Category Archives: Community

MechWarrior Online World Championship Tournament Finals Have Begun!

courtesy of mechwarrior.com

The MechWarrior Online World Championship semifinals have begun! The qualifiers ended as of September 16th, and the top 12 teams in the world have officially been chosen to represent the best that MechWarrior Online has to offer for the World Championship. It was a grueling few months of near-constant ‘Mech combat, but after months of trials, the 12 teams have taken their place in the tournament’s double-elimination seeded brackets.

First, a brief explanation of the tournament structure as things are a bit different from last year. Rather than have a separate tournament for each region and then having the top team from each region go to the Finals in Vancouver, this year there are no regions and only the top 12 teams from around the world are invited to take part in the tournament. While this does mean that there are certainly more North American and European teams in the top 12 than Oceanic teams, it also means that those teams are on a much more similar skill level, which will hopefully produce some fantastic fights.

2016 World Champs

via mechwarrior.com

Also, rather than a large round-robin phase, the tournament has been simplified to be a seeded double-elimination structure. The top 4 teams will get a pass on the first round of fighting, and then it becomes a simple matter of losing twice and you’re out. This naturally means that the top 4 teams have a slight advantage as they have to play fewer games than everyone else, but it’s far from insurmountable.

And now let’s take a look at our competitors. First, we have Russian Jade Falcon Spikes, which seem to be an amalgamation of the MRBC League’s Russian Jade Falcons and Black Spikes teams. Russian Jade Falcon was relegated into Division B during last season of the MRBC, but Black Spikes came in second place in Division A. Perhaps the best of the best from both teams will create a world champion.

 

Next up we have two teams from the massive MWO conglomerate 288th IBR, The Black Watch and The Wild Ones. The Black Watch finished third in the North American Division A standings with the MRBC, while The Wild Ones finished second in the Asia/Pacific Division A. Both are filled with veteran players that are sure to give any team they face a run for their money.

North America’s second place from Division A last season return to the World Championships, with the Steel Jaguars finding themselves opposite The Black Watch in their first match of the semifinals. The two teams faced off against each other twice in the previous season of the MRBC, with each team achieving a single victory. It’ll be interesting to see if any bad blood remains between the two North American juggernauts.

 

Dropship Five appears to have also made the semifinals, which comes as no surprise to competitive ‘MechWarrior fans. Dropship Five had an amazing performance in the MRBC’s season 9 and took top honors in North America. They’ll definitely be a team to watch as the tournament progresses.

The fourth team from North America Division A, and finishing fourth in season 9, is Osiriz. Their first year at the MRBC established themselves as a team not to be trifled with, and their appearance at the World Championships cements their reputation. Osiriz will face Dropship Five in their first tournament match, and once again both teams have an even record against each other. Who will emerge the victor in their third face-off is anybody’s guess.

  Osiriz  

Our second purely European team to make it to the World Championships is The White Death Mercenary Company. They had a fantastic 9th season with the MRBC, finishing third overall in Division A. A strong team with an even stronger history will surely go far in the this year’s tournament.

We have a pretty amazing upset for our next team to reach the World Championships; Division B Stalwarts Phoenix Legion have achieved enough victories in the qualifying rounds to secure a spot in this year’s tournament. The only Division B team to make it to the semifinals, one simply can’t help but root for the underdogs. Let’s hope they continue to impress.

  Phoenix Legion

The next team to make the Worlds is The First Jaguar Guards, our second Asia/Pacific team to prove themselves worthy. The First Jaguar Guards did not take part in season nine of the MRBC and, judging by a quick Google search, that could be owing to some internal drama within the team. However, they placed first in the A/P region the three previous consecutive years, so this is definitely a team not to be taken lightly. Let’s hope that whatever internal strife that was present is long over and the team is ready to focus on their tournament run.

Europe’s dominant force, Eon Synergy, has once again come to the World Championship, and this time they’re hoping to bring home the crown. They had a commanding performance in the European rankings with the MRBC, only losing nine of their fifty total games. They lost to last year’s champions, Empyreal, in the final round of the tournament, and I’m sure they’re gunning for the top spot this year.

  TCAF

Europe’s fourth-place team in season 9 with the MRBC, the Tikonov Commonality Armed Forces, have also found their way to the World Championships, and they’ve achieved enough victories in the qualifying rounds to be placed in the top 4, giving them a by in the first round of matches. That’s quite the turnaround for a team that had a losing record in the previous MRBC season. Let’s see if they can keep that momentum going as we head into the semifinals.

And finally, last year’s world champions have returned to defend their crown: Empyreal. This team was an unstoppable force in the previous tournament, but a year has gone by, and while most of the teams heading to the World Championships have been practicing constantly, Empyreal did not take part in season nine with the MRBC. Will their lack of tournament exposure dull their skills, or will they once again stomp every team put before them?

  Empyreal


This year’s World Championships is shaping up to be the most exciting MechWarrior Online competitive tournament to date. We’ve already had one match played between Russian Jade Falcons Spike and The Wild Ones, with RJFS emerging victorious after three extremely tough fights. If this game is any indication, this will certainly be a World Championships for the record books.

The schedule of games can be found on the World Championship website here, however the exact dates are a little up in the air right now due to some scheduling issues between the teams. We should have a clarification on the dates shortly, so keep your eyes peeled for when next to tune in to the Piranha Games Twitch channel for more giant robot action.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Harmony Gold Suing The Company That Sold Them Unseen Images?

Macross

courtesy of Forbes

Looks like I was wrong about not having any more info on the Harmony Gold lawsuit that was revealed last month. Hot off the presses from Reddit (thanks to user iyaerP) comes news that Harmony Gold is filing yet another lawsuit, but this time it’s not against a BattleTech company.

It’s against the Japanese company that sold them the Unseen images in the first place: Tatsunoko Production Co., Ltd.

For those of you that have forgotten, Tatsunoko Productions was the company that sold the license for Macross/Robotech to Harmony Gold, giving them the right to distribute the anime in North America. Harmony Gold also argues this gives them the rights to the Macross imagery, which spawned the whole Unseen debacle.

 

I say argues, since it’s also come to light since then that the rights to the Macross/Robotech imagery actually never rested with Tatsunoko in the first place. The license provided to Harmony Gold only allows them to distribute the cartoons in North America, with the original intellectual property being owned by the animation studio that created the series, Studio Nue.

Harmony Hold has even acknowledged this ruling back in 2002, but so far it hasn’t seemed to stop them from suing anyone that even remotely comes close to the Macross/Robotech aesthetic.

Flash forward to today and we’ve just got word that Harmony Gold has filed court documents last week naming Tatsunoko Production Co. Ltd. as defendants. More details available seem to indicate this is some kind of arbitration case, but the precise reason for the arbitration hasn’t been disclosed yet.

Now the question becomes what does this mean for Harmony Gold’s lawsuit against Piranha Games and Harebrained Schemes? Will the courts finally side with our beloved BattleTech producers, finally ending the Unseen for good? Will Harmony Gold finally lose all rights to the Macross/Robotech imagery and never be heard from again? Will this spell the end of the pending Macross live action film that is supposedly still in production?

Nobody knows yet, but we’re all on the edge of our seats waiting to find out.

 

Forging the Road Ahead – Local Level BattleTech on the Rise

Hello, Sarna!

It’s been a while since you last heard from me, and so much has happened since I last wrote to you about our favorite game and science fiction universe.

What have I been up to?

Well, keeping the discussion to just BattleTech, there’s still a lot to talk about.

For the past year I’ve been getting progressively more involved in the Middle Tennessee BattleTech scene, growing gaming relationships and working for ways to establish a home and give the scattered players in the region a place to gather. I wanted to sit down and take a moment to share some of what the journey has been like so far and tell about what the future might have for our group.

The T-N-T Gaming Convention, in its first held on May 19-21 in Nashville, TN, was our first stop of the year, and our Demo Team Agent organized a great Alpha Strike tournament for us at that event.

The stakes at TNT were high, with the Grand Championship belt going to the tournament winner! (Photo by: Josh Koziura)

The championship game of that tournament is here chronicled:

After T-N-T, our intrepid Demo Agent Josh once again planned an event for us at Nashcon, held June 2-4 in Franklin, TN. This time it was a multi-player mega battle that was semi-narrative, and recreated the conflict on Tukayyid between the GomGuard and the unfortunate Clan Diamond Shark.

One of the rare Diamond Shark achievements, first blood went to the Clans! (Photo by: Josh Koziura)

Sadly (depending on your perspective), history repeated itself at Nashcon, and the Diamond Sharks once more ran away to their DropShips and away from Tukayyid.

It was after the Nashcon event that I had dinner and a conversation with Demo Agent Josh, and in that conversation it was decided that I, like him, would become a Demo Agent. Together we would share the task of trying to get local level BattleTech back on the right track in our area.

Fast forward about a month, and all of my paperwork was accepted and processed, minting me as Demo Team Agent #880. Now the fun could begin.

In the time since my official commission as a Demo Agent, I have been searching for a game store for us to call home, one that would like to see us grow and that would be willing to support us.

This past week, I made inquiries at a local shop in Hermitage, TN called The Game Cave. I was already acquainted with the store owner, so earlier this week I went in with some Alpha Strike demo materials and showed him what we’re all about. He observed a demo game of Alpha Strike, and afterwards we discussed things.

The first Alpha Strike demo game at The Game Cave ended in epic fashion, with the Dragon taking a 12 Critical roll from the Zeus. (Photo by: Dave Martin)

I’m happy to say that the Middle TN BattleTech Group has tentatively found a new home at The Game Cave, starting Wednesday, July 19, and continuing on Wednesday evening for the time being.

This is a great leap forward for the local group, and I’ve already begun putting the word out that there’s a place that wants to see us come in once a week to play BattleTech and Alpha Strike!

So this is where this article leaves you, at the jumping off point for a new chapter in a local BattleTech group’s journey. As it’s my group that I’m writing about, I plan to keep you updated on how things go. Josh and I are working together to get fall tournament events planned, and if The Game Cave works out, that would be the preferred venue for any future big events.

If you’re reading this in the Middle TN area and you’re not connected to the group, please reach out using any link scattered throughout this article or leave a comment below with a way for me to get in touch. We’d love to bring you into the fold!

GenCon is coming up, too, and like usual I plan on attending, with a schedule this is mostly BattleTech related. I hope to have things together enough to do another summary for you all like I did two years ago.

Be on the lookout for more in the story of the Middle TN Battle Group, and I’ll be seeing you through my crosshairs!

 

Dave

The Wonderful World of BattleTech Memes

BattleTech is a serious game, played by serious people. In order to sit down and roll dice and mark down damage and heat for hours on end, you have to give the game your utmost in sober thought and contemplation. If you were to get even deeper and paint miniatures, you must spend painstaking weeks carefully inking, marking, and assembling your tiny metal figures until they are poised just so on a battlefield filled with the corpses of defeated enemies (or past failed projects).

But within all of that intense solemnity, there is a tiny sliver of something poking through the formal facade like a beacon. For those willing to dig just a bit further, to reach beyond the pen and paper trappings and the dozens upon dozens of paperback novels, brave adventurers will find something truly wonderful underneath.

I, of course, speak of the life blood of the internet: memes.

Although BattleTech may have gotten its start just as the internet was being birthed, it has since survived long enough to enter into the heyday of image boards and computer game forums where all good memes are born. And since I thought we could all use a good laugh, I’ve decided to share a few of the better ones I’ve found with all of you today.

Before we begin, I’d like to state that I am not the creator of any of the images you see in this article (credit is given to the original posters where possible). I am merely the one kind enough to give them the spotlight they so richly deserve.

I Fits I Sits

via community.battletechgame.com user Bombast

We begin our journey with this gem plucked from the Harebrained Schemes BattleTech forum. As you can see, this meme is a combination of the already common meme that cats will sit in anything that they can fit their bodies into and BattleTech. In this case, a CATapult has found that it has the ideal dimensions to sit inside a Masakari, much to the chagrin of its pilot.

Happy Atlas

via community.battletechgame.com user Ink Sikes

BattleTech forum user Ink Skies isn’t the first to notice the unusual placement of the AtlasAC/20, but he may be the first to make it into a classic innuendo.

Orbital Assault

via community.battletech.com
user Yen-Lo -Wang

The BattleTech forums have a particular criticism of House Steiner military doctrine, which tends to field assault ‘Mechs more than any other great house. In this instance, the dangers of dropping an Atlas from orbit without a drop pod are obvious and poignant.

Scouts

via community.battletechgame.com user Red Dox

The next criticism of the Lyran military has to do with scout ‘Mechs, or more accurately their lack thereof. Although the jab at House Marik for their use of non-‘Mech vehicles is there to remind us that tanks are still a thing. I guess.

Steiner Wealth

via knowyourmeme

Mercantile wealth within the Lyran Commonwealth is the object of this latest meme, a colorful rendition of an Atlas with some non-standard armor enhancements. One might think they could prove useful in stopping a missile or two, but the cost seems to outweigh the benefits.

Raven Arrow IV

via community.battletechgame.com user Hayashi

We return to the BattleTech forums for this work of art which borrows from another popular game, Skyrim. In the medieval world, to “take an arrow” was actually slang for taking a wife, thus preventing the guard from going on dangerous adventures. Although, I can’t help but think a Raven would be nothing but scrap after taking a direct hit from an Arrow IV.

Urbie

via knowyourmeme

As a much-beloved icon of the series, the Urbanmech is host to a slew of memes which mostly poke fun at its unique appearance. This one reverses the trend and shows the Urbie for the fierce, uncompromising death machine that it is.

What it really is

via community.battletechgame.com user Smaug

Another common meme shows the different perspectives a certain topic can have in larger society. This particular iteration shows how BattleTech is viewed by various demographics before ultimately revealing the terrible truth of our obsession.

Awesome

via knowyourmeme

BattleTech memes are not all cheap jokes and shitposting. Some of them can be a wholesome celebration of a beloved franchise. An Awesome being snuggled by an inexplicably enormous Mad Cat is one which I find to be particularly heartening.

I’d like to personally thank the many artists that created these wonderful images and hope they continue to do so for many years to come.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

A Locust Love Story

I’ll be honest, I didn’t exactly ‘get’ the whole dating simulator craze. Even when the game speaks directly to me I’d rather be spending my gaming hours in a giant robot dealing death and destruction (or a ninja, or pirate, or something similar). But dating sims? Whatever, man. That stuff is for chicks.

Then I saw the trailer for A Locust Love Story and my life will never be the same.

Born from the creative genius of MechWarriors Krivvan and Halimede, A Locust Love Story follows young Locust-chan as she attends her first day at River City High. As a transfer student just going into her second year of high school Locust is entering the prime of her combat shelf-life, but she’ll have to be careful. There are mean ‘Mechs at this school, just waiting to eat a tasty little morsel like her for breakfast!

She won’t be alone though – Locust will meet lifelong friends who will help her draw strength to overcome the many challenges that lay ahead, as well as have loads of fun along the way.

Locust and Awesome

She sure is Awesome

“We got inspired by Hatoful Boyfriend,” writes Halimede in an email interview. “Story-wise we got inspired by classical visual novel tropes and just put a MechWarrior Online spin to them.”

“The story line was to be based partially on the somewhat rocky patch and meta shift history of MWO,” Krivvan clarifies, “which I figure was probably because we were both playing in some tournaments and the first MechWarrior Online World Championship at the time.”

The entire game is built on a visual novel game engine called Ren’Py. The engine is built on the Python programming language and is relatively simple to use. It’s also the foundation for a metric ton of visual novel games, the quality of which will range from something like Locust Love Story to somewhat less reputable titles.

Griffin and Firestarter

High school can be a mean place

As for the workload, it’s a fifty/fifty split between the pair. Krivvan does most of the programming, while Halimede takes care of the visual elements. “Most of the art (besides the title screen, I would like to take credit for that) was Halimede’s thing, and she designed the characters,” says Krivvan.

“For the actual art I made up some camos to fit the Personalities – ‘Pretty Baby’ for example got the darker shades and Purple for being a bit depressing and lonely,” tells Halimede. “Then we just took pictures of ‘em in different poses, some free flight spectator shots of River City for backdrops, and an extensive photo shoot with our heroine Locust-chan for the cover.”

The intro was as simple as adding “some effects like the flower petals”, and then taking some existing sound effects and buttons from MechWarrior Online.

As for why a Locust, Krivvan isn’t quite sure. “Maybe because there was something distinctively cute and petite about Locusts?”

Locust-chan

Locust-chan

So far the game is just a trailer with what the pair have been able to finish so far, but the skeleton of a truly amazing dating sim game is there. “We originally started when both of us were still active in the MWO competitive scene and it dropped by the wayside a bit when the World Championship rolled around,” says Halimede. “In general I would love to finish it someday.”

“And there are a few surprises planned that I haven’t mentioned yet,” adds Krivvan.

I for one am on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen to Locust-chan next. Here’s hoping that Krivvan and Halimede find the time to bring this amazing ‘Mech dating sim to life.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

Meet The Streamers of MechWarrior Online

If you’re like me, then you can’t get enough robot action to merely be satisfied with the time you’re actually playing a BattleTech game. If you’re clever about it, you can stuff way more ‘Mech explosions into your day. Lunch or dinner is the perfect time to look up a caster for entertainment while you’re munching down chow. Or how about a streamer in the background at work? Bonus points if you work in an office and can somehow weave random fusion engine meltdowns into your phone calls.

Whatever you do, and wherever you are, there’s a MechWarrior Online streamer who’s there to help you get through your day with a sufficient amount of PPC blasts, and each one is just a little special.  Let’s take a look at a few of the better known streamers to see which one might be the right fit for you.

TheB33f

As a fellow Canadian, it’s my privilege to begin this list of MWO streamers with TheB33f, perhaps the most Canadian thing to hit MechWarrior since PGI bought the rights from Microsoft.

The first thing you’ll notice when you watch TheB33f’s stream is his accent, which is a Quebecois accent so thick you can practically taste the maple syrup. Besides the sweet and sultry sounds, TheB33f is also a very skilled player and a member of the 228th IBR “The Black Watch”, one of the top ranked teams in Division A of the MRBC.

While you can pick up many helpful tips by watching his Twitch stream, his YouTube channel is all about having as much fun as possible while playing MechWarrior Online. He has high quality videos featuring some hilarious builds, all edited with his characteristic enthusiasm and humor. His streams also feature some of the best music mixes I’ve ever heard.

He typically streams every Wednesday and Saturday at 6 PM EST, but keep an eye on his Twitter as he’ll announce impromptu streams when he can.

Trainsy

For a more dedicated streamer, check out Trainsy. This guy actually performs his streams to thousands of viewers for a living and his schedule reflects that, being online and gaming from 2:30 PM to 11:30 PM PST with only a half hour break in between. As a professional, he has also completely monetized his stream so that nearly everything a viewer does (besides chatting) has a small donation price beside it.

As the name might suggest, he’s taken the whole train theme to a level that might not seem healthy. But hey – strong branding is important, and this guy has it in spades.

He doesn’t exclusively play MechWarrior, but as a long time fan he’s certainly got his giant robot chops as a tier 1 pilot. He’s also a pretty chill guy, and is more than happy to answer any questions he gets asked in chat while he does mostly PUG drops. Check out his Twitch stream here, and a secondary YouTube channel here.

Molten Metal

If I were to crown a king of most helpful MechWarrior Online streamers, it would have to be Baradul and his channel Molten Metal. Something about a German accent speaking flawless English that just makes every explanation stick, y’know? Or maybe I just have a thing for accents.

Besides that, Molten Metal really is the best channel for new players to learn more about MechWarrior Online. His YouTube videos are filled with detailed analysis of every choice he makes – that means both his build choices as well as his in-game decisions.

But don’t let the German professor persona fool you – this guy has some skill, as his Twitch streams will show. He doesn’t have a fixed streaming schedule, but he generally plays every day around 2 PM UTC (that’s 10 AM EST).

LokenPlays

We stay in Europe but travel to Britain for our next streamer, Loken from LokenPlays. A semi-pro streamer, you can catch him online nearly every night at 5 PM EST (that’s 10 PM GMT), although MechWarrior is only played on Tuesdays. He’s also more here for entertainment than education, but he is sure to explain his builds in between matches.

He typically plays with a group of friends to keep the witty banter lively, and he’ll bust out some pretty hilarious voices – usually just before exploding. Seriously though, if you’re looking for a great streamer to watch as he screams obscenities at his mate’s antics, then this is the channel for you.

His MechWarrior videos don’t typically find their way to his YouTube channel, but you can watch some pretty neat Star Citizen videos there. He also has a Discord channel and Steam group for those who want to join the LokenPlays community.

NoGutsNoGalaxy

What list of MechWarrior streamers would be complete without No Guts No Galaxy? As the premiere community hub for all things BattleTech they stream far more than just MechWarrior Online, such as livestreams for the BattleTech developers at Harebrained Schemes, the No Guts No Galaxy podcasts, or whatever else Phil and Daeron feel like getting up to.

Of the two of them you’ll usually catch Phil playing MWO, and despite being a tier 1 pilot Phil has a penchant for creating some very non-meta ‘Mech builds. Expect to see a variety of chassis that you don’t normally see in game on this channel. He’s also got a classic MechWarrior playlist, so you may recognize some tunes from MechWarrior games of yore.

Right now there’s a donation challenge running where you can compel Phil to play as a particular ‘Mech or at a particular tonnage and then give him a specific goal, like killing 2 heavy ‘Mechs or only targeting light ‘Mechs. It can make for some pretty hilarious games, so why not throw them a few bucks?

Expect to see some BattleTech streams from these boys as soon as the game is released.

Got a MechWarrior streamer that I missed but really should be seen? Let me know in the comments!

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy. 

Community Outreach – BattleTech CamoSpecs Online

Welcome to Community Outreach! This week we speak with Todd “Mastergunz” Farnholtz, a BattleTech Miniature painter and admin at CamoSpecs Online, the biggest site and Facebook group for miniature ‘Mech painting enthusiasts. We ask him about CamoSpecs, how it came about, and how he joined up to help define the unit colors of ‘Mechs the universe over. Enjoy!

Sean (Sarna): Who are you? Briefly introduce yourself.

Mastergunz: My name is Todd Farnholtz, but I go by the handle ‘Mastergunz’ on CSO. I joined the group in Summer of 2009 – just in time to get a single piece done and added to that year’s Gencon 2009 CSO diorama. It was a Word of Blake Raptor II and I rushed to paint it because the mini had just come out and wanted to display it on the board. I’ve been playing BattleTech since 93′,  so having an opportunity to be a part of the game I loved was a huge achievement for me.

courtesy of CamoSpecs

Sean: What is CamoSpecs? That is, how would you describe it to someone who doesn’t know much about it?

Mastergunz: CamoSpecs.com is a 100% fan run organization that provides visual references to canon paint schemes for the BattleTech universe. While we do get support from IWM (Iron Wind Metals) and Catalyst for special projects, the site and its upkeep is 100% on us. We are a dedicated group of artists that comb all available canon sources to make sure what we paint is accurate to what is written. We have even at times been asked to create schemes for new units as they were created by the authors.

Sean: When did you join CamoSpecs?

Mastergunz: I joined in 2009 after 2 failed submissions; finally made it in on my 3rd attempt.

Sean: What was the original idea behind CamoSpecs?

Mastergunz: I wasn’t around for the initial inception, which was 2 years prior I believe. The site and what it sought to do was conceptualized and inspired by the old FASA Camo Specs book showing the various paint schemes of the units in the BattleTech universe.

courtesy of CamoSpecs

Sean: When did you get into BattleTech?

Mastergunz: I started playing BattleTech in 1993 with the 2nd Edition box set after having played the old MechWarrior computer game.

Sean: And when did you get into miniature BattleTech making?

Mastergunz: I’ve always been a lover of all thing giant robots. Starting back in the 80’s with Transformers, Voltron, Robotech, etc… the 2nd Edition box set is what introduced me to miniature wargaming and painting. Kit bashing the various variants of the ‘Mechs was just something that we all did from the start.

courtesy of CamoSpecs

Sean: How long does it take to make some of these miniatures?

Mastergunz: I can’t speak for the sculpting side of things but painting a single mini used to take quite a while. In the beginning I would spend 6-7 hours on a single piece to get it to tabletop standard. As with all things in life, practice makes perfect (and learning to use an airbrush didn’t hurt) so I can finish a ‘Mech from primer to seal coat in about 3 hours now and feel it is of display quality.

Sean: What’s your favorite ‘Mech? An all-important question.

Mastergunz: Hands down the AWS- 9Q Awesome. I’ve never been a finesse player so something that hits hard and can take a beating is right up my alley. The 9Q is the original zombie. I even have a licence plate frame on my truck that says ‘My other ride is an AWS-9Q’.  

courtesy of CamoSpecs

Sean: And what’s your favorite miniature you’ve built?

Mastergunz: My favorite ‘Mech I’ve ever built and painted for BattleTech/CSO changes constantly as my skills improve, but I’d have to say my most recent favorite was the Zeus X4. It’s a solid model with a lot of dynamics to its assembly so it doesn’t have to be static.

ZeusX1

courtesy of CamoSpecs

Sean: What parts of BattleTech do you play? Perhaps a better question, what haven’t you played?

Mastergunz: I’ve played all the computer and console games, tabletop (both hex sheet and miniature rules) and little bit of Alpha Strike. I never got into the Dark Ages Clix Game but do own a ton of the models for kit bashing purposes. And of course I was a backer for the recent Kickstarter from Harebrained Schemes and am super excited for the beta to release.

Sean: How has CamoSpecs collaborated with official BattleTech content producers, like Catalyst Games?

Mastergunz: Yes. Our group leader, Ray Arrastia (who was recently promoted to Assistant Line Developer for BattleTech), is our direct liaison with Catalyst. We have been tasked with working on art for almost all of the books released in the last several years, most recently the Combat Manual: Mercenaries book and Alpha Strike.

courtesy of CamoSpecs

Sean: Let’s talk numbers. How BIG is CamoSpecs?

Mastergunz: CamoSpecs is currently a stable of about 15-20 painters, though only 6-10 of us are fairly active. You have to remember that this is a purely voluntary group and so we do what we can as real life allows.

Sean: What’s in store for CamoSpecs in the future?

Mastergunz: The million dollar question. Well I can say we have been working behind the scenes to keep things going via Facebook, mostly. Since we lost our server host in 2015 it has been a task to try and set up something that was as comprehensive and easy to use as the original site. Again, as a fan run volunteer group the time needed to essentially build a new site from the ground up is prohibitive but we are working on something right now.

courtesy of CamoSpecs

Sean: Anything else you’d like to share? Feel free to get shamelessly self-promoty :)

Mastergunz: BattleTech is my first love in miniature wargaming, and so I want to say thanks to all my fellow artist who over the years have pushed me to be better and became very good friends of mine – meeting up at cons and such. I can honestly say I would not be the artist I am today if not for their constructive criticism over the years and seeing the stuff they were turning out and making me say to myself “I want to learn to do that technique!”.

Shameless self plug time! To see some of my more recent BattleTech work (as well as not BattleTech) you can visit my painting page, Mastergunz Paint Worx, on Facebook and YouTube.

Also, some of my fellow CSO artist have a pages as well: “Captain of the Watch” Ed Smith on his Facebook page, and “B1BFlyer” Ryan Peterson runs a YouTube channel for CSO with lots of very cool tutorial videos up.

Incredible thanks to Mastergunz for agreeing to sit down with us. Tune in next time for more Community Outreach!

Mech_Con 2017 Announced!

As was widely expected with the enormous success of last year’s convention, Mech_Con 2017 has been announced on the PGI forums as well as the Mech_Con website. The convention will be held on December 9 at the Pinnacle Hotel Harbor Front in Vancouver Canada.

Last year’s Mech_Con was an incredibly exciting time with the MechWarrior Online Grand Finals taking center stage. In addition to the culmination of the worldwide MechWarrior tournament there were presentations from Harebrained Schemes on the upcoming BattleTech game as well as the announcement of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. Last year’s announcements have paved the way for this year’s convention to have demo stations for both MechWarrior 5 and BattleTech, giving everyone a hands-on preview of these hotly anticipated titles.

As with last year we can expect to see cadres of developers from both PGI and Harebrained Schemes, along with contingents from Catalyst Game Labs selling the latest in BattleTech swag. Con attendees will also have their chance at prizes and giveaways from the convention as well as the chance to rub elbows with developers from all walks of the BattleTech universe.

While the announcement of Mech_Con didn’t provide any details concerning the MechWarrior Online World Championships, the listed events for Mech_Con includes “2017 MechWarrior Online World Championship Grand Finals”, so we can rest assured that further information is certainly forthcoming.

All indications seem that this year’s Mech_Con will be bigger than ever, so order your tickets now before they sell out!

MRBC Season 9 Check-In

Welcome to another MRBC roundup. It’s been nearly 4 weeks since our last peak at the MRBC, and the league is starting to take shape and provide us with this year’s contenders. This early in the season it’s still anybody’s game, but we take a look at the front runners in the top divisions across each region.

Eon Synergy

In Europe the fight is turning out to be between Eon Synergy and Black Spikes Team 2 “Yellow Submarine” (which is easily the longest and most confusing title in the league), with both teams having a combined 15 drops won and 5 drops lost. Eon Synergy edges out Yellow Submarine in the all important reputation score but only by a mere 75 points, which can easily be regained by one team getting a few extra kills during a match. The two teams have met only once so far in a close game that saw Yellow Submarine the victor in 3 drops to 2. Notable in that game was a pair of drops where Yellow Submarine shutout Eon Synergy, destroying all their ‘Mechs. The two team are scheduled for a rematch on May 18th, and I’m sure Eon Synergy will be out for blood.

Osiriz

North America is becoming a three-way race between Osiriz, Dropship 5, and the 228th IBR “Black Watch”. While Osiriz leads the division with 5375 points, the other two teams have yet to play their fourth match of the season, which could easily catapult either of them into the lead. Osiriz has played the 228th once this season, resulting in a near blowout with 228th taking 4 out of 5 drops. Dropship 5 has fought neither of the other two leaders so it remains largely unknown how they’ll fare, but it should be noted that Dropship 5 has not had a single lost drop this season, leading some to speculate they are merely waiting for their victorious matches to take the top position in the division.

VETO

The Asia Pacific Region is also turning into a bit of a three-way race between the 228th IBR “The Wild Ones”, Veto, and The Cheapskates. The Wild Ones are currently in the lead with 4200 points, however both Veto and The Cheapskates have yet to have their fourth match. The two are set to have their first meeting on May 12th, which will surely leapfrog the victor into first place for the division. The Wild Ones are far from out of the race, and it’s anyone’s game in the Pacific rim.

Division B The Race To Watch

ISENGRIM

Interestingly, Division B in North America is looking to be a far more hotly contested race, with four front runners vying for dominance. In first place is ISENGRIM, a team which has crawled their way up from Division E and are looking to break into the Division A roster. Hot on their heels are three Division B veteran teams: Marine Mech’s: The Cabal, Blackstone Knights, and the 373rd Winged Viper Cluster (Smoke Adders). Most of these teams have met each other across the field of combat, and many of these matches have gone down to a single surviving ‘Mech.

MarineMechs

MarineMechs versus ISENGRIM was a particularly brutal match, with no team taking a ‘Mech off the battlefield that wasn’t fit for scrap. That is, except for the last match, where MechWarrior mdmzero0 suffered an unfortunate disconnect, taking his 100 ton Atlas essentially out of the drop. The sight of a rampaging and freshly painted Atlas would have been terrifying were it not for the match timer ticking down to ISENGRIM’s victory. A real heart breaker for MarineMechs. 

If you’re looking for some exciting matches, keep an eye on the Division B of MRBC’s upcoming shoutcasts. You’re sure to see some intense ‘Mech combat. 

That’s it for our latest recap of the MRBC season 9 standings. We’ll check back in later on the in the season to see if these tight races have any clear breakaways that could give us a preview for the upcoming MechWarrior World Championships coming this summer.

Until next time, ‘Mech fans. Stay syrupy.  

The Gathering Storm: A BattleTech Animated Remake

A lot of us will look back at Saturday morning cartoons from our childhoods and wish they’d bring them back. Sometimes it even happens – just look at Samurai Jack and Power Puff Girls. For most of us it remains just a wistful dream.  

But not for everyone. Some of us decide to take action. And one of us decided to remake the BattleTech cartoon.

It may be just the first 5 minutes, but it’s something to build on, and in all the technical ways certainly an improvement over the original. Try comparing the two:

I managed to track down the man who spent the blood, sweat, and tears to bring this classic back to life and asked him a few questions on his work.  

“When I first saw the BattleTech cartoon some years back I was completely blown away,” Vux tells me in an email interview. “That epicly badass introduction scene for the clans sent a die-hard clanner like me completely over the moon.”

Vux had been a BattleTech fan for a long time. An avid MechWarrior Online player, he’s done quite a few tongue-in-cheek introductory videos for new players on his YouTube channel already. Then, years later, he had an idea to bring back some of that original Saturday morning BattleTech magic.

“The vision I had was a shot-for-shot remake of the cartoon, with adaptations and additions as appropriate,” he writes, thus beginning a labour of love. “I started planning it with my MWO pals October of last year. I wanted to keep the script and dialogue very faithful to the original, with the intent being to mirror the style/attitude of the show (and its cast) as well as we could.”

The first step would be to get actual footage to use. “Luckily all the ‘Mechs featured in the cartoon were available to pilot in MWO,” so getting that footage would be as simple as gathering a group of friends to do some robot inspired acting. “All the battles and ‘Mech-y scenes were recorded with a group of nice players I knew, who volunteered (after only the tiniest amount blackmail and threats of lasery death) to assist me in some private lobby games.”

“We went with a slower moving ‘massive steel beasts’ feel, like in the cartoon,” which presented a challenge as the ‘Mechs in MechWarrior Online are generally significantly faster, and most pilots just jam the W button to go full throttle. Training his volunteers was difficult, as it went against everything they’d ever learned. “This meant dozens of (painful) retakes for scenes like the Inner Sphere ‘Mech charge scene with spinning camera, and the scene where Redmond’s ‘Mech dramatically steps into frame.”

Things got even more difficult once the shooting started. Since they were using a game to record all the footage, they had to work within the game’s constraints, which meant, “If the scene didn’t go right, we had to restart the entire map since there’s too much battle damage on the ‘Mechs to suit continuity of the scene at that point.”

As Vux tells it, this resulted in “A lot of strained nerves from my ‘Mech pilots, but we got them done just before people got completely fed up with me saying ‘okay guys, back to positions and go again’ for the 20th time.”

From Strained Nerves to Building Worlds

Not all aspects of the cartoon could be recreated in MechWarrior Online. Certain models, like the Batu fighters and the Dropships, just don’t exist in game. What’s a budding director to do? “I scoured the interwebs trying to find 3D models for the Battletech fighters and Dropship featured in the cartoon,” Vux writes, however most of what he found “were either not compatible with my 3D program or restricted in usage rights.”

“Then I discovered MWO player Kilroy’s archive of Battletech models and he was cool with me using them in my project,” he adds, proving once again how close-knit the MechWarrior Online community can be.

Next came the added challenge of adding this models into the footage already taken from the game. “I had zero previous experience working with 3D models, but I learned to use a plugin for Adobe After Effects called ‘Element 3D’ for the actual 3D work.” Still, learning on the fly was slow going,  or as Vux tells it, “I spent many evenings experimenting with animating and compositing the models with the MWO footage, hoping to make it both look decent and match the original scenes as closely as possible.”

Other scenes, such as the conversation between Andrew Steiner (Adam Steiner’s older brother) and Star Colonel Nicolai Malthus and the establishing shots of the Somerset Military Academy, presented their own difficulties. Once again, video games come to the rescue.

“I used Star Wars: The Old Republic to record the indoor scenes as it had the perfect military-type environments and big computer consoles I needed. I was able to create a Steiner character in the game who looks very close to his cartoon self, down to the scar and 5 o’clock shadow. I used what emotes were available in-game to get the lip-sync as close as I could to his lines.”

Unfortunately, Star Wars didn’t have anything that even remotely looked like Colonel Malthus, which was a problem. “I discussed options with my creative assistant (chrx) and we concluded it would be way too difficult to reproduce those scenes in any decent manner.”

After weeks of intense deliberation, Vux came up with the solution: “[I’d] introduce the clanners in a more suspenseful way – only showing a brief initial flash of Malthus’ ‘Mech and his transmission readout, not showing their faces at all. This way I could keep the attacking force very mysterious until the very dramatic scene where the clanners are revealed and Malthus makes his entrance with that deliciously over-the-top, ‘Your insolence has provoked the fury of the clans!’ speech.”

The voice acting is intentionally a bit cheesy and somewhat over-the-top, just like in the cartoon.

The last ingredient to bring his project to life would be to give it a voice. As Vux tells it, “The cast is basically just a bunch of BattleTech fans I managed to  sweet-talk into doing the lines.” Just like shooting the ‘Mech scenes, the voice acting had it’s own set of issues as not everyone in the cast had access to a professional microphone forcing “a few people to record their lines with their phones as that was all they had available.”

Nailing the dialog was also tricky as the cast couldn’t use their normal register when speaking to get the true 90’s cartoon camp. “This meant that the voice acting is intentionally a bit cheesy and somewhat over-the-top, just like in the cartoon.”

All that was left was months of editing and then it was released upon a wider world.

Wrapping up, Vux left me with a few words for his adoring fans. “I’d just like to thank all the fluffy people who have left nice feedback and supported my channel, you guys (and gals) rock!”

No sir, you rock, Vux. You rock.