Friday, February 04, 2011

The Progress Report....


Here is the latest:

- Paul Skowronek – dropped off the edited stuff on schedule. The last of the Werefox line is edited, and Paul is now working on the ‘Mech writeups for the Draconis Combine.

- Dave 'BurningChrome' Hindelang is working on the corrections he’s spotted via the Prototype PDF. So far we have two pieces done. Trouble is, they are in the DC, on which Paul is currently working. Another problem is that the pieces are as seen in the prototype PDF, which I think adds certain errors that are less a writing issue and more of a data entry bug. Don’t get me wrong – I want those corrected too, but first things first.

- The HMV and HMAero PDF files are done. That is, the data for each machine and all its variants has been entered as an HMP, HMV or HMA file.

- We have begun Phase Two of the Heavy Metal experience – I am entering the finalized writeups into each HM file. We are coming along nicely with that – as a matter of fact, it so happens I have spotted some issues with the writeups (mostly stuff added to fill in gaps in word count left by Paul’s editing) and corrected them.

- Dave is also providing me with files of a sort I had not considered – MegaMek. Apparently the couple of designs he has tested so far have been solid performers, so Dave is now attempting to get artwork for them. Apparently there is an avatar for each machine – he is going to work with an artist to create the images required for MegaMek.

I don’t know – I suppose anything that lets you play BattleTech in your underwear is probably worth that kind of effort. Hell, it’s a hobby, right? This is just another facet.

- Stephen Huda is continuing his work on the Werefox line. There are some issues he has to resolve at home, but he has been working hard nonetheless and the Werefox D'Artagnan infantry combat vehicle is at the top of today's entry. Stephen has been paid up to date.

- Eric Ou is up to his neck in classwork and as I have stated before, I think that comes first. He has done some preliminary sketches on the Outworlds Alliance Leopard Gunship and the Draconis Combine’s Sher Khan. He might get to them in the next couple of weeks – depends on his school workload, of course. Eric is paid up to date as of this evening.

- Please give a hearty welcome to a new artist, Anthony Scroggins. I have commissioned him to do a couple of black and white pieces and perhaps a color plate. Yes, we have made room for one more. The prices are at the upper limit of my affordability and I will take a couple of paydays to cover them, but if you visit his deviantArt site [] you should come away feeling much as I do - the man is worth every penny.

Here is an example of his work, colorized by our layout man Bill Burt:

[Please note: this piece was originally done for Strider's Strikers
( and is used with their permission]

The Current State of Technical Readout:3063

As I mentioned in the last post, your feedback has been vital to my project. So I have decided that it is time for me to outline some feedback of my own to you, the BattleTech reader. Many of you have been following this blog for years now and for that, I thank you. Here are some quick summaries to show where we are:


So far that is where we stand. I estimate from the number of pieces left to do that I will need to set aside at least $350 for the art and $300 for the editing. A total of $650 and we should be done. It will come to about $3700 for everything.

We’re getting there. The best part is that our artists, writers and editors don’t have to wait until we get published so they can get paid!

Thanks for stopping by.



 Ashley said...

Awesome colouring by Bill Burt, makes the whole image pop out of my screen. Good to see the update.

Now I wonder how your cost for this TRO compares with CGL? I doubt we will ever know, but curiousity makes me ponder this.

Take care now.

Steven Satak said...

Thank you for the compliment on Bill's coloring. I will pass it on.

As for cost? No telling. I understand some black and white work is had for less than it normally commands, whereas color work (the 'sexy stuff') commands full price or even a premium.

Writing and editing... no telling there, either. I am not sure how much they pay their expert writers and editors to do the work (but I hope they pay poor Cray a LOT).

I am paying our current editor for the same reason I pay the artists - because I do not want to lose his skill set and because his work is every bit as vital to the success of the TRO as quality art. The artists may paint a picture for your eyes, but the writers paint a picture in your *mind*, and for many, that image is longer-lasting.

Besides, it is a moot point where up front costs are concerned. You issue contracts and NDAs, sit back and wait for the work to roll in. When you begin selling PDFs and books, the money comes in and then, presumably, you begin paying the writers and artists and sundry others who made the whole thing possible.

As for publishing costs, David White's excellent Mecha Zone 2 art folio (a book too little read) is hardbound and he did all the work and paying up front. Which means he has to sell the production run to make money - otherwise he will have a lot of high-quality books keeping him company for the next few years.

I don't know what it cost him, but between copyright issues and the expense I would incur for myself (small, but not insignificant), printing a run of the TRO would probably require either a miracle or a lottery win. Some say these are identical, but at least you can pray for the one.


Jim said...

This is coming along, and the updates are a pleasure to read. Did I mention that Spider is sick?! So is it just an example or is it actually gonna be in there? Anyway, I can't wait for this thing to come out... although I will wait considering quality takes time. But like I said Steve, appreciate your attention to detail and passion for quality. If you're going to do it you might as well do it right, eh?

Steven Satak said...


Thanks for the kudos. The Spider is a bit of work by our newest artist, who is busy working on the Churchill tank right now. Sad to say, that piece will not appear in the TRO - it was colorized by our layout man and was just a taste of the new artist's skill set.

I can only afford two such pieces from him. But Stephen Huda already has a worklist and Eric Ou is busy with school right now. Those are my best artists. Meanwhile, I have covered art and paid for it already, to find that the state of the art actually eclipsed those earlier pieces and they have to be re-done in order to keep the overall quality up. Such is the price of 'doing it right', I suppose.

Back in the earlier days, I was more generous with my commissions, accepting pieces which were marginal because they were at least better than the alternative, which was the highly derivative pencil work of the original artist.

Stepping back and squinting, these early pieces are still okay, but it's kinda like looking at the art they use for fantasy RPGs these days and what companies like Judge's Guild settled for back in the late 1970s.

Back in those days, just finding someone who was capable of rendering a fantasy scene was a near miracle. Our culture has changed a lot since 1978. Back then, we encountered poorly-rendered fantasy scenes with crappy proportions which looked like sketches done on a napkin by a high-shool nerd. The Arduin Grimoire was a prime example. And for gamers, this was acceptable. No longer. You would not even find that low a caliber of art in the margins anymore.

The same goes for the art in the TROs. Early drawings, especially pieces done by Duane Loose, were acceptable even if some of the resulting machines broke the laws of physics just standing still. No more.

Unfortunately, between a company policy of never showing the 'Mech or vehicle near anything which might give it a measurable proportion and the linked detestable practice of expanding weapon sizes ('Plog's Disease'), the current state of art is very uneven. The Rule of Cool does not forgive everything.

(As a side note for you gaming geeks out there, the best Arduin art was undoubtedly the covers of the first three Grimoires, done by a fellow who went by the name of Morno. Morno was Bradley W. Schenk, found today over at