Community Outreach – Pajama Boy Talks About Making Fan-Made MechAssault Game, Wolves

 

Wolves Cougar

Welcome back to Community Outreach, where Sarna looks out across the internet to see what’s going on in the world of BattleTech. This week, we talk with Ryan “Pajama Boy” Lalande about New Day Fiction and Wolves, the fan-made MechAssault game.

I was so impressed with Wolves a few weeks ago when I downloaded the demo, I decided to reach out to the design team to see what’s up. Ryan got back to me and agreed to answer a few questions on the creation of Wolves, how the team got started, and where it plans to go in 2020. Also, whether or not they have a plan if they ever get sued. Enjoy!

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MechWarrior 5 Mod Editor Has Been Released

Mad Dog

The MechWarrior 5 Mod Editor has arrived! Let the modders rejoice!

One of the key promises of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries has always been mod support. Mods, for the uninitiated, is short for “modifications,” although the term is often used as a catchall for everything from minor tweaks to entire fan-made expansions.

In the case of MechWarrior 5, we can likely expect some minor mods to arrive before anyone tackles a huge project like an expansion. That said, some pretty ambitious projects are already being discussed on Reddit, so we might be in store for some truly amazing things.

But first, let’s talk about this mod editor. What we have here is basically the same tools that developer PGI used to create the original game. PGI even released a guide so that someone with a little bit of game-dev experience can hit the ground running. For everyone else, a few helpful links to some Unreal 4 Engine manuals will give you some background info.

My programming knowledge ends at spreadsheets and HTML, so I will not be downloading the Mod Editor to see how everything works. I trust people with vastly more computer experience to perform such actions and report back if there are any problems.

PGI has said that they’ll be offering additional mod support over time and also mod integration and support with MechWarrior 5. For now, folks are using old standbys like Nexus Mods to catalog available mods.

The really exciting news is that people are already talking about what mods they’d love to see in the game. One mod that sounds relatively easy to do would add an entire layer of immersion to MechWarrior 5 while also sending a throwback to the game that inspired it.

Courtesy of Reddit user Shin_Ken, we have the ComStar News Bureau Mod. If you recall from MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, there was a computer terminal out Outreach that you could approach to get the latest news on what was happening throughout the Inner Sphere. It would show era-appropriate updates all based on BattleTech lore, which would be a really cool addition to MW5.

However, the big kahuna was posted a month ago just after the mod editor tool was announced. It’s called the MechWarrior “3068” Mod, and it basically takes you throughout the Word of Blake Jihad while playing as a MechWarrior in Clan Wolf-in-Exile.

3068

via Reddit

“In true MechWarrior style you’re going to see Blake‘s brutal retribution on the Inner Sphere across 3 operations, 3 planets, 17+ newly modeled, TRO-inspired mechs and an original score by Timothy Seals,” reads the mod’s description on Reddit. There’s a lot more, and it all sounds spicy in a very good way.

So far, I haven’t seen too much on this mod since the announcement a month ago, but the Discord is active and they’ve got some fantastic art and models already. Here’s hoping this gets made and maybe even inspires an official DLC from PGI.

I’m also still waiting on my Whitworth. Anyone with 3D ‘Mech-modelling experience should really get on that.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Community Outreach – CJF Dolgfer Roshak And Lego BattleTech

Welcome to another edition of Community Outreach! For the first interview of the year, I reached out to Dolgfer Roshak, of the German Jade Falcon Clan. He’s been posting his Lego BattleMech build videos for years, and I wanted to know how many Lego ‘Mechs adorn his walls (spoiler: it’s a lot). I’ve personally always loved Lego, and the only thing that prevents me from buying a whole bunch of random bricks to build my own ‘Mechs is my complete lack of space. And time. And money. Sigh.

Anyway, enjoy!

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Fan-Made MechAssault Game, Wolves, Releases Demo

Cougar

Courtesy of New Day Fiction

Okay, I know I’ve pooped on MechAssault before as not a real ‘Mech game, but I’m going to eat my own words for a little bit to talk about Wolves, the fan-made MechAssault game.

First, you might be wondering how this hasn’t already been sued into the ground, what with BattleTech’s somewhat litigious history. For that, you can turn to Microsoft’s “Game Content Usage” rules, which essentially allows developer New Day Fiction to recreate MechAssault ‘Mech models to make their own fan game with a few provisos–first and foremost is that they can’t charge money for their game.

That makes Wolves a completely free fan-made project that recreates the third-person ‘Mech combat of MechAssault pretty much perfectly. And now you can get your hands on it thanks to a newly released demo.

I’ve downloaded the demo and I have to say, I’m genuinely impressed. Although there were a few graphical glitches, the core gameplay is fast, smooth, and easy to pick up with mouse and keyboard. It’s still MechAssault, which means you’re spending a lot of time managing health and ammo by picking up power-ups, but some folks like that sort of classic arcade-style gameplay rather than the more simulator-style gameplay you get from traditional MechWarrior games.

So far, the Wolves demo is just three ‘Mechs (Cougar, Blood Adder, and Arctic Wolf), one map, and one single-player game mode that is essentially just you surviving against an endless wave of enemies. There’s not a lot to it, but you can definitely get used to the game’s combat fairly quickly.

The devs also have big plans for Wolves. They eventually plan to include over 25 ‘Mechs, both single-player and multiplayer game modes, new and old weapons from the original MechAssault game, and a new soundtrack composed by Elijah Compton and Jonty Freack.

You can get the full low-down on Wolves on the Sarna page, or you can go to the official Wolves website. There’s also a Wolves Twitter page, subreddit, and of course, Discord.

If you were ever into MechAssault, Wolves will definitely bring back those memories. You can download the Wolves demo here.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

All I Want For Christmas Is My Whitworth In MechWarrior 5

The more I play MechWarrior 5, the more I realize it’s missing something. Something that made my MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries playthroughs so magical. And I’ve had time to masticate on what that thing is since I had to restart my campaign as the preview-version of MW5 I’d been playing ceased getting updates and became incompatible with the regular version. 

Anyway, I’ve figured out what the thing is that I’m missing. It’s the Whitworth

Let me back up a second–the Whitworth was a ‘Mech I became introduced to way back in the heady days of MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries. It was basically the largest, most heavily-armed ‘Mech you could purchase fresh out of the game’s training sequences. You’d trade-in your old Commando for something with a little more oomph, and that oomph for me was always a 40-ton missile ‘Mech.

On the surface, the Whitworth wasn’t really all that impressive: it was slow, kinda generic, and had a goofy name that made absolutely no sense (who or WHAT is a Whitworth?!). But what it did have was 3 Medium Lasers, 2 LRM-10s, and armor enough to take a hell of a beating for its size. 

That armament meant that the Whitworth was ideal for taking out enemy light ‘Mechs (albeit due to MechWarrior 2 LRMs being more like Streak LRMs than regular ones), and the armor meant that you could wade through some intense fire without fear of losing your arms. It was also long-range, so engagements could be started and sometimes finished at a distance where your opponents couldn’t return fire.

For much of the early missions in MW2:Mercs, the Whitworth was my jam. And then, when it finally came time to upgrade to a beefier machine, my lancemate would often inherit my beat-up Whitworth. The same things that made it great for the player also made it great for friendly AI: lock-on missiles so it could never miss, lasers so it could never run out of ammo, and armor enough to take a beating without losing components.

There’s nothing like the Whitworth in MechWarrior 5. I know you get the Centurion pretty early on and it’s a strictly better machine, but it just doesn’t feel the same. There’s nothing in the same weight class that lets you boat up on lasers and missiles in the same way as the Whitworth (barring the Trebuchet, but I haven’t seen any of those yet), and while I love the Assassin conceptually, it’s really only suitable for raid attacks on soft targets. 

So here’s what I want for Christmas: the Whitworth in MechWarrior 5

What are the odds of this happening? Not good. As anyone who’s played MechWarrior Online knows, all the ‘Mechs in MW5 use the same models as MWO, and since the Whitworth was never in MWO, it would have to be made from scratch. That’s a tall order when there are plenty of other MWO designs that could be ported over to MW5, including the Vulcan, Dervish, and the Champion

That leaves modders to pick up the slack. Unfortunately, MechWarrior 5 did not ship with modding tools, and while PGI says that will be coming in early 2020, that’s still too late for anyone to give me a Christmas Whitworth.

And I also must admit, there are far more important mods for those with the skills to make first, such as replacing the ‘Mech voice with the original Bitching Betty voice lines from MW2, as well as mods to replace the music with bitching tunes of Timothy Seals (seriously, go listen, and then imagine those songs in MW5chef’s kiss).

You might think the Whitworth to be beneath the notice of an actual company trying to make a buck off of BattleTech. You might agree that the Whitworth is boring and silly, one of the many Inner Sphere ‘Mech designs that seemed to be cobbled together and then given a random name without much thought and done to just to flesh out the overall BattleTech universe.

To you, I say: humbug! No Santa Whitworth for you!

And as always MechWarriors: Merry Christmas.

Courtesy of Alex Iglesias

 

 

Randall N. Bills Pens Free Novella For MechWarrior 5

Yes, I know the big news is that MechWarrior 5 is out, but that doesn’t mean I’ve completely lost sight of everything. I mentioned in my earlier piece that MechWarrior 5 might be light on story, but you know what’s not light on story? An actual story that was written as a prelude to MechWarrior 5

Also, it’s free to everyone and not just MechWarrior 5 owners. 

It’s called the MechWarrior 5 Origin Series, and you can find it on the MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries website in 8 installments. Written by Randall N. Bills (whom you might know from his six previous BattleTech novels and as the guy involved in BattleTech development for over 20 years), the eight-part novella tells the story of Nikolai Mason and how he came to create Nik’s Cavaliers, the mercenary company you take over in MechWarrior 5.

Any amount of BattleTech fiction is, of course, a welcome addition, but a free novella? Free is the best price of all.

You can head on over to the MW5 website to download the novella’s 8 parts in either mobi or epub formats. Or you can get it from various online retailers for exactly $0.00. I think it’s pretty spectacular that someone managed to convince Indigo to host a novel for exactly zero pay.

The Origin Series also goes a long way to fixing one of the larger omissions from MechWarrior 5. I know that the game is geared towards getting action fans into a ‘Mech simulator game, but BattleTech fans still prefer to have a bit of backstory. Motivation is key, and with the game set during the “in-between” eras means that there are no galaxy-spanning conflicts to insert ourselves into.

If you use a Kindle (like I do), use the DriveThruFiction download link. That’ll get you set up. For everyone else, you can download your own e-reader to your phone, use the online store of preference, or just murder a tree by printing the whole thing out on paper. I personally prefer the less herbicidal approach, but you do you.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy. stay syrupy

 

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Has Arrived – Here’s What You Can Expect

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries has arrived! I’ve actually been playing it for a week now and I have some thoughts. It’s a solid return to classic MechWarrior gameplay and one that I think most of us here at Sarna will be happy with. I haven’t finished the campaign as I’m in no rush to run through all the story missions, but I’ve certainly played enough to get a general impression of the game.  

Before I begin, I have a confession to make. I was honestly not all that excited about MechWarrior 5 when it was announced some time ago. MechWarrior Online had left a very bad taste in my mouth after years of being a loyal fan. There were many reasons why I came to hate MechWarrior Online, but I’ll boil it down to the fact that it was just a bad deal. It asked for way more of my time and money than it gave back in terms of enjoyment, and no amount of me being a BattleTech fan was enough to even the scales.

I quit MechWarrior Online about 2 years ago and haven’t looked back–even after PGI started practically giving away ‘Mechs in sales. So when I heard they were making MechWarrior 5, I had pretty low expectations. When I went to Mech_Con 2018 and got to play a very early pre-alpha build, I still wasn’t very excited. 

Flash forward to December of 2019 and I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised.

It’s not bad. In fact, MechWarrior 5 is actually pretty good. I haven’t experienced any of the technical glitches that always marred my MechWarrior Online experience, and the overall gameplay is a delightful return to simple, solitary, giant stompy robot action.

A Return To Form

Cataphract

For those of you who haven’t played a MechWarrior game since MechWarrior 4, this game is exactly what you’ve wanted for 15 years. Perhaps moreso; MechWarrior 5 improves on the Mercenaries model that began in MechWarrior 2: Mercs with procedurally generated maps and enemies, available co-op play, and a whole freakin’ Inner Sphere to explore. That’s right–it’s all there. Every major House and most of its planets, just a JumpShip hop away. That’s pretty incredible all on its own.

The core gameplay of performing missions in ‘Mechs is pretty much the same as you remember from MechWarrior 4, only everything is improved. Graphics quality is good, although hardly on the bleeding edge of possibility with modern hardware. I don’t begrudge PGI this–they’re still an indie studio with a small team, and with that attitude in mind, what they accomplished in MW5 is even more noteworthy.

What you’ll really find to be vastly improved over previous games are the destruction effects. For the first time, you can take your 50-ton Centurion and walk that fucker straight through a building. It’s just how you always imagined it after reading all those novels. 

Building On Success

Victor

If you’ve played (or are still playing) Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH, you’ll find MechWarrior 5’s ‘MechLab has a lot in common. It’s the same general layout that bears resemblance to the classic paper schematics, but with fixed hardpoints. It also has a different view mode that drastically simplifies customization by just showing the weapons systems. That’s a great option for new or younger players that might not have the BattleTech background and just want to tip their toes into ‘Mech customization without feeling too overwhelmed. 

You can’t mess with the engine, but I think that just improves the authenticity of the overall experience. It means that you can’t turn a Panther into a Jenner and vice versa. It means that each design will always feel unique and there will always be a reason to want a Shadow Hawk over a Centurion if you value speed. Also, overhauling a ‘Mech’s engine was always supposed to be an incredibly complicated (and costly) procedure that put it out of reach of your average merc company.

Much like in BATTLETECH, MechWarrior 5 uses a similar tiered equipment system with four pips being the best and zero pips being the worst. This is also represented in the weapon’s stats, which you’ll be able to view in both the ‘MechLab and the open market. You’ll find the usual assortment of weapons from the year 3015, but you’ll also occasionally see some Lostech stuff like ER PPCs, Pulse Lasers, and Gauss Rifles.

Catapult K2

I’m of a mixed opinion here. On the one hand, that ER PPC was EXTREMELY expensive–prohibitively so at the point in the game where I saw it on the market, so this does a good job of making it clear this stuff is supposed to be extremely rare. On the other hand, the lore makes Lostech out to be something of legend and myth at this point in BattleTech’s history and not something you just see on the open market with a huge sticker price. 

Overall, I think MechWarrior 5 walks a fine line between appealing to BattleTech lore buffs and appealing to MechWarrior fans that might not care too much about why their Marauder has a pair of ER PPC’s long before the Clan Invasion.

One thing I really like is the new variants of Autocannons and LRMs. You can get burst-fire or single-shot Autocannons, depending on whether you want to feel like you’re firing a machine gun or a tank cannon. You can also get regular LRMs or stream-fire LRMs, depending on whether you want all your missiles to come out at once or to be sent out a bit staggered. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and it allows a little bit more customization than MechWarrior games have otherwise allowed. It’s a nice touch.

That’s Great, But What About The ‘Mechs?

Mechs

My early-release version of MechWarrior has a fairly limited number of ‘Mechs to purchase in the early part of the campaign, but I’ve been told that will change by the time MechWarrior 5 releases. From what I’ve seen, the ‘Mechs you fight are generally appropriate to whoever it is you’re fighting: Davion units will send in Javelins and the occasional Commando, while Kurita units send in Panthers and Jenners. Mercs will have Locusts and UrbanMechs, and everyone gets a ton of J. Edgar hovertanks and SRM Carriers.

And while we’re on the topic of units, here’s the full list of ‘Mechs in MechWarrior 5. Because I know that’s all anyone really wanted to know anyhow. Note that there are multiple variants for each ‘Mech, so consider this list expanded to be roughly three times as large when you include all the lesser-known models.

A few notable designs: the Nightstar was supposed to be extremely rare even during the old Star League era, so finding it on a list of ‘Mechs in 3015 is a surprise. Ditto the Raven, which didn’t even exist until 3024, as well as the Wolfhound, which didn’t exist until 3028. I suspect players won’t see these designs much during the campaign. I certainly haven’t.

Everything else looks pretty standard fare, but with the extremely welcome addition of Unseen designs. Welcome back, you beautiful bastards.

Light On Story, Unless You Look For It

King Crab

In terms of plot, the game itself tells a relatively simple story: mysterious bandits kill your dad, you take over his mercenary company to build it into a fighting force that can track down those bandits and exact revenge. If you want more than that, Randall N. Bills has written up a prelude novella that really fleshes out the characters and their motivations. For those of you that look for that sort of thing in your single-player games, I highly recommend reading them. Otherwise you’ll find the characters in the game act a little… stiff. And I don’t say that just because they don’t really move during the first-person ‘MechBay scenes.

Okay, that’s not true. I say that because the folks living in your Leopard-class dropship literally don’t move the entire time you play the game. It’s a small thing, but my gosh, it would go a long way to making those first-person dropship scenes feel a little more like you’re in a real space ship and not just some room with a bunch of robot-shaped statues and a few marionettes.

But that’s my biggest complaint, honestly. MechWarrior 5 is an action game meant to appeal to action game fans–it’s not going to bog a player down with complicated plots or characters with a lot of expository dialog.

I haven’t encountered any in-universe events in the game so far, but I think that was by design. They chose the year 3015 so that there’d be plenty of time between when the game starts and the next big event, which would be the Fourth Succession War of 3028. 

But Overall, The Best MechWarrior Game Yet

Awesome

I’ve mentioned BATTLETECH a few times and I think it’s important to address the fact that I don’t think there’s much point in comparing it to MechWarrior 5. They’re both completely different games that are providing a completely different experience. BATTLETECH is more narratively driven with character development and lore, whereas MechWarrior 5 is a more visceral action experience. I would even go so far as to describe the player character as a “dude-bro” just based on his in-game dialog.

BATTLETECH has also been out for over a year with several DLC expansions under its belt, and while MechWarrior 5 is definitely a complete game, it’s still not fair to compare technical aspects of these games either. MechWarrior 5 will almost certainly improve after its release in the same way that BATTLETECH did, and although I haven’t heard much discussion surrounding DLC, I wouldn’t be surprised to see something announced in 2020.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is the surprising sequel to MechWarrior Online that surprises not just for being a quality game, but also for recapturing the single-player MechWarrior experience. It doesn’t get everything perfect and I’m sure there will be loads of complaints from other players over time, but I can safely provide my seal of approval. If you were a fan of MechWarrior 4 and wish someone would make a new one, then MechWarrior 5 is exactly that.

Actually, it’s not just that. MechWarrior 5 also has all the improvements in gameplay that have accumulated over the past 15 years, so it’s actually better. I haven’t even done the co-op campaign yet, which I’m really looking forward to.

I know some of you are still kinda upset about the whole Epic exclusive thing. If that’s the case, then you can wait for it to release on Steam in 12 months. By then, whatever bugs were present (and my experience thus far has been bug-free) will have been ironed out and there might even be some additional content. But if you don’t mind another launcher, then you can pick up MechWarrior 5 now for $49.99. 

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy. 

stay syrupy

 

The ‘Mech That Looks Most Like A Turkey

UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that the fleshy bit hanging from a turkey is called a “wattle,” not a “waddle,” thus identifying a clear lack of poultry knowledge on my part. This has been corrected. The original story follows.

It’s Thanksgiving. In America, anyway. In Canada, we celebrated Thanksgiving several weeks ago due to our short harvest season and our reservation for the month of November to be one-half solemn remembrance for our fallen soldiers, and then one-half insane consumerism in the lead-up to Christmas.

However, Canada celebrating early means that I am reminded of American Thanksgiving with plenty of time to prepare an article on the subject.

How can Thanksgiving possibly relate to BattleTech, you ask? Simple: some of these ‘Mechs look a helluva lot like turkeys.

As is often the case, I found myself browsing the vast databanks of Sarna’s stored ‘Mech designs thinking, “Man, some of these giant death machines look a lot like a bird I’d like to eat.” So then I figured I should point out some of my favorites and turn it into a fun way to celebrate Thanksgiving in a very BattleTech way.

So without further ado, these are the ‘Mechs I think resemble turkeys the most.

Huron Warrior

Huron Turkey

Right away, I centered in on the Huron Warrior. Yes, that frilly bit around the ‘Mechs head is most certainly designed after the ceremonial headdresses of Native Americans, but I hasten to point out that some of the feathers on those headdresses were from wild turkeys. Thus, the similarity between the Huron Warrior and a turkey’s tail feathers shouldn’t be too much of a shock.

Stalker

Stalker Turkey

I have a friend who I used to play MechWarrior Online with. He always called his Stalker the “Murder Turkey” for the way it single-handedly dismantled opponents. I think it also had to do with the way the ‘Mech moved, which was sort of like a man drunk on wine and tryptophan, the sleep-inducing chemical that is found in roast turkey. Regardless, the squat and ugly Stalker is very much a turkey in ‘Mech form.

Mad Cat

I mean, how could we not discuss the Mad Cat (or Timberwolf, if you’re a Clanner)? It’s got the backward-canted legs, the bulbous body, and the missile racks sort of do a good stand-in for the big frilly tail of a turkey. Replace those racks with a bunch of lasers as on the Alt. Config A and it sort of has the roundedness of a turkey too.

Turkina

Turkina Turkey

This might be a little on the nose given the name, but what the hell. It’s a giant turkey of a ‘Mech if there ever was one. Perhaps more so than any other design on this list. It’s just huge, and menacing, and rounded, and weird in all the same ways as a real turkey. Just about the only thing separating the two is the Turkina’s lack of a wattlle.

Black Lanner

Sticking with Jade Falcon bird ‘Mechs, we arrive at the Black Lanner. This design is a little more predatory than a turkey really could ever be, but overall the similarities are there. Especially if we ignore the farm-raised turkeys and stick with wild turkeys, which are far sleeker.

Marauder II

Why not the regular Marauder? Because the Marauder II is thicc in all the same ways as a turkey. Plus it has a giant autocannon sticking out of its head in much the same way a turkey has a wattlle. Only it’s on the top instead of the bottom. Then there’s the legs, the body, and the capability for short bursts of flight. It’s a turkey, no question.

Maelstrom

Turkey Maelstrom

I’ve never really seen great pictures of the Maelstrom, but from what I’ve seen in the classic BattleTech art, it looks an awful lot like a turkey. Plus it spits charged particles and concentrated light beams while possessing enough double heat sinks to keep it cool, just like a real turkey.

Falconer

Falconer Turkey

Another Davion chassis designed to take on the Clans, the Falconer possesses the same bird-like qualities as the very ‘Mechs it was tasked with defeating. This also makes it look a bit like a turkey. You can see the rounded nature of the torso and the long, slender legs, although they’re not quite the same as the bird-like limbs of other designs on this list. Still, it’s got that turkey air to it, so the Falconer is on the list.

Rakshasa

Rakshasa Turkey

Arguably more turkey-like than an actual Mad Cat, the Mad Cat look-alike has all the same qualities of turkey-ness as the real deal. Perhaps more due to the somewhat smaller missile racks being more easily confused with a turkey’s tail feathers. Especially if you’ve had a few too many to drink after consuming an unhealthy amount of turkey and stuffing.

Did I miss one? Is there another turkey-’Mech that rightfully deserves to be on this list? Drop a comment and let me know of my horrible mistake.

And as always, MechWarriors: Happy Thanksgiving.

stay syrupy

 

Community Outreach – How Michael Todd Met Robert N. Charrette

So in my earlier article, I mentioned that I got to speak to Robert Charrette thanks to Michael Todd, a BattleTech fan and historian who’s got his hands in a lot of personal projects (some of which we’ve even covered). Michael gave me what I felt to be a rather touching story of how he and Robert met, and I thought it was worth sharing in order to prove just how small of a BattleTech world we all live in. I’ll let Michael take it from here.

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Community Outreach – The Robert N. Charrette Collection

If you’re new to BattleTech, you might not know much about Robert N. Charrette. I hesitate to call him one of the founding fathers of BattleTech as that makes it seem like there’s some sort of sacred text out there, but maybe “formative” father would do just as well. Robert penned some of the earliest BattleTech fiction, including Wolves on the Border, Wolf Pack, and Heir to the Dragon, and he was perhaps the third BattleTech author I’d ever read. All those stories introduced iconic characters that would define an era in BattleTech history.

But turns out that fiction isn’t even half Charrette’s contribution to BattleTech. 

So this sort of just fell into my lap, and I have to first off thank Michael “Sigil” Todd for tossing it my way. You might remember Michael from his work on the unofficial BattleTech CCG expansion as well as the equally unofficial TRO: 3028. Michael also did a huge amount of work creating the BattleTech retrospective Unseen: A History of FASA, Battledroids and BattleTech, which if you haven’t seen you should really give a look as it might just be THE historical account of BattleTech. 

During his endeavor to get to the heart of the Unseen era of FASA history, Michael met Robert and struck up a friendship. Then when Robert needed to downsize his enormous BattleTech collection, Michael reached out to me to get the word out.

That’s when I found out that Robert is the guy who made the vast majority of the original sculpts for the BattleTech (or Battledroids, as it was called back then) tabletop game. Those ancient metal minis? Robert’s the guy who made them. 

Well, maybe not all of them, but most of them. And certainly some of the more iconic ‘Mechs such as the Phoenix Hawk, Warhammer, Rifleman, Marauder, Archer, Locust, Catapult, and even the now-legendary Urbanmech. Yes, we can thank Charrette for the first three-dimensional representation of the walking trash can. 

Robert’s collection has gotten to the point where it needs to shrink a bit, so he’s looking to off-load some of his more interesting artifacts. I was able to briefly chat about what’s being called the “Charrette Collection” and what Robert’s contribution to BattleTech in general. Enjoy. 

Battledroids Lance

via Robert N Charette


Sarna (Sean): Well, first of all, what’s this I hear about you off-loading all your BattleTech stuff? Are you abandoning BattleTech and all of its big-stompy-robot glory?

Robert N. Charrette: Not all, just most. My personal gaming interests have drifted away and I haven’t played with them in years, but BattleTech will always hold a special place in my heart.

Sarna: You’ve been a huge part of the BattleTech universe for decades. I personally have read all of your stories, but I’ve only just recently discovered that you’re the one responsible for most of BattleTech’s first-edition metal miniatures. What’s the story there? 

“BattleTech will always hold a special place in my heart.”

Robert: I believe Michael Todd covered that story in his history of BattleTech. In short, Ral Partha pitched doing miniatures to FASA when BattleDroids was released. There was some reluctance to have Ral Partha do them since they were not a specialized producer of mechanical miniatures, so a “proof of capability” model was to be produced and I got the assignment, being the most enthusiastic sculptor regarding – I believe the term of art is – big stompy robots.

Sarna: How does one get the job of creating miniatures for a nascent tabletop game?

Robert: Being in the right place at the right time and having the ability to do the work.

Sarna: Are there any particular favorites from that first set of minis you produced?

Robert: The BattleDroids? Has to be the Wasp/Stinger/Phoenix Hawk family as they all were derived from the “proof of concept” model.

Sarna: But back to the “Charrette Collection,” as it’s being called. What exactly are you offering?

via Robert N.Charette

Robert: Michael has kindly offered to help with the “downsizing” of my gaming collection. Naturally, with his interest in BT, we started there. The first offerings are a mix of items from my gaming collection, which I painted and based myself, and other, now vintage, BattleTech items that I had a hand in or managed to collect in those early days. I’m still looking for that box of BattleTech sourcebooks and such.

Sarna: How can people get in touch to put in a bid or offer for these items?

Robert: https://charrettecollection.square.site/

Sarna:  What are you up to these days? Anything else you’d like to share?

Robert:  Mostly non-gaming things. 

For about 15 years I have been heavily focused on studying Armizare, a resurrected medieval martial art written down in the early 15th century by Fiore Dei Liberi. I wrote a book on the pedagogy of the manuscript I study, give presentations on it to academics and taught classes on it at seminars across the country and in Canada, and have been slowly, laboriously progressing on a series of books relating to the understanding and practical practice of Armizare, in and out of armor.

I am also back at the modern version of what I started out doing before I took up sculpting: graphic layout work. Computers make it both easier and harder than the exacto knives and rubber cement I started with.

via Robert N. Charrette

You can check out The Charrette Collection over on his site here. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a piece of BattleTech history, and the miniatures are all beautifully painted too. I totally recommend you check it out.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy