Friday, October 09, 2009

Good news for TRO 3063 fans!


I have good news for all of you who have been visiting here for the past week, looking, and finding nothing has changed. Of course nothing *has* changed – I told you all a while back that we would be slowing down the tempo as school and fall take their toll on the artist's schedules and my writing takes a back seat to intercontinental moves.

Well, we are over the moves and the first set of exams has been passed. The TRO has accomplished a few milestones:

The writeup edits are done. Oh, lower your eyebrows. We are not absolutely putting up the word processors. Geoff and I will be going through pieces such as the Outworlds Alliance's 'Eragon' (mercifully renamed the Zephyrus) and reworking the text to reflect the new art's propulsion system (hint: it's not a set of helicopter rotors). I have great hopes for Eriance's 'vehicle phase', though the final iteration of the Zephyrus looks as though its pilot were compensating for something with that chin turret. All we need now is a pair of TruckNutz hanging from the fuselage, know what I mean?

But the integration of the 'Mechs and Vehicles with the world of 3063 is pretty much done. And that is what the editing was all about. I am still waiting for some input from my proofers – or are they waiting for me to get off my fat ass and send something new? Well, I will iron it out tonight and Saturday.

All of which is to say the textual content is nearly finished.

On the art scene, much has been accomplished. There are still four pieces which remain to be commissioned, but Lee Madison has rewarded my patience with roughs of the Horatio Bridgelayer and the Mastodon Mineflail Tank. Despite strong temptation, I have held back from posting them here – despite their ravishing good looks, they are not finished, I have not paid for them and the artist would probably prefer to have his best work on display.

Another piece by David Dryburgh is the final interior plate, something I did not think would see the light of day. Suffice to say that David has done stellar work, and all the corrections and changes I have ordered on the initial sketch arise from my own poor skills at imagining a scene. He has created what I asked for. However, what I asked for was not as well-thought-out as it should have been. We should have things in a place where he does not have to start over and I get an image which conveys a particular mood to the viewer. The man has phenomenal talent and a knack for facial expression which is quite impressive.

We've added another 'Mech! I know, I know.... but this one was Geoff's suggestion and to his credit he came up with the rough draft. This one is new, based on an existing design and which originally appeared as a mention in the Comstar Champion's 'Variants' section. The Word of Blake normally gets no love from anyone (I hates them too), but this is their baby and it is a mean sonofabitch. Seventy tons and based on the Champion design, the Champion II mounts an experimental heavy PPC, three ER medium lasers and three Streak SRM-6s. Moving at 5/8/0, it carries 92% of the maximum armor and incorporates Triple Strength Myomer. It will be one tough customer and I believe Eriance will have the pleasure of illustrating this beast.

Good news for you folks waiting for yo money; I am sending out the final payment to JP Sphagnum and another installment for Eriance. Lee has been waiting for the pristine Dougram Tequilagunner model (1/64th scale) and he will have it soon. However, I am waiting for my next payday to finish catching up on payments and, funds allowing, will solicit my artists for the final commissions at that time
With things progressing at the current rate, you will have this puppy in your hands by Christmas.

David White is cleaning up some art I sent, mostly the 'dirty' pieces from Vlad (there are several) and will try to sandwich them in between his current workload, which, if I know David, is phenomenal.

Mike Sullivan has gotten to a better position in life and when things settle down a bit more, will provide more solid presentations of the Velite. The rough drafts look good, but they are rough and that is not a priority with him just now. Knowing his talent and having purchased several standout pieces from him already, I am content to wait.

One person has posted a PayPal payment with my button on the upper right of this blog; remember, all you have to do is send a paltry five bucks and you've paid for 20% of a new piece! You probably spend more than that on a McD's meal, so don't be shy! I can really use the help and it WILL accelerate the process.

Winter is setting in and I am getting cold hands working outside in the evening. Tonight was relatively mild, but I have to get myself and the boy off to a pumpkin-carving event up in Poulsbo this evening, so that is all for now.


Almost forgot to mention something we've been working on while the edits and art are developing. Someone mentioned that it would be nice to have stories in the TRO. I can think of no better source of those stories than myself – and no better way to set the TRO back another three months by writing them, editing them and then getting someone to proofread. All with no guarantee that you would like any of them.

Seriously, I have already written something like a hundred stories, each about 750 words long. I should think that would be enough for your poor eyeballs to take in.

So no, I am not going to supply short stories. Let that be Catalyst Games' little bonus for each of their new publications. I am concentrating on the interior plates. That is quite enough.

Still... there is a need for something which not many TROs have had up until this point, and that is a record sheet for each of the 'Mechs and Vehicles. I know how tiresome it can be to keep one eye on the TRO while the other is on a copy of Heavy Metal Pro, all the while trying to type in the approximate stats for that particular design. I specifically chose the format we are using in the TRO:3063 because it is essentially that of HMP itself, and contains all the data in one short space that you would need to copy the design.

However, simply providing the record sheets for each entry in PDF format is a much better idea and quite simple for me. After all, I have the design sitting in HMP and just waiting to be run through Acrobat Distiller. So I started a week ago to load the designs up and print them out. While I was doing this, I shot a letter off to our layout man, James Devlin, and asked if this was feasible. He responded with a definite 'yes', so the idea of adding the record sheets to the TRO took another step towards reality.

Unfortunately, we are looking at what I expect will be a twenty-megabyte file when the online PDF version of the TRO is complete. The print version will probably be less due to the simpler graphics involved, but still, it's going to be something you can't attach to the average email and send off. You are going to have to download it from somewhere, probably a BattleTech website. Adding the record sheets at 92k bytes each would come to another ten megabytes, swelling the TRO to a beast which would take a long time to download unless you were blessed with a cable modem or a T1 connection.

But what if the PDF record sheets came in their own little book?

Well, then you could download them if you wanted them, and leave them if you just wanted the TRO for its graphics and so forth. Furthermore, the standalone nature of the Record Sheet Book would mean I could add more value for those who chose to grab it.

What value?

Well, there is a 'Variants' section for nearly every entry in the TRO, and in most of these sections you will find mention of at least a few alternatives to the listed 'Mech or Vehicle. Some of these actually made it as far as the HMP design stage when I was testing them as viable machines. Others are just ideas we tossed in – something that seemed likely to be useful but did not warrant extended research to justify its inclusion in the 'fluff'. None of them have any real stats as written, and if you wanted to include them in a game, you'd have to come up with a design based on those skimpy notes.

What I propose to do is this: go through the TRO and ferret out all the variants mentioned, generate them as working units in HMP, then print them out in PDF and add them as extras to the Record Sheet Book. That way, every single 'Mech or Vehicle along with all the mentioned variants will be available for the interested gamer. It will probably add up to a hundred and fifty record sheets, all totaled.

I hope you think this is a good idea, because it is what we are going to do.

Thanks for stopping by.



Paint it Pink said...

I wish I could help you more with input on the 3063 era, but I fell out when the Clans arrived, and it looks like I'm skipping over to the Jihad as I start to catch up with things in the Battletech universe.

Steven Satak said...

Don't worry. I wasn't too sure where you stood on the timeline, but you seemed to have a good eye towards the formatting and so on. Just thought I might get some feedback on the writing itself.

Mike said...

Hey Steve!!

First off --

"Mike Sutherland has gotten to a better position in life and when things settle down a bit more, will provide more solid presentations of the Velite."

lol!! My last name is Sullivan. Although I like Sutherland as well. Maybe I could have my name changed?? Hmm...??



Now I know it's been a bit since I sent any new drafts for the Velite. I have not had any time at all to even open the file and do anything. Matter of fact, I have not been on my own PC since I sent you the last draft.

I got a regular job and it is pretty much taking all my time at the moment. I am focusing 100% on it at the moment. Once I get settled in I should have less on my mind and get back to the Velite.

I work 10 hours a day 5 days a week so I have little time to work on side stuff. Plus I watch my son in the morning before I go to work and then I'm there until 10 pm. Once I settle into the job and my new life schedule I will make sure to finish the vehicle.

I'm sorry I have not been in contact lately but I have a hard time getting a net connection. Usually, like now.. I have to use my neighbors pc just to get online.

I will try and work on the vehicle soon for you. Hopefully within the next two weeks. Just need a little time once things get going into a groove.

Mike :-)

Anonymous said...

Mike....i'm sure Steve just typed in the wrong last name. :)

As for your work.. all of us who have seen your other work for the TRO i'm sure are willing to wait till you get settled if it means getting another outstanding product!!!


Steven Satak said...

Sorry. The last time I knew a good artist well enough to hire him for commissions was in 1997, and that was David Sutherland III of TSR fame - and he was having serious life issues as well, at that time.

So I occasionally mix the two up. Sorry about that...