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THE WOLF'S BLOG

Starting This Blog!Procrastination...by the Month (and a NOTE for PGI) • A Blast From The Past2013 - State of the Inner SphereStarting 2014

2013 - State of the Inner Sphere - 2013-DEC-16
I am going to break my own schedule, saying that I would not post another blog until after the new year; the reason is because this one is based on new information coming from PGI concerning many features of the game they are preparing to release, and plans for future releases, including Community Warfare, which is the bread and butter Armageddon Unlimited is to be based on.

Russ Bullock, and the entire PGI team, are to be commended for such a massive update, while simultaneously condemned for their amazing and unnecessary lack of appropriate, moderated, and timely communication with the community.  Had the MWO team put out more information over shorter periods of time, the community would NOT be up in arms, right now, including me.  I'm going to give you the link to the initial post I read tonight (131216), and then I'm going to give you a state of the unit update, mixed in with the PGI update for MWO.  In other words, what their update means for AU operations in MWO...

Before I start this off, I want to impress upon you, the reader, that I still love this game, it is the absolute best of all MechWarrior games, to date, it IS BattleTech on the computer, at least the extreme spirit of it, if not the letter of the tabletop game.  Though PGI have really messed up how this game is coming out, according to the largest portion of the vocal community, including me, they have made an effort to correct themselves for it and, for now, this is good enough for me.

Click here for the latest Command Chair update.  More is coming in the form of links and the like, including the plan they list; for now, however, we're only working with the "2013 - State of the Inner Sphere" post, by Russ Bullock.

"Our biggest challenge there has been in explaining that many features and content are delivered by completely different members of the team then would work on for instance UI 2.0 and usually does not signify in any way a lack of focus or delay on major feature development."

This statement, and the subsequent explanation of the types of teams, I think is going to be very helpful for many.  It helped me to understand what PGI were doing when I gleaned this information for myself over the course of quite a few topics begun by them, though until this I don't recall them ever stating that various people and teams were working on disparate features.  Now we know why the Clan packs were released without major news, before tonight, about UI 2.0, Community Warfare, etc.

"That's a tough thing to hear when you are as deep in love and committed as we have been to the game."

The fact that PGI have been running sale-after-sale-after-sale, and have now run to completion two pack sales (Founders, of which I am one, and the Phoenix pack, including Sabre Reinforcements, which I did not have the ability to get into until one week after it stopped running) and are now running the outrageously priced Clan packs, are what give people who love the universe the impression that PGI are doing nothing but money-grabbing.  As much as I would love to see PGIs words about their love for the universe made true, I'm afraid that right now I have little trust for these words, and PGI are going to have to do a lot to make things right with their community, especially their veterans.

The fact PGI are looking to improve their staffing situation is great.  The fact they were willing to take in a lot of money, believing it possible for Microsoft to drop them like a hot rock, and use it on other projects is disingenuous and would have turned into a case of grand theft on their part, had Microsoft not extended their license.  It is disturbing to think a company could do this and tell us they remain honest and committed to production, without also thinking that their entire goal is to make money, full MechWarrior game or not.

Roadmap
Though I think their release schedule should be a lot faster than what they have, now, I am also not a programmer and do not know what pitfalls they have met and been required to overcome.  To that end, I have to look back on what I've said before, that PGI have grown rapidly in their programming and production prowess, especially considering how crappy their racing games, their Transformers game, and Duke Nukem 3D were, and how long each of those took to produce, compared to what they're producing for MWO.  The only example I can use of how far PGI have come is from MWO itself; the combat engine is beyond gorgeous and, except for a few things they already know are taking place, and that they say they are working to correct, the game is so amazingly fun that I don't even mind if I have a low KDR, personally.  I'm workin' on it, I'm workin' on it, hehe.

UI 2.0 being released on February 4th seems odd to me; however, with the Christmas season coming up, and a whole host of bugs and suggestions for improvement outlined by the Public Server test groups, I can sort of see what the problem really is.  I will try to be in subsequent test groups if I am able.

The idea that PGI are working diligently to allow merc units to compete against one another by mid-late April of 2014 IS significant.  This also gives me a date to have as much of our web site as possible put in place by then.  The web site has a new code design to it, and I have to ensure that all of the pages get set in place and updated for the new design; the site won't appear much different than what you've seen in the past, but there are quite a few hiccups I was able to catch and update to square the site up, that will allow better functionality in the future.

I will be completing the page write-ups for the Awards and Achievements system, as I attempt to anticipate and work with what PGI have expressed they WANT to make happen; anticipation and work toward that, now, will inevitably mean less work, later.  You can see some of the awards, as set up, by clicking here!

After that will come the new MechWarrior Service Record template, and I will convert old records to this new template as necessary, and place all new MechWarrior's in their own template.  The old PDF way of doing things was really sort of impossible, took way too much space, and was not terribly secure and, with my new knowledge of templates and styles that I've learned since October 2011, all of this can be made to look and function better.

Finally, after the MSR template is completed, I will be able to start putting our education opportunities into password-protected web pages, as well, so we can get rid of PDF downloads and be able to introduce pop-up form exams, also password-protected, for MechWarrior's to take toward promotion points and unit knowledge and culture, and for ease of grading by our eventually appointed Dean of Education.

The Plan PGI have developed a new tracker to allow us to keep up with the most prevalent parts they are working on toward future release, and it can be found here! To get around, simply click on each of the blocks in the main field of the page, and you'll get a pop-up description and a percentage to completion of each.  It's pretty extensive, but isn't so in-depth that it strangles your brain.

The fact Community Warfare is broken down, after the April-June release and tweaking, into three parts of completion, is pretty telling, I think:

  • Association (making merc corps and loyaltist HQ more solid): July-August

  • Planetary Conquest (fighting for territory and holding it): September-October, and

  • Complete Community Warfare (all feature sets completed): early-mid Fall


This will fit in well with the general schedule I have made for Armageddon Unlimited:
  • This blog posting (inviting you hardcore folks back, or into, the fold): today (131216).  If you've received this, you're invited back, now...

  • Time-in-service reactivation (reactivating your time-in-service counter for the reboot, for those who've remained loyal, despite all of my hubbub of the recent past): First three weeks in January, as I complete the new MechWarrior Service Records and begin converting folks to it...

  • Education, training, and playing as a unit (Education WILL NOT be mandatory, but if you want to advance you will complete it, as necessary, but not until after the MSRs and Education pages are completed; I'll tell you when.  Again, those of you who have been hardcore and willing to come back, can start early, get a jump on folks coming down the pipe, later.  Training, talking on the forums, unit development, and playing as a unit will NOT be mandatory during this time-frame.  Recruitment during this time will be passive, we may take those who express an interest and are willing to read the literature, and play in our MilSim unit, but we will not actively recruit until I am confident I can run this unit full-bore.  This will depend on real life, a LOT)...

  • Getting up to speed (the very gradual movement from passive to active recruitment): mid-June to the last of July.  Positions will need to begin to be filled, here, and training will need to proceed apace, in accordance with our AU MechWarrior Evaluations schedule.  All old members of Armageddon Unlimited will be welcome to return any time they wish, but as everyone is starting at the bottom, they will always have to work their way back up.  Considering that I have almost everyone's records from every previous iteration of AU, any returns will still have their points, awards, etc., and will advance accordingly...

  • Running her out: any time from mid-July up.

Keep in mind that EVERY last one of these is modifiable based on PGIs time-table and my ability to find a job that pays enough for me to keep things running.

"Of course you may very well still be in a position where you don't believe the estimates or are unwilling to believe until some more of these dates are achieved and you have the features in your hands.  That is completely fair and at Piranha we are just going to be focused on delivering and earning your patronage back into MWO as soon as possible."

This is an amazingly huge statement, especially concerning EARNING our patronage back.  I have always been of the mind that it's not up to PGI to build the community, but rather to provide a place FOR US to build on, a game we can get behind.  MWO IS that game, but it's got a while to go before it's complete.  I have oft told PGI to build the game, to finish it, and the existing community would bring many others to the game; whether that's fallen on deaf ears, or I've been heard, I don't know.  My full belief is that, once UI 2.0 is completed entirely, that old die-hards will begin recruiting people back, sharing videos PGI, NGNG, and others have taken as a result of the new goods, the ONE thing most everyone signed up for... the metagame, Community Warfare.  This was always handled by leagues, planetary and ladder, in the past who developed their own tracking systems, performed all of their own programming and, somehow, coupled it to the game, which was never meant to track all of those things.  MWO is built that way and, I believe, we're going to see a great deal more in the future, and a HUGE return of people willing and ready to play.

So, here we are... I have chosen to move forward with development of Armageddon Unlimited, or the re-development as it were, to ensure we have a place to play and do not get caught out because I didn't perform my diligence when PGI actually completes the performance of theirs.  I will make this time, in an already amazingly busy schedule, and I will make the choice to take the leap to ensure that, even if PGI fails in the end, we will not.  For the record, I am encouraged each time PGI puts something out, and I believe there is more to come tomorrow, when the new map, new game mode, and the Sabre 'Mechs are released, along supposedly with a video from Bryan Ekman, and I do NOT believe they will, in the end, fail.  Does this mean I am absolutely on the PGI band-wagon... not by a long shot.  They KNOW they are going to have to EARN my loyalty back, talk me back from the cynicism ledge; now that they've identified the problem, that of earning EVERYONE's loyalty back, and bringing back the community of the game, I believe they've taken the most crucial step to make this happen, and in the end they will.

Let's see what the next ten months brings, folks.  Are you with me?

Starting This Blog!Procrastination...by the Month (and a NOTE for PGI) • A Blast From The Past2013 - State of the Inner SphereStarting 2014

A Blast From The Past - 2013-DEC-11
Well, this will be the last blog of this year.  As 2013 draws to a close, a year I thought I would not see, and only 6 years until Cyberpunk 2020 -inside joke-, I find myself on the fence about whether I'm actually the problem -the reason for which I began this blog in the first place- or if the problem was in us all.  Were our issues, as a unit, simply a matter of disparate personalities?  Or, did I just take things too personally, and that was the greatest cause of my downfall.  Well, I'm not actually here to discuss that, tonight, but to make sure the record of what has gone before is maintained.  I may discuss more about the following in the future of this blog, though the point is to move forward while retaining and, hopefully, continuing to build forward momentum.  It might be necessary to hit some points, however, in order to move forward; to deny the past may prove a roadblock to the future.

Without further adieu...

ARMAGEDDON UNLIMITED - DEAD, BUT WHY?!
IF YOU DON'T WANT THE TRUTH, STOP READING!

23 September 2012
To all fellow former MechWarrior's of Armageddon Unlimited, and to Commander's and MechWarrior/ BattleTech Community Members,

On September 9th, 2012 the Armageddon Unlimited Mercenary MechWarrior Unit/ Merc Corps web site was taken off-line by me, this page laid to rest for what, most likely, will be forever, along with the people it supported.  This was caused by treachery that has been lived by AU, through me, several times before, and before it has always gone without an answer.  This time, that treachery will not go without an answer.  I have sought, for two weeks, now to determine whether or not I was going to say anything at all, and then what and how I would say it if I did, and below is how I constructed this necessary response.

As this letter is long, it will be broken into the following sections (you may click on each link to go to the section):
  • Summary (for all of the TLDR / ADD / ADHD kids)
  • Broad Description of Cause (for those who deserve answers and are willing to read)
  • Commander Notes (lessons for those still in the broad community who command, so my mistakes will not be repeated)
  • Closing (to outline some fears I have concerning the community, MWO, and my basic plan for the future)
Before I truly get started, however, I have to cover one or two things for all who are reading this:
  • Only three people are truly responsible for the total breakdown of this unit, not the least of which is myself, and all three of those were from the Command & Staff;

  • I have never before served with a group of individuals, nor am I ever likely to serve again, whether the remainder of the Command & Staff, the Leaders (Officer's and Lance Commanders), or the remaining Enlisted personnel, who are remotely as fine, as individuals and a unit, as all of you have been;

  • For those who were playing regularly (whose names will not be mentioned due to the continuing active NDA), a gift comes to the remainder of the MWO community with regards to your talents, abilities with coordination and communication and, for some of you, your leadership abilities.  If you are reading this, were not a member of AU, and are a commander and you do not put these individuals to work teaching the rest of your unit, then you are wasting excellent, sharply-honed talent.



SUMMARY
Again, for those who do not desire to read the more detailed description, here is the short version:
  • Through acts of treachery committed by two members, the second and third in command of AU at the time, of the former AU Command & Staff, who wouldn't know what the words HONOR, LOYALTY, and DUTY mean if they were to be run over by them, a la MAC truck style, I was deposed;

  • Mark "Bull" McTavish, rather than performing his duty as Command Sergeant Major Armageddon Unlimited (3rd in command) and informing a couple of complainers of what the whole of the Command & Staff had agreed upon and set in motion -and over only three-and-a-half full-length pages of reading material and questions-, instead failed to perform his duty and rather argued with me about changing what he had already agreed to with the rest of us.  Apart from the fact Bull never completed any of his own educational challenges so he could lead from the front, so he could see how little there actually was to do in order to be able to encourage others, this individual who spent between six and twelve hours per day on TeamSpeak then cited that "this is only a game, and people don't have time to do these".  Despite an amazing lack of real-life experience or leadership prowess, he believed his wisdom was more important than my own, for the unit I developed and nurtured, and in the end all of us lost.  This is not a leader, this is an individual without depth of knowledge or understanding of wisdom.

  • Kyle "TAZ" Kerns, rather than backing me up as the Executive Officer (2nd in command), instead compared me to Adolph Hitler by using the words "seig heil" in the Leadership thread concerning these education standards, which is utterly unforgivable.  For a man with the history he holds, he should be ashamed of himself for both his actions and inactions as the XO, and for his words.

  • And then there is my activity in the midst of all this; I am, or was rather, finally responsible for the actions of those who volunteered and/or were placed under my command.  When Bull did not even begin completing his educational opportunities within three months of my asking him, I should have replaced him outright, removed him from that position; my fault in this was not being tough enough to make that happen, even if it would have meant the loss of his friendship and his leaving the unit.  Likewise, as TAZ continued to display an increasing lack of support over the past several months, his amount of absent time increased -due to real-life work and family pressures-, I should have replaced him outright, removed him from that position; my fault in this was believing that he was the right man for the job, despite real-world issues, and that I should have leniency on those who have these real-life issues; I should have placed more emphasis on the fact we were also a team.  I should have tried to be less of a friend and more of a commander, and perhaps the unit would have grown more slowly, but it would have survived, I think.
Finally, my fault came in moving people into positions too quickly, to fill slots with people I believed were of the highest caliber; even with two or three other questionable choices on my list, I believed I could trust everyone I appointed to do their duty, to make themselves available, and to take them at their word that they were going to do precisely those things required to keep AU active.  I will not divulge, except for TAZ and Bull, whom I was watching more closely, to see if they really were the caliber of individual I truly thought they would be; I will, however, divulge that, except for TAZ and Bull, I was pleased to see members of Armageddon Unlimited grow into their positions rapidly and responsibly.  My own pride in Armageddon Unlimited soared as a result of how these MechWarrior's performed.

In the end, there were perhaps other ways I could have dealt with these problems, to keep Armageddon Unlimited alive and kicking, but the fact remains that this is where we are, now, and it's time to give this answer and move on.



A BROAD DESCRIPTION OF THE CAUSE
Many of you have read, whether through my small biography or multiple posts on the MechWarrior Online and/or MechWarrior Tactics web sites, or on the Armageddon Unlimited web site, that I picked up my first box set for BattleTech in November 1984.  I was immediately hooked, played as often as possible, collected and read absolutely everything made available for the game that I could get my hands on, and became an absolute fanatic for all things BattleTech.  I even moved through all of the sources I could to build up Red Death Squadron, Wolf's Cavaliers, Lynx Lancers/ Shadow Blade, and Equal Opportunity Destroyers using all of the rules available to me.  I built a complete history around my geekdom, my paper warriors mercenary unit, even when I wasn't able to play with others, due to distance or the disaffected nature of my Mother with regards to my gaming.

When I first played MechWarrior 2/ NetMech 95 online from early-mid 1997, my desire for the universe was no longer as strong as my desire to lead in it and, in mid-late 1997, after playing with a few notable units, I took the lessons learned and started up Armageddon Unlimited.  My first recruit actually recruited me, and then we began building the unit up together from there.  This forced me to learn HTML, from friends and the weak internet at the time, PHP, Excel, accounting practices, and I studied every treatise on leadership I could get hold of, because I wanted to be the best leader I could.  With the advent of our second iteration, I began developing an educational program, because I wanted my leaders, position holders, to be smart and versed in the goals and vision of AU.  I finished very basic courses that never saw the light of day by the end of the second iteration, set up a web site to deal with these educational programs through forum and form submissions -when forms were still relatively safe to use- by the end of the first half of the third iteration, and completed real courses -only one of which was more than a five full-length pages for the ten Enlisted courses, including completion questions- several months ago for this fourth iteration of Armageddon Unlimited.  This was followed, four months later, by the ten Non-Commissioned Officer courses, and Enlisted courses updated for new knowledge of how the developers had expressed MWO was going to work.

ENLISTED ED OPPS
• ENL001 ~ Introduction (4.5 pgs)
      (required for NCO rank, E4 Sergeant+)
• ENL002 ~ Terminology Compendium (9.5 pgs)
      (required for Basic Training Completion)
• ENL003 ~ Combat Operations (5.5 pgs)
      (required for Company Commander position)
• ENL004 ~ Basic Commo Protocols (4.5 pgs)
      (required for NCO rank, E4 Sergeant+)
• ENL005 ~ Code of Conduct (2.5 pgs)
      (required for NCO rank, E4 Sergeant+)
• ENL006 ~ SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) (5 pgs)
      (required for Lance Leader position)
• ENL007 ~ The Religion of Honor (7 pgs)
      (required as a Command & Staff member)
• ENL008 ~ GCMJ (General Code of Military Justice) (4 pgs)
      (required for Company Commander position)
• ENL009 ~ Advancement Requirements (5 pgs)
      (required for Command & Staff participation)
• ENL010 ~ Play Requirements (1 pg)
      (required for Basic Training Completion)
NCO ED OPPS
• NCO001 ~ Introduction (3.5 pgs)
      (required for Lance Leader position)
• NCO002 ~ Beta: The AU NCO (9.5 pgs)
      (required for Lance Leader position)
• NCO003 ~ Combat Training (9.5 pgs)
      (required for Company Commander position)
• NCO004 ~ Tactical Operations Leadership (4 pgs)
      (required for Company Commander position)
• NCO005 ~ Asset Control/ Economy of Force (5.5 pgs)
      (required for Command & Staff participation)
• NCO006 ~ Drop Commander (3.5 pgs)
      (required for Command & Staff participation)
• NCO007 ~ Contract Negotiator (9.5 pgs)
      (required as a Command & Staff member)
• NCO008 ~ Recruiting Requirements (3.5 pgs)
      (required for Lance Leader position)
• NCO009 ~ Advancement Requirements (4.5 pgs)
      (required for Command & Staff participation)
• NCO010 ~ The AU Uniform (incomplete)
      (required for Basic Non-Commissioned Officers Course Completion)
NOTE: If all an individual in the unit wanted to do was remain a MechWarrior, they didn't have to do any of these courses at all, ever, they were completely optional, even at Level 3 command structure.  All of our opportunities, and all of these points that went with them, were specifically for that, promotion points, especially if someone wanted a higher position, more prestige, more responsibility, and then they needed to complete these courses to get there, but only a few at a time, as you see, above.  The Officer ED Opp's, had not yet been refined into their chapters, but I was going to start work on them within the next couple of weeks.
Each new iteration of Armageddon Unlimited I poured my heart and soul into working to make these the best they could possibly be, and at the end of each iteration was some treacherous individual, or group, with their own designs and means in mind that did not relate, in the least, to the direction I wanted AU to go.  Each iteration was a loss for the simple fact that getting people to follow a vision that actually requires them to work together as a total team, not just because "it's only a game", and to actually qualify for promotions and positions is anathema to the mindset of the "now, me" world we presently live in.  Thus, each ending iteration, my hard work, goals and vision fell by the wayside to the selfish propagation of the individual desire to be in the spotlight and to have the rank and/or position without having to earn it beyond word of mouth from the powers that be.  Lazy.  Ignorant.  Stupid.

This final iteration -and, when I say final, that's exactly what I mean; see explanation in Closing- was no different, only rather than involve everyone in the unit in the problem and hurting them by shutting down for reasons they believed were salvageable, this time, I felt the best way was to confine this to the leadership and then attempt to salvage it on my own, with or without the help of the remaining leadership I hadn't fired.  Unfortunately, that was not to be, and though there may have been something that could be salvaged, I'm too tired to try, frankly.

So, apart from what you read in the Summary, above, here are some details not contained there...
  • Four leadership meetings took place between October 31, 2011 (when MWO was first created on Facebook, and I started AU up, again) and August 9th, 2012, to set the course of AU, rather than forcing my agenda down everyone's throats, and to make sure our leadership were actually able to be leaders.  It was agreed at the fourth meeting that we would go to level 3 command structure, near-military, and that certain educational opportunities, in-game training, and potentially other requirements would be developed and required of any MechWarrior's who wished to advance to higher positions in the unit.  The goal was to ensure the vision of Armageddon Unlimited, especially with regards to the most honorable play we could achieve, was being accounted for, and so we would not have dumb leaders working contrary to AUs goals and vision.  It was understood that it was all well-and-good to be savvy and fast on the battlefield, and it was a good set of traits to participate on TeamSpeak, on the forums, and in the game, but if the goals and vision of AU were unknown, and could not be adhered to, then the structure of the unit would, eventually, break down and we would be like many other leadership-free units available in the community.

  • As time in the unit progressed, and I was able to play more and more with the individuals in MWO and on TeamSpeak, several of our MechWarrior's began displaying extraordinary prowess in leadership (again, names are not mentioned due to the NDA being in place for Closed Beta) and battlefield tactics, earning what was described to them as a temporary award of the Drop Commander device.  Obviously, a few never read the email explaining that, once the Drop Commander ED Opp came into being, which was made available on September 5th, 2012, that it would be a requirement to complete the ED Opp within a certain amount of time to keep the DC device.  TAZ and I talked about this and, though he wanted the time limit to be two weeks, I convinced him a full month would be better.  Thus, individuals were then informed, as a courtesy more than an order, that the chapter had been made available, and they would have until the end of the first week in October to complete the ED Opp and submit it, or their DC device would be rescinded.

  • One or more MechWarrior's with DC devices, as Bull reported it, approached him concerned with the potential loss of the device.  Rather than explaining to them the process, the requirements agreed to by the Command & Staff, and the one-month time-limit imposed for completion of this 7 half-page sized document, including 4 multiple choice questions, Bull instead approached me and became aggressive in talking to me about not having time to complete these things for an online computer game.  Rather than focusing on the idea of having team-players and smart MechWarrior's, he single-handedly decided the educational chapter requirements -none of which are large, even the larger ones at 19 half-pages, including questions- were too strenuous and not worthy of his, or anyone else's time.  I explained that he should put in a recommendation concerning these educational chapters to the Command & Staff, and I logged off TeamSpeak to cool off after his tirade.  He posed a recommendation to the whole of the Leadership, not just the Command & Staff, easily distinguished had he used the forums a bit more often than he did.  Placing the whole, un-edited email into a forum topic in the Leadership section of our forums, instead, I then invited all Leaders to join in the conversation, of which only four did; the XO joined only at my excessive prodding, so AU would have a voice other than mine, a unified voice.  That was a mistake, and I finally had to become involved or lose the voice of the unit altogether.

  • I allowed the conversation to linger for a couple of days so others could get in and comment, but still only four participated.  The points made were that we had already agreed to this and shouldn't be visiting it, again, that we needed to provide a united face for all the membership of AU, and that the ED Opps were never that large, could be readily completed over time (weeks or months), and would only take a few minutes each to complete.  The final straw is when TAZ expressed the words "seig heil" after I attempted to express my command of the unit, and that what had been agreed upon was what needed to be executed, period.  I was too late to express any command authority at that point, which is my own fault, and I immediately moved, upon reading that, to secure the forums from both TAZ and Bull.  However...

  • Bull yanked my Server Admin privileges to the Armageddon Unlimited Hyper-Pulse Generator TeamSpeak server, provided by Whippet, before I could log on and ban both himself and TAZ.  Instead, I chose to take the larger step of removing their administrator privileges from the AU forums and then backing up the database, to preserve the data, lest they decide to come in and corrupt anything, perhaps attempting to remove my administrator privileges for long enough to do a great deal of damage to our forums and/or to the web server at large.  Though I could have remained only with the No Guts No Galaxy TeamSpeak server, and let the new LoP (Legends of Phobos?) go their own way, the blood in my eyes from such a nasty betrayal by these two honorless asses kept me from seeing any options other than the idea that I wanted out... for good.  I guess if I can't have MY unit the way I want it, then I don't want it at all.

  • Inquisitor (as our unit Inspector General) began a Code of Conduct violation investigation on me, posted AFTER I had backed up the forum database, rather than investigating why orders we, as the Command & Staff, had agreed were necessary to the forward movement of individuals in the unit, to EARN their rank, position, or devices, were not being followed and/or enforced, after I had said nothing negative about any one individual in particular.  I think this last move may actually have been the final nail in the coffin...

  • In the end, I informed the third and fourth in command, Havokk and DeathDealer 6 of the happenstance, forwarded the Personnel Workbook and the link to the final forum backup to them, and expressed to them, and everyone else, that if they were going to get anything from the web site and/or forums, they needed to do it within the following 24 hour period.  On September 9th, at 2113 hours, I killed everything.



COMMANDER NOTES
For those of you who are running mercenary units for MechWarrior Online, or any other game for that matter, I have only one real tip for you, though it may come with some extra advice.  If you have educational, training, or other requirements for rank or position, make all of it mandatory for advancement purposes only, and then DO NOT give rank, position, or device to ANYONE who DOES NOT EARN IT!  They will expect to be able to keep it, no matter what, and your purposes for rescinding if they do not complete the training will NEVER be understood.  If your people do not want to do the work, they shouldn't advance because, although you are playing a game(s), you are still a team, and you want your best people up-front.  Go big or go home.

My plan was to have all ED Opps be optional for our level 1 (most casual) and level 2 (some rank and structure, but only in the most generic terms) command structures, and then to formulate a plan of completion to achieve various positions at level 3.  I stuck to this plan, and the Command & Staff agreed to how it was moving along.  However, this was too soft; you should either make them all mandatory for completion to achieve varying levels of authority, or don't introduce them at all, because many of your players are too lazy to earn what they get, but are very active when it comes to destabilizing what you have worked so very hard to build.  If you can't get that concept, you are destined to deal with the same garbage I've been dealing with four times in fifteen years.



CLOSING
So, Armageddon Unlimited is closed… forever.  I gave myself one remaining shot, a LONG time ago, when Mercs-4 died for me, and MechWarrior Online was to be that final shot, that once-left glory at seeing AU ride into battle on varying worlds/ maps under true contract conditions, to see us run over our opposition -and oh we would have, make no mistakes- in a game of design far superior to any that had come before -and that's just my knowledge from Closed Beta-, but now that dream is gone, spoiled.  After the third iteration, as I was editing the Field Manual for the sixth time, I wrote that AU, even if the FM was completed, would not roll into online play, again, unless a proper BattleTech MMO were built to support it; MWO is that proper game, but people being people, treachery will ensue, and it has, and it needs to be the last time for me.  Now, where did I leave that definition of insanity?

My 27 (as of November, 2012) years in the BattleTech/ MechWarrior universe is done, closed, shelved, and I do not intend to rekindle that fire, anymore.  I am 41 years old, and my favorite hobby/ game in the entire world has not brought me what I wanted it to bring, what I worked so very hard to make it bring, and I am tired of trying.

Unless I get a bug, I will not finish the Armageddon Unlimited Field Manual, now, and the Wolf Family Mercenary Units, LLC will live on in my unbidden dreams, taking contracts in the fictional universe, fighting on worlds vast and varied, with their home on Rochester.  For those of you who said you would not even look at my work for an attempt at publishing it, nor would you give me permission to do so as PDF on my own, who have denied me the right to take the hundreds of hours of research and writing I put into making the history of my unit as accurate to the BattleTech universe as possible, and thus have denied my dream of having this unit become canon, you can go to hell, thank you very little.

I have been giving some very hard thought to whether or not I would play MWO again, whether or not the developers at PGI would allow me to change my character name AFTER I get rid of many of my friends, or would simply allow me to switch over my Founders to a new account and, frankly, at this point, I don't know.  The problem I have with continuing is that I know this community will be screwed up, as the previous communities have been, by twitch-gamers and whiners who will scream to have things their way, and then the game will become another amalgam of MechWarrior 4, and I'll just end up disappointed, again.  The developers have said multiple times that they will not give in to that sort of pressure; unfortunately, the twitchers and whiners, whether they have a monopoly on game population or not, DO have a monopoly on the loudest voices in the community and, when those are nearly the only voices that can be heard, the developers WILL have to change for them, or take the chance of losing their shirts altogether.  Were MWO a fully-funded project, I could see the potential of surviving a twitcher/ whiner cataclysm; unfortunately, they are not, and will be required by their investors to succumb to the will of the vocal minority, and thus the game will no longer have any relation to BattleTech.

All of that having been explained, I think I'd better leave the game alone, for now.  If I get the itch in a year, two years, whatever time from now, and I check out the game, I will wish, hope, and pray for its prosperity and its accuracy to the board game and, perhaps, I will come and play again.  However, for the time being, I have other games I desire to play, I have nearly a dozen novels I wish to complete, and I need to take some time to get over the heartache of losing such an old friend, because of the stupidity and selfish ignorance of others.

If you have read all of this, I thank you for the respect and honor you have paid me this day.  For all of the former MechWarrior's of Armageddon Unlimited, except the usurpers, you are the best, not were, and you need to remember that.  Take it with you where you go, teach the lessons you have learned, and try to make this community better, if it is in your interests to do so.  As well for you MechWarrior's, but also for any Commander's out there, I still have all of the most up-to-date MSR's for all of the former members, and their promotion points and time-in-service; if you, as a Commander or one of my former MechWarrior's, need or would like to have those, please email me at the_wolf@wolvesau.net, and I will get back to you ASAP.  None of the information contained therein is personal, except for the real-world first name and first initial of the last name.  I hope this missive has served to explain a good deal concerning the recent unpleasantness, and that all of you can forgive those of us who've caused the downfall of AU, and the destruction of a home-away-from-home.

MechWarrior's of AU, thank you for your service (SALUTE), it has been my honor.

(I leave as I entered... a Colonel)
~Paul Emerson, aka Colonel Kay "Redwolf" Wolf, Armageddon Unlimited, retired

Pain and grief went into that letter, but it is no longer the truth... I will not put up with being put down by my own recklessness, nor that of others.  I intend to try again, and more than try.  I have support from past members of Armageddon Unlimited, of friends, and encouragement from those who do not know anything about AU.  I do not intend to fail again.



AU To Reboot in July 2014

This message is for both potential new members, and for old members, alike.  I intend to try this grand experiment one more time, because I think it's worthy, because my conscience will not allow me to let it go, and because I am a stone-cold glutton for punishment.  If you received a message from me pointing you to this page, it was not meant to be responded to, especially if you're going to hate on me; it is simply to inform you that I may have been down, and I am too busy, now, but I will not stay out.

      In one year's time, roughly the end of June 2014, I will be sending out messages to ALL former members of AU asking them if they desire to try and forge on.  Why one year?  Firstly, I am now in college to finish my degree in Homeland Security/ Emergency Management, and by the end of next May I intend to get out of Colorado, forever.  Second, this amount of time will, hopefully, allow me to find work that I love, and allow my sons and I to get our lives straight just in time for my oldest to leave home.  Finally, this amount of time will determine whether MechWarrior Online and/or MechWarrior Tactics will still be viable games, perhaps even complete ones, which will in-turn help determine the course of this unit.  My bet is that both games will not only be here, but will be very strong, indeed, and as close to BattleTech as their individual game mission statements have expressed.

Lessons Learned
You can either let the ignorant and selfish and non-understanding people of the world beat you to a pulp, and die from your wounds; or, you can choose to take your lumps, get up, and do it all again, even if you continue to bleed.  Move or die!

      One year is a long time from now, but it's also an extremely short amount of time and will pass before any of us knows it.  Over the course of this year, I intend to finish several things unit-wise, revise several others, and prepare for the renewal in accordance with the lessons learned, especially over the previous iteration, which lessons and remedies are detailed, below.

      In re-igniting the fires of Armageddon Unlimited for a fourth time, there are many lessons I have learned concerning running this unit effectively.  For one, I cannot simply appoint people to take high positions and hope they will do well; people will need to EARN their positions, though a brevet program will exist to place people in opening slots as I need them, in order for this unit to grow.  Second, as was heavily recommended by the previous iteration's Command & Staff, there will be a rather extensive Reserves list; indeed, everyone will begin on the Reserve's list, except for me, at the rank of E1 Recruit.  Any points you have earned, from your application through active duty with AU in the past are still yours, still accounted for, and will only improve as necessary for how you characterize your continuing service in AU.  However, everyone will begin at the bottom, and will have to EARN their way up, within the following rules...

  1. Your completion of various portions of available training in AU will determine whether you can advance to certain positions within our unit.  Requirements for advancement include education, time-in-service, and activity on our forums, on TeamSpeak, and in the game;

  2. The less you do with these, the slower you will advance, and the fewer positions and opportunities for advancement will be available to you;

  3. If you advance in the unit, and EARN a position, and then someone passes you because they've done more work, you will be replaced and moved to a less-intense portion of the unit.  Do not lose your command, or your advancement, because someone is more competitive than you.

  4. Third, if you do advance in this unit, and you have EARNED the right to do so, you had better expect your obligations to become increasingly real.  When you're solely a MechWarrior, your obligations will be few and very game-based; making yourself available and having fun while in the game will be your concerns.  However, as you advance in the unit, the game will become more serious, the importance of winning the RIGHT WAY will become of greater concern, and your responsibilities in Armageddon Unlimited, even though we are only a computer game gathering of like-minded people, will take on a more real-world responsibility tone.  If you can't handle this idea, or you believe it's poppycock, and it should ONLY be about the game, then do not try to advance.

      I will not appoint anyone to a position unless they have EARNED it.  This means there will be no Executive Officer, no Regiment, Battalion, Company, or Lance commanders, unless they are breveted, or they EARN their way there.  If you have not completed your education opportunities and you're not very active, even if you have the rank to be able to do it, that rank will be breveted, and you will be frozen in that position until I need to brevet you higher and/or you earn the next highest position.

      In short, if you do the work, you will EARN the prestige, the rank and the requirements and responsibilities of that rank, and the position to which you aspire, or to which we need you to participate by brevet.

      Third, there are conditions and requirements, and they are rightly and justly set forth by my authority as the Commanding Officer and Founder of Armageddon Unlimited, that need to be met in order for this unit to function correctly.  If that is not understood by someone, whether from the Reserves or the Officer Corps, that someone is welcome to find the door.

      Is this a game?  Yes.
      Is this also a team sport?  Yes.
      And, if you don't show up to participate, you will not advance.

      So, for those of you who wish to come and just play the game, your lack of participation on the forums and in TeamSpeak, and your lack of completion in the education programs available, will keep you where you want to be.  For those of you, however, who are more serious about seeing this unit succeed, and in moving forward with your career and responsibilities in AU, in seeing your privileges, prestige, rank, and position improve, your diligence in service to AU will also show through, and you will gain those things.

      Fourth, rank will work from the bottom up, and is based on your application points accrual and your service to AU.  If you have enough points to be a Lieutenant, you will start off, nonetheless, at the rank of Private.  If you desire to be an Officer, and take your rightful rank of O2 Lieutenant, you will complete your education opportunities, gain time-in-service, and be active with AU, as described, above.  Then, near the beginning of each month, you will be promoted accordingly.  If you fail to commit yourself to completing these items, your promotion will stop at E3 Private, 1st Class.  Once you've completed Lance Leader requirements, you may be promoted into an Active unit slot from the Reserves and given the rank of E4 Sergeant.  From there, once you complete Officer educational requirements, you may be promoted to O1 Lancer and command your Lance as an actual Officer rather than an NCO.  Remember, you may also be breveted to these positions.  If you choose not to advance to Officer, and earn the right to do so, you can become an E5 Senior Sergeant, an E6a Master Sergeant and, if the slot becomes available, E6b CSMAU, the highest Enlisted Rank in the unit.

      Fifth, as new portions of the unit come open, in the way of Lance's, calls to fill those positions will go out to members of AU before recruitment outside the unit begins; those in Active slots will be queried first, followed by a unit-wide call, including the Reserves, then completed with a Recruitment call on the MWO forums, and in other appropriate places of recruitment.  You must be continuously, minimally active in Armageddon Unlimited to hold an Active position, including being an Officer, or you are just a MechWarrior.  Minimally active means you're dropping with the unit enough times a week that your name is recognized and you're greeted fondly, or that you have a good reason for not dropping, and that you check the forums several times per week, preferably posting something, whether you like forums or not.

      In short, if you are unknown, you are NOT active, and thus will be removed to the Reserves after a reasonable amount of time.

      Your career in Armageddon Unlimited is based on your activities within the unit, and the unit's needs.  Don't be out-paced by someone new to the unit because they forged ahead of you.  The reason everyone is starting at the bottom is because I want only the appropriate people, who actually care about Armageddon Unlimited, in positions of authority and power, people who have EARNED my trust and who have EARNED the right to be where they are.  As well, I have had enough of appointing the people I thought were right for the job, only to find out they couldn't care less about how this organization runs, and have instead counter-manded the rules, regulations, and direct orders of this organization, which are not burdensome for anyone in their right mind, in favor of their own agenda.  So, now, if you want to have your own agenda, and you want to make change for the better or worse in and of AU, you'll have to EARN that right.

      Now, if you're up to the challenge and you've already been a member of Armageddon Unlimited, simply let me know you want back in and you're ready for this.  If you're new to this whole thing, and can wrap your head around what's been written, here, then when I open this back up for recruitment, including the forums, feel free to go to the application on our forums, copy and paste it into an email, fill it out, and send it to me.

      If what I've described, above, is ambiguous to you, in any way, or you're unable to see yourself under these sorts of rules, thank you for visiting and good luck in the games.

      Thank you.

Colonel Kay Wolf, Armageddon Unlimited, in transition


Success will be ours, and we will become one of the best and largest Mercenary Combat Commands in MechWarrior Online.  The future is not set...

Starting This Blog!Procrastination...by the Month (and a NOTE for PGI) • A Blast From The Past2013 - State of the Inner SphereStarting 2014

...by the Month (and a NOTE for PGI) - 2013-SEP-08
...and another month has passed.  I have the best of intentions for writing this blog on a regular basis, I really do.  Indeed, tonight, I had the computer shut off, all the doors locked and the lights out, had sent my sons to bed and, whammo, 'I've been putting this off for a month, now!  Wow, I need to write this... now.  So, here it is, but tonight's going to be a bit different...

When I put this blog in motion, it was for the sake of examining my self-destructive patterns and trying to drown them or, better, turn them to my advantage, and with the express reasoning of putting Armageddon Unlimited back on the map in MechWarrior Online and Tactics.

I'm not quite certain that's going to happen, now.  For lack of better parlance, PGI has fucked up.  They are ignoring their community, denigrated their core folks, the BattleTech veterans and all those who bought into Founders the day it was launched, they've nerfed the economy of the game, their cash shop is a whole lot more important to them than producing a quality game, now, and rather than stick to the truth of the board game -don't get your panties in a bunch, I'll put paid to this in a moment-, numbers, spirit, and everything else BattleTech... well, it's bad.  At the outset of the game they explained that 3rd Person View (3PV) would be right out, that their CORE feature of the game was Community Warfare, and the game was aimed at BattleTech and MechWarrior veterans, in-line with the tabletop game without destroying the fun, and other smaller promises, many of which -like Obama's worthless Presidency- have been broken.

The board game: PGI's original statement was to make a game as true-to-BattleTech as possible, a combat simulator that would carry on, in much better ways than previous iterations could do, the MechWarrior video game legacy.  Y'know what, until 3PV came along, and with the lack of community-developer relations, and with Russ Bullock calling those of us who've been with the game, and supported it with cash, constructive -and some not-so-constructive- criticism, and already over 100 million hours of game-play, the canary's.  For those of you who may not understand the reference, canary's used to be used by miners to determine if there too much gas for a canary to handle.  They would walk into the mines with a canary in a cage and, if the canary died at any point during the walk down into the bowels of the Earth, they would promptly turn around and leave, report their findings, and drive on to other portions of the mine to attempt to continue work.  In this particular instance, I think PGI knows they have walked too far into the mine, and have killed off about half of their Founder's player base.  In fact, I believe it was Bryan Ekman, one of the other chiefs at PGI, who in an interview with No Guts No Galaxy BattleTech internet radio, basically, explained jubilantly that around half of the Founder's player base was still playing at least once per month.

The irony of that statement has been borne out so many times on the MWO forums that I'm not also going to do so here, except to say what he sees as a positive thing registers as a death knell for the game.

Can PGI pull their collective heads out of their proverbial fourth-point-of-contact (read ass)?  Yes, there's time, and there's faith in the community that they can do it; I say faith in the community for PGI, but there have been a lot of calls for someone else to take over development of the game.  MechWarrior: Tactics began with A.C.R.O.N.Y.M., but they went away after announcing that MechWarrior: Tactics was not supposed to be a game designed specifically off the BattleTech IP (Intellectual Property).  They also couldn't get the game past a certain level of functionality on the Unity Game Engine (browser-based gaming).  Roadhouse Interactive took over from there, but after less than six months had reached their saturation point and had to give up the ghost.  Though Infinite Games Publishing, who is supporting both Tactics and Online, has celebrated the accomplishments of both of these companies, and their logo's and names still appear in the credits, they have had to now go with a third game company, out of South America, no less... Blue Iguana.  In the three weeks since they took over, they've managed to clean up the UI (user interface) and the code of the game a bit, so things run a little bit more smoothly; however, it's not to the level of development one would expect.

So, if IGP can swap out developers for MechWarrior: Tactics, what is keeping them from doing the same with MechWarrior: Online?  Let me take a step back, here: Bryan, Russ, Jordan, and their crew at PGI... in the beginning, they honestly wanted to see the game come into its own, to be a true-to-life simulator.  The entire community, from the get-go, knew they had bit off far more than they could chew; yet, they insisted it could be done, and early returns on the game were extremely promising.  New maps, new 'Mechs, new game mode, very beautifully updated net code to make the game run a lot less laggy on older systems.  Man, they were meeting their promises, they were shuckin' and jivin' with the community, and the game was completely gold; I know, because I was invited to closed beta about five weeks into testing, even though I was something like the first or second non-PGI or IGP person to sign up on those forums.  At least, that's the story I tell myself, though I'm uncertain of it's validity.

Now, however, the indications are that PGI is more worried about making money with the game than they are with producing a truly good game, and that's sad.  It's not only sad, but it's taking an unrighteous shit on a science fiction universe I've been involved with, made myself a righteous part of, since late 1984.  I am the slowest reader on the planet, but it is the rare exception to find that I've not read a sourcebook, a rulebook, a novel, etc. from the BattleTech universe, including the hated foe, MechWarrior: Age of Destruction.  Or, worse, from the Word of Blake Jihad (PUKE!).  Indeed, I've been trying to write, for nearly eighteen years now -that's right, I said 18!- my own sourcebook for Armageddon Unlimited, the AU Field Manual; every time I get a little time to work on it, and think I'll have more time, even the little time I nominally have is stolen from me.  So, you might say I am somewhat invested in this universe, and would love to see it succeed.

In fact, my first love would be to see a BattleTech universe MMORPG built that would allow me to fit Armageddon Unlimited into it, allow me to build my resources up, gaining 'Mechs, completing contracts as a mercenary unit, built a list of friends and NPCs alike that would allow me to take on increasingly larger assignments, give me the strategic, logistic, and operational capabilities a real business man in charge of a mercenary unit would have at their disposal.  Hell, let me help develop those tools to begin with.

But, PGI for whatever mystical reason -and I have NO difficulty believing this is all money-based- has decided to poo-poo the community, especially the core.  Their worry is that they will not have the ability to bring in new people if they don't dumb the game down so much, make it so easy for people to learn and/or -God forbid- play continually that way, that new people will come in all the time.  Well, unfortunately, this reasoning is ass-backwards... build the game for the veterans, the people who've been playing since 1982 with BattleDroids, 1984 with BattleTech, 1990 on with MechWarrior I, II (et al), III (et al), and IV (et al), the Crescent Haws series, MechCommander I and II, MechAssault, MechWarrior: Living Legends, AT1:BT, the BattleTech Simulator, a crap-ton of names of League and Ladder organizations including The Registry, The Grand Council, BattleTech Universe, etc., ad nauseum, and 2013 with MechWarrior: Online and MechWarrior: Tactics.  Build the game FOR the veterans, emphasizing the SPIRIT of tabletop rules without really destroying the fun, get your balance, don't put a bunch of extraneous expensive shit in the game and then drop the ability to earn WITHOUT AN EXPLANATION, and then ALLOW THE VETERANS TO DO THE RECRUITING AND ADVERTISING.

Really, PGI, you have to pull your cranium from your rectum and understand the potential you have in your veteran players.  Your game, and the dollar-signs you envision, will not survive otherwise.  You want to report that you have great statistics, a lot of new accounts every month on your forums, and you've begun your open beta period, and you intend to launch this game 9 days from now, on September 17th, but what are your retention numbers?  If only one-half of your Founder's are playing at least once per month, then what are new players seeing when they come to your site?  They see division; not only division between varying groups of folks, but division between the developers and the players, regardless of group.  They see an amazing lack of communication, let alone positive communication of any kind, and they see a community full of assholes who do nothing but denigrate the hard work you've done to bring all of us an amazing game.  Now, that amazing game is beginning to turn from a tactical shooter for the thinking person to a child's game of pew-pew, and that bullshit has to be arrested post-haste!

All of this being explained, I will say that even the plan to reboot AU next July is now on hold.  It's not there entirely as a result of PGIs work in this matter, not even primarily, as I have many other real-life troubles going on that keeps me from doing anything I really would like to do with Armageddon Unlimited.  However, what PGI is doing -or not, referring to communication with the public- is the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.  They can fix these problems, get the game right back on track, lock it in, and build it for those who will stay FOREVER, and pay GOBS of money -the veterans and Founders-, but time is running out to do so.  I could offer myself as a sounding board for trying to fix these problems, but PGI isn't listening.  They could use the community as a sounding board and, since they were stupid enough to open the forums in the first place they have the place and means to make it happen, but their customer service has always been garbage, and I doubt IGP would step in with any manner of PR department to make it so these concerns could be addressed, so that leaves us with a game that is not going to move in a positive direction, unless of course the developers get a craniotomy real soon.

So, in closing, Armageddon Unlimited is side-lined, for now.  This past four weeks I have worked with extraordinary diligence to learn new things, such as Conditional Formatting for our Excel Workbook, have been writing and resetting and cleaning and organizing.  I have also gone to great pains to quell my honor 'conversation', because it's not constructive, and I intend to go through the forums, still, and get rid of things that don't belong, that disrupted the harmony of the unit this last time around (October 2011 - September 2012), and which was my fault more than anyone else's.  The honor thing is something that needs to be discussed with those who want to take a larger part in the unit, should it ever be made to restart one last time.  Always one last time with me; I just can't seem to let it go, no matter what.

The release of UI2.0 and Community Warfare for MechWarrior: Online will determine the role we take, if any, in the continuing universe.  It's distressing to me that PGI ceased the count-up to launch, the daily Inner Sphere News bits, so we could know the game was on-track with the Clan Invasion in the BattleTech universe, and also speaks volumes about the state of the game.

A final word before closing... I still believe in PGI.  I still want MechWarrior: Online to move forward, but it has to be done right.  PGIs focus MUST ABSOLUTELY shift to the veterans of the BT/MW games, and the Founders, their core because, at the very end of the day, the core is all they're going to have left if they don't.  A shift in mindset will absolutely turn the game 180-degrees from the fail-pile a LOT of PGI's core is beginning to see, now.  Build the game for the veterans, and let the veterans build the community.  You may have 1.1 million subscriptions, PGI, but I would be willing to bet less than 30,000 of those accounts are active at any given time, and those are NOT numbers you can survive from.

Tune in for the next exciting chapter of... ummm, my blog... when I can get it out!  Good night, BattleTech fans.

Starting This Blog!Procrastination...by the Month (and a NOTE for PGI) • A Blast From The Past2013 - State of the Inner SphereStarting 2014

Procrastination - 2013-AUG-08
Okay, so it's difficult for me to believe I made my first entry for this beastie six days ago, already.  I didn't count on procrastination running so deeply for me.  In my defense, I've been pretty busy; finishing my Summer Semester for my HLS Associates, preparing for the Fall Semester, trying to keep my Torg RPG running as smoothly as possible, writing the next adventure for that game, trying to outline how AU will return next July, etc.  I just paid off my truck, in fact, and have had both electric window regulators go tango uniform on me, I'm having some sort of fuel pump problem, even though the diagnostic test from this morning says it's good, and the passenger side door handle broke the day I sent in my final payment, and JUST got that fixed.  I'm still in the midst of preparing for moving Northwest next May, once I have my associate's in-hand, and I still have all of my 37 job web sites to get updated with my most current information and the idea of working in the Northwest next year.  Oh, and last but not least, I am finally able to play Wolfenstein... the latest one, and it's kickin' my butt, hehe.  So, you might say I'm still busy, yes?

Alright, enough complainin'... complainin's for the weak, hehe.  No, I don't really believe that, because without it you might die and no one would ever have known you were ailing, right?

Okay, so 1997... My Service Record with Armageddon Unlimited will tell you I started with Eridani Light Horse in MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries in April 1997, and then moved on to Northwind Highlanders two months later, and then onto Wolf's Dragoons a month after that, and lasted two full months in the Dragoons before they decided to change over to Clan Goliath Scorpion, and I suppose those dates are correct enough.  I know the original AU didn't kick off until September that year.

I had zero expectations, but I knew I couldn't just hang out with units, anymore, as I seemed to be helping to close them down, discontinue their service, whatever you would like to call it.  I had learned enough, I felt, to move on, and there was only one commander I liked out of the whole bunch; it's unfortunate he's not returned to gaming in MechWarrior, as he was truly a commander I could follow, even if only on-line.  At least, I could follow him, until they decided to go Clan... I frickin' hate the damn stupid Clans, and I just about as much hate the players who play the Clans... traitors to the Inner Sphere, hehe.  Nah, they're just people, like anyone else, and they have their personal beliefs and feelings, and they want to do things their way, the little tubie rats with 'ooh, shiny!' syndrome in droves.  No, I guess the only expectation I had, if you can call it an expectation, was that I could form a para-military mercenary unit on-line to go fight in big-stompy 'Mechs, with friends and fellows with a similar mindset, just like anyone else.

Now, I do the administrative side like nobody's business, and I've developed record-keeping tools that anyone can understand.  Unfortunately, anyone I've ever tried to get to use those tools have turned out to be lazy on the administrative end.  Why do I say lazy?  Because these guys expect to come and play a game, only; they don't seem to get the concept that you're playing in teams, that BattleTech has always been a team sport, and teams require guidance and leadership, and this guidance and leadership comes from those who are in the know, from those who can lead, from those who want to lead and are willing to learn, from examples, to lead.  The truth of the matter is, most people only want to be able to show they stand in the limelight, in positions of authority and command, but they couldn't care less about the administrative side of things.  So, I design tools for record-keeping that cannot possibly be any easier to use, but no one wants to look at them, to learn them, to help track how the unit's doing through these metrics.  I've tried, over the years, to cut these down, to make certain they're not too difficult, but I always start with the most difficult I can think to make something -yes, this is on purpose, mostly, hehe- and then I begin to cut fat, streamline, modify my terminology and acronym's so a monkey with a rock could understand them.  No dice on the help; I should KNOW better.

Well, in truth, the paperwork is NOT how it started... it started with MechWarrior III, a new online game, now second-best ONLY to MechWarrior Online, and I simply went out and began to play.  Emil Jerome Stewart, aka "Ranger", dropped with me from a random room on Kali or Heat -I don't remember which... it may have been the Microsoft Network for all I remember- against two other guys and, by the end of the fight, he had given me his email address and I had given him a very impromptu version of my spiel for a mercenary unit I wanted to form.  I'm certain you've read, before, how I had not even chosen a name, as yet?  Well, he and I got to typing back and forth, and shared email addresses, and then played again together the next night, and the next.  I think, by then, we understood my desire to start a mercenary unit of my own, but I had no web site set up, I had no email address, and about the only two places Jerry and I could talk was through email and the game launch services.

I will freely admit that Jerry is a far finer pilot than I am, or at least that's how we were back in the day.  MechWarrior III was our game, and we did very well together; I died a LOT, and he got a lot of kills when I was no longer in his way.  Well, then, I guess we got into the friendship aspect of it all, and suddenly it was about families and jobs and friends and games and Hurricane Floyd, and both he and I began recruiting in earnest.  He was able to talk with more people because his philosophy was simple... talk, game, have a good time, enjoy yourself, and just play a game.  This was something that, from the get-go I did not understand; hell, I wanted to form a paramilitary unit, and I didn't care who was in it and I didn't care if they liked me or not, and all I wanted to do was send my guys to kick ass and take names.  Jerry's the people-person, though, and he managed to get people to games and the like a lot better than I could.

I began studying how to build a web site, but I just couldn't get some of the concepts, back then.  That's about the time Jerry managed to recruit Crash and Burn, a couple of guys who were web masters at murlin.com.  Now, Burn (whose name I don't remember off the top of my head... my apologies, man, but my memory has taken a serious hit) was the most communicative of the two, and he was all over trying to get a web site set up for the unit.  Jerry and I discussed what we wanted for a name, for a battle standard, etc., mostly driven by me because I am the detail-oriented one -I suspect this has something to do with why I'm not a very good MechWarrior, but I have been overcoming this, though there's some ways to go-, and we fed it all to those guys, and then went and played.  A couple days later they had a site set up and loaded to one of their accounts on murlin.com for everyone to see.  I don't remember why it had to come down, but when it did, they shipped everything to me and began explaining what it would take for me to set the web site up.  150m.com was presented to me, then, and that's what I went with and, within a couple of days, I had my first web site and free domain.

Then, I began to feel legitimate, like this was something that was going to be for real and, perhaps, there was a part of me that shot off and started to develop more than was necessary.  However, rather than telling myself 'this is only a game', I instead embraced the feeling and went into developing a means of providing depth for the members of our new unit, Armageddon Unlimited.  Should I have stopped, there, not developed all of that?  Could I have been happy JUST playing the game, or was I being honest in my desire to provide more?  I know this will be explored later, as the paperwork, the education system I have put in place as far as Non-Commissioned Officers for the most recent iteration of AU, has also proven that many of the people coming into Armageddon Unlimited were lazy -not all, but many- because they couldn't fathom taking ten minutes, even, to read through a single educational chapter and completing the questions involved at the end of the chapter.  Is it laziness, though, really?  Is it just a desire to come to a place that is highly organized, expecting the command of the unit to be equally organized and, thus, squared away for online combat operations, in order to play the game alone, just to find a spotlight to showcase their talents and have a good time, making new friends, etc.?

Though I've taken steps to ensure that players coming to the next iteration of AU, next July, are not going to be REQUIRED to complete any of the educational standards of AU, unless they have a desire to advance, I'm wondering if even that is the right course of action.  That will be explored as I'm moving towards improved development for the re-launch of MY unit, and I truly hope to come to a satisfactory conclusion.

Starting This Blog!Procrastination...by the Month (and a NOTE for PGI) • A Blast From The Past2013 - State of the Inner SphereStarting 2014

Starting This Blog! - 2013-AUG-02
Wordpress is ridiculous.  Hell of a way to start off a blog, isn't it?  I thought so.  Anyway, that's why I'm blogging, here.  I have more control, I can say what I want because it's my site and domain, and I don't have to worry about constructing or customizing a new page.  On top of that, I can go back and edit my posts any time I want, when I think of things that should have gone in there, and I can do other things, as well.  In short, it's mine, and I don't have to rely on anyone else to set forward what I can and can't do.

This blog is going to be my examination of a lot of things, including the various iterations of Armageddon Unlimited, my command style and life in it, and my cowardly exits from each version to this point.  The idea is to examine what did go wrong, placing blame where it needs to go, and then getting beyond the garbage so I can attempt to make the best experience possible for my friends, colleagues, and myself in the BattleTech game universe, which right now consists of MechWarrior Online, MechWarrior: Tactics, and in the future with Project BTU and, hopefully... eventually, a BattleTech Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game in the vein of World of Warcraft, The Secret World, and others.  I feel that, in order for a proper examination to be done concerning how I've run and/or mis/managed Armageddon Unlimited in the past, and for a better outcome in the future, -where my emotional worth is not so directly tied to any of these games, the game universe, or this online mercenary unit, and where I can actually make and keep friends instead of alienating them at the drop of a hat, because I seem to have this real problem with control, even after all these years of attempting to get rid of it, or at least temper it- all of the angles need to be seen as objectively as I can see them.  By studying the things I've done in the past, perhaps I can provide a better future, where people will want to come to AU and play with our group of awesome people because we've got a good reputation for it, rather than a reputation of a "commander" with an attitude problem.

This blog is going to be messy.  A lot of free-writing will be involved, and a lot of intro- and extro-examination, perhaps even quite a lot of anger -I do suffer from twice-diagnosed Severe Seasonal Annual Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is not quite as seasonal, or annual as it used to be- as I try to power through things I can bang myself in the head for, preferably teaching myself to not bang myself in the head anymore.  I would much rather move on in a good fashion, perhaps even teach myself some real-life skills toward coping and becoming a better person and a better leader.

Speaking of leadership -rambling ahead-, I am a natural-born leader.  Having just completed a course in Principles of Supervision at Pike's Peak Community College, I managed to learn an awful lot about myself, and the fact that my ability with leadership was confirmed through the coursework gives me a new responsibility.  Of course, Doctor Taggart and some empirical evidence seems to cast natural-born leadership into the fire, as if it doesn't exist, but there is much more in the way of empirical evidence that seems to say it can neither be confirmed nor denied.  I tend to believe it's real, that there are natural-born leaders, and that these leaders come about as a result of their dismay or disillusionment with the way people, in general, and other leaders, in specific tend to do things.  This may be as a result of how an individual who thinks as a leader views what others are doing, but sees a better way, at least to their mind, of doing it/them.  There is a middle form of leadership, I believe, which is a cross between an ambitious nature and seeing things that are wrong.  These people are leaders, but they tend to be more concerned with getting ahead, though they perform the job of leadership admirably.  Finally, the third kind of leader is the greedy one, an individual whose only purpose is to get ahead, and they will work themselves into a position of leadership and then step on anyone placed under their "care" to work their way further up the ladder.  Many leaders like this exist, and they are the ones who typically end up in prison for doing the wrong sorts of things; after all, you can only beat up on the people you're supposed to be leading for so long before they come back to bite you in the ass.

So, which kind of leader am I?  I would like to think I am a cross between the first and second types.  I have zero interest in stepping on anyone to get into a position of authority, though I'm ambitious enough to take the risks I need to take in order to move myself ahead.  Simultaneously -and this is, perhaps, my greatest failing- I am interested in helping others come with me, seeing others share MY vision and helping me to run it, improve it, etc.  The problem is, however, that I want people to see, and to SHARE, MY vision, without really allowing them to have theirs.  This is something I've given a great deal of thought to, and I know it's the truth.  So, how do I change it?  I don't honestly know, but I think this blog might be the first step to doing so.

As I make posts in this blog, I will do my best to ensure that each page of the blog does not become too long, though I would like to have one page per year, if possible.

Starting at the Beginning
Now, where to start... how about why I got started with Armageddon Unlimited in the first place.  All of you can read my real-world history by clicking here!  My history with this game is not the real feature, however, not the why, because that really only covers up to the end of the Equal Opportunity Destroyers, while the story of AU did not actually begin until I started playing online, and the name wasn't even really chosen by me alone.  Oh, sure, I kept paper records and, when I finally had a handle on how to use Microsoft Works and the Microsoft Office suite, I began putting records on there, but AU is only an outcropping, and was never meant to be the whole of my BattleTech Tabletop design mercenary unit, until a couple of years after Jerry and I began this venture online.  In fact, Jerry and I, while playing a round of MechWarrior III against some inept folks one evening, named Armageddon Unlimited to be what it was; though I've done 90% of the work to build this unit over the past sixteen years, this unit really does belong to Jerry Stewart and I, and to one other guy.

Gary Morehead, aka Joker, is/was a Vietnam Veteran -I say is/was because I haven't spoken to him in fourteen years- whose entire right side was paralyzed.  Considering he was also right-handed, that makes what I'm about to tell you that much more astonishing... in MechWarrior III, on the first night Jerry and I met him, he was on our side and managed to rack up eleven (11) kills while only getting killed twice (2).  I know, right?  Well, it was the training cadre for him, immediately.  He said yes, but eventually the bickering between members of our brand new unit, the lack of respect for his talents and station, or for himself as a human being, and the fact no one would show up for training at all, made him want to resign.  Jerry and I tried to talk him into staying on with the unit, even if he wasn't the training OIC, but he was intent to go.  Despite this, he will always be considered one of the founders of this unit.

I don't know that we've actually managed to become much better than we were, whether I'm at the helm or not, but I would like to think so, and I'm hoping this blog will prove it one way or the other and help me to improve my end of things so we can become better, more solid with me at the lead.

So, long story short, I like to lead because I believe that others do not do the job I can.  This has given me the moniker of administrator, which until today I always took to mean as "administrator more than leader" and, perhaps to a point that is true, as well.  An old dog can always learn a new trick, and I recognize that I still have some distance to go until I will be an effective leader.

Alright, my next blog, whenever that will be, should be about beginning to examine what happened in the first iteration, from my thought of inception of the unit to wherever the blog takes me.  I intend to eventually explore how I see people, and determine if I have a neurosis regarding that viewpoint, or if people really are, in general, the way I think they are; and then fix it.  Until then, keep your ammo dry.

Starting This Blog!Procrastination...by the Month (and a NOTE for PGI) • A Blast From The Past2013 - State of the Inner SphereStarting 2014



DISCLAIMER: BattleTech, MechWarrior, BattleMech, 'Mech, and other associated terms are Publisher and Electronic Copyright © Smith & Tinker.  MechWarrior: Online © Piranha Games Inc. and Smith & Tinker.  MechWarrior Online Logo used with permission (@Garth Erlam).  MechWarrior 4: (et al) is © Cyberlore and Microsoft.  MechWarrior 3: (et al) is © WizKids, Zipper Interactive, Hasbro, and Microsoft.  MechWarrior 2: (et al) is © Activision, FASA Studio, and Microsoft.  No copyright infringement is intended by anything posted on this web site.

Armageddon Unlimited (we are the ONLY originals) started in 1985 as Red Death Squadron, re-designated in '87 as Wolf's Cavaliers, again in '92 as Equal Opportunity Destroyers, once more in '95 as Shadow Blade/Lynx Lancers and, finally, in 1997 as Armageddon Unlimited for MW2: Mercs, MW3, MW4, MW: O and MW: T.  Each new name has been advanced as a result of a new Commanding Officer and/or a new era of BattleTech, the final change being specifically for MechWarrior.  So, you imitators out there claiming Armageddon Unlimited as your name, make sure you hold to a high and honorable standard, or we're comin' for ya.  'Nuff said.

If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this site, please feel free to contact the Webmonkey.  If you wish to join such an auspicious unit as Armageddon Unlimited, please click here!