Monday, September 05, 2011

Some Good News... and Some Bad News...

Sounder Aerospace Fighter
Art by A. Agussoekarno, color by A. Scroggins

Welcome back. Got some mixed TRO news here.

The Good News…

- Lee Madison’s Jaguar is nearly finished. We had to resize the soldiers and round off the nose a bit.

- Karl Olson is paid up to date. So is Stephen Huda. So is Anthony Scroggins.

- We got a big donation last night but are hanging on to it for reasons which will soon be clear.

- Stephen Huda finished the Blackjack quick, fast and in a hurry. And it looks really good!

Blackjack BJ2-OG
Art by Stephen Huda

- Mike Sullivan’s commission is still under construction.

- We still owe Paul $40 and Dave Dryburgh $70. I will pay them off by mid-September.

Working the Layout

- Bill and I worked on the layout yesterday. As was mentioned before, we are concentrating on data entry. The corrections to errors spotted by our BattleTech Readers are on a document and we will implement these after the book is filled in. We have completed the Federated Commonwealth and the back cover.

- The issue of some of the art being too ‘light’ will, like other errors, remain until later. I have the thickened versions on hand, but there are some problems with the white backgrounds turning a shade of bluish grey (take a look at the comparison of the Privateer in the last blog post). Bill assures me he can deal with this – he has access to more powerful art tools than I do. The important thing is that he agrees the art on at least some entries needs correcting.

- You folks have been donating via the PayPal button and I thank you. I was pushing to get this out in September and it will not make that deadline mostly for one very simple reason: the TRO is not finished.

Doing My Part... Part III

- A pair of sealed old-school WH:40K Space Marine Rhinos went for $60.

- The pair of sealed WH:40K Imperial Guard Mordian Iron Guard squads went for $70

- An old-school WH:40K Space Marines Predator got $65.

- The WH:40K Imperial Guard Catachan Sentinel Squadron got $60.

- A playset of Natural Order MtG cards got $145.

Wait…What Did You Say?!

And now the bad news. Yes, I did say the TRO is not finished.

Bill and I were looking at the tail end of the TRO and realized that after the Periphery States, we were left with a hodge-podge of singletons – four Merc units and one unit each for the WoB and Comstar. Now, the Jihad has left everyone with more WoB machines than you can shake a dead cat at, but the fact remains this is a very awkward way to close out a TRO of any sort.

We hemmed and hawed, spent an hour discussing various fixes, but finally came down to a decision: we are going to add four more units to these sections of the TRO.

Before you get that sinking feeling, consider the following:

- We have already notified the writers, artists, editors and proofers and they are on board for a solid push.

- We are nearly paid off on previous work.

- We are using the art from an Outworlds Alliance piece, so it’s three bits of new art, not four.

- We have already got the new designs in place and mostly tweaked.

- I am currently working on the writeups and they are very well fleshed out as far as concepts. The actual roughs, writing and editing should be done in two weeks. These are not filler. They follow the guidelines for the rest of the TRO: they are playable, the faction needs them, they do not duplicate earlier designs, and they have a solid mission profile that is not too narrow. They make sense in-universe as well as on the tabletop.

The New Faces

Here they are:

- A VTOL (the Heirax) for Comstar (we are repurposing the Leopard from the OA, they have plenty) for inserting a six-man battle armor squad at high speed.

- A 100-ton tank (Claymore X3) for the WoB sporting four Light Gauss, experimental C3i and three medium lasers - 2/3, I think.

- A VTOL (Harbinger) for Mercenaries, purpose-built by the FedCom in a program similar to the one that spawned the Kuritan and Capellan Privateers. It moves 8/12 with an ICE, mast-mounted BAP, three MGs and three SRM-6s. This is the FedCom's attempt to supply mercs working the Outback and Periphery border with an inexpensive workaday machine.

- Mercs win again! They get a new hovercraft (the Hessian) purpose-built for them by the Lyran Alliance. It was originally intended to work alongside the Harbinger but is now separated by political issues - but both can still be had on the marketplace. It comes with five SRM-2s and two MLs on a 25 ton chassis moving at 10/15. Fair armor, should prove useful (and it is cheap). Furthermore, it has several factory options you can choose (variants) and like the Harbinger, is accompanied by a goodly stock of replacement parts included in the purchase price.

Yes, I said 'four units' and that comes to four - but we are pulling the OA Leopard. The art is good and the OA already has six entries. So we are reducing that to five.

Unfortunately, I cannot promise this all before mid-October: as this delay is due to our own decision rather than a lack of funds, I am reluctant to take any more donations. It’s not your fault and those of you who have donated already are probably disappointed. Before you grind your teeth at the delay, consider also the following:

- This will push the total entries to 112. Again, no filler, the TRO will balance and the art will be spot-on.

- The publishing date is being pushed back, true, but it is not entirely due to the additional work.
You know that Bill and I are working on our own personal time – we, like you, have day jobs – and I think it unlikely we will get another Slogging Sunday in before the end of the month. Bill has to attend school, take care of his kids (all four) and like that. Getting a day off to do nothing but work on the TRO is not easy for either of us. And the weather is going to turn on us very soon. No more coffee/soda and tobacco sessions in the warm outdoors.

I will keep you posted as to the progress, of course. Thanks for stopping by.



Jim Peterson said...

Wow! Some good looking art! (As usual) I had no idea this was almost done so I guess I'm not crushed by the deadline shift (perhaps I should check this page more often). ;) But I'd rather it be done right than rushed.

Sounguru said...

Well Steve pretty well covered it as to why we are running late but I thought I would tell you the real truth ... The end looked like ass ... It looked like we just got tired and hurried it to get it done and no matter how I laid it out it didn't fit the feel of the rest of the book. Plus I wanted to squeeze in at least one design I have run for a while that is plain nasty in the right hands and setup and that was the Claymore, Run 4 of those bad boys and some light hovers for range finders and they will tear you up before you even think of getting close. I have a 12 vech setup that I like to run that has taken down it's number in mechs with a tonnage advantage of 25%.... Never lost...:-)

But back to topic on hand there are some more hard decisions that need to be thought out that again may add a delay, but believe me this is nothing new if you have been around Battletech for the last few years.,;-)

So I'm off to ring a ding Steve and tell him my grand paln for delaying him a little longer but in the end run will bring even greater things to the table for all battletech fans...

Anonymous said...

I for one do not mind the delay. Just like all works of art, this TRO is maturing and changing over time, and I for one will be very pleased when it comes out.


Shepard Gunn said...

Personally, I just want to say I love the updated look for the Blackjack. I have a very soft spot in my heart for the 'mech, ever since I managed to take out an Atlas with an original 3025 Blackjack.

I don't mind the delay, either. I know its because quality is the goal here, not just trying to crank out a few mechs for the masses.

Pickledtezcat said...

Hi, I noticed that you have a few open spaces in the line up now. I may be able to help with the Harbringer. I designed a VTOL last year for the battletech universe. It's been sitting on my hard drive as I decided not to use it for the game I've been making. After reading your blog post I put together a TRO style image that you may be able to use. Here's the TRO image;

and an action shot if you can use it:

Just contact me on Deviant art if you want to use it. Free of charge because I love battltech (and helicopter gunships!) :)

Anonymous said...

Steve, it looks like it's coming together nicely. You've spent so much time and effort on this thing that there's absolutely no reason to rush it at the eleventh hour. Get it done right or you'll never forgive yourself. I continue to salivate over the teasers.

Dan Lassiter