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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
Wolvesis still working on getting Wave 2 out, but they’ve got something to keep us interested in the meantime. The Hellbringeris 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
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.
Welcome, ‘Mech fans, to your August news roundup! The West Coast is on fire and the Gulf Coast is underwater, which is not a great way to end the summer. For all those in affected areas: stay safe, stay healthy, and stay in your cockpits if at all possible. Most ‘Mechs have an air filtration system and oxygen supply provided you’ve been keeping up with your maintenance schedule.
Now let’s get this show on the road!
Virtual World Hosts “Lostech” Interview With BattleTech Founder Jordan Weisman
It’s been a minute since we heard from the folks at Virtual World, and although the pandemic has put a crimp in their usual convention touring where they bring BattleTech Simulator Pods all around the country, they’ve decided to do something at least equally as impressive to make up for it.
I reached out to Nick Smith to get the lowdown, and this is what he wrote back to tell me:
The Lostech project has been a pet project for some time and is the work of Chris “Lynx” Chapman, a former Virtual World Entertainment Group and FASA Interactive Technologies employee. (You may have also commanded him on MechCommander.)
For years, many of us affiliated with Virtual World have been proudly telling the stories of how so many things that we take for granted in the games industry today’s were first seen at the BattleTech Center in Chicago in the early nineties. Head-To-Head multiplayer gaming, “GamerTags”, defined roles in multiplayer gaming, mission review, and televised E-Sports, to name just a few, all owe some of their histories to those early days in Chicago at the original BattleTech Center.
As a person who has spent tremendous energy and time to preserving this seldom-told history, I was thrilled to partner with my friend Chris Chapman (who also wrote the Electronic BattleTech History section for the BattleTech: 25 Years of Art & Fiction book) to finally tell this story, to shine a light on those who made magic happen and subsequently influenced the future of electronic gaming.
Called MechWarrior Prime, it would have essentially been a much earlier MechWarrior 5. From the screenshots, it looks like much of the game would have used MechWarrior 4’s assets but with slight improvements to the models and textures--unsurprising, given how this game started to get pitched immediately following the release of MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries.
This also gives us a rare peek into the world of video game development and how studios start working on their next game pretty much just as soon as their latest game is done--and sometimes even before that.
Sadly, Microsoft moved away from the BattleTech license and everything got shelved. It’d be years before Smith and Tinker’s attempt at MechWarrior 5 made a few headlines, and then years more before MechWarrior Online finally brought us a new MechWarrior game (even if it wasn’t necessarily a traditional single-player experience--for that, you can play MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries that’s out now).
MechWarrior Living Legends Gets Its Own YouTube Channel
It looks like the PR folks at MechWarrior: Living Legends are increasing their reach with a brand new YouTube channel. There’s not a whole lot there at present besides the fan-made “Inferno” trailer, but that’s more than enough to get them started. Although I gotta say, there’s a better than even chance that there will be a DMCA strike for using DOOM‘s music.
Hopefully they’ll get an introductory video and maybe a few tutorials up in the near future.
August Brings More Stuff From Catalyst
Patience, MechWarriors. The Clan Invasion will begin its arrival in due course. In the meantime, here’s some fresh new BattleTech content straight from the source.
MechCommander Mercenaries just dropped its 1.2 update with a bunch of changes, most noticeably the fact that Commander Mason is just plain gone. But it’s for a good reason that has nothing to do with the plot.
One of the issues found in the early release of MechCommander Mercenaries was that sometimes Mason’s ‘Mech would just not move no matter how many times you clicked. This issue was annoying (and game-breaking) enough to warrant a temporary workaround, which involves flat-out removing Mason from the game at the start of every mission and replacing him with a stunt-double AI pilot.
While this solves the problem of Mason ignoring commands, it adds a new issue of the AI pilot being unable to trigger objectives or extraction after the mission is complete. Also, since Mason is technically not there, he doesn’t gain any experience (which is bad), but neither can he die from enemy fire (which is good, I guess).
But besides Mason taking a (hopefully short) hiatus, update 1.2 also adds something amazing: reinforcements! This beta feature now allows you to summon up to an additional 8 ‘Mechs from orbit courtesy of your Leopard DropShip. Since Leopards can only carry four ‘Mechs at a time, you’re limited to deploying an extra lance at a time, but you can still deploy an entire company of ‘Mechs on every mission. Which is as completely busted as it is awesome.
A couple of notes on reinforcements: as this is still in beta, not everything is working right. Reinforced ‘Mechs are taken from your available stored ‘Mechs, but don’t have pilots assigned and are instead given random AIs. There’s also no additional cost for reinforcing your deployments, so it is 100% busted and can turn any mission into a turkey shoot for both you and your allies.
Friendly fire is a big problem as friendly ‘Mechs will often keep firing even if they randomly move into each other’s firing lines. That’s an issue that is currently being worked on, as well as the weird Mason thing and balancing reinforcements.
There’s some other quality of life improvements in 1.2 as well, which you can hear all about in the above video.
Since When Was There A MechWarrior Dark Age Video?
I can’t believe nobody told me that this film exists. It turns out that MechWarrior: Dark Age--y’know, the Clix-based miniatures game from the early 2000s--had a freakin’ film made. And it’s not just an ad!
This was made by The Digital Animation and Visual Effects School (or DAVE School) of Orlando, Florida in partnership with BattleTech creator Jordan Weisman and WizKids, then owners of the MechWarrior: Dark Age license. It was the final project for the class of March 2006, and everything about it is delightfully B-movie, from the actors to the effects.
There’s a lot to love from this film, from how overweight most of the ‘Mech pilots are to how there’s a keyboard in the BattleMaster‘s cockpit. But the CGI does an admirable job of rendering Dark Age-style ‘Mechs and tanks in intense combat.
This is five minutes well spent. Kudos to Reddit user geergutz for finding this gem.
Some Madman (or Woman, or Other) Is Recreating MechWarrior 2 In Unity
I don’t know who this is. I don’t know why they’re doing it. But I do know that this is amazing and should be encouraged, so I’ll tell you what I know.
A parent and son are working to recreate the MechWarrior 2 engine in Unity. This pet project will take assets from the original MechWarrior 2 game files and load them into Unity for use at runtime. This is apparently being done for legal reasons and not because it’s an efficient way to make a game. But regardless, this is the closest we’ve ever come to a remaster of MechWarrior 2, and I’m here for it.
I’m not sure what the end goal here is. Maybe it really is to remaster MechWarrior 2, or maybe it’s just a tech demonstration to show that it’s possible to remaster old games in Unity. Either way, if you can put me in touch with these people, I’d love to get answers to these burning questions.
That’s it for August! Join us next time as the Earth continues to burn around us.
Yeah, I know, we just had our June news dump, but a few things came up that I really didn’t want to push off until July. They’re kinda big deals, hence we have a “supplemental” addition to our June news.
So, without further adieu…
New Trailer For MechWarrior 5 DLC, Heroes Of The Inner Sphere
MW5 Mercs Heroes of the Inner Sphere DLC - New Mechs and Biome Preview.
We heard about this DLC back in April, and now we get to see it in action. All seven new ‘Mechs are showcased in this trailer, which includes the Corsair, Champion, Dervish, Charger, Hatamoto-Chi, Vulcan, and Marauder II. I’m personally very excited about the Dervish, which I think would make a great early-game machine and a decent ride to throw my lancemates.
There’s also a brand new moon biome on display here that looks pretty danged good. Suspiciously good, in fact. I’m wondering if this DLC might have a few lighting improvements to MechWarrior 5’s engine.
And right at the end there? Infantry! Finally, MechWarrior 5 will feel more like a real world that is inhabited by humans and not just giant stomping death machines and the occasional tank.
And as a quick recap, this DLC isn’t just about adding new ‘Mechs. Heroes of the Inner Sphere will add new warzones, quests, missions, and an expanded map of the Inner Sphere. The centerpiece is seven new quests that tell the stories of seven heroes along with their unique ‘Mechs.
Might those be the seven ‘Mechs that were just showcased in the video? Or will we see the tale of Grayson Carlyle and his Marauder? We’ll find out… later. There’s no release date and PGI isn’t even going to guess at a release window, so patience is a virtue here.
Now the bad news: Technical Readout: Golden Century has been pushed back a few weeks. Originally scheduled to release this month, it’s been pushed back so that it can release in both PDF and print-on-demand format at the same time. If all goes well, Catalyst will also release other landscape-format products in the same way such as the upcoming Technical Readout: Irregulars and possibly even past TROs.
And a bit of more good news: Recognition Guide: IlClan vol. 2 is still on track to release next Friday, July 3rd.
Alright, that’s it for June. For realsies this time.
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.
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).
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 theselinks.
Pardoe Also Did A Fun Jihad And Dark Age Summary
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.
“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
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]
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
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.
Now that the holidays are over, we turn our sights to the future where we have a lot to look forward to in the BattleTech world. Chief among them is the hotly anticipated release of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, which hits digital store shelves on September 10th.
We’re less than 9 months away from release, which means it’s time to get that hype train moving. And what better way to get it rolling than with a brand new game-play trailer?
This trailer initially released through IGN a few weeks ago, but then Piranha Games put it up on the MW5 YouTube channel after they got their exclusive clicks in. We here at Sarna would be jealous, but we don’t even have a YouTube channel to provide our own exclusive video links (but that does sound appealing--hit me up PGI, let’s talk).
Anyway, what we see here is a quantum leap forward in graphics. Finally, we see some real weather on these planets in the form of rain and fog. Fog of war becomes quite literal in this clip, with players relying on instruments and laser beams to see where the enemy is located. It looks really good, although frame rate still seems to be a bit of a problem. Maybe that’s just an issue with whatever software was used to record the footage.
In addition to the reminder that MW5’s development continues with steady progress, Russ Bullock himself (he’s the president of PGI, don’t ya know) posted his own video to let the BattleTech community know that pre-orders are now available.
Called the “Community Edition”, these pre-orders all come with a variety of goodies for both the impending MW5 as well as PGI’s other game, MechWarrior Online. In fact, the rewards for MechWarrior Online seem to be even greater than the rewards for MW5. Purchasing the top-tier “Ultimate Community Edition” gives MWO players 30,000 MC, 90 days of premium time, a free Marauder II, and a ton of C-Bills and experience points.
That’s an in-game value of stuff in MWO way more than the $119.99 you spend pre-ordering MechWarrior 5.
For MechWarrior 5, each tier comes with various incentives to pre-order, such as exclusive in-game skins, digital downloads like desktops and soundtracks, and access to the beta test and the official MechWarrior 5 Discord server.
So1ahma provided a handy chart that breaks down the rewards over on Reddit, which also includes the approximate cash value too (kudos to you, So1ahma).
Personally, I think it’s a little weird that pre-ordering one game actually gives you way more goodies for a completely different game that is only partially related. It’s also a problem for those who really want to pre-order MechWarrior 5 but don’t even play MechWarrior Online--all those digital goodies are just going to waste.
Welcome to Community Outreach! Many of you were impressed by last week’s teaser video of a brand new animated MechWarrior series on YouTube. To find out more, I reached out to the teaser’s director, RoA Nitrox, who was kind enough to answer a few questions about the video’s development and how he became a BattleTech fan. Enjoy!
UPDATE: It looks like the video has been taken down. According to Nitrox, Black Plasma Studios received a cease and desist letter. Rumor is there’s some internal negotiation happening, so hopefully, it’ll be back soon. The response – before it was taken down – was certainly good enough to warrant a real animated series.
BattleTech: The Animated Series was easily my favorite Saturday morning cartoon growing up (surprised? I thought not). Now it looks like independent YouTube video makers are bringing BattleTech back to our TV screens with a teaser for a new animated series.
The teaser is on the Black Plasma Studios YouTube page and is being spearheaded by MechWarrior Online enthusiast RoA Nitrox. Much of what’s on the teaser appears to be taken directly from MechWarrior Online, including the models and sound effects. It looks like they tossed the textures in favor of smoother animation, and it’s really brought these multi-ton death machines to life. These ‘Mechs move far more fluidly than anything seen in the game and even take part in some hand-to-hand combat.
Curiously, it seems like they’re using meta-builds from the game rather than stock ‘Mechs. For example, the Cicadashown carries six Medium lasers, while the Hunchback IIC that opens fire on it sports four Ultra AC/2s – known colloquially as a “dakka” build amongst MWO players.
The Timberwolf briefly shown appears to be a laser-boat build, while the Dire Wolfis the most ludicrous build possible: 11 ER PPCs. Which, by the way, will shut you down for an entire minute if all fired at once, but only if you don’t immediately explode from the heat spike.
Black Plasma Studios seem to typically create Minecraft videos for public consumption as it remains the second most popular video game of all time. The videos are actually pretty good, with silent protagonists and music that’s all top-notch. Their “Blocking Dead” video has over 30 million views, so this is a studio that’s making YouTube money.
I don’t think BattleTech can put up those kinds of numbers, but I know I’d love to see some BattleTech animations on YouTube, and I’m sure you would too. So click the link, like, and subscribe to Black Plasma Studios and help this teaser vid become a fully-fledged animated series.
If you’re like me, then you can’t get enough robot action to merely be satisfied with the time you’re actually playing a BattleTech game. If you’re clever about it, you can stuff way more ‘Mech explosions into your day. Lunch or dinner is the perfect time to look up a caster for entertainment while you’re munching down chow. Or how about a streamer in the background at work? Bonus points if you work in an office and can somehow weave random fusion engine meltdowns into your phone calls.
Whatever you do, and wherever you are, there’s a MechWarrior Online streamer who’s there to help you get through your day with a sufficient amount of PPC blasts, and each one is just a little special. Let’s take a look at a few of the better known streamers to see which one might be the right fit for you.
As a fellow Canadian, it’s my privilege to begin this list of MWO streamers with TheB33f, perhaps the most Canadian thing to hit MechWarrior since PGI bought the rights from Microsoft.
The first thing you’ll notice when you watch TheB33f’s stream is his accent, which is a Quebecois accent so thick you can practically taste the maple syrup. Besides the sweet and sultry sounds, TheB33f is also a very skilled player and a member of the 228th IBR “The Black Watch”, one of the top ranked teams in Division A of the MRBC.
While you can pick up many helpful tips by watching his Twitch stream, his YouTube channel is all about having as much fun as possible while playing MechWarrior Online. He has high quality videos featuring some hilarious builds, all edited with his characteristic enthusiasm and humor. His streams also feature some of the best music mixes I’ve ever heard.
He typically streams every Wednesday and Saturday at 6 PM EST, but keep an eye on his Twitter as he’ll announce impromptu streams when he can.
For a more dedicated streamer, check out Trainsy. This guy actually performs his streams to thousands of viewers for a living and his schedule reflects that, being online and gaming from 2:30 PM to 11:30 PM PST with only a half hour break in between. As a professional, he has also completely monetized his stream so that nearly everything a viewer does (besides chatting) has a small donation price beside it.
As the name might suggest, he’s taken the whole train theme to a level that might not seem healthy. But hey – strong branding is important, and this guy has it in spades.
He doesn’t exclusively play MechWarrior, but as a long time fan he’s certainly got his giant robot chops as a tier 1 pilot. He’s also a pretty chill guy, and is more than happy to answer any questions he gets asked in chat while he does mostly PUG drops. Check out his Twitch stream here, and a secondary YouTube channel here.
If I were to crown a king of most helpful MechWarrior Online streamers, it would have to be Baradul and his channel Molten Metal. Something about a German accent speaking flawless English that just makes every explanation stick, y’know? Or maybe I just have a thing for accents.
Besides that, Molten Metal really is the best channel for new players to learn more about MechWarrior Online. His YouTube videos are filled with detailed analysis of every choice he makes – that means both his build choices as well as his in-game decisions.
But don’t let the German professor persona fool you – this guy has some skill, as his Twitch streams will show. He doesn’t have a fixed streaming schedule, but he generally plays every day around 2 PM UTC (that’s 10 AM EST).
We stay in Europe but travel to Britain for our next streamer, Loken from LokenPlays. A semi-pro streamer, you can catch him online nearly every night at 5 PM EST (that’s 10 PM GMT), although MechWarrior is only played on Tuesdays. He’s also more here for entertainment than education, but he is sure to explain his builds in between matches.
He typically plays with a group of friends to keep the witty banter lively, and he’ll bust out some pretty hilarious voices – usually just before exploding. Seriously though, if you’re looking for a great streamer to watch as he screams obscenities at his mate’s antics, then this is the channel for you.
His MechWarrior videos don’t typically find their way to his YouTube channel, but you can watch some pretty neat Star Citizen videos there. He also has a Discord channel and Steam group for those who want to join the LokenPlays community.
What list of MechWarrior streamers would be complete without No Guts No Galaxy? As the premiere community hub for all things BattleTech they stream far more than just MechWarrior Online, such as livestreams for the BattleTech developers at Harebrained Schemes, the No Guts No Galaxy podcasts, or whatever else Phil and Daeron feel like getting up to.
Of the two of them you’ll usually catch Phil playing MWO, and despite being a tier 1 pilot Phil has a penchant for creating some very non-meta ‘Mech builds. Expect to see a variety of chassis that you don’t normally see in game on this channel. He’s also got a classic MechWarrior playlist, so you may recognize some tunes from MechWarrior games of yore.
Right now there’s a donation challenge running where you can compel Phil to play as a particular ‘Mech or at a particular tonnage and then give him a specific goal, like killing 2 heavy ‘Mechs or only targeting light ‘Mechs. It can make for some pretty hilarious games, so why not throw them a few bucks?
Expect to see some BattleTech streams from these boys as soon as the game is released.
Got a MechWarrior streamer that I missed but really should be seen? Let me know in the comments!
A lot of us will look back at Saturday morning cartoons from our childhoods and wish they’d bring them back. Sometimes it even happens – just look at Samurai Jack and Power Puff Girls. For most of us it remains just a wistful dream.
But not for everyone. Some of us decide to take action. And one of us decided to remake the BattleTech cartoon.
The Gathering Storm - A 'Battletech Animated' remake
I managed to track down the man who spent the blood, sweat, and tears to bring this classic back to life and asked him a few questions on his work.
“When I first saw the BattleTech cartoon some years back I was completely blown away,” Vux tells me in an email interview. “That epicly badass introduction scene for the clans sent a die-hard clanner like me completely over the moon.”
Vux had been a BattleTech fan for a long time. An avid MechWarrior Online player, he’s done quite a few tongue-in-cheek introductory videos for new players on his YouTube channel already. Then, years later, he had an idea to bring back some of that original Saturday morning BattleTech magic.
“The vision I had was a shot-for-shot remake of the cartoon, with adaptations and additions as appropriate,” he writes, thus beginning a labour of love. “I started planning it with my MWO pals October of last year. I wanted to keep the script and dialogue very faithful to the original, with the intent being to mirror the style/attitude of the show (and its cast) as well as we could.”
The first step would be to get actual footage to use. “Luckily all the ‘Mechs featured in the cartoon were available to pilot in MWO,” so getting that footage would be as simple as gathering a group of friends to do some robot inspired acting. “All the battles and ‘Mech-y scenes were recorded with a group of nice players I knew, who volunteered (after only the tiniest amount blackmail and threats of lasery death) to assist me in some private lobby games.”
“We went with a slower moving ‘massive steel beasts’ feel, like in the cartoon,” which presented a challenge as the ‘Mechs in MechWarrior Online are generally significantly faster, and most pilots just jam the W button to go full throttle. Training his volunteers was difficult, as it went against everything they’d ever learned. “This meant dozens of (painful) retakes for scenes like the Inner Sphere ‘Mech charge scene with spinning camera, and the scene where Redmond’s ‘Mech dramatically steps into frame.”
Things got even more difficult once the shooting started. Since they were using a game to record all the footage, they had to work within the game’s constraints, which meant, “If the scene didn’t go right, we had to restart the entire map since there’s too much battle damage on the ‘Mechs to suit continuity of the scene at that point.”
As Vux tells it, this resulted in “A lot of strained nerves from my ‘Mech pilots, but we got them done just before people got completely fed up with me saying ‘okay guys, back to positions and go again’ for the 20th time.”
From Strained Nerves to Building Worlds
Not all aspects of the cartoon could be recreated in MechWarrior Online. Certain models, like the Batu fighters and the Dropships, just don’t exist in game. What’s a budding director to do? “I scoured the interwebs trying to find 3D models for the Battletech fighters and Dropship featured in the cartoon,” Vux writes, however most of what he found “were either not compatible with my 3D program or restricted in usage rights.”
“Then I discovered MWO player Kilroy’s archive of Battletech models and he was cool with me using them in my project,” he adds, proving once again how close-knit the MechWarrior Online community can be.
Next came the added challenge of adding this models into the footage already taken from the game. “I had zero previous experience working with 3D models, but I learned to use a plugin for Adobe After Effects called ‘Element 3D’ for the actual 3D work.” Still, learning on the fly was slow going, or as Vux tells it, “I spent many evenings experimenting with animating and compositing the models with the MWO footage, hoping to make it both look decent and match the original scenes as closely as possible.”
Other scenes, such as the conversation between Andrew Steiner (Adam Steiner’s older brother) and Star Colonel Nicolai Malthus and the establishing shots of the Somerset Military Academy, presented their own difficulties. Once again, video games come to the rescue.
“I used Star Wars: The Old Republic to record the indoor scenes as it had the perfect military-type environments and big computer consoles I needed. I was able to create a Steiner character in the game who looks very close to his cartoon self, down to the scar and 5 o’clock shadow. I used what emotes were available in-game to get the lip-sync as close as I could to his lines.”
Unfortunately, Star Wars didn’t have anything that even remotely looked like Colonel Malthus, which was a problem. “I discussed options with my creative assistant (chrx) and we concluded it would be way too difficult to reproduce those scenes in any decent manner.”
After weeks of intense deliberation, Vux came up with the solution: “[I’d] introduce the clanners in a more suspenseful way – only showing a brief initial flash of Malthus’ ‘Mech and his transmission readout, not showing their faces at all. This way I could keep the attacking force very mysterious until the very dramatic scene where the clanners are revealed and Malthus makes his entrance with that deliciously over-the-top, ‘Your insolence has provoked the fury of the clans!’ speech.”
The voice acting is intentionally a bit cheesy and somewhat over-the-top, just like in the cartoon.
The last ingredient to bring his project to life would be to give it a voice. As Vux tells it, “The cast is basically just a bunch of BattleTech fans I managed to sweet-talk into doing the lines.” Just like shooting the ‘Mech scenes, the voice acting had it’s own set of issues as not everyone in the cast had access to a professional microphone forcing “a few people to record their lines with their phones as that was all they had available.”
Nailing the dialog was also tricky as the cast couldn’t use their normal register when speaking to get the true 90’s cartoon camp. “This meant that the voice acting is intentionally a bit cheesy and somewhat over-the-top, just like in the cartoon.”
All that was left was months of editing and then it was released upon a wider world.
Wrapping up, Vux left me with a few words for his adoring fans. “I’d just like to thank all the fluffy people who have left nice feedback and supported my channel, you guys (and gals) rock!”