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.



Sunday, December 31, 2017

Not Really a Year in Review Post.....

As the title says, not much of a Year in Review, because there isn't much to review. . . .

2017 was a quiet year for Battletech. Our new Line developer (Brent Evens) has been working at getting the line back to where it was several years ago, with the timeline rolling forward. But beyond the already announced products for 2018 (the two boxed sets), he is otherwise keeping things close to his vest. Hopefully with the new year, he'll reveal more to us freelancers about what his plans are for Battletech.

My only published Battletech story last year was "End of the Road" in the Legacy Anthology, which was at Gencon. That's my second Battletech Story in Print (Hikagemono was in Battlecorps Anthology Volume VI: Front Lines).

"End of the Road" is a special story for me, because I got to spotlight a part of one of the least written regiments in the Battletech universe --- Stone's Lament. With so little written about them, I was able to take several bits and pieces I had written before and add them into the mix in a canon way.

While neither one are available in print form at the moment, I hope there are plans to make them so. But as to when and how, I don't know.

As for the "special project" I mentioned before --- still under development, but I still have great hope for it to be published.

Now, what does 2018 hold? A lot, if Brent has his way. He has already publicly stated that he wants Battletech to become again a fiction-driven universe, but in what manner or form we don't know yet. He's out of the office until next week, enjoying his Christmas/New Years holiday. Once he is back, we will hopefully know more about what he has planned. As for Randall, he's still involved with Dragonfire, Dragonfire, and Dragonfire. . . .

So, that' it. Not much happening at the moment. A lot of stuff is going on behind the scenes, but not may of us know what that is at the moment. We are as much in the dark as everyone else is. IlClan will be released, but I am not involved, so I don't know when or any other details.

But I am hopeful for 2018. Ideas have been tossed around and we should see some come to fruition in the next twelve months. The writers, line developers, painters, demo agents, and volunteers are looking forward to moving into the new era and taking the universe into uncharted territory.

The next two years should be interesting ones --- 2018 will bring Battletech out of it's years-long slumber and 2019 is the 35th anniversary of the game. Has it really been that long since I picked up the second edition Battletech box from a Hobby Store in Laurel, MD --- 30+ years?

So, that's what's going on --- not much of anything for 2017. 2018, on the other hand, looks to be a big year for the game and the universe and hopefully, we can carry that momentum into 2019 and do the 35th anniversary of the game right. I'm looking forward to where the universe goes and hope to be part of the team that helps create it.

And I will leave you with this holiday toast:

To all those present, I give you a Toast!

May the coming year be full of joy and light,
May friendships and romance survive more then a night.
May you find strength, peace and health this coming year,
May no darkness, hate and sorrow fill your soul with tears.
May life grant you everything it can,
May you find the grace to help your fellow man.
With this toast I do say,
May this year be nothing but brighter days!


Happy New Year and on to 2018!


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hurry up and wait

I wish I could say I had news about the future of Battletech fiction, but nothing at yet. These things take time, and I hope they sort out soon.

But Brent Evens did drop a few hints when he answered a couple of fans questions on the "Ask the Lead Developer" board on the official Battletech forum. In one answer, he says the following:
From start to finish, 2018 is going to be a big year for BT with lots of reasons to roll dice and blow stuff up. One of the big pushes here is to once again use fiction (novels & novellas) to drive the storyline, heroes and conflicts. From book stores to websites there will lots of ways immerse yourself in BattleTech. (Italics mine)
 In another thread, Brent answers a series of questions, including this one:

[Question] Where do YOU PERSONALLY see Battletech going under your reign as Lead Developer for the next year?
[Answer] Two totally different flavors to that question so I'll answer both. In universe BattleTech will go through and beyond the battles promised in ilClan. The storyline blazes forward - with FICTION driving the IP narative (not sourcebooks.) In the real world though BT will absolutely be 'going' into the hands of new players, with box sets and support products that serve as gateway products into the game
. (Again, Italics mine)
And this question and answer:
[Question] Will we get novels about the Home World Clans during the Wars of Reaving?
[Answer] Actually no, not in the short term, and if you had the power you wouldn't change that. Novel content releases at a really slow pace and there are much more important universe-plot-driving stories that need to be told. I'd love to see a series of Novellas telling those tales, but the chaffing you are feeling about that content is a downside of using sourcebooks to drive an IP (which was a reality Herb/Ben faced but which has changed for my tenure in the role.) Like I said, the industry is evolving, and we have to fit the stories we want/need to tell into a solicit-able schedule. Hope that makes sense.
(and yet again, Italics mine)
So, along with the answer to other questions (Everything Brent said was posted a public forum, and he hasn't come out and told us freelancers what's happening, because plans are still being put into place), The impression I'm getting (and is is my opinion only, based on only what Brent has said publicly) is that he wants to have Battletech hit the ground running in 2018 --- with product and fiction, with Fiction leading the way forward in the universal story.

What does it mean to us writers? Not a clue. As I said, plans are still not in place, and we haven't been given anything to go on at this time. Is it frustrating? Yes! I want to sink my literary teeth into stories, maybe even novellas, and hope for a shot at a novel down the road (Novels are assigned to veteran writers, and I don't think I'm quite at that level yet.) I've done one or two side project relation to Battletech, but my writing ATM is in other areas (See my other blog --- Trboturtle's Writing Pad --- Life, the Universe and NaNoWriMo..... --- for details.

So, right now,. we are in a hurry up and wait mode, until all the pieces are in place. I don't know when that will be or what needs to be done, so all I can do is wait with the other writers until we are given the path we must follow into the next Battletech age.



Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Influence of Battletech Fiction and Game on Each Other

Well, Gencon has come and gone, and it looks like the Legacy anthology sold really well. Also received word on a project I worked on is going ahead, but I'll talk about it later when its closer to being published. I've talked to a couple of people in the know who were at Gencon about the future of Battletech fiction, and while nothing has been set in stone, there are plans to make fiction an important part of the line. There's too much that hasn't been decided yet to say anything more than that. But there will be new fiction in some form.

Since I haven't been around this blog as much as I should have, I left a question or two hanging, like this one from David B. who posted it in the comments section back in May:

Hi Craig. We're approaching 4 months since your last post. I was wondering if you could provide us with your perspective on how the game influences Battletech fiction, if at all.
Sorry I didn't get answer this sooner, David. The answer is that both fiction influences the game and vice versa. They are interconnected so closely, they feed off each other. The novels and stories are referenced when writing sourcebooks and other Battletech products, just as authors reference the game's products for the fiction. One acts as background for the other.

Battletech, as I have said before, is unique in that it has a single timeline. There has been well over several million words written about this universe, covering a thousands years. It hasn't been the work of one person, but dozen of people over the years, each one building on what other did before them. Yes, there are a few fuzzy areas (The subject of "FASA economics," still make a few people twitch), but generally, the universe holds together by it's own set of rules, something that the reader accepts as a matter of course.

The thing is, the story fiction hold a slightly higher position than the sourcebook fiction. Story fiction is what actually happened, the "reality," of the events. Sourcebook fiction is told from the POV of a scholar, or historian, people were were most likely never there to witness the events first hand. They are using second hand sources, have their own biases, and are often writing years or centuries after the events they write about. When reading about the same event from a story and a sourcebook, story fiction always trumps sourcebook fiction.

But a writer cannot go about changing events in sourcebook fiction through the story fiction. They can put their spin on events, create reasons to explain a mistake on a sourcebook, or fill in blanks in the narrative. But they cannot contradict established major events, or alter established details.

At the same time, the novels, especially the "Spine Novels," lay the basics for where the timeline is going and the people who are involved. They end up in sourcebooks, a part of the fabric of the Battletech universe. The Gray Death Legion, Avanti's Angels, and other units first appeared in novels before they showed up in sourcebooks. Details go from novels to sourcebooks back to novels and back to sourcebooks. An example is the background for my story, The Blood of Man, is in the Total Chaos sourcebook in the European Theater sidebar. I was lucky enough to write that sidebar, so it all fit together.

In my case, I've used the sourcebooks to write between the events, to generate background for my stories and ideas for the story themselves. for example, my Battlecorps story, Kurodenkou, the major battle is from a scenario book, supplying location, the forces, and the circumstances for my story. I had to create the characters and write the battle scene, but otherwise, I used what was given in the scenario.The location and background for The Lance Killer came for a couple of paragraphs in the Fed-Com war sourcebook.

There is so much in place in the way of background and events, that all I have to do is supply the story idea and the characters. The framework is there and as long as I stay within that framework, I can write any story I want. But I must be mindful of where the limits are and not to exceed them.

I hope that answers your question, David.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

BattleTech: Legacy at Gencon

Yes, I went even longer this time between blog posts, but in my defense, there was almost nothing going on in the way of Battletech writing. The Battletech line a new Lead Developer --- Brent Evens --- and it's con season, which means that everyone's focus is one getting stuff ready for the Conventions, the big one being Gencon this coming week.

What it means that everything with Battletech is on hold at the moment, and will be until con season is over. There will be face-to-face meetings at Gencon to finalize plans and put things into motion. Brent has expressed support to make the fiction in all forms a driving force for the storyline, but beyond novels, there are no solid plans (that I'm aware of) that go beyond that. I have no idea what Battlecorps status is, but I'm leaning toward believing it has run its course of action --- but I have no solid evidence to prove that. All those decisions are on a higher level, and I'll find out when they decide on a course of action.

As for me, I will not be at Gencon. It's a matter of economics --- Amount of money need to go and stay four days > amount of money I have. However, I will have have something there at Gencon for those interested in my storytelling. I am part of an original Battletech anthology that will be physically at Gencon, BattleTech: Legacy. The cover is above and the back cover blurb:

    A Draconis Combine warrior struggles with immoral orders in
the First Succession War. A House Davion MechWarrior participates
in a risky heist as part of Operation Guerrero. A history buff
battles the Word of Blake during the Liberation of Terra. What do
these MechWarriors have in common? Each one pilots the same
BattleMech, a survivor that has been repaired and rebuilt countless
times throughout its long and bloody 300-year lifespan.

    The seventy-ton GHR-5H Grasshopper can outmaneuver and
outlast some of the most fearsome enemy ’Mechs, making it an
invaluable asset to battlefield commanders. Even an incapacitated
Grasshopper will be rebuilt to fight another day, with a new pilot at its
controls, because MechWarriors can be replaced, but ’Mechs cannot.
In BattleTech: Legacy, thirteen all-new stories chronicle the fortunes
and tragedies of a single ’Mech across several tumultuous points in its
wide-ranging combat history. Veteran BattleTech authors Kevin Killiany
and Craig A. Reed, Jr. bookend this exciting collection, while other familiar
names and new blood explore important moments in this ’Mech’s history
of constant, unmitigated warfare that leaves no corner of the Inner Sphere

My story is the last one in the anthology, called "End of the Road". It's set during the Liberation of Terra, as Stone fights for control of Humanity's home world against the Word of Blake. There's a dozen stories here, tracing the history of one 'Mech through three hundred years of battle, with both familiar names and newcomers penning stories for this collection. There are all brand new stories, commissioned just for this anthology, no Battlecorps reprints here. A shoutout to Phil Lee, who not only co-edited this anthology, he wrote the introduction, a story and the epilogue. I hope if you do attend Gencon, you pick up a copy and enjoy the stories.

So, until things are sorted out, we're in a waiting pattern, but once it's sorted out, I hope to be bring more new stories to the Battletech universe.



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What is it like working for Catalyst?

I realize it's been a while since I've blogged anything --- four months. I wish I had an real excuse beyond the two that took up my time --- a Non-BattleTech novel and the holidays. The novel is done and is now going through the editorial phase ....

But that's enough of the excuses. I did complete something that I sent in to Battlecorps and hope to see it sometime in the future. I won't say more than that until there's more to say. There's a new Catalyst Store that should be more responsive to users' needs (There is no truth to the rumor that Catalyst was running out of virgins to sacrifice to keep Battleshop running --- they ran out of those five years back......)  There's a few things on the way....

The reason for this post (besides a reminder that I'm still alive) was prompted by a comment (Since deleted for some unknown reason because I didn't delete it, and the comment wasn't offensive in any way.) I will however post the comment (Because I'm notified by email when a comment is posted, along with the copy of the comment) without revealing the person's identity until such time I received permission from the poster. It asks a question I would like to answer.

Hi Craig,
Read your blog with great interest. Longtime Battletech fan here, and recently submitted & got approval for two short stories from John & Philip. I'd be interested to hear about your experiences working with the company, as this is my first submission with them.
First, welcome to a small group of people --- Battletech writers. The fact you had two stories accepted by Phil and John is a mark in your favor. Hope you hang around for a long time. We're a crusty bunch, but mostly harmless (At least that's what the Hitcherhikers Guide to Gaming Writers said, which is better than the previous "Warmongering Stormtropers" Until Lucasfilms sued.....)

What has my experience been like? It's been mostly good, but like every other company, there are times you wonder what's going on. But before I dive into my experiences, a little about Catalyst Games Lab and what makes them a little different for other gaming companies.

The most unusual things is Catalyst operates under a defused company structure. Catalyst Employees and Freelancers are all over the world. With the Internet, we don't need to live in the same area, as Catalyst, or even in the same country. So we are a diverse group and we all bring out unique views to the game we write and make art for. The second thing is that most of us working for Catalyst are freelancers, operating under a few full-time employees. That makes Catalyst flexible enough to handle a multitude of projects are the same time. And last is the passion the freelancers have for the game and the universe. For nearly forty years, the Battletech Universe has been a living, breathing universe with a diverse set of factions and an in-universe history that covers over a thousand years, from the start of the 21st century to the current middle of the 32nd. It is a honor to be a small part of such a vibrant universe.

My experiences with Catalyst have been for the most part, great. Most my interaction had been with six people; Jason Schmitzer. Herb Beas, Ben Rome, Phillip Lee, John Helfers, and Randall Bills.

Jason Schmetzer was Battlecorps' editor when he bought my first story, The Lancer Killer. A writer as well as editor, he had an ability to find a story's weakness and suggest changes to make a story better. He left to pursue other projects, but I remember him as the man who started my Battlecorps career.

Herb Beas was the Battletech Line Developer when I became a Battlecorps writer, and it because of him, I had to chance to pitch for a number of Battletech projects. Fact-checking lead to pitching and because of him, I established myself not only as a Battlecorps writer, but as a Battletech writer, with several writing credits in products such as Field Manual: SLDF, Interstellar Players 3, and Field Report 2765: DCMS.  He also left, replaced by Randall Bills.

Ben Rome was Battletech's Assistant Line Developer under Herb Beas and ramrodded Total Chaos  for Herb and wrote most of the War of Reaving sourcebook. It was he that gave me a chance to write up Gannon's Cannons for the sourcebook to honor the son of a Catalyst agent who had leukemia. Gannon is much better these days and I still considered writing the backstory for the Cannons my greatest pleasue to this day.

Phillip Lee became a Battlecorps writer after me, and Jason decided his skills were also suited to helping him running Battlecorps. He is usually the one who first reads a story from the slush pile and his experience as a writer can spots the flaws in a story as quickly as Jason could. Those that pass his inspection are sent to John Helfers. Phil and I have also work on both Valiant: RPG games books, with Phil taking the lead on both books and me writing for him. I consider him a good friend and  and we bounce ideas off each other more often than not.

John Helfers' background I've detailed in the previous blog post, but in all my communications with him, I have found him to be friendly, helpful, understanding and encouraging. He has plans for both Battlecorps and the other fiction lines has me hopeful for 2017 and beyond.

Outside of Battletech's creators, I can't think of anyone more associated with the IP than Randall Bills. He has been working with the IP in one way or another for over twenty years, and is currently acting as Battletech's Line Developer in additions to his other Catalyst duties. A nice guy, when you can get a hold of him, which isn't often.

I've had good relations with all of them, even though the only one I've met in person was Randall (Twice, I think, when Origins was still moving around --- Baltimore and Philadelphia were the two I attended.) And that is the key --- if you have good relations with the people you work for/with, you will enjoy the experience.

I hope that answers your question.

Until later (though less than four months, I promise!)