About two years ago I reviewed a bunch of sci-fi themed mobile games that I thought might appeal to the discerning BattleTech fan. Among them was a neat little turn-based sandbox-style strategy game called Templar Assault that reminded me of a grid-based MegaMek if it were dropped into the Warhammer 40K universe. The pay version of the game included an ungodly number of missions and campaigns (100 levels at last count) where you could fight an array of aliens, robots, and other humans. Fighting in Leviathan Battlesuits- essentially Wanzer or Gear-size mecha sporting an array of autocannon, flamers, sword and axes, the Templar is an extremely efficient death machine. But not unstoppable. There is cursing aplenty as you start to lose your troops- a reason for a six-tier difficulty rating.
It was only the Trese Brothers‘ second game, and since then they’ve learned quite a bit about their craft and the business of making games. Templar Battleforce is now out for Steam, and soon for Android and IOS- their old stomping grounds. I also managed to get a few questions answered from the team- Cory, Andrew, and Martin Trese.
[Ron] Thanks for taking some time out of your schedule. By your standards, Templar Assault is a very dated game now. What has changed in the years since?
[Andrew] Templar Assault is coming up on its fourth anniversary. It has been one of our most loved games. In between, we’ve made 4 other games and gone through 2 KickStarters and a major game engine update. Everything is new, and you’ll see that front and center in the tactical game play of Templar Battleforce, rich soundscape and visceral combat.
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.
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.
With both the challenge and acceptance videos from the MegaBots crew and team Suidobashi numbering nearly ten million views in little more than a month, it looks like this good-natured rivalry is turning more heads than just those belonging to us big stompy bot fans. Especially with BattleBots back on the air… which, of course, brings me to some of the heavy-hitters getting involved. It’s no longer just a team of spirited ‘mecha-nauts’ anymore.
I mentioned in my first article about the challenge that the co-founders of MegaBots were no strangers to the media. But the crew they’ve managed to put together for this undertaking honestly reminds me of a 21st century Team Bonzai. And going by the new concept artwork for the redesign, the new Mk.II looks like a mashup between Robot Jox and Rocky IV- just dripping with ostentatious patriotism.
All this concept art needs is Captain America’s shield and Hasbro would be all over this.
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.
On October 15th, Aviation Week received exclusive access to Lockheed Martin’s Revolutionary Technology Programs unit; specifically regarding a new Compact Fusion Reactor (CFR) program lead by Aeronautical Engineer Thomas McGuire. McGuire and his team make a claim that uses a lot of phrases like “holy grail” and paradigm-shifting. How compact? The containment vessel in test unit is said to be roughly the equivalent of a business jet engine. “I studied this in graduate school where, under a NASA study, I was charged with how we could get to Mars quickly,” McGuire said in the article.
If true, this may ultimately be the answer to planetary energy needs within twenty years. With the initial testbed dimensions expected to just about fit on a truck bed. I know its larger and probably of too high an output to compare to, say a CoreTek 275 XL engine, but can power a small city of 100,000 people all by itself at one hundred megawatts. And this is just a working testbed due within the decade. This isn’t some guy tinkering in his garage in his spare time either, this is the Skunkworks; Lockheed Martin’s go-to gang of whizkids.
Compact Fusion Reactor cross-section. Pretty much looks the way I remember their BattleTech equivalents work.
Some of you might have seen this thread on the official forums where user Ion Raptor has been working on a mobile 1/5th scale replica of a Ghost Bear Warhawk prime. I asked him what gave him the idea for this. He answered:
“The idea was from a sad lack of BattleTech costumes besides the occasional pilot cooling suit. The MW4 Warhawk itself was chosen because of its blocky and imposing design. The prime variant was a product of finding shipping tubes the perfect size for PPCs. The Ghost Bear scheme came from the pilot figure I bought, which was a Max Steel toy that happened to have grey and blue shorts on. If I ever do one again it will either be much smaller or through commission so that logistics are someone else’s problem.”
The Invasion of Rasalhague reenacted at Gencon 2014
Hey everyone. This time I have an interview with John Nguyen, once of Heavy Gear’s Dream Pod 9 and now Vice President of Stompybot; publisher of developer MekTek‘s new project: Heavy Gear Arena.
Ron:I last saw an update on Heavy Gear Assault in a video last year from the 2013 Game Developer’s Conference where a demo version of the game could be played. What’s changed between then and the new alpha test about to launch?
John: We’ve come a very long way since GDC 2013. Back then, we unveiled a very early prototype of our game running in Unreal Engine 4. This was a feat in and of itself because the engine was still evolving. Since then, the engine has gone through a number of updates. We have continued to polish our core game mechanics and implemented key features such as internal skeletons to the Gears that can be damaged independently, the Gear’s unique movement systems as well as general combat mechanics.
Ron: I take it you mean the Secondary Movement System (motorized wheels or treads in the Gear’s footpads used for high speed movement over flat terrain). What’s involved with the Alpha test?
I’ll say this, the backgrounds look pretty amazing, especially compared to 2013’s prototype.
Having mainly missed PC gaming in the ’90s (with a few exceptions) I only recently discovered the 4X empire-building sub genre. According to the Wikipedia entry, 4X is described as: “a genre of strategy-based video and board games in which players control an empire and “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate”. The term was first coined by Alan Emrich in his September 1993 preview of Master of Orion for Computer Gaming World. Since then, others have adopted the term to describe games of similar scope and design.”
Empires in Exile, like Star Traders RPG before it, is a 2D grid-based game set in space. Unlike RPG where you navigate established shipping lanes and take jobs or explored colonized or surveyed worlds, this time you are the hand that establishes and guides an empire of your own. It seems similar in scope and concept to BattleTech’s Interstellar Operations, if it were played during the Star League era since you are essentially the Star Lord. Different factions within your empire quarrel, sometimes with trade restrictions or clandestine operations. And sometimes with open warfare. Either way, it’s in your interest to quell the problems at home while expanding your empire.
I am privileged to be able to work and actively collaborate with George Ledoux on several fan projects. His contributions to the BattleTech and MechWarrior communities have garnered him respect and a near fanatical fan base since he first delighted all of us with his color commentary of the Solaris VII matches MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries as the voice of Duncan Fisher and other voices in the MechWarrior 4 games.
Since that time, Duncan Fisher has become a staple in the MechWarrior fan community, and George has, in some capacity, stayed involved with the community throughout the final years of the MechWarrior 4 franchise, to the years of the community based mods, and straight through to today.
George is a friend of mine, and I am glad to be able to sit down with him, ask some questions, and share our discussion with all of you.
Dave:Thank you for agreeing to sit down and talk with me, George. My first question has to be about your MechWarrior/BattleTech origins. What was your first experience with the universe and the game(s)? Continue reading →
The canon of official BattleTech continues to grow, and in my endless quest to get to know the people who are shaping what is to come, and what has already passed, I was able to catch the ear of BattleCorps author Cody Ouellette just long enough to get him to answer a few questions for me about his personal BattleTech journey and about his dreams to write BattleTech fiction.
Here is what Cody had to say:
Dave: What was your first experience with the BattleTech universe?