- Assistant Line Developer and The Powers That Be redirect here.
The BattleTech Line Developer ("LD") is the lead developer and director of the BattleTech tabletop universe. Overseeing things from start to finish, the Line Developer solicits and manages the efforts of the writers and artists, freelance or otherwise, who create official BattleTech products and events. While generally operating in concert and collaboration with a variety of elements on the creative team, the Line Developer is also effectively the final word in the BattleTech universe and its canon, ultimately determining the overall direction and tone of the books and storyline.
BattleTech fans summarily refer to people who are in a position to define Canon because they own or have righfully licensed the appropriate intellectual properties or are trusted with the IP by the owner or licensee, particularly the Line Developer himself but also the staff of authors and artists answering to the LD, as (The) Powers That Be, TPTB for short.
In the current Internet era the Line Developer is also an increasingly accessible means of seeking canon clarifications via either the Ask the Lead Developers or Ask the Writers sections on the BattleTech Forums.
An Assistant Line Developer position exists since 1996 (at the latest). Many Assistant Line Developers would go on to become full Line Developer.
The first BattleTech Line Developer was arguably Sam Lewis, although the position was not well defined and rarely referred to as such in the early years of BattleTech. In his own words, he "started as FASA's only game developer for all the product lines. After Shadowrun launched and [he] became VP and later President [FASA] started hiring developers for the individual lines, first a contractor and then permanent employees." (Shadowrun was launched in 1989.)
After Sam Lewis, Mike Nystul seems to have been the first developer at FASA specifically responsible for BattleTech. He is credited as developer in the rulebook of the 1992 BattleTech, Third Edition boxed set.
After Scott Jenkins, Mike Nystul's brother Bryan Nystul took over as the Line Developer. He himself referred to the position as "BattleTech Developer" (in MechForce Quarterly Vol. 1 Issue 2, p. 5). His tenure lasted from January 1994 to August 2000. However, his resignation and handing over of the position to Randall Bills was only announced in January 2001 on the FASA website.
Having previously been the Assistant Line Developer since 1996, Randall N. Bills ascended to the position of Line Developer with Bryan Nystul's departure shortly before FASA would withdraw from the market and give away the BattleTech IP in 2001. He remained at the position throughout the FanPro LLC times and the start of the Catalyst Game Labs era, moving on to become CGL's "roving developer" across all game lines while Herbert A. Beas II took over as BattleTech Line Developer in 2007. Bills resumed the mantle from Beas in 2013 for an interim time period until in 2017 Art Director Brent Evans became the new Line Developer with Ray Arrastia named as the Assistant Line Developer. Arrasita was promoted to full Line Developer in September 2019.
List of Line Developers
- Sam Lewis (arguably; game developer across all game lines from when he signed up with FASA in 1987 until ca. 1989)
- Michael Nystul (preceded Scott Jenkins, but exact dates unknown; apparently, from ca. 1989 through the end of 1991)
- Scott Jenkins (preceded Bryan Nystul, but exact dates unknown; apparently, from 1st quarter 1992 through 1993)
- Bryan Nystul (January 1994 - August 2000)
- Randall N. Bills (August 2000 - 22 August 2007)
- Herbert A. Beas II (22 August 2007 - 26 August 2013)
- Randall N. Bills (26 August 2013 - 15 May 2017; "Interim Line Developer")
- Brent Evans (15 May 2017 - 13 September 2019)
- Ray Arrastia (since 13 September 2019)
List of Assistant Line Developers
- Randall N. Bills (1996 - August 2000)
- Herbert A. Beas II (ca. 2001 - 22 August 2007)
- Ben H. Rome (12 December 2008 - 07 October 2016)
- Ray Arrastia (01 June 2017 - 13 September 2019)
- Aaron Cahall (since 28 October 2020)