Monday, July 20, 2015
Writing for TROs
Above is the cover for the TRO3150, which was released for sale in PDF today, and hopefully will be at Gencon in physical form. It's a sequel of sorts to TRO3145, and has mostly designs from the 3145 mini-TROs that didn't make it into the 3145 edition, with some new material.
This makes the fourth physical TRO in a row in this I've contributed a couple of entries to. (I claim credit for a couple of the designs mentioned in the TRO3085 "Old is the New New" section) Unlike most of the source-books, the writer's efforts are scattered through the book, with no one writer dominating a section. When the call goes out for pitches, the pitch includes the list of units for that TRO. Writers submit a list of designs they want to write up, and the Production developer chooses who writes what.
Writing for a TRO is different than other source-books. First, you have a vary hard word count limit for each entry. Second, three groups contribute to each entry, each having to match up to the other two. The teams are supervised by either Herb or a production developer to make all three groups mesh.
The first group are the designers. Writers do not design the entries. Instead of small group designs the game stats for each entry, translating in many cases these last two TROs, MWDA stats to Battletech stats. They decide what equipment goes where. If there's a need to stat out a variant, they will do it. They also have a hand in giving each design a design quirk.
Second are the artists, and their designs have to follow the stats laid out by the design team. SO if a design has a large laser in the right arm, the artist has to make sure they draw a large barrel on that arm to match the design stats. They have to a aware of the design quirks and if possible, include at as part of the illustration.
Writers write the fluff -- everything else that isn't game stats or illustration. As writers, we have guidelines we must follow about the tone and content. We get some notes from the design team about year produced, where it's produced, who has the design, and other notes like that. From them, the writers created the overview, capabilities, deployments, variants (if any), and notable units/pilots. Writers also get input into design quirks.
Now for the print version of TRO3145 and TRO3150, new material, usually new notable units, replaces some of the fluff the writers wrote in addition to other changes and additions. They are written by someone else, and we writers have no say over what is added or taken away.
So, that's a glimpse into how a TRO is put together in my experience. When you read through it, remember it took a lot of people to put each one together.