Monday, March 31, 2014

Striker and Huntsman (paint test 1)

Striker WV on left, Huntsman AV on right. I decided to try out an orange scheme for the second team (citadel paint Troll Slayer Orange) and it looks much better on the table than the yellow scheme I tried earlier. The Striker has twin laser cannons above a Tesla Coil, and a Sniper Cannon, while the Huntsman has three laser cannon turrets.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Test Figures have arrived!

Well, my guess at 26th March was only a few days off. (It actually arrived in Melbourne on that day, but then it was the weekend).

I'm amazed at how much detail seems to be visible on the models, despite how small they are compared with most mecha game figures. Of course, the detail will be more visible once painted.

Here's the Striker WV unpainted in white laser-sintered nylon. (sorry for blur, the camera shook a little)

and here's the bunch - two copies of each of the models so far. I'll paint up the black and white team first, then I'm still trying to decide on what colours to use for the other test team. (Of course, unpainted, it just looks like a mass of white plastic at the moment)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Status Update

Just to say I'm on track for ordering physical copies of the initial Quad designs models next Monday. I think it takes about nine days from order to arrival, so hopefully I'll get two of each model turning up by Wednesday 26th March.

I've decided one of the test teams will be painted up in White, but I'm still trying to pick a good colour for the rival test team. I like Construction Yellow, but the prototype model I painted in yellow doesn't stand out on the terrain board as much as I'd like, so I'll be thinking about that.

I'm still trying to decide if there will be 'team uniform colours' or if people can paint each individual figure any way they wish. I like the idea of, for example, hero figures painted in unique paint schemes, but the problem with freely painting each figure instead of making them uniform is to be able to tell which figures belong to which team.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Name That Game!

So, I was happy enough calling this QuadCommand, until I learned there is a company called QuadCommand that already owns and sells Quad Bikes. Doh!

So now I'm toying with different names for this 3D Print on Demand project.

Today's name I'm trying out is AAQ which stands for "Advanced Armoured Quad". I was going to use "Armoured Assault Quad" but realised that "Armoured Assault" is already a brand name. It's so hard avoiding other people's copyrights and intellectual properties when trying to create something new! Every time I think I've found something unique, I discover the words already exist under someone else's copyrights.

If anyone has any neato names for giant mecha with four legs in the future ruins of the Earth, feel free to throw suggestions at me :) So far the only 'AAQ' in use that I've come across is the Astronomical Association of Queensland in Australia, so I think I can get away with using those initials for a miniatures game...

Initial Quad design model renders

First, an update on my Crater Lake project. The glue shrinks as it dries, and leaves behind a rough shiny surface instead of a smooth flat surface. So I'll be looking into buying some clear resin / water effects to pour into the crater to make the water for the lake. I'll post pics when that's done, but it probably won't be for two or so weeks.

Today I finalized my prototype 3D computer models, for the figures I'll be using to test while designing the introductory rules for QuadCommand. Here's renders of the models I've put together so far (not to scale). I've got the treads on the feet now, and have made torso, leg and cockpit adjustments to ensure they will 3D print out correctly.

I'll be ordering physical copies of these test figures next week, and hopefully within a week or two of that they'll arrive and I can paint them up and start real work on the game's rules system. I've also designed a few scenery pieces which I'll order a few of as well to test them out too.

Click on pictures to view them full size as usual.

The Huntsman is the smallest Quad at the moment, and comes with advanced ECM that not only disrupts sensors on enemies, but they can also use it to target a specific enemy and reduce the range of their weapons by jamming it's ability to get a target lock. It has three turreted laser cannons.

The Commanche Quads are smaller ones as well, sporting standard ECM and long range sensors, used mainly in Recon roles.The Armoured Variant is the standard, with two Laser Cannons and six Direct-Fire Missiles. The Bombard Variant replaces the Direct-Fire Missiles with six Bombard Missiles. The Enhanced Weaponry variant is the same as the AV, but with doubled Laser Cannons.
The Baku are similar to the Commanches, but slightly more heavily armoured and sporting an Incinerator - used to burn out scenery locations and standard vehicles, and to clear out holed-up infantry groups. They also perform Recon duties. The Armoured Variant is the standard, sporting two Laser Cannons, the Incinerator, and four Direct-Fire Missiles. The Bombard Variant replaces the Direct-Fire Missiles with Bombard Missiles, and the Enhanced Weaponry variant is the same as the AV, but doubles the Laser Cannons.
The Striker is a heavier Quad with greater firepower and armour, but without things like ECM Suites, designed purely for combat roles. The Varmoured Variant is the standard, with four Laser Cannons and a Sniper Cannon. The Enhanced Weaponry Variant removes two of the Laser Cannons and replaces them with a Tesla Coil.
The Shen is similar to the Striker, but with greater armour and firepower, though this also comes at reduced speed. The Armoured Variant is the standard, with two Laser Cannons, two Tesla Coils, and four Direct-Fire Missiles. The Enhanced Weaponry and Bombard Missiles variant replaces the two Laser Cannons with a third Tesla Coil, and replaces the Direct-Fire Missiles with six area-effect Bombard Missiles.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Tutorial - Crater Lakes

In the future, many rivers and coastal waters are polluted still, and quite acidic. However, craters left from detonations of the Rapture Bombs now collect fresh water as clear rains begin to fall again.

The water is still not pure enough to drink right from the crater, it requires a bit of filtering and processing first. The gangs send out tanker trucks to collect water for their subterranean city.

To create a crater lake, I used a spare plastic crater, from Games Workshop's Moonscape terrain set. Doing some searches, I'm a bit annoyed, because I don't think they make that terrain set anymore. Looking around the net, I couldn't find a similar product anywhere, so at a later date, I'll try to come up with some home made tutorials for creating crater lakes, or I might sculpt a 3D Printable crater lake for people to use if they want.

Anyway, I used one of the Games Workshop moonscape craters. Step one was to paint the whole thing in a brown that would go with my terrain board. I then glued light brown grit flocking into the crater hole, and some of the crevices of its sides, and around the flat outer rim of the model.

Next up, I painted some of the raised areas as rocks with a coat of grey.

And then I forgot to take some photos. But basically, I glued grass flocking onto the up-facing surfaces, but left cliff / steep sides in the brown.

I then washed all the brown and grey with a muddy brown wash (I used Citadel Agrax Earthshade) - except for the center of the crater. I washed the center of the crater thickly with a dark blue wash, and let the blue and brown washes mingle around the edges of the crater hole.

Finally, I watered down some water soluble clear gum glue, and put a layer of that across the bottom of the crater hole. I brushed it about a bit, trying to make it flat, and put additional drops of glue wherever there were dimples in its surface.

I let the glue dry overnight. It was still a little bit tacky in the morning, but I went and did another layer of glue. This time I didn't water it down, but covered the whole inner surface with glue, let it sit a minute, then wherever dimples appeared, I dropped some more glue on top of that spot. I kept doing this until I had a flat even surface, and this photo shows what it looks like at the moment:

However, the glue still has to dry. I'll be doing another coat or two of glue, because it flattens a lot once it dries, until I have built up a nice clear layer inside the crater. I'll post again in a few days to show the final appearance of the crater lake.

QuadCommand - Welcome to the future - at least, what's left of it!

(image: a computer render concept of what a QuadCommand tabletop might look like. Click images in this blog for larger view.)


Hi, my name is Paul and I've started designing a 3D Print on Demand tabletop miniatures game, mainly concerning massive machines of war known as "Quads" (Armoured Assault Quad Walkers).\

The Game World

During the 21st Century, scientists and engineers underwent the construction of massive Rejuvenation Complexes scattered around the world. The goal: to clean up the air and the water, and try to restore environmental balance while under the threat of increased changes to the planet's climate. 

The world's environment was spiraling out of control, and at a speed far beyond the early calculations of the 90's and 2000's. When it was found that the Rejuvenation Complexes might not be enough to turn things around, that the surface might in fact become hostile to human life within one or two hundred years, the mentality of the people of the Earth shifted. Life was now 'one last party'. The End was coming. 

With the possibility of the End of the World, many militaries and terrorist groups saw it as one last chance to have revenge on their enemies. The whole world began to plunge into anarchy and war.

Toward the end, borders became meaningless. Governments fell. Nations were nothing but a memory. It was every family, every individual for themselves. Still, amid the chaos, some sought to rally people together. They formed the Gangs - groups that helped each other to survive, groups that believed that humanity could still survive.

As dust clouds, acid storms and worse savaged the surface world, gangs around the globe moved underground, taking as much technology, knowledge, and military hardware as they could. They planned to wait out the chaos of the surface world in the hope that the Rejuvenation Complexes would one day correct the planet above. Under the surface, they carved out high-tech cities in which to live and survive as darkness fell on the world above.

And then, some unknown period of time later, those from the cities who still dared to explore the surface world discovered that sunlight was piercing through the storms. Within another decade, there was day and night. Within another decade, people began to come forth from the subterranean cities to explore the new world above.

Remnants of the Old World still existed - rusty, overgrown hulks of ancient landmarks and skyscrapers. Massive lakes made from craters of weapons of mass destruction, and a new layer of dirt and grass covering almost everything. Small forests and woods were spreading out across the landscape where streets and parkland had once been.

But there was still danger to be found - rival gangs began to fight over sources of fresh water, or ancient artifacts scavenged from crumbling ruins. Then more militant gangs began to unleash their Quads - war machines from the Old World, kept functioning through countless repairs from ruin scavenged supplies over perhaps hundreds of years.

Old hatreds and new feuds began to ignite flames of war among the ruins of the 21st Century civilizations.

No More Death Match

My hope is that rather than a standard "death-match, team vs team until one is left standing" type of game, that it will be scenario and objective based. The idea is that players have goals they must complete to achieve Objective Points. Matches will only last for a certain amount of turns. Whoever gains the most points over that time is the winner, regardless of units lost in battle - it's not about an individual soldier surviving the battle, it's about ensuring that their gang receives the resources it needs to survive. As such, objectives would be things such as capturing and stealing a rival gang's water tanker, and escaping with it.

Identify That Target!

This game is a little different to most other miniatures games. When play begins, 'radar blip' tokens show the forces of a Red Team and a Blue Team. These blips have numbers on them, the maximum the blip can move each turn.

The moment a blip enters line-of-sight from an opponent, the counter is flipped over to reveal a unit ID. This ID is the type of unit at that location, and the radar blip is swapped out for a 3D miniature representing the unit - be it a towering Quad machine, or a more conventional vehicle such as a water tanker collecting drinking water for its people, or a civilian transport full of scavengers who your forces are guarding while they were searching ruins for 'ancient' artifacts.

Once a blip is identified, any unit on the opposing team may fire weapons at it if able. However, if the unit breaks line of sight to all opposing units, it becomes a radar blip again.

Sensors and ECM Suites

There are ways to get around this deadly game of hide and seek - varying levels of sensor equipment that can help identify anything within a given range.

Of course, some forces come equipped with electronic countermeasures that scramble sensors and help reduce the distance at which their forces can be identified. Some advanced ECM suites can even disrupt enemy weapon systems, reducing the distance at which the enemy can fire its weapons at them.

3D Terrain - Go Smaller!

To make the game more enjoyable and exciting, as much of the board as possible should be covered in terrain features - ruined buildings, crumbling ancient landmarks, overgrown, water filled craters, scattered woods springing up where streets and parkland used to lie, and more. Many of these terrain features will be available as 3D Print on Demand models to collect and paint up, just like the miniatures themselves.

One of the key features of the game, is that where many other games 'go bigger' for more detail, QuadCommand goes smaller - making the scale of the tabletop much bigger than most miniatures games, and enabling whole sections of historical cities or countrysides to be recreated in miniature.

Lots of other terrain items that can be purchased from already existing scenery manufacturers will also be recommended for use with the game.

Early Prototypes of Quads

These four-legged war machine prototype models were my first concept idea, 3D printed out with a two-story A-frame house at the same scale: approximately 2mm = 1m, or about 1:500 scale. This Quad miniature is only about two centimeters tall! (That's around 3/4 of an inch).

I'm working hard to make sure there is some visible detail showing at this small scale, while ensuring that the models can physically be 3D Printed out without breaking or falling apart when handled. The models are created out of laser-sintered nylon powder, which is a strong material with just a little bit of give, so it will flex just a fraction rather than being brittle and easy to break.

Each Quad will come with variations - alternate loadouts to suit different roles. This prototype is an early form of the Commanche AV (Armoured Assault Variant). There is also the Commanche WV, which has an increased Weapon Arsenal, and a Commanche BV which replaces the dummy-fire missiles in its torso with a back mounted Bombard Missile Rack. 'Bombards' are missiles which lob into the air and come apart over a target area, raining down micro explosives as a small area-effect weapon.

At a later date I hope to master the TV variants of Quads - war machines with small hover thrusters mounted on each of the four legs. These thrusters will allow small Quads to lift off the ground a bit, and hover, letting them rocket over rough terrain or obstacles such as rivers and lakes. (Thrusters do not let them leap over buildings in a single bound, or fly, or anything like that. It takes a lot just to lift a five-story hunk of metal off the ground, let alone anything else!) I'm hoping to have two models for each TV variant of a Quad - one model is the Quad with its treads on the ground, the alternate model is the Quad hovering above the ground on four jets of steam/smoke. I've almost got prototypes for TV variants, but are not happy with it yet.

Here's an early computer render preview showing some more models and variations. Keep in mind that the torso sections and leg sections have altered since this render was done. The current models also have tread-feet (sort of like if small treaded tanks were stuck onto the bottom of their legs) allowing the Quads to roll about on their treads, or to lock down their treads and stomp about. Some design ideas for TV Quads in hover mode are also in the render.

In another two or three weeks, I should have some more actual physical models or Quads and scenery pieces, to give a better idea of the current state of the models and the project, but hopefully some of these prototype design previews give a taste of where some of this is heading. The models have changed since this render was taken, and I'll wait until I've got some physical painted models before showing how they turned out.

The Quads in the render above are all from the same 21st Century 'manfacturer'. There will be a range of design 'flavours' that originated in different parts of the world, but in this game, any hulk scavenged by a City Tribe will be fixed up for deployment, so a player's force will have a wide range of chassis flavours to pick from. There are no faction specific Quads - instead, each player has a wide array of Quads and equipment variations to choose from, to make their own force that suits their play style.