Saturday, March 27, 2010

Up against Silence and All-American Creeps...


Well, our layout man Josh has informed me that we are short a few House emblems but that the foundation art of the PDF is nearly complete. We should be ready in a week or so to begin doing test layouts to see what we’ve got in terms of look and feel.

Communications Breakdown

I have been trying to get in contact with Lee Madison, who is supposed to be working on the Merkava MkVII and the CM-33 background art. Unfortunately, it has been over two weeks since I got a reply from him. He had assigned me some writing work to support art he is going to create for his own needs – re-imagining the Imp and the Flashman. These are worthy projects and I have put together two brand-new designs and tentative writeups that support them. The designs are really good – if this was four months ago, I would consider putting them into the TRO.

Lee has done a really good job, despite his apparent discomfort at modifying someone else’s work. There are only two pieces to go, but the lack of communication – not one email telling me he’s busy with another project or anything – is getting me down and I am seriously considering just relieving him of the assignments and offering the commissions to someone else. I don’t even know if he’s received my emails and attachments. Hell, he won’t even pick up his telephone.

This has happened before, as some of you may recall, but we resolved things amicably and the TRO sports several good pieces from him. I will give it another two weeks and if I’ve received no word from him, will assume Lee is too busy to complete the commissions. We have a schedule to maintain, after all. I can work with delays – I have been working with them for over two years. But I cannot plan around silence.

Paper Version Publishing Notes

I have been down to the publisher’s and have revised the printing schedule and proposed costs. As some of you may know, I was quoted an original price of $23 and change for each of 30 copies. That was with a color front and back cover, Perfect binding, four color interior pages and 230 pages total.

The new quote is based on fourteen color pages (which includes the color covers) and a page count of 232 (I forgot to insert a ‘Mech somehow). Again, we are going with 30 copies, as I cannot afford more and the price does not come down until you get up to 50 copies. I have $500 to spend on this, and it will probably require about $100 more in savings before I can go down and get the work done.

Of course, none of this will be possible until we finish the PDF version, which at present looks like it will be ready at the end of April. I have lost two weeks due to Lee Madison’s silence, and while this gives me more time to save, there are other issues holding things up. Our layout man being ill with pneumonia is one of them.

Book Prices go UP!

It seems the quote I got last November for the printed versions was done by a fellow who thought he knew what he was doing, but didn't. To be fair, the software they use to calculate this stuff is pretty complex. And it's not like I knew what I was looking at.

The result is that the actual price of printing 25 books has jumped to $671. 30 books will cost me $800. This is all before tax, mind you. After tax and assuming the shipping remains about five bucks, a book will cost you $34.

It's about ten bucks more than I quoted last year. The fellow who did the estimate for me said the company would call me, hopefully offering a better deal, later.

Let's hope so.

Some Thoughts on the CGL 'debacle'

Looks like we got some visitors this past week with about three times the number of daily hits on the blog. I was complimented on my last post – apparently it comments on a fact that the denizens of Dumpshock and the BattleTech site have curiously overlooked. We have no say in this matter of misappropriated funds or the potential collapse of a gaming company. We never did and we never will.

This is common sense if you think about it. However, actually putting it in print brings another uncomfortable fact squirming and wriggling up to the light of reason. And that is: we have never had any real say in what the company does or does not do. That includes rule changes, publishing schedules and product offerings. If the folks over at CGL ever do pay mind to our endless babbling, it is with the clear knowledge that we do NOT represent their target audience except in a very tangential way.

Most of their customers are new players. We are the grognards, the old guard made up of older men (and women) who have been playing this game for what seems like eternity. Furthermore, we are the vocal minority that actually goes out on the interwebz and posts – a lot. Take a look at the post count of some of the older members of the BT community on the company website and you quickly realize that some of these people have been posting up to eleven comments a day for the past four or five years. That is a lot of posting, and does not speak well of time spent elsewhere doing other things – like, say, actually playing the game and using the new materials.

I am a firm believer that cross-pollination is what keeps a game – and a gamer – alive and active in the hobby. Concentrating on the game to the exclusion of much else that exists in day to day life might give you the chance to become a subject matter expert in the Fourth Succession War. But it does not make you an average gamer or a potential money-making consumer. I believe the folks at CGL know this.

The 'Fan Base' has No Base...

When they said they would not take unsolicited ideas or comb the forums for artists and writers, they meant it. The unspoken corollary is that they don’t take much of anything else from there, either. Considering the massive amount of backstory CGL’s line developer has to take into account when making new materials, I am not surprised. What amazes me is that folks post there like they think someone from the company is reading it and making adjustments based on the ‘fan base’. I don’t believe that is the case, for reasons already given.

They have already decided where they are taking the license for the next three to five years – they told us that! – and while older hands might gripe at the Jihad and the coming sixty years of Devlin Stone’s ‘peace’, nothing short of a major replacement of writers and editors is going to change it. After three shifts in proprietorship and the collapse of WizKids, the timeline is still going in the same direction and most of the creative names are the same. So unless CGL loses their license – possible but not guaranteed – AND the new licensors are determined to alter the present course and toss out a lot of research and existing work, it simply won’t happen.

And you know what? It won’t matter either way.

The game is going to make money for its owners and license-holders only if there is a fresh influx of new players. This can be accomplished many ways, but I have read the forum posts and have decided that the future of BattleTech, no matter who produces it, no matter which way it goes, is not going to put off new players. For them, the game will be fresh and new. They have no idea of what went before, they just know they like piloting big stompy ‘Mechs. For them, the Jihad is NOW. From them I get no impassioned ranting against the Clans, or quibbling about the Republic of the Sphere. This is just the way things are and the way they will be.

I have enough youth left in me to see the coming of the Jihad and the ensuing peace as something exciting. I have no desire to live exclusively in BattleTech’s past, just as I am tired of listening to the ‘oldies’ on the radio from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. I have been listening to that stuff for the past forty years; it is time to listen to something new. Likewise, some folks prefer to stick to the BattleTech of their youth. More power to them and I hope they have a good time. But my ‘good old days’ are right now.

And frankly, I can’t wait to see where BattleTech goes next.

Thanks for stopping by.


And Now, a Few Words on an All-American Creep
Frank Trollman

Frank Trollman (apparently his real name) was the man 'chosen' to reveal the various embarrassing goings-on over at Catalyst Games. Initially I thought that a good thing, as you can tell from the previous blog posts here.


He recently posted what was supposed to be a private letter from Randall Bills to the various freelancers out there who are still owed money. Now, Randall is a churchgoing man and he mentioned that he was relying on the Lord to help him make the right decisions and carry on through what is obviously a very trying time.

Frank ended his revelation with a broadside directed at Mr. Bills' religious faith, ripping the poor man up one side and down the other for something which had nothing whatsoever to do with Catalyst Games or the current situation, but everything to do with how he was hanging on and what he was using for a moral compass in the meantime.

Apparently God is not counseling Randall to deal with the friend of a lifetime as harshly as Frank Trollman would like. And as Frank himself has no personal need to resort to a mythical creator - we should all be so adult and integrated, according to the tone he takes - Randall Bills must be insane.

Here's my first beef: Trollman acts and talks and writes as if all of this was his personal business. As if it made a nickel's worth of difference to him. As if Frank had anything to do with how that whole thing was going to turn out. And he doesn't. On all three counts, Frank Trollman is the messenger who overstayed his welcome.

It Gets Worse

It seems to me that Frank Trollman has an atheistic bent, and that's fine. Everybody gets to choose. If he wants to vent about it, they got Internet Infidels and other places like that. But the sad thing was that he had some valid points and up until that time I was actually rooting for him.
Then he injected his own anti-theistic rant and I began to understand - just a tiny bit - how Randall must feel about the Colemans. Frank is not my long-time friend, nor do I have any kind of personal relationship with him, but I felt shocked and - yes - betrayed when he suddenly began spouting his anti-theism. I would have felt the same if Randall had suddenly injected comments about the healing power of Christ into his forum comments on TRO:3075 over at

Vanishing Threads

The thread was deleted shortly after I asked him what the hell he thought he was doing. Guess the mods don't want to get a flame war going over theism vs atheism, and apparently some folks can't stop once they've started.

Fine by me, but what got me steamed, what really chapped my fat white ass, was that the other forum mushrooms sat around for a page and a half cheering for that sorry son of a bitch before I came along. Frank Trollman beat the tar out of poor Randall Bills in a Shadowrun forum - a guy who didn't even have anything to do with Shadowrun. Not one of those lazy 'impartial' moderators did a goddamn thing.

When I stopped by, the shit hit the fan so hard it ripped right off the wall. The whole thread was deleted - for the second time, it appears.

I got warned about my choice of topics afterward, while apparently Frank got a pass on his religious cheap shots. I was told not to make comments like 'atheism requires as much faith as theism does'. According to the one who scolded me, it was inappropriate for the topic and anyway, it wasn't true. No one bothered to warn off Frank, however. He got shown the door for the official violation of Terms of Service - revealing that private communication. But not until a lot of us had had a good look. Ooops! I don't think CGL has any friends among the moderators and admins of DumpShock.

In fact, I get the impression the mods admire the man for his brass balls and sympathize with his militant atheism - which would explain why the post lasted as long as it did and why it disappeared after I got involved.

Seems to me that DumpShock place harbors a lot more nastiness than one might suppose just cruising by. I notice Frank's post of that letter violated the hell out of the ToS for Dumpshock, but you bet your gamer's ass it wasn't addressed until everyone and their brother (including me) got a chance to save that page. Only after I called him on the language and slander did the mods shut the thread down.

{Late Edit: Looks like they changed their minds even on that, and re-instated the thread. What is DumpShock, the Weekly World News of the Shadowrun set?}

{Later Edit: It appears the DumpShock mods are on the ball and eager to stem the flow of nastiness - as long as it appears to be coming from someone like me and not one of their multi-thousand post regulars. Seems like there are a LOT of inflated egos over there who take themselves way too seriously. Tell them that it's none of their business and brother, look out. I just deleted my links and bookmarks to the place. There really isn't anything I can add to what I already posted, and they don't seem to be very receptive to the message.}

Is there a connection? Who the hell cares? I am going on record as saying I think that Frank Trollman is a creep. I sent him an email mentioning that I admired certain of his qualities a few days back.

I wish like hell I could recall it.

If you are reading this, Frank, hang your head in shame. You're a
creep and what's worse, you're proud of it.

I'm here to say it's a mighty poor life you're living, if that's the sort of thing you're proud of.



Doug said...

Yeah, I do have a day job, and other hobbies. Tomorrow I will be racing my road bicycle in my first race of the new season (there was a race today, but I do not like that course and I was very tired from work this week). I am going to hop on the indoor trainer once I am done with this comment.

Yeah, CGL does have professionals to call on for material. It is like taking your car to your brother's house to be fixed, vs taking it to the dealership (huge difference in quality of work [in 98% of cases {sure a dealer can mess up your car, but generally does not}]).

I think the coming 60 years of ‘peace’ is just the cover story, the goods are under the hood in the details ('hey, how did they cram a V8 Hemi and turbo in a stock looking Sunfire?'). I leave the story line in the hands of those much more capable in the subject matter then me.

No more ‘oldies’ for you, you are all Eminem now? Home grown metro Detroit wonder boy, or are you just rap in general?

Ok, yes, I do live in metro Detroit, and I have had enough car references for one day, I have to get on the trainer, watch a DVD or two (I have the 1981 Clash of the Titans to start with) and ride 40 miles to get in more base miles so I don't pull a muscle tomorrow.

Later, and here is to lapping the field, or winning in an elbow to elbow sprint in a breakaway with two minutes on the field!

Paint it Pink said...

Got to concur with what you've said here. For me, after becoming trapped by the lure of MW:AoD infantry for use in my Battletech games, I've become a fan of the Age of Darkness period. I even think that the novels from number 9 on (though not read them all) are really good reads, on par with the best that was ever written for the original time-line i.e: Charrette & Milan for example.

Oh yeah, I did post something on airsoft the other day, just saying is all. ;-)

Steven Satak said...

Ha! I never meant to imply that ALL posters with high counts were devoid of a life outside this hobby. Some of them, like you, are simply full of energy and prolific.

But you have to admit, this cannot apply to all of them.

Who knows what they'll pack into all that 'peace'? Like the comics world, they can go back any time they like and categorize the dreaded sixty years as 'a period mistakenly called peaceful only in that it did not involve the histrionics of a Jihad or a Succession War or a Clan Tantrum."

No, you can see what I listen to on the musical box which plays on this blog. Some choice old stuff, but not a lot you will find on radio these days.

Steven Satak said...

@ Pink:

Cannot comment on the novels as I have not read them, but several seem to feature industrial Mechs of one sort or another. The public reaction appears to be appropriate to these machines.

Ugh. Just repriced the paper copies and wish I hadn't.


Paint it Pink said...

Now, no one in their right mind would field an industrial mech by choice. That's a given, but here's the deal...

Industrial mechs make for nice low powered easy games, no fancy special rules and scenarios that are based on revolution and resistance to the invaders. Give the enemy one proper mech and put up against a rag-tag bag of industrial, with and without weapons and enjoy the fun.

Anonymous said...

Not everyone on Dumpshock is a jerk. Please refrain from making such broad brush statements. They do you a disservice and unfairly paint a large number of SR players in a negative light.

If you stop and think about it, you'll be able to come up with your own forum trolls on your forum of choice. Those trolls are often let to run roughshod until they step over a very large line.

It's a common thread to forums. Punish the guy who rarely breaks a rule at the first sign of infraction. Never punish the guy who always ignores the rules.

BTW, your fellow/brother/sister SR players aren't your enemy. Don't treat us as such. You never know which ones of us you may be playing your next game of BattleTech with.

Not everyone plays just BattleTech or just SR.

Steven Satak said...


Huh. So, you want me to refrain from making 'broad brush statements". I could... by going and collecting a bundle of forum handles no one here would recognize. I like that. I like it a lot. This is one of the tactics used by the more comfortably-settled forum mavens. Start off your reply by pointing out that it doesn't apply to everyone. Of *course* it doesn't apply to everyone. Most people here can read this and understand that.

I would blabber on about this, but see, this is one of those tactics - notice we're now talking about how unfair *I* am with my broad generalizations and not the behavior of a select group of posters over at DumpShock? Folks do this all the time in real life, too.

By your own admission, the bad boys of that forum are permitted to swing at people left and right. If there is public correction, it is few, far between and largely ineffective. This not a conclusion *I* came to on my own, but one I derived from several such public complaints.

No, my fellow players are not all ogres and certainly not my enemies. Where on earth do you read that into what I wrote? Why on earth should I even make that disclaimer?

Furthermore, you haven't denied a single thing I've written on this topic, only mentioned that every forum has its trolls and that... well, what exactly is it you were saying? That not everyone there is rotten? But I know that, and so do most of my readers. Furthermore, most of them will simply skip over there and have a look for themselves. Do you see me warning them not to?

Look, here is the truth: I have been roleplaying and gaming since 1979. I have been skipping around gaming forums since before there was an Internet. Really. And until I hear about this CGL flap, I had *NEVER* heard of Dumpshock or had more than two seconds thought about Shadowrun.

My guess is that now I'm shut of the place, my life will, in fact, go on. But thanks for posting. At least folks have some idea of what I went through over there.