Saturday, May 30, 2009

TRO: 3063 – Pros and Cons of the Production Schedule

As I write this, the month of May slips quietly into the rear-view mirror. It has been a good time – the weather finally took a turn for the warm (as opposed to last year's chill which lasted well into June) and I was finally able to get out there and, armed with an old laptop, cigar and cup of coffee, got writing again.

The introductions were written. That was a major writing block for me, as I did not really know where to start. And after reading the bit for Draconis Combine vehicles, some may agree that I really did not know where to stop. Be that as it may, I am done with them (except for polishing, of course).

Another thing out of the way: the Werefox line, another enormous chunk of ‘Lord-help-me’. It was just sitting there, waiting for me to think of something intelligent to say about it. I have to admit, I nearly combined four of the original six vehicles into a single writeup just to get them out of the way.

But as I began to dig into the Werefox Commander, several things began to happen. I eventually finished the Commander, only to spend the next three days tweaking and re-designing the remaining vehicles and even coming up with a new (!) VTOL to assist them. There was a common theme and a good reason to build all of these machines – I just had to get the juices flowing and hey presto!

The last of the Werefox line is getting a second polish. Meanwhile, I have begun on the Table of Contents (TOC) and Credits section. And this brings me to a somewhat awkward confession.

This project originally began as a stack of images linked to text files which contained the basic design for an Inner Sphere ‘Mech or Vehicle. The artist wanted this all assembled and written while he pursued other projects. Over the course of 2008, I dropped some designs and modified others, but always kept to a theme. However, it was not until mid-2008 that I began to notice some of the art pieces were more derivative than others. Furthermore, there were a host of additional vehicles AND ‘Mechs which had crept into the project, in the interests of expanding on an idea or just covering a greater range of missions. I mean, who has not tinkered with the Heavy Metal Vee © design program and seen the Level 3 option of ‘minesweeper’? And yet there are precious few examples of a dedicated minesweeper to be found in other publications.

All of this has be illustrated, all of it at a level comparable with the original company publications. To do otherwise, to allow thinly-disguised copies of other artist’s works to appear in our TRO (yes, even with a long list of ‘credits’ for inspiration) would spoil everything I and my talented associates have labored over so hard and for so long.

So it was that I gathered the art together and enlisted the aid of Eric ‘Eriance’ Ou from the DeviantArt website to go through it and validate the degree of originality in each piece. Many passed – some did not. And so I find myself digging even deeper into my bank account to fund what amounts to the ‘rework’ of several pieces. This, in addition to the pieces I had to commission in order to illustrate the newer designs, accounts for much of the delay in getting TRO:3063 to bed. After an outlay of $600, I am still budgeting artwork, though the end is in sight.

Today I shot off $75 via PayPal to two of our most talented artists, David White and Eriance. More will follow; despite his offer to do some work for free, I do not feel it is right to burden Eriance with the problems created by another. He gets paid, though it is at a reduced rate due to his insistence on helping me set things right. Everyone, even the massively busy MechaMaster, is pitching in. We will bring you the best we can do.

General George Patton once remarked that ‘the best is the enemy of the good’. Most of you have probably heard and understand that pithy remark, so I won’t elaborate. But I consulted the prolific, knowledgeable and very kind Mike Miller to make sure we were doing writing which was up to the standards of the company products. And I need not elaborate on the amount of re-writes, editing and subsequent polishing which have gone into even the smallest of our entries. It isn’t about just kicking out a TRO and basking in the resulting (minor) burst of glory. How many of you actually take the time to go collect the other fan-created TROs out there? This one will be worth the effort. You will actually want to field this stuff, and the writeups support both gamer and casual reader alike.

Time to draw this to a close.

The timetable has been pushed back and back and back. Original estimates put the publication date at June, 2008. As you can see, this did not work out, due mostly to the unanticipated amount of tag-team writing I decided was an absolute must-have to produce a quality product. The choice is now a year gone by, and I stand by it. Those of you who have had a taste of the art, or the writing, or both, will agree. That said, the new publishing date is set for 1 August, 2009 – just a month short of the two-year mark from the debut of the TRO:3062.

If anyone knows an artist who is talented, original and can do military vehicles in black and white, please refer them to this blog. I have several artists on commission right now, but they all have jobs, lives and other commission pieces which will slow the pace. I cannot promise top dollar, but they will get paid and earn a spot on the credits page. It is the best I can do right now.

Take care and keep your medium lasers clean!


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