Monday, January 09, 2012

Errata Has Been Entered - and a bonus Section begun!

Free Worlds League Guillotine
art by Chris Daranouvong

Hello, everyone.

It has been a long time since the last update. We have been busy with the holidays, and I am sure the rest of you were as well.


- Bill has passed the baton on to me as regards the layout of the TRO. We spent some time going over the various commands, and I have my Dummies book to help me with anything odd that comes up.

- During the past two months, I have been collating errors in the TRO prototypes. I am happy to announce that the first fourteen pages of errors has been corrected.

- I have gone through and formatted every entry to standards set by the company’s products. We still have our own look, but the data is arranged in a familiar way and most of you readers should have little trouble navigating.

(Click on image to enlarge)

- We resolved the issue of pixelated art in the InDesign program – with one or two exceptions, it was the way InDesign handles the image. The actual hi-rez printout looks fine, regardless of what we see in the assembly program. I did discover that a lot of the images were huge, but at 79dpi or 200dpi. Converting those images to 300dpi seems to have corrected problems we were having with sizing as well.

- I have updated the MUL to include the Star League version of the White Knight, and found a way to import tables directly from a Word document into InDesign. The result is quite crisp (the Prototype version looked like crap).

- The Index is in place; the Table of Contents has been undated. We dropped the last Section Introductions into place.

- I have begun work on an additional section. Right now, we have the TRO proper, ending with the Index. Then we have the Master Unit List (MUL). Then we have a section titled ‘The Art of TRO:3063’. So far it runs about 25 pages, and should top out at about 30-35. It includes a lot of stuff you folks might find interesting - things we’ve posted on the blog as the years went by, but now all collected in one place and annotated.

- Don’t worry about me killing time with this addition – I have been waiting for our editor to proofread the errata’d version and he has provided me with another six pages of things to fix (so far…)

- The time we are taking for the errata and art allows me to catch up on payments to the artists. I still have a couple of hundred dollars to go, but we are nearly there.

- We are re-doing the cover. Hah! Yes, someone brought it to my attention that the machine on the cover does not actually appear on the inside of the TRO. We are changing that with the help of Chris Daranouvong. The header for this blog post is the proposed replacement for the current Guillotine art.


This is how the Aurora and the Claymore look, prior to becoming miniatures available on Shapeways! Thanks for the hard work, Dorian!

What follows is the final re-issue of the Free Worlds League Thug:

That’s all for now, folks. Stay tuned and please, hit the PayPal button to help move things along. I always respond, and the money always goes to the artists.

Thanks for stopping by.


PS: Does anyone else notice something about the Company Forums? Whenever they ask a question about some bit of fluff or fact mentioned in a TRO, nearly everyone tries to justify it 'in-universe'. That is, they try to give reasons why such a thing might be true or false inside the storyline itself.

When someone like me comes along:

and suggests that the writers might simply have made a mistake, or that the company did not choose to go in that direction, there is (usually) dead silence. I have ended whole threads with this type of comment. In the case above (click on link), my comment was simply ignored.

I love to write in the BT universe and make no mistake, I have a lot of fun playing the game. But some of those people hanging out on the forums are in a bit too deep, if you ask me. I mean, c'mon. You have to read some of the comments to believe it.

A writer makes a mistake twenty years ago - or writes about something that never amounted to anything outside a single book - and it's clear as day after two decades of hindsight that that's exactly what it was.

And ten fanboys immediately leap to the author's defense with Byzantine explanations as to why all of it makes perfect sense in universe. That ranks right up there with the apologists explaining why there are typos and other glaring errors in the company writing - because that was what the in-universe author intended.

Just thought I would see if anyone else has noticed this. It seems awful silly to me.



Jason said...

Looks like things are starting to come together. I see on your side bar it says you are planning to publish in December. Does that mean of 2012 or has the time slipped a bit?

A R Pollard said...

Bloody brilliant bit of work! Outstanding.

Steven Satak said...

@Jason: Eh, had to change the side bar. Yeah, the time slipped - we are re-doing the cover and finishing the layout/editing. Takes time and you know we had other stuff going on in November and December.

@Ashley: *blush* Miss Pollard, save the kudos for when it is published. I am embarrassed to take credit for something that is not even finished yet.

Lambow said...

Mr. Satak;

First time visiting your site. I ran into it quite accidentally off of Pink's site.

I must say, I'm HIGHLY impressed with the dedication and work you and everyone else has poured into this project, and something that warms the BT lover in me.

A question, if I may? I understand if it's personal and/or you have a reluctance to speak on it.

I absolutely LOVE the miniatures available off the Shapeways site. Does some of the pricing help to pay for this project? I'm thinking no, since you mentioned that you don't want to have this as a "for profit" project.

The reason I ask is because I'd love to buy miniatures, but at the same time I want to support this project. If I want to donate $30, I want that first $30 to go towards the project. The miniatures can wait. =)

My thanks in advance!

~Mario L.

Steven Satak said...

@Lambow: Mario, the pricing of the miniatures has not, to my knowledge, been 'monetized' by Dorian or any of the others who are offering miniatures (although Stephen Huda might be getting something from his White Knight). In any case, none of it supports this effort.

It's not that I don't *want* to have the TRO:3063 as a for-profit venture - it is that it is *forbidden* because I do not own the intellectual property nor do I have licensing or other permissions to make for-profit materials based on BattleTech.

The first, middle and last donations you make via the PayPal button (minus Uncle Pal's cut) will go straight to the artists. In this case, Karl Olson, who has been waiting a while for his share.


Lambow said...

My apologies, sir. I had completely forgotten abou that aspect of the law. I'll chalk it up to the fact that I *should* be sleeping right now, as I need to be up by 0400. :-)

I just feel that your hard work should also be compensated in some way!

Thanks for the quick reply!

~Mario L.

Steven Satak said...

@Lambow: Never fear, Mario. I will have my reward - basking in the ridicule and scorn the fanboys heap on me. Or better still, the absolute zero chill when they simply ignore it as 'non-canon'.

Either way, it wasn't meant for them, it was meant for folks like you. Thank me and pass it on, use the designs on your tabletop. That is all the reward I would ask, if I asked for any.

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve, did you ever write for Security Leak magazine? It is a fanzine that supported Traveller and MegaTraveller back in the day. I saw a redesign of a standard ship, the ISS Vega done by a guy named "Steven John Satak". If so, we need to do some talking!


Steven Satak said...

@anonymous: Yes, that was me. I wrote those articles for Gregg Giles and his SLM back in 1988. It was a time when we were trying to transition from Traveller to MegaTraveller and found a lot of problems with actually using the construction rules they gave us.

You know my email already: ssatak at


SkilTao said...

Hey Steve, haven't written you in a while! I had some thoughts regarding your post-script:

In my experience, when people on that forum read a reasonable and true and uncontroversial post, they mostly tend to:

a) find the answer satisfactory, and therefore drop out of the thread;
b) find the answer satisfactory, but not have anything to add;
c) agree that the post is true, but assume everybody knew that truth already, and therefore not bother to respond;
d) disagree, but not bother to respond because the points of disagreement are already covered by existing posts;
e) forget to respond because the post is unrelated to the dominant line of discussion;
f) forget about posts that aren't directed specifically at themselves;
g) figure the thread has ended and they can safely go off topic;
h) figure the thread has ended and they can safely tease, joke or goof around.

Having the perfect answer is a natural conversational dead-end. From what I've seen, people only really offer supporting or conflicting evidence or logic or anecdotes when they're discussing something controversial, unreasonable, uncertain, or nostalgic. Or when they're just hanging out for the camaraderie.

In this particular case, nobody responded to your post because you ignored the central issue ('whether the book's author used the same criteria that Dayton3 did') and just accepted his assumption as true; the arguments against his reasoning (I think MadCap summed them up) apply equally well against your post. Plus, people went off on tangents at the drop of a hat, so it's not like they were really paying attention to begin with.

It seemed to me that all the relevant arguments in that thread relied on straight stats rather than in-character reasoning? In other cases though, I've seen some valid (and some less-than-valid) reasons to focus in-character:

i) the out-of-universe explanation is so obvious or well-worn that it's not worth acknowledging;
j) it's a thought experiment, and they enjoy killing time that way;
k) the in-universe reasons affect something else that they're currently reading or writing or playing;
l) they're super-invested in the existence of One True Canonical Continuity;
m) they're super-invested in making one company look more competent than another;
n) they're pursuing an agenda (or joking, or trolling) that isn't necessarily related to the topic at hand.

I used to spend a lot of time spinning typos and writer mistakes up into gameable material, but lately, so many people don't even *recognize* the difference between 'error' and 'change in direction' that it's geting harder and harder to move past the out-of-character level.

SkilTao said...


A related issue is people who interrupt a thread to say "It's just a game!" Do they honestly think that's a useful thing to say? Of *course* it's a game:

o) "Stop whining, just go do whatever works for your table!" is a rude thing to tell people who're discussing things *to figure out* what will work for their table;
p) "You're wasting game-time!" is simply nonsense, since half the point of discussing things online is to get the rules ironed out *before* gameday;
q) Some people enjoy pushing fluff to its illogical extremes as a thought experiment, and telling those people to "stop examining it so closely, it'll ruin your enjoyment of the game!" makes as little sense as telling a minis gamer not to paint because painted miniatures ruin the game.

Also, this isn't related to anything else, it's just something that I've noticed: nine times out of ten on those forums, if somebody complains that a discussion is circular or going around in circles, what's actually happening is that the complainer has gotten bored, confused, or is being a sore loser.

...aaand I put way too much thought into that.

Well, if you've read this far, I also wanted to say that these new pieces of art look good (plus the Aurora and Claymore wouldn't look half bad in lego form), and I'm looking forward to the concept art chapter and the custom record sheets. It's almost a pity to see the old cover go; will it get bumped to the art chapter?

Steven Satak said...

Hmmm... so you're saying I erred in siding with the original poster, who said that he felt there was a distinct lack of 'crappy assault 'Mechs'' when compared to that statement made in the 3025.

Yah, maybe a judgement error on his part and mine - they're all crap except for a few variants. What I was pointing out, I think, was that (1) my explanation seemed to be ignored. Not refuted, not agreed with, not mocked - just ignored. And (2) several of the alternatives which seemed to enjoy lively discussion were those involving 'in-universe' reasons explaining the supposed writer's 'error'.

SkilTao said...

My point isn't whether you're right or wrong, it's how you entered the discussion. I mean, you didn't acknowledge the 20 posts ahead of yours either, right? That makes you look like you had already dismissed those arguments, which leaves very little ground for anyone to respond to you from. (Members there don't usually post to say "oh, that makes sense," especially if it means admitting they'd overlooked an embarassingly simple explanation). Any other response risks kicking off a flame war, and the first few pages look like folks who generally try to avoid starting trouble.

As someone who does leap to defend the old writing, I've got to say, I saw only a few in-universe justifications (the official party line, itself an excuse to ignore in-universe explanations; C-Bill efficiency; some hypothetical and unprovable fluff-tech flaws; a tangent; player force selection came up twice) and I don't think any of them got more than an off-handed reply or two? The rest all ultimately stemmed from deciding if the writer had made a mistake outside the storyline.

You're absolutely right that folks seem less willing to discuss writer error or the direction of the company; I suspect that kind of thing has become a can of worms that most people just don't want to touch.

Steven Satak said...

I think I see what you mean. I expect folks to comment on my theories, but don't even give acknowledgement to the ones that came before. Or maybe, just glanced over them and formed an opinion that justified a mini-rant.

The can of worms is definitely there, that's for sure. Probably not as much fun speculating on that, either.