Tag Archives: Media

Real World Lasers are getting Smaller, and MEANER

Ever since Jules Verne and H.G. Wells enticed citizens and warmongers alike with talk of energy-based beam weapons, mankind has been struggling to catch up to its own imagination. And naturally, BattleTech is chock full of it – mainly in the form of lasers, and mainly seen from the view of a 1980s-era war game designer as a futuristic weapon.

Which it is… considering that compared to projectile, missile, and even flame weapons, lasers (especially weaponized ones) are to quote Val Kilmer in Real Genius “a young science.”

If only Jordan Weisman and team FASA could have seen the advance of real laser weapons in the past ten years from the ’80s. Israel is probably the most advanced so far, with several types in operation, mainly for air defense. Didn’t think the laser AMS got its start in the 21st century did you? The Iron Beam, as it’s called, is the close-in part of a multi-tiered air defense system called the Iron Dome. Iron Beam is reported to have an 80-90% success rate, and can engage even artillery and mortar shells in mid-flight with “into the hundreds” of kilowatts of energy. It’s essentially a land based version of a laser/projectile defense system like those used on the USS Ponce – which can also engage surface targets. But these are massive units the size of inter-modal shipping trailers. Next up, laser weapons that can be mounted on a light vehicle.

ATHENA: Looks like something you'd fight in MechWarrior IV.

ATHENA: Looks like something you’d fight in MechWarrior IV.

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Alpha Strike mod for Table Top Simulator

A chance interception on Reddit alerted me to this new work-in-progress game mod for TableTop Simulator on the Steam Network. TTS is kind of a virtual reality environment for playing tabletop games. You manually move the pieces, dice and sheets interactively – just using a mouse instead of your hand.

I was told by one of the users that the BattleTech mod uses map tiles and differing altitude levels, which suggests a measure of customizability to the environment. Though they and the assorted models and preset record sheets are fairly limited in number at the moment. There are nineteen ‘spheroid ‘mechs in the first mech pack. Turduckens has a number of these terrains to choose from, including River Map, Open Terrain, etc. Traditional rule sets for BattleTech have also proven to be  too clunky to be used in TTS, but Alpha Strike works very well. Even when fighting with a company or more on each side. It almost reminds me of a less-flashy prototype of what MechWarrior Tactics was trying for.

It’s certainly no MegaMek – but perhaps that’s a good thing. With a simple rule set and richer graphical experience, not to mention Steam Network’s voice chat system, ‘River map’ might develop into quite a compliment to MegaMek.

Thanks to Tipsymahn260 for the image.

Thanks to Tipsymahn260 for the image.

If you’re on Steam and feel like a game of Alpha Strike, or just want to check out the virtual models, it might be worth a look.

MegaBots vs. Kuratas Fight Kickstarter

MetaBotsWith both the challenge and acceptance videos from the MegaBots crew and team Suidobashi numbering nearly ten million views in little more than a month, it looks like this good-natured rivalry is turning more heads than just those belonging to us big stompy bot fans. Especially with BattleBots back on the air… which, of course, brings me to some of the heavy-hitters getting involved. It’s no longer just a team of spirited ‘mecha-nauts’ anymore.

I mentioned in my first article about the challenge that the co-founders of MegaBots were no strangers to the media. But the crew they’ve managed to put together for this undertaking honestly reminds me of a 21st century Team Bonzai. And going by the new concept artwork for the redesign, the new Mk.II looks like a mashup between Robot Jox and Rocky IV- just dripping with ostentatious patriotism.

All this concept art needs is Captain America's shield and Hasbro would be all over this.

All this concept art needs is Captain America’s shield and Hasbro would be all over this.

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Renowned Scientists Warn Against Killer Robots

“Military Artificial Intelligence Arms Race Could Soon Develop if Preventative Measures are not Taken.”

Many people don’t realize that (as far as we know) the current generation of Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) are in fact, flown by rated pilots; only by a (hopefully) secure data link from several hundred miles away. Flesh and blood hands still pickle the bombs and missiles off those drones. Interruption of that data link or some other sort of fault triggers a return to base order; some of the only real automation on the current series of UCAVs.

MQ-9 Reaper armed with AGM-114 Hellfires and Small Diameter Bombs

MQ-9 Reaper armed with AGM-114 Hellfires and Small Diameter Bombs

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Father and Son Halloween Sunder Cosplay

It was over a month ago that I wrote about a Warhawk ‘mech cosplay; I mentioned that the BattleTech themed projects I’ve seen online have been almost universally reverse-join clan designs entered in competitions. These have been more puppets than outfits, really; with the operator’s black-clad legs sticking out the back and between those of the ‘mech.

But in this My Modern Met article, a BattleTech fan has not only put together an inner sphere assault ‘Mech, but it’s a proper suit since the Sunder is a nice, slat-sided humanoid design with limbs bulky enough to accommodate both himself and his infant son Geraint- who seems more than happy to pilot the BattleMech powered by his dad, Ryan.

The article also explains that the torso and arms attach by velcro around Ryan and Geraint- who sits in a baby harness strapped to dad’s chest. The legs attach to a belt around the waist, so it doesn’t take long to don the Sunder suit.

courtesy of mymodernmet.com

courtesy of mymodernmet.com

Robotech, Macross, and the Unseen

Even though it was decades ago, I’ll never forget the Saturday morning where I became forevermore helplessly, HOPELESSLY addicted to large military robots. I have since developed a bit of ‘flowery’ disdain for the bastard chimera that is the Robotech saga, but I am at least nostalgic that it was the vehicle with which I first was introduced to Supredimensional Fortress Macross.

It was 1985. I was eight years old, and until then Saturday morning cartoons consisted mainly of an assortment of Hasbro toy advertisements and video game tie-ins. Anime was and would continue to be very sparse (though much of it was animated in Japanese studios). Transformers (of the aforementioned Hasbro adverts) had a very strong effect on me for getting turned on to big stompy bots.

And then Robotech showed up; which took the transformable robot thing and showed that “hey- people can drive these things dammit!”. The VF-1 Valkyrie in all its flavors (which became the Wasp, Stinger,Phoenix Hawk and their LAM equivalents), was NOT a nae indestructible machine like the Transformers were (until half of them got spawn-fragged in the animated movie the following year). They, at least the tan-colored ones popped like zits throughout the show. But they had it easy compared to the thrashings the poor Destroids received.

Three variant Valkyrie variable fighters; originally used as the Wasp, Stinger, and Phoenix Hawk 'mechs.

Three variant Valkyrie variable fighters; originally used as the Wasp, Stinger, and Phoenix Hawk ‘mechs.

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Anyone Remember Exosquad?

I recently watched the mid-90s cartoon show on Hulu for the first time since it aired on television. And I have to say that it touches me on a level that I don’t think anyone marketing a cartoon to sell toys really has before or since.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s, when cartoons were usually made in such a way as to appeal to the most number of age groups. And they usually stuck to a really clear-cut list of things you can and can’t get away with regarding real life issues like war and politics. Shows like Tiny Toons and Animaniacs got away with well written and subtle jokes aimed at an adult audience, even though any four year old could plop down and watch it and have just as much fun as a teenager, or even their parents.

Exosquad broke all the rules of what cartoons could get away with- in the western hemisphere anyway. Japanese anime had been catering to an adult and mature audience for decades at that point, and even their toy-selling shows like Mobile Suit Gundam, Dougram, Votoms, and a slew of others had very adult themes. I think Universal Studios was aiming at that market here in the US; told exactly like an epic war movie.

J.T. Marsh: the BattleTech universe could use a few of him.

J.T. Marsh: the BattleTech universe could use a few of him.

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BattleTech Fan Films: A Review

Fan films have been around a lot longer than YouTube has. In fact I remember downloading a number of them from the likes of WinMX and Kazaa. Well over a decade is long enough to put together a fine assortment of good, and not so good work. Fan films generally fall under two varieties: music videos set to mainly MechWarrior videogame stock footage, and the far less common scratch-made films like you see for the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises. I’ll be focusing on the latter.

This first film is a stock video type, using scenes from the films Stealth, Matrix Revolutions (for some reason), Space Battleship Yamato, and of course footage from the opening to MechWarrior IV. The war poem is Lay the Down MechWarrior read by George Ledoux and written by Glen Byrum. It is superbly written and performed; I believe originally for advertisements for MechWarrior IV Mercenaries.

“Red Bone Run” was featured on the No Guts No Galaxy broadcast, and features a Panther, Bushwacker and a couple of tanks who discover a rogue Smoke Jaguar Timberwolf  from a downed DropShip. Straight forward and right to the point. The ‘Mechs are rendered well, and the art style is heavily lined and stylized, giving everything an almost embossed appearance. The pilots seem flat and out of place though. Sound effects and music are well done and scored in-house.

Red Bone Run "Red Bone Run" Timberwolf having words with an enemy Bushwacker

“Red Bone Run” Timberwolf having words with an enemy Bushwacker

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