Sunday, July 05, 2009

Return of the Unseen... and M-80s

I had a good day today.

Had to ground my son for screwing around with M-80s (for those who’ve never seen the effect an M-80 has on your hand at close range, visit some time). Of course, someone may ask ‘what was he doing with them in the first place?’, and that was part of the problem. I bought them, told everyone they were mine, and explained about how the ‘light and get the hell away’ warning on the side was serious business. Later the next day, he took a few when I wasn’t around, lit one and threw it to impress our visitors. Or something.

He still has all his fingers, thank God. Just not his freedom.

So it was a good day.

Anyway! Today Geoff came through with quite a few writeups, mostly the Lyran, Capellan and Free Worlds League vehicles. The issue with those three ‘Mechs? Almost cleared up – there are some timeline problems I am having a hard time getting my head around, but I am sure Geoff will work his usual magic and it will be resolved.

A few artists have responded to my call: you may have noticed that Jim Lafferty picked up on the Forge. I have another artist (JP) who thoughtfully dropped a sample of his work off in my Inbox. I was much impressed with, of all things, the piece known only as ‘Untitled’. Good work on an existing design – let’s see how he does with the Blackjack configuration, eh?

I still have to send Mike his payment – sorry for the delay, Mike! – and I will toss in another $5 for the inconvenience. He needs the dough. And he did an excellent job on the Oculus, you have to admit.

You may recall I sent the corrected first draft of the intros to Paul for further mauling… er, correcting. He did not disappoint. Gosh, that guy has a helluva talent for finding boners in a piece and suggesting fixes. I took them all for action, and even tweaked the main intro’s first paragraph (it probably wasn’t enough, but was better than just leaving things as they were). I shot the corrected second draft back to him this afternoon.

No reply from some of the other artists I contacted, but two new artists will have to do for now. I miss Eriance and hope he finds time to finish the Fafnir between classes. Not to mention the Culverin. David White is (presumably) hard at work on the Lyran Griffin. I have mentioned to him that the previously Unseen ‘Mechs – the ones originally controlled by Harmony Gold back in the days when FASA produced BattleTech – are on their way back into use. He may use some of those old-school styling cues on the new machine.

And while we’re on the topic of the Unseen, I may as well air my own thoughts. Go to any BattleTech-oriented website and you will see the return of the Unseen as one of many topics. Several players out there are jumping for joy, but I fail to see what the excitement is all about. Sure, some of the designs are closely identified with the game, and yes, a few of the images genned up to replace them fail to satisfy. And yes, there are very few people left who associate the images with their original appearance – in Japanese anime from the seventies and eighties. It may be that Harmony Gold (or whoever) finally realized they were holding artwork which was nearly worthless apart from the BattleTech property. Who knows? And does it really matter?

Having had to go out on my own to find (and pay!) artists who will create a new machine based on strong styling cues and their imagination – and not just modify an existing image – I have a different perspective on the re-use of images from other works. It has been my goal from Day One to use our own work as much as possible. I am not sure what Catalyst Games was thinking when they made this decision, but the reinstatement of images borrowed from other existing works (even obscure ones like Dougram and Crusher Joe) to official canon leaves me officially unimpressed.

Someone may be popping a champagne cork over the return of the Unseen. It sure ain’t me.



David White Illustration said...

Dude, I am totally working on the Griffin today. Should have a pose rough to you this evening.

Anonymous said...

Honestly the "unseen" sort of bother me. Besides being unoriginal they didn't even follow the rules that were made for them. Many of them are drawn holding guns, but according to the rules were not (and those hands thus usable). Others had weapons drawn in locations they couldn't occupy. If you're going to build a game ripping someone else off you should at least make the rules match. Just my thoughts though.

Paint it Pink said...

As one of the boring Retarded-Old-Retread (TM) I welcome the return of the so called unseen. While I can see that newer players don't identify as strongly with the original mechs, I find it uncharitable that newer players want moan about us older players having the pleasure of the enjoyment that this news brings.

Furthermore, while I can sympathize with the images not matching the rules, I think that labeling this as "ripping off" is rather strong, because it fails to take into account the context of the times i.e. in 1984 very few people knew much about the anime shows and Robotech wasn't released until 1985. The amount of people that have actually seen Fang of the Sun Dougram, outside of Japan, is rather small.

Personally, I can live with the minor discrepancies between images and rules, because at the end of the day BattleTech is a game of giant stomping "robots". YMMV, T&CA, E&OE. :-)

Steven Satak said...

Pink has several good points, and many of them echo my own sentiments above. The Dougram machines - fine, they began in a movie. Same with the Crusher Joe stuff. I am not 'upset' about their images being used for a game. So what? Most folks first saw them in the BattleTech context anyway, and only discovered the movies later (and the movies were okay, nothing to holler and scream about).

I said my piece above. Original Marauder is back. Yay. Just, you know, not something I consider exciting even though I play, paint and bash. But I admit, it is waaay sexier than the replacement. Just not running-around-in-circles-with-my -tongue-hanging-out sexier. There are limits. This is BattleTech, not Star Wars.

And Pink, it helps if you lead off with more complimentary, life-affirming things to say about your fellow grognards (I happen to like Crusher Joe's Minerva and have a 1/500 scale model) than 'retarded', 'old', and 'retread'. That's a job for young people ;)


Paint it Pink said...

When I was a child, okay maybe not child, but certainly 25 years younger than I am now, Grognards were people who played board games by Avalon Hill and SPI. So I don't think of myself as a Grognard as such!

As for the Retarded-Old-Retread comment, this comes from some young gamer misspelling retread as retard. I decided to own it as a self deprecating comment.

Steven Satak said...

I think that having been aware of (and in some cases playing) a game for 25+ years qualifies one as a grognard, at least in the gamer sense.

And most of the styling cues of the old school miniatures are still used, so that tells you there is an interest in continuity. It's just that bringing back the old art after all this time... well, it just seems a little retro, if you know what I mean. Some of the old designs are cool, but honestly, I would rather see new material instead.

Personal preference, right?


Paint it Pink said...