Category Archives: Interviews

Community Outreach – RoA Nitrox of Black Plasma Studios

Hunchback Normal

courtesy of Black Plasma Studios

Welcome to Community Outreach! Many of you were impressed by last week’s teaser video of a brand new animated MechWarrior series on YouTube. To find out more, I reached out to the teaser’s director, RoA Nitrox, who was kind enough to answer a few questions about the video’s development and how he became a BattleTech fan. Enjoy!

UPDATE: It looks like the video has been taken down. According to Nitrox, Black Plasma Studios received a cease and desist letter. Rumor is there’s some internal negotiation happening, so hopefully, it’ll be back soon. The response – before it was taken down – was certainly good enough to warrant a real animated series. 

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An Interview with Jordan Weisman at GenCon 50

So yeah, this one is coming is pretty late. I do apologize to the readers out there. After GenCon got really hectic for me professionally, and, well, it is what it is. 

At this point, the game has progressed a bit past the improvements of the then new patch that Jordan and I discussed, so I’m going to re-tool my original interview to be my impressions of the interview and of Jordan and what we talked about. 

GenCon 50 has come and gone. Wow. I have to pause and let that sink in every year.

I spend the better part of six to eight months in a year planning for and making sure that I get everything in my professional and personal life squared away in order to make sure I can make it to GenCon.

Now, that’s not to say that I do so at the peril of myself or those around me. No, GenCon is for me that one time of year when I don’t have to explain anything about what I do professionally or for fun to anybody. Everyone there understands it. So I tend to make sure I can go.

With the Post-GenCon Recovery Period (I swear it’s a thing!) still affecting some of us (mostly in the finance region), I need to take the time to share some key aspects of the experience. In particular, I want to share with you all the hour of time I spent talking to Jordan Weisman, creator of BattleTech and one of the heads of Harebrained Schemes, about the new computer game version of BattleTech.

A note on how I am going to reflect on this time. My recording app malfunctioned during the actual interview portion, so I only have the notes that I took from the interview. As such, I won’t directly quote Weisman unless I wrote down his exact phrasing.

First, BattleTech had a huge development release the day that I spoke to Weisman. They had just released the first multi-player backer beta build for the game, so the Harebrained booth was abuzz with fans playing the new version as well as many people standing around to watch the action on the screen, stand behind their friends, and just chat about BattleTech in general.

I met Jordan Weisman a little before our interview, stopping by to verify the time, and he said he was looking forward to sitting down, playing a round of the new release, and then talking!

Wait.

What?!

I was going to get to go head-to-head against Jordan Weisman in BATTLETECH?!!!!

I was already excited about the interview itself, but finding out I’d get to actually play a game with Jordan Weisman was icing on an already delicious looking cake.

So, the time came, and we sat down to play. We selected out Mechs and dove on in. My experience with the BattleTech Beta at that point had been in the 10-12 hour range, so I knew I was at an extreme disadvantage going up against Weisman.

I was right.

The following thirty minutes was a whirlwind of back and forth not-quite-trash-talking as I sent my Lance in hard and fast….straight into the wall of strategy and effective tactics that was Weisman’s way of war. My Lance got picked apart one `Mech at a time, and it was glorious!

After his pyrrhic victory, Weisman humbly asked if I’d enjoyed it, and of course I did!

Because I foolishly didn’t fanboy hard enough, I don’t have a selfie with Jordan Weisman for the article! This will have to do. Weisman is seen here showing off the Kickstarter flight jacket reward.

So then we sat down and talked about the game, much of which is old news at this point. But the highlights that remain with me can be summed up in a few points.

  • The BattleTech community is great, and Weisman and Harebrained love every bit of interaction they get with us. They live off of our energy, and then they give it right back us in the best ways possible.
  • The next phase for Harebrained and BattleTech in general is what Weisman called “outreach,” continuing to get the word out, and the established community is a huge part of that. Harebrained want BattleTech to find every gamer and to read out beyond the pull it has now to get even bigger.
  • Now that the core mechanics of the game itself are established, there’s still much more to do in the way of developing the story, lore, and the extended campaign. Even though we’re a couple of months down the road from when I spoke to Weisman, I know they’re still hammering away at making the campaign the best experience it can possibly be.
  • There is nowhere else that Weisman and his team would rather be than right where they, making BattleTech. They’re pumped up. They love our excitement for the game and universe, and they look forward to much more BattleTech in the future.

For me, this short game and talk with Jordan Weisman will be one of only two or three stand-out moments from GenCon 50 that I know I will keep in my memory for many years to come.

It’s not just a fanboy moment. I mean, yeah, it’s a little bit of that, but it’s also more. Jordan Weisman’s enthusiasm for BattleTech is amazing, and that really has kept me charged up for everything to do with the game(s), on the table and on the screen.

Thank you to Jordan Weisman and Harebrained Schemes for working to bring us this amazing gaming experience in our favorite universe. We look forward to its release, and hope for more after it!

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!

Community Outreach – BanditB17, Competitive MWO, and the MechWarrior World Championships

Welcome to Community Outreach! This week we speak with BanditB17, a MechWarrior Online Shoutcaster, MRBC league admin, and all around hyper-connected individual in the MechWarrior Online community. We ask him what it’s like to cast some of the biggest games in MechWarrior as well as help out with one of MWO’s biggest leagues. Enjoy!

Sean (Sarna): To start, who are you? Briefly introduce yourself.

BanditB17: I am BanditB17. I am a community shoutcaster and Official Shoutcaster for the Mechwarrior Online World Championship 2016 and, hopefully, 2017.

Sean: Hopefully.

BanditB17: Hopefully, yeah. I am one of the administrators for the MRBC under Doyle. We are, of course, entering into our ninth season of competitive play. I started playing around season four and then became an admin around season six. I also do shoutcasting for MRBC, which actually got me started, and then I was able to move into more awesome things, of course. And I am drop-caller and leader, one of the leaders, of MarineMechs Divison B competitive-casual team.

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Community Outreach – MRBC’s Doyle

Welcome to Community Outreach, where we here at Sarna reach out to learn more about other BattleTech communities and the people that shape them. This week we interview Doyle, the founder of the Mercenary Review and Bonding Commission (MRBC) league for MechWarrior Online. Enjoy!

Sean (Sarna): So, to start off, how about we begin with “who are you?” Briefly introduce yourself.

Doyle: I’m Matt Doyle. I’ve been playing MechWarrior pretty much since the start, competitively since the start. I’ve been involved in top-level European competitive teams since very, very early on. Ex-SJR [ed. Steel Jaguar], we broke away to form our own unit, which its current iteration is 9th Sanguine Tigers, and of course, I’m the founder of MRBC League.

Sean: What is the MRBC?

Doyle: Well, I would say it’s the most accessible and biggest, player-run competition these days in MechWarrior Online. We’ve been around a long time, so I guess we’re now the longest running as well. And yeah, it works as a league, hence the name MRBC League. It’s accessible to teams of all levels from the very bottom right to the very top. You can always enter at the bottom division and have fun, just as you can be a top-level team fighting it out for the title of Division A as well.

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Community Outreach – No Guts No Galaxy’s Bombadil

Welcome to Community Outreach, where we here at Sarna reach out to learn more about other BattleTech communities and people that shape them. This week we interview Bombadil from No Guts No Galaxy. Enjoy!

 

Sean (Sarna): Hi Bombadil! Let’s start with a brief introduction. Who are you?

Bombadil: My name is Daeron, or “Bombadil” to some, and I’ve been a BattleTech fan for about as long as it is possible to be one. I’m married and have three kids, have lived in California my entire life, but am currently in the process of moving North to be closer to all things BattleTech and MechWarrior (Piranha Games, Harebrained Schemes, and Catalyst Game Labs are all in the Pacific Northwest area).

Sean: What IS No Guts No Galaxy? That is, how would you describe it to someone who doesn’t know much about it?

Bombadil: Simply put, NGNG is a hub for what’s happening today in the BattleTech and MechWarrior franchise. With close relationships to Piranha Games, Harebrained Schemes, and Catalyst Game Labs, we cover everything from MechWarrior Online, MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, the BattleTech turn-based strategy game from HBS, the BattleTech tabletop game, as well as the many novels (both classic and new releases). We’re also content creators, and over the years have worked on or helped facilitate a lot of projects that we’re very proud of, including web comics, an animated series, and we have even released five MechWarrior-inspired music albums with hopefully another coming out in 2017. There are many talented people in this community, everything from artists to programmers, and we’ve had the honor of working with some of the best.

Sean: When did you start No Guts No Galaxy?

Bombadil: Phillip Langenberg (NGNG co-founder) and I started NGNG back in 2009 while playing MechWarrior Living Legends, which is where we met. We were also both a part of that dev team for a while. Back then it was really just a community Teamspeak server where we would hang out with our friends and talk about BattleTech all day. We launched the podcast in late 2011 when PGI first announced MechWarrior Online, which is really the start of what NGNG is today.

Sean: What made you want to start No Guts No Galaxy?

Bombadil: As I mentioned before, it started off as a community for our Living Legends friends, but then we noticed that the BT/MW community seemed very fragmented at the time, so it also became an attempt to bring us together to play and discuss our favorite game in all its forms.

We noticed that the BT/MW community seemed very fragmented at the time, so it also became an attempt to bring us together to play and discuss our favorite game in all its forms.

Sean: When did you get into BattleTech?

Bombadil: It was 1984. I walked into my local game shop, and the BattleDroids (before they switched to BattleTech) box set cover with that classic Warhammer image was staring at me from the shelves. It was love at first sight, and the rest is history. If my 12-year-old self only knew what I’d be doing 30 years later!

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

Bombadil: Easy, that aforementioned Warhammer will always be my baby. But being the old grizzled MechWarrior that I am, I am very partial to the Inner Sphere and their ‘Mechs, though I don’t mind salvaging Clan tech. I especially like most of the Unseen that I also knew from Robotech, such as the Marauder, Rifleman, Archer (Alpha Lance power!) and so on.

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

Bombadil: I don’t believe there is any version of BattleTech or MechWarrior that I have not played, including all of the video games, tabletop, and the card game. I’ve even played several fan-made games in various forms.

Sean: How has No Guts No Galaxy collaborated with official BattleTech content producers, like Catalyst Games and Piranha Games?

Bombadil: As soon as we started the podcast, and we knew people were listening, we began reaching out to anyone and everyone that had anything to do with BattleTech and MechWarrior, including both Catalyst and Piranha. Thankfully, both were very receptive, and we began to do interviews and sponsored giveaways on a regular basis. Most recently, we’ve partnered with Harebrained Schemes to host the monthly BattleTech developer Q&A streams on our NGNGtv Twitch channel on the second Tuesday of every month starting at 12pm PDT.

Most recently, we’ve partnered with Harebrained Schemes to host the monthly BattleTech developer Q&A streams.

Sean: Let’s talk numbers. How BIG is No Guts No Galaxy?

Bombadil: On YouTube, we’re about to reach 14,000 subscribers, and we receive an average of around 50-75,000 views a month. On Twitch, we’re almost at 12,000 followers, and have had over 1.25 million views. Most of our podcasts get 3-5,000 listens in the first month or so. It’s a small, but very dedicated and passionate community.

Sean: What’s in store for No Guts No Galaxy in the future?

Bombadil: As I often say, and I’m sure you guys at Sarna know this as well, it’s a great time to be a BattleTech and MechWarrior fan! With the ongoing development of MWO, BattleTech from HBS coming out this year, MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries next year, and the continued release of products from Catalyst, there’s a lot to celebrate now, and look forward to in the near future. All we need now is that movie we’ve all wanted! We will continue to cover everything as best as we can, including the new games like BattleTech and eventually MW5. We would also like to increase our coverage of the tabletop and novels with more regular visits from Randall Bills from Catalyst as well. Oh, I’d also like to get back into MegaMek this year, as it’s been awhile.

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

Bombadil:  I don’t know when this interview is going live, but I will be making a guest appearance on the HyperRPG BattleTech tabletop show “Death From Above” on Friday, March 17th starting at 6pm PDT. I’ll be working the MWO booth at the LANtasy event in Victoria, BC over that weekend (March 18th and 19th), more information on that can be found at LANtasy.com. I’ll also be co-hosting the patch-day stream live from PGI on March 21st, where we’ll be discussing the patch and interviewing developers while the client patches, starting at 10am PDT on twitch.tv/PiranhaGames. Finally, you can find me on the NGNG podcast, which we record live most Wednesdays at 6pm PDT on twitch.tv/NGNGtv, with our show archives available at youtube.com/NoGutsNoGalaxyTV and soundcloud.com/NoGutsNoGalaxy.

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

Interview with Jordan Weisman about the BATTLETECH game at GenCon 2016

At GenCon 2016 last weekend, we were treated to an awesome surprise: a playable Super-Pre-Alpha demo of BATTLETECH.

This game is going to be awesome.

The Super-Pre-Alpha demo was playable by anyone attending the convention, and featured a single mission where your lance attempts to capture a salvage base.  I had the opportunity to play it for a while and left feeling giddy and wanting more.  It’s exciting to see the game in such a playable state just 9 months after the Kickstarter wrapped up.

Afterward I stopped drooling over the game, I had a chance to chat with Jordan Weisman, creator of BattleTech (the table top game) and co-founder of Harebrained Schemes to talk about BATTLETECH.

BATTLETECH game

Nic Jansma (sarna.net): I spoke with Mitch Gitelman and Mike McCain of HBS last year here at GenCon 2015.  Since then, Harebrained Studios raised $2.7m in an extremely successful Kickstarter.  And only 9 months later, and you brought a playable demo to GenCon.  That’s awesome!  Your team has accomplished a lot.

Jordan Weisman: We have!  It’s exciting the way this development process has gone.

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Interview with Harebrained Schemes about the upcoming BATTLETECH Kickstarter

A few weeks ago at GenCon, I sat down with Mitch Gitelman and Mike McCain of Harebrained Schemes.  That week, HBS had announced an upcoming kickstarter for BATTLETECH – tactical ‘Mech combat for the PC.

Needless to say the community was pretty excited, and I was lucky enough to get some time with the two of them to ask what BATTLETECH will look like.

BATTLETECH_01_HBS-600x125

Nic Jansma: Can you both give me a little intro into who you are, and what your day-to-day role at Harebrained Schemes is?

Mike McCain: I’m Mike McCain. I’m one of the creative directors here at HBS, on BattleTech, and just finishing up Shadowrun Hong Kong with Mitch here.  I’m co-directing BATTLETECH with Jordan.

Mitch Gitelman: My name is Mitch Gitelman.  I’m the cofounder and studio manager of HBS, and I also make games.

Nic: I obviously saw your announcement earlier this week. Took me by surprise!  I’ll be honest, I’m really excited for it.  I know you guys have done a great job with Shadowrun, and have Jordan behind you.  And judging by the comments on Sarna and on Facebook, it sounds like the community as well is just as excited to see what this could be.  So we’re really getting behind you guys.

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A new BattleTech fan film in the works!

BWC Films Logo (Done by Adrian Johnson).

It was brought to our attention that there apparently is a new BattleTech fan film in the works. We immediately investigated the rumors and found it to be true!

In development by Bravo Whiskey Charlie Films (BWC Films), this new film blends live action with computer generated imagery provided by high quality video as found in the popular MechWarrior Online MMO game.

Seeking more details from this project and from the veteran owned and operated BWC Films in general, we sat down with BWC Films owner Mr. Tim Everett and went over several questions that we were burning to ask.

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New Interactive BattleTech Star Chart

In September, MechFactory released a new and improved iteration of their ISCP, or Inner Sphere Cartography Project. This was announced on their main page which includes an overview of its changes.

For more we asked MechFactory’s owner, Pheonix Wolf about the changes:

BobTheZombie: How and when did this project get started?

Phoenix Wolf: An early idea to create an interactive stellar map of all known BattleTech worlds appeared around 2001. That time we had only a deprecated 16 bit program and a text file with coordinates for 3025-era planets. I thought that a better, usable internet-based map would be a great tool for BattleTech players – especially for those people, who –like my team- are playing BattleTech RPG (MechWarrior was the name at that time). I took the data and began building the first mapping system on php/javascript basis.

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