Plot element: Breacher suits

Hello everyone,

the definition of a Plot device is “anything that moves the plot forward”. In this case, “plot element” might be a better expression, it’s something I gave a lot of thought to. As you know, I am the author of the recent Armored Warfare campaign storyline. Obviously, other people were involved in the process as well – what happened was that I wrote the story text (fun fact: all three texts were written overnight due to killer deadlines), then two of my American colleagues did proofread it and then it was given to the Obsidian story superviser (not sure she’d be happy if I uttered her name openly, so let’s leave it at that).

But that’s just an explanation. As I said, I wouldn’t talk about Armored Warfare here. Instead, let’s have a look at a generic piece of storytelling.

One of the earlier drafts involves a character escaping from a besieged facility using a device called Breacher suit. There is no such thing in real life of course (yet), but it might very well be. You see, Breacher suit is a power armor. Obviously not the type in Fallout (actually, I didn’t even think of Fallout when I was writing about that), it’s something else entirely.

Power armor in movies is usually extremely mobile, super-protective (invariably with plate armor), can be operated for long periods of time and effectively turns soldiers into superhumans. That’s unrealistic bullshit of course – there is no power source or technology that would make such a thing possible. What is even worse – such suits would be really, really heavy. Think about it – you have a bipedal power suit that roughly copies the human anatomy and weighs at least 300kg (but probably more). This weight is then transferred to its legs, the soles of which that are – let’s say – 50 percent larger (when it comes to surface) have to bear 3 times the weight of an average human. This alone brings surface pressure and mobility issues. There are other problems with it which I don’t want to get into too much.

So, how would a realistic 2030 power armored suit look?

For starters, take an exoskeleton and add the best armor it could wear. Not some plating of course – but something like this:

Yup, that’s the MW Juggeraut suit alright. Just think away the stuff like grenades hanging outside, the gas bottles (what the hell are those for, it’s not like you can make such a suit pressurized anyway) and such.

Basically, an evolution of the extra armor with powered exoskeleton for arms and legs. Me and a few friends ran some calculations and it’s actually possible – the suit would weigh roughly 300 kilograms to make it extremely resistant to small arms fire. There are two problems with this:

- the operating time would be very short. Even with “sci-fi” batteries, I’m thinking 1-2 hours
- the problem with ground pressure
- the suit would be really slow, walking pace at maximum

These three disadvantages are… actually perfect. Ideal for this plot device. You see, the problem with powered armor from story POV is that it’s so cool it might make armored vehicles obsolete. What we have here is a suit that’s too slow to be used outside, resistant only to small arms fire (I’ll get to grenades and RPG’s later) so anything larger than a 7.62mm would destroy it. And most importantly, it’s extremely expensive (such a thing wouldn’t come cheap even at best of times).

Why is it expensive in 2030? Obviously the technology for such suits would be (if they use technology such as electroactive polymers for muscle fibres – thanks, Daigensui), but they would also be:

- used for very specific environments (I’ll get to that later)
- high-maintenance (even if you get one, you’ll spend fortune on running it because the electroactive polymers have to be replaced quite often)

Both of these conditions would make it attractive for a very narrow range of customers and limited production items are always extremely expensive. This is something a military would probably develop for taxpayer’s money.

Anyway, I mentioned specific environment.

Think about it. Too slow, high maintenance, limited operational time, resistant to small arms, poor ground pressure. Yup. These are siege weapons, the only environment they would be really useful for would be assaults on buildings and enclosed areas (that can support their weight) – bunkers and such. In close quarters (with proper armament), they would be absolutely murderous.

Á propos. Armament.

Close quarters, short range… I am thinking a rapid-fire (remember, powered arms and 300kg of weight) shotgun. But that’s not all. Such a suit would be really vulnerable to RPG’s and grenades. That’s why it would have to have two pieces of future tech – specifically two mini-APS on each shoulder, each on rotating extendable mount, angle of fire cca 270 degrees (not to fire into the head of the soldier), capable of reaching even behind the suit (so noone can hide behind it). Is that realistic? Yeah… there are such systems small enough even now. Not man-portable, but still. For extra rule of cool, the suits could carry (exoskeleton) a massive ballistic shield.

Anyway, what do you think? Realistic narrow profile power armor – yay or nay?

Of Bookwriting

Right, so – in my last post, I mentioned writing a book. Well, the bad news is that it’s currently only in Czech – I don’t really feel all that confident about writing in English, would need a lot of proofreading, but if there’s ever a demand, who knows?

I was actually thinking about starting from scratch in English. How hard can it be to hire a native speaker for proofreading, right? Last night I returned from Amsterdam, spent several hours on the airport thinking about it, wrote some notes on what I’d change. I am actually really bad this way – I do this a lot in computer games too, especially RPGs. I start something, get around to one third of the game – and then stop and start over again because I want to do every detail right in case something really hard comes later on.

Anyway, I am digressing again.

Writing a book (in your language) isn’t hard. Hell, it’s easy as long as you have something you like to write about and I enjoy writing about tanks and writing stories. This book (well, the drafted part I have now) has actually both. And pictures, never published previously, I am actually really proud of that. I’ve been on a writing break for a long time, with Armored Warfare consuming pretty much ALL my time, but I’d love to finish the draft until summer.

One thing I decided on however is that it’s going to be a paper book. Sorry, kindlers. I like paper. Publishing the book (in reasonable numbers) isn’t actually that expensive unless you want some fancy stuff (glossy hard covers and all that). So yeah, there’s that.

Should be fun :)

Thursday Musings

Yes indeed. It’s been a year since For the Record closed its gates and I started to work as a content manager on Armored Warfare. More than a year actually. I had this really long post drafted for a month about how things changed and WoT changed and I changed and how Rita’s doing on her blog. I kept opening it day after day, adding, editing stuff, wondering what to say. Today, I just deleted it all.

Because nothing changed. WoT’s the same old game I left a year ago plus new sounds, physics and the Czechoslovak tank branch I helped implement (Yeah I know, I talked enough about those for a lifetime, damn that was fun!). Rita’s doing an okay job blogging considering she doesn’t speak Russian, but she has help for that, which was one of the main reasons I prolonged my contract with AW for another year. Was considering returning to FTR and doing something else for living but hell, some aspects of my job are a lot of fun.

Obviously, I can’t and won’t talk about Armored Warfare here. That’s the deal with Edrard and even if I could, I wouldn’t want to. I think everyone can see the state of things for themselves.

But…

There were some recent changes in my life that allow me to spend more time with other things thank just work, so I’m gonna start writing again for Rita maybe (historical pieces, probably about Czechoslovak and Soviet vehicles and other stuff that interests me and yes, before you ask, there’s nothing preventing me running a blog or writing about things not related to my job) or – if she refuses – I’ll start publishing stuff here.

I’ll probably finish writing my book as well, that’s my personal goal for this year.

So that’s it. See you on the battlef… uck this, see you when I see you.

SS

Almost a Year…

So, it’s been almost a year since I stopped writing For the Record. Some things have changed – some, not at all. But before we get into that – let me ask you first:

Do you feel satisfied with how Rita took over? And if not – would you like FTR to return?

9.13, Czechoslovak Tanks and so on…

Hello everyone,

so, the day is finally here, right? The 9.13 Czechoslovak tanks are on the test server and I would really like to thank the few brave Wargaming developers who pushed this idea to their superiors. Especially one guy who doesn’t want to be named and his pony lover friend from balance department, both of who are seriously the coolest game devs. It was seriously cool to meet you guys in person (too bad I was so tired from the trip, I was babbling god knows what at that point). It’s not an understatement that without them, the branch would not exist – and this is how it should be, you know – the developers listening to and working with the community. Now, I am not saying that the community should be listened to in everything (that would end in a disaster) but when it comes to such things as introducing new vehicles?

Why not. In fact, it’s no secret that Wargaming is working on the Swedish branch with two community members, Renhaxue and sp15. Unfortunately, unlike me, they are limited in what they can divulge due to actual contracts (whereas me, Daigensui and Soukoudragon who helped with the Japanese branch were… let’s say less formal). But I think it’s going to end well.

Of course, Yuri Pasholok, Dmitry Shein and their colleagues from historical department did a lot of work too and it was really nice to meet them as well in Prague, I really liked the book Yuri wrote and gave me about the T-60 light tank (I wish this stuff was available in English). And finally, special thanks go to Pyotr Bityukov and of course Sergey Burkatovsky, who was involved in these decisions on the highest level.

With that being said, how well did the branch go?

Pretty well actually. Of course, nothing is perfect and multiple things didn’t the way I imagined they would, such as:

- the national sign with the blue triangle upwards: completely historical but not the variant I’d have picked
- camouflage: German camo? Really? Someone was lazy as fuck. I even made a post about possible camouflages.
- Kolohousenka has no wheels!
- LT vz.38 top gun has wrong mantlet, but… well, it’s a stretch anyway
- T-24 turrets (*sigh*)
- apparently the Konštrukta T-34/100 has busted armor (the armor model of the mantle for stock turret should be there for top turret and vice versa)
- the T 50 is really a stretch, some things are wrong (like the false side armor IS-3 style, where historically ammunition was supposed to be stowed above the tracks)

But what the hell. Tested the line, really liked it, good job :)

So, what now… now I work for My.com (Armored Warfare) so my focus lies elsewhere. I still follow WoT of course but mostly for job reasons. I am really curious as to what will happen with it in 2016. I think all the players and tank lovers will find 2016 very interesting due to the improvements the respective devs are making to AW and WoT both.

So yea. Should be fun :)

Posted in Q&A

“Give us For the Record for Armored Warfare!”

Hello guys,

lately, I keep getting the requests to actually make For the Record style blog for Armored Warfare or even re-open For the Record with AW content. Well, as I am sure you all understand, it’s not that easy.

For one, there already IS an excellent Armored Warfare blog, the Armored Talk.

http://armoredtalk.com/

It’s run by an American guy, a former soldier if I recall correctly and overly a very nice person to work with and talk to (in other words, an opposite of me). He does an excellent job, better than I ever could with the current workload (free weekends? lol, more like content writing time). Seriously, if you are interested in AW, go check that blog out. If you are not, well, then don’t :)

Now, about FTR. I got shitloads of questions about why on earth did I post that Terminator picture in the previous post. Yea, that’s a good question. At first it was just trolling. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if there’s anything I could actually do with FTR. When it comes to World of Tanks, Rita’s doing a pretty good job I’d say – considering she’s been at it for three months and doesn’t speak Russian. In a way she has it way tougher than I did even in the beginning.

So, the question is… what CAN be done? Is there something that would interest you related to tanks, tank history, Armored Warfare, maybe even World of Tanks? I think I’m gonna write some more reviews and notes about the assembly of the Czechoslovak branch in WoT but that’s more like Rita stuff (afterall, the branch is coming relatively soon, 0.9.12 would be my guess).

Anyway, catch you later guys.

Posted in Q&A

All Good Things…

Dear readers and friends,

now, that’s a change from the usual “hello everyone” and the Star Trek title – must mean something significant, yes? Well, unfortunately, it does.

I am quitting working on For the Record, completely.

The reasons for these are numerous, but the most obvious one is that I was hired by My.com, the producer of Armored Warfare, to become a content manager and a sort of historical advisor (minus the epic hat) with a hint of community management. My contract prevents me from doing anything, that would benefit My.com’s competition and unfortunately, running a Wargaming news blog is exactly the kind of thing that is prohibited. I wasn’t expecting this to come so suddenly (in fact, I was counting on running the blog for at least another month to take it all nice and slow), but the resolution of the situation came rather swiftly and I cannot wait – I’d be in breach of my contract. Don’t worry though, I won’t leave you without any info, there is a contingency plan (see below).

There are other reasons as well though and I do feel like I owe you a longer explanation though, so here goes.

This decision is not new. Some of you might remember that I was considering quitting completely as early as in the autumn of 2014. Wasn’t a good time for me really – along with some health issues, by that point FTR was practically a fulltime job (which didn’t change until today) and no matter how easy it might seem to an outsider, running the blog to any standard was completely exhausting. Another price, even more serious one, was the complete lack of any “life”, a price I was willing to pay, but I am no longer – I found someone very special in my life and suddenly found myself in a situation where I had to choose between my private life and working on FTR. Until today, I chose the latter, but I cannot do that anymore.

But that’s not nearly everything. For a long time, I was doing FTR mostly out of sense of duty, as there was unfortunately no true goal to the entire endeavor. While the FTR numbers between 2013 and 2014 practically doubled, recently, the growth generally just stagnated. I believe that as it is now, FTR has reached its limits, there is nowhere to expand – in fact, I had to get rid of some topics to be able to manage the amount of incoming information.

And add one more factor to that. There is nowhere to go for me even in World of Tanks itself. I am not really interested in becoming a unicum or anything. For me, the real fun with World of Tanks was participating (well, sort of) in the development. As you know, my goal was to have Czechoslovak tanks introduced into the game and by Wargaming actually agreeing to do that, there’s nothing left to achieve.

Combine all these reasons and you have a very tiring mixture. Make no mistake: I liked working on For the Record and I was happier working on it more than I was with my real job. Unfortunately, even with the generosity of the contributors (some were VERY generous and I won’t forget that), FTR could never bring enough money to work as a fulltime job. Well, maybe it could, if I spam the entire site with ads, but the thing is, I hate ads. Plus, ad revenue is extremely vulnerable to reader whims as the Adblock is just one click away.

Sure, you might think – why not contact Wargaming and maybe work something out? Well… for one, you know very well what I think of the entire WG EU. WG RU has some really cool guys and I never had a “beef” with them per se, but the thing is… I am also tired of this game and I don’t like where it is going. Sure, Czechoslovak tanks are cool, but what’s next? The development future and plans do seem a bit like stumbling in the dark from my perspective. I don’t feel like Wargaming has a clear vision, as there is little to achieve gameplay-wise left for them apart from making more and more money. Not that there’s something wrong with making money, it’s just that I have the feeling (especially lately) that it actually sometimes collides with the game development itself (cutting out content that is very expensive to produce, while introducing more and more premium tanks being the most obvious example). Perhaps I am wrong, but that’s how I see it.

That’s why I turned to who I consider to have a bright future: Armored Warfare developers, Obsidian.

Armored Warfare developers have a vision, that doesn’t consist entirely of selling you more and more stuff – and they listen to the players. An example: it took me two years to convince Wargaming to put Czechoslovak tanks into the game. It took me three minutes to do that with Obsidian.

What I do believe is that with proper development, Armored Warfare can not only go toe to toe with World of Tanks, we can even beat it on their own turf.Therein lies the challenge and the goal. Can I personally help to make it better with my dedication? I’d like to think that yes, I can. I have faith, something I lacked for a very long time, a faith that was in Wargaming’s case replaced by cynicism, stemming from some degree of knowledge of Wargaming’s inner workings a long time ago. I am sure you noticed that yourselves from the leaks as well.

I will not tell you that Wargaming is the Great Satan and Armored Warfare is our only savior. That would be stupid and it would be a lie. For all its flaws and the idiocy of some of WG staff, World of Tanks is a good game, even a great game (if you embrace arty that is :D). I just think there’s an opportunity here to build something even better – together with the players and developers actually listening to player feedback without having to spend years to convince them of a good idea.

And so, it suddenly all “clicked” together – their offer, my desire to do something I actually really like for a living and reasons to actually have some private life back. And I said yes. So this is it.

Now, before I depart, two things.

AW beta keys

If you are interested, I have beta keys for all the contributors, who ever donated to FTR. Just write me an email at fortherecordwot@gmail.com with your identification as a former FTR contributor and I’ll send you one. I wish I had beta keys for EVERYBODY but alas, I couldn’t get my hands on so many. But that’s okay… I am pretty sure that if you go to the Armored Warfare site and register for CBT, you’ll get there in no time, the beta has plenty of space for everybody.

FTR replacement

Second – as promised, you won’t be left without information. I was wondering for a long time how to do this – and I opted for one thing, one person who actually has no agenda and who I actually really trust – Ritagamer. Surprised? So was I, when she showed interest. Long story short: I did put her in touch with a native Russian speaker, let’s call him “Ivan”. Ivan will help her with translations for her and she will be posting them in the same style as I used on FTR. And yes, there will still be leaks. She will also cover Armored Warfare actually, so you’ll get everything in a nice, neat package. You can find her blog here:

http://ritastatusreport.blogspot.nl/

Make no mistake, it will be very difficult for her at first and the design of the blogger site is less than optimal, so please, support her as much as you did support me, she is taking a huge risk with this and it’s a lot of work. But, I am confident she’ll be up to the task – you know her from her streams, when she wants something, she gets it right :)

So, that’s it really. I hope to see you drop by on AW forums. This is for the record… signing off.

Posted in Q&A