Friday, May 25, 2012

Back to Three Weeks and Counting...

TRO Artwork - Bonus Section
Cover by William S. Burt

Welcome back! 

It has been four years of hard work and many, many false alarms that we were ‘finishing the TRO’.

You have all been patient.  For this I give thanks.  KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR UPDATES!!!

Here is where we stand:

The Fan-Made Record Sheets

- The Record Sheets are done, proofed and entered into a book format.  This book has covers, front and back, provided by Bill Burt.  I took advice from readers and downloaded PDFill, a software suite that allowed me to turn PDFs into image files.  We went in and, using the templates from MegaMek Lab (MML), built by hand the sheets that MML could not produce itself.  We also trimmed the entire lot of record sheets and added our own stamp, as you can see below.

It was a lot of work and I made quite a few mistakes, but we got our VTOLs, our aerospace fighters and vehicles using fractional accounting nailed down.  We even assembled the Magistracy’s Thunderbolt using this method.

All of the record sheets use the images provided by Denis Pottk√§mper of Germany.  I had to supply a couple of extra pieces, but he did a hell of a lot of good, solid work and my hat is off to him.  Thank you, Denis!

***UPDATE***  Oh... my... Gosh!!  If someone had come up to me at the end of May and told me that I accidentally put a jump jet in the right *arm* of the Free Worlds League Vulcan, I would have laughed them off.  I repaired that error and several others last night, courtesy of Eric S. Smith.  The 'S' stands for 'Sho' Nuff' when it comes to spotting errors, and while he may be persona non grata over at the company boards, he is welcome to come to dinner at my house any time.  Thank you, Eric.  Now get back to work and find all the rest of the record sheet bugs before we go live!!!

The Fan-Made TRO:3063

- The TRO has been assembled and put into book form.  With the exception of one last piece, it is done.  Chris Daranouvong and Anthony Scroggins finished the cover.  It looks amazing… keeping the original layout but adding polish and clarity to the point where you can actually see the pilots in the machines.  In my opinion, it is the equal of any TRO cover ever made.  I think you will like it!

Working as we did, we used the TRO itself as the ‘bible’ in the end, consulting the Master Unit List at the end to ensure our Record Sheets were complete.  Consulting the original collection of record sheets, it actually happened that the MUL had to be updated in a couple of places!  Between Heavy Metal Pro and MML, we got the numbers correct and I am as sure as I can be that the data has been entered correctly.

***UPDATE***   There is no love at the Satak house.  I had to re-design the Champion II for the Word of Blake [yes, I know... no one cries for the Robes] because in retrospect, putting TSM and Streak missile launchers together is a blunder of the First Order.  So I dutifully changed them out for Artemis-enhanced launchers.  More and different rounds in the expanded bins, more armor and still deadly.

 Then Eric pointed out that you cannot put a launcher in the Center Torso and its Artemis in the Head anymore.  Ugh!   Back to the drawing board.  Got rid of the TSM, restored the Streaks, etc.  Had to redo a good portion of the writeup.  *Sigh*

Once that was done, I had to go through the entire TRO and make sure the Battle Values listed agreed with what was on the Record Sheets.  The data for the TRO was pulled from Heavy Metal Pro v5, which is (sadly) showing its age post-Total Warfare rules.  The record sheets were created mostly using MegaMek Lab and conform more closely to the current ruleset.

Today (23June2012) I get to update the Master Unit List!  Wheeeee!!!

The Fan-Made Bonus 'Art' Piece

- The bonus piece, the ‘Art of the TRO’ is also complete.  We added another page and designed new covers front and back.  The cover you can see at the head of this blog post.  This bonus is going out to all the people who donated funds or time to this project.  I don’t anticipate distributing it with the main body of work.

- Chris Daranouvong is working on the Capellan Xuan-wu.  He is very good with line work and did the Xuan-wu on the cover of the TRO, so he is a natural for polishing this entry.  When he is done, we will update the image in the TRO as well as the images in the Record Sheets.

**UPDATE**  Chris bailed on us, so I passed the commission on to Stephen Huda.

- The 256 MB thumb drives I bought were a good idea, but sadly, they are too small to contain anything but the web-quality versions of the TRO and Record Sheets!

This brings me to print quality.

The Web Version

- The web-quality versions of the TRO, the Record Sheets and the Art bonus take up only 132 MB.  While this is adequate for viewing on a computer or Ipad, it does not print out very well.  We tested some print versions of the web-quality Record Sheets and while serviceable, the fine print found in the Combat Tables is not very legible.  HMP and MML produce sheets of much higher quality.  I have all the HMP and MML files on hand, as well as the images we created for the VTOLs and such, so if you want them, contact me.  You might need them to ease putting these units into MegaMek.  Or you might like the old-school versions HMP provides.

On a side note, the folks over at MegaMek online have put nearly all the TRO:3063 units into their system, and from what I have seen on the combat result lists, many of our units are doing reasonably well.  Your mileage may vary.

The High-Quality Version

- The high-quality versions take up a bit more room – 402 MB.  The record sheets printed from this level of resolution are usable, but the fine print is still a tad hard to read.

***UPDATE*** We dropped the HQ version from our options.  It gobbles up space and doesn't yield that much clearer a picture.   Eric has been experimenting with a way to produce images that are crisp but that don't weigh in at a meg and a half each.  I don't look forward to re-doing everything, though.

The Print-Quality Version

- The print-quality versions take up the most room – 662 MB.  Remember, this is all three books.  Without the Art booklet, it still takes up a hefty 630 MB.  But the record sheets look great and the art is crisp!  Keep in mind that the TRO itself is 265 pages.  The Record Sheets are another 235.  The Art is 53 pages.  The whole package may seem like a big chunk (and it is!) but we don't have access to the software used by the company and this TRO is pretty big anyway.  112 TRO entries, with 215 total sheets counting the variants.

Where You Can Get It

I am currently arranging a couple of places where the print-quality versions can be downloaded.  We will also offer the web versions for those of you who want this for your collection and/or don’t have the time or bandwidth to download the big kahunas.  Remember, you can use the record sheets printed from the web version – they just don’t look as good.

*** UPDATE***

Due to an emergency replacement of my car's radiator and water pump ($530), I have had to push our publishing date back.  Sorry guys, but I have to get to work.  We still have to pay our last bits of art off (about $130) and that will take at least another month at the rate I am recovering from the repair bill.

So you don't think you're the only ones paying the price for my not flushing my radiator once a year, my son's birthday gifts have been put on hold as well.  He turned 17 today (the 4th of June).

***UPDATE THE SECOND***  The car is running and I am still employed.  The coolant temperature sensor is buggered, as is the oil pressure sensor.  Gonna get them fixed this Friday (fingers crossed).  Paid off everyone but Stephen Huda and that should be done this payday (fingers crossed).

Other Notes....

I am also putting together a ‘Lessons Learned’ piece for those of you who are contemplating doing a fan-TRO of your own.  Let me know if you want a copy.

Finally, there are several disclaimers throughout the TRO and associated books that firmly establish that these are NOT official products.  I asked Catalyst Game Labs nearly a year ago if they had guidelines for what sort of disclaimers should be on a fan work.  There was no response aside from what Herb Beas III posted in the Lead Developers section of the company forums.

Despite a polite reminder three months later (which reached TPTB for sure), I still have no response.  I have done all I can to ensure we are not treading on the toes of Topps, InMediaRes LLC or Catalyst Game Labs.  If there are any lawyers reading this, please let me know if there are any steps I might have missed.  Good as it looks, in the end the TRO:3063 is, as one fellow on the company forums likes to say, ‘nothing more than fanboyish crap’.

You are free to draw your own conclusions.  [Several already have: it's GOOD fanboyish crap!]

Thanks for stopping by!



Darkkmercy said...

I stumbled across this while looking for some artwork and am amazed by the dedication of you guys - it looks great and already can't wait to see the final results

Darkkmercy said...

I stumbled across this looking at some battletech artwork and was amazed at how professional and great this piece looks - I would say it looks as good if not better then the official works I've seen - and as a graphic artist myself I love the artwork - and as a giant battletech fan I can't wait to see it completed even though I just learned about it :}

Anonymous said...

Can't wait!

JPArbiter said...

yes definatly I want the lessons learned paper you have built. I look Forward to seeing this in action

Suralin said...

I'd also like to take a look at the Lessons Learned paper myself. As well as the final TRO, of course ;)

Steven Satak said...

Email me at ssatak AT yahoo DOT com and I will send you a copy of "Lessons Learned".

Eric Smith said...

Sorry to hear about your car. I REALLY know how that feels. I have a 2005 impala that is paid for, but about 1-2 times a year cost me $1000-$2000 in repairs. Last year I maxed out my 4 times/year free AAA towing!

Granted, I drive like a maniac (100 mph+ anytime I hit a highway, and apparently my foot is either accelerating or on the brake, no in between)

So I gave you $50 as I truly feel your pain :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Steven,

First a late congratulation for your son's birthday, hope he and your family had a great day together. Nice to see this coming together and I can't wait for the finished product. Good luck to everyone involved!

Kind regards,

Maurits Donga