I can’t begin to tell you of my love for video games without mentioning Battletech. There have been a few Battletech video games throughout the history of the computers. The games though I fell in love with was the Mechwarrior series where you get to pilot your own Mech. A Mech is a futuristic tank, where a human hops in and pilots it. My love for this game started when I went to the Chicago Battletech Center, at this center you would hop into a pod, and battle it out with other people in their Mechs. In the 1990′s these centers closed.
Could you imagine my excitement when I heard that Battletech will be at the Anime Convention, I was so there. When I got to the Convention, I made a beeline toward the Battletech first. So I signed up, my call sign River, and I had my personal Photographer with me sign up too, her name was Geekgirl. She had no clue what was going on. We got the crash course of piloting from a member of the team, who was totally cool. The minute I stepped in a pod, what they call the Tesla II incarnation of the Pod. First thing you notice is the airplane-type joystick on the right, and a throttle on the left. I sat down, and being a big guy I was worried. Plenty of room, and the pilot chair was actually comfortable. The Game started and you had several screens giving you feedback. The main viewing screens the graphics were WAY better than the first time I went. More 3-d, and when I blew up my first Mech it was pure awesome. Each Mission last 7 minutes, and it was a free for all. I believe by the way the screens looked I could communicate with Geekgirl but I really didn’t know how. They have packages for more missions, and you get deals. Heck buy 10 missions and you get a pilot’s manual.
After I blew up some Mechs, I had to talk to someone about all this coolness. One of the team members which I believe are called “Mercs” told me I needed to talk to “Propwash”, I was like Oookay. There was this guy deep into a pod with a headlamp, examining a part of the pod. I shook his hand, and first thing he said to me, “Lets see if I can make up some answers to your questions”
We went somewhere quiet, and first thing I asked Propwash, was what has been happening with Battletech since the Chicago Centers. He gave me a brief history Virtual World who owned the centers, merged with FASA interactive. Then Microsoft bought them out, and didn’t want the live arcade business and sold it to Propwash. I was talking to the owner of Virtual World Entertainment, LLC., Nick Smith aka Propwash.
I have to say I was stunned. I think I froze up a bit. As we talked, He was cracking jokes, and put me at ease real quick. I had to ask him, was he a gamer. He told me he wasn’t so much a gamer, he considered himself more of a collector, and a tech geek. He gave me an example. He said, “If some sold me a cool model, I wouldn’t want the model, I would want the machine that made the model” Even though he’s not a gamer, I could tell he loved what he did, a passion for his business, and making sure the customer had a great experience. That’s what it was for me, an awesome experience I will remember for a long time, thanks to Propwash and his team.
We talked about the Pods themselves, there are still some retail centers out there, and some private owners. He said there are roughly 113 pods in existence, and sometimes your able to purchase them, for a set of they run 25k to 35k as is, but if you want them refurbished and good working order, anywhere from 45k to about 80k. He told me at home he has a Whiteboard with the owners names of the Pods, and he eluded that some famous people have private Pods. This got my imagination running. I informed him as soon as I hit the Lottery, put me down for 8 pods.
I wanted to get some feed back on what else is going on for Virtual World, he mentioned bring back Red Planet, basically he said it was a hover craft race, I think I remember it. He mentioned he will be at Origins this year June 22-27th, and at Gencon in Indy August 5th-8th. I urge you go visit Propwash, and his crew and Frag someone for me. You will not be disappointed.
Propwash also told me that they released MechWarrior 4 for free to the public, I was giddy like a little schoolgirl. Go get it at mektek.net. It is getting tons, and tons of hits. People still love the Battletech/Mechwarrior Universe. As for me, I didn’t want to take to much of Mr. Smith’s time, he was a busy guy. My inexperience as an interviewer had me banging my head later of questions I should have asked him, such as why is his call sign Propwash? Does he know of any tips he could pass along to players? Any interesting stories about the players, or his team? Oh well I might have to visit him at Origins, or Gencon.
The whole experience could only be summed up in one way very, very cool. So check it out. Learn more at Mechjock.com
I want to thank Nick Smith aka Propwash to taking time to talk to me, and I hope to see him, and his crew again real soon.