Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Story behind the Story....


I have been busy the past few days, but here is another blog post.

I sent Dan a copy of the TRO mockup which our layout man created. Dan passed this on to another writer, Chris, a fellow who’d been instrumental in the creation of the Marian Hegemony. He had the following question concerning the Hegemony’s Catapult:

…Guess I would like to see an explanation of why you went to an ERLL and 20 rack as an upgrade. Why was the profile of the ‘Mech changed so drastically? That seems like a major upgrade into an entirely different type of ‘Mech than a simple upgrade of the C1.

Now, I pondered this and went back to the writeup to see if I could establish what lay behind a simple support ‘Mech’s conversion into a jack-of-all-trades. I discovered this was not possible, not in depth, because too much of the remaining writeup would suffer. But I dropped a few bits in here and there, and Dan assures me it is enough.

The designs in this TRO came from Vlad, for the most part. A few are submissions given to me back when I was looking to establish a modest section on ‘special’ ‘Mechs intended for Solaris Seven or mercenary use. Unfortunately, there weren’t that many takers and the quality of the material was somewhat poor. I dropped the idea, but kept a small section for Mercenaries anyway.

Vlad’s designs came with no notes. I had to come up with a backstory for each one, and base the writeup on that. Some of the backstory made it into the text (in some cases, too much made it in), the text was massaged, and that was that.

But Chris highlights the function of proofer admirably, asking a question most of us writers thought was self-evident – until another look at the text proved it was not.

I responded to Dan with the following from my notes on the Catapult:

[The purchase was of obsolete or surplus BattleMechs. It did not matter which one; the purchasing agents were instructed to focus on tonnage and quantity. Condition was a distant third because the WOB-backed Hegemony was prepared to repair whatever was broken. In fact, the poorer shape the 'Mech and its warload were in, the better, as the price could be dickered down - and it would all be ripped out anyway. As to deviating from the original mission profile, again, the machine’s original purpose was only broadly considered. Hegemony planners already knew what they needed in a 'Mech. They just had to get their hands on some raw material.

Keep in mind the Hegemony’s shortage of ‘Mechs across the board. The C6 is a classic ‘Vindicator’ approach, attempting to cover as many missions as possible with a single machine. Unlike the Capellan Vindicator, the C6 is large enough to carry a warload that makes this approach reasonably effective in a single unit. It has a single large missile rack for indirect fire, mine-laying and artillery-style missions. It has a single large beam weapon for long-range sniping of smaller units and standard beat-down of units its own size. This gun is independent of ammo supply lines, as you (Dan) noted, and so is the next set of weapons. The four ER medium lasers are set physically to fire as a group. They handle close-in engagements, especially vehicles, quite well.

Note that the assignment of double heatsinks allows the C6 to fire its ER large laser and four ER medium lasers at once, while on the run, with only moderate heat buildup. This is no accident; neither is the increase of armor, a fifteen percent advance over the C1.]

I must confess at this point that Chris and Dan’s comments actually provoked a minor re-design of the CPLT-C6, upgrading it further to ferro-fibrous armor and ER medium lasers and adding another heat sink, which the version they saw simply did not have. This is what feedback from the readers is all about, especially readers with the experience and background that Chris and Dan have in abundance. I rarely balk at changes to the text, or even the design, as they are simply a matter of rethinking the intent of the ‘Mech and doing some heavy typing. Art has already been dealt with, as it is expensive. I got it out of the way first for that reason.

My son John participated in the SeaFair Torchlight parade on Saturday. He and his drum instructor carried the bass section for the Pacific Alliance Drum Corps. Check out the link below: the short drummer with the big drum in the back is my son.

Man, did he sound good!

Until next post, take care and thank you for stopping by.



EastwoodDC said...

It turns out that my memory was off, but in the end it didn't matter because the result was the same: Considerable improvement in the writing.

I should clarify this comment for the other readers of this blog; the writing was not bad to start with. The previous text (Describing the Catapult CPLT-C6) would have fit right in with any of the official TRO's, and I thought I was making a fairly minor suggestion. Steve's response was to go back and make some substantial changes to the 'Mech and the text, changes for the better in my opinion. In the process I got to see some of the backstory and behind the scenes work that is going into this project.

And I am impressed.

I really think this TRO is going to be something good, and I'm happy to be able to contribute in a small way. Thanks Steve!

EastwoodDC said...

I almost forgot: I love Drum (and Bugle) Corp. Thanks for the video! :-)

Anonymous said...

Yep, Steve is doing a great thing with this TRO.

As one of the proofreaders I have be privledged to see artwork and text that the public has not seen yet.

When the TRO is released I think just about everyone is going to want a copy. :)

Some of the designs are unusual but I think people will want to use them. Can't wait to see someone creating "miniatures" to go with the design for use in actual gameplay. :)

Its too bad about the 2 pages of color art being dropped though.


EastwoodDC said...

>Can't wait to see someone creating "miniatures" to go with the design for use in actual gameplay.

I have plans to mod some minis already, now I just need time to do it!