Saturday, November 28, 2009

New art, anti-rant, and like that...

Hello there!

For those of you who ventured beyond the safe limit and explored my rants last time, I apologize if I ran on too long. Well, actually, there's no 'if' about it. That's what I get for keeping it bottled up.

This installment, as with the last, reports incremental changes. Eric Ou delivered his last piece with the inked Capellan Dao; although I am certain he could do another piece if I asked (and I am giving the Roland OmniTank the shrimp eye even now), it is probably best if I get paid up to date first.

Lee Madison has been hard at work. I have the Jian MMTV ready to go, and Lee is working on the Marian Hegemony's Velite ISV. He also presented me with sketches for the Striker II and presumably that is in the works as well.

Ian Stead is currently working on the Ocelot II. After some corrections to the rough draft, it should be ready to go.

What is significant is that Lee and Ian are working on the last three vehicles. With some surrounding terrain to fill in for the Sarpedon and the Ocelot II, this will be the last of the vehicle/'Mech illustrations. What's left?

Well, David Dryburgh is still working on the last interior plate and has agreed to provide the remaining detail for the two vehicles I mentioned above. In addition, he may be willing to do a short series of black and white vignettes (possibly in monocolor, if it suits him) similar to the one below:

That will wrap up the last of the artwork – all that remains is to put the whole thing together in PDF format. I have had spotty communications with our layout artist, James Devlin, and it may be that he is still recovering from the effects of a bout with swine flu. Time will tell; hopefully he will get back in touch with me soon. I still have some questions about the formats.

As mentioned in a previous post, I have completed the page count. What is more, I have located a Print-On-Demand publisher who will turn out twenty copies at $23 dollars each. The people who have donated twenty dollars or more via my PayPal button will get a copy, as will artists who have contributed five or more pieces in commission work. Naturally, the head of Catalyst Games will get a copy, as will my co-writer and a couple of the proofreaders whose efforts made a significant contribution to the quality of the writing.

Those of you who are scheduled to get a copy know who you are, but don't start salivating. I will not have the funds to get these printed until late January or early February. The reason is simple: I won't have the required funds ($478) available until then. But there is another reason.

That reason is also simple: I have to finish paying for all my art before I can issue the TRO in any format, and Christmas is coming for my house as well as yours. Yes. That means the TRO will probably not hit the street by Christmas. My troubles with keeping in contact with the layout artist have forced me to admit that he will likely not be able to keep to such a tight schedule during the holiday season. They have Christmas in England, too. And he will probably be very busy with his daytime job. Furthermore, there will be errors in the prototype which, despite all my efforts to stamp out in advance, will crop up and must be corrected.

So do the math. I mean, with the paper copies. I figure it like this:

Me – 3 copies
Vadim Antonov – 2 copies
Geoffrey Butler – 1 copy
Catalyst Games – 1 copy
David White – 1 copy
Mike Sullivan – 1 copy
Eric Ou – 1 copy
David Dryburgh – 1 copy
Lee Madison – 1 copy
Paint It Pink – 1 copy
Brian Compter – 1 copy
Jeff Kamper – 1 copy
Jim Lafferty - 1 copy
Total = 16 copies

That leaves four copies for sale to whoever ponies up first. The PayPal button is always an option, as is email to me at If you have to save for it (and I know some of you will), make arrangements with me. Don't kill yourselves in the rush – it's going to be another couple of months before I can ship. And I am looking into printing twenty five copies, if I can manage to afford it.

- I will not take orders on these things until January 1st, 2010.

- I will charge exactly what it costs to print the book and ship it. No more, no less.

One more thing – if you are one of the people on the forums who wants to have a paper copy, then let me know who you are there as well as in real life. I've been tracking names of interested parties, and some of you have been waiting for a while.

A Semi-rant... not to be confused with the real thing

'Doubters do not achieve; skeptics do not contribute; cynics do not create.'

For any of you who suffered through my last couple of rants, that pretty much sums up what I was saying. I recall my brief interlude with the folks over at BattleTech Universe who were trying to get their own TRO going. It worked well for a while, but fell apart when the number of talented people actually doing the work were outnumbered by the ones who didn't know what they wanted, but knew what they didn't want. It was being crushed under the weight of American-style quality control, if you will. I am sure there were several feedback loops in place, but the overall impression was 'crank it out and we'll cherry-pick what we want – then send you back to cranking it out again.'

Under such circumstances, the only way to keep the whole thing going was to make it a dictatorship – and while that may not be a good system to live under, it does make the trains run on time – or in this case, get a TRO to print. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, no one was left with the energy to make the transition from a democracy to electing a king and making it stick. The artists and writers had no end of talent, but they were burned out from the bickering.

It's Good to be King

The TRO:3063 is a monarchy. I am king. Of course, that title comes with certain responsibilities. Every monarch has them; not all live up to them:

The first is to make sure everyone understands I am king. I have the final say.

The second is that I generate a sound, achievable picture of what I want and work out the bugs before presenting it to my writers, artists and proofreaders.

Third, I must create an unchanging set of standards for product, communications and payments, as well as a workable timetable.

Fourth, I must endeavor at all times to remain in constant contact with my artists, writers and proofreaders and enforce the standards. Communication is key.

Fifth, I must pay people where payment is due, and compliment good work publicly. Criticism, in the sense most people encounter it, is both positive and negative but is always done in private.

Only when the TRO is published will I then be allowed to sit back, stretch and remark 'It's good to be king.'

And Last but not Least...

One final note to the reader who asked why so many vehicles had been included in this TRO: by 3063, the vees have been neglected for quite some time and we thought it would be a good idea to present some new pieces. It's certainly true that Catalyst Games is very busy, probably to the point where they simply cannot do this. So here we are.

We as a group have never seen a bridgelayer or minesweeper deployed on a gaming table, but it was not clear whether this was due to the nature of 'pick-up' games prevalent in most BattleTech gatherings, or because the darned things have never been printed in sufficient quantity. I know bridgelayers exist, but whether they're a good choice when you have a limit on your BV, depends on the game.

I guess we'll see.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving.



Doug said...

I like the idea of a bridgelayer or minesweeper. I could see them used in a game where one side had to destroy it and the other had to get it off a map edge.

I'll make another donation when I find my PayPal code 'football'.

Jim Lafferty said...

Yikes, wont return my emails and now I don't get a copy either?

I don't think I told Bill Cosby to beat up anyone's uncle...

Steven Satak said...


I still love you. We just ran out of work is all.

I made the cut-off four pieces, because any fewer and it would not be worth either my money or the recipient's to get a copy to him for his records. I mean, three pieces of art out of a hundred and six? Not necessarily flattering in a portfolio, right? And you always have the PDF.

I will see what can be done.