to replace it several times over the years.

Same thing with Decision at Thunder Rift and Wolves on the Border. I think I’m on my third physical copy of each.

Sarna: Bit of a detour, but have you made the switch to digital media for these books that are, shall we say, high mileage?

Ray: Anything that FanPro or Catalyst Game Labs has put out digitally, I have. I’d probably prefer digital in some cases, but I’ve got physical items regardless since I worked on several of them. But otherwise… no, kinda stuck like everyone else. We’d love to eventually digitize everything in the catalog, but it’s not a high priority and there’s several challenges in doing so.

Sarna: Fair enough. And let’s get the most important question out of the way: what’s your favorite ‘Mech?

“Probably designed a half dozen or so myself, and been involved in countless TROs… but yeah, always come back to the Marauder.”

Ray: Marauder.

Sarna: And in your time working at Catalyst, how many ‘Mechs have you helped birth yet still decided to go with the Marauder?

Ray: Hah! Probably designed a half dozen or so myself, and been involved in countless TROs… but yeah, always come back to the Marauder.

Sarna: Of all the people I ask that question to, I think the Marauder comes up the most. It might not always be everyone’s favorite, but it’s almost always mentioned. Why do you think that is?

Ray: I think it’s a combination of the alienness of the visual design and the way it was overhyped everywhere in the early lore.

Sarna: Let’s change gears a bit and talk about your ascent to the height of BattleTech‘s development. What’d you do before you got hired at Catalyst?

Ray: My background is in graphic design and production. I left my day jobs to work for CGL, and to freelance a couple times in the past, where I was production or pre-production management. Lots of problem solving and got to be hands-on at different points in a project from concept to realization, but especially, of course, bringing the final piece to fruition.

Sarna: How’d you first get hired at Catalyst and what’d you start out doing?

Ray: When FanPro started up, they had their big event, Monte Diablo, but it wasn’t offered anywhere near me in South Florida (despite having a ton of BattleTech players). When the next big event, the Trial of Retribution came around, I definitely wanted to play in that as I was a big WarShip fan. And… I found that it wasn’t being offered down here. Like most fans in that situation, I was pretty upset with FanPro. There’s a big community down here, why isn’t BattleTech being represented? I thought they had a team of people that ran games and they airdropped them wherever they’re needed, behind enemy lines so to speak. It never occurred to me that running official games isn’t just for the community, but comes from the community, so I stepped up and joined their program, the FanPro Commandos. Just slightly too late to run the Trial or Retribution.

As part of the application, I had to create a BattleTech scenario. I put together a PDF and included some art and design elements, and with the formatting, it looked just like something out of a FASA or FanPro publication, so that got some notice, and pretty soon I was tapped for creating various materials for the FP Commandos. Whether I volunteered or was volunteered for the in-house fanzine, the Commando Quarterly, I really can’t remember. But I dove in there head first and loved every minute. From my time there I found matter how passionately a community is… nothing just “manifests” according to wishes and wants, people need to actually “do” things. And add to that, anything that just grows organically never really seems to go anywhere. So passion has to be channeled into leadership, and by leadership towards end goals. So between Anthony Hardenburgh and myself, we planned, we solicited articles, we edited and honed submissions, and we made that magazine happen… for a while at least. It was a tremendous commitment of time and effort, and just like many of the BattleTech fanzines back then (there were quite a few!), we had to give it up eventually.

“I was one of the founding members (but it may have been a pity invitation!) of CamoSpecs Online, the “official” miniature painters for FanPro and the creators/keepers of the official paint schemes.”

Meanwhile, I was getting involved in the community in other ways. I had partnered up with Brian Plunkitt and Fighting Piranha Graphics and we were producing licensed BattleTech waterslide decals for the miniatures. I was one of the founding members (but it may have been a pity invitation!) of CamoSpecs Online, the “official” miniature painters for FanPro and the creators/keepers of the official paint schemes. Between all that and the magazine, that put me into regular contact with the folks at FanPro (Randall Bills, Herb Beas) and Iron Wind Metals (Mike Noe, Drew Willians), as everything I was doing I was trying to do in conjunction with those companies to better promote BattleTech and get it out in people’s faces.

So after a while, I started working directly for those companies as a freelancer, doing packaging or promotions for IWM and illustrations and design for FanPro. That continued as the license for BattleTech and Shadowrun was acquired by Catalyst Game Labs, since CGL ownership and staff overlapped with the staff (but not ownership) at FP. After a time I became one of the two main guys involved in layout and design in CGL, and I eventually became the BattleTech layout and design guy and was fully brought on staff for the first time. It was at this point that I became one of the “core” guys in BT, being part of the meetings and decision-making and all that. But in the background, where I like it!

OK, I can stop the answer there or run through when I was hired the second time?

Sarna: Oh no, definitely please do explain how you went from being folded into Catalyst from FanPro to being hired a second time.

Ray: There were some pretty good years in there, but there came a time where, for a lot of reasons, things just halted. We needed to run lean and cut back. And I think because of that, the storyline itself stalled. We were on the precipice of major changes but weren’t in a position to rock the boat with some of the things we wanted to do with the story or product. The Line Developer position went from full-time to freelance, and pretty soon I went from full-time BT design and production to general CGL freelancer.

Sarna: Just so I can sort of timeline things, at what point in the BattleTech lore was that? Dark Age?

Ray: Correct, this was as we were going to wind down the Dark Age era. If you map my employment to eras, I started working on BattleTech at the beginning of the Jihad, was hired full time during the Dark Age, and then there was a lull near the end of the Dark Age when my first tenure ended.

Interestingly enough, for not being on staff since things were in a sort of limbo, I was able to take on a sort of developer role and come up with both some low-impact product lines as well as some experimental products like the Combat Manuals.

After a couple years going back to work as a production manager, I still was heavily involved in BattleTech, just the amount of work involved was fairly light. As Catalyst geared up to make a comeback with BT, the workload increased, I was made the Assistant Line Developer under Randall, and a while later Brent was placed in charge of the line to give it the attention it needed.

We had known that where we were taking BattleTech in the next few years, we needed someone to completely take the role as Line Developer, and Brent was splitting his duties between that and being the Art Director for all of Catalyst Game Labs. As we started planning for the Clan Invasion Kickstarter, I was asked if I would take the position so that Brent could transition back to the massive duties of wrangling all that we were producing (the demands of which just continue to grow). And that’s how I was hired the second time.

Sarna: So, as the Line Developer, you’re basically in charge of charting BattleTech‘s future, but what else does the job entail?

Ray: There’s just so much that goes into the job that it’s mind-boggling. We map out what we want to do with the product line in the next couple years yet have to be flexible enough to adapt that as things change constantly (global pandemic? worldwide manufacturing and shipping slowdown? new, worthy ideas get thrown at you by surprise?). You work with the others in the core team on how the story and the products will work together. You put together the basic concepts and outlines for products and hand them over to other developers (if you don’t wind up running those projects yourself). You work with the art director and design team to make sure that we keep putting out incredible artwork that complements these games and books and captures the imagination, be accessible and try to be a positive influence in the community (I’ve gotten some flak for that, but I can’t get behind any kind of “us/them” type of thinking—I’m here because I’m a gamer and a BattleTech fan), and you constantly have to be thinking of new ways to engage the fans and entice new ones.

I apologize if that sounds way too simple and broad, I’m just afraid to get into the nitty-gritty; there really is just so much involved on a day-to-day basis. I can tell you on the surface, it’s probably not that unfamiliar to a lot of people: its tons after unmerciful tons of emails, lots of chatter on messengers of every stripe, and way too many meetings. But as much as to denigrate it, like most fans, I’d be happy to be a fly on the wall of any of those—let alone the fact that I’m a part of them! Hah!

Sarna: But speakin’ of enticing new fans, have you heard about that thing with Warhammer 40K? Some unpopular pronouncements from Games Workshop have pissed off a lot of Warhammer fans, and I haven’t gone a day without seeing Warhammer refugees flooding into the BattleTech subreddits. Do you have anything to say to these newcomers?

Ray: I say welcome! While BattleTech and Warhammer 40K share some influences, and their legacies go back to the post-D&D tabletop gaming and role-playing games, they’re both great universes to explore and enjoy. I welcome everyone joining us now, and I hope they find something new in BattleTech that they’ll enjoy that will keep them playing and reading for years to come.

To put it simply, I was asked recently what we’re looking to do to capitalize on this influx. Well, we make things for people to have fun. That’s what we do. If more people buy our books, games, and miniatures and have fun, we’ll keep making more.

“While BattleTech and Warhammer 40K share some influences, and their legacies go back to the post-D&D tabletop gaming and role-playing games, they’re both great universes to explore and enjoy.”

Sarna: Sounds good to me. Them Warhammer folks have a ton of backstory to get caught up on anyway. I think the best way to capitalize is to convince them that BattleTech has a bright future ahead of it.

Which leads me to ilClan. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover here, but before we do, how’s it feel to finally be free of Dark Age?

Ray: …not…free…yet.

Sarna: Ah shit.

Ray: We’re actually about two years ahead of ilClan right now, behind the scenes. So in one respect, it was a huge feeling of relief and accomplishment to finally have Hour of the Wolf completed and sending the ilClan sourcebook sent to press, and then again when Hour was finally released and people read through it. And it’s going to be that feeling again when the sourcebook is finally released in August. However, we’re not there yet, and while we’re finally hitting these milestones, we’re constantly working. And so now we’re just waiting until everyone gets their hands on the next sourcebook, or hears about the product after that.

So: it feels great. But then we’re just bound and chained to the next thing, and the next.
What feels good is to have that time in between reduced to months instead of years.

Sarna: So, maybe I’m reading between the lines here a bit, but it sounds like there’s yet more upheaval coming even after this ilClan era, and that’s coming after Dark Age’s upheaval and Jihad’s upheaval. I know the Inner Sphere has always been a rough place, but are we still going to be a while until there’s a relatively calm period in BattleTech?

And by calm, I mean more like the 3015-3039ish period where it’s border wars and political machinations mostly.

Ray: Man, that’s an excellent question.

So for each of these upheavals, we’ve got an era, right? Right now we’re in the ilClan Era. We have a lot of plans for the next several years, all as part of this era, this initial catalyst, if you will, of the Battle of Terra and the culmination of an ilClan. But that doesn’t mean we’ll have a “Jihad” or “Dark Age” era in a couple years; everything in the foreseeable future is the fallout from the dawn of this era.

That said, when you bring up 3015-3039, to me that’s a question of setting stability, something I’m really keen on. The original setting for BattleTech, there was lots of action without huge changes to the setting, which means that there were endless opportunities for gameplay, whether tabletop or roleplay. Even replayability since the future was unwritten. But like many 80’s games, the metaplot demanded setting-shaking changes, and many older games didn’t survive their own metaplots. I feel that’s why we lost some fans in the Clan Invasion, and others during the Dark Age and Jihad: massive changes to the setting.

What I would like to see is to reach a middle ground where we could get to a stable setting, like the Succession Wars or the brief time between the Clan Invasion and the FedCom Civil War, where warfare is constant. We have a setting, games, stories, and characters that everyone is invested in, where fans can play and explore, and we can have major events, but we don’t feel a need to wipe the map clean and turn it upside down every couple years.

But we’re not there yet. Alaric Ward has upset the apple cart.

Sarna: He sure has. Alaric is an interesting figure. Without getting too far into spoiler territory, he’s very… morally gray. He’s no Victor, he’s no Katherine—he’s really in between, and there are a lot of Dark Age figures that also fall into this category. BattleTech has always had strong heroes to juxtapose its chaotic, often dystopian future. As we head into ilClan, is BattleTech going to see a few more heroes emerge?

Ray: Yes. It’s difficult for me to comment other than to say yes. I think some of that has to happen organically. There are some that are existing characters whose stories are far from finished, like Danai or Julian, and there are characters that we want to focus on, like Ronan and Bel Carlyle, or Trenton Marik, but then I think there may be others, who right now may just be in the background of an upcoming sourcebook or piece of fiction, but might rise up if they inspire the writers and fans.

The Merchant Queen of Alyina? The commander of the Silver Hawk Irregulars? I don’t know.

Sarna: Alright, let’s talk tech. It’s 3150. The Clans have been around for a century, and in my reading of the Recognition Guides: ilClan, I’m seeing a lot of classic-era BattleTech ‘Mechs remade with Clan tech. This makes sense, given how Clan technology really should have disseminated across the Inner Sphere at this point. Are we heading into an era where Clan tech is the standard and we can throw away all our regular old Medium Lasers?

Ray: Yes.

Sarna: Well. Asked and answered.

So, just to clarify, all our favorite classic ‘Mechs–from Centurions to Marauders to UrbanMechs–they’re all getting Clan tech makeovers?

Ray: They’re all getting makeovers with ilClan era tech, yes. Not necessarily Clan tech in all cases.

Sarna: Well fair enough–the Clans no longer have a lock on innovation these days.

I’ve also just read The Price of Duty, Schmetzer‘s latest novella. In the same vein of these classic machines coming back, are we going to see more familiar names return from BattleTech‘s past?

Ray: A few. Maybe a handful of legacy characters here and there and some legacy combat commands, Like Payne’s Raiders who can trace their lineage to the Stealthy Tigers from Embers of War.

What you will see a bit of are combat commands resurfacing, whatever the method or reason. Gray Death Legion, Eridani Light Horse, McGee’s Cutthroats. You will see a bit of that, from some of the greats to some of the forgotten.

Sarna: Avanti’s Angels?

Ray: …it’s possible. Hah!

“We’re going to see a shift back to the earlier days when conventional arms played a major role but were second fiddle to BattleMechs.”

Sarna: This is more of a personal opinion question, but what’s up with tanks? I’m seeing a trend in recent BattleTech fiction where conventional forces are having more of a role in the narrative. Heck, there was even a tank crew that got a whole subplot in Hour of the Wolf!

I know lots of militaries use combined arms, and it was especially common during the Dark Age, but as a BattleTech purist, I’m here for the giant robots. Are we still going to see a lot of thanks for the foreseeable future?

Ray: We’re going to see a shift back to the earlier days when conventional arms played a major role but were second fiddle to BattleMechs. For most people, it shouldn’t be a change whether they’re ‘Mech purists or they live and breathe tanks/infantry/Aerospace. The difference should mainly be for casual or new players so that combined arms are further down in the funnel and not all part of the firehose that they’ve been expected to drink from.

Sarna: I think that’s wise. BattleTech can be dense enough without the rules surrounding tanks and infantry, although with Clan Tech as the new standard, I suppose there’s just going to have to be at least that much level of complication.

Here’s a quick hit: when the hell are the HPGs getting fixed?!

Ray: Maybe sometime this month—in about 1,131 years, give or take.

Sarna: Also, for all those former Warhammer fans and for the people salivating over all these fancy new ‘Mechs coming in the Recognition Guides: when can we expect more miniatures to arrive? Either for the new ‘Mechs or even more plastic resculpts of alternate-era ‘Mechs (such as Jihad or FedCom Civil War)?

Ray: Wave Two will arrive any day now to backers and then to retail. From there… it’s coming.

Sarna: Alright, that’s all I had prepared! Thanks so much for sitting down to talk to me and Sarna’s readers, Ray. We all appreciate it. If you have any more bombs to drop, feel free.

Ray: And I really wanted to give a shout-out to Aaron Cahall. Thanks!

Thanks again to Ray for telling his story and giving us a preview of what’s to come in BattleTech. 

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy. 

stay syrupy

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About Sean

Hooked on BattleTech at an early age, Sean honestly can't remember whether it was the cartoon, the serial novels or the short-lived TCG that did him in. Whatever it was, his passion for giant shooty robots never died, so now he writes about the latest and greatest in 'Mech related news.

9 thoughts on “Sarna Interviews Ray Arrastia, BattleTech Line Developer At Catalyst Games

  1. mikey39800

    Excellent interview – thanks. This shed some light on Ray’s outlook and background and gave me an idea of what to expect in the upcoming months/years.

    Of note, producing “more everything” won’t make it easier to onboard newbies, so I recommend honing the product line and making it easier to navigate so that the next-step of consumption is obvious (or available).

    All too often I see players saying, “Alright I’m interested, what now?”.

  2. Wick

    “I feel that’s why we lost some fans in the Clan Invasion, and others during the Dark Age and Jihad: massive changes to the setting.”

    He gets it.

    On the other hand, I wish he and CGL would react to it more. With the publications of TROs for Golden Century, SW, Clan Invasion, and Jihad, and nearing the end of the IlClan RecGuide series, it feels like all the focus is soon going to be put entirely on ilClan going forward. I guess this is fine for refocusing the game for new audiences, but it feels like that was already done with Clan Invasion (and continuing into Civil War), then Dark Age, and then with Jihad. I worry ilClan is set to become BattleTech 5.0, with even more convoluted rules, tech mixing, and grayer lines between the “experimental”/”not-experimental” divide that still isn’t clear after a hundred twenty years of history since the Helm core opened Pandora’s box.

    He mentioned the Combat Manuals, which were one of CGL’s honest attempts to build upon the Late Succession War and Early Clan Invasion era and give something back to those first generation players who felt “left behind”, but they gave it up after the Kurita and Merc books despite being higher quality stuff than most things CGL has put out since. And a lot of the early Clan material, such as H:OK, ED:GC, TRO:GC, and some of the ilClan RecGuide entries have created far more questions in the Golden Century era than they answer. Great for ilClan players to have these “old” mechs, but if you’re playing Golden Century Clans, you’re still in the dark about which factions and units mount proper Star League weaponry, or Star League designs upgraded with Clan tech (such as ER Medium Lasers replacing standard), or if all these -ECs get refit further into proper C or IIC designs. I expected TRO:GC to be 200+ pages (not a bare 62) in order to answer a lot of these questions, and now feel like the Golden Century is more a morass than it was a few years ago. Take the TLN-5W-EC: does it ever get a full Clan-tech ER PPC? Who knows? But apparently the -EC is going to hang around long enough to be absorbed into Goliath Scorpion at the conclusion of the Wars of Reaving, some 150 years after prototype Enhanced PPCs stopped being manufactured.

    In short I can play my favorite Succession War faction (FedSuns) well though Clan Invasion, and to a lesser degree into the Civil War and Jihad periods when all the varying levels of tech doesn’t overwhelm me or the other players (who generally aren’t as into it.) But I can no longer easily play my favored Clan (Ice Hellion) in Golden Century, because all the new/good stuff is being given to enemies who still exist in the 3140s. This includes my all-time favorite mech, the Devil, which sold me on Clan Ice Hellion’s speedy sharpshooter tactics in the 1990s, despite FASA never getting around to fully canonizing it as the Hellion’s original totem mech. I’m happy that CGL *finally* canonized it in RecGuide 8, but they made such a mockery of its writeup in RecGuide 8 that I’m utterly turned off of ilClan era “bad writing”. (A synonym for hellion given to a non-Ice Hellion design breaks naming rules, “Glacios” is Latin for ice rather than snow, comes about 80 years later than the Hellions would have produced it out of necessity to honor zellbrigin, and used “hellion” as an adjective but Ray and the other editors still felt it should be created by the Snow Ravens instead, for no reason other than to justify its use in the 3150s, which could have been explained just as easily by giving it to the proper clan first, with Snow Raven being a secondary Golden Century user.) It’s one thing to be left behind by massive changes, either in technology or socio-political landscape, its quite another to be left behind by bad writing or demoralizing situations. As a Davion fan too its double, as we now have the dubious distinction of losing not only our capital, but the two regional capitals during Dark Age as well. The Fed Suns nation, its military, its industrial might, and even its religion is ruined even worse than the Capellans got it in the 4th Succession War, and there really isn’t much to look forward to except how Julian will piece things back to together over the next 20-30 years, but without the benefit of a rallying Xin Sheng ethnic movement or Trinity Alliance that got the Cappies off the deck. I had a friend who liked the Capellans circa 1989 and stopped playing because of the 4th War disaster, and it was hard to blame them. (And the fact the Confederation had no role to play in the early Clan Invasion didn’t help bring them back into the fold.). I similarly quit playing for several years after FASA wrote out the Ice Hellions by doing decidedly stupid things rather than having them simply beaten fair-and-square. I’m wavering again by the Golden Century unit unbalancing, the Devil writeup (which can only be called “insulting”), and a lack of FedSuns potential impact in the ilClan era (short of Julian marrying Yori or Danai, or somehow besting Alaric in singlehanded combat for the right to rule, any of which is a silly notion to consider.)

    If the intent is to not leave players behind, then CGL needs to do exactly what Ray said happened in the late 3050s, between the Clan Invasion and Civil War, when it felt like every faction (minus the FRR) was on even footing and any one of them could succeed. (Or for us old folks, the 3010-3027 timeframe was very similar, with a focus on company-sized units rather than nations so nothing got unbalanced.) The last two or three years of fiction and design books is strongly trending opposite this direction, with wildly uneven factions, more akin to the 3030s or early Jihad, when the FedCom and WOB respectively lorded over everyone else, as the Wolves appear to be doing now. Dark Age extant Clans are getting too much of an edge in the Golden Century, and some of the major factions (FedSuns, Snow Ravens, Hells Horses, Sea Foxes, and former Republicans) are not in a position to challenge the Wolves for ilClan-era supremacy or have been neutered by the Wolves’ actions (Falcons, Lyrans, Leaguers). Things look kind of bleak for a lot of fans of particular factions, and its really hard to blame players who take the opportunity to step away as the calendar flips to a new era.

    1. Brian Critchley

      yeah they need to bring in some stability and stop with the “lol military genius completely changing the map!” a return to the 3025 period where all the House Lords felt like they where canny individuals who where essentially “holding each other in check” they need to stop with the Hanse Davions, SunTzu Liao’s Word of Blake, Alaric Ward etc.
      Especially because writing a military genius isn’t easy and the end result is useally “….. so is everyone else a bloody idiot?”

  3. Sadlerbw

    One of my favorite things about Ray are his yes/no answers. He rarely beats around the bush, and he doesn’t often give you a vague ‘maybe’!

    1. Wick

      Maybe went on too much of a rant above, but to summarize:
      1. Fix Succession War era so its easier (and cheaper) for new players to join. TRO:SW misses the mark by having more post-Succession War variants than SW models while leaving out some key SW models (KTO-18 for example.) Players still have to buy both TRO:3025R and TRO:3039 to properly get started in level 1 mech battles. Quickest way to alienate players is to not do what’s advertised on the cover, and seek for more money to make it right.
      2. Honor FASA’s vision and commitments. Devil belongs with Clan Ice Hellion as devil is a synonym of hellion. To give creation rights to a mech with such a name to any other faction shows terrible judgment and completely ignores the naming scheme in place since the mid-90s. Its as sinful to giving the new Carrion Crow or War Crow to some other Clan 200 years earlier. Had the RecGuide 8 mech been named after a Corvidae bird, I’d have recognized it as the same Devil from the 1993 flyer but it would have been more palatable as a Snow Raven invention. But late 1999 or 2000 FASA had mentioned on ye olde forum that the Devil (and Roadrunner) would be canonized someday as an early totem mech for a homeworld Clan. While not saying Ice Hellion directly, fans like me could read between the lines. I waited 27 years for it to make it into canon material and when it finally did, it came off as nothing short of a betrayal. Its neither early, nor an Ice Hellion totem, nor even their own creation. To then use the word “hellion” to describe the ‘mech in its writeup shows incredibly poor taste. On the bright side, CGL does have a chance to correct this mistake when the RecGuides are combined into a presumably named TRO:ilClan. CGL needs to give the Devil to the Hellions several decades earlier like they should have the first time, and simply change the writeup such that Clan Snow Raven also uses it and brings it back into production in the 3140s. Doing so breaks nothing about the late Dark Age/ilClan era use by the Snow Ravens, but makes right the Golden Century for the Ice Hellions, keeps FASA’s promise (or at least, intention) to fans, and maintains the long-standing naming scheme.
      Sorry if this comes off as forceful, but I feel very passionately that these two things are must-dos and its rare to get the ear of someone who can do actually something about it.

    2. Wick

      I take back what I said earlier. Ray doesn’t get it at all.

      We still don’t have resolution to the Devil’s naming rights, or the time-travel paradox the Rec Guide 8 entry represents.

      And now the rules for CASE are changing after THIRTY-ONE YEARS that dramatically rewrite a large number of mech designs, including several that have already been unnecessarily retconned. When this decision is scrutinized as being too much unnecessary action, and a scientific case is presented to explain why its both logically incompatible and a physically unsound idea, the discussion is immediately shut down with the Just Because Fallacy. (Why even have a forum if you don’t want feedback?) And since the decision to make this rule change occurred well before this interview took place (no later than mid-November 2020), Ray lied to us about wanting stability and not making massive changes to the environment that turn off existing players. Shame on you Ray.

      If Ray and the other developers onboard with a game that ignores physics concepts like gravity and density, and requires fantasy nonsense like time travel and magic to explain both its technology and its fiction, then there’s another CGL product they should be working on instead. Its called Shadowrun. Aside from some faster-than-light technologies introduced very early in the development, BattleTech has been mostly consistent in taking a hard-science approach, and when such hard-science challenges the rules, developers have been willing to adjust to match (ie, jumpship sail orientation.) Now with two very prominent examples in the last twelve months that utterly ignore science and logic, and apparently aren’t going to be adjusted (or even discussed), making the game universe worse than it was before, Ray has failed us as Line Developer. I have no doubt now that ilClan era is going to introduce even more ridiculousness into the game.


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