BTA Developer Blog #9: The Story of the Sanctuary Worlds
With BTA v15.0 comes a brand-new addition to the mod, and to BattleTech as a setting, the Sanctuary Worlds and the nations and peoples that live there. Because the Sanctuary Worlds are non-canon I invented them whole-cloth and I figured some folks might have a small interest in where they came from and why I went to such an effort to make this entirely new faction. Additionally, some folks might want to know more about their background and history in-setting (not much of which appears in BTA v15.0), so I'm taking some time to discuss the factions both in and out of setting. We'll start with the real life aspect to the factions, i.e. why did I make them?
For many years I've had a desire to make something unique and new about BattleTech. It's the old "OC Do Not Steal" vibe from the earlier days of the internet. Everyone has their own headcanon after all and wants to make stuff that's uniquely theirs. The Sanctuary Worlds started life in like 2014 as the Dane Sacellum, a Clan-like faction that fled the Inner Sphere during the Star League era to make their own space nation with blackjack and hookers. I wrote out a rough fluff document and included some notes about rules for their weapons and that was it. I attempted to figure out how Solaris Skunk Werks (a tabletop BT mech design program) functions so I could make their gear in there and actually print and play with Sacellum mechs and gear on the tabletop, but at the time SSW was rather difficult to mod and I abandoned it in favor of having other stuff to do in my day-to-day life. When 2018 rolled around and HBS BT was released and I fell into modding it, I realized that this custom faction could be resurrected somewhat in HBS BT, which is much easier to mod. In fact, in the very early days of BTA (2019ish) I even took a stab at making the Sacellum into a real faction. However, the demands of running BTA quickly interfered and I set the project down, vowing to return one day to finish it.
Which brings us to August 2022. I had been slowly burning out from constant updates to BTA and from the daily grind of making content. Don't get me wrong, I love the job and wouldn't trade it, but even a job you love can wear on you after 3+ years of doing it. I realized that something had to change, and quick, or the ultimate result was going to be me quitting BTA and walking away, which I didn't want to do. I love BTA and I love the community and didn't want to ragequit because I was sick of it. I went digging through my storage files to see if I could find something to revitalize my interest and energy and lo and behold, the Sacellum files were just hanging out waiting for me to rediscover them. I decided that I was going to set out to bring this idea to life and I'd do it right this time.
To that end, I made an announcement on August 19th, 2022. I told the community that I was burning out and needed to shift focus. From then on, I was focused on the new project and normal BTA would get backburnered for awhile until I got it done. The community was immensely supportive and understanding and I felt I had the freedom to go for it so I did. I took the original single faction, the Dane Sacellum, and I spun it out into four factions: the Dane Sacellum, the Mallard Republic, the Jacobson Haven, and their mutually-assembled army the Sanctuary Alliance. I wrote an entire history for the region of space they settled and how they got there. I reworked their entire techtree from the ground up, redid all the weapons, made new ones, adjusted old ones, invented all their new equipment and gear (such as heat sinks and armors and structures and such). I sketched out how many units they'd need to be roughly viable as factions, including tanks and turrets. I figured out where their worlds would be located (trickier than you might expect). I figured out how they'd interact with the Inner Sphere, who would be in their warpath, and how their war would turn out (decently well, as it happens). I even made little characters for the faction representatives that the player gets missions from and who say things to the player at the Mission Complete screen (all factions have this in the upper left-hand corner, that portrait and name and text is all changeable). I sketched out ideas for events that would happen in their space to immerse the player in their lore and personalities, though these were left out of the initial v15.0 release for lack of time due to real-life commitments involving my family (they're coming in later patches, promise!).
The project brought me back to life and rekindled my love of BTA and of working on BTA. Playing with the new gear felt *fresh* in a way that BTA hadn't felt in a long time. I know that not everyone will want to play with non-canon content, that's fair, and I made sure to keep it relatively contained to a corner of the map so that you have to go looking for the new factions to encounter them instead of them coming to find you wherever you are (sort of like the Clans). I do hope that folks approach this with an open mind and give it a fair shake. I want people to experience something new and get to see it with new eyes for the first time, there's something magical about seeing something for the first time that you've never seen or know anything about.
Anyways, that's the deal. That's how we got here and what I was thinking the whole while. Hope you give it a shot and enjoy it, it's fun stuff, I promise! :)