Category Archives: Fan Projects

Your BattleTech News Roundup For February, 2021

courtesy of Eldosiousrex

Hey! We made it to February [Ed. well, Technically March, but we were a little late getting the news out for February]! I honestly didn’t think we’d make it this far. But we’re here and we’re all makin’ the best of it in these cold winter months.

As always, I’ve got some lovely BattleTech news to keep us warm. Well, relatively warm. Look, warmth is in the mind, okay? Let’s see what’s going on in the world of big stompy robots.

Patreon Springs Up To Make New BattleTech Art

Boys - Process of Creating
Watch this video on YouTube.

There are a lot of artists out there doing BattleTech stuff, and while a lot of them are associated with commercial BattleTech creators like PGI and Harebrained Schemes, a lot of ‘em are just doing it for free. But what if they could be paid to make great BattleTech art and encouraged to do even more?

That’s the idea behind Gallery 3025, a new Patreon founded by Renegade HPG (you might remember him from the recently-concluded BattleTech Animated Series remaster you can watch on YouTube). “Gallery 3025 is a community fund to support the creation of BattleTech illustrations and animation,” reads the Patreon description, with 100% of the proceeds going towards funding artists to make great BattleTech art.

Best of all, anything posted to Gallery 3025 will be “free for the public to enjoy and use as they wish (make prints, posters, desktop backgrounds, gifs, etc.).”

“This fund will also allow the exploration of brand new talent with fresh innovative vision,” adds RenegadeHPG. “What would a top Magic: The Gathering or LucasFilm artist come up with if they were let loose on BattleTech? A Marvel Studios concept artist? Will we discover BattleTech‘s Ralph McQuarrie with a project like this?”

I’ve just signed on for the low price of $2 per month (a $10 funding level is also available with some extra perks), and I see DC Bruins is working on an animation project that looks pretty cool. There’s also this fantastic piece from Dmitriy Leonovich (the ‘Mech is an original design of his, in case you were wondering). 

The more people that sign up, the more art this fund can produce. And if Gallery 3025 gets a LOT of sponsors, then I’m hoping to see an animated web series come out of this thing.

MechWarrior Online Gets February Patch, And There’s More On The Way

MechWarrior Online has received the occasional update to change what ‘Mechs are on sale, but it’s been well over a year since MWO has received a patch with any meaningful changes to the game. That’s changed as of February 11 with update 1.4.237.0, with a 38MB patch that promises to be just the first of MWO’s 2021 roadmap.

As discussed in previous web vlogs, February’s update is full of quick, simple QOL changes that MechWarrior Online fans have been requesting for quite some time. The reconnection time limit and early leaver punishment threshold have both increased from 2 minutes to 4 minutes, which will encourage players to rejoin a match if they get disconnected and also punishes players for leaving a match early. Unit recruitment costs have also been reduced to 10% of their former prices, while the cadet bonuses have been increased to better reward new players and give them a fighting chance against MWO‘s sea of veterans.

Several maps have had their dynamic time-of-day timer set to a specific time to better improve visibility, and bolt-on cosmetics are now truly bolted on and will not get shot off in the first 30 seconds of a firefight. The patch notes do say that PGI is looking for feedback on which bolt-ons actually should have the ability to be shot off as they might give players the wrong impression of a ‘Mech’s hitbox outline. Go check the MWO forums for that specific thread.

We’ve also got a roadmap for what to expect in future patches. March should include new player video tutorials, lower volume on the intro movie (a long-requested change), and a balance pass on weapons. There’s also going to be new ‘Mech packages and a brand new free ‘Mech available as part of a monthly event.

February’s free ‘Mech is the Huntsman Prime, which is a great little machine that I highly recommend. There are still a few days left to earn it, and then March will have a brand new free ‘Mech.

Honestly, the free giveaways are probably the best idea I’ve seen yet. My problem with MechWarrior Online has always been the awful price-to-content ratio, but free ‘Mechs (plus tons of other free stuff as part of the monthly event) does a lot to solve that problem. Plus, all these QOL changes are showing the players some real love. I might just give this game another chance. 

Check out the latest vlog to see what’s coming in March, such as lighting fixes to Caustic Valley, spawn changes on Tourmaline Dessert, and a long-requested weapons balance update.

An Atlas, A Battlemaster, A Wyvern, And An Urbanmech Travel To A Galaxy Far Far Away

This was posted by Matt Stanley over on Twitter. I assume he did it, so all kudos/stones should be thrown at him. Regardless, I thought it was pretty amazing, so I will only throw kudos.

A Great Tribute To Exodus Road’s Cover

Exodus Road from battletech

Reddit user aa-ron-dakota gives us this fabulous CG image that reimagines the cover of Exodus Road. It’s a landscape rather than a portrait, but that’s fine since now you can use it as a desktop background.

Clan Invasion Wave Two Set To Arrive In Late Spring

CGL just sent out a Clan Invasion Kickstarter update that confirmed the Wave 2 stuff won’t leave China until after Chinese New Year, which actually puts them right on track for my estimate of a spring delivery. Since that was my expectation all along, I’m not really mad or disappointed. Then again, I don’t remember what the original timeline was supposed to be like so I had no idea they were actually missing it. 

Also, quarantine has sort of removed whatever sense of time I had, so it might be August right now and the only way I’d tell is if I went outside in my snow jacket and just fucking died of heatstroke.

From the description Loren gave to us in the update, it sounds like CGL was doing whatever they could to keep to their original schedule. There’s a lot of cursing, a lot of exclamation points, and a lot of dates for when gears turn or are expected to spin wildly. Bottom line is that Wave 2 should start shipping to backers “by the end of May for a mostly-June delivery.”

That’s not technically summer, but it might turn out to be summer. Fingers crossed and all that.

MechWarrior Living Legends Releases Update To Fix Lag Warping

The MechWarrior: Living Legends dev team is back after a much-deserved holiday break, and they bring with them update 0.13.4. The big deal with this update is that it incorporates jedi95’s Crysis Wars Lag Fix code, which greatly improves performance for players with a bad connection. 

Crysis Wars has always had some pretty janky netcode according to the MWLL devs, who described it as “a thorn in our side for years!” Modern games have vastly improved netcode that can smooth out the bumps in a poor internet connection, but Crysis Wars’ netcode predates those improvements. 

Now Crysis Wars has a modernized netcode that smooths the gameplay for low ping players, with jedi95 even helping the MWLL folks ensure that his code was properly implemented in the latest update. MWLL players are already reporting improvements to gameplay, so it sounds like this patch is a big success. 

Besides the sweet netcode improvements, patch 0.13.4 brings a few balance tweaks to the AC/10, Clan ER PPC, Sniper Artillery, and Stealth Armor. For the full details, check out the patch notes over on the MWLL wiki here

Check Out The Raven In Wolves Wave 2 Mini Showcase

Wolves Wave 2 Mini Showcase (0.1.28)
Watch this video on YouTube.

UPDATE: I have since been informed that the ‘Mech showcased in the above video is in fact the Raptor II and not the Raven as I initially thought. Friggin’ chicken-walking ‘Mechs all lookin’ the same. Pajama Boy will give me some Raven footage to add later. Original story follows.

There’s also the Cougar and Mad Cat Mk II to consider, but who cares about them? It’s the little Raven that steals the show in this short trailer previewing the upcoming Wave 2 update in Wolves, the fan-made MechAssault game. 

The cool shit is that Raven is apparently just a prototype. PajamaBoy has since redone the Raven model to be, well, probably the best-looking Raven I’ve ever seen.

Now, I know that on paper, the Raven was never really that good. It got cut a lot of slack for being the first dedicated electronic warfare platform in the Inner Sphere (or should I say the first new EW platform in the Inner Sphere, since y’all remember the Spectre), but compared to other scout ‘Mechs, the Raven was slow, poorly armed, and poorly armored, making too many sacrifices in order to stuff all those high-tech gizmos onto a light ‘Mech chassis.

That said, there’s no denying that for most of us the Raven is the first ‘Mech that actually looked sexy. Those smooth lines and pointed beak almost made it appear to belong in a different giant robot franchise entirely. It’s no surprise that the Raven has found its way into pretty much every MechWarrior game since MW2: Mercenaries.

Still no word on when Wave 2 will ship, but here’s hoping it’s soon.

Real-Life Myomer Fibers Anyone?

Yes, we see this headline from time to time because scientists are always trying to find a way to make synthetic muscles. It’s just a mechanism that’d work better for a range of applications than something like micromotors, pneumatic pumps, or simple wheels would. And every time we hear about some research group making a breakthrough, we think that this is finally when myomer muscles will get invented. 

This time might be different. A research group in Italy made a synthetic muscle that’s not only capable of lifting up to 70 times its own weight but also capable of being made on the cheap. 

You can read all about it in the journal Science and Robotics. Researchers from TeCIP Institute’s mechanical engineering program made an “electrostatic bellow muscle (EBM),” which can act as an actuator, a pump, and also as its own generator.

It’s that last bit that’s very interesting since it means that these muscles can convert some of their own mechanical energy back into electricity and store it for use later. 

“The EBM could be promising for robotic systems due to its lightness, scalability, and adaptability to different tasks,” writes the researchers. “The added ability to harvest energy could also be an advantageous feature for autonomous battery-powered robots.”

These muscles don’t quite look like myomer strands (actually it looks more like folded pastrami, if I’m being honest), but that’s fine. They don’t need to look like myomers so long as they act like ‘em. You can see EBM in action over on Inverse

BattleTech Extended Gets Even More Extended In Latest Update

BattleTech Extended, along with RogueTech and BattleTech Advanced, are the three biggest mods out there for BATTLETECH. Where BattleTech Advanced focuses more on additional units and RogueTech turns the game into a roguelike, BattleTech Extended adds a ton of all-new systems to the game, like pilot fatigue, expanded skills, ‘Mech quirks, and even the Clan Invasion.

And now it’s getting even more stuff in update 1.9.2.0. A massive map rework, improvements to the Clan Invasion (now with 100% more Clan Diamond Shark), and over 300 faction and mercenary units have been added to the game, along with a large rework to shops and progression. Look, there’s a ton more added in this update and I don’t want to become a patch notes regurgitator, so go read the full notes over on Nexus Mods or Reddit. It’s a lot, and well worth your time if you’re looking for a new way to experience BATTLETECH.

And that’s it for February! Hopefully next month is warmer, drier, and still lets me get a decent burrito.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For January, 2021

Welcome to 2021! It’s a new year, and that means new beginnings. There’s a new president, there’s a new sense of calm and orderliness that--ah, sorry, I’m being told that only one of those things is true and that we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic that’s killing thousands on the daily. Well, great, off to a good start then.

On the plus side, BattleTech is still here, and it’s still great. Here’s all the news worth knowing for January.

MechCommander Gold: Prometheus Gets Beta Release

MechCommander Xmas Edition

We start off the January news with a piece of news I missed from last December because it came out over Christmas and I was knee-deep in the nog, if you know what I mean. 

RizZen, the guy responsible for the fantastic Darkest Hours expansion of MechCommander Gold, has once again returned with a new expansion: Prometheus. This time he’s straying away from the Inner Sphere and goes fully into Clan Wolf territory with a brand new Wolf-themed expansion. 

What started as a passion project due to COVID-19, RizZen describes Prometheus as the version of MechCommander Gold “I would like to have done in the first place while starting to mod MechCommander wayback 2016.” It will eventually contain an absolutely astonishing 200 missions, but so far the beta release just has 33 of the planned Wolf campaign. It’s also got all eight Darkest Hours campaigns, for a total of 89 missions. 

There’s also new voice packages planned for various new MechWarrriors, although the current beta release only has one of them recorded so far. RizZen also needs to finish the story writing and full briefings for each of the missions, which are planned for future updates.

You can download the whole thing over on ModDB and take a look at the differences between Prometheus and Darkest Hours on this comparison post here. Best of all, there’s no need to have the original game. Just like Darkest Hours, everything is downloadable as a standalone game.

Speaking Of MechCommander, MechCommander Mercenaries Update Delayed Until MechWarrior 5 Spring Release 

Drop Pods MCM

As we’re all aware, PGI has recently been acquired by EG7 and that led to a delay on the release of Heroes of the Inner Sphere, the first major update to MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, as well as a delay on the Steam release. On the plus side, MechWarrior 5 is also getting an Xbox Series X version that’ll bring MechWarrior back to consoles for the first time since MechAssault

This means expected editor updates have also been delayed which means work on MechCommander Mercenaries has stalled (that’s the mod that turns MechWarrior 5 into an RTS styled after the classic MechCommander games). 

But not all work has ceased on MechCommander Mercenaries. Redditor yrrot gave us an update a few weeks ago that showed a brand new drop pod model ready for game integration as well as a new repair vehicle that’ll let you do battlefield repairs while your ‘Mechs are on deployment.

Another planned feature is a Mechlab overhaul that adds more MechWarrior 4 elements over what we have in MechWarrior 5. It’ll be “a little more complicated than just MW4‘s mechlab,” writes yrrot, mentioning that they want to deal with certain issues like hardpoint inflation.

Since mods like MercTech And MechWarrior 5: Reloaded are so popular, the MechCommander Mercenaries team wants to release MCM as a standalone mod so that it can play nice with other mods. That might take a while even if PGI releases the editor update on time in the spring. In the meantime, the mod is in a holding pattern until we see Heroes of the Inner Sphere

Catalyst January Products And Clan Invasion Update

IlClan Vol 11

As always, Catalyst Games keeps on rolling out new products. Recognition Guide: ilClan, Volume 11 is here with yet more classic ‘Mech designs that are fully rebuilt with Dark Age tech, allowing you to use Clan Invasion minis all the way up to the ilClan-era. The Battle of Tukayyid anthology is also here with stories from Jason Schmetzer, Michael J. Ciaravella, Randall N. Bills, Blaine Lee Pardoe, and more.

Clan Invasion Kickstarter backers also got their first look at the Marauder II and Marauder IIC, which should be coming out in the second wave of Kickstarter orders. I get a lot of Phoenix redesign aesthetic from the Marauder II, especially in the cockpit and torso-mounted autocannon. The Marauder IIC has a more streamlined, deadly appearance, which totally fits the ‘Mechs amazing firepower thanks to three ER PPCs

Marauder IIC

Speaking of Wave 2, Catalyst should have all the Wave 2 orders squared away by now, so we’re just waiting for the manufacturer to complete the order and get things sent back overseas. By all accounts, I should have my ‘Mechs by the spring, and maybe even sooner [editors’ note: Sean has no idea when Wave 2 will ship and should not be counted on to provide an accurate guesstimate of when eager BattleTech fans will get their minis].

Let’s Pad This Thing With Some Great Art!

I drew a Shadow Hawk fighting a Wolverine inspired by the novellas included in there box sets feel free to use this for anything you want. from battletech

What’s a monthly update without some great art? I spotted this Shadow Hawk battling a Wolverine from Reddit user meltdonw14 and felt that it really captures that classic art style you really don’t get with the redesigns and MechWarrior 5-style art. I can appreciate the classics too sometimes.

How do you like your T-Bolt? Had this already sketched out and decide to finish it. Feel free to use it for anything you want. from battletech

A few days later, meltdonw14 gave us another great image of a more modern-looking Thunderbolt. This one seems to have seen some battle, and I’m very appreciative of the shell craters and laser scars on this ‘Mechs armor. Lovely attention to detail.

MechWarrior Online Delivers January Development Update

MechWarrior Online Dev Update Jan 2021
Watch this video on YouTube.

It’s January, and as promised, PGI has given us their preliminary plans for MechWarrior Online. Bombadil and Matt sat down to deliver a January update on the state of the game, noting that MechWarrior Online had some good player counts and sales numbers throughout the holiday season. That’s good news for heading into 2021, with plans for more content and updates coming together.

In the update video, the two describe patches coming in Q1 2021 as being dedicated to “low-hanging fruit.” These are quick, fast, easy changes that will directly improve the quality of life for players and will be delivered in an upcoming patch tentatively planned for February (but no promises there). 

On the docket are lowering or removing unit C-bill membership costs to make it easier to join units for faction play, as well as doubling the reconnection penalty time from two to four minutes. This will punish players that deliberately disconnect from a match before completion.

Also planned for the patch are keeping the match time-of-day static as well as making it so bolt-on cosmetics stay on your ‘Mechs permanently and can’t just be shot off at the beginning of a match. This should hopefully make them a bit more relevant as they typically got destroyed in the first five seconds of fighting, making them mostly irrelevant since nobody could see how badass your ‘Mechs mohawk looked.

The second quarter will see PGI looking at new ‘Mech bundles to give players a better deal on some new toys, fixing Solaris maps in private matches, moving spawn points around, and maybe even adding new ‘Mech variants. 

Q3 will be about new content and features, but neither Matt nor Daeron are even willing to hazard a guess as to what that might look like as of yet. They stress that a lot of resources are being poured into MechWarrior 5‘s coming Steam release and expansions, but they are hiring some dedicated devs to work on MechWarrior Online. If you’re still playing MWO after all this time, you’ve probably already learned how to be patient with this game, and that skill will serve you well. 

Here’s Some Sweet Covers Of The MechWarrior 3 Soundtrack

MechWarrior 3 certainly wasn’t my favorite MechWarrior soundtrack, but maybe Joey Cramsey’s covers will change my mind. He recently posted a few covers of MechWarrior 3‘s main theme to the MechWarrior subreddit, and they’re pretty good! You can check ’em out over on his Bandcamp, and even pay for them if you want.

Hired Steel Is Still Coming

Remember Hired Steel? The MechWarrior machinima is still on its way, with CK providing us an update on his Twitter account

“Please excuse the silence. We at #TMC are working hours every day on Ep1 and pushed through >100 tasks since Christmas,” wrote the 3D artist. “I can’t share much without spoiling too much. I think [this] image is OK though. Bear with us please.”

I feel like we’re very close to a release date, although specifics were never provided. We did get a pretty nice screengrab from a work-in-progress, so hopefully that’ll tide us over for a bit.

Aces Wild To Host To Host Inner Sphere Coalition MechWarrior Online Tournament Starting February 1

ISC Tournament

Even as we await MechWarrior Online‘s February patch, The Inner Sphere Coalition is barreling straight to its third-ever community tournament.

Hosted by Aces Wild, you can head on over to their website to register your team. Exhibition games take place throughout January, with official games scheduled to start on February 1. Teams will be seeded based on their individual members’ Jarls’ List rankings to make sure that initial games aren’t complete blowouts.

Games are 6v6 and as the name suggests are limited to Inner Sphere ‘Mechs and technology only (sorry, Clanners, you’ll have to sit this one out). Each match will include five drops of escalating tonnage so that you’ll get the full range of MechWarrior Online games, from highly mobile light and medium ‘Mech fights to assault and heavy ‘Mech-anchored brawls.

Interestingly, you can only use a particular chassis three times over the course of those five drops, and since matches are 6v6, each team will need a variety of ‘Mechs to compete. 

Winners are awarded 1000 MC per drop win, but the real incentive to compete is to not have to worry about queue times thanks to the scheduled matches. 

Head on over to Aces Wild’s website to sign up and for the full tournament rules.

One More Art Thing That’s Pretty Great

Finished lineart for my custom Rifleman II variant! How’d I do? from battletech

RedCometComight is back with a Rifleman II that is super great and I wanted to share because Gatling guns on a ‘Mech are awesome.

MechWarrior 2 Speedrun Page Now Has An Individual Level Leaderboard

MechWarrior 2: Clan Jade Falcon in 41:15 [WR]
Watch this video on YouTube.

MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat is on the Speedrun.com leaderboard and has been for a little over a year, but now it’s got a specific level leaderboard so you can see how quickly people can scoot through any of MechWarrior 2‘s 32 levels.

And some of these times must have been set with folks running around in Fire Moths, ’cause they are FAST. ProxInDaBox is blowing through the Wolf campaign’s “Pyre Light” in a blistering 1 minute and 2 seconds, while jangler throws down the gauntlet on the third mission of the Jade Falcon campaign, “Mirror Cage,” at an eye-watering 43 seconds!

That time was established in jangler’s world record run, which you can watch in the video above. Their ride is not in fact a Fire Moth but is instead either a custom Jenner IIC or a Stormcrow, both equipped with jump jets and making frequent use of a glitch that maintains forward momentum from jump jetting after shutting down.

Since When Did HBS’s BATTLETECH Become An RPG?

Enforcer

I’ll be honest, I sort of put Hairbrained’s BATTLETECH down for a little bit. I certainly think it was great and I put about 100 hours into BATTLETECH, playing through the main campaign twice, but I never did get to experience the three DLC that HBS put out over the course of 2019.

But I’ve decided to dust off BATTLETECH and give it another go. Partially because MechWarrior 5 has been delayed to the spring and I don’t have any other BattleTech video games to play, but mainly because I’ve been watching Tex’s ongoing Let’s Play of Scrombles Slaughter Division on YouTube and it’s given me the itch. 

This time will be different for me, however. I’m not going to play the main campaign, and I’ve embarked on the new “Career” mode that was added in the Flashpoints expansion. This will help me get to the Flashpoints as quickly as possible and allow me to access all the new ‘Mechs that were added with each of the DLC.

I’ve played through a few missions and gotten my little starter merc company a fancy new Javelin-10F and an Enforcer, and then it really hit me--with all the new random events, Flashpoints, and additional mission-types and dialog, BATTLETECH went from being a pretty standard turn-based tactical wargame into a fully-fledged RPG.

I’m digging it, is all I’m saying. I may be late to the party, but y’all should really be playing BATTLETECH if you haven’t already downloaded it. It’s still the best BattleTech game out there. 

That’s it for January! Join me next month for yet more BattleTech action, and check out Sarna’s interview with The Art of BattleTech and Renegade HPG, the two guys who brought the old BattleTech animated series back from the dead.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy. 

stay syrupy

Community Outreach – The Art Of BattleTech, Renegade HPG, And The Remastered BattleTech Cartoon

BattleTech Cartoon | Opening Scene [Remastered]
Watch this video on YouTube.

Something borderline miraculous has been happening on YouTube lately. The old BattleTech animated series has been appearing on Renegade HPG in a remastered form that makes it a heckuva lot better than a bootleg VHS, and way better than the version we’ve got stored here on Sarna.

Besides making these videos my new workout entertainment, I decided to sit down with the dynamic duo that is bringing this old cartoon back from the dead. This week on Community Outreach, we sit down with Emil of The Art Of BattleTech and Travis from Renegade HPG, two folks that are preserving and even improving on BattleTech’s classic media. 

Read on to find out how Emil and Travis are going about restoring and remastering BattleTech: The Animated Series and maybe even take in an episode or two over on Renegade HPG. Enjoy.

Continue reading

Your BattleTech News Roundup For December 2020

The news comes fast and hard in December! That’s mostly because everyone is getting their work out of the way now so they can have a quiet holiday break. At least, I assume. I don’t get those because the news never sleeps!

My pain is your gain. We’ve got some important things to talk about. Some important, plushie, Urbie things. But first, a follow-up to last week’s big story that is sure to be at the top of everyone’s mind.

PGI Talks About EG7 Purchase, MechWarrior 5 Release On Steam/GOG

MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries Dev Vlog
Watch this video on YouTube.

Let’s start off with the biggest news that hit us last month, which was PGI getting bought out by Swedish publisher EG7. Daeron, Matt, and Russ from PGI all spent a long time talking about what it means for the company and what it means for both MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online in the latest dev vlog.

To cut 45 minutes down to a few paragraphs, it means good things for both. With EG7 providing financial backing and marketing support, PGI can focus their efforts on developing the best game they can.

All three made it clear that there’s not a lot they can say that wasn’t handled in the press release a few weeks ago. Not even PGI employees knew about the EG7 deal until the day of the announcement as there was a ton of secrecy surrounding negotiations. Russ did say that PGI had been on the market for a business partner for some time, and EG7 made the most sense. It allows PGI to retain their autonomy and also gives PGI access to what they’ve been missing: a powerful marketing engine that can get their games out there.

On the delay for MechWarrior 5‘s planned release on Steam and GOG, that was just mostly bad timing. The EG7 deal started to really take shape in November, and then Cyberpunk 2077 announced their delay to release on the same day as MechWarrior 5. These factors combined made it just impossible to get the product they wanted out on Steam in December as previously hoped.

Now the plan is to have Heroes of the Inner Sphere and MechWarrior 5 release together on Steam in the spring along with a simultaneous release on Xbox Series X. This version will essentially be the same game as found on PC but optimized for a singular console. PGI had wanted to also get the Xbox Series X version out in December as a surprise addition to the Steam release, but Microsoft was a little slow getting their dev kits sent out.

And we have some good news. Daeron strongly hinted that there will be a second DLC pack after Heroes of the Inner Sphere “right about the same time or just around the corner.” He even went as far as calling it an “overload of content” come the spring.

Which is great. I’m into it, and that gives me plenty of time to get through Cyberpunk and Project Wingman.

So, What’s Going On With MechWarrior Online?

Podcast 218 - Daeron Katz & Matt Newman MWO 2021
Watch this video on YouTube.

In addition to the MechWarrior 5 Developer update, Bombadil also returned to No Guts No Galaxy to talk to Sean (not me, the other Sean) about MechWarrior Online. Honestly, plans don’t appear to have changed all that much from November, but they are taking a more solid shape.

First off, the plan is to slightly alter the new player experience by changing the tier in which new MechWarriors begin. Right now it’s set to a tier that has them playing against the best MechWarriors in the game, and that causes them to get stomped into oblivion--not exactly a great way to introduce a new player to a competitive game. Instead, they’re going to have new players arrive at a lower tier so they’re not always giant targets for dudes with custom Mad Cat IIs and Vapor Eagles.

That’ll hopefully arrive in December’s patch, but if not it’ll be here in January. That’s about the same time PGI hopes to have a roadmap for what they plan to do with MechWarrior Online in 2021. Daeron said that PGI is hiring a dedicated team to work on MechWarrior Online, and that might even include a level designer or two to make a new map. But first, they’ll fix up some old maps to learn the ropes.

Fixing the new player experience is the top priority though, and that means new trial mechs for new players to aspire to. Everyone seemed very doubtful that an engine rewrite or even MechWarrior Online 2 is in the cards but you never know.

Oh, and there’s a town hall for MechWarrior fans scheduled for December 11. Sean Lang of No Guts No Galaxy will host the town hall on Twitch with Daeron posting questions to the MechWarrior Online forums to discuss live on stream. Go on over there to provide your two cents. [EDIT: Sorry, this was meant to get up a bit earlier, but a problem with the site delayed things until after the townhall.]

The UrbanMech Plushie Is Real And I Cannot Stand Being Apart From It

Look, I’ll be honest, I was getting a little bit concerned that the UrbanMech plushie that was offered in the Clan Invasion Kickstarter was going to turn out to be an empty promise that wouldn’t be fulfilled. Every single time I’ve even mildly interacted with Catalyst, it was to ask about the plushie UrbanMech. At this point, they’ve probably blocked my emails.

But my concerns were totally unfounded. The latest update on the Clan Invasion Kickstarter confirms that the Plushie Urbie is real, and it is ADORABLE.

It’s also a lot more complex than I initially expected. Look at all the colors! And the antennae! And the arms!

What we’re seeing here is a product sample that got sent to Catalyst after they sent their technical drawings, which were very technical indeed. I was expecting something very basic, very greyscale, and very… well, y’know, urban, but no. We get a pirate Urbie complete with a fancy paint job.

I eagerly await the day when I can hold my new UrbanMech son in my arms and name him. Until that day, more news.

Camo Specs Has A New Website And They Got Tex To Do The Introductory Video

CSO Welcome Page
Watch this video on YouTube.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a painter, so I didn’t have much cause to go to Camo Specs very often. But the few times I did go I was reminded of a GeoCities website from the late ’90s. It was bad, and I felt bad going there.

But now it’s gotten a huge overhaul that makes it faster, more user friendly, and just freakin’ works. There’s a search bar that can bring up helpful articles. There’s a tab at the top that will list factions, artists, and tutorials. You wanna know how the Tiburon Khanate painted their ‘Mechs? Well, you’re just three clicks away from the Camo Specs home page of finding out.

Best of all, they got Tex of Tex Talks BattleTech to do the intro video. I know Tex’s delivery makes it sort of sound like he’s doing the voiceover work for a corporate training video, but it’s still pretty great.

Tex Did A Voice Pack For BattleTech Modders

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO THE BATTLETECH COMMUNITY - Grampa Tex Mod Pack Preview
Watch this video on YouTube.

Speaking of Tex, he’s also featured in a brand new voice pack for Harebrained’s BATTLETECH. This allows Grampa Tex to be added as a pilot to something like RogueTech--provided they want to add said pilot, of course. Grampa Tex is not exactly the sort of guy you’d expect to find in a decorated mercenary outfit, so he sort of breaks immersion. On the other hand, he’s hilarious, and I think comedy far outweighs realism when it comes to video games.

Wolves Is Bringing Hell In Wave 2

https://twitter.com/Wolves_Game/status/1335631057794834433?s=19

Wolves is still working on getting Wave 2 out, but they’ve got something to keep us interested in the meantime. The Hellbringer is going to get added in the spring, and it will apparently be “agile, sturdy, and very hot.” Makes sense, given the Hellbringer was never a particularly cool ‘Mech even by Clan standards.

To show the Hellbringer off, Pajama Boy produced this delightful trailer video. And then he tagged me so I’d pop it in the December news dump. I’m easily manipulated, you see.

Now This Is A Super Cool HOTAS Setup For MechWarrior 5

Childhood dream, realized. Now to buy a house and build a training pod in the garage. from mechwarrior

I play MechWarrior 5 on a mouse and keyboard like most regular humans (I assume). When it releases on the Xbox Series X sometime next year, I suspect most people will play using a standard Xbox controller. This guy has something much, much better. Reddit user Tiltinnitus shows off his sweet-ass HOTAS setup, with the throttle on the left and joystick on the right. He’s even got old-school switches that can apparently be mapped to a ‘Mech’s engine ignition. For those wondering, Tiltinnitus explained in the comments that it’s a Logitech X56 throttle and an NXT Gladiator joystick. Both look very cool, although I sure hope there are some elbow rests hiding somewhere off-screen.

That’s it for now, but December isn’t over. We might have a few more surprises waiting for us before the year is out, so stay tuned.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy

stay syrupy

 

 

Your BattleTech News Roundup For November 2020

There’s a sense of anticipation this November. We’re all looking forward to good things that are coming, whether they be Cyberpunk 2077, our Clan Invasion packages, covid vaccines, or even winter. Personally, I hate winter, but I acknowledge the fact that some people might like it.

I’m a terrible Canadian, in case you hadn’t noticed.

Anyway, we got a lot of big news this month so there’s no sense dilly-dallying. Let’s get to it!

MechWarrior 5 & MechWarrior Online Developer Piranha Games Purchased By Swedish Games Publisher EG7

EG7 Investor Presentation Q3 2020 - Acquires Piranha Games
Watch this video on YouTube.

Big news for MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online fans. Piranha Games, the Vancouver-based developer that made both previously mentioned games, has been bought out by Swedish publisher EG7 for a purchase price of $31.4 million CAD.

There’s a couple of very interesting figures produced in the press release from EG7. PGI’s net sales for the one-year period prior to September 30, 2020, totaled $22.7 million, with MechWarrior 5 selling “hundreds of thousands of copies on Epic Games Store alone.” Over MechWarrior Online‘s lifetime, the game has generated $75 million CAD in net revenue, which sounds like it was quite profitable.

So who’s EG7? A cursory glance around the interwebs reveals them to be a relatively new Swedish games publisher with a history of working with some pretty big names in the games industry. They have their hand in a little bit of everything, but they mostly seem to handle marketing and publishing with a few developers under their umbrella. They’ve done marketing for Call of Duty, Destiny, Fortnite, and Angry Birds, so they’ve certainly handled IP way bigger than MechWarrior

For PGI, EG7 offers financial stability and resources to fund MechWarrior 5‘s future development and also get them started on their next big thing. In EG7’s third-quarter financial presentation, PGI President Russ Bullock revealed that his company will work on a “new live-service IP” in the next five years while simultaneously supporting MechWarrior 5

In return, EG7 gets a Candian developer with 65 employees as well as access to the MechWarrior license. Since PGI is going to be working on a new IP, this means EG7 might hand the next MechWarrior game over to a different developer to see what they come up with. Or they might sit on the IP and do nothing. EG7 gave no indication in their presentation of what they plan to do either way.

The press release states that PGI will continue to operate as an independent studio with the financial backing of EG7. That’s great news for PGI as it means they get to continue on as normal while still collecting salaries as they make their new live-service IP--whatever the heck that is. 

All we know for sure at this point is that whatever game PGI makes, it won’t be MechWarrior. I’ve reached out to EG7 to see if they’ve got any plans for the license.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Coming To Xbox Series X/S In Spring 2021, Steam Release Delayed

Hot off the heels of that news, the MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and its attendant DLC, Heroes of the Inner Sphere, won’t release December 10th on Steam as previously planned. PGI pretty much came right out and said that releasing on the same day as Cyberpunk 2077 was “less than optimal,” so a delay seems prudent. 

The new release window for Steam is Spring of 2021. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there’s going to be more than just a Steam release. MechWarrior 5 is now also going to be released on GOG.com and, surprisingly, the brand-new Xbox Series X/S consoles. 

I’m a PC gamer, so I don’t have one of Microsoft’s newfangled consoles, but it sure looks like it could run a game like MechWarrior 5 just fine. PGI notes this’ll be the first MechWarrior game on a home console since MechAssault 2, which is kinda neat. The extra time will also give the developers time to polish MechWarrior 5 until it’s gleaming, “including [improvements to] AI, UI, art, customization, and content.” 

And if you don’t have an Xbox Series X/S, there’s going to be an Xbox One version too.

But What About MechWarrior Online?

Podcast 217 - Beard Cast w/ Daeron Katz
Watch this video on YouTube.

Last month, we learned the MechWarrior Online was in for a bit of a revival. PGI had resecured the rights to the MechWarrior license from Microsoft and was thinking of ways to reinvigorate their oldest MechWarrior game. To that end, they hired Bombadil to be the new community manager, who then went to work talking to the community to generate some ideas on what they could do to make MechWarrior Online a better game.

Bombadil posted a list of those ideas on the MechWarrior Online website, which range from simple server-side changes that might improve the new player experience to sweeping overhauls of the MechWarrior Online matchmaker. As discussed last month, the idea here is to improve MechWarrior Online with as little effort as possible, so some of the more labor-intensive ideas seem less likely to occur than others.

On the latest Beardcast with No Guts To Galaxy, Bombadil basically said that he’s going to take this list to the PGI heads to further discuss, but not to expect any additional news on this topic until next year. Considering MechWarrior 5 and its expansion, Heroes of the Inner Sphere, arrive on both Steam and Xbox Series X/S next spring, PGI is probably going to have most of their programmers working on MechWarrior 5 for the next little while and won’t have a lot to spare for MechWarrior Online

Catalyst Has A New Assistant Line Developer

Catalyst has a new assistant line developer. Aaron Cahall got the job as per an October 28th announcement that got in just after I’d already posted the October supplemental news dump, so we’re going to cover it here.

According to Catalyst’s press release, Cahall was previously the BattleTech line editor for the past two years, helping to make new products, help new writers, and keeping developers on tight deadlines. 

“I’m pleased to be able to continue supporting Ray and the entire BattleTech team during this exciting time for the game,” Cahall said. “I’ve been a BattleTech fan for a long time, but it’s the people involved in making it who have come to mean even more to me. I’m looking forward to moving into the new ilClan era alongside them.”

Judging by the job description, this sounds to me like mostly a title change. Cahall will still do mostly the same stuff he’s done before, but maybe we’ll see his name at the bottom of those new BattleTech product emails instead of current line developer Ray Astaria.

Also, CamoSpec‘s has a new leader in Matt Frederiksen. He organized the annual CamoSpecs GenCon diorama (back when GenCon was still a thing), and now he’ll be recruiting new artists to join the CamoSpecs team.

Tukayyid Returns In New Fiction And Sourcebook

Tukayyid 1

It was perhaps the greatest battle in BattleTech history. When seven invading Clans arrived on Tukayyid, they were stopped dead in their tracks by ComStar‘s Com Guards. Cutting edge Clan tech wasn’t enough to overcome good old fashioned Star League designs and Inner Sphere guile. And now Catalyst is celebrating Tukayyid with new fiction, a sourcebook, and all-new miniatures.

First off, we’ve got five new novellas coming that tell the story of Tukayyid from multiple sides. A few of them are already out, including Blake’s Own by Jason Schmetzer and Two Roads Diverged from Michael J. Ciaravella. Both tell the story of the Com Guards’ clash with Clan Smoke Jaguar, and we all know how that turned out.

Clan Rec Guide 08

Nine stories will be released in the lead-up to The Battle of Tukayyid Sourcebook which arrives on November 27th. Catalyst is giving us a 200-page hardcover volume that covers each of the seven campaigns. Expect a “full overview of the battle, including a map of the regions; the specific combatants involved, along with insignias; and details to allow players to experience each campaign on their tabletop.”

And just for a little extra, the Battle Of Tukayyid Supplemental PDF provides record sheets, counters, and a worksheet for the Battle Support: Combined Arms rules.

There’s not a lot of info on the miniatures, but I expect them to be the same ComStar minis that were included in the second wave of the Clan Invasion. I’ll be sure to report more as soon as I find out.

Oh, and one more Catalyst thing: the Clan Recognition Guide is up to Volume 8 now. Go get it on the Catalyst store

People Are Getting Old MechWarrior Games To Work On Some Pretty Weird Stuff

MW3 on my Samsung Note9 with mouse and keyboard from mechwarrior

I noticed a bit of a trend on the MechWarrior subreddits this November. People are getting very old MechWarrior games to work on some pretty esoteric devices in much the same way people have been getting Doom to work on technology that has no business playing Doom (such as a pregnancy test). 

First up, Reddit user Nakele got MechWarrior 3 working on a Samsung Note9. For something without a dedicated graphics processor to run any game is a technical achievement, so kudos to Nakele for getting MechWarrior 3 to work at all. That said, there’s some noticeable slowdown in actual combat, and the overall frame rate isn’t exactly what I’d call “smooth.” 

But it works! And that’s what’s important.

Finally got all the MW2 games running on my z fold 2 with controller fully mapped – mobile MW is awesome! from mechwarrior

Topping that is user benchallenger10 with MechWarrior 2 running on a Samsung Z Fold2 with additional controller support. This makes the whole setup look like a Nintendo Switch, only it’s playing some classic MechWarrior. Sadly, we don’t get to see the game in action, but benchallenger10 reports that they’re getting 60fps at 1024x868 resolution. They also managed to get MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries working too, but the slightly more “advanced” textures made the frame rate drop below 60fps at times.

Both of these are fantastic, and I encourage other techy MechWarriors to get old MechWarrior games working on even more humble devices. If Doom can play on a pregnancy test, maybe we can get MechWarrior 2 to play on a programmable microwave or something. 

You’ll Love This 3D-Printed Magnetic Catapult

All systems nominal! from battletech

Here we have a 3D-printed Catapult model that uses magnets to swap between the arm-mounted PPCs of the CPLT-K2 and the LRM-15s of the CPLT-C1. There’s also a magnet that lets the torso twist, too. It’s great, and I want one. We should all message Reddit user Philbobagginzzz for the details.

The Pikachu Urbie Gets An Upgrade

"When you hire the Pocket Monstrosities Mercenary Company you know you’re getting the very best, like no one ever was." -Ashton Cottem, company commander from battletech

You remember my article discussing the possibility that BattleTech might have what I described as a “Pokemon problem,” right? Well, forget about that argument and just click on the link to see the cover image. I didn’t know who made that adorable Pokemon-themed tableau at the time of writing, but now I do. And they’ve come back with an even better version of the PikachUrbie thanks to the new model redesigns sent out with the Clan Invasion Kickstarter.

Reddit user feor1300, you are hereby officially recognized for your creative genius. Please let me know how much Nintendo intends to sue you for copyright infringement and I’ll start the Go Fund Me page to pay for your legal defense. I won’t actually contribute, mind you, but I’ll at least start the page. 

Wolves Announced Wave 2 Expansion Coming In Spring Of 2021

Wave 2 | All But One Teaser
Watch this video on YouTube.

Wolves, the fan-made MechAssault remake that has the tacit approval of Microsoft (provided they don’t actually sell anything) is getting the Mad Cat Mk II. That’s neat, right? 

Wave 2 will also include the Raven, Raptor, and Hellbringer. Although, given the screenshots posted last month, I’m pretty sure that’s actually the Raptor II, which was also introduced in MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf

There’s also some pretty sweet animation improvements coming in Wave 2. You can’t discount animation when it comes to ‘Mech games--there’s a fine line between the lumbering gait of a 75-ton death machine and the wobbling stumbles of a chicken-legged robot. 

I’m Actually Not Getting My Clan Invasion Wave 1 Kickstarter Package Because I’m A Fool

Support Lance

So I still haven’t gotten my Wave 1 package even though pretty much every Canadian has received theirs, and now I know why. Back when I was choosing my shipping options, I selected “ship all at once” rather than “ship as products become available.” So now I gotta wait for Wave 2 to ship before I get everything that I ordered. 

This was all happening just as the first wave of the COVID pandemic was really hitting home, so I’m sure I was thinking it’d be a noble sacrifice to let mail services deliver more important packages than little robot figurines, but now I haven’t seen my friends in months and I could really use the pick-me-up that only ‘Mechs can provide.

Ah well. Just a few weeks until Heroes of the Inner Sphere drops and then I’ll have plenty of distractions. Oh, wait. 

That’s it for November! Join us next time as we contend with a pandemic and winter. Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay at home.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For October 2020

October has been exceptionally busy for BattleTech! So busy, in fact, that I’m pushing our big monthly news update out a few weeks earlier than usual. I’m also leaving my customary existential dread at the door since there’s just no room to concern ourselves with elections or pandemics will all this incredible BattleTech news sitting right in front of us.

Expect to receive a supplemental news dump later in the month if things keep dropping at the same pace they have been for the past few weeks. But for now, let’s get to the news!

Catalyst’s Clan Invasion First Wave Is Away!

The day we’ve all been waiting for is finally here! Wave 1 of the Clan Invasion Kickstarter has finally started shipping according to the most recent update from Catalyst, with 23 out of 26 shipments having arrived (the remaining three will probably have arrived by the time this article is published). That means the first shipment is being sent out to backers as we speak, with backers from the EU and UK expected to receive their shipments before everyone else because the customs office there was lucky enough to not suffer any setbacks.

Catalyst also gave us a bunch of fun stats: 9,824 backers, 268,797 physical items, and 31,543 UrbanMech Salvage Boxes, with another 3,000 or so expected to be sent out with Wave 2. This is an enormous logistical undertaking, and Catalyst is hard at work making sure everything goes as smoothly as 2020 will allow. 

With Wave 1 on the way, all eyes now turn to Wave 2. Catalyst is still making the 3D designs for Wave 2 ‘Mechs, and they’re hoping to have everything done and off to the manufacturer in time for shipments to be sent out before Chinese New Year (which is February 12, 2021). 

In the meantime, the Pledge Manager will be reopened on October 15 (which is right now as of the moment I’m writing these words) to allow people to edit their pledges or add one of the eight new items that Catalyst just couldn’t wait to get into people’s hands. I’ve got no idea what those items are, but we’re surely going to find out when the Pledge Manager reopens.

New Patch For MechWarrior Living Legends! Update 0.13.0 Is Here

MechWarrior Living Legends update 0.13.0 has gone live, and with it comes some new tanks. Big tanks. Like, the largest tanks that BattleTech has ever seen.

First up, the Behemoth, a 100-ton assault-class tank that certainly lives up to its name. Although the overall design follows the same general theme of the Behemoth combat vehicle, its prime variant is armed with the new Hyper Velocity Autocannon 10 which provides super long-range suppressing fire. This comes at the cost of the two SRM-6s, while the machine guns are replaced by two of the new Autoflamer turrets. 

The Clans are represented by the equally massive Mars assault tank. As with the Behemoth, some liberties were taken with the principle armament of the tank as the twin Streak SRM-6s were replaced by dual Streak SRM-4s, and the extra weight used to install two Autoflamers. 

In case you were wondering, the Autoflamer turret will automatically target opponents within 150 meters, and is the ideal way to convince battle armor to keep their distance.

There’s a bunch of other new toys to use, such as the C3 Master Unit, Sniper Artillery Cannon, and Stabilized Thumper Cannon, as well as even more balance and game mechanics changes. Check out the full patch notes over on ModDB here.

Renegade HPG Interviews My Boss (And Sarna.net Owner), Nic Jansma

Behind the Scenes of SARNA.NET with Creator Nic Jansma
Watch this video on YouTube.

Travis over at Renegade HPG contacted me a little while ago and we engaged in a little bit of journalistic trading. In exchange for his contacts with the BattleTech CCG community, I agreed to forward his email to my boss so he could have Nic on the show. And then it happened! You can check out the whole 45-minute interview here

If you were ever curious about how Sarna works, including its origins, site operation, and monetization, you’ll get it all here. I even got a shoutout for writing up all this lovely news for you lovely people. 

Alright, enough with the self-plug, back to business. 

Bombadil Is Back And Working For PGI Now

Bombadil Is Back

Daeron is back! But he’s not working for No Guts No Galaxy anymore. He’s been hired by PGI to be the new MechWarrior Online Community Manager.

This was our first indication that MechWarrior Online would be getting a revival, with more details to follow in the No Guts No Galaxy podcast that came days after the announcement. Daeron “Bombadil” Katz was a longtime host of NGNG but left in February to pursue other interests. Those interests apparently didn’t stray too far from BattleTech, as Bombadil was the top guy for PGI when it came time to start planning on how to reinvigorate MechWarrior Online.

Bombadil gave us a bit of an update on how he’s been doing in his official announcement on the MWO website. The plan is for Bombadil to lead PGI in developing a plan to bring MWO into the year 2021 by refreshing the fanbase and maybe convincing lapsed players to give the game another try. More on that in exactly one embedded video and one subheader.

MechWarrior Online’s Future

Podcast 204 - Mechwarrior Online's Future
Watch this video on YouTube.

Last time I checked in on MechWarrior Online, I’d basically written the game off. Player counts were dwindling, content updates had stopped, and PGI had announced that it was all hands on deck for MechWarrior 5. So imagine my surprise to find out that MechWarrior Online is not nearly as dead as I was led to believe.

I mean, MechWarrior Online has certainly seen better days from a player count perspective, but it’s still very much alive and kicking. In fact, PGI CEO Russ Bullock recently did a podcast with our friends over at No Guts No Galaxy to discuss a MechWarrior Online revival. 

This all comes from PGI renewing their MechWarrior license from Microsoft for another five years. This wouldn’t have come cheap, so PGI is looking to make back their money by investing in the license, and that includes both MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online.

Bullock, PGI marketing head Matt Newman, and recently appointed community manager Bombadil talked to Sean Lang about what may or may not be coming to MechWarrior Online. All options are on the table, with PGI specifically focusing on content that will bring lapsed players back to MechWarrior Online. This might include new features like ‘Mech knockdown or melee weapons, or silly event queues like games where everyone is in an UrbanMech.

Don’t expect to see MechWarrior Online 2, however. Although all options are on the table, remaking MechWarrior Online in MechWarrior 5‘s engine is likely to be more of an investment than would be profitable, which is a shame since Unreal 4 is a vastly superior engine. But we might see some fundamental changes to MechWarrior Online, including changes to its monetization model and its byzantine and unpopular skill tree.

This might be an unpopular opinion to MechWarrior Online fans, but for me personally, I’m not going to really get interested in an MWO revival unless it starts catering more to casual fans. The days of me spending hours and hours grinding for new ‘Mechs are long gone, and unless MWO improves its monetization model to give me WAY more content than I’ve ever had access to, I’m probably not going to bother. That content would also have to be faster to get at, which would mean some overhauls to the ‘Mech bay, skills, and likely the core gameplay loop to be less dependant on matching 8v8 single-life games, something I don’t really see happening. 

But then again, if everything is on the table, who knows? I’d love to see MechWarrior Online adopt a game mode that mirrors MechWarrior: Living Legends--a persistent battle with constant respawns from your personal ‘Mech bay. That’d be both a fun and fresh take on a very old game.

MechWarrior 5 DLC—Heroes of the Inner Sphere—Arrives December 10

RazerCon 2020 MechWarrior 5 Merc DLC Heroes of the Inner Sphere
Watch this video on YouTube.

Announced at RazerCon 2020, Heroes of the Inner Sphere will finally arrive along with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries releasing on Steam. That’s December 10th, exactly one year since MechWarrior 5 released on the Epic Games Store.

I know many of you have been waiting for this day, so lemme once again offer my two cents: the game is absolutely worth playing with the right mods, and Heroes of the Inner Sphere is expected to bring a free update that will totally overhaul the MechWarrior 5 experience. This will include better ambient heat effects, an additional biome for random missions, new skill trees, and more. 

Best of all, those that purchase Heroes of the Inner Sphere can sort of share it with friends. If the host of a co-op game owns Heroes of the Inner Sphere, friends that join that game will have access to the same new ‘Mechs and story missions that the host does. 

Check out Sarna’s previous coverage of the Heroes of the Inner Sphere to get more details on what to expect from the DLC, along with a list of new ‘Mechs. Heroes of the Inner Sphere will be priced at $19.99 USD. Expect to find a package deal with the Steam release (hopefully with a bit of a discount for everyone patient enough to wait for the game to release on Steam).

Oh, and one more thing that was discussed with the MechWarrior Online revival podcast: MechWarrior 5 is getting more DLC, with an extremely tentative date set for next April. No idea what that might entail, but the concept of a Clan Invasion was definitely mentioned at least once. Take that for what it’s worth.

More Mod Tools Coming To MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

Mechwarrior 5 Mercenaries Modding Resources
Watch this video on YouTube.

Yet another breaking story from our friends at No Guts No Galaxy! MechWarrior 5 is getting additional mod tools to help with mission scripting. This includes “tutorial videos and associated documentation” that explain “level setup, markup levels and locators, area specification setup, mission flow nodes, and finishing the mission and deploying the mod.”

As discussed in Lang’s interview with Bombadil and PGI level designer Thaddeus Jantzi, a lot of these tools are the same ones used to create MechWarrior 5‘s missions in the Unreal 4 engine. And that’s basically the extent of my knowledge since I’m not a programmer and have no idea what these tools might look like, but they certainly sound cool and they open up a whole new world of custom campaigns in MechWarrior 5--something I’m totally on board for.

Modders can grab these new modding resources here.

Would You Like To Bring BattleTech To Roll20? Then Support This Kickstarter!

BattleTech Kickstarter

I’ve never really dealt with the RPG side of MechWarrior and BattleTech, but I know it exists, and it has its appeal to those that are really into tabletop RPGs. However, with COVID-19 ending in-person group sessions and sending everyone online, folks are looking for their favorite virtual tabletop to support their RPG habit for the foreseeable future.

Roll20 is one such piece of software that’s gotten to be pretty popular--mostly because a base account is free and a DM can share all their paid-for resources with their players. Roll20 already has tons of stuff for Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, and now one dedicated BattleTech fan is looking to add our humble universe to Roll20’s list. 

However, getting BattleTech/MechWarrior added to Roll20 takes money. Joel Janni has taken it upon himself to start a Kickstarter campaign to get someone to code up the MechWarrior and BattleTech sheets so that people can actually play the game virtually via Roll20. This will include a basic macro that will allow for skill checks and weapon/damage rolls. 

Janni needs $500 to get the sheets made and pay for Kickstarter’s fees, but stretch goals can include a ‘Mech builder function to make your own custom ‘Mechs and even a character builder function. 

There’s still plenty of time to contribute, so head on over to Kickstarter to make this Roll20/BattleTech dream a reality.

Someone Is Reverse Engineering MechWarrior 3 In Unity

Mechwarrior 3 early Unity 5 6 5f1 port test.
Watch this video on YouTube.

So remember a few months back I spotted someone trying to recreate MechWarrior 2 in Unity? Well, now we’ve got someone else trying to do the same thing with MechWarrior 3

Judging by the teaser trailer, there’s still a lot left to do before the engine is working right in Unity, although it looks like they’re off to a great start. The slight skip in the Bushwacker‘s gate is probably wrong, but so adorable that I hope they keep that animation bug in. 

Of all the MechWarrior games since MechWarrior 2, MechWarrior 3 was probably the one I played the least. Mostly because it came out around the same time as Diablo 2 and I spent a lot of my high school years playing Diablo with my friends than I did playing MechWarrior by myself. That said, a reborn MechWarrior 3 in Unity might be enough for me to take another crack at the single-player campaign.

Check out the MechWarrior 3 Community Project Discord for updates and to shout encouragement, which you should totally do.

That’s it for October! Join me again probably in the next few days as October keeps racking up newsworthy items faster than I can even keep track.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For July, 2020

It’s July. Man, where does the time go? I guess the time dilation might have something to do with the fact that I’m stuck inside all day long and commerce has ground to a standstill in much of the civilized world. And the things that I would normally use as milestones for the passage of time--like movie releases and sporting events--have all completely stopped. That and I’ve been cutting my own hair so I haven’t been keeping to that 6-week barber schedule. Frankly, I don’t even know what day it is.

But I do know that it’s still July, so it’s time for another news dump. I’m going to take a dump all over you, and you’re going to love it because it’s made of robots.

Alright, that could have been phrased better. My bad. Let’s get to the BattleTech news.

Finally, Someone Is Making A Full-CG MechWarrior Fan Film

Hired Steel

File this one under “I really hope I get to see this before a cease & desist letter shuts them down.”

A group of German madmen are braving the legal minefield that is the BattleTech intellectual property to bring us all a short fan film made using what appears to be MechWarrior Online assets. This isn’t too much of a surprise given that they’re previous works have also been made using MechWarrior Online, only this time instead of making a 5-minute long advertisement for MWO, they’re making a short film with an actual plot.

It’s called Hired Steel, and it’s a full CG movie that has been in development for about 3 months now. They plan on releasing a pilot episode soon that will detail what to expect from the series. I’m guessing it’s about another mercenary unit that’s down on their luck and has to fight their way to glory and freedom, but I’m just playing the odds here.

Also, I wouldn’t get your hopes up. The last time we saw a fan project stroll through these parts, it got hit with a C&D from Topps faster than you can splat an Elemental with a Streak SRM-6.

You can support TMC at their Patreon to help bring this project to fruition, and in the meantime, enjoy the poster. Shadow Hawks really ought to be the new poster child of the franchise.

But In The Meantime, Enjoy This Slightly Smaller CG Fan Film

Battle of the Crescent Fortress
Watch this video on YouTube.

Speaking of fan animation that may or may not get a cease and desist (although probably not in this case), Farseer Animation has come out with a new video that’s their largest and most elaborate yet.

These guys have actually been making BattleTech fan videos for several years. They got started remaking the original MechWarrior 2 cinematics using their own models, and have since then branched off into making more complex CG films. Their latest, “Mechwarrior: Battle of the Crescent Fortress,” is almost 10 minutes of non-stop action. 

And it’s also hilarious. The Hunchback is piloted by a dude who sounds like Chekov from Star Trek (and sounds SUPER familiar--maybe he’s also been in one of Tex’s videos, someone correct me here!) and the Vulcan pilot does a great “angry drunk who just got taken out by a Crab” impression. There’s even a Crescent Hawks reference for the super old-school BattleTech fans in the audience.

Also, the line “I’m going to be blunt: you suck,” is perhaps the greatest one I’ve ever heard on YouTube. Go watch this thing and be amazed.

More Catalyst Stuff, More Clan Invasion Delays

Clan Invasion Vol 2

Alright, bad news first. Last week, Catalyst announced another delay in shipping out the first wave of the Clan Invasion Kickstarter. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again: sucks, but what’re you gonna do?

Apparently, the same company that held up shipping the original BattleTech: A Game Of Armored Combat box sets is also late on making the plastic figures for the Clan Invasion. The new shipping date for the first wave is July 31st, but that’s to get the figurines from China to America. And that’s only the folks who got in on the actual Kickstarter campaign and didn’t sign on as a late backer. 

According to Catalyst, 80% of first wave shipments will be out on July 31st, and the remaining 20% will come in the middle of August. Again, that’s just getting the stuff out of China. Catalyst won’t begin shipping to backers until late September, so you’re likely not going to get those shipments until October.

Clan Recognition Guide Vol 3

So that’s the bad news. The good news is that backers now have access to $50 worth of digital content if you follow this link and use a code at checkout that was emailed to backers earlier this month. This includes the brand new first edition of Shrapnel magazine as well as ten digital novels and three scenario PDFs.

Also, Recognition Guide: IlClan vol. 2 and 3 are out now, and we’ve got a brand new Stone Rhino with two overhead barrels instead of one. This is a long-overdue redesign that finally makes sense. What else might be hiding within these hallowed pages? Head on over to the Catalyst store to find out.

Renegade HPG Interviews Blaine Lee Pardoe, And Does Some Great Stuff With The Old Card Game Too!

A Conversation with BATTLETECH'S BLAINE LEE PARDOE
Watch this video on YouTube.

A couple of weeks ago, a brand new BattleTech YouTube channel popped up called Renegade HPG. Travis, the owner, first got started with the BattleTech TCG by opening a sealed booster box of Limited Edition on camera. It’s pretty sweet, especially considering my love of the original card game. I still have a bunch of those old cards and even the new ones that were made by BattleTech historian, Michael Todd (the same guy who made this great fan-made TRO).

From there, Travis decided to explore more of the TCG with Michael Cohen and Chester Hendrix, both BattleTech TCG pros (at least, as professional as you can get with a card game that’s been out of print for almost two decades) who’ve played the game for years and run the BattleTech TCG Facebook group. They talked about the card game’s history and design, as well as actual gameplay and deckbuilding. They go on four HOURS about BattleTech TCG mechanics, and I encourage you to check it out if you want to ever get into the card game (and then I might have someone to play with). 

And from there it seems that Travis has branched out into speaking with BattleTech‘s creative team. His most recent interview with Blaine Lee Pardoe explores BattleTech‘s history as well as what stories have yet to be written (at least, in novel form). 

Check them both out, and follow the channel to see what he comes out with next.

Ever Wonder What MechAssault 3 Might’ve Looked Like? Check Out This Art Portfolio

Fire Falcon

This is an interesting one that came from a person who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of taking too much credit for just how awesome this is. So I’ll take that credit for myself, thank you very much. 

It’s an art portfolio slash promotional pamphlet for MechAssault 3 from graphics designer Kurt Saberi. We’ve talked about MechAssault before and the fan project that’s getting quite a bit of traction these days, but what we have here is what might’ve been had Day 1 Studios still existed and hadn’t been bought out by Wargaming (the makers of World of Tanks) in 2013.

MechAssault 3

The intent of this portfolio was to try and convince people to invest in this game, which obviously didn’t pan out, but likely not because of the pitch. Or maybe--you decide.

MechAssault 3 would have taken 300 years after the events of MechAssault 2, which would put us way beyond anything we’ve ever seen from official sources and certainly way beyond the current Dark Age/IlClan era that we’re in now, narratively speaking. And the future is weird. The Clans are still around, with Clan Wolf still being in separate Warden and Crusader factions. Clan technology has also advanced considerably, with Elemental power armor replaced by sleek, sexy, almost anime-style power armor with animalistic features.

Mech Assault 3a

In fact, there seems to be a Far Eastern-influence in the design of everything here. The only ‘Mech in the portfolio, the Fire Falcon, is almost Metal Gear-like in its appearance. You can imagine a bajillion missiles coming out of those open ports.

The portfolio does mention that Clan technology is smooth and hyper-advanced, while Inner Sphere tech is crude, chunky, and brutish. Or it would if any of it was represented. Whatever the plot of MechAssault 3, it looks like it would have heavily focused on the Clans. 

MechAssault 3

But as we all know by now, if you want a new MechAssault game, you gotta do it yourself, so go check out the latest news coming out of Wolves

Wolves Releases Soundtrack Teaser

Speaking of Wolves, here’s a teaser of the game’s impending soundtrack. Sounds pretty good, right? I liked it. Also, there’s a nice picture of an Atlas for you to gawk at for a bit.

It’s MechWarrior 2’s 25th Anniversary!

MechWarrior 2 Cover

On July 24, 1995, MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat first arrived in stores on compact disc. It would go on to revolutionize gaming, especially when it came to portraying giant stompy robots. And it did a few neat things to move the dial forward for PC gaming in general.

I went into great length about MechWarrior 2 already, and while it would probably have made a lot more sense to celebrate a quarter-century since the release of MechWarrior 2 by publishing such an article now, I don’t have that kind of foresight. Instead, you may read that article here at your leisure.

And you can join a bunch of old farts in Discord to talk about the glory days of MechWarrior games. Reddit user CommanderHunter5 is inviting all MechWarriors to join their Discord to discuss the good ol’ days and to help people get MechWarrior 2 to work on modern hardware. It can be done, it just takes some doing.

So yeah, click this link to get in on the discussion.

Fan Gifts Us Remastered Soundtracks Of Every BattleTech Game Ever Made

Soundtrack Remastered

Perhaps a better way to celebrate MechWarrior 2‘s quarter centennial is by re-listening to the game’s soundtrack, which was awesome (and also discussed at length here). 

Xeromynd recently posted to various MechWarrior and BattleTech related subreddits a gift: a compiled and remastered selection of songs from every MechWarrior, BattleTech, MechCommander, and MechAssault game ever made. At least, the ones that aren’t still being sold for money so nobody can get sued. 

Apparently, xeromynd is an audio engineer of 10+ years and also a die-hard BattleTech fan. Combine the two and you get this fun little project that will tickle your earbuds. 

There’s quite a lot to download, so the collection has been broken into five separate parts: the BattleTech Legacy collection, the MechCommander Legacy collection, the MechWarrior Legacy collection, the MechAssault Legacy collection, and a bonus collection that has covers and remixes from the community. Timothy Seals’ fantastic remixes are sadly not included.

Thank you, xeromynd. This will replace my collection of old MP3s that were taken many, many moons ago, and were frankly never that great because I didn’t know jack about audio compression back then.

That’s it for July! Join me next time as we discuss what fresh hell awaits us in August. It’s sure to be a blast.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For June 2020

Welcome to your BattleTech News Roundup for the month of June, 2020. Now we’ve got protests against police brutality and massive civil unrest to go along with the global pandemic, so that’s cool. Who had race riots on their Apocalypse: 2020 Bingo card? Someone’s gotta be close to winning by this point. I’m still waiting on “volcanic eruption” and “meteorite impact” to complete my set, although I’m eyeing “alien invasion” with more and more suspicion.

Anyway, we’re not going to get too political around these parts. BattleTech had a busy month in June, so we’ve got plenty of much more fun stuff to talk about. Let’s get this party started.

MechWarrior 5 Adds Mod Support To Microsoft Store-Bought Games

Flea

While MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries has remained an Epic exclusive, it’s not 100% exclusive to Epic. If you’re really against Epic, you could always buy the game on the Microsoft Store for the same price.

But there was a problem in that the Microsoft version of MechWarrior 5 didn’t have mod support, which was one of the key features of the game. That’s changed as of earlier this month with a brand new patch that brought mod support to the Microsoft Store and Xbox GamePass versions of MechWarrior 5.

There was a bit of a hiccup as PGI also changed the save data location to make things a little more accessible, but this caused players to lose their save files and campaign progression if they had the game installed anywhere other than their C drives. Players had to go digging around for their save files to put them in the new location in order to get their campaign back.

Minor bug aside, this is a welcome change for Microsoft Store players since mods can greatly enhance your experience in MechWarrior 5. Welcome to the fold, Microsoft Store and Xbox GamePass MechWarriors!

Shrapnel, The Official BattleTech Magazine, Has Officially Arrived

shrapnel

Kickstarter backers got their inaugural issue of Shrapnel a few weeks ago, but now The Official BattleTech Magazine is available for everyone via Amazon.

Shrapnel represents a return to more serialized BattleTech fiction, filling the void left by BattleCorps when it shut down in 2017. It’s definitely a tome, clocking in at 172 digital pages when you include the index (the magazine portion itself is more like 150 pages). Within this digital magazine, you’ll find short stories from recognizable authors like Blaine Lee Pardoe and Kevin Killany, a forward from editor Philip A. Lee, and some more technical pieces about sniper rifles and the Eridani Light Horse.

They’re also publishing Michael A. Stackpole’s recent Kell Hounds novella If Auld Acquaintances Be Forgot. Which sort of explains why this thing is about the size of a small novel, and why it’s being priced at $5.95 on Amazon. That’s good value, considering the amount of text you’re getting.

As Blaine points out, the first issue of Shrapnel is very wordy without a lot of visual aids. Shrapnel is taking submissions for future issues, but so far the submission guidelines are all about word limits and preferred subject material (which is to say character-focused BattleTech stories). There’s nothing about fanart submissions, but reach out anyway. I’m sure Catalyst would love to spruce things up with a bit of fanart.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Sean, you’re a writer, why don’t you submit something to Shrapnel?” Well, I did have this idea about a gay romance between star-crossed Elementals from different Clans, but I don’t think anyone wants to read that. Plus I’d have to edit out the sex scenes to meet the PG-13 requirement and trust me, that’d be A LOT of work.

But if anyone at Catalyst thinks goofy articles about AC/20 ammo being made of pancakes is worth reading, gimme a shout.

Catalyst Sends C&D’s To Thingiverse Accounts Over BattleTech Copyrights

UrbieCop

courtesy of Fried Eggs on Discord

Well, this was a long time coming. Catalyst has finally taken action against the burgeoning 3D printing community to remove all copyrighted materials from Thingiverse, perhaps the largest 3D printing design site on the internet. This has resulted in many ‘Mech designs being removed at their request.

Takedown requests started getting sent out at the beginning of June, and according to a copy of the request posted by Reddit user AceTimberwolf, those requests are coming directly from BattleTech line developer Ray Arrastia.

You can’t blame Catalyst for protecting their copyrighted ‘Mechs, but it looks like this was a takedown of anything that was tagged “BattleTech” on Thingiverse. This meant things that aren’t technically copyrighted also got taken down, including stuff like buildings, trees, and other hex-based terrains. Custom designs that were based on copyrighted ‘Mechs also got the ax.

DCMA notice

It was all a little heavy-handed, and it has left a bad taste in the mouths of the 3D-printing community. The BattleTech International 3D Printing Facebook group has taken to tagging their designs “America Mecha Game” to both protest the mass removal and also avoid future takedown notices, with various pirate memes dominating the recent postings (kudos to Fried Eggs on the Everything BattleTech Discord server for coming up with this delightful UrbieCop meme).

My take? Catalyst is staring down an existential threat. Printing minis at home means they lose their market, which means they lose some pretty essential revenue. They’d rather BattleTech fans buy minis they make instead. That’s how their business works, how it’s always worked.

But there’s really no putting this genie back in the bottle. Just as how music had to transform decades ago thanks to the advent of MP3s, so too will gaming miniature providers have to change how they do things thanks to 3D printers. C&D’s and takedown requests might slow things down for now, but they won’t stop it. The technology is out there, and it’ll only get harder and harder to police as 3D printers get cheaper and 3D designs get easier to make.

I won’t link them here, but I can tell you that certain Facebook groups are already throwing Dropbox links around with all those removed Thinigverse designs inside them. This fight is only going to get spicier in the coming months as the Clan Invasion Kickstarter shipments start later this year.

Halfway Through, So Here’s A Pixel Art Javelin

[OC] Practicing Pixel Art! from battletech

Reddit user Maaxxim posted this one and I really like it. Javelins don’t get enough love (even though you’re basically given one for free in MechWarrior 5), so I’m glad to see someone else is giving the Javelin some long-overdue attention.

BattleTech Recognition Guide: IlClan Volume One Now Available

BattleTech Recognition Guide

People have been wondering when we’ll see IlClan. Well, here’s our first good taste. The IlClan TRO is being handed out piece by piece as it’s being created in the form of the BattleTech Recognition Guide: IlClan.

What will eventually span 22 PDF files, these Recognition Guides will include at least one all-new ‘Mech per volume and also redesigns on classic ‘Mechs rebuilt using Dark Age tech. They’ll also include “in-universe development notes, battle histories, notable pilots, and record sheets for each ‘Mech.”

Dominator

After all 22 PDFs are published, they’ll be combined into a single print volume. If this doesn’t eventually become the IlClan TRO, I don’t know what will.

In a preview posted on Twitter, Catalyst also treated us to that new ‘Mech that was on the cover of Pardoe’s latest book, Divided We Fall. The Dominator is a 65-ton Clan BattleMech with decent speed, armor, and jump jets. And I was mostly right about the armament too with the real design sporting an ER PPC, ER Large Laser, ER Small Laser, and a Streak SRM-6. A Targeting Computer makes those long-range energy weapons hit consistently, and I’m all about consistency.

BATTLETECH Revised Is Now Live

BattleTech Revised via Nexus Mods

Back in March, we heard about a “crack commando team” that was looking to rebalance everything in BATTLETECH, from ‘Mech hardpoints to weapon stats. We were promised an update later, and it seems that time has come.

BATTLETECH Revised is now available on Nexus Mods and it brings with it a totally new BATTLETECH experience. ‘Mechs now have quirks based on their lore that gives them… well, quirks. Strong ‘Mechs were given debuff quirks, while weaker designs got helpful quirks.

Although the mod description states that the quirks are designed to respect a ‘Mech’s lore, the example provided isn’t exactly doing that. Apparently the Commando is considered a “sniper” ‘Mech that now has 50% more firepower for weapons mounted in the right arm. Although the COM-1B has a large laser that might make it slightly sniper-y, the vast majority of Commando variants have short-range missiles and are more harassers and reconnaissance machines than snipers. [Ed. It has been brought to my attention that the prototype and early model Commandos were actually snipers armed with large lasers and AC/2, notably the COM-1A, COM-1B, and COM1-C. So this is more in keeping with BattleTech than previously indicated. My bad!]

On the plus side, weapons have been rebalanced so that some of the more maligned weapon systems such as the AC/2 are now much more of a threat. On top of that, there are big changes to the game’s economy, story, and pilot abilities, with pilots now receiving special bonuses if they’re sent into combat in their personal rides.

It sounds like a much-expanded experience, even if the designers aren’t quite aware of the full BattleTech lore, so if you’re looking to change up your game, try BATTLETECH Revised.

MechWarrior Destiny, Dice Sets, And Puzzles Now Available

June is a big month for Catalyst! They’ve already taken up most of this recap, but we still have a few more newsworthy updates to make with new BattleTech products.

Destiny

Starting with MechWarrior: Destiny, the new RPG based on the Cue system. I have not played anything using the Cue system, but it certainly sounds interesting. Rather than having a GM, the Cue system gives each player a turn at being the Lead Narrator using “cues” on their character sheet to move each scene forward. It’s designed to be easy to learn, so it shouldn’t add too much of a complicating layer to regular BattleTech tabletop gameplay.

MechWarrior: Destiny can be played without the usual stomping robots, or you can incorporate Destiny into your BattleTech or Alpha Strike games for an added role-playing element. MechWarrior: Destiny is availble now in PDF or print formats.

Turning Points: Tyrfing is also available now in PDF form, telling the story of how the planet Tyrfing became the scene for a five-way war for Lostech during the First Succession War. There’s also a bunch of dice sets available using the logos for famous mercenary groups, including Gray Death Legion, McCarron’s Armored Cavalry, the 21st Centauri Lancers, the Eridani Light Horse, and the Northwind Highlanders.

Puzzles

And finally, we got some brand new jigsaw puzzles. Each puzzle is 500 pieces, 18×24-inches, and features box and cover art from some of the most iconic BattleTech products out today. Only 1,000 puzzles of each design will be made, and they’ll be foil-printed too. Combine this with the coloring books from last month and you got yourself the perfect way to keep the kids entertained during social distancing.

Have A Hornet To Brighten Your Day

Hornets 3D models redux from battletech

Reddit user u/juodasvarnas is back with another 3D design, this time the Hornet. It looks sort of like half an UrbanMech with jet engines strapped to the back, which I’m sure is perfectly safe. We need more Hornets out there hopping along and shooting their LRM-5s at nothing in particular–much like how a yellow jacket is inclined to sting for no particular reason.

And that’s it! Join us next month where we talk about all the stuff that happened in the next few weeks, barring an even greater global catastrophe that makes this whole giant robot stuff seem kinda trivial. Unless that global catastrophe IS giant robots. Then I guess we’ll talk about that.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Your BattleTech News Roundup For May 2020

Hey, it’s May, and BattleTech is pretty okay! Sorry, that’s the best I could do to complete the rhyme.

Today, we’re going to completely ignore coronavirus just like an anti-lockdown protester and instead focus on all that’s still good in this world. And as we all know, the only things that are good are giant stompy robots.

Welcome to your BattleTech news roundup for the month of May. Let’s get this party started.

PGI Is Hiring For MechWarrior 5 Development

Katapult

We begin our monthly roundup with some big news from MechWarrior 5 developer PGI. They’re hiring! Eight new positions have opened up at PGI, including some pretty senior technical positions like Level Designer, Principal Animator, and Senior Game Designer.

As some of you know, PGI is also the development studio behind MechWarrior Online, but these positions are all calling for Unreal 4 Engine experience, and that means MechWarrior 5. MechWarrior Online runs on Crytek, an engine that’s both much older and much worse than Unreal 4. Think of Crytek as the Java of game engines--inefficient and nobody really uses it anymore.

I kid! Please don’t send me angry emails filled with Java code that will ruin my computer if I ever accidentally click the attached files.

Anyway, the fact that these are very key positions that are looking to be filled sort of implies that PGI might have lost a few people after the launch of MechWarrior 5. There’s no way you can make a game like MW5 without an Animation Lead or a Level Designer, so I’m thinking that those folks peaced-out after the game launched last year.

As we found out last month, PGI is delaying the release of MechWarrior 5‘s first DLC pack, and these empty positions might have something to do with it. That and the sudden shift to working from home and the up-ending of the global economy.

Benefits of working at PGI include flexible schedules, comprehensive benefits, and beer Fridays. Although, with everyone working from home, every day could be beer Friday. I’m having a beer Friday right now!

We Got Two New BattleTech Books!

May is turning out to be the month of BattleTech fiction for 2020. We’ve got two new novellas to tide us over until the release of IlClan, and both of them deal with events leading up to the ascendancy of Clan Wolf (I’m guessing--I don’t actually have any inside leads with Catalyst on plot development).

Shell Games

First, we have Jason Schmetzer with Shell Games. This book has to do with the Republic of the Sphere‘s incursion into Draconis space following the fall of Fortress Republic. Paladin Max Ergen sets out to capture Dieron, a Draconis district capital and home of the Dieron Regulars, but Warlord Kambei Okamoto won’t let the planet fall without one hell of a fight.

Renowned BattleTech author Blaine Lee Pardoe did a review of the story on his site, and said that “Schmetzer does a great job of taking two paragraphs of sourcebook and turning them into a story of characters, strategy, and honorable struggle.”

Speaking of Pardoe, he’s got his own book out now that also deals with Dark Age-era events. This time the focus is on Wolf’s Dragoons, the storied mercenary company that we all thought was done for after Outreach got nuked during the Jihad. They’re actually still around, and they even have a few regiments operating by the time the Fortress Wall fell.

In Divided We Fall, Alaric Wolf tries to convince Wolf’s Dragoons to return to the Clan that spawned them by sending an envoy: Marotta Kerensky. Will the Dragoons once again become Wolves, or will they keep fighting for the freedom of the Inner Sphere against Clan aggression?

Pardoe gave us a teaser earlier this month, treating us to a brand new ‘Mech on the cover of his book. It’s called the Dominator,  apparently the brainchild of Pardoe with a few tweaks by BattleTech art director Brent Evans. Speculating based on its appearance, its armament consists of an SRM-6, a PPC, either a Large or Medium laser in the right shoulder, and a rear-facing Small laser (which Pardoe confirmed in the teaser). Class, weight, and movement profile are unknown, but given the Linebacker right beside it, I’m guessing it’s on the heavier side of Medium-class.

Both Shell Games and Divided We Fall are available now wherever fine e-books are sold. Or you can just follow these links.

Pardoe Also Did A Fun Jihad And Dark Age Summary

Jihad

Not every BattleTech fan has kept up to date with current events. Some of them don’t know their Reaving from their Jihad from their Dark Age. That’s fine; Blaine is here with a fantastic way of getting lapsed BattleTech fans up to date.

Pardoe wrote a hilariously snarky TLDR of all the BattleTech events following the FedCom Civil War, from Jihad all the way to the fall of Fortress Republic.

“Almost all of the major characters, mercenary units, and a few billion passersby are killed in a fate worse than death: killed ala sourcebook footnote,” writes Pardoe, followed up by this gem about Inner Sphere savior Devlin Stone: “Stone wears a ball cap that says, ‘Make the Inner Sphere Great Again!’ – true story!”

You should read the whole thing over on his website, and also direct any BattleTech fan you know to bookmark it for future reference. And even if you already know the full series of events, it’s still well worth a read.

New Night Vision Mod Greatly Enhances Your Ability To See In The Dark In MechWarrior 5

Mechwarrior 5 Mercenaries Mod - Night Vision
Watch this video on YouTube.

Consider this a little preview for an article I’ve been pondering on just what mods you should get for MechWarrior 5. Mod support is perhaps the best thing about the latest MechWarrior game, and mods vastly improve MechWarrior 5 over the vanilla experience.

For example, night vision. The base game’s night vision is pathetic--you can barely see past your Atlas‘s big toe. With the Clear Night Vision mod on, you can see everything through two different choices of night vision. You can set your ‘Mech’s HUD to produce that typical green glow that society has come to readily associate with night vision since the Gulf War, or you can get a full-colored version that more readily approximates current technologies.

Phil at No Guts No Galaxy recently reviewed the mod, and I gotta say, the difference is night and day. I’ll show myself out…

Check out the mod in the video above, and stay tuned for a list of essential MechWarrior 5 mods.

Part 2 Of Tex Talks BattleTech’s Primer On The Clans Is Out Now

Battletech/Mechwarrior Lore : Exodus to Elementals - A Primer on the Clans [Part 2]
Watch this video on YouTube.

I’ve talked to Tex before about his video series which has only grown in popularity since then (not saying I might’ve had something to do with it or anything; his work stands for itself). His Clans Primer is probably the best work produced by the Black Pants Legion to date, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting Part 2 ever since. It’s only fitting that it was released on May 20, just in time for the anniversary of the Battle of Tukayyid.

It’s hard to give spoilers for a story that you already know the ending to, but if you watch any Tex Talks BattleTech, watch this one. And then go back and watch the rest.

And speaking of Tukayyid…

Metal Core Collectibles Is Hosting An Anniversary Sale

Metal Core Collectibles

I’ve seen this guy post on the BattleTech subreddit a few times and have always been impressed by his work. If you’re not aware, Metal Core Collectibles is a series of not-quite BattleTech figures that are sort of like Mech Merc Commander from last week--BattleTech-inspired without actually having the license. They’re definitely made by a BattleTech fan though, and that shines through in the designs. I mean, there’s even a hex map in the background of most of the site’s images.

As far as I can tell, Metal Core Collectibles’ two designs--the Hammerhead and the Tyrant--are basically fan designs that somehow grew into their very own custom figurines. Both the Tyrant and the Hammerhead come in multiple variants so that you can get one with the weapons you want, and there’s a whole bunch of tanks, APCs, and choppers to buy too.

Personally, I really like the Tyrant. It looks like a Centurion-style medium ‘Mech, and I’ve always appreciated workhorse designs like that. I’m not sure if BattleTech-appropriate specs even exist for it, but it still tickles my love for giant robots.

And since Metal Core is owned by a BattleTech fan, they’re also hosting a sale in honor of both their first anniversary in operation and the Battle of Tukayyid. That’s 25% off anything in-store from now until May 27 using the code “Tukayyid2020”. Go check ‘em out.

That’s it for May! Join me next time as we explore what fresh hell June has in store for us.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

“Mech Merc Company” – A Love Letter To MechWarrior 2, Now On Steam Early Access

The BattleTech community has some very talented people doing some pretty awesome things. There are folks making 3D models of obscure ‘Mech designs, folks making LEGO ‘Mech models, and there are even developers making their own fan video games. We’ve already covered Wolves, the fan-made reboot of the MechAssault franchise, but there’s another game that just recently released to early access on Steam that I’ve had my eye on for a while. 

Due to my undying love of giant robots, a game popped up on my Steam suggestions that I found intriguing for a number of reasons. It’s called Mech Merc Company, and before you write this game off as a mere cheap imitation of MechWarrior, hear me out. There’s a lot of BattleTech love in this game even though it doesn’t actually have the BattleTech license.

Mech Merc Company is the brainchild of Michael “McShooterz” Shoots, a MechWarrior fan that got started with MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat. There’s definitely a lot of MechWarrior 2 in Mech Merc Company, and I got the sense that Mech Merc Company is more of a love letter to classic MechWarrior games than any attempt at copyright infringement.

Mech Merc Company v0.1.0
Watch this video on YouTube.

Not that there’s any of that going on, as far as I can tell. All the ‘Mechs used in Mech Merc Company are freely available on the Unity Asset Store, and none of them bare more than a passing resemblance to anything found in BattleTech. On the other hand, the ‘Mech building system is almost a carbon copy of the standard BattleTech tabletop rules, which might raise a few eyebrows. More on that a bit later.

Besides playing the free demo that’s available on Steam, I had a chance to speak to McShooterz to get the lowdown on just where Mech Merc Company came from. “It must have been either the end of November or beginning of December 2018. I was looking for a new project to work on, so while browsing the Unity Asset store, I stumbled on the work of MSGDI and he had just put out some really good looking ‘Mech models that look just like they would belong in HBS’s BATTLETECH. So I bought the license for them and just started building a Mech sim, and by trying to get at least a bit done every single day I have progressed to what MMC is now.”

And just what is Mech Merc Company? Think of it as a remade MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries. You play as a mercenary commander in charge of your own ‘Mech company. You can purchase pilots, equipment, and machines to grow your company while taking increasingly more dangerous missions that pit you against other fighting vehicles like tanks and enemy ‘Mechs. 

The core gameplay loop is pretty much the same as MW2: Mercs--take a contract, finish the contract, repair, buy stuff, and do it all over again. The menu and contract screens are all heavily inspired by MW2: Mercs, which is of course by design. 

“Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries is by far my favorite of the MechWarrior games, which has informed many aspects of MMC career mode design.”

Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries is by far my favorite of the MechWarrior games,” McShooterz told me, “which has informed many aspects of MMC career mode design.”

For the full career mode, you’ll need to actually purchase Mech Merc Company on Steam. The demo just has instant action mode, which will provide you with the core combat system of Mech Merc Commander and let you make custom ‘Mechs to take out for a spin. It’s a totally free demo, with the game itself available for a discount thanks to its early access status.

For just one guy working in Unity, Mech Merc Company is actually pretty impressive. Sure, the cockpit isn’t exactly immersive in its detail, and the animation of enemy ‘Mechs looks bizarrely rigid, but the weapons have impact, the controls are crisp and responsive, and disabled ‘Mechs collapse into believable heaps of scrap metal. 

There’s an old-school MechWarrior feel here that just isn’t captured in more modern offerings. Some might not have that sense of nostalgia for MechWarrior 2, but I find it rather charming. 

In my conversation with McShooterz, I got a real sense that Mech Merc Company isn’t trying to step on anyone’s toes and is more meant to offer a product that captures some of that nostalgia. That said, with so much of the core mechanics of Mech Merc Company copied from MechWarrior, I had to ask if McShooterz was worried about BattleTech’s litigious history.

“To my knowledge, everything I have used from Mechwarrior/BattleTech is not protected by IP law,” he tells me. “Ideas, mechanics, stats/balance, not-trademarked names, and UI design, to my knowledge, are not protected by copyright.”

As usual, I preface this with “I’m not a lawyer,” but I’ve seen a similar game take a stab at another, far larger license, and get away with it. You might have heard of Temtem, the Pokémon-like PC game from Spanish developer Crema Games and published by Humble Bundle. Temtem lifts liberally from Pokémon’s systems, such as stats and the four-move battle system, but so far Temtem has avoided a Nintendo lawsuit. 

Mech Merc Company seems to ride the same fine line between homage and outright theft. It’s a game that does things differently while trying to still capture that same game’s essence. The folks making Temtem are obvious Pokémon fans making their own game, and Mech Merc Company is no different when it comes to MechWarrior

“It probably will never be a looker, but I think I can make MMC one of the most interesting mech games to play.”

The game is by no means done. What Mech Merc Company has successfully accomplished is really just the bare minimum: there’s core ‘Mech combat, there are a few different randomly-generated maps, there’s a MechBay, and there’s a mission loop that’s really just a slightly more structured version of Instant Action. McShooterz knows that his game isn’t finished, which is why it’s in Steam  Early Access. He’s got a laundry list of planned improvements, including adding new hover tank models, aircraft, bases for defend/capture/destroy missions, and ‘Mech cockpits that have a bit more detail than the placeholders they currently are. And with MMC being a side project that gets worked on a little bit at a time, it might years before the game is ever truly “done.” 

But I think there’s still something to be excited about in Mech Merc Company. No, it doesn’t have any of those glorious machines that many of us have a strong emotional attachment to, and it likely never will. However, it does have the same experience that many of us feel nostalgic for that has never quite been recreated in more modern games.  

On top of that, without being constrained by a BattleTech license, MMC is free to iterate on the old formula as much as it wants. There are a few notable pieces of new equipment and weapons that have absolutely no BattleTech equivalent, such as an Autocannon 15 or Heavy Short Range Missiles, and they feel like they fill voids that some people might never have even realized were even there.

Mech Merc Company

“It probably will never be a looker,” McShooterz concludes, “but I think I can make MMC one of the most interesting mech games to play.”

If you can afford the $10 or so that McShooterz is asking for, I encourage you to give Mech Merc Company a try. And if not, there’s a completely free demo available on Steam that will give you a good idea of what you’re in for. 

Like Wolves, I’ll be keeping my eye on Mech Merc Company to see where the game goes from here. 

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy