Amassing the Troops #1 – 3D printing MWO

For this entry I’d like to step away from terrain building for a moment and chat about some of my favourite models in my collection, 3D printed MechWarrior Online (MWO) models! I think what is needed first though is a quick intro to Mechwarrior and what it’s based on, Battletech, for those not in the know.

It’s hard to summarise Battletech (BT as it’s often shortened) as it is a fantastically rich sci-fi universe but the crux of it is that it is based in the 30th century and giant walking tanks have at each other on a regular basis. The BT lore actually spans from 2700 (even earlier if you include some of the lesser known stuff) to 3150 but a lot of the key defining moments takes place in the 3000 period. So what is BT all about? Put simply, big damned battlemechs piloted by lone mechwarriors firing lasers, missiles and cannons at other ‘mechs and what ever else is considered the bad guys.

Amassing the Troops #1 - 3D Printing MWO
There are more things in the grimdark than just 40k

Whilst Battletech is the table top game, Mechwarrior Online by Piranha Games is a very good addition to the long running Mechwarrior PC game series that’s close to a few decades old now. Check out this link if you want to know more about all things Battletech: http://bg.battletech.com

Back to what I was meant to be talking about… 3D printing big damned mechs! The guys over at Piranha Games have made a very good FPS online game set in the BT universe. Fans will know that before MWO, the models for Battletech were very 80s/90s styled and for my taste a little too unrealistic. And yes I know realism stops when you start talking lasers strapped to walking tanks powered by fusion engines… However, MWO updates these models to make them look, in my opinion, much more realistic and far far meaner than their original counter parts. Since there’s little to no hope of these models being commercially available for retail for use in a BT game, other steps can be taken.

Amassing the Troops #1 - 3D Printing MWO
On the left is a classic Battlemaster Mech, on the right is MWOs version

In a bit of an odd, but well received move, Piranha Games used file types, structures and processes that more experienced and tech-savvy fans knew how to play with. Presumably with a bit of help from Piranha, these fans started making fan-art and posters using in-game models (Piranha probably thankful for the free advertising). Somewhere along the line, someone made the jump from fan-art to real life 3D models. The print worked well and he shared his how-to guide, and chomping at the bit to try it I made 13! I did my to scale them against each other in a decent fashion and suffered the cost of printing in the best material I could get. There were issues, sure, but I wasn’t deterred and hopefully you’ll agree with me that the results are worth the time and cost.

Amassing the Troops #1 - 3D Printing MWO
My version of the Battlemaster I 3D printed after playing with all the files

Just before I close, I need to be serious here in case official business/legal types start twitching. Piranha Games very graciously turns an eye away from folks 3D printing their property so long as people don’t sell them. The 13 I printed are for my use alone. That said, if anyone wants help or the file to print from (the latter I think is still kosher), then I’d be more than happy to help.

Amassing the Troops #1 - 3D Printing MWO
A Jagermech this time, getting ready for the final bit of painting

You should check out the 3D printing I site I used anyway, http://www.shapeways.com, plenty of wargaming stuff can be found if you look hard enough!

2 thoughts on “Amassing the Troops #1 – 3D printing MWO”

    1. Hi and thanks for commenting. Unfortunately I don’t have the cash to buy a printer that can produce the sort of quality I’m after. Instead, I use a company called Shapeways (http://www.shapeways.com), based in the Netherlands but ships worldwide. They have a range of materials that they can create models in: plastics, ceramics, metals. I often used a material called Frosted Ultra Detail. It’s a little pricier and you have to clean the models before you do anything with them, but it’s well worth the cost and effort!

      Let me know if you’d like to know more and I’ll try and help were I can.

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