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News: Heavy Gear Game Announced

Posted on : 02-08-2012 | By : | In : News



After a pretty long hiatus we now have a new Heavy Gear game to look forward to. Developed by the newly founded Stompy Bot, it will be apparently released on both PC and console. The studio is also focused on digital distribution, so it could likely go down the freemium/multiplayer route that’s all the rage at the moment. In any case, we’ve always had a healthy admiration for the Heavy Gear games and setting. If only for the fact that the creators openly referenced VOTOMS as an influence, something that makes very apparent functional sense when you see the scale of the mecha and the fact they have wheels in their feet. Unlike the rampant bell ends who ripped off swathes of classic mecha for Battle Tech, the Heavy Gear setup was always a lot classier in that regard; taking the functional and visual guide from VOTOMS and making something new with it. This is something that can equally be said for Hawken, as the team have happily cited the work of Kow Yokoyama as a similar influence on their mecha design. Regardless we’re just happy that a new Heavy Gear is on the way.


Comments (12)

Rampant bell-ends: Licensing some of your mecha designs.
Classy: Making something new based directly on existing designs.

Except they didn’t license the Unseen designs. They just straight up copied them and claimed them as their own.

As for making something based on current ideas, that’s how creativity fundamentally works. It is an inherently chimeran process.

They wanted some good mech designs for their game. They found some, and approached who they believed to be the company to approach regarding the rights. They licensed the designs from who they believed to be the correct rights-holder – spending time and money trying to do the right thing, rather than file off the serial numbers. It blew up because that company were either lying or mistaken and couldn’t license the rights for Battletech’s use, but the “rampant bell ends” actually tried to license the designs correctly, and honestly believed they had done so at the time.

What arseholes.

I’m saying this as a fan of Heavy Gear, by the way – I’m excited as hell for a new computer game, and love the miniatures. It is possible to write an article about the news without being a dick to a different company though!

I’ve heard that story before on the Battle Tech Unseen designs but even if it is true, the fact they went to license pre-existing designs rather than making their own is just idiotic. It’s always more expensive and they likely won’t fit with the scope of what you’re making.

The guys at Dream Pod 9 were very shrewd I always thought and that’s how you should always approach your own IP; make it all yourself!

I won’t take a side on the Unseen issue because, as far as I know, there’s no way to say which side is right about the licenses, but it’s disrespectful to speak as if FASA hadn’t been developing their own IP. BattleTech is a very Western setting that operates according to the rules of classic space opera/feudal future science fiction, so while a few designs were “borrowed” from other series, FASA didn’t copy those other settings directly. Rather, it seemed that they fell in love with designs from Macross, Dougram and others and wanted to tell their own kind of story with them, and considering the very hit-or-miss nature of their original mecha designs, you can almost commend them for realizing that their strength wasn’t in mechanical design but in world building.

This wasn’t the case where a company was just trying to make a quick buck, but rather of a team of highly-motivated fans of a genre who liked what they saw but wanted to add their own touch as well. The law begs to differ, but I think we’d be better off as gamers if more companies operated like FASA did and borrowed old content to create new content, rather than the current Android/iOS/Facebook market where product cloning means the same five designs are copied again and again and success in the field is about product leverage rather than quality.

Ideally, of course, FASA could have just hired the original artists from the get-go to design mecha that better fit the concept of “knights in a feudal post-apocalypse” than the Battroid form of the VF-01 Valkyrie and avoided all this mess.

The problem with the designs is that form follows function, so FASA didn’t even do the world building. A lot of the heavy lifting was handled by the designs they ripped off.

Being creative is about coming up with something new from what inspires you. Copying is just fucking lazy.

Form might follow function, but specific design elements (usually) don’t determine function. Much of mecha anime unpacks their mecha’s abilities from ready-made sources, so you’ll see a new series announced with vaguely Gundam looking mecha, and you won’t be surprised when they move around exactly like the Gundam Mk. 2 did. And while we won’t hold these designs to be unique, we don’t call it stealing, either.

On the other hand, Battletech used their borrowed designs to tell a different kind of story where the mecha had an entirely different ability set. Weapons generally weren’t hand-carried, but were mounted to the chassis directly; if a weapon was hand-carried, that hand-carried weapon was attached directly to the mecha holding it; a mecha, especially the heavier assault classes, would be armed to with six or so weapons throughout its body rather than merely upscaling one or two handheld weapons; equipment such as heat sinks, sensors and extra armor could be added or removed, giving the mecha different abilities; jumping and boosting with jump jets existed, but most of the action happened between plodding ground-pounders; mecha formations and combined arms forces were important.

Their function is totally different from most everything else, even with the borrowed designs. I don’t want to defend Battletech’s theft, but it’s hard for me to not defend them when they created something uniquely wonderful with it, when 90% of the “original” mecha universes are anything but.

You do have a point with the Dougram designs, however. The Macross copies are incidental as far as I’m concerned, and the BattleTech style, while having developed into its own beast, is certainly indebted to Dougram. I’m sure if we could build a time machine back to 1984, we’d find one of the lead designers at FASA with a collection of Dougram VHS tapes. Bizarre that something as nearly forgotten as Dougram could cast such a large shadow…

Why do that when you can just hire deviant artists for cheap?

I think it’s worth pointing out that Battletech is well over 25 years old, and when they were looking around for mecha designs there was no such thing as Deviant Art, and no such thing as a web browser.

Battletech came out in 1984. Dougram (the source of the original Shadowhawk design) was 1981-1983.

Votoms came out in 1983. Dream Pod 9 came out with the Heavy Gear setting in 1994.

I think it would be safe to say that by the time DP9 released Heavy Gear it was getting to be pretty obvious what the appropriate boundaries were for design borrowing.

Ancient history aka “stuff I remember from high school”. 🙂


I’m having a wet dream tonight! And it looks like there is an arena component from that concept.

@Tollmaster: Gundam is more of hybrid series overall. But much of real robot design is based around a set of functional premises that ultimately end up dictating the look of the final mecha.

The original Dougram designs effectively wrote the groundwork functionality for all the Battle Tech mecha – it’s why FASA copied them as it meant much of the creative heavy lifting would have already been taken care of.

As for the cultural shadow comment, that’s a pretty parochial and US centric view to take. Asia is a pretty big place you know!

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