Saturday, August 27, 2011

One Last Prototype - and Progress on the TRO

FWL Zukhov II
Art by JP Sphagnum, color by Jim Lafferty

Hi! Good to see you again.

Here is the latest with the TRO:

- Lee Madison has finally responded to my email. He had a broken computer. We have some additional tweaking to do with the BARS, but it is shaping up nicely.

Draconis Combine BARS second draft

- I owe Karl Olsen $100 and should have that cleared up soon. Below is the work he did on the FedCom Roland:

Finished Roland background

- Jim Lafferty has been paid up to date.

- Anthony Scroggins has taken the last coloring commission – for the Periphery Vehicles entry – and should have it ready in a few days.

- Stephen Huda has taken the last commission, a re-do of the Blackjack OmniMech.

- Mike Sullivan’s commission on the FWL Jaguar is in progress. It is taking a backseat to his day job, but in this economy that is a good thing – it means he knows his priorities.

- We still owe Paul $40 and Dave Dryburgh $70. Income has increased at least temporarily due to our Ebay sales.

Working the Layout

- Bill and I are scheduled to work on the layout tomorrow. Some corrections and issues have come up, of course. We have the corrections listed and will fix them one by one.

- One of the issues is that a good portion of the art is too ‘light’, the lines too thin for the purpose of illustration. At least it can be said that the line thickness varies wildly from entry to entry, and so I have done some extra work and ‘thickened’ the lines in most of the offending pieces.

As you can see, there is a noticeable difference without losing the details:

Bill is still unconvinced that this issue is worth the time and effort we’ll make doing the replacements, but it is a problem that has been pointed out by at least three of our Readers. Thus I consider it up for consideration to the point where I have prepped all the pieces and am ready to punch in the ‘thicker’ art as needed. Better now when we have only 2/3rds of the Houses done than later.

New Prototype Available Soon!

The latest version, Prototype #5, will be available for your inspection next week. Bill was not able to make it here this Sunday, but we are going to meet again next week. Or try.

This will probably be the last public offering for the Prototype – after this, we will send it to a select group of reviewers to save time and keep some secrets! So don’t hesitate to check our work and send in anything you think we missed or should correct.

Lending a Hand…

- Several people have donated mightily via the PayPal button, one reason we are catching up on the art payments so quickly. I want to thank you donors, one and all. Keep sending if you can – we are nearly done.

Doing My Part... Part II

- The original FASA version of Battlestar Galactica sold for about half of what I expected – we got $40 from a fellow in New Zealand.

- I put up an extremely rare Pokemon collectible, a sealed Trainer Deck B. It went for $142, a huge boost to our Artist Fund.

John is keeping the proceeds to his Tarmogoyf – seems he is getting back into the game! However, I have put up more stuff on Ebay:

- A pair of old-school WH:40K Space Marine Rhinos, still sealed in their boxes.

- A pair of WH:40K Imperial Guard Mordian Iron Guard squads, still sealed in their boxes.

- An old-school WH:40K Space Marines Predator (the one with the rounded sponsons and turret). No box, unfortunately, but it is still on the sprues and comes with the instructions.

- A WH:40K Imperial Guard Catachan Sentinel Squadron. This was the initial issue – the box is not sealed, but it comes with 3 of the Sentinels, all still on their sprues and with instructions.

Thanks for stopping by.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Hard At Work - Another Prototype Ready for Review

Glad to have you back!

Here are the updates:

- Lee has still not responded to my email. I sent another one yesterday. Not sure what is going on but it has been nearly two months since his last email and we are at the point where I may have to extend the commission to someone else.

- Karl Olsen has finished the Diomedes, the Hammerhead II, the Roland and the Machete. It’s just a matter of paying him for his work now – about $153 left to go.

- Jim Lafferty has done nearly all the color work. I owe him $75 and should have that paid off by Friday the 19th.

- There is one color piece left to do (for the Periphery). I will ask Jim to do that when I have paid him up to date for pieces already received.

- We owe Paul $40 and Dave Dryburgh $70. With school coming, it’s going to be touch and go whether I can pay all this off before the end of September. But we’re trying.

- Mike Sullivan has submitted a rough of the FWL Jaguar and I returned my suggestions. The commission is in progress.

Layout Business

- Work continues on the layout. We slammed away on it all Sunday (the weather was nice) and have added another thirty or so machines – the Free Worlds League ‘Mechs and the Capellan Vehicles and ‘Mechs. We also worked in the corrections to the previous prototype. The Web version now stands at about 26 Mb, the high rez version at 65 Mb.

- We were having the devil of a time getting InDesign to create a PDF, until we realized that the image on page 138 was something like eight feet wide! InDesign just choked on it. Apparently, it is possible to have an image file that is TOO large! We shrank it down and things work okay. That is, until we tried to spell the name for the FC Dragonfly. It would not let us put an ‘L’ after an ‘F’ for some reason. We cleared that up eventually, but it was weird to say the least.

The boldface and italics will be added in later. Bill and I am considering setting a day aside so that I can go through and work on it. I will have to use his computer, so Bill plans to drop his machine off and set it up on Sunday morning. I will spend the day going through and making the changes; Bill will stop by later in the day to correct any goofs I have made to the layout (I know nothing about working in InDesign).

It may take more than a day – I might have to keep the machine for a couple of days. Of course, all this will happen after we get the whole thing put together.

New Prototype Available!

I trust you all will be willing to go through and find any goofs we’ve made – there are sure to be several, and we need to get them fixed. Bill was trying to get the Federated Commonwealth Vehicles in last night, but his eyes began to cross and he was making silly mistakes, so we left it at 151 pages. I believe that is out of a total of 232.

There is one more House to enter, then the Periphery, Mercenaries and Comstar/WoB. Bill would like to do the Federated Commonwealth and post that as the final Prototype available to you all. The rest he wants to do without review, but I am undecided. You readers have been very helpful in picking out errors in layout, writing and art. It seems to me that we could use that kind of help on ALL the sections. Please submit your name if you are interested in proofing the TRO when we have finished all the machine entries.

Help If You Can...

- We are at the point where every donation via the PayPal button is crucial to getting the TRO out in September– even ten bucks will help enormously. I send the money directly from that account to the artists and others, so if you have been watching and waiting, now is the time to send a sawbuck my way. Unlike the company, I cannot publish without completing my payments to the professionals who have done work for us.

Doing My Part...

To show you how much I want to get this out on schedule, I have put up a very old game on Ebay. It is the original FASA version of Battlestar Galactica. The counters are unpunched, sitting in their cardboard sheet, and everything else is pristine. I saw a similar game with the counters in a ziplock going for $85, so I thought $80 would be a good start for this. The money will go directly to PayPal, and then from there off to artists.

Next up will be a copy of the original Albedo RPG. It is in excellent condition, but has been played with a bit.

I have also put up an extremely rare Pokemon collectible, a sealed Trainer Deck B, one of a set issued to the original Gym Leaders for WOTC's initial release of the game in 1999. Most were opened and played back in the early days, but I got lucky and had a batch come my way. I sold most of them for about $10 each back in 2002 to players and collectors rather than cash in on Ebay. But I kept a couple for myself and ten years later, am releasing one to Ebay to raise money for the TRO art.

Heck, even my son is getting in on the action , putting his only Tarmogoyf up for sale (it is a Magic:the Gathering card worth quite a bit right now).

The Legal Stuff... still waiting

Finally, I contacted the Catalyst Game Labs Battletech Line Developer back at the beginning of July to see what we would have to do to permit publishing this fan work. Disclaimers, copyright notices and and things like that. I also asked Mike Miller for advice. He sent a note to the folks in charge about this, and they responded with a statement that suggested they were going to kick it upstairs.

So far, no response.

Bill thinks we may not get any reply at all. It would set some sort of precedent. But there are any number of fan TROs and other BT-related books already out there, not to mention fan forums and websites. I find it a bit hard to believe CGL does not have some sort of process in place to handle this kind of thing. But maybe they don’t. I guess we’ll see.

Enjoy the prototype and thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The TRO Marches on....

Feng-niao (Hummingbird) Final
By Stephen Huda

Hello there!

We’ve got some stuff to report:

- Stephen Huda has completed the Feng-niao. It’s a beauty, isn’t it? He really does fine work.

- Dorian Sherratt and Helen Troy playtested the Feng-niao, fielding a lance of them alongside some Savannah Masters (for protection - !). I was going to post the entire battle report, but it’s seven pages and I think you’d run out of patience even though the reading is quite good.

So here is the Feng-niao’s battle report from a Comstar attack on a Word of Blake prison camp:

  • The Feng-niao lance went in and painted three generators that were powering the WoB laser battery base defenses. Demolisher Arrow IV comes in, BOOM! No more laser batteries.
  • The Feng-niao then lit up a pristine Thug and Celestial. Arrow IV comes in, BOOM! No more 'Mechs.
  • Two Fengs go down under a hail of missiles and fire from at least six 'Mechs. Two Fengs depart.
  • At the front of the base, a Celestial jumps over the wall to intercept hovercraft leaving with Important Rescued Prisoners aboard. The remaining Fengs race up, paint the back of the Celestial. Arrow IV comes in. BOOM! The WoB player tips the miniature over, not wanting to waste time counting infinite damage to his rear arc. The rescue hovers slide by.
  • Those same Feng-niao paint the base perimeter wall – it’s just getting in the way, right? Arrow IV comes in... well, you get the picture. There is a brand-new doorway in the wall…
  • …which is key because later on, rather than run a gauntlet of firepower trying for the official exit, the remaining rescue hovers with the VERY Important Rescued Prisoner use that new door to get away safely.
The play test went very well, I think. For a combined BV of about 500, those little Hummingbirds did their part and then some.

- The BARS (Bulldog Autocannon Remote System) is still in progress. I hope. Lee has not responded to my email and his computer may be on the fritz due to the heat.

- Karl Olsen is making progress on the Diomedes and the Hammerhead II. We’ve had to pause on these due to some issues with the Sabra XIII and the Uraltruck.

Uraltruck Debate...

Sabra Debate...


You can weigh in on these if you like, but the upshot is that we will keep the Sabra as is (with some barrel tweaks) due to its being based on a prototype and the Uraltruck gets a bit of a makeover on the front end. However, the Diomedes and the Hammerhead HAVE been getting some love.

Hammerhead II Rough Draft

Diomedes Rough Draft

- Bill and I are waiting on art. We have some more very good color pieces from Jim Lafferty.

Federated Commonwealth Praetorian
Art by Eric Ou, colorized by Jim Lafferty

Meanwhile we are working on another Union Class DropShip. It will look a lot like our other one (the one you see on the back cover of Strategic Ops) but is meant for actual play, so we are concentrating on battery power and a ‘Mech bay. Don’t worry that this will distract us from the TRO – we have five months to get it done, instead of four weeks!

- I am concentrating on paying off artists for their work – there is only one more piece undone and that will be picked up shortly by none other than our very own Mike Sullivan, now in a more secure place and ready to do a tank! Yay!

- If you are in the mood to move things along, donate via the PayPal button – even five bucks will get things going in the right direction. I send the money directly from there to the artists and editor (who is nearly paid off).

As always, comments and suggestions are encouraged. Go to:


and download the TRO Prototype 3 if you have not done so already. We should have another ready in about a week. Meanwhile, Bill and I are saving up the suggestions you sharp-eyed readers have made and will incorporate them this weekend.

- A late-breaking addition to the blog: Dorian has finished the Stingray and it is up on Shapeways for purchase.


There are 2 in the pack and each is 28mm long. Due to the size of those bars on the front and back we're limited to FD and FUD material, but given the new pricing structure it's not too bad.

Price point on them is US$14 in FD and US$17.08 in FUD not including VAT (where applicable).

There is no need for instructions as these are one-piece models. Naturally, if you want to play them you will need the stats; email me for the writeup, stats and record sheet.

Link for them is:

Hit the music bar below - I have some new tunes up. Enjoy the prototype and thanks for stopping by.