Friday, January 08, 2010

Additional Art and My Son is growing... :-\

Well, then.

Here you are. I suppose that means you survived the holidays. Or you are a holiday zombie. Either way, good for you! Holiday survivor, holiday undead – both are filled with possibilities.

The blog entry for this last week is tragically late. For that I humbly apologize. Things have been happening, but I have to pay mind to the jorb and upgrade my Airsoft toy…. er, rifle. And hang out with the boy – even though he has finally overtopped me and towers over his revered mother. He will be leaving home in a few years to make his way in the big world.

Later on that.

I took the printout idea for action. Bought an ink cartridge down at the local office supply shop, along with a ream of paper. Printed out all the text, the introductions, the index, and each entry along with its attendant image. Took me a few days to do that, and when I was done, I mounted it all in a binder and began working on the editing.

Some entries were pretty good, requiring a change or two. I think that of the 107 entries, only three were fine as they were. Most needed some tweaking…. little stuff like using the same word twice within a few sentences, a non-starter if ever I saw one. Then there were whole paragraphs that were awkwardly phrased. Finally, there were bits, not many, which violated one of the unwritten rules of writing (weird phrase, that). Namely, don’t tell your audience how they should feel about a particular statement or development or whatever. There is a subtle difference between stating that Comstar scribes found ‘something extremely interesting about World X’ and saying that the Comstar scribes ‘were extremely interested in the information coming in about World X’.

Take another look at that last sentence. Do you see the difference? One says that the author thinks you should find that information about World X interesting. The other tells you that the scribes were interested in World X… and nothing more. No one likes being told how he or she should feel. Of course, I corrected the offending text in a hurry.

One of the art pieces I received from Eric Ou was the Nightsky BattleMech, and I was happy to get it at a reduced price (he had made it and had no purpose for it outside of practice). I didn’t dare say that it was not very attractive – after all, it replaced an illustration that was a mish-mash of two other Company pieces. It was a definite step up. However, recently (and on his own) Eric decided the piece was not in fact his best effort and replaced it with something rather better. A little narrow in the waist, but I have had my say and Eric does what he does to good effect, so again I am in no position to complain. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Another good sign was that I received an email from our layout man, James Devlin, with an address where I could mail the CD/DVD with this TRO’s information. That will happen in a week or so, after I clean up the last pieces of art (painstaking, time-consuming work) and enter the changes I made in the text to my little laptop. I have to back it all up again, but carrying a spare jumpdrive helps (a Christmas gift from my son).

Jumpdrives are wonderful things, but you never know when they are going to fall prey to a static spark or when you will accidentally delete a file – or lose the damned thing altogether. I have had to train myself to do these backups – as with hitting the save button when writing these blog entries, it’s nice to have the information saved if the computer takes a crap mid-sentence.

So. The editing is on track, the art is about half paid-for, only some cleanup and text entry and I will be ready to ship it to the layout man. That pretty much sums it up. Oh, and I will have to hammer out the final changes to the online and print layout backgrounds. A few hours and some emails should take care of that.

I am sitting in the garage, smoking a good cigar and drinking a strong cup of coffee on a Friday night. The work week is over and Momma got paid today. I settled a few bills, enough to keep the lights on and the water running, and I have enough left over to buy and install a precision barrel in my Airsoft rifle. I bought the boy an M4 Barrett for Christmas – blew my Christmas bonus on it, as he has wanted one for a very long time. I upgraded the barrel, the sight and the battery, and he’s a happy kid.

However, he passed on the last two BattleTech games.

He’s growing to be a man with interests of his own. I figured, well, if he has been following me faithfully all these years in my hobbies, the least I could do was follow him in one of his. So I bought an inexpensive M-14, the full-length rifle (not the SOCOM carbine) and upgraded the spring to an M-120. It shoots like a dream. I have never lost my touch with firearms and shoot better with the M-14’s iron sights than my son does with his high-powered dot sight. Five soda cans knocked over with seven shots at fifty feet – his best was nine shots. It’s a secret relief that Dad still has an edge over the Boy in some areas – for now. Oh, and I can still beat him in arm-wrestling, though with my game shoulder it is a close thing.

He is fourteen and still growing taller and stronger. There is nothing stranger than watching your own son grow up, believe me. I glance over at the picture on the bookcase. It’s one of me grinning like a fool while holding a tiny, wriggling cutie pie in my arms. Then I look over at the fellow playing Halo III in the living room and realize with a bit of disbelief that they are the same person. I used to drop my arm across his shoulders, then the day came when I stood tall in my socked feet and looked him in the eye. Now I look him right in the nostrils, and it’s going to get worse. Or better, depending on how I feel each morning.

I think the first intimation that this day would come was when we were playing Super Smash Brothers on the N-64. He was ten. Up until that day, I would play Pikachu exclusively and beat my son soundly. That day, he selected Pikachu as well and trounced me. Three times. I stopped playing the game after that, profoundly disturbed but not sure why. He felt bad about my not playing with him anymore – and if I had it to do over, I would have kept on playing. But don’t we all wish we could take a trip back in time?

I will get sore muscles and tweaked knees running around the woods shooting people. And getting shot. But as I approach the age of 50, my son and I will be together again, and this time I will not quit. It’s not too late after all.

Thanks for stopping by.


{I just accompanied him to those woods today, in fact. Thirty five degree hills, slippery crap everywhere, hundred-foot ascents (and muddy, sliding descents) with my knee aching just getting in there. He wasn't even winded. Damn. Anyway, they also have occasional 'tactical' games over at the local school on the weekends. Flat ground, more to my taste and ability. So he lets me know when that goes down, and I loan my M-14 to his friend for when they fight it out in the boondocks.

Oh, and wouldn't you know it? The shop simply doesn't have a precision barrel for the M-14, which has a unique collar on the end to keep the hop-up unit in place. So now I am using .30 Perfect pellets and with a bit of hop, they are pretty darned accurate.}


 Ashley said...

Hey Steve, all I can say is learn from your mistakes and do not repeat them. It is never too late to learn new tricks, and for that matter, by example show your son that there is no shame in admitting a mistake. So well done with the airsoft thing. It is a great shame we are an ocean apart as I'd invite you along for an airsoft game with me and my posse over here in Blighty.

Come the end of the month I'll PayPal you a little extra support, but I've been short this month due to Xmas expenses. I'm really looking forward to your TRO. All the best to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Eyes keep twitching... waiting eagerly for the PDF version of the TRO to be released.

I keep visiting the forums and artist's websites for newly released artwork. Cent has been gracious to let me be involved in the text part of the TRO, so that "need" has been satified. :)

A side note - it was "sad" to hear that Catalyst could not "afford" new artwork for the recently release TRO. Poor excuse, considering all the great work that will be incorported in this TRO, compared to what the artists have charged for it.


Steven Satak said...

I appreciate the support, Jeff, but having had to fund the TRO principally from my own pocket, I can tell you it gets expensive.

To be fair, CGL is doing the best that can be expected. They are running several projects concurrently and have budgets of manpower and money for them all. Furthermore, they are hip-deep in launching and supporting Leviathan, which I hear is a very interesting game and one which, if rumors are true, should have a backstory structure and 'world appeal' similar to BattleTech, with its decades of writing.

Or it will have. Meanwhile, if illustrating Leviathan means the re-issue of a decade-old TRO comes with the original art instead of new stuff - well, I can understand why they would choose to do that. Heck, it's something *I* would do in a heartbeat.

Meanwhile, I have only this writing project to do, and as you can see, it is not simply a matter of punching the right buttons on a machine and getting your coffee just the way you like it. Everything has to work just right and everything has to be timed just right and I have to keep my day job and pay my bills and clean my house and keep my family happy and stay healthy and sane myself.

In other words, it very much requires dedicated effort and persistence which you would normally find in a for-profit venture (and many times not even there). And I am *not* making a profit from it. That's good - it allows me to be a monomaniac when the going gets tough, where if it were a business I was running, I would have to back down. CGL has to be a business first, then a bunch of writers and gamers getting their geek on. So their priorities are different.

And well they should be. Without that prioritization, BattleTech would have been dead long ago.