Friday, December 23, 2016

Where's the Rules Update for LAUNCH WINDOW? (and other news)

     Let's talk about that.
     For those of you who do not already know, I got sick again right after getting Issue 1 published.  It was another depressing reminder that while the spirit is willing, the flesh is still very much disabled and will crap out at the most inopputune times.  What can I say?  Putting out a 80+ page magazine monthly single handedly may not be impossible, but for someone of my medical conditions, it may very well be unsustainable.
     Not to be deturred, I devoted some thought to the situation between bouts of fever and + blood sugur reading and came up with the following solution:

  •  January's Issue 2 will come out on time and be awesome.  I've decided to take the monthy feature "Starmorphs" and devote the entire issue to it.  It will contain 26 maps, complete with keys and six random tables apiece for your gaming peasure.  The whole thing together was planned as a stand-alone product for $10.00, so getting it for $7.50 as a LAUNCH WINDOW issue is abargain.
  • Since Issue 2 will contain no new rules per se, it will need no rules updates, so I can spend that time catching up on Issue 1's updates.  This way I can keep to my publishing schedule for the magazine without getting any further behind.
  • Starting with Issue 3, LAUNCH WINDOW will be the same length as Issue 0.5 - roughly 50 or so pages, and sell for $5.00 an issue.  I know I can make those monthy even if illness or other douchebaggery happens to upset my schedule.  Print issues, when they come, will be two-issue collections, for a total of 6 100- page print books a year.
  • The subscription deal we have, (one year for $60.00) will now be expanded to include 18 issues for $60.00, to reflect the shortened lenghth.  You'll still be getting each issue for 1/3 off.
  • Patreon pledgers will get the magazine, the separate short stories, and additional behind-the-scenes and bonus materials not available for sale.  These will include prgressive reports on the "Star Desroyer" mapping project
    Anyway, that's where we're at on the magazine for now.  In other news, Christmas is around the corner, my 40th birthday is right after that, and I'll probably be out of touch more or less untill the new year.  So...Happy New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Star Destroyer Map? To SCALE!?

     So after getting LAUNCH WINDOW up an running (finally) my tired brain needed a break.  As a sort of palate cleanser, I went trawling around Ye Olde Interwebs looking at Star Destroyers.
 Some of the images I came across were from Geoffry Mandel's blueprints.  These are so old, they pre-date the scaling up of the Blockade Runner and SD made late in production and show us a Star Destroyer less than five hundred meters long.  The weapon mix and compliment is also interesting - the Mandel SD only has a crew of 750 (280 of which are Stormtroopers) but still carries a full wing of 72 TIE fighters.  No AT-AT or chicken walkers, though.  The SD was either too small to carry planetary assault equipment, was optimized for space combat, or, most likely, these were omitted because George and ILM hadn't invented them yet.
    Anyway, for fun, I started sketching star cruiser whose size was inspired by Mandel's SD, and blended featured of all different Star Destroyers we see from Episode II on.  I couldn't get the tiny inch long sketches I drew scale up, so I fired up Wings 3D and simply built a model in that.  Because my "Pocket SD" star cruiser was only about 600 meters long, I could build it out to scale.  The scale I chose was one grid square = 15 meters, because my Star Morph capital ship map tiles are 15 x 30 meters, so it made sense.  I also though about texturing the beast, but this was just a palate cleanser, so why bother?
     That's when the muse descended.
     I can texture blocks in Wings.  I have twenty-six star morphs laying around.  Hmmm...

      Sure enough, I not only could put my Starmorphs on 1x2x0.2 tiles to represent 15x30x3 meter deck segments, the resolution of the images was sharp enough to really see the detail.
    I was shocked as the implications set in.  By using my existing tiles, maybe a few new ones, and Wings 3D, I had the tools to fully map a Star Destroyer to scale.
    At first I thought it was crazy - after all, my Starphin project proved to be too much work to do in a timely manner - and that ship was a third of the size of my Mandel SD.  But in reality, the SD is a lot simpler a project, because the large pieces like engines and main guns are computer models and the deckplans have already been drawn.
     The results so far have been encouraging...

Friday, December 16, 2016


Now you can get new material for your science fiction game - no matter what game it is!
Welcome to LAUNCH WINDOW: A monthly digest that features new material for Cepheus Engine, Diaspora, D20, Open D6, and OSR gaming.  Stories and articles every month feature new characters, starships, equipment and rules options for your favorite science fiction games.  Every system, every item, every issue.
The Black Desert of space is a dangerous place. When a shipping rocket is endanger of being impounded by a hostile government,  takes a special kind of team to repossess spacecraft before its passengers and crew become detainees.
The Third Gleise Monarchy stood for freedom and prosperity.  When is much larger totalitarian neighbor orchestrated a palace coup, it appears that all is lost.  It’s up to one diplomat and his starcruiser to find a way to turn what few ships and troops remain into a force of resistance.
Gone in 7 km/s: When your rocket’s bills are past due, don’t fear the Repo...
Species Spotlight: Hichikars:  These vagobonds of space are a lot of fun, but keep your hand on your wallet!

Technical Readout: Pinnace: These armed interface craft are a real bargain...but you get what you pay for.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

It's coming together... (T-MINUS 4 DAYS)

     Rescheduling of family functions and the normal psychotic pace of the so-called "Holidays" has made getting the magazine finished a marathon of endurance. It coming together, however.  Stargosy Part 1 and both articles are finished, as well as a lot of the art. I'm especially loving the cover for the Stargosy story:
    Modelling that cruiser was an exercise in endurance as well.
    Anyway, I got the first round of character art in from Chris Ford, who did the portraits in the previous Issue.  He arts a comic on Comic Fury called "The Accidental Witch" as well as a Harry-Potter-meets-Speampunk-Oz Patreon exculsive called "Soleil & Selene".  You should check them out.
    I like using Ford's character portraits because they a never what I expect.  His take on the characters from Stargosy, for example - I would never have thought of that!  Check it out:

    And I've also been hard at work drawing the bonus Isometric map for Issue 1:

    I hope you all are as excited about the upcoming issue as I am!  Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a doctor's appointment that was rescheduled!  Gotta go!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Art Previews! (T-MINUS 6 DAYS)

   That's right, RocketFans - Issue 1 is only six days away!  While we're all waiting in breathless anticipation, here's a look at some of the art in the upcoming issue:
Our Glorious Cover!

One of the big tasks this month has been designing and modelling Varangian, the diplomatic cruiser from the Stargosy series.  It's still a work in progress.

And I just cannot be a Blue Max Studios product without some deckplans somewhere, now can it?

  Hope you all enjoy!  I gotta get back to work...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Let Freedom Ring Excerpt (Issue 1 Update)

Here's a look at some of the upcoming stuff from LAUNCH WINDOW's first full issue!

Let Freedom Ring (exerpt):
One does not simply decide to go into space.
    The distance is not great, as these things go - a home-built rocket made by amateur enthusiasts can easily cross the hundred-odd kilometers needed to reach open space around Terra.  However, since gravity that high is still roughly ninety-seven percent of what it is at sea level, these rockets will fall back down as soon as their propellent is gone and burn up in the atmosphere. To actually stay in orbit requires a staggering change in velocity - the same amount used by the first expedition to Saturn.
    Annabelle Li was able to take her crew on that kind of jump only by flagrantly cheating at every possible turn.  Her current body started life a CASSTOR catapult-assisted rocket back when Annabelle herself was being assembled by the Brazillian military.  The orbiter had since been modified with a collapsible L-Drive dish in order to take advantage of the boom in ground-based laser installations.  The little rocket carried no on-board propellant - she could make orbit with just the energy of the ambient atmosphere exploding under her bell.  This gave Annabelle and her crew enormous leeway in their available launch window - after all, staying in the thick atmosphere longer actually extended their delta-V- but it required waiting for an available beam to launch on.
     “I can get us a beam in twenty-one hours.” Wade leaned back into his flight chair and rubbed between his eyes.  “That’s literally the soonest I can get.  It’ll cost 50% over standard and we’ll have to portage to Cape Troy to use it.”
    “That’s...really awful.  You know that, don’t you?”  Niles Demirkan had a talent for sounding mildly amused.
    “Well, unless y’all wanna go up as cargo on another ‘Bell, that’s our situation.”
    “That’s an option?”  Tilde looked at her husband. “You can get us up in a Liberty Bell?”
    “Uh...yes?”  Wade shrugged and grinned sheepishly. “I was actually joking, but one of my Hive-fi followers is PLO on a ‘Bell that flies local, I think. Lemme check real quick -”
    “Wade,” Niles still sounded amused. “Do you know everybody in the Solar System?”
    “Nah.  Mebbe one percent - tops.”
    Tilde ignored the exchange between her husband and their friend.  She was thinking.
    “Wade, did you think to check and see if anyone on Lucky Libby is one of your followers?”
    “Tilde…That would’ve been smart.
    It worked out that Wade, by virtue of “knowing” almost a hundred million people, did have a Hive-fi follower on the crew of a Liberty Bell boosting out of Redstone XTA.  Two hours of negotiation and a five-figure transfer of funds from Tom got Annabelle Li loaded as freight on the Liberty Bell Roll Tide Roll. They would space in less than twelve hours.
    The time was far from idle.  Annabelle Li was herself a launch vehicle, and therefore had many features that were ideal for launching cargo and impossible for being cargo.Wade, Tusk, and Annabelle’s robotic minions worked furiously to dismantle the CASSTOR’s twelve-meter high launch fairing.  Since the rocket’s only on orbit power source were solar panels mounted on the interior of the fairing, the crew spend several hours more installing aftermarket panels in Annabelle Li’s four equipment pallets.  Port inspection took another hour and a half, during which Wade and Tusk both desperately jogged the two kilometers to the terminal building, showered, and took a tram back in time to for Li’s loading procedure.
    Which started nearly forty-five minutes late.
    “Look on the bright side,” Tilde playfully nuzzled Wade’s cheek as he stood fuming on the tarmac. “You smell much better.”
    Liberty Bells were the unappreciated workhouses of surface to orbit transport. Resembling a massively upscaled Mercury capsule from the days when spacecraft were glorified warheads, Liberty Bells were cargo liners that rode into space on leased L-Drive bells from spaceports across the world.  There were not only the most common spacecraft in production, there were the most common ever made - only the single use megatankers from Titan are produced in higher numbers.  Liberty Bells were reliable.  They were trusted. And most of all they were cheap - the lasers were already paid for, and the air was free.
    Roll Tide Roll was typical of the breed; a cone eighteen meters tall serving as a command module, waiting to be attached to a payload fairing.  These were voluminous enough to hold eight standard “Conestoga” cargo containers and was also part of the L-drive assembly - a ring of turbofan compressors surmounting a twenty meter wide parabolic dish.  The Liberty Bell was currently in a vehicle assembly building, awaiting her cargo.
   “They’re having to add an extension to the cargo fairing.”  Wade, Niles and Tusk were in the attached lounge, with a dozen other people who were waiting to board the rocket. “And Annie’s too wide to dock anywhere but the center ring - we’re gonna be the only cargo.”
   Tusk signed at the other two men.
  “Yeah, we just might lose money on this job.  Mebbe we can get Annie a new body for her birthday.”
   Niles smiled.  “Do AI have birthdays?”
   “Why not?  You do, and you’re an asshole.”

  Tilde missed this exchange by virtue of being Annabelle Li’s Payload Officer.  Despite Li being part of another rocket’s payload, Tilde still considered the CASSTOR very much her responsibility, especially since Annabell’s processor was to remain on board.  There was also the rest of the cargo, break-bulk life support supplies for the Libby, and an inflatable cargo module to carry them once in orbit, that had to be carefully arranged around Annabelle Li and secured for launch.  Again, this was PLO of Roll Tide Roll’s responsibility, but it was Tilde’s cargo.
   Tilde made hir life hell until the everything was loaded to her satisfaction.
   The last hurdle was a minor one - Tuskegee, being nearly twice as wide as a human being, was too large for the passenger coaches in the Liberty Bell’s cabin.  The logistics were solved by Tusk simply agreeing to ride in his own custom flight chair in Annabell Li, but the problem was that Roll Tide Roll’s PLO wanted to charge for his seat anyway.  Tilde, oblivious to karma, argued with hir until Wade offered to do a video tour of the rocket for his channel gratis once they were in orbit.
   One does not simply decide to go into space.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Hard (SF) look at Star Trek: Starships!

    Work continues, RocketFans, on the next issue of LAUNCH WINDOW, so my space time is limited.  I'm still climbing the learning curve of making a full sized issue, so you'll have to be patient with me.
    I did want to show some work I did on re-imagined Federation starships as Alcubierre drive spacecraft.  It was a fun, albeit frustrating at times, exercise.  Hope you enjoy.
Exploration Cruiser Colombia (XCC-1701)  

Clockwise from top left: Hubble - class Sensor Frigate, Lee - class
Combat Frigate, Gali - Class Diplomatic cruiser, Argye - class Battle cruiser,
(cernter) Luna - class Destroyer