Monday, July 05, 2010

The Fourth Brings Some TRO:3063 Fireworks!


Progress during the week leading up to Independence Day has been good.

- Our layout man has contacted his assistant. I have asked for clarification as to what, exactly, the plan is for the layout. Having seen first-hand the complexity of planning the TRO itself, I feel safe in suggesting the layout will be no less complex. Here are some typical questions to which I have no answer:

- What will be the basic background for each page?

- How will the PDF and print versions vary? I know what I have in mind – what has the layout man decided? It makes a difference, as some art will transfer from color to black and white with no problem while others…

- Will the page numbers be centered? To the outside edge of each page?

- Will the introduction to each section require House-oriented art? How much? How big?

- Will weight class categorize each entry? Will this require more art to distinguish one weight class from another?

- Some art comes with two ‘poses’ for the same vee from different perspectives. Will we have room for both? Or just choose one and get the biggest illustration possible in there?

As you can see, there are a lot of things still undecided. Yes, we have prototypes from the previous layout man, but there were simple proportion issues even then which had not been resolved before he dropped from sight. A lot of the answers are going to depend on our new layout man and his assistant, who have the vision and the art talent to bring it off. I can’t dictate until I have something to work on, and so far nothing has been forthcoming.

Not that we are laying fallow while waiting for Josh to heal….

So Far…

- Eric Ou has finished a preliminary sketch for the Isometrus and it looks quite good. I have asked him to ink it and have sent his payment.

- Ian from Merry Olde England has begun putting the finishing touches on the Roland Omnitank. It has already appeared on several BT-related forums, but the final version dispenses with the open launcher and short main gun barrel and opts for a longer barrel and an armored missile rack. I think it is the bee’s knees. Ian is now working on the markings and other details that will bring it firmly into the Federated Commonwealth fold (or what’s left of it).

- The Capellan Battleaxe writeup is done and is ready to go. The art is already in place.

- My partner in writing, Geoffrey Butler, is even now reviewing the writeups for certain Draconis Combine ‘Mechs and Vehicles to ensure they are in keeping with the rest of the writeups and the general history of the Inner Sphere in 3063. I have absolutely no doubts that he will improve the final product – he just seems to know when an element of fluff conflicts with something we’ve written or which is canon. I am sure there will be more to follow – and eagerly await the chance to send them for review.

- The White Knight art has been cleaned up and now needs a background. I am contemplating which artist to commission the work.

- We received an enormous PayPal donation from Bruno in France (!), $200, and I promptly sent it off to David Dryburgh, Eric Ou, Ian Stead and Chris Seymour. We are down to $170 owed to David and $50 to Eric. Thank you, Bruno. That makes a grand total of $300 you have donated and I appreciate it far more than mere words can express.

- As noted in the previous blog post, Alex Iglesias has graciously provided a new Percival illustration in black and white at no charge, replacing the original piece we got from Vlad.

- Karl Olson has just accepted a commission to produce new art for the Lyran Panzer X. He did a stand-up job on the Panzer IX and the Cobra BattleMech, so this should be more of the same, only better.

- I have offered a commission to Chris Seymour for another tank, the Lyran Montgomery II. I have not seen his work on tanks yet; some people are good at them and some are not, so we’ll see.

- I have offered a commission to Mike Sullivan to re-do the Draconis Combine’s Katana. No firm date from him as to when he will do it, so crossed fingers, everyone! Mike dropped off our artist rolls late last year due to personal issues, but as you can see from the Crinos I on our banner, he knows what he is doing and does it very well indeed. I am very glad to have him back on the payroll, as it were.

- I approached Paul Skowronek (‘skiltao’ over at the forums) and suggested our writeups could only improve under his withering editorial gaze, but the request was done in a skewed, half-assed fashion. Some of you may know him – he is the fellow who essentially re-wrote the House, Vee and ‘Mech introductions. We went through three drafts before he was happy with the result, and I have to admit I learned a lot. However, it may not have been enough.

Paul, if you are reading this blog post, 107 entries is a lot but we could sure use your critical eye. Ever think about taking a commission to proofread/edit these pieces? You could charge on a per-piece basis and stop whenever you like. I cannot offer more than about a dollar per piece, but you only have to correct really egregious errors, such as bits in the Deployment section which belong in the Configuration section – stuff like that.

There are a few Vees awaiting art commissions. We still have the Tomahawk, the Urugan and the San-Ku-Chu. All of the current art is warmed-over versions of modern military machines.

The TOC, Index and Page Count have been updated to reflect our new machines. I have consolidated some folders as well as sundry other paperwork tasks (like DVD backups). After reviewing the new ‘Mechs, I installed PDF record sheets of each type as well as sheets for any applicable variant in the Record Sheet Annex.

The Battleaxe variant BKX-8IF is particularly interesting, as it features no less than ten LRM-5 launchers backed by four ER medium lasers and five tons of ammunition. Very good at deploying minefields, let me tell you. I shudder to think of the effect it will have at long range plinking.

Fourth of July!

Where to start? I got a line on a butcher who would sell me fifteen inch-and-a-half thick rib eye steaks for $70. I asked the boy if he had some friends who would like to spend the 4th at our house. I got some killer potato salad at the deli across from my workplace. Rustled up some romaine lettuce and dressing and the invitations went out. $150 worth of reservation fireworks, several walk-ins with huge fireworks packages and eight boys later, we had a pretty good celebration.

These boys (all about my son’s age of 15) shot off all manner of loud fireworks from 2pm to 6pm, when we broke for a big dinner. Around 7pm they were stuffed, so we cleared the table and resumed. Having shot off all the loud stuff by 8:30 and not wanting to waste the pretty stuff until darkness had fallen, we retired to the front yard where my son refurbished two boffers (foam padded ‘swords’) with packing tape. The usual scenario was that each kid would beat the hell out of his opponent, but I had run out of tape and we didn’t want to worry about ‘warrior madness’, so we tried something from back in my SCA days.

A marshal watched each match. You tag your opponent’s leg, the marshal calls halt, your opponent drops to one knee and keeps fighting. This sort of play – losing your arm and having to shift to the other before resuming the match – was easier on the boys, the boffers and much, much more of a challenge. Strength and speed were only a part of the fight. A good time was had by all, and some surprising plays emerged. I even got a few licks in, though my son is much faster than I.

Darkness fell and we went in to get Momma. She and I sat outside as the boys put on their light show, with mortars and rockets and fountains. I was honored when my son, who had save the best for last, offered all six of the last mortars to me for lighting off. What a great show! The boys, being boys, could not resist playing ‘Jack jumped over the candlestick’ with the fireworks fountains. One of the mothers of a guest showed up to watch with Momma and me – she alternated between taking pictures and biting her hand at some of the antics these young men got up to.

What she did not see were these same eight boys all industriously sweeping up the street and sidewalk every three hours to keep the trash, paper and used fireworks under control. They did a stand up job and I was quite proud of them all. Thanks, guys! We all had a safe and very enjoyable 4th! And we still got to blow shit up!

Thanks for stopping by.


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