BTA Developer Blog 1: BTA's Core Philosophy
Welcome to the first BTA Developer Blog, a series where I will be explaining various aspects of BTA as well as having a few "for fun" columns now and then (such as a Mech of the Week feature!). Today, I'm giving my thoughts on the core fundamental philosophy that I use to guide BTA.
BTA started as a bit of a joke, something I had to be basically harassed into making. It was my personal modpack that I used while I was streaming on Twitch and an early viewer and friend basically bugged me about releasing it formally until I did it to shut him up (he knows who he is). Joke was on me though, since BTA blew up beyond my wildest dreams. Part of how it was so successful is that, on the advice of an IRL friend, I sat down and sketched out my goals for the mod. Goal #1: make the mod hard but fair and make the gameplay more interesting. Goal #2: make the community a big part of the mod. We'll tackle both goals in order.
The first goal can be easily summed up as "make the mod hard but fair and make it more complex than vanilla ever was". BTA is not meant to be an easy experience, there's meant to be challenge and it's meant to kick you in the shins a lot. However, a core part of BTA is that it doesn't cheat. The AI uses the same tools the player does, it has the same combat math, it has the same unit variety. Any mech the AI drives, the player can take from it. Any weapon the AI fields, the player can field right back. The combat math is the same for both parties, the AI doesn't cheat on the math like it does in vanilla or other tactics games. We've also kept adding systems to BTA that make it a little more interesting: more pilot abilities, giving the player more options; XP for performing certain combat actions like Sensor Lock or using TAG; OpFor specialization and contract-type specialization so you can make focused pilots; mech affinity to reward you for sticking with mechs longer; and more besides. This keeps combat, the core gameplay of HBS BT, fresh and fun far longer than vanilla ever was.
The second goal is harder to explain. Essentially, I wanted BTA to be a welcoming place, run by a team that actually cares. We've all played games or mods where the developers don't seem to give a shit. Bugs go unfixed, crash reports go unread, updates are sparse or non-existent, support tickets go unanswered, we all could name experiences like this with games. I hate that. I hate that the gaming industry is rife with this behavior and I decided BTA wouldn't be like that. BTA would be a place where the devs, me, actually listen and actually give a shit about the experience and the bugs. And I'd like to think that this is true, that BTA is a place where players feel heard, that we actually fix bugs and respond to tickets and just care. And on top of that, I wanted a community that cared too, players who help each other out with advice and support. A community that welcomes new players and doesn't turn them away or treat them badly because they're new, we've all had that happen to us in gaming communities, getting told to "git gud" or insulted because we don't know all the details just yet, that kind of terrible experience is NOT what BTA has ever been about. I'm proud to say that we are a welcoming community and new players do feel like they can ask questions and get advice. BTA is run by people who give a shit about what they're making and is a community filled with people who care about each other's experience being a good one. Not many games or mods can say that, but I can, we can, BTA can.
So there you have it, the core philosophy of BTA: be hard, be fair, be interesting, be good to each other. Everything I do as a developer is in service to this philosophy, it's all about making a better experience, both in and out of game.
Come back for the next Dev Blog! And let me know what you think about this format in the Discord channel.