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Friday, June 23, 2017

ADB Opens a Store on Shapeways

Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. is pleased to announce a new way to acquire the ships that you love. We have opened a new store on Shapeways which you can find here: https://www.shapeways.com/shops/amarillo-design-bureau-inc

We have ships in three scales:

3788 Scale (1/3788) is the classic scale that makes the Federation heavy cruiser three inches long. Ships in this scale should look at home next to your Starline 2400 miniatures.

3125 Scale (1/3125) provides larger ships that some gamers prefer, especially for tabletop games or display. Ships in this scale should look at home next to your Starline 2500 miniatures.

Omni Scale is a range of miniatures that cannot be done in either of the above scales because they would be too big (a starbase would be bigger than a dinner plate) or too small (fighters would be smaller than the head of a pin). Some "General" cargo ships are done in Omni Scale to reduce cost as cargo ships are really big compared to warships.

For our opening we have the iconic Constitution-class heavy cruiser from the Federation and its opponent, the Klingon D7B battlecruiser. There are other ships from the Romulan and Klingon empires.

We also chose ships from empires that are a bit different (the Seltorians who are foes of the Tholians) or from the minds of simulator programmers (the Frax, used to train officers of the Klingon Deep Space Fleet to handle unexpected enemies). We will be adding ships from the Omega Octant in the near future.

What is an empire without its logistical fleet (sometimes called “targets”)? We have started adding freighters and the never-seen-before skid utility ships.

If you have an account on Shapeways, don’t forget to follow us (adbinc) to get all the announcements.

We hope to see you there!


Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Steve Cole ponders thoughts on dinosaurs:
1. Tyrannosaurus-Rex specimens found lately:
Black Beauty (Alberta, 1980 ­ 28 %)
Stan (South Dakota, 1987 ­ 63 %)
Wankel Rex (Montana, 1988 ­ 46 %)
Sue (South Dakota, 1990 ­ 85 %)
Scotty (Saskatchewan, 1991 ­ over 70 %?)
Samson (South Dakota, 1992 ­ over 70 %?)
Peck¹s Rex (Montana, 1997 ­ 40-80 %?)
Bucky (South Dakota, 1998 ­ 34 %)
B-Rex (Montana, 2000 ­ 37 %)
Jane (Montana, 2001 ­ 50 %)
Tristan (Montana, 2010 ­ 57 %)
Trix (Montana, 2013 ­ 80 %)
Baby Bob (Montana, 2013 ­ over 50 %?)
Tufts-Love Rex (Montana, 2016 - ???)

Note that different scientists have different ways of calculating percentage (number of bones, weight of bones, volume of bones) so the numbers aren't necessarily comparable.
2. Dinosaurs have long been divided into two groups, the bird-hipped ones (stegosaurus, triceratops, duckbills, but not birds) and the lizard-hipped ones (all of the meat eaters and all of the sauropods like Brontosaurus). A recent study suggests that the theropods (meat eaters) are more closely related to the bird-hipped ones than the sauropods. The issue is hotly debated.
3. During the latest Cretaceous, the land masses had separated and the dinosaur populations of the northern and southern hemispheres were very different. Tyrannosaurids, duck bills, and horn-faces dominated western North America and Asia. Abelisaurids (a meat eater, including Carnotaurus) and titanosaurids (bronto-critters) dominated in South America, India, and Madagascar. Europe was a bunch of islands with smaller species. Eastern North America was another continent with a separate population.
4. Trackways (solid stone that was once mud with dinosaur footprints in it) are one way we learn about dinosaurs, but they are far less accurate than one might assume. The dinosaur might have had mud-caked feet. The tracks might have been eroded before they were covered up. The pressure of covering them up might have flattened and expanded the tracks. Nobody knows just how muddy the ground that became the track way was, or how fast the dinosaur was running. Exposed trackways are subject to erosion, often over many years before humans find and preserve them. Trackways are also favorite targets of thieves and illegal collectors who sell the cut-away stone blocks to millionaires with secret illegal collections.
5. The latest analyses indicate the crocodiles and turtles are more closely related to each other than either is to lizards or dinosaurs.
6. While not dinosaurs (actually, long after them), the Pleistocene carnivores Dire Wolf and Saber-Tooth Tiger are modern favorites and are often found in bags of plastic dinosaur toys. They had two very different hunting strategies. Dire wolves, like modern wolves, chased down and wore out their prey, while saber-tooth tigers were ambush hunters (leaping cats, like all modern cat species other than cheetahs). This was determined by analysis of broken-bone injuries found amount hundreds of skeletons.
7. Zhongjianosaurus is a new dinosaur from China, and the smallest carnivore yet found. It was smaller than a pigeon, but was clearly a dinosaur (a micro-raptor) not a bird or bird ancestor. (Micro-raptors and bird ancestors are from the same branch of the family tree.)
8. It is hard to tell from a few loose bones or teeth just what kind of animal you have found. Police who find random bones today can do DNA tests to find out that their crime scene is actually just the place where somebody bar-b-qued some pork ribs. No such luck with dinosaurs. Bushels of dinosaur teeth turned out to belong to phytosaurs (alligators), a huge pterodactyl wing bone turned out to be a tree trunk, and most scientists think that protoavis (claimed to be the earliest bird, dozens of millions of years before any other) is a jumble of bones from at least two and possibly four unrelated animals that were all swept downstream in a flood and buried in a eddy.
9. The ICZN (International Committee for Zoological Nomenclature) keeps track of every animal name ever printed. In one recent case, someone named a new dinosaur only to find out that the name had already been used. In another case, a name given to a new dinosaur had already been used for a modern-day beetle. Once a name is used (even if the name proves to be invalid) it cannot ever be used again. Sometimes different scientists find different parts of the same kind of animal and each gives it a name; this is why the Brontosaurus I grew up with suddenly changed when it was found that a few random bones given the name Apatosaurus were in fact part of a Brontosaurus. The same scientist named both and while he always suspected they were from the same critter, he always preferred Brontosaurus but ICZN rules insist on Apatosaurus. Later, more skeletons were dug up and some started to argue that Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus were in fact related animals like a horse and a zebra. [I was told once that actors unions have a similar rule so that there can never be two actors of the same name. This often causes problems when a model or singer tries to break into acting only to find out that the name they have built up over a decade was used by some two-bit actor 60 years ago that nobody remembers. I¹m just saying.]
10. Reptiles cannot chew bones; they can only swallow them whole. Theropod (meat-eating) dinosaurs, on the other hand, easily chewed up the bones of smaller (and sometimes larger) animals and ate them. (We know this because of bone fragments found in fossils of dinosaur poop.)  They did this with incredible bite forces (T-rex reached 8,526­34,522 newtons), teeth that worked more like scissors than molars, and biting repeatedly in the same place to shatter the bones into fragments.

Monday, June 19, 2017

This Week at ADB, Inc., 11-17 June 2017

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work on current projects.

Steve Cole worked on the Shapeways Store (ad copy, ship selection, contract, art), Federation Commander Scenario Log #2, Federation & Empire SITs, blogs, fiction, and other projects.

Klingon D-7B render. Ship will be on ADB's Shapeways store.   

Steven Petrick worked on the SFB Module R3 update, quality control assembly and shipping, and the Kzinti Master Starship Book.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates, covers for new products, formated photos and CGIs for upload, and some graphics.

Wolf guarded the office, chasing away a cranky badger.

Jean worked on the GURPS Prime Directive revision and ADB's future Shapeways store, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3817 friends), managed our Twitter feed (226 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread things for the Shapeways Store and FC Scenario Log #2, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Working on the GURPS Prime Directive Revision

Jean Sexton writes:

Steve Cole has said for years that he wanted me working on the roleplaying part of our line. As I got more confident in my roles of marketing and proofreader, I slowly had more time free up. Finally I created the Supplement that we'd promised our patient PD20 Modern players. When I did that, I found some errors that predated my time at ADB. I wondered what other problems were lurking in GURPS Prime Directive, the source for all of our RPG books.

Steve told me to look through the book and see what I found. When the list I submitted got longer than he felt comfortable with, he agreed I needed to give the book a nudge. And then the interesting part started.

We fiddled with some text; that needed to be fixed. At some point, academy templates were dropped that were in our 3e book. I wanted to restore them. Doing that meant adding back some skills. Some of our species referenced traits that somehow had been omitted. Those needed to be re-added. With experience and feedback, we realized that our players didn't all want to play Star Fleet characters. That meant adding in some features that might appeal to traders and Orion pirates. In addition, the GM needs to be able to create bad guys for the heroes to defeat.

Another project of mine was to add information that I as a player wanted -- and I have always been fascinated by the Inter-Stellar Consortium. What makes the Pronhoulites different from the Gorns? How do the Rovillians function on starships? What about the Q'Naabians? The first ISC story showed them interacting with other crew members, not holed up in their separate cabin. Those species have been expanded.

So the work progresses and I think that this will come closer to being a stand-alone book. There are references to the GURPS Basic Set, but those are for items that I think aren't necessarily essential. I'm also trying to mark references to traits and skills we didn't include so players and GMs don't go searching for them. The result will be a greatly expanded and enhanced work, worthy of being a new edition.

In the end, I think players and GMs will have a better reference than they had before. We've learned a lot in 10 years; I hope it shows in this book.


Monday, June 12, 2017

This Week at ADB, Inc., 4-10 June 2017

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work on current projects. Progress on the Shapeways store gave us hope we can open it with a dozen ships the week after next.

We released Hailing Frequencies for June 2017 and  Communique #138.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with three new entries and two updates.

Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #53, Federation & Empire SITs, blogs, the newsletters, the Shapeways store, and other projects.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #53, quality control assembly and shipping, the Star Fleet Battles Module C3 and Module R3 revisions, and the Kzinti Master Starship Book.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics. She released Hailing Frequencies and Communique.

Wolf guarded the office, chasing away a dachshund who tried to assassinate Steve Cole.

Jean worked on the GURPS Prime Directive revision, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,809 friends), managed our Twitter feed (224 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Communique #138, took care of customers, and did some marketing. She also wound up the visit by her mother (now safely back home) by visiting the Cap Rock Canyons and going to see the Charles Goodnight home.

Friday, June 09, 2017

The Top Ten Mistakes in Fiction

10. It’s the middle of a war and your characters refer to the border (as in “we must get back to the border”). Guys, the border became irrelevant when the invasion started. It’s the front line you want. Of course, if you’re talking about pushing the enemy back to the original border, then border is the correct word.

9. Using the word it’s as a possessive. The possessive form is simply "its." It’s" means "it is."

8. Be careful using dashes. Any time a dash can be used, another punctuation mark would work, but there are rare cases when it makes sense — such as a pause in the conversation.

7. It seems that grammar schools no longer teach people how to punctuate or capitalize dialogue.
Wrong: “Take the ship to the left helmsman.” Said the captain. “And bring us behind them.”
Right: “Take the ship to port, helmsman,” said the captain, “and bring us behind them.”

6. Klingons, more than anyone else, avoid being chatty in combat. When writing Klingon dialogue, go back and see how many words you can delete. Consider:
Chatty Human: “The warp power is at maximum. Engines are running within acceptable parameters. That new flux coupler Korik-than installed seems to be hanging in there. The batteries are at 100% status.”
Terse Klingon: “Warp power max, parameters acceptable, new coupler stable, batteries 100%.”

5. Write a story about a great, anguished, heart-rending debate about something every SFB player knows the result of.

4. Fight the entire battle without launching a drone from your racks. In fact, totally ignore the fact that the ship in your story even has drone racks. Alternately, ignore reserve power.

3. Be sure to get the year wrong. Pick a year for your story when the two empire were not at war, or when the ship you are using had not been built, or when the situation your story presents could not have happened.

2. Give the hero of your story your own name.

1. Have the ship’s crew do something that makes no sense, such as stopping in enemy territory without charging the phasers.

(c) 2005 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #31.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Master Star Ship Books Are Still Coming

This is Steven Petrick posting.

The Kzinti Master Star Ship Book has gone to the proofers (at least the first section of it, dubbed the "Main Section" which includes all of the formally published ships that are not Early Years, advanced technology, or published only in Captain's Log). Reports have been coming in and are being processed.

Lest you think this means I am sitting back and relaxing as this is going on, I have gathered together the various elements needed to create the Gorn Master Star Ship Book and am currently (among other tasks) going through the heartbreak of trying to hammer it into the approved format.

With all of these books there is the problem that the format has been constantly reinvented over the years. Often the format was driven by "space" constraints, so in order for a ship description to be done, elements that would normally be separate get folded into a paragraph to save a few lines on a page of text. Part of doing a Master Star Ship Book means tracking these down. Then adding all of the new data points and special considerations.

In some books the lists of known ship names precedes the "SSD and counter" note, while the standard for the Master Star Ship Books is that the known ship names are the last items listed.

And every empire seems to have its own "unique" parts of the format which have to be inserted. (The Gorns, for example, have a listing for the number of balcony systems each ship has).

So if I often look dazed and shell shocked after working on one of these books for a few days, there are reasons for it.

 Gorn Medium Cruiser
Art by Adam Turner