Friday, August 16, 2019

The Battletech Kickstarter -- WOW

As I write this, there are 28 hours left, and over 9500 backers had pledge $2.14 MILLION for the Clan box --- enough money to make it one of the top crowdfunded games in recent memory. It has been a smashing success on all levels.

I can't supply much in the way of behind the scenes, as this is all way about my pay grade, but I do know that the Catalyst people are beyond happy. Because this is more than just a Clan Box supplement -- This is BattleTech standing on top of a mountain peak and screaming, "I'M BACK!!!"

So, what does this mean for the people at Catalyst and the Freelancers for the coming year? A lot of work for everyone -- artists, 3-D modelers, writers, layout people and the company's brain trust. There is a lot to be done, and it's going to take some time to get everything sorted out.

As you can see from these sketches below from the Kickstarter page, there is a lot being down now, even before the campaign is over. there's close to a hundred 'Mechs that need to be redesigned, modeled, molds created, and minis produced. And the other stretch goals (Including a Plush Urbie!) -- I have never seen so much being offered for a Kickstarter.

 For me, the most interesting thing among the stretch goals is the Magazine. I do know it's been discussed for a couple of years now, (Between me and someone else with ties to the Catalyst brain trust), But as to what will be in it and any details, it's too early to say. From my own, personal perspective, I want this new Mag to be fiction heavy -- mostly stories with a few game-related items to round it out.

Why do I feel that way? BattleTech is almost unique among sci-fi universes in that for most of it's existence, it has been a fiction-driven game. After FASA closed and the game jumping ahead 70 years to help set up the MechWarrior click-tech game, when Catalyst took over the game, the lack of Novels crippled the game. The only source for Jihad-era fiction was Battlecorps, and short stories were poor substitute for novels.

But now that fiction again become the driving force the BattleTech universe, it would be on oversight to forget about short stories. Many stories in BattleTech, small characters moments and stories are not suitable for a novel or novella. I am a firm believer of stories all across the era and at all levels -- short stories, novellas and novels. Short stories are the perfect vehicle to discover and develop new writers for the Universe.

The details about the magazine are still far from being decided. Loren in the first AMA said it would be a ". . .living project. We can keep adding or subtracting to form it into what you (the fans) want."

I have my biases -- I want the fiction to lead in the magazine, to make the magazine appeal to the widest group of readers possible. I personally want to see 80/20 split between fiction/game material.

But it comes down to the Powers That Be, and their decision. All I can do is make my opinion known and hope it has some influence on their decision. In any case, I am happy to see the magazine finally become a reality. It has been around as a concept for a couple of years now. I don't know how long or what form this magazine will take, but we now have four issues to get it right. I really hope we can, because this could be a great addition to the product line, and a way to draw in new people to the game.

So, as I finish up the blog entry, the totals for the Kickstarter are now, with 24 hours to go,  $2.17 Million, and 9600+ backers. Wow!



Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Gencon, The Kickstarter, and Everything

Well, let's get the bad news out of the way first: I didn't win the Scribe Award I was nominated for, and neither did Travis. One of the three Warhammer stories we were up against won. So that means I have to try again. Hopefully I can make this a regular thing.

Now for the good news: The next Battlecorps Anthology is apparently out! Entries for it have been spotted on both Barns and Noble and Amazon and I expect there to be Hard copies at the Catalyst booth for Gencon!

The back cover blurb reads as follows:

A young Davion MechWarrior seeks to repay a debt incurred by the misfortunes of the Fourth Succession War. A tightly-knit farming community bands together to repel vicious pirates or risk losing their livelihoods...and their lives. A Kurita MechWarrior given a final chance to serve the Dragon stands alone against renegade mercenaries. And the survivors of a crash-landed Steiner command must hold the line against ravenous Word of Blake forces to protect the Allied Coalition's quest to wrest Terra from the Blakists' unyielding grip.
Kill Zone: BattleCorps Anthology, Volume 7 collects the very best of the short stories published on the BattleCorps website from 2010. Charge into the war-torn future to experience nine stories filled with BattleMech combat, heroism, betrayal, honor, and duty.
Veteran BattleTech authors Kevin Killiany, Blaine Lee Pardoe, and Jason Schmetzer, alongside fan favorites Craig A. Reed, Jr. and Jason Hansa are showcased in this anthology, which includes an all-new tale from Scribe Award-nominated author Travis Heermann.

My story in this collection is Reap What You Sew. It's a story about pirates and what's supposed to be a simple pirate raid against a bunch of farmers turns out to be neither simple not easy for the pirates. It was to be part of a pirate anthology Jason Schmetzer solicited for, but Reap was the only one that was submitted. Still, it's a great story about how some things are not as they appear.

Gencon will be another miss for me. I can't afford it. Would I love to be there? Hell, yes! I've never been to Gencon, never been to Origins since they've been in Columbus, Ohio. (I have attended Origins twice -- once when it was in  Baltimore and in Philadelphia. I still have the T-shirt for the Philadelphia event). Maybe another year, but like other years, I will live vicariously through YouTube videos and the hopefully live stream of the "What's up with Catalyst?" seminar.

Now, for the elephant in the room, the Clan Box Kickstarter....hooo boy.....

As I write this post, the current amount pledged is close to $940,000. Nearly a million dollars.

Let that sink in for a moment. Nearly a million dollars. For a tabletop game that's now old enough to run for President, a game that had reached it's seniority despite everything that's been thrown at it, with different companies and different offshoots of the game. A game that has been declared dead more times than Dracula but keeps going. A game that survives.

Over 4,600 people have backed this effort so far, and I expect to see that surge with Gencon coming up next week. To those who have backed this, I thank you. We the freelancers haven't gotten our marching orders yet, but there will be work for all of us for the next six months to a year. Right now, Catalyst's management is focused on Gencon and the Kickstarter.

By the end of the week, the total should be over a million dollars, with more than three weeks to go. My own prediction for the final total on August 17th will be between $1.75 and $2 million dollars.

What's been unlocked so far? Too much to  go on here, but it is a lot of stuff to go over in detail. But were looking at close to a hundred minis, several novels, and oodles of goodies that makes me wish I could slap down five figures down without a second thought. (But like with Gencon, there this small problem called money preventing me from doing just that.)

Right now, it's watching the Kickstarter total rise into the stratosphere and begin to prepare for the work ahead.  That won't start to happen until the second week of August, as Gencon is foremost in Catalyst's mind. But I expect the company to hit the ground running once Gencon is over and everyone has had a chance to recovered from it. There's a lot to be done over the next couple of years, and I hope to be part of it. In case you need the link to the Kickstarter, it's here: Be sure to read through it all, because there's a lot of digest.

Thios has been a long post for me, so I will end it here.



Sunday, June 23, 2019


Well, nothing much is going on with me at the moment, Battletech-wise. I'm still waiting on a couple of proposed projects I submitted, but I have no idea if or when they will see the light of day. I contributed to a couple of upcoming projects, but again, have no idea when they will see the light of day.

But there are a few things I will comment on. First, the Kickstarter. . . Whoa. I was surprised as the rest of the fanbase when Catalyst announced the upcoming Kickstarter. The minis look incredible, including the classic designs. I have no idea what the actual contents will be, but it has my attention.

Next up is the House Arano: The Aurigan Coalition. Written by the people who created the story for the HBS computer game, the House book, this books is just like the major State handbooks, giving the history, social structure, government, and military of the Aurigan Coalition. It fills in some of the background the game didn't get into and gives the tabletop player/RPG player enough information to play games in and near this small state. A nice crossover and hope we'll see more of it.

Last up is Iron Dawn: Book 1 in the Rogue Academy Trilogy by Jennifer Brozek. Fiction is a major part of the Battletech line, and one way to bring new blood into the game is appeal to younger people. Once way is writing fiction for those younger would-be fans. While Battletech fiction has never been overly "adult" (IE lots of swearing or graphic scenes of sex/violence), they are not really written toward teenagers. Novels like Iron Dawn, while not "written down" from the normal Battletech novels, that are geared toward the younger reader, mostly by having younger than average main characters. It's a good way to pull in younger readers and I hope we'll see more of them in the future.

Origins Game Fair has come and gone without anything new in Battletech beyond the announcement of this year's World Wide Event. It's set in the Dark Age/IlClan era, but I won't say anything more than that so as not to spoil anything for those who haven't played it yet. Gencon is where the new products will premiere. I will be waiting not only for the new products, but for the "What's up with Catalyst," Seminar. 

Hopefully, the last half of 2019 will see more new stuff and the advancing of the timeline.



Saturday, April 13, 2019

"End of the Road" has been nominated for a Scribe Award!

I was on-line Wednesday night when Jason (Who I know, is a LD for another gaming line) contacted me via Facebook IM and we had the following conversation:

Jason: Congrats on being nominated for a Scribe Award!
Me: ??
Jason: You got nominated for best short story in the Scribe Awards for "End of the Road."
Me: I did?
Jason: That's what my e-mail tells me.

Well, he sent me a copy of the email and the following is from the email:

"Acknowledging excellence in the field of tie-in writing, the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers is thrilled to announce the nominees for the 2019 Scribe Awards. Every year talented writers dedicate their skill and love of the job to creating works in various universes beloved by fans worldwide. Also every year, these authors raise the bar and make it more and more difficult for the judges to select the best of the best. IAMTW thanks all those who shared their work with all readers and also entered them in the Scribe Awards, and thanks the tireless judges for their efforts as well. We will announce the winner in each category this July at the San Diego ComicCon. Heartfelt congratulations to all the nominees: "

Battletech “End of the Road” by Craig A. Reed, Jr.
Battletech “Swords of Light and Darkness” by Travis Heermann
Warhammer “The Darkling Hours,” by Rachel Harrison
Warhammer “No Hero” by Peter McLean
Warhammer “The Passing of Angels” by John French

Now, what is the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers? It is an association of professional writers who write stories and novels in someone else's IP. Star Trek, Star Wars, Halo, Battletech, and Warhammer are examples of tie-in writers' efforts. I was aware of the association, and I'm eligible to join them, but have not done so because of financial reasons.

The Scribe Awards are for those people who writer tie-in product fiction. The categories include Adapted Novel, Audio Drama, Original Novel -- Speculative, Original Novel -- General, Short Story, and Young Adult/Middle Grade. The winners will be announced at the San Diego ComicCon in July.

I am honored to be nominated and congratulations to Travis Heermann for his nomination. Both stories are part of the Legacy anthology, so if you haven't read them, please buy the book and read both our stories and the others in the anthology.

I emailed a noted author who I've corresponded with in the past and asked them about this nomination. They have written their share of tie-in novels, so they have some knowledge of the awards. I also asked if this was something that should be trumpeted. Their response: "Congrats! Trumpet to the world. This is a good award from a good group. Bask. Enjoy. Recognition is always good."

So, I'm going to do that. I'm thinking there should be something sent to me officially informing me of my nomination. When I do get that, I'll take a picture and post it to the blog. End of the Road was a pleasure to write, and its themes came together in a story about war and its survivors easily. I hope the voters find it the same way to read as I did to write it. Again, thank you to the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers for this honor.


Friday, March 1, 2019

Forever Faithful -- The New Beginning of the Novel Line

Forever Faithful is the new Battletech novel, written by senior veteran Battletech writer, Blaine Lee Pardoe. While it isn't a Dark Age novel, it does flesh out some events leading up to several Dark Age events. I won't get into spoilers here, but there is a lot of groundwork about a certain group and the final fates of several characters from the Twlight of the Clans series are given their due.

As I have said before, the Jihad suffered from the lack of novels. The main reason was because it was caught in the gulf between FASA and Wizkids -- Wizkids wanted a new start, so they had a "Jihad" and moved the timeline forward sixty years. Fanpro, then later on, Catalyst Game Labs, had to take the Jihad and flesh it out. With the novels in limbo (In a legal sense, I think, but don't quote me on that.), the Jihad had to be explored through sourcebooks, short stories, and other products. The closest we got to a Jihad-era novel was Embers of War by Jason Schmitzer, which is set at the very beginning of the Jihad.

But Brent Evens, Battletech's Lead Developer, decided to concentrate on the IlClan era. And leading the way for this new era of Battle, the 35th anniversary of the game, would be the fiction. Novels and novellas would fill in the events around Shattered Fortress and IlClan, to take the Universe forward into the new era. (I still have no knowledge of any short stories plans. All I've heard is rumor, and even if I knew, I couldn't say anything.)

On a personal level, I hope that one day, Catalyst will go back and fill in the Jihad and some of the other eras with no novels or novellas. There are so many rich events that had yet to be written about in fiction. The Reunification War, The Amaris Civil War, the First and Second Succession Wars are untapped sources of stories that are the equal of any we've already seen. I, however, see Brent's reasoning. The need to fully flesh out the new era is the priority, and with this being the 35th year.

But Blaine isn't done. he has a novella and another novel that will get things rolling in this new era. I don't know when they'll be out, but I betting around Gencon. After that, I don't know.

But I don't want to neglect the two novellas that  came out at last year's Gencon. Blane Pardoe's The Anvil and Phil Lee's A Splinter of Hope. Both cover events written about in Shattered Fortress and gives depth to those events.

Brent has said that fiction was the driving force of Battletech in the past, and he wants to see the fiction driving the new era. I hope to be one of those who does the driving and I do have one or two Battletech projects that might see the light of day one of these days.

In the meantime, some of my stories are out there -- In the Battletech anthology Legacy I have a story, as well as the soon-to-be widely released Battlecorps Anthology 6: Front Lines. Hopefully other Battlecorps anthologies will be released.

In the meantime, I had a good month of February writing-wise, exceeding my monthly goal by almost two thousand words. Most of that was involved in related Battletech products I'm working on, mostly speculative as to whether or not they'll ever see the light of day as official products.

So, that's it for now. Trying to write blog posts isn't easy and I know little about what's going behind the scene is so little to begin with and what little I do know is covered by my NDA, so even if I knew anything juicy, I couldn't say anything. That's how it goes....



Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Legacy of Legacy

I wish I could say I knew what was going on behind the scenes with Battletech's future timeline, but I still don't know. It's one of the reason why I haven't bothered to have another blog entry since March of last year. Catalyst, as is their want, is keeping the details close to the vest, refining the events up to the last minute that will send the universe into a new future.

Still, it's been too long I know, but I've been a bit lazy in keeping either one of my blogs up, which didn't help.

But it's as new year and new dreams and a new start. (Especially with those websites you've been logged into demanding the passwords you haven't used in a year....) So, here it is again, the Battletech State, repaired, revived and hopefully up and running again.

To find out what's going on with Catalyst, I will point you to the talk Randall and Brent gave at December's Mechcon. It's here: Mechcon 2018 Catalyst Gameslab -- What's New (Recap) (There is a loss of audio for several seconds right after the intro -- that's the site, not the video). It's the best I can do about new stuff.

Now, a couple of things I did work on: I helped with the new mapset that will be out in March. Grasslands is a mapset of six, double-sided maps, each side with a different map, giving you 12 maps to play on. It was hard work, as Brent said. And I also did some writing for Shattered Fortress, the start of the timeline moving forward.

But let's shift back to the subject of the Blog: The Legacy anthology.

Legacy is a unique anthology in that the star isn't  any one person, but a Battlemech: The Grasshopper. The tracing of a single 'Mech through 300 years of warfare, from the fall of the Star league to the Jihad. When the call for stories went out, we had to pitch for time periods as well as stories.

I lucked out and got the final spot. My story is called "End of the Road," and it's about a member of Stone's Lament who was a student studying history when history pulls him into war. It's not only a story about the final major battle of Terra, but it's also a look at the question of "Is an object  historical if it's been destroyed and rebuilt so many time?" The old Grandfather Ax paradox, only with Battlemechs.

In this story, I wanted to take a look at some of the things that happened during the Jihad. Due to things beyond Catalyst's control, the Jihad is a big hole, fiction-wise. Short stories are not a substitute for novels, and there could be a dozen novels on the Jihad and still not fully flesh it out. I went with Stone going up against St. Jamais in North America and fleshed out a small part of the Lament. Maybe one day, someone will go back and  write novels about the Jihad and I hope that whoever it is takes the small pieces scattered across these short stories and pulls them into the story they write.

The reaction to the anthology has been positive -- as I write this, the rating on Amazon is 4.7 out of 5 Stars. Unlike the Battlecorps anthologies, these stories are all brand new, commissioned just for this anthology. I think we will see more of these sort of anthologies -- brand-new short stories with a theme. I think we'll see more of the Battlecorps anthologies, once everything in the fiction plan has been sorted out. In addition, there will be more novellas and novels somewhere in the plan, though as to what, I have no idea.

Well, that should be all for now, hopefully I can have something new to read on this blog on a regular basis this year.....



Tuesday, March 20, 2018

What's going on?

That's a good question, one I really don't have an answer to. The only two things of importance are the announcement of new products coming out and the sadness at finding out Victor Milan died.

I keep saying I should be blogging more, but what little new I know is NDA-sealed and can't be talked about. And what I do know wouldn't cover a single blog post.

I'll talk about Victor Milan's as a reader in another post, because I never met the gentleman or conversed with him. But his loss is a sad one for his readers and the Battletech Community as a whole.

On the happy side of things, the announce of new stuff coming out in 2018 was something Battletech fans needed to know about. (if you haven't seen the page yet, it's here: Coming Releases ). There are a couple of things on the list that I've contributed to, so, I'm still keeping busy.....

A short post, mostly to dust off the place. I'll post more often when I have something more to say.