Your BattleTech News Roundup For October, 2021

The cold and rainy weather has finally struck Southern Ontario, so that means it’s October. The spooky season gets dismally grey where I live, which is only appropriate for the spookiest of non-holidays.

Here’s hoping your personal pandemic experience has gotten to the point where it feels like razor blades and needles are the larger concern with trick or treating than catching COVID. Get vaccinated if you haven’t already, and keep an eye on the relevant medical organizations about potential boosters.

And now, on to your regularly scheduled BattleTech news for October 2021.

The Clans Might Be Coming To MechWarrior 5

This technically happened at the end of September, but by then I’d already hit publish on that month’s news blast, so we’re pushing it into October. A datamine into the most recent MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries patch revealed some interesting new content might be coming to the game, and it involves the Clans

Am I surprised? Well, not that there’s a Clan Invasion potentially coming, but that it’s happening so soon. We’ve only just wrapped up the Fourth Succession War with the Kestrel Lancers expansion and now we’re talking about a Clan invasion.

First, the evidence, courtesy of a Reddit post from neverfearIamhere. The datamine reveals references to the invading Clans, including Clan Wolf, Jade Falcon, Ghost Bear, and Smoke Jaguar, as well as the long list of non-invading Clans. There are also references to the Bushwacker, Hellspawn, Night Gyr, Osiris, Fafnir, Piranha, Thanatos, and Uziel. More recent tech like MRMs, Light PPCs, and Rocket Launchers are also mentioned. The weird thing here is that tech is from the 3060s while the Clan Invasion is supposed to be in the ’40s and ’50s. 

The other weird thing is how often PGI has stated that MechWarrior 5 wouldn’t go into the Clan Invasion, and indeed this sentiment was repeated on a recent No Guts No Galaxy video (which made it sound like MechWarrior 6 was more likely). But I gotta mention that datamines are not necessarily indicative of anything. There could be any number of reasons why that code is in MechWarrior 5, including potentially other DLC packs that bring the timeline into the FedCom Civil War era. I don’t know and PGI hasn’t said anything. But it’s there, and that’s maybe something. 

MechWarrior 5 Female Protagonist Mod Adds Much-Needed Representation

MW5 Female Protagonist with Voice-Over Mod
Watch this video on YouTube.

I always found it a bit odd that MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries doesn’t have an option for a female player character. I mean, it’s 2021; pretty much every franchise out there has gotten the message that gender equality in gaming is a good thing, and they’ve written their games so that the player can choose between male or female. Some have even started giving players the option of falling somewhere else on the gender spectrum.

Being able to play a trans MechWarrior is probably a little more than PGI can handle at the moment (more on that later), but c’mon guys. There are plenty of female MechWarriors in BattleTech, and fans should have the option to play as one.

But where PGI fails, modders provide. The Female Protagonist mod not only adds a female player portrait but also replaces the male voice lines with new ones. The voice is AI-generated so there’s a certain robotic monotone quality, but as mod creator SankaraSamsara says in the mod description, “It’s better than nothing, I think.” 

You can choose between several new player portraits including a few characters from Harebrained’s BATTLETECH as well as Yelena from Deus Ex and even Dr. Kynes from Dune. There’s also a “they/them” pronoun version of the mod that replaces all the appropriate pronouns in the text.

This mod is still in active development, and the creator has already confirmed on Twitter that there are plans to add real voice acting in a future update. Stay tuned. 

Renegade HPG Remasters TRO 3057 Cover

Renegade HPG collaborated with Emil of @ArtofBattleTech fame as well as Jayden Morris to remaster the classic cover of the TRO 3057 DropShips, JumpShips, and WarShips. This here’s the Leviathan, Clan Ghost Bear’s gigantic combined dreadnaught/transport ship. Emil resized the image using some fancy AI upscaling, while Jayden redid the Ghost Bear logo. Renegade HPG brought it all together in one tight little package for Gallery 3025. Which, by the way, you should join if you’ve got the funds.  

Catalyst Provides Update On Clan Invasion Packages

The question many BattleTech fans have been asking Catalyst lately has largely been “where’s my stuff!?” It’s a fair question to ask, given how long they’ve been waiting for their Clan Invasion packages to arrive. 

According to Catalyst, over 90% of Clan Invasion shipments have been delivered without a hitch as of the beginning of the month. That said, there are still quite a few folks who haven’t received their minis, pins, challenge coins, and the all-important UrbanMech plushie. 

Most of them are apparently in the EU. This is due to the fact that the Chinese factories creating the Clan Invasion box sets sent the entirely wrong box sets. Then there was a series of warehouse delays and logistical delays, and then GenCon… and more stuff. You can read the whole thing over on the Clan Invasion Kickstarter page

Bottom line, Catalyst is now all-hands-on-deck ensuring that everyone gets everything they ordered. At the beginning of the month, they received a report on all non-delivered items and will ensure there’s a separate shipment for everything that was missed. 

“We know there is still a great deal of work to do to get us through Wave 2,” Catalyst wrote, “and to keep fixing issues that have cropped up along the way (like Russia!) and on which we will continue to work hard until we have fulfilled and satisfied all 12,000 active backers.”

Of course, Catalyst has more than just Clan Invasion boxes to ship. They’ve recently gotten started with the fourth and final cycle of ilClan BattleMech Recognition Guides with Volume 19, and there are also these interesting figures of what appears to be a Stormcrow Alt. Config B. Prime variants are usually not my preferred OmniMechs, so variant figures are likely to be a pretty good moneymaker.

Living Legends 2 Looks Like It’s Coming Along Nicely

Living legends 2: Atlas boarding and power up scene concept.
Watch this video on YouTube.

Remember Living Legends 2? The team behind the MechWarrior: Living Legends successor recently posted a development update showing several new ‘Mech models in Unreal 5. There’s a Bushwacker, a Marauder, and of course, a big bad Atlas, all of which look fairly close to their classic TRO designs. 

So far, the team says they have a functioning game prototype, but everything is basically placeholders. They’ve got a fully animated Bushwacker and all the game’s systems and netcode working, but there are some systems that haven’t been implemented like ammunition and heat. 

But things definitely seem to be progressing at a pace far faster than you’d expect for what essentially amounts to a fan project. These industrious folks have even got a Steam page set up, although it remains invisible until they’re ready for open alpha testing. 

Oh, and they’ve also changed the name yet again to Living Legends 2: Armored Combat. It sort of evokes the BattleTech name without using the actual trademark. As always, we’ll be keeping a close eye on these guys to see how Living Legends 2 shakes out. 

Fast Food Of The 31st Century

Fast Food chains in the Battletech universe from battletech

Brutetuba shared this little ditty on Reddit recently, and I love it. I don’t know where this idea came from, and I don’t know how it was turned into the tiniest piece of game architecture I’ve ever seen, but it’s great and you all need to burn down Catalyst’s inbox to turn this into an official product. And y’all need to tell me where I can get a tiny hat for an UrbanMech. That shit’s dope.

MechWarrior Online Is Giving Away A Lot Of Stuff This Halloween

We got a lot to talk about in MechWarrior Online, so I’m going to try and speed through it. 

First up, the annual rewards program has been announced. If you played at least 100 matches between November 24, 2020, and now, you’ll get five million C-bills, a ‘Mech Bay, and 100 GSP. If you paid any amount of money in the same time period, you get a free UrbanMech UM-R80 and an additional 100 GSP. Buy any of the new player packs, bungles, DropShip Deals, ‘Mech Packs, or basically anything other than the recent Stryker, Warden, Hunter, or Predator packs, you get a free Viper VPR-F. Buy any of those previously excluded packs and you’ll get an Atlas AS7-K3, and if you bought one from each of these categories, you’ll get two decals, three Boosted cockpit items, and 200 additional GSP. 

Next, MechWarrior Online recently released its October patch which brought the Hunter Pack and the remastered Viridian Bog. The map was redesigned with feedback from the Cauldron to be more open, have more sightlines, and offer greater tactical freedom for the two teams to try and flank opponents. Several weapon systems and equipment have been tweaked, and we’ve got a brand new quirk pass for several ‘Mech designs. Commandos, Jenners, Vipers, Phoenix Hawks, Warhammers, Marauders, Stalkers, Marauder IICs, Corsairs, and Fafnirs have all had their quirks adjusted, so check out the patch notes to see if your preferred ride has some new tricks up its sleeve. 

And of course with Halloween around the corner, there’s a new event and a new free Mech. Loot bags are back, which rewards random goodies for every 100 match score you accumulate in each match. Crack open 250 bags and you’ll get a Hellspawn HSN-8P and a ‘Mech Bay along whatever items you receive in each loot bag. Events like these are great ways to restock your ‘Mech Credits and C-bills for free-to-play players, so be sure to play a few games and grind out that Hellspawn.

MechWarrior Online Says Trans Rights After A Bit Of Convincing

PGI did their very best to get canceled earlier this month after they denied a MechWarrior Online competitive team the use of the words “Trans Rights” and “Trans Fights” in their team names. Daalpacagirl outlined the whole situation in a long-winded Reddit post, along with screenshots of emails between herself and a MechWarrior Online admin, but the TLDR is that she tried to get into the MechWarrior Online World Championships with two teams called “KDCM V: Trans Rights” and “KDCM VI: Trans Fights,” and the PGI admin said “no.” 

What was truly bizarre was PGI’s explanation for declining the team names, saying MechWarrior Online was not an “appropriate environment” for “real-life political discussions.” PGI allowed the teams to go ahead and compete, just without the “Trans Fights” and “Trans Rights” tags. 

The whole thing blew up on social media with PGI co-founder Russ Bullock stepping into the fracas with some pretty awful things to say in support of the GM that denied the team names, calling the whole thing a “tough situation.” If you’d like to see what response THAT got him, PC Gamer picked out a few good examples.

It was at this point that live operations manager Matt Newman had to step in and eat crow, issuing a public apology on the official MechWarrior Online website and remedying the situation personally by restoring the removed team names. 

“Our actions obviously hurt and offended people, I apologize. We will do better,” Newman promised. “With the understanding that trans rights is not a political issue, we will allow the team to use either of their original choices as their team name.”

To her credit, Daalpacagirl graciously accepted the apology on Twitter and promised to continue competing in MechWarrior Online. Russ, meanwhile, wisely remained silent following PGI’s apology, although he offered no apology himself. Sort of explains the lack of a female protagonist in MechWarrior 5, huh? 

I Don’t Actually Love Hunchbacks, But I Kinda Love Hunchbacks

Finished a new Mech illustration, here’s a Hunchback for your enjoyment! from battletech

I know that my signoff is a Hunchback serving up flapjacks, and on more than one occasion I’ve commissioned art of Hunchbacks doing stuff like stirring cauldrons and experiencing explosive dysfunction (to the point where you could accuse me of trying to rebrand Sarna’s signature ‘Mech as the Hunchback), but it’s not because I have any particular love for Hunchbacks. I don’t really like Hunchbacks--they’re tough and dangerous, but they’re kind of a one-trick pony. They’re very good at that trick, but I tend to prefer ‘Mechs that don’t get ranged by a Whitworth

But I also can’t help but appreciate Hunchbacks for their iconic looks. They’re both instantly recognizable by any BattleTech fan and they’re incredibly versatile for their humanoid shape and fully articulated hands. For this reason, it’s easy to make a Hunchback look interesting and dynamic. 

Reddit user nickelangelo2009 showcases the Hunchback‘s dynamism perfectly with their newest illustration. This MechWarrior is very clearly trying to conserve their Hunchie’s limited ammunition, but that’s fine because blazing away with all three lasers still looks cool.

And that’s it! Join us next month as we stop being spooky and we start getting somber before the arrival of winter, my least favorite season.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy. 

stay syrupy

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56 thoughts on “Your BattleTech News Roundup For October, 2021

  1. Gary Ridgewood

    Sean I dunno hereabouts in southern Ontario you are…but sizeable group down the qew in Niagara.

    1. Pajama Boy

      *Raises hand*

      I live near the escarpment between Hamilton and Grimsby. Small world. Does this mean there’s a tabletop scene around here I don’t know about?

  2. Guy

    No need for COVID vaccine for me, I have natural immunity! Beats a booster shot every 3 months ugh. Got my kickstarter boxes a few days ago! Ready to stomp some Clanners!

  3. Brian

    regarding the MWO transrights issues, TBH it doesn’t suprise me, Battletech has a large conservitive population… one of these days I’m concerned it’s going to become an issue that could hurt the game

    1. Dog of War

      I highly doubt it’s a matter of anyone’s politics. What’s probably more likely is a lot of people are really kind of tired of certain activist types trying to wedge their personal politics into entertainment spaces.

      1. Jitter

        This is an “entertainment space” that featured fully emancipated female combat personnel and has an outright matriarchy as a minor power since the 80’s. You bet your jumpjet exhausts it was “political” then. Hell, don’t kid yourself – if it would have been released today it would also be “political”, especially the Canopus part. “Politics” is and always has been used as a weasel word for “I don’t like these people having representation”.

        Having said that, if you dig down into the issue you’ll find it’s less about anyone’s “political agenda”, and likely more about a certain untouchable mod on a power trip.

        1. Kdogprime

          No offense, Jitter, but you’re absolutely wrong.

          First off, if you think transpeople aren’t adequately championed in the media, then you haven’t watched enough media.

          Secondly, transpeople are not owed any level of representation in any IP, just like any other group of people. Battletech does not make a big deal about any sexual identity, or any religious group (aside from the Blakists, but that’s for entirely different reasons), or any particular political philosophy (aside from the Clans and the Star League). You don’t need to have a character representing every single little viewpoint or lifestyle. If someone can’t enjoy something without, “seeing themselves,” in a character, then the problem is with them, not Battletech.

          Thirdly, diversity is not a requirement for popularity. The success of Squid Game should be proof enough of that.

          Fourthly, don’t confuse a sexual identity with a personality. People are more than what they choose to do with their junk, and those who obsess over that tend to be one-note and very boring individuals.

          Fifthly, whether you like it or not, conservatives are as much real people as you are. Despite your obvious disdain for them, they aren’t nearly the monsters you are insinuating, nor is their support damaging to the brand, or will be in the future. If the goal of your not-so-subtle attempt to throw shade is to encourage people to ostracize conservatives from the Battletech community and discourage their purchasing of Battletech merch, I might remind you that such attempts never end well for companies that decide to alienate of a large portion of their fan base in favor of pandering to a minute but vocal section of the population. Ask Marvel and DC Comics how well that particular business strategy is working out for them. Gillette lost over five billion just in six months because of their ad campaign that targeted, “toxic masculinity.”

          You want to make a mech-based IP where every third character is gender-fluid? Be my guest; no one is stopping you. But you are not going to start pissing on Battletech or its fans because it doesn’t have some kind of trans wish-fulfillment character front and center.

          1. Kdogprime

            I should direct my fifth point at Brian. I didn’t notice that the first comment was under his name. That was my mistake.

          2. Kdogprime

            I should direct my fifth point toward Brian, not Jitter. I did not notice that Brian made the first post when I wrote my reply. That was my mistake.

          3. BronzeDragon

            If the battletech IP starts pandering to 0.1% I’m out. Look at what they’re doing to the LOTR franchise.

          4. Jitter

            Before I’d address points 1-4 I’d like to make something clear: we’re not talking about some external initiative to make BT more “trans friendly”, as you and many people apparently think. This all started with *allegedly* a specific person who happens to be trans being *allegedly* banned from their unit for having trans flag decal on their mech. As in – actual, existing players reacting to the *alleged* discrimination of a person naming one of their subteams in solidarity. This (and subsequent events) is ALL described under the very first link in the pertinent section of this newspost. Somehow I doubt you’ve read it before jumping the gun, so please rectify that now.

            Now, onto the actual reply…

            I like the fact the fact that you got so carried away constructing your strawman that you’ve essentially merged two different people in roughly equal proportions, content-wise. An outstanding example of American tribalism (which I’m no part of and do not wish to be).

            Re firstly, I said no such thing.

            Re secondly, not only did I express such a request in any form, I observed that BattleTech was already “woke” before the word existed and contained plenty of various kinds of representation since the very start. Kind of sounds the opposite of what you’re trying to put into my mouth?

            Re thirdly, and fourthly… well. Our opinion are drastically more aligned on these topics than you would appear to believe. However, given how at this point you’re addressing some nebulous “representation advocate” (not to to use the the dreaded TLA) rather than whatever I said, I find little hope in convincing you otherwise.

        2. Kdogprime

          Since I apparently can’t reply to your reply to my reply, I’m going to reply to it here.

          For starters, I did read the entire post before I made my first reply, and I’m fully aware of the issues surrounding the naming of the team, and how PGI bent the knee. It doesn’t change a thing, and I stand by my points. Those teams did not pick those names for any other reason than to provoke controversy, because they knew what the tournament rules were. As someone else here pointed out, if a team of pro-life players decided to name their group something that was obviously against abortion, many people would probably have been fully in support of that team being subjected to a forced re-naming, because they simply can’t tolerate the pro-life position. You can either not permit any controversial names, or you have to let everyone name their team whatever they choose, regardless of how offensive it might be to someone else. Making exemptions for certain groups that are known to make a giant hue and cry over every perceived slight because its, “denying them representation,” is not equality.

          You wrote, and I quote: “Politics” is and always has been used as a weasel word for “I don’t like these people having representation”.

          How should I interpret that statement from you as anything other than your belief that transpeople aren’t adequately represented in Battletech or media in general? Again, no one is owed representation of any sort in any IP, at any level.

          If you agree that sexual identity is not a substitute for a personality and that diversity is not a requirement for success, then why would you care if a team weren’t allowed to name themselves something controversial in keeping with the tournament rules about not including politically-charged topics in team names? Perhaps you didn’t bother to read the linked PC Gamer article where people took Ross’s twitter posts and twisted them it to mean something they don’t. It’s not an, “anti-trans policy,” to say that ANY contemporary political topic is off limits when naming a team in a tournament. For the policy to be anti-trans, it would have to specifically target and/or affect transpeople and no one else. That is clearly not the case here. It’s a blanket policy that affects everyone equally.

          Also, having some female mech jockeys is not being, “woke.” Don’t try to redefine the word to whatever you feel gains you the most ground. That’s like claiming Star Trek The Original Series was woke because it had a black woman and an Asian man on the bridge of the Enterprise. There is a vast, cavernous difference between a director voluntarily choosing to include a racially diverse cast, and pandering to a vanishingly small but vocal minority of sexually “fluid” people who have a habit of using their self-proclaimed-but-largely-untrue status as a marginalized group to bully people into capitulating to their demands. Martin Luther King Jr. never wrote to Gene Roddenberry demanding that he include a black woman in the cast of his science-fiction show or be publicly ostracized until he did. Being woke means shoehorning in every purportedly marginalized group you can just to virtue signal how not racist/sexist/homophobic you are. That’s not positive; that’s trying to prove a negative. It’s phony and it comes across as such.

          Finally, I’m not an American, I’m a Canadian. Now who is being a tribalist? The mistake I made was not with identifying the general sentiments expressed, but in missing the names. I don’t normally make that kind of error, but if I see that I have, I edit the post, but I can’t do that here. But while we are on that topic, I must apologize for the bad habit I’ve picked up by lumping all trans-positive people into the same category and ascribing the same motives and beliefs to all of them. After all, it’s not as though they do the same to people who criticize their positions, is it?

          1. Jitter

            For starters – being Canadian lands in you in the probably second most susceptible group to American tribalism next to Americans themselves, so I don’t know what you wanted to achieve with that admission.

            You are, again, picking out simple statements, twisting them into an interpretation that fits the discourse you’d like to pursue, and spinning it out into something that lets you beat out an apparently very hated “The Other” – which you kind of admit there at the end with the “bad habit” comment.

            How should you interpret that statement? Well, how about at face value? Does everything has to be a part of some agenda to you?

            Having female mech jockeys in the 80’s was being “woke”, what with still a lot of media having women in support/mechanic or token “masculine woman” roles. And to even reach those levels, in previous decades you needed characters like Uhura to break through the standards of women not being allowed on the “bridge”, so to speak (not to mention racial emancipation, which you already did). It is a constant change, and I suspect you are simply seeing what was then through a skewed lens of your cumulative experience and the current state of social discourse.

            Please realize that whatever it was called, “wokeness”, “political correctness”, just “political” etc. there’s been moderates and radicals on both sides. It’s a spectrum, not a binary (oh, the irony). I think there’s a reason you used MLK – an advocate of peaceful reform, and a moderate (again, only by our modern perspective!) – as an example, rather than, say, Black Panthers. And neither do I consider you some “anti-trans” radical, because believe me, it would be plain to see if you were.

            On the subject of radicalism, to be even more clear than the last time, I don’t condone shoehorning trans identities, or those of any groups, into roles, in any medium. Not only is that often a cynical cashgrab, but it also runs the risk of alienating people to the cause those action are ostensibly trying to promote.

            But I will not support bullying a person for wanting to have a small representation of their innate identity. And to me, it’s no difference if that’s a trans flag or e.g. a pink “grl power” text across the back of the mech. For you apparently the former is “political”, and I can’t see how I can convince you otherwise.

        3. Kdogprime

          “For starters – being Canadian lands in you in the probably second most susceptible group to American tribalism next to Americans themselves, so I don’t know what you wanted to achieve with that admission.”

          How Canadians have you met? You know that the writer of this article is a Canadian, don’t you? How about our Prime Minister, who is as woke as woke can be? I think you don’t know much about Canadians or our culture, so I’m just going to take that statement as a tacit admission of tribalism on your part.

          And I’m not twisting anything you said into anything you didn’t. Taking your statement about representation at face value is exactly what I did. Your statement seemed very clearly in support of transpeople and an attempt to demean anyone who says, “Yeah, let’s keep the politics out of our leisure activities.” If that’s not what you meant, then you could clarify instead of deny it. Not everything is part of an agenda, but this team naming issue obviously was part of an agenda. If it wasn’t a big deal, why did the individual take her grievances to Reddit, where the outcome was a foregone conclusion?

          You are right when you say I’m not transphobic. But at the same time, I’m made my choice when it comes to the tactics too often employed by transpeople. I have zero patience for cry-bullying on social media, and that’s exactly what this situation involved. It’s practically the textbook definition of it. It can also be the start of a slippery slope into the very shoehorning both you and I seem to disapprove of, but probably for different reasons. I am very wary of this kind of thing, because I’ve seen the end result elsewhere, and I’m not interested in it happening to Battletech. Wokeness is a disease that ultimately ruins everything it touches. Your attempt to redefine the term to something more moderate and less extreme doesn’t change the fact that it is an extremist view that is always implemented with zero tolerance for any criticism.

          Speaking of moderates and extremists, when it comes down to it, everyone eventually has to make a choice as to what side of any given line they stand on. I’ve made my choice and I’m comfortable with it. Fence-straddling gets you nowhere except very chaffed on both sides. I chose MLK as an example for precisely the reason you stated – because he was a moderate, not a radical – in order to highlight the differences between people who want representation to happen naturally vs shoehorning just to make themselves feel better.

          “But I will not support bullying a person for wanting to have a small representation of their innate identity. And to me, it’s no difference if that’s a trans flag or e.g. a pink “grl power” text across the back of the mech. For you apparently the former is “political”, and I can’t see how I can convince you otherwise.”

          The simple fact of the matter is that the team naming policy was not bullying towards transpeople. The person who had a problem with this policy took it to Reddit, where it was picked up on Twitter, warped by the denizens there who think their word is law, and made out to be something it was not.

          And if that policy affected a team who wanted to include a feminist slogan in their team name, I would have zero problem with that either. No political content means no political content. End of story.

          The simple fact of the matter is that this policy was not bullying towards transpeople. Period, full stop, end of story. The person that had a problem with this policy took it to Twitter, where it was warped by the denizens there who think their word is law, and made out to be something it was not.

          1. Seminymous Coward

            The policy somehow allowed a confederate flag, so “no political content” is not a coherent defense of it.

            Also, MLK would be offended at being called a moderate, which is discussed at length in one of his most famous works, written while jailed for intentionally breaking the law in support of his beliefs.
            “But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love … So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?… Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.” -Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

          2. Mar

            First of all, it is quite clear from the orange paint job and name “General Lee Jenner” (Jenneral Lee?) that this was a reference to ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ (Google the car). Based on Bullock’s age, that’s a much more plausible explanation for any retweet than that Bullock was surreptitiously advancing a political message. Basically, I think arguing that this is an example of (a) PGI’s or its management’s political views or (b) selective enforcement by PGI of political content is an argument made in bad faith. You can argue that it’s in poor taste now, but if poor taste was the bar, then I don’t think many of us would survive.

            Second of all, even if “Trans Rights” or “Trans Fights” has a political dimension, this message is so innocuous and inoffensive that it should not be restricted. I don’t disagree in the abstract that some user-generated political content might go too far–but this isn’t it. It is a purely positive message and basically an expression of someone’s identity. Arguably it is barely political. And politics, anyway, is a purely subjective determination where even reasonable minds can disagree. PGI can’t be recruited to police “political content” at this level of granularity, because basically nothing would be acceptable in that case.

      2. wolfy

        I don’t think Russ Bullock owes anyone apologies and trying to silence/threaten him into silence is not something to be smug about. He is entitled to his opinions I believe and not everyone is up to date on culture wars 101. Him being clumsy in the eyes of oh so important modern internet activists – well, take into consideration generation differences. As someone who suddenly found himself being looked as a dinosaur while not so long ago being young, critical and always right I can sort of relate.

        While I don’t think team name/battle cry was problematic (and as person believing in free speach as a means allowing people to come into terms with their differences) at the end of the day it was probably attempt to be politicaly agnostic. For people who think othervise – try to imagine something you strongly disagree being used in similar way (like MAGA, pro life for example, whatever). If you can stomach it – congratulations, but unfortunatelly many people start seeing red the very second they see something contrary to their POV. It’s sad but real.

        1. Seminymous Coward

          Yeah, no one should silence Russ just for standing behind his employee silencing people… wait… uh… Anyway, he was definitely silenced by… people saying he said bad things?
          People are entitled to the opinion that trans people aren’t people, and decent people are entitled to accurately think that’s monstrous and express that.
          Regarding your second point, it remains the simple truth that “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
          Equating the dehumanization of marginalized groups with “something you strongly disagree” is seriously messed up. This isn’t nudging an interest rate by a basis point, allocating crop subsidies, or tweaking disclosure requirements for financial transactions; the core issue is basic human rights.
          In any case, tweeting about how Confederate flags look cool and it’s good that your employee censored trans people is not politically agnostic.

          1. Kdogprime

            In reply to your comment regarding the Confederate flag, you would have a good point, if and only if those flags were permitted to be used in an actual tournament. Those screenshots are from May, and they have nothing to do with any tournament, but rather just regular gameplay.

            If it is true that PGI allowed players to display a Confederate flag decal in this tournament, then you’re right, they should have to permit a pro-trans team name. That would only be fair.

            But that’s not the case here.

            As for MLK, you’re wrong. That quote is not MLK saying that he is an extremist, but rather that if he is going to be called an extremist for his beliefs, then he accepts that label. That doesn’t make his position extreme by that acceptance.

          2. Seminymous Coward

            This is in reply to Kdogprime, but the comment system doesn’t allow a proper reply that deep.

            The Trans Rights team names and chat messages were explicitly moderated under the Code of Conduct and Terms of Use, not under tournament-specific rules. The confederate flag was retweeted with an approving message demonstrating understanding of the reference, i.e. promoted, by PGI’s CEO. That’s not symmetric, but that’s because it’s far more than just being allowed to play.

            I promise you that Letter from Birmingham Jail is worth reading in full. It’s not long, and it’s full of valuable insights. In addition, you’ll learn that MLK spends whole paragraphs talking about how he’s not moderate and is disappointed in moderates.
            “I had hoped that the white moderate would see this. Maybe I was too optimistic. Maybe I expected too much. I guess I should have realized that few members of a race that has oppressed another race can understand or appreciate the deep groans and passionate yearnings of those that have been oppressed, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent, and determined action.”
            It’s not like this is a metaphor, a brief rhetorical device, or just MLK’s own view; he was widely viewed as a radical extremist by the general population, and government agencies not only agreed but acted on it.
            For that matter, while he wasn’t an extremist on racial equality by modern standards, he was certainly massively left of the current US center.

          3. Kdogprime

            I’ve read the letter from Birmingham Jail. More than once.

            You’re not convincing me that there is a parallel between racial desegregation and trans cry-bullying. One is about accepting that people who look different from you are also human. The other is about forcing people to affirm that living as the opposite sex is a valid lifestyle and must be acknowledged in every part of life, from politics to entertainment, by feigning victimization. The former is about tolerance, the latter is not. End of story.

            As for what rules the tournament team naming was governed was under, it’s ultimately irrelevant. My point still stands: If they aren’t going to be consistent, then PGI has to let every sort of controversial content into the game. Making exemptions sets a bad standard.

            Personally, I don’t give two flying rat’s asses what you want to name your team, or what kind of decal you want to have on the backside of your mech. Everything could possibly be offensive to someone, so it’s pointless to try and ban everything. Just let people do what they want; tell everyone no penises, and let the rest go.

      3. David Hill

        What does trans right have to do with battletech ? let just people play games.

        1. Seminymous Coward

          These specific trans people play MechWarrior Online, David. I totally agree PGI should just let them, and I hope you realize that’s all they actually wanted.

      4. Pht

        For those who are completely unaware… BT has always avoided RL politics of any sort in the community. For the simple reason that the game setting is heavily laden with *fictional* (that means, not real life) politics, skulduggery, and all of that.

        You CAN NOT use this setting and add in RL politics. If you do so, it WILL destroy the community, the setting, and the entire IP. It’s hard enough for conversation to be had over the fictional politics of the setting.

        Obsessives who lack the self control to keep the two separate (and who are not mature enough to handle the fact that not everyone agrees with their ideals) need to be gate-kept out, for the above reason – they will drag RL politics into it, and again, this interacts with the fictional politics and will shatter the IP and the community.

        This is why the official forums have had to have rules to keep the two separate, and in fan forums and sites that do allow such, it’s like trying to keep a category 5 hurricane in a glass bottle (I know this *first hand.*).

        Pop that box open and you’ll see the worst of mob rule and cry-bullying go viral in the community. People who don’t care about this … well, it’s obvious the prioritize their RL politics so much that they will force them to be everywhere, in everything, with zero respect for any humans who simply want an escape, or a game to have fun with friends in.

        1. Seminymous Coward

          Requiring trans people not to mention it is prioritizing RL politics.

          1. Pht

            That’s a red herring.
            If you can find anything in the alleged original sources from gm_patience or pgi (No love lost between myself and them, they made an fps, not a mw game … did that again with mw’5′ – one of their people did the forum version of screaming in my face over pointing that out) … by all means, post it here.

            Also, if you haven’t found the picture of the chat that starts with
            “Salam. I bring greetings from KDCM, …” and determined if it is real or not, you really should. Cruise reddit. It’s there (or was). I will not post the link because of the foul language (it’s typical childish gamerspeak). This does not appear to be a clear cut case.

            As far as the “but this isn’t political” – if it wasn’t, explain “trans rights” (that’s part of the language that was allegedly used by the instigator in game all over the place) in non-political terms, and take into context how exactly the topic of how language, medical, and governmental policy are being changed … and show how that’s not a political context, to which peoples minds run when mention of virtually anything trans comes up. Trans *anything* is hyper-political right now. That is the world we live in.

            Thinking people won’t bring all that baggage in and get ugly is like believing that wearing a red hat in public and discussing the wealthy tangerine won’t bring in political baggage. You can actually buy hats now that say “It’s just a red hat. chill out.” This is not a unique phenomenon.

            I detest that ugly tribal politics is involved in discussing either of those topics, but my wishing that were so doesn’t change that, and doesn’t change what happens when that stuff comes into play.

            For these reasons a lot of what is considered “normal discussion” simply can’t work in the broadest communities based on any heavily political IP (fictional IP or not). Humans are going to human. Topping that off, PGI has shown over and over they don’t have the character or tools to keep those kind of discussions in check. The fact that GM_Patience couldn’t or wouldn’t explain the above to the instigator attest this fact. Giant groups of people who have meaningfully diverse ways of thinking require either really tight moderation or TPTB have to say “nope, not here, because I said so” – both of which are going to be ugly.

          2. Seminymous Coward

            This is in reply to Pht, but the comment system doesn’t allow a proper reply that deep.

            Oh, you’re right; I misstated their ridiculous position. I meant to say: Requiring trans people not to mention that they’d like human rights is prioritizing RL politics. Of course, one of the rights that trans people are denied in many places is that of continued open existence, so I’m afraid you’ve found a distinction without a difference. Being made to explain that didn’t really add information, did it?

            The phrase “trans rights” is political in the everything-is-political sense where anything another person disagrees with is a political statement. That’s not a useful classification, as it includes almost all speech. Playing the game is itself a political statement under this kind of a definition. There are literally people who don’t accept that we all exist in a shared physical reality. No one is moderating under that understanding of the word “political”.
            What “political” really means here is that it’s a direct statement about a policy that’s subject to legitimate controversy in the societal context of the moderation. (See particularly starting around 9:57; I’d link the time, but I think the context is worthwhile.) The core of our disagreement here is the “legitimate”. I freely admit that a double digit percentage of the population of MWO’s userbase’s countries likely oppose trans rights; I just don’t think their opinion on the issue is legitimate. Furthermore, I definitely don’t approve of silencing the oppressed to avoid offending those supporting the oppression.
            Also, there’s this, linked in the post: “trans rights is [sic] not a political issue” -Matt Newman, The MechWarrior Online Team, PGI

            Regarding how it’s oh so hard to moderate tribal politics, I refer you again to the video mentioned parenthetically above.

          3. Seminymous Coward

            Oh, sorry, I missed responding about the picture. That appears to be two screenshots from Discord, and I don’t see the relevance. You’ll have to spell it out for me, I’m afraid.

  4. mjog

    Thanks for highlighting all this. HBS got it so right, still don’t understand how PGI managed to get it so wrong.

  5. FlickerShine

    I can confirm the existence of the multi-part Stormcrow-B/TC kit; I received mine today. It’s nice quality plastic, about the same quality as mid-time Star Wars Legion minis (AKA pre-cut, not on sprue, slightly different density plastic than the ones in the Clan Invasion sets since US made rather than Chinese), and you get your choice of arms – one being the ballistic arm with your choice of Gauss or a large-bore AC, the other being a fist with four or six lasers on it, depending on variant choice.

    Shame I don’t have a large Battletech community around here; but it’s certainly appreciated to have another plastic mech to go with my Clan Command Star.

  6. CommanderHunter

    “I mean, it’s 2021; pretty much every franchise out there has gotten the message that gender equality in gaming is a good thing”

    That’d TOTALLY make sense for Career mode, but it’s more than understandable for Mason in the Campaign not to really have a female option.

    “Sort of explains the lack of a female protagonist in MechWarrior 5, huh?” A’ight that’s taking a step too far don’t you think? That sounds like trying to weave bigotry into potential sexism, with little to no solid grounds.

    1. Valaska

      Yeah, that crossed all sorts of lines… this article writer needs to take a step back and maybe even start hiring an editor for Sarna. Baseless accusations never helped anyone.

      Male and Female option means twice the budget for voice acting etc.

      1. Kdogprime

        To be fair, Star Trek Voyager Elite Force had an option for playing as a female version of the main character, Alex Munro. There were separate sprites and separate voice-overs. So it’s not impossible to do.

        However, in the sequel, Elite Force II, Munro was male and has been considered male canonically ever since.

        But I agree with you that ascribing nefarious motives to a simple choice of making a character only one sex is way out of line.

        1. Esskatze

          Same with the character Alex Denton from Deus Ex: Invisible War. When you design your game for this and your production budgets allows for it, it’s surely a great choice, at least when the characters indeed play differently. But to *expect* this (entitled, anyone?) from a small game company is way out of line.

          1. Seminymous Coward

            I’d actually say the fairly even gender mix among mechwarriors, aerospace pilots, elementals, and other combatants is a core element of being BattleTech, and that makes the expectation pretty reasonable.
            Also, research indicates that, overall, women care tons more about having a female protagonist than men care about having a male protagonist, so sensible penny-pinching would drop the male lead, not the female one.

      1. Incognito

        The gender thing in games is pretty loaded when given players the option of choosing. Like in MMOs it’s just more beneficial to play a woman. But with games, most people who play shooters are men (I think it works out to over 80% off the top of my head) and most games like that are power fantasies for men. Regardless the story should come first if there needs to be a choice. It’s kind of easy to make a really bad character if your making them female, or trans, or black just to check a box off. Most of the good female characters I remember are written in a way that enhances the character, not the ones that where created because of a slider, or a checkbox needs checking, or because boobs sell copies.

        On the trans rights thing, I think the problem was more of the Rights, Fight, part of the name. not the fact they where trans. Really the only reason to do that is to get into gender politics and that can be annoying. I will agree when your putting a Confederate Flag on your mech, at best that’s tone deaf not to allow the Trans Rights thing in, at worst hypocritical.

        1. Seminymous Coward

          It’s easy to make a really bad character if you’re making them male or cisgender or white just to check a box off on marketing’s wishlist. White cismen are not somehow easier to make compelling. You’re not wrong that story should come first when designing characters, but you’re proceeding from an assumed default and considering any deviation to make the task harder without making a case for that.
          The general concept of (vague, unspecified) rights for any group of humans is not politically contentious among decent people. Would “Freedom Fellows”, “Bankers After Hours”, “Feed the Poor”, or “Sunday Schoolboys” be a political name?
          “KCDM VI: Trans Fights” is actually a pretty straightforwardly on-topic name for a team with trans players in a combat tournament; that’s literally just acknowledging their existence and what they’re there to do.
          I appreciate your acknowledgement regarding the confederate flag, and I am glad to be engaged in a good faith discussion.

          1. Incognito

            Thing is “white straight guy” is the default so you don’t check it off you just go there without thinking about it. It’s rare that you get a character like that forced into a story. Yes it happens, I acknowledge that, but those examples are far less common than you get from other races. Also, yes there are plenty of strong generic white dudes with 0 personality out there because people are not trying but that’s more often than not because people where not trying.
            But you want examples, ok, you’ll get a lot of 90s cartoon where you have white guys that can be rebels, leaders, punks, nerds. Some like computers, some are jocks whatever. Almost every black guy spoke ebonics, like fired food, and rap music. Every black character had the personality of being black because all the writers thought was “we need a black guy”. It’s even worst now, we don’t even get new characters anymore they just change existing characters into (insert race/sex here). Marvel needed a homosexual so they made Iceman into the most flamboyantly gay stereotype you can possibly make.
            Feed the Poor, Bankers After Hours, ect. are also political. So is BLM. I’m black if you didn’t noticed. On day someone spat called me a slur. Now when I went home I just wanted to relax and calm down with some games. If I went home and I had a bunch of BLM stuff shoved in my face in my MWO match, yeah I would be upset. I turned on the game to get away from that stuff. I don’t want to think about it for a few hours. Some people don’t deal like that, I get that, but I want the option to turn off my brain and relax for a bit and get frustrated at rotation potato not getting worried about getting jumped because of my skin color.

          2. Sean Post author

            Just an FYI, I’ve had to trash a comment on this thread. I’m fine with everyone sharing their opinions–yes, even the negative ones that say Sarna shouldn’t be covering this sort of stuff–and also some engaged but civil discussions, but this post seemed to cross the line from “opinion” to “veiled threat.”

            For everyone looking to take part in this discussion: honest debate is fine, threats and namecalling are not. Keep it clean.

          3. Seminymous Coward

            This is in reply to Incognito, but the comment system doesn’t allow a proper reply that deep.

            I see your point about poorly executed token characters, but I think that’s a reason to ask for diverse characters who are as well-rounded as the default, not a reason to abandon the goal of representation entirely.
            I’m sorry something so terrible happened to you, and I’m certainly not going to tell you how to feel about your own lived experience or process it.

          4. Incognito

            Thank you, but to be clear I didn’t share that as a traumatic experience, it’s just to illustrate a point. People who act that way I honestly don’t care about after the fact.

            Also I agree, a well rounded story with whatever group you want to represent is great, if you go in trying to make good characters. If your doing it to try to make some group on Twitter happy, well, you can get characters like Snowflake and Safespace (good one Marvel) and make both sides mad.

            But on the other hand, if you try to tell a story that has a character with those traits as part of their character, it can work out well. One example was in a Warhammer 40,000 book, Imperator Wrath of the Omnissiah (which is rare how progressive 40K is at times with is weird given how intolerant the culture is). One of the main characters identifies as gender neutral and it work. Also the other main protagonist was a woman but that’s pretty common in the books. At least the ones I read.

  7. Fu Manchu

    Please spice up my 80s-90s yellow scare sci-fi with some lady boys, they will be useful assets for the Chancellor.

  8. JoeSmoePiscapoe

    Did you really need to go all “woke” for woke points? We get enough of that horseshit shoved down our throats daily by the blue haired wierdoes on twitter. Don’t need my favorite universe doing the same. To bad SARNA is going blue haired weirdo on us.

  9. Esskatze

    The author being smug about a cancelling shitstorm towards PGI for not jumping on that specific bandwagon reveals a not particularly likeable character trait, I must say. I agree with the above statement that whenever someone is writing something for the blog, it should be checked by an editor. Personal agendas have no place here. People who can’t separate their RL politics from a gaming pasttime should not be given a platform to annoy everyone else.

  10. Joe Layman

    Props to PGI for at least having someone who was willing to recognize a shitstorm that was brewing and about to get big, and fixing the situation, but at the same time, I can see why PGI doesn’t want to touch any kind of hot-button topic. Like yeah, Trans rights are Human Rights, this is true and generally accepted by most at this point, but PGI still is *attempting* to avoid causing controversy by mediating between all customers who play MWO and trying to perform what it might think is fair mediation. I’m assuming this isn’t the first time they’re forced a team to remove portions of their team name, but it probably IS the first time they’ve had it bite them in the ass.

  11. Drew

    PGI has frequently made posts on social media about how they support gay pride, and on every pride month for the last 3 years running. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for consistency from them. In this case, I think it was more about PGI protecting a moderator who made a bad call than PGI being anti-Trans. But it definitely isn’t a good look.

  12. Steakthedog

    Damn, this became a s***storm real quick. Can people please keep the current politics out of the ‘Mech game? Or is that too much to ask?

    1. wolfy

      I wouldn’t call this shitstorm. Yet. But it could become one soon enough, which kinda shows what PGI (and every other relatively small company tries to avoid) tries to avoid.
      Twitter/reddit mobs shouldn’t be applauded or encouraged ever because they are just that – mobs and anthitesis to actual sensible argument. If you believe in threatening other people to enforce your beliefs – well, you might not be such an upstanding person you believe to be.
      So I aggree with you, Steakthedog, because I believe hobbies should help to mend what is destroyed not by politics themselves but groups of tone deaf neophytes trying to be most righteous guys around. Which is archieved when all other guys are beaten into submission – it seems.
      Author should rethink what he is trying to archieve here.

    2. Seminymous Coward

      I really feel for your pain, having to hear marginalized people advocate for themselves instead of just staying silent to facilitate your ignoring their plight more easily. If they’d just conceal their existence outside of where you approve its disclosure, it’d be so much easier for you to pretend they barely exist and their rights don’t matter. Their behavior is inconsiderate of your fragility, and it’s got to stop.

      1. Makingupthingstoimagineexist

        I’ll take “Things that only exist in your mind for a $1000” Alex.

      2. Steakthedog

        It’s not that, I have a very simple belief, I don’t care what you believe, just that you don’t shove it down my throat, and that no live can matter till all lives matter. It’s just I hate people bringing politics into games because it starts pointless arguments that have no in game/universe bearing.

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