RetroWarrior: MechCommander 2

I remember it taking a while to find a copy of this game that actually worked. I believe there was a technical issue with the software when it was first released. I’m not sure what exactly the problem was but it took nearly a year after my initial purchase to actually play it.

It’s another FASA Interactive sequel published by Microsoft, who had also developed MechWarrior IV. I like it about as much as MWIV. It had good production values, another decent live action cast, including a portrayal of Catherine “Katrina” Steiner. MC2 was a great game but like MechWarrior IV, it wasn’t groundbreaking like either MechWarrior 3 or the original MechCommander.

Control a larger force than ever before in a videogame.

Control a larger force than ever before in a videogame.

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Robot Jox: A Double Take

I recently watched reviews of this film by internet personalities That Sci Fi Guy and Cinema Snob, which prompted me to find and watch this ’90s sci-fi cheesefest. I’d probably rented Robot Jox a hundred times in the early nineties, but a few things stuck out at me that prompted a fresh look after a few decades.

Robot Jox is a 1990 film co-written by science fiction author Joe Haldeman and directed by Stuart Gordon. In a future after a nuclear holocaust, the international community has pulled together enough to form at least two socioeconomic factions. Somehow, war has been left behind, replaced by a kind of Circle of Equals involving giant robots sponsored and built by the factions and piloted by who amounts to a combination sports star and national hero. If you noticed my reference to the Clan Circle of Equals, believe me, I have a few reasons.

I can see this appearing in a TRO.

I can see the Matsumoto 14 appearing in a TRO as a resized heavy or assault ‘mech.

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New MegaMek Release 0.37.9

In anticipation of the next stable release of MegaMek, the first candidate was released to the public MegaMekon March 29, 2014.  Version 37.9 will hopefully pave the way for 38.0, as bugs are quashed while other changes are implemented.  Despite the experimental nature, more than 90 changes have been implemented for this version. MegaMek is a Java based program that enables you to play BattleTech against the AI or friends, especially online.  So if you’d like to try out the first experimental release to pave the way for the upcoming stable release, you can download it here. Post any comments about the version in the official BattleTech forum thread. Get your game on!

Your First Miniature

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Steel Kitty FTW!

I don’t know why I bought that Panther.  Maybe it was because none of my friends owned a Panther miniature.  No matter how badly I painted it, they’d still have to use it when we played.  Or maybe I just wanted my first paint job to be a smaller miniature, so it would be less imposing.  For whatever reason, I purchased that Ral Partha miniature, and then proceeded home to paint my first…well…anything really.

I had been playing BattleTech for about three months by that point. Ninth grade was almost over.  Everyone else in my playgroup had a bunch of miniatures they had picked up and painted.  It was time I do the same!  So I bought that Panther and set out to make the best looking Panther I could.

But I’ve never been an artist.  Usually I don’t enjoy crafts such as painting.  I grabbed my mother’s set of craft paint and began a project that took all night.  For five minutes I stared at the metal frame.  What did I want this thing to look like?  After consideration, I gave it a boring brown body, but I didn’t like that very much.  I used Steel for the PPC and Crimson for its eyes.  A touch here and there.  Before too long, it had become the Panther of 14 Colors.  I had even found a place for Lilac.  I sighed.  I had inadvertently painted the Rainbow Kitty.

For a few weeks, I brought it to game time.  No one used it.  Discouraged, I picked up a Stinger and Wasp and painted them dark grey, with just black and silver sections. I made them simple on purpose.  They weren’t elegant, but they did the job well enough.  And people played with them!

Eventually, I decided to reboot the Panther.  I took a bath with it, and washed it off.  This would be a new chance!  Forest Green was the body, and then some lighter greens, black, brown, and steel.  It was Forest Camo Kitty.  And yet, it still didn’t look right.  I think it was used once or twice in the next year.

One more time! I stripped off the camo design and painted the Panther medium gray.  It took about ten minutes before I realized that was a bad choice too, but I had already begun.  It was yet another sad attempt to make the Panther sleek and powerful – like its namesake.

Unfortunately, a few years ago, I lost my Panther and a few other miniatures.  I no longer own my first miniature experience.  Today, after painting about 250 miniatures in fantasy and BattleTech,  I can honestly say that on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 1 being my first Panther and a 10 being the amazing work I see online, I’m about at a 3.  It’s not my thing. But that’s alright.  It suffices.

The Panther stays with me always though.  You always remember that first miniature.

What was your first miniature?  How did it turn out?  Do you have any pictures?

Retrospective Look at Lost Destiny

Book Three of the Blood of Kerensky Trilogy by Michael A. Stackpole

Cover of 1995 reprint of Lost Destiny

Little Johnny Acolyte’s drill sergeant told him there would be days where a yellow Wolfhound on fire would come a-stompin’.


Lost Destiny concludes the Blood of Kerensky Trilogy, which was preceded by the rather good Blood Legacy by Michael A. Stackpole. We’ll be concluding our retrospective look at Lost Destiny as part of a continuing series of articles (starting with Lethal Heritage and Blood Legacy) to look back at the 25th anniversary of the Blood of Kerensky Trilogy.

BASIC PLOTLINE

In the aftermath of the events detailed in Blood Legacy, Lost Destiny picks up the ball and starts to run with it at a breathless pace. With the events of Kai Allard-Liao being stuck behind enemy lines, to dealing with the aftermath of the Battle of Luthien, to the crazy one-on-many battles that Phelan Wolf goes through to earn a Bloodname, to a daring raid done behind enemy lines, to the final battle of ComStar vs the Clans. Although Blood Legacy had a lot of action, with most of the political stuff done in that book gives Stackpole a chance to get into some really hot ‘Mech battles. All the plotlines come together rather satisfactorily, but leaves enough of a hunger to find out what’s next.

CHARACTERS

In contrast to Blood Legacy, the characters in Lost Destiny are starting to trust in themselves and their fellow warriors, and in the case of Phelan he really starts to come into his own as a Clan warrior, besting many obstacles that are thrown their way. They’ve taken what they’ve learned and start to use that knowledge as a weapon, and leading to some interesting situations. Although the main focus of the book is split between Phelan, Victor, Kai, and Foct, you get a really interesting mix of points of view and how these characters respond to the ongoing changes. Along with their confidence, you can’t help but to cheer on these characters on their adventures, despite the sometimes terrible odds that they face.

IMPACT OF THE BOOK ON THE BATTLETECH UNIVERSE

This book was important because, for the first time, you see Inner Sphere nations start to come together to fight the larger threat that is the Clans. ComStar surprisingly also is a fascinating addition, as some of the secrets of this order are finally revealed. You also see that, yes, the Clans are extremely deadly foes, but they can be defeated and are not invincible. At the end of the book you have a very uneasy set of affairs, but a relative peace. With the Clans being a now-permanent fixture within the Inner Sphere, everything that had gone on before had been thrown out the airlock and a new destiny for all those in the universe to be charted.

CONCLUSION

With the political groundwork already laid down in the previous novel, the attention to the battles, and the ongoing character development, Lost Destiny is my personal favorite in the trilogy. Highly recommended reading for all BattleTech fans!

Product Review : Technical Readout: 3145 The Clans

product-TRO3145TheClans_4398_cThis week in product reviews, I examine Technical Readout: 3145 The Clans, the seventh in Catalyst Game Lab’s faction TROs covering the late Dark Age era.

I’d like to open with another personal statement on my philosophy regarding ‘Mechs : I like tripped out units. There it is. I like BattleMech designs that take advantage of every critical spot and half-ton of weight. To me, the ideal ‘Mech incorporates the best of the newest technologies with the proven equipment of yesteryear. At the same time, I roll my eyes at “proof of” or “test bed” machines that throw new technologies onto a chassis without much thought on how to make them work together efficiently. Continue reading

Retrospective Look at Blood Legacy

Book Two of the Blood of Kerensky Trilogy by Michael A. Stackpole

After the conclusion of “Lethal Heritage” you’re left in a bind. Michael A. Stackpole left us at the end of that book with a heck of a shock. We’ll continue exploring Blood Legacy as part of a continuing series of articles (starting with this one) to look back at the 25th anniversary of the Blood of Kerensky Trilogy.

Cover of 1995 reprint of Blood Legacy

That dude is going to have a problem explaining that autocannon scratch to his CO.

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BattleCorps Author Interview: Patrick Tomlinson

BattleCorps Logo

BattleTech is a game and a universe that is driven by its lore. Many of us who love the game and its stories have a deep connection because of the novels and story-rich sourcebooks and supplements that have been published over the years.

While it’s been a few years since any of us have seen BattleTech or MechWarrior novels on a book store shelf, BattleCorps has continued the effort to provide us with the best in a continually growing lexicon of official BattleTech lore, continuing the work that the dozens of novels started.

We were able to track down Patrick Tomlinson, one of the authors who have recently contributed to the body of works found at BattleCorps. Below is what he had to say about BattleTech, MechWarrior Online, writing, and anything else he wanted to mention.

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BattleCorps Author Interview: Jennifer Brozek

BattleCorps Logo

The BattleTech universe has a rich history, full of lore. Developed not only by the sourcebooks and supplements for the game, the story of BattleTech has played out in novels for well over twenty years.

Today, many years after the last novel to be published has disappeared from book store shelves, authors continue to grow, shape, and expand the BattleTech universe through BattleCorps. Dedicated to expanding the body of literature available to fans, BattleCorps has been publishing short stories, compilation volumes, and even a few full-length novels since 2002.

We recently caught up with BattleCorps author Jennifer Brozek and were able to ask her some questions about her writing, her BattleTech story, and her experience as a fan of BattleTech and MechWarrior.

Dave: What was your first experience with the BattleTech universe?

JB: It was years ago when I discovered one of the BattleTech novels. I don’t remember which one now because I was such a voracious reader at the time. I remember loving the big stompy robots. They reminded me so much of Robotech—a cartoon I was a big fan of.

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Product Review : Technical Readout: 3145 Lyran Commonwealth

product-TRO3145LyranCommonwealth_09de_cFirst, I want to extend my apologies to the staff and readers for being away for so long. A few months ago I took a new job in a new city. (A rather large city, in fact.) It has taken me this long to get settled and to reach a mindset where I felt I could do a good job with these articles. I know the products I’m reviewing came out months ago. Nevertheless, I feel obliged to continue with what I started for as long as Nic allows.

In this week’s product reviews, I examine Technical Readout: 3145 Lyran Commonwealth, the sixth in Catalyst Game Labs series to bring us up to speed on the ‘Mechs and machines of the late Dark Age era.

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