HeavyMetal Software
 

Software for BattleTech

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Raisley Genealogy
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About Us

A lot of people have asked for background information on RCW Enterprises and HeavyMetal Software. RCW Enterprises is unique in many ways, and the information in this section will hopefully provide some insight into just what makes this company tick.

In a nutshell, RCW Enterprises is a very small company that believes it can accomplish more than many other companies of much larger size. How is this possible? Through innovative ideas, unconventional approaches, determination, hard work, and a heartfelt commitment to excellence. RCW Enterprises is built upon integrity and other old-fashioned values that are becoming scarce in today's corporate culture. Perhaps we're idealists, but we like to think the qualitative results we achieve makes it all worthwhile.

We think we're doing something right, and a lot of others apparently do as well, as our customers are located in all 50 of the United States (and the District of Columbia), as well as over fifty other countries.

(Click here If you're interested in what kind of name Raisley is, to see a brief history of where my ancestors came from.)

Our Mission Statement

Our Mission Statement declares our commitment to the BattleTech community and to our customers in particular.

The following gives a little more about the history of the company, and how we got to where we are today:

Your Privacy

Your privacy is important, both to you and to us. Please read our Privacy Policy here.

In the Beginning...

Originally, HeavyMetal software was designed for my personal use, and then for the use of our BattleTech group. In 1993, in an effort to keep records and help to automate some of our larger games, I began to develop what I envisioned at that time as a computerized version of FASA's BattleTech board game. Step one was a map editor, so I wrote a simplistic one, that I could add roads and rivers to, moving little 'Mechs around, while they "fired" at each other. After designing a few other screens, the next step was to design the BattleMech editor, a program I could use to enter designs which the main program would use. Little did I know that this one program would obsess me over the next many years, and that in fact I would never get back to the full computerized "game" of BattleTech!

The first version of HeavyMetal, written for DOS of course, was completed in 1993. It designed both Inner Sphere and Clan designs, was extremely quick (as all DOS programs were, compared to Windows programs, at the time), and printed very nice, albeit all text, record sheets for game play. We've included a Screen Shot of the DOS HeavyMetal for those who would like to see how things "used to be."

We had a lot of fun with the original HeavyMetal. It allowed us to print out all our custom designs, without typing them out manually or doing them by hand. It made things quick and accurate, and despite the fact that I owned all the record sheet books available at the time, I still entered and printed out every design there was, as I liked our sheets better.

Talks with FASA

In 1994, I saw an add in a FASA publication for a future product, a CD which was to contain a great amount of BattleTech material, as well as a 'Mech design program for the PC. I was interested in when the CD would be out, as this was the only place I had heard of it, so one day called FASA on the phone. It turned out that the deal they had with whoever was to write the 'Mech design program had failed, so they had no such product available. Conveniently, I suggested that I had developed such a program, and asked if they'd like to have a look, to which they said yes. I sent the DOS version of HeavyMetal to them in 1994. It turned out that they were looking for a Windows® program, rather than a DOS one, however, so I spent the remainder of that year (and my vacation in Florida at my wife's parents' house) writing a Windows version. HeavyMetal for Windows was submitted to FASA in February of 1995.

After a few improvements, the "final" version of HeavyMetal was submitted in December of 1996. Some of you may have even seen it demoed at Origins in 1996 and 1997. But FASA was a very slow company in making up their mind, at least as far as software was concerned. Products other than books were new to them, and they were unsure how to proceed. I won't bore you with all the delays, promises and discussions, but eventually, almost 2 years after the "final" version was submitted, FASA finally published "BattleTech's HeavyMetal 'Mech Design Generator" in October of 1998.

Improvements and Advancements

Before FASA even released the first HeavyMetal, we were already well into development and playtesting of an advanced version of HeavyMetal, HeavyMetal Pro. It is very ironic that when HeavyMetal was first released, the much more advanced HeavyMetal Pro was already being used by our playing group. Those 2 wasted years really set things back. Because of that, while many people liked the original HeavyMetal, there were now (after 2 years) other freeware programs with some capabilities that it did not have. Efforts to quickly market and substitute HeavyMetal Pro failed; FASA just wasn't interested in any more software.

After only one year of availability, FASA removed HeavyMetal from their web site product listing (it was only marketed from their site, never from another location). The impending sale by Microsoft had paralyzed them to the point that decisions could not be made as to what to do with the product.

Negotiations, Negotiations, and finally a License

For two years I again negotiated with FASA, with numerous letters and phone calls, attempting to obtain a license to produce and market HeavyMetal products myself. Only by my being personally involved in all phases of marketing, I felt, could HeavyMetal software ever be all it could be. Finally, in May of 2000, permission to produce HeavyMetal software under license from FASA was received! HeavyMetal Pro was introduced to rave reviews at the Origins Con in Columbus Ohio in July of 2000, where it was a sell-out.

New Products Come Along

When HeavyMetal Pro was previewed and released at Origins, I had already developed earlier versions of HeavyMetal Vee, a vehicle design program, and HeavyMetal Lite, a ProtoMech design program. In fact, I had them with me and showed them to several people at the time. Since HMPro was done, work shifted to HeavyMetal Vee, which was finally released in March of 2001. Prior to that, a free program called RUS (Random Unit Selector) was released and made available to the public. RUS provides a fair and random way to roll dice, determine hit locations, select 'Mechs and most anything else you can describe using odds and dice.

In July of 2001, almost exactly a year after HeavyMetal Pro was released, HeavyMetal Lite made its appearance. Not only designing ProtoMechs, HMLite also provided for modifying and adding options to Battle Armor and Infantry, as well as printing record sheets for them.

The first three programs were incorporated into a combination package, along with RUS and thousands of data files, hundreds of pictures, and more, to make HeavyMetal Plus, which was released in September, 2001.

After almost a year of intensive work and playtesting, one of the most complex and comprehensive program in the HeavyMetal stable was released: HeavyMetal Aero. Able to design all types of atmospheric and space vehicles, from fighters to the largest WarShips, HMAero was released in September of 2002.

Another milestone in the release of HeavyMetal stable was HeavyMetal Battle Armor, a program which designs and prints sheets for all Battle Armor sizes in accordance with the latest design rules in the Classic BattleTech Companion. It can design for use with both  BattleTech and RPG rules, and was released in December of 2004.

Recent Developments

There have been a lot of changes during the last couple years concerning the ownership of the BattleTech game and property. The Topps Company acquired WizKids, Inc., and Microsoft has control of all electronic and digital representations of BattleTech. HeavyMetal Software licensing had to be updated to exist in this new world. Well, that has now been done (as of late 2004). A new agreement with Microsoft will allow current and future HeavyMetal software to be developed and marketed, and a recent, updated license agreement with WizKids also insures that HeavyMetal software products will continue in the future. It took a while to get all the kinks worked out of this new arrangement, but now that they are, we are very excited about the future!

Latest Product

The latest in the HeavyMetal stable of software products is HeavyMetal Map, a program which designs and prints map sheets for use during gameplay. The sheets can be full size, like the published sheets, or you can specify both larger and smaller sizes, basically making them any size you want. And it adapts to any printer, automatically printing in multiple sheets when required. HMMap was released in October of 2006.

RCW Enterprises Today

During the entire production time of HeavyMetal software, we have also posted for download many updates for all of the programs, as well as data files, from all technical readouts and record sheet books, as soon as possible after they were released. In addition, new equipment released in the books has constantly been added as appropriate to all of the programs, insuring the user can have the latest tech for his/her designs.

The Future

It is our intent to continue serving the BattleTech community as long as there is an interest in software for BattleTech. Work on other projects has been ongoing, and several future products are in the works or planning stage. After well over 20 Years of BattleTech, the future of BattleTech is bright. Despite the closing of FASA, our game is healthier than ever, with The Topps Company and Catalyst Game Labs bringing more products that ever to our gaming tables and libraries. We hope that you enjoy this great game as much as we have and do.

RCW Enterprises is continuing to build its reputation as THE source for quality tools for BattleTech. We're delighted to say that the future is looking very bright.

Regards,

Rick Raisley


Web site and contents Copyright © RCW Enterprises. All rights reserved. Last updated 12/21/2014
All HeavyMetal programs are developed by Rick Raisley of RCW Enterprises, and Copyrighted © by RCW Enterprises. All rights reserved.
BattleTech, BattleMech, 'Mech, AeroTech, MechWarrior and BattleForce are registered trademarks and/or trademarks of The Topps Company, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Used under license.
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