Friday, July 17, 2009

Publishing the TRO...

We have good news on the publishing front; James Devlin reported in and the prognosis is improving. He has assured me that there will be no problem making separate online and print versions. I discussed the feasibility of putting together a complete prototype of the TRO using the materials at hand. Now, there will have to be placeholders for some art pieces which have not been completed (or even commissioned yet), but all the introductions and writeups are there.

No, they are not all proofread, nor even edited by Geoff yet. I was afraid a lot of work would go into making a full-scale mock-up with incomplete parts, as it were, but James may be game for it. Basically, the writeups will go through changes due to various errors being weeded out, event and name corrections and so forth between now and the time we put it all together. However… the word count, stats and the vast bulk of the images will remain the same size, and that is what we are calibrating – the total page count and basic layout / look of the finished book.

Some of you may have caught a glimpse of this project via a very early (2008) prototype of the Vehicle Annex (the former name for this TRO). The writing was basic, with no weapons names, no manufacturers, no limit on the word length and no proofreading. Essentially, it was another TRO: 3062. The images were all from Vlad and in at least four cases (the Lyran Centurion, Griffin, Nightsky and the Free Worlds League Thug) the art has been changed. It was very rough, let me tell you. We used the TRO: 3062 layout and page art. All of that will change over to a new format very similar in look and feel to the TROs recently published by Catalyst Games.

If we go ahead with the mock-up (I have not yet received confirmation from James), I will have a very large prototype TRO on my hands. It will be larger than email can handle, and I may move it to a site where the proofers can download it. That will centralize the entire thing. Rather than frantically shoot off writeups, I can simply direct our proofers to the download site. Each will work on his section and email me the recommended changes.

It seems to be the system Catalyst Games uses and probably works very well. The only problem – and it is not very big – is that Geoff is still editing three-fifths of the writeups. I will have to work around that, incorporating his changes with my own records just as I would a proofer’s (although Geoff typically makes deeper alterations to the writeups than simple sentence and topic clarification).

Another, more serious problem is my determination to get at least three full-color plates inside. We won’t have any fiction for you to read, unfortunately, so this is important. The first is done, another is on the drawing board, and a third is in my head (and quite impressive). However, the money to fund these works – and reliable artists to successfully bring them off – is questionable. I have been in intermittent contact with color artists like Alex Iglesias, but money is the primary issue. David White could pull something like this off in a trice, but it would cost at least $100 to $150 per piece if I was lucky – even with the lesser-known artists.

Anyway… that is how things stand on the subject of assembling the TRO. If James does in fact give me the go-ahead on the mock-up, we will begin by trying out different page layouts and art, color and so forth. It should go quickly and will be much like working with any of our other fine artists – first the rough sketch, then on to the more finalized versions until the piece is acceptable. However, this particular work has over a hundred separate parts, so when James does commit to the mock-up, it’s going to have to be as close as we can make it to the projected final TRO.

I will put the pertinent files on a CD and mail it to him. It will take him a while to get it together. And when he is done, like any mock-up, the beauty will be skin deep. It won’t really fly. There will be unfinished bits here and there. But it should allow us to stand back and get a good idea of what the finished product will look like and how big it is. Then we can go on to figuring out things like print costs.

I just realized I have no text for the back cover. Better get on it, I guess.

Thanks for stopping by.



Dan Eastwood said...


This is quite a project - I look forward to seeing the results.

Steven Satak said...

Thank you for posting and looking around. It IS a project, and hopefully it will address a need in the BattleTech community. I passed the point of no return long ago, and find myself rejecting art (and editing my own work) with a much harsher eye than before.

This TRO has to be *good*.


Dan Eastwood said...

I'm very jealous that you got David White to do some illustrations for you. I communicated with him a few months ago about having him create a new banner for my blog, but he was too busy with bigger projects and turned me down.
It's good to see David being busy though, I really like his work.

Steven Satak said...

Er,well, I did not know at the time just how much a luminary he is in the annals of the game and the video game version. I considered myself thrice-blessed - he took an interest in my project and added quite a bit of value to it. He took time from his busy schedule (he's *always* busy, it's the man's nature) to do several pieces. And he let me have them for a song, relative to the prices he normally commands.

I am very happy he agreed to do the work, needless to say.