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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In Praise of Our Volunteers

The adventure game (wargame+roleplaying game) industry is a small one, and there isn't the kind of money inside of it that other industries have. The industry consists of creative game designers willing to work 60 hours a week for half the pay they could command outside the game industry, all because they get to BE game designers.

Even at that, the only way the game industry survives is by the hard labor of unpaid volunteers who (for honor, glory, and rarely some free games) provide no end of valuable services to game publishers.

Mike West answers rules questions on FEDERATION COMMANDER. Mike Curtis does the same thing for Federation & Empire, Jonathan Thompson and Jean Sexton for Prime Directive PD20 and PD20M, Gary Plana for GURPS Prime Directive, Richard Sherman for Star Fleet Battle Force, and Mike Filsinger for STAR FLEET BATTLES.

Frank Brooks runs the Play-by-Email system as a volunteer. Paul Franz charges barely enough for the On-Line game system (for SFB and FC) to pay the server costs. Bob Pomroy does made-to-order decals for our Starline miniatures at a cost that barely covers his costs.

Federation & Empire would not exist without Chuck Strong (a real-world colonel from Space Command) in charge of the overall game system. He keeps his staff (Mike Curtis, Ryan Opel, Scott Tenhoff, Thomas Mathews, and Stew Frazier) busy moving projects forward.

Very little would get done on any of our games except for the Playtest Battle Labs run by Scott Moellmer in Colorado and by Mike Curtis and Tony Thomas in Tennessee. And all of the other playtesters are invaluable to us.

We have other staffers who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including Jean Sexton (Vice President of Proofreading and Product Professionalization); John Berg and Mike Incavo (Galactic Conquest Campaign); Daniel Kast (Klingon Armada); and John Sickels, Matthew Francois, Jonathan Thompson, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive). Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each one of them.

Added to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month, by Email or BBS or Forum, contribute in some way to the company and its product line. They may report a glitch in an existing product, playtest a product in development, suggest a new product, point out something another company is doing what we may want to take a look at emulating, look up a rules reference for another player, report on somebody who using our property improperly, comment on a posted draft of a new rule, or simply ask a question nobody else ever dared to ask.

Monday, August 30, 2010

This Week at ADB, Inc., 22-28 August 2010

Steve Cole reports:

The weather this week was cooler than usual for this time of year (60s in the morning). We had some rain on Tuesday to cool things down. The Spam Storm stayed fairly calm, running 235-376 per day. We had the phone lines go bad due to water leaks, but AT&T came and fixed them. The shrinkwrap machine finally had a problem we couldn't fix, and we paid several hundred dollars to have all of the wiring replaced.

Steve Cole's week was dominated by PD FEDERATION, which was finished and started printing Friday afternoon. This was a long process (Monday = Petrick's fixes. Tuesday = Dale's art, weapons page. Wednesday = Ted's planets. Thursday = clone the file, get Jean's last reports. Friday = build the PDF. Saturday = do the FLAP list.) SVC did a few other things, such as work on the Wall of Honor, an ad to go into GGIC, the final step of the complex Apple contract, and some email. Steve is pretty much in a state of nervous exhaustion and has been seen spending time on the sofa.

Jean, no surprise, stayed busy all week on PD FEDS, mostly doing final checks and corrections.

Steve Petrick continued progress on Module Y3, despite being dragooned into reading the entire PD FED book (which he had never seen) from cover to cover to find anything that nobody else did).

Leanna and Mike continued doing orders. Joel continued updating the website, and getting art done for PD FEDS. Leanna did order that an economics memo be worked up for expansions to the SFBF card game, the first time in years that she's shown a willingness to spend that much money on cards.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

On Federation PD20M

Jean Sexton writes:

The long-awaited and much anticipated Federation sourcebook has been finished. To be sent to the distributors on Monday, August 30, it should be available soon from a friendly local game store near you. If that is an issue, then you can order it from our storefront. Personal mail orders will be shipped on September 7.

Getting a book like this written is a team effort. John Sickels created the opening story, discovered the political history of the Federation, described the various government agencies that characters might encounter, and fleshed out the culture and history for many of the member species of the Federation. Steve Cole and Steven Petrick handled the military background and the starships. Gary Plana and Hugh Bishop did a lot of background work. Ryan Opel was our continuity specialist and Loren Knight chimed in as needed.

Then there was the work to make this book "game specific". Jonathan Thompson, the prolific author and publisher perhaps best known for his Gaslight books, created the species templates, vetted the weapon stats, and gave us advice on the height and weight charts. Tony L. Thomas, an avid PD20M player and SFU fan, created the character stats for the pre-made Pioneer Team described in the opening story "Another New World".

No book is complete without art. We decided to go with a mix of new and classic art. There is entirely new art by Adam Turner, Loren Knight, and Ted Geibel as well as classic art by Dale McKee, Dan Carroll, Jim McGonigle, and Alvin Belflower. No RPG book would be complete without deck plans; this has the Federation frigate deck plans drawn by Nick Blank.

What's new in Federation PD20M? Apart from the detailed history (so you can pick a time period for your adventurers), description of the justice system (which one hopes that the characters do not have to encounter), the description of how a colony is created (maybe the group is moving in during the wild and woolly phase of colony growth), the detailed geography of the Federation (it helps to know where you are), the descriptions of the military forces (for those characters who are a part of such forces), and the Federation starships (you have to travel somehow!), there are:

• New species: Antareans, Brecon, Deians, Fralli, Mantorese, and Prellarians.
• New vehicles such as the M3 ground combat vehicle and the M190 tank.
• New weapons including the phaser IIA assault pistol, the Federation grenade launcher, and the Fralli pole-whip.
• New places including Tafelland’s Groenveldt colony and the Donjebruche trading post.
• Adventure ideas such as encounters with Klingons, Orion Pirates, and new civilizations.
• Exotic supplies including Romulan Ale, Rigellian Ferrets, and Terran Parsley(!).

In short, this book has everything a GM wants for setting up adventures in the Federation. We hope that you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed creating it for you.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Steve Cole writes:

None of these are real. Do not reply to them. EVER. There are more of these things than I can count, but here are some of the most popular ones.

1. You just won a lottery you never heard of; enter your bank account number for us to wire your winnings. (There is no such lottery. If you give them your bank account number, they'll steal your money and then write hot checks on your account.)

2. I need your help to move a bunch of money out of some foreign country into the US. Send your bank account number and I will send the money. (Sometimes this is the estate of a deceased dictator. Sometimes, it's oil industry bribes that the crook who was going to collect it never got. The truth is, there is no money, except what they steal from your bank account. Then they'll write forged checks on your bank account.)

3. I want to order some of your products. Please confirm you will ship to my country. I will be paying by credit card. Attach a list of your products or your web shopping cart address. (They have no idea what products you sell, and won't until you tell them. They'll use a stolen credit card and the police in their country will never find the products you ship.)

4. Your UPS package has been delayed. Click this link or open this attachment for details. (It's a virus.) This also comes in a phishing variation where you go tell them where to send the package, and sometimes pay them an extra fee for forwarding it. That gives information to identity thieves which they will use to rob you.

5. Access to your Paypal account (or your account in some bank you don't have an account in) has been suspended. Go to this website and fill out the form to have your access reinstated. (Your account is fine, until you tell this crooks where it is. Then, they'll steal every dime and write a bunch of hot checks on it.)

6. I am your friend from Facebook. I was on vacation in England when I was robbed at gunpoint. They stole all my money, but left me my passport. I need you to loan me a thousand dollars to cover the hotel bill and get me a taxi to the airport. My plane leaves in two hours, so please hurry. (This is not your friend, just someone who hacked your friend's Facebook page.)

7. Get your prescription medications for less! (Two chances. One is they take your money and send you nothing. The other is they take your money and send you fake pills which are not your medication. This also applies to sex medications you don't have a prescription for.)

8. Buy a fake Rolex watch to impress your friends. (In all probability, you'll just get your money stolen. Maybe you'll get a really awful copy of a Rolex that won't fool anybody.)

9. Work for us as a mystery shopper. Go to stores, buy things, send us a report, and we'll send you a cash reward! (Well, in the first place, you won't ever get a cash reward. What you will get is your identity stolen using the information you gave them to register for the program.)

10. Buy OEM software. (Two chances. One is they take your money and send you nothing. The other is they take your money and send you illegal copies of software.)

11. Buy this hot stock! (The scammers already bought a bunch, and will dump it as soon as enough internet suckers buy enough of it to make the price go up. Then it will go down. A lot.)

12. Single girls (or attractive older women) want to meet you for no-strings sex. (Yeah, right.)

13. Discount membership is being offered to you in a porn website. (Two chances. One is they take your money and you get nothing because they aren't actually associated with that website. The other is they take your money and give you access to only some of the content for only a few days, then charge you full price for full, or maybe still partial, access without your knowledge or consent.)

14. Someone with the same last name as you died, leaving a lot of money in my bank. If you'll agree to pretend to be his relative, I'll arrange to send you his money. (Nobody died, there is no money, and you cannot cheat an honest man, so if you agree to lie, you deserve what you're going to get. If you give them your bank account information, they'll drain your account, then print and write checks on it. If you pay a fee to process the claim, you'll never get anything back for it.)

15. Enter your information and we will send you free samples of something, usually Viagra or other sex pills. (Do it, and they steal your identity.)

16. Your Amazon order was shipped, or was canceled, or was delayed, or something. (Perhaps you ordered something, but rest assured that the guys sending you this email are not from Amazon, they just want you to go fill out a form so they can steal your identity.)

17. You are getting a gift card from some business. (No, you aren't. You're about to get your bank account and your identity stolen.)

18. The United Nations is going to pay $500,000 to anyone who says he was a victim of an internet scam. (No, they aren't. These emails aren't from the UN; they're attempts to get more people to send them addresses, bank account numbers, and so forth.)

19. The FBI sends you an email advising that those Nigerians you have been getting email from are on the level and it's ok to go ahead and accept the money, i.e., give them your bank account number. (No, the FBI did not send that, the Nigerians are not on the level, and sending them your bank account number means having your money and identity stolen and a bunch of hot checks written.) This same scam shows up from "the Nigerian government" which wants to compensate you for someone who scammed you.

20. You get an email from your ISP saying that your account is suspended, or infected, or being hacked, or something, asking you to send them your name, address, account name, password, date of birth, and so forth. (No, it's not your ISP that's emailing you. They already HAVE your email account and password.)

21. You've been offered a loan, or a mortgage, at a great rate. (Yeah, right. The people offering this have no money to loan you, but as soon as you fill out the application, they'll start using YOUR money.)

22. Go here to review changes to your credit report (and to get your money and identity stolen).

23. We will print free personalized checks for you! (And by the time you notice they never showed up, your account will be empty anyway.)

24. The Social Security Administration wants you to review your account status. (Do that, and you're thieves a golden pass to your entire life and financial dealings. Get ready to have every dime stolen and thousands of dollars worth of stuff charged to new accounts they will open for you.)

New scams show up every week, and the old ones keep coming around. Be warned! Be watchful! Be suspicious.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Revving up your warp drive; Listen to the impulse hum.
Border under tension; Orders are to hit and run.
Fly into to the Neutral Zone.
Deep inside the Neutral Zone.

Heading into starlight. Spreading out her shields tonight.
She got you following the track, and shoving into hyperdrive.
Highway to the Neutral Zone.
I'll take you
Right into the Neutral Zone.

You'll never see Kling-ons near you,
Until they get it on the range eight overload.
You'll never know what you can do,
Until you push it out as deep as you can go.

Out along the border, Always where I burn to be.
The closer to a war, the hotter the intensity.
Highway to the Neutral Zone.
Gonna take you
Right into the Neutral Zone.
Highway to the Neutral Zone.

Parody copyright (c) 2010 Stephen V. Cole

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Got Any Marketing Ideas?

ADB, Inc., is always interested in great marketing ideas, ways and places to sell our products, as well as new products to sell. We are developing a line of non-game products (calendars, paperback books, ship books, plus Cafe Press). We have an Amazon store (not to make money so much as to put our products in front of other groups of potential customers), and the pages on MySpace and Facebook exist for that reason as well. We tried a lot of things that didn't work (Google Pay per Click, full-color ads in trade journals) and a lot of things that did work (banners on gamer websites, Star Fleet Alerts) and are always looking for new ideas. If you have any, send them to us at Marketing@StarFleetGames.com and we'll think them over.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Toll of Millions, Both Gone and Yet to Die

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

I got an E-mail from John Crawford of England not to long ago. It included a picture of a quiet field near a small village. Back in June of 1944 that field was not so quiet. Men struggled, killed, and yes died on the field. It was not pretty or picturesque then, but a place of horror.

Some will think of this and say "war is terrible and a waste, so we should not fight at all."

War is terrible, and it is wasteful, and the problem is that it is too easy to see the horror and the waste and not the consequences of failing to fight.

The allied invasion of Europe and defeat of the Nazi regime came far too late for millions of innocents.

The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq also both came to late for uncounted millions of people. Turning a blind eye to evil only allows it to fester and grow.

But turning a blind eye is so much easier to do. Seeing the future consequences so much harder, and some just find it easier to ignore the lessons of history and the blood that has been spilled.

Churchill complained that the West failed to strangle communism in its crib at the end of World War I. That failure left millions dead in the Soviet Union alone. More millions died in China, Cambodia, North Korea . . . the list goes on. Millions more are going to die in the name of that ideology, because when it mattered, the easier road was taken and millions were condemned to the darkness that followed.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Stephen V. Cole writes:

We have merged the two websites. The combined site now has a new front page, site map, and index, making it a lot easier to use. You are welcome to comment on the changes, but more importantly, please suggest changes, and check the changes we make.

Here is my e-mail: Design@StarFleetGames.com or you can comment on either forum.

Monday, August 23, 2010

This Week at ADB, Inc., 15-21 August 2010

Steve Cole reports:

The weather this week was hot (70s in the morning, 80s and sometimes 90s in the afternoon). We had some rain on Monday and Tuesday (clouds continued into Wednesday) to cool things down. The Spam Storm stayed fairly calm, less than 400 per day.

A marketing meeting on Monday scheduled PD20M FEDERATION for 30 August because we needed more time to get the art done. We got the cover for Y3 done and sent to press.

The e23 project continued, including the rules parts of Klingon Armada and Romulan Armada, Fed Commander Briefing #2 ship packs A and B and the rules+scenarios from Briefing #2.

Steve Cole spent his whole week on PD FEDS, including the index, inserting the d20M stats, the height and weight tables, and most of the missing art. The project reached that maddening point that hours of work produce no checkmarks on the to-do list because they're just fixes on pages already marked finished. By Saturday night, everything for PD20M FEDS was finished except inserting the art, any final typos, cloning the book, and converting the GURPS stuff to PD20M. One of the three artists had his art in on the 22nd, and the second promised his by the 24th.

Steve Cole did other things as well. He continued updating the Wall of Honor, adding two entire pages of new people. He also sent out a Star Fleet Alert, did two starship name certificates, perhaps resolved the contract mess over the iPhone games, and updated the rules for Star Fleet Rescue.

Steven Petrick continues to work on the rulebook part of Y3, now that the SSDs are finished and in the hands of the staff for checking.

Leanna was buried in massive orders all week, but did manage to get stuff put on e23 and began work converting GLORY OF THE EMPIRE into our first Kindle book.

Mike Sparks spent the week shipping orders and quality checking incoming miniatures.

Joel continued the war on copyright violators, getting several sites shut down and torrent menus deleted. He also got the Y3 cover finished.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Steve Cole muses:

Just thinking to himself.

1. Guys, do not marry a girl until you have met her mother. About 95% of the time, the girl you marry will eventually turn into her mother, and this is your chance to preview what you're going to be living with.

2. Sometimes when you cannot work through a problem, you might see a solution if you explain the problem to someone else, even someone who doesn't understand the issues. That person may be able to suggest a "core values" approach to the matter, reducing it to the basic level.

3. The Vietnam War started when North Vietnamese torpedo boats fired at US destroyers. What nobody remembers is that the US destroyers were there to protect CIA speedboats that were smuggling weapons and explosives into North Vietnam to de-stabilize the Hanoi government.

4. We are never going to become a post-racial society if minorities and liberals don't stop screaming false charges of racism every time they don't get their way on something.

5. Wildfires have destroyed 20% of Russia's current wheat crop. That could cause some serious issues. What will Russia give up for food? Is Russia in any position to demand food?

6. Leanna and I have been renting discs of NUMB3RS and watching them. They're pretty good stories and acting (although they stretch the point and do things that I know math won't really do).

7. Thanks to learned historian Bill Cosby, most Americans think that we won the war for independence from Britain by wearing buckskins and hiding behind trees and big rocks while shooting at the stupid British who stood in straight lines and wore red. In fact, we beat the British while wearing blue and standing in straight lines.

8. I keep seeing commercials for what I think are incredibly cool science fiction movies but which turn out to be previews of incredibly cool science fiction video games that I cannot play. Guys, it wouldn't be that hard to turn all of those game graphics into a movie, at least, one good enough for the internet, or television. No reason to wait for Hollywood to spend 50 million dollars screwing it up.

9. As of the end of July 2010, our print engines have produced over six and a half million pages of books. Samantha (which was in storage for over a year due to lack of space) has done 2.4 million, Kate has done 3.19 million, and Vala has done just over a million.

10. I wonder if the Tea Party is the conservative version of the 1960s SWINE (Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything). Seems that other than "Vote against congress critters who overspend" there isn't much for it to actually DO.

Saturday, August 21, 2010



Playing FEDERATION COMMANDER by Email is an alternative to playing face-to-face. While there are a few differences (i.e., your opponent isn't sitting across the table from you), it is the same game.

The basic gist of the FEDERATION COMMANDER Play-by-Email (PBEM) system is that you and your opponent submit your orders for the turn to a moderator via Email. The moderator then processes them, and sends a "SitRep" (Situation Report) to the players via Email. You receive the results, write up your next set of orders, and then submit your orders once again. The process is repeated until the game is completed. Sounds simple? That's because it IS! It'll take a little getting used to (after all, what doesn't?), but once you've got the hang of it, you'll be lobbing photon torpedoes (or whatever your weapon of choice is) at opponents from all over the world.

Every FEDERATION COMMANDER PBEM game has at least three participants: two or more players and one moderator. The moderator's purpose is to accept orders from the players and carry them out, reporting the results of those orders to all players. While (s)he is not a player, the moderator fulfills a very important role in the game. Good moderators and good players make for a good, enjoyable game of FEDERATION COMMANDER. Moderating a FEDERATION COMMANDER PBEM game is also an excellent way to learn more about the FEDERATION COMMANDER rules.

While there are some disadvantages to PBEM (it does take longer to finish a game), there are advantages as well. You can play against people in other parts of the world (how often do you get to Australia, anyway?), you can play multiple games at once, and you can have large multi-player games (without worrying about running out of chips and soda).

For more information about playing FEDERATION COMMANDER PBEM, please visit the Play-by-Email section of ADB, Inc.'s website at http://www.StarFleetGames.com/pbemgames and we will be happy to help you.

Friday, August 20, 2010

This is Me, Killing You

No more carefree banter. Silence on the ether.
Flying past these empty stars, drones in my racks.
Here's where your career ends, I followed your tracks.
This is me, killing you (ah-haa).
That is simply what I do.

This is me, killing you (ah-haa).
You just have to face it, this time you're through.
Giving up is never easy, know I, but you have to die.
This is me, killing you (ah-haa).
That is simply what I do.

You made good moves, bad ways.
They will haunt you always.
These old familiar moves, they're all you had.
No there's only dark defeat, that's why you're mad.

This is me, killing you (ah-haa).
That is simply what I do.
This is me, killing you (ah-haa).
You just have to face it, this time you're through.
Giving up is never easy, know I, but you have to die.
This is me, killing you (ah-haa).
That is simply what I do.

Parody copyright (c) 2010 Stephen V. Cole

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Stephen V. Cole writes:

Our website is vast and full of fun, useful, and interesting documents, charts, play aids, illustrations, and other things. Most of the best stuff is found at: http://starfleetgames.com/playerresources.shtml which has lists of resources and links to other lists of resources. Take a look down the list and see if there are documents you always wanted and could never find or documents which you never knew you were looking for.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How to Find Opponents

Steve Cole writes:

Many gamers are looking for new opponents. This is nothing new. When I was a teenager, there were maybe four wargamers in Amarillo that I knew, but there must have been more as the one store that carried Avalon Hill games (then the only wargames) would sell one or two now and then that my friends and I knew we didn't buy. Funny, it never once occurred to us to ask the store manager to give our phone numbers to the other guys. When I was in college, SPI (then the second wargame company and rapidly becoming larger and more innovative than Avalon Hill) had an opponent wanted list. I sent in my dollar to get it, and found only one person (of the 20 on the list) who was within 120 miles; the first and last person on the list were each 450 miles away (in opposite directions).

These days, the concept of contacting other gamers has had decades to mature, and works much better, and you have a lot of ways to do it. For best results, do all of them.

You can go to the Commander's Circle and enter your data (as much or as little as you are comfortable with) and perhaps find opponents near you. We are gaining new sign-in's every day, and since it's free you can try it every month or two and find out of somebody near you has signed in.

You can go to the Forum and find the area where local stores and groups post announcements and invitations and let people know you're around. How silly would you feel if you found out that the guy who you've been arguing with on the forum for years actually lives in your town. (That HAS happened.)

Feel free to go to your local store and ask them to let you post a notice looking for opponents. You could also run a demo of FEDERATION COMMANDER (or any of our games) and "grow your own" opponents. If anybody already plays the game you demo, they'll doubtless drop by just to swap phone numbers.

Many towns have community bulletin boards on the local cable company's "home" channel. These are variously free or cost just a couple of dollars. It's hit-and-miss, but you could get lucky. (When I commanded Company C of the 1-39 MPs, I gained a dozen new recruits in a year that came from cable TV.) You could also buy a cheap want ad in the newspaper or the free advertising newspaper (American's Want Ads or whatever yours is called) found in quickie marts.

The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to our Legacy site and look for the button that says Player Resources. Under that menu is a link for Starlist. Enter your data in the form, and you'll get a list of local players back. (This may take a day or two as it is done by hand.) Starlist is the most effective hunt for new players because the database has some five thousand players in it, far more than all of the other sources combined. The only drawback is that Starlist works with full information (name and address) and those who are seriously concerned about identity theft often find this uncomfortable. In all reality, however, Starlist would not give an identity thief any more information than your local phone book would, and if that's enough for those criminals to operate, they would be vastly more likely to use the phone book than to request a copy of Starlist.

The original website has a bulletin board system and the eighth item on the main menu is "seeking opponents". You can post a notice there (and search the previous postings). Again, you can post as much or as little information as you are comfortable with.

Many of those on Starlist and StarFleetGames.com/discus will be players of STAR FLEET BATTLES, but most of those can be convinced to play FEDERATION COMMANDER. Indeed, over half of the names on Starlist are people who quit playing STAR FLEET BATTLES for lack of opponents (or because SFB was too complex for them or their opponents) and most of those are ready recruits for the faster cleaner FEDERATION COMMANDER game system.

With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see the links list on our site).

If there is a game convention within driving distance, it's worth a trip to see if you might find someone who is also within driving distance. If there is a game club in your home town, or a store with a gaming area, go there and set up the game and wait for somebody to ask what it is. (Even better, take a friend who will play the game with you so you won't be bored.) If there is a star trek club in your home town, show them FEDERATION COMMANDER or Star Fleet Battle Force. There are people who have printed a card with the logo of one of our games and their Email address and left these in the windows of their cards who got Emails from other gamers in their home towns who were seeking opponents.

You can go always go to SFB Online and play FEDERATION COMMANDER on-line with live opponents from around the world for the princely sum of $5 per month. You might even stumble into somebody local.

There are probably more ways than this to find opponents, but unless you live in a cave somewhere, you can almost certainly find a new friend within a short while by trying these methods.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Steve Cole muses:

Just thinking to himself.

1. I have been enjoying the CHASING MUMMIES show with Zahi Hawass, the biggest buffoon in archaeology. Oh well, he has total power over Egyptian archaeology, so I guess people have to put up with him. He's probably a pretty good scientist, or was, but he seem to have totally gone showbiz. His television series seems fake, scripted, and "set up" from the get-go, with all of the surprising events (girl trapped inside pyramid, rescued by Zahi, in full view of cameramen who got to her first) planned well in advance. His amazing revelations are all stuff that's been well known for years. His amazing adventures amount to going to a dig site to see what people working for his underlings found last week.

2. Arizona has notified state workers that their health insurance cost will go up 37% because of the new health care law.

3. Why is the government ignoring "sanctuary cities" that break the immigration laws while suing the state that is trying to enforce the immigration laws? You'd almost think they don't WANT to enforce the laws, not that the previous administration enforced them either. Why are American citizens (even those with a Hispanic hyphen) opposing the enforcement of immigration laws?

4. Zahi Hawass closed the Great Pyramid because the humidity inside had grown too high, and was damaging the inscriptions, the graffiti, and even the stones themselves. Zahi, my man, get some plastic dish pans and some ten pound sacks of that white "desiccant" stuff that comes packed in just about everything, have some strong young archaeologists carry it into the pyramid, spread the pans around, empty one sack into each pan, and the problem should be solved in a week, and stay solved.

5. If China can block everyone in China from reaching websites with anti-Chinese stuff (and, just recently, from reaching porn sites), why can't the US block anyone in US from reaching those foreign websites with pirated files or viruses, or from reaching file-sharing databases that contain copyrighted materials? For that matter, if the Great Firewall of China can keep Chinese from reaching such sites, why can't the US build a Great Firewall of its own to stop SPAM?

6. Apparently, the current plan is for the Dems to vote on November 1st to extend the Bush tax cuts. This will be a jolt to the economy (in a good way) and save enough Demo seats that they'll still have marginal control. After the election, Obama can veto the extension and pass cap-and-tax in a lame duck session. If the Dems lose the House and/or Senate, Obama will run against the "do nothing Congress" in 2012 and return to power with a new mandate, giving us the public option and cap-and-tax then. Either way, it looks like a race to see if the USA or I will die first.

7. Charlie Rangle is (again) calling for a wartime draft (which isn't needed and wouldn't accomplish anything good) but he also wants anyone not drafted to do two years of work (at military draftee pay) for the Federal government. Oh well, his ethics trial should be much more fun.

8. To win without risk is to triumph without glory.

9. NASA says that asteroid RQ36 will hit the Earth in 172 years, and that it's big enough to wipe out five or six US states or maybe three or four European countries. Well, shucks, there goes the neighborhood, the dinosaurs are still dead, and we still have 1993TB and Apophis to deal with before then.

10. A printing company in Philadelphia has sent me a pile of stuff marketing themselves as the "Game Publisher's Printer" with very nice die-cut counters, maps, books, magazines, and so forth. We're such a tiny niche I cannot believe they went to the bother (they even sent a guy to Origins to hand out business cards) but I do appreciate it and may well do business with them.

Monday, August 16, 2010

This Week at ADB, Inc., 8-14 August 2010

Steve Cole reports:

The weather this week was hot (80s in the morning, 90s and sometimes 100s in the afternoon) but clouds on Friday cooled things off somewhat. The Spam Storm stayed fairly calm, less than 400 per day.

Steve Cole worked the whole week on PD Federation, finishing the page layout on Thursday and moving into the reports-and-fixes phase and ordering art from artists. On Tuesday, he and Joel got the newsletters sent out. On Wednesday, he did some Wall of Honor updates and had Joel post a JPG version of the rank insignia. He processed the reports on Star Fleet Rescue and got a new draft of the rules sent to the veteran playtesters. He also cleaned 50 old posts out of one of his BBS topics, and (with Jean's help) got a few of his medals added to his PHP sig file. He and Jean discussed PDF marketing plans.

Steven Petrick completed the 100th and last SSD for SFB Module Y3 and moved into completing the ship descriptions. He took a day off from that project to get CL#18 reformatted and back into print.

Leanna continued dealing with heavy orders, but got CL#18 reprinted, and got the Romulan ships for Starmada on e23. She completed the first of the FC ship card packs from Briefing #2 in the format needed by e23.

Mike Sparks got the orders out, and checked in the huge restock of miniatures. Joel helped him on restocking the inventory and kept the website updated.

Jean did the final bits of PD Federation and continued her new marketing duties. She reports that our page on Facebook is up to 433 friends.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Free stuff for FEDERATION COMMANDER players!

Steve Cole writes:

Some people do not realize that you can download what amounts to a free copy of the FEDERATION COMMANDER game (well, enough of the game to play a few battles). Go to www.StarFleetGames.com/fc and you will find a lot of stuff you can download. Some of those downloads include:

o The free First Missions packet (demo version of FEDERATION COMMANDER).

o Turn gauges and firing arcs for the tabletop rules.

o Sample Ship Cards.

o Wallpapers of game covers.

o Frequently asked questions.

o Information for retailers.

o The original theatrical trailer (ok, not that, but it WAS the original flyer handed out at trade shows).

o Notes from the game designer (Steve Cole) on what parts of the older game STAR FLEET BATTLES we decided to include in FEDERATION COMMANDER.

But that's just a start. If you join the Commander's Circle, which is free, you can download the monthly Communique which includes scenarios, tactics, and new ships. You can also access a database of FEDERATION COMMANDER players looking for new opponents (you!)

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Steve Cole reports:

I keep seeing these articles in TV Guide about what shows some celebrity watches. Well, I don't care what any celebrity watches, but I'm sure you all care what I watch, so this is my review of the "summer" television shows:

BURN NOTICE: I like this show, but I still have most of last season unwatched on my Tivo. I gotta catch up on it because it is pretty good.

CLOSER: The title refers to a LA deputy police chief who closes tough cases. It is said that lead actress Kyra Sedgewick wanted to be in a show where "the smartest person in the room has a southern accent" and this qualifies. She cracks difficult cases, while dealing with her own demons, as good as anyone.

COLONY: This is a unrealistic reality show. Seven people (I'm sure more will be added in a future episode) are put into an area to build a colony and rebuild society. The scenario is that a virus killed 99% of the human race, and what's left of the US government is gathering up the survivors and putting small groups of them (with a week of food, and no weapons) into various areas they cannot defend. (This area is infested with a local gang of at least twenty people who attack and loot the colony.) The premise is good, but the scenario is nonsense, which makes the show disappointing to watch. I know what I'd do in a real situation, and I know what I'd do on the show, and they're very different things (but both involve smashing the head of a raider with a baseball bat).

COVERT AFFAIRS: Ok, it's a romp that has very little to do with real spies, but its fun to watch eye candy smacking people. It has helped me get over my withdrawal symptoms from ALIAS.

DEADLIEST CATCH: I continue to watch and love the show about fishing boats in the Bering Sea (which has now ended for this season), but the loss of Captain Phil Harris tore my heart out. I hope his boys manage to keep their ship, Cornelia Marie, and keep it at sea.

DEADLIEST WARRIOR: Other than the overblown narrator, I like the show. It's about computer-generated matchups between warriors who have never fought (Alexander the Great versus Attila the Hun, Taliban versus IRA) and some that have (CIA versus KGB). They have real guys (or descendants of real guys) from the protagonist teams demonstrate various weapons and trash-talk the other experts. Many of the weapons selections leave me wondering "who thought that was a good idea?" I was proud to see the Navy SEALs beat the Israelis, but I have my doubts that a Comanche can actually beat a Mongol.

DESIGN STAR: Another of Leanna's shows that I watch, but I don't mind this one quite so much as others. A bunch of interior decorators are taken to New York (as opposed to somewhere they should be sent, say, Pluto) and given a series of challenges, sometimes in teams and sometimes alone. They might, for example, decorate an apartment. In the end, the winner gets his own TV show for a year, a show Leanna will watch but which I will not.

DUAL SURVIVAL: I love this show, as I love most but not all "survival" shows. I thought what I was going to like was the constant war between the Army Ranger and the Bush Hippie, but they both seem to have grown to like each other and respect each other's abilities. They each approach a given situation from a different angle with the same goal, and I'm not sure either one could survive alone.

EUREKA: Now in the third or fourth season, they have re-launched this show, after an accident slightly changed the timeline (and the present). This meant that a scientist from the 1940s (played by Gaius Baltar) got sent to 2010 and he has (of course) a secret agenda. The reasonably intelligent sheriff has to keep order in a town inhabited by people who all have multiple Ph.Ds and IQs over 200, meaning that the one normal guy is the freak and the dummy.

GOOD GUYS: A cop show, and a buddy show, with a twist. Dan (who saved the governor's son decades ago and cannot be fired, even if he's the worst cop in Dallas) is partnered with a young eager detective (the son of Tom Hanks) but they get the least-important cases (broken street lights, damaged vending machines, and so forth). These unimportant cases always lead them to the biggest case of the month. I've been to Dallas a dozen times and never heard anybody with the over-the-top Texas accent used on this show. It is, however, very cleverly written and the girl DA (the actress played a demon on a canceled show I used to watch) is to die for. She can prosecute me any time.

HELL'S KITCHEN: If I could cook, I'd be Gordon Ramsay, but then, if Hitler could cook, HE'D be Gordon Ramsay. I think that the show is well run, even if I cannot eat 90% of what they cook (due to my allergies). What I love is that Ramsay makes up the rules as he goes along, sometimes eliminating a player who wasn't nominated, and (one recent week) not eliminating anyone because they all worked together so well.

HAVEN: A new show, about a small town in Maine where strange paranormal stuff happens (and nobody seems to think it's a reason to move to another town). I love the FBI agent (as long as she doesn't tie her hair behind her head) and Leanna likes the brooding cop and bad-boy ship captains who are competing for her attention.

ICE ROAD TRUCKERS: One of my favorites (I seem to have so many of those), not least because it has Lisa (Sugar Britches), the prettiest girl on television. If you don't know, this is about guys (and Lisa) driving big trucks in Alaska. (The earliest seasons were in Canada). The road to Pruhoe Bay is only open in winter (since it's a dirt road and is only drivable when frozen solid). It's narrow, twisting, with lots of steep hills and lots and lots of trucks driving very fast. Throw in nighttime driving, blizzards, and, well, it's just fun.

LEVERAGE: A group of bored criminals (a thief, a con artist, a computer hacker, a martial arts guy, and an insurance investigator) go legit, and conduct Mission Impossible style attacks on people who are still criminals (such as crooked politicians, or a record producer who steals the songs of young singers through goofy contracts). Some of it doesn't make sense, but the women are nice to look at, the muscle guy used to be on Angel and Buffy, and Timothy Hutton keeps Leanna's interest.

MAN, WOMAN, WILD: The husband is a US Army Green Beret, and the wife is a British blonde reporter who is afraid of snakes. The producers drop them in strange areas and tell them to survive and self-rescue. It's kind of an excuse for the survival expert (hubby) to explain outdoor things in detail to an intelligent city girl, such as why he had to wrestle a crocodile, kill it, and cook it. She takes it in good stride and even killed a possum. This is one of those "presented situation survival" shows in that there is a camera crew standing there (with guns in case a real lion shows up or the crocodile gets a grip on hubby's leg) and instead of the show being about what they really find, it's about what might logically be found. (The producers go find THAT and put it in front of the couple so they can "demonstrate" how to deal with whatever it is.)

NUMB3RS: Ok, this is not a summer show, and it's been on for five years, but Leanna and I never watched it before and are now working our way through rented DVDs. The hero FBI agent has a brother who is a 200 IQ math professor and predicts criminal behavior through equations. I mostly watch it for the cute FBI girl who used to be on SLIDERS.

PROJECT RUNWAY: How many seasons is this thing now, eight? Anyway, this is a reality competition with a dozen of so fashion designers and dress makers, who have to create a new outfit every week, sometimes in teams and sometimes alone. There are real problems for designers who don't know how to sew; you would think anyone selected for the show would learn how before arriving. (But then, you'd think that anybody going on Survivor would learn how to make fire.)

RIZZOLI AND ISLES: A fairly new show, with two good looking women (a detective and a coroner) cracking cases while dealing with their own "issues" most of which revolve around their failure to get quality dates with hot guys. I don't think that this show will survive, but it's fun enough. I just wish that the much better Women's Murder Club had survived. At least it's good to see Kate from NCIS back on TV.

ROYAL PAINS: Your typical medical mystery disease of the week show. The doctor and his sexy Indian (as in India, not Native American) assistant try to figure out what disease some rich person from the Hamptons has while the doctor's idiot brother and criminal con man father cause trouble. It would be a much better show if the brother and father got eaten by the pet shark that their landlord keeps in the basement.

THROUGH THE WORMHOLE: This is a vehicle for Morgan Freeman, but it has some good science. I was shocked and intrigued that they had actually found the black hole at the center of our galaxy and the stars that orbit so very fast around it.

TOP SHOT: A good show with some very good shooting (and since I shoot at the high-expert level, but not good enough to be on this show, it is something for me to aspire to), but there is a built-in fatal flaw. Some of these guys are experts with things other than guns (bows, crossbows, axes, knives) and making the gun experts shoot those weapons is just silly. I hated that Andre was eliminated because he didn't know how to play poker, when Brad (who can't hit the broad side of a barn) stayed around two weeks too long because he manipulated the vote on elimination.

WAREHOUSE THIRTEEN: This is one of Leanna's favorites, and I watch it because she does. I just don't like any of the people (except for the young tech girl). I have loved every role that CCH Pounder has had, except this one. The premise is that there is a government warehouse full of things like the Ark of the Covenant and Secret Service agents who protect the warehouse and gather more artifacts for it.

WHALE WARS: Another of my favorite shows, although this season seems to have been something of a bust, with almost no whales saved, at least not so far. (The previews says it will get better.) If I win the Powerball lottery, someday, I may buy them a faster ship, maybe something with 40mm autocannons. Or torpedoes.

WHITE COLLAR: I love this show, but want to see more of Tiffani Thiessen. The buddy-concept of Peter and Neil is really great, and I love Neal's friend-attorney. Neil is a professional con man, art forget, and thief who is out on parole to help the FBI catch other con men, art forgers, and thieves.

UNIVERSE: This is an astronomy show, and I love those. I am not sure if this is the third or fourth season. Each episode (a season has maybe ten or twelve episodes) reviews some astronomical phenomenon, or planet, or something. The computer graphics are stunning, and I've learned a lot about the universe, although they don't seem to know some stuff that Morgan Freeman knows.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Give a Ship to Me

If you can assign, I'm the first in line.
Admiral, I'm still free, give a ship to me.
If you pick me, let me know. Gonna be so near.
If you've no one else to pick, I'll be over here.

If you're all alone, when the ships have flown,
Admiral, I'm still free, give a ship to me.
Gonna do my very best, and it ain't no lie.
If you put me to the test, if you'll let me try.
Give a ship to me. Give a ship to me.

Give me a frigate, give me a cruiser, as long as I command it.
I can pass a test. Give me a cruiser. You know I will be found fit.
Cause you know I've got, so much that's right on the spot.
When I dream I command for you, it's glory.

You want me to leave your sight, afraid I'll lose a fight
But I think you know, that I can't let go.

If you're all alone, when the ships have flown,
Admiral, I'm still free, give a ship to me.
Gonna do my very best, and it ain't no lie.
If you put them to the test, if you'll let me try.
Give a ship to me. Give a ship to me.

Oh you can take some time, Admiral.
I'm in no hurry. Know I'm gonna get picked.
You don't want to trust me, Admiral don't worry,
I ain't gonna fail you.
Let me tell you now, my skill is good enough,
and you well know I'm tough, I'm ready!

You want me to leave your sight, afraid I'll lose a fight
But I think you know, that I can't let go.



Gonna do my very best, and it ain't no lie.
If you put me to the test, if you'll let me try.
Admiral, I'm still free, give a ship to me.

Parody copyright (c) 2010 Stephen V. Cole

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Stephen V. Cole writes:

Have you ever heard of Cafe Press? Cafe Press is a website where you can open up a free online shop and promote products on your website. Cafe Press creates and sells products with designs provided by various companies. So upon learning about Cafe Press, Leanna set up an account and we have uploaded several designs for T-shirts, coffee mugs, Christmas ornaments, mousepads, etc.

See www.CafePress.com/starfleetuniv for these items. And take a look at our new I-heart-Klingons T-shirt!

If you have any questions or comments or would like to see something on Cafe Press, let me know and I will try to set it up for you! Email me at: Design@starfleetgames.com

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Steve Cole muses:

Just thinking to himself.

1. I get requests all the time to join somebody on Napster, Linked In, Facebook, or whatever. I never do this. I have enough trouble answering all of my email and reading the two forums, and do not need another place to check for communications. Besides that, my ancient Mac-9 won't talk to any of those sites and it's not worth the bother to walk down the hall to check the PC. I don't have time to "play" on those sites. The one time I got talked into one, I got nothing but prostitutes wanting to be my "friend".

2. I was both surprised and pleased that the Spartans won the Ancient round of DEADLIEST WARRIOR, defeating the ninja and the samurai.

3. It's annoying that LAW & ORDER CRIMINAL INTENT gets no network respect, being shuffled off to USA Network. Saffron Burroughs is one of the greatest actresses on television. That guy with her gets tiresome, however. I keep expecting him to program an alien computer on a UFO.

4. The bad side of print on demand is that we're working on the Origins product rulebooks right up to three days before we leave. When we had to send books to Dallas it took two weeks to get them back and that gave us two weeks of relative calm before the show. (Now, it takes half an hour for Leanna to bring me a draft copy, so there is no calm at all.)

5. Arizona installed 76 camera systems to send tickets to speeders, generating 700,000 tickets per year. They recently abandoned the operation because 70% of people who were mailed a ticket simply ignored it, and there was no practical way to force them to pay.

6. TOP SHOT is an interesting reality show. I am an expert combat shooter, but not an expert target shooter. (I shoot to kill, not to score points. Last time I shot for military qualification, I got kill shots on 43 out of 50 targets, and wounded the other seven.) Steven Petrick and I both want to try the Zipline of Death. Those man-sized targets are my kind of shooting. Trying to hit a bull's eye is beyond me, but I can hit a man at 50 feet with my Beretta, and that's the only thing I worry about.

7. I like the new cop show GOOD GUYS but I have lived in Texas for my entire life without ever having heard anyone with those accents. Even so, I love the demon girl from REAPER. She can prosecute me any time. The show is one of the most cleverly written on the air.

8. Time is running out to raise the $15 million needed to preserve the battleship Iowa. Only $4 million has been raised, most of that the original government grant. If the rest is not raised in two years, the ship may be scrapped.

9. Article 4 section 4 of the US Constitution says that the Feds must protect every state from invasion. How's that working out for you guys?

10. People seem to have the opinion that the Israeli blockade of Gaza is keeping out everything (including food and medical supplies). It's not, and it never has. Israel just inspects shipments from abroad to remove weapons that Hamas would use to kill Israelis. This makes President Obama's call for the blockade to be adjusted so that food gets in and weapons don't get in (exactly what is happening now) is just political theater. By the way, Israel provides more food and medicine to Gaza that the rest of the world combined, something nobody notices.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Steve Cole reports:

We have released this month's issue of the Hailing Frequencies newsletter and this month's Communique. The newsletter has the latest information on release schedules and company news, as well as lots of other useful content. It also has links to the new Communique, a free PDF newsletter which is full of good things for Federation Commander players, including new ships, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules. The newsletter also has links to the most recent Star Fleet Alerts, the press releases that tell your store when to expect new products.

Monday, August 09, 2010

This Week at ADB, Inc., 1-7 August 2010

Steve Cole reports:

The weather this week was hot (80s in the morning 90s and sometimes 100s in the afternoon) but rain on Thursday and Friday cooled things off somewhat. The Spam Storm stayed fairly calm, less than 500 per day.

Steve Cole and Joel Shutts finished the Wall of Honor project and started making the first of many updates and corrections. Steve Cole, Joel, and Steven Petrick played the first playtest round of the new Star Fleet Rescue game and sent it to a playtester for preliminary review. Joel's mother, in town for a few days, visited the office on Tuesday. Steve Cole sent the draft of Communique #56 out to the staff. Most of Customer Service Wednesday was spent on the Wall of Honor, but SVC did do the Frax counters that had been requested. SVC finished reviewing the Apple Store Contract, which is ridiculously tedious and complex and will require us to do a new contract with game developers. He finally got to do serious work on PD Federation, but immediately ran into a list of "final files" which Jean has finished but hasn't sent yet. Jean is sending those now. For various reasons (none of which are Jean's fault) this product will probably slide a week or two from it's original release date.

Jean Sexton, taking seriously her new responsibilities as Director of Marketing, got a Facebook button put on the front page of the website, hounded Steve Cole to write more blogs, started a player contact area on Facebook, opened new player contact topics on the BBS, and managed to force a press release out of Steve Cole. A webstore that ripped off our shopping cart photos agreed to stop selling at a discount if they could keep using the photos. Mike Sparks convince Steve Cole to sit down and do two more videos; Jean demanded that the tablecloth be pulled tighter to eliminate wrinkles.

The project to put more stuff on e23 pushed forward. With all of the Captain's Log Supplemental Files on the site, the process to select and prepare other documents is proceeding. Leanna got the Romulan Armada files uploaded, but the ship cards won't appear on the list until next week. Steve Cole sat down on Tuesday with Steven Petrick to figure out how to divide the Briefing #2 files into six packs of twelve ships each, and prepared the necessary cover pages for them, and Leanna expects to upload them next week. Steve Cole finished the catalog pages which will be added to every e23 product.

Dale McKee began the final proofread of the Federation Admiral draft, to see if it has unanswered questions before Steve Cole starts formatting it.

Steven Petrick reports that 79 SSDs are finished for Y3.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


Stephen V. Cole writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download FEDERATION COMMANDER wallpaper.

Klingon Border, Romulan Border, Klingon Attack, and Romulan Attack are currently available in the following sizes : 800x600, 1024x768, and 1280x1024.


If there are any other sizes or any other images that you would like to see turned into wallpaper, please feel free to write me at graphics@StarFleetGames.com and I will get it set up for you.

Saturday, August 07, 2010


Steve Cole writes:

I constantly see things on industry mailing lists and in my Email where people want advice on entering the game business. The best advice I have is my free book which you can find at www.StarFleetGames.com/book as a nice multi-chapter PDF.

In one recent case, an individual wrote to say: "I just lost my job and have decided to be a game designer for a living. I need a stable income of $4,000 a month. How long would it take me to get there? Three months? Six?"

I laughed and cried at the same time. For one thing, I don't make $4,000 a month now and I've been in the industry over 30 years. (A few years I have made that much, barely, but not in the current market.) The sad fact is that except for the lucky three or four, game designers won't ever make that much. Worse, you probably cannot make a living as an independent game designer at all, since game publishing companies were (99% of the time) created to publish the owner's games because no other company would publish them.

In another case from some time ago (I'm going to blur some facts here so that nobody can tell who I'm talking about), a young game enthusiast decided to quit his day job and focus his full time efforts on game design and publishing. His wife said that she would allow this only if he "brought home" a paycheck of a defined amount each month. He had some money from an inheritance which was separate property and his wife allowed that he could use this. Well, he went through the nest egg, borrowed money from savings without telling his wife, maxed out the credit card he got for the business, and then got two more cards (those offers in the mail) without telling his wife and maxed them out. All the time (his company lasted 18 months and did a dozen products) he was "bringing home" the required paycheck. His company was making a profit beyond expenses, but not enough to cover the paycheck, but the paycheck continued because (a) his wife insisted and (b) he was sure he would start making more sales any time. One of the credit cards was a $5,000 cash advance spent on advertising (which produced few if any new sales). Every month, he wrote that paycheck but came up short elsewhere. He had established credit with the printers and with the companies that sold him advertising pages so he ended up deeply in debt to the printer and to advertising publishers. Worse, his first product (which sold well enough) ran out of print, but it was going to cost $20K to reprint it and the dwindling rate of sales (nowhere near as good as it had been 18 months earlier) would not support the debt load, but he "had" to reprint it to avoid looking like a company on the way out. Finally, with no more places to borrow money and creditors threatening legal action, he took the case to his wife for a home equity loan. She, of course, had no clue that his company was $40K in debt (for which he was personally liable) or that most of the family savings account was gone. It's a wonder she didn't kill him or leave him, but she did force him out of the game business immediately. He sold out for what he could get and applied that money to the debts. Moral of the story, if you are married, make your wife a part of every business decision and do not keep secrets from her about family money.

In another case (actually, there are four or five of these I have seen, all about the same), an enthusiastic game designer who knew nothing about the industry but was sure his game was the next big thing got a home equity loan, printed thousands of copies of his game, and THEN (and only then) asked other game companies how to contact stores and wholesalers to sell his game. He had no clue what size the market was (few games sell over a couple of thousand copies) or who the wholesalers were or what it would take to get them to buy (some now demand that you pay them $500 for advertising before they will carry your game) or even what the discount structure was (which meant that his cost per game was fairly close to the 40% of the retail price he had printed on the games). Moral of the story, learn as much as you can about the industry before you spend a dime getting into it. GO READ MY BOOK FIRST.

I see lots of gamers who think that running a retail store, and on-line discount store, or a game publishing company involves low work and high reward. It does not. If it did, a lot more people would be in this business.

Friday, August 06, 2010


FED2: As the World HETs. Dave Morse stars.
KLG3: Iron Chef. Kemmerell yells "Bam!". He does it a lot.
ROM4: Gladiator Pilot. Rypeckius, a disgraced pilot, battles his way to a showdown with the Praetor.
KZN5: Dust in the WYN. Historical documentary. Garth Getgen narrates the story of the Usurper's well-deserved death. Three hours.
GOR6: Guiding Plasma. Soap opera, Jeff Williams stars.
THL7: Extreme Engineering. Moving a planet.
ORN8: Gorn in 60 Seconds. Starship thieves take a dare.
HYD9: The Great Gatling. Classic movie, 4 hours.
AND10: To be announced. 4 hours.
LYR11: The Lyran King. Betrayed by his uncle, a young Lyran prince struggles to regain his father's throne.
ISC13: NYPPD BLUE. Two hard-edged policemen try to keep the peace between seven savage gangs that refuse to help themselves; stars Ryan Peck and Chris Fant.
CAR19: Carnivon Idol. Contestants howl at the moon while the losers are savagely torn to pieces by the judges.

CBS1: Survivor: The Hydran-Lyran Border. Host Robert Cole.
FED2: The Romulan Strain. A team of scientists on an isolated base study a Romulan biological weapon while time runs out on Earth. Mike Raper stars.
KLG3: 18. ESS Agent Jark Kauer rescues his daughter from a strip club while foiling a coup against the Emperor.
ROM4: Who Wants to Be a Centurion? Xander hosts.
GOR6: Honey, I Enveloped the Kids. Movie; PG.
THL7: Pinwheel of Fortune. Alex Deridex hosts.
ORN8: Orion's 11. Looting the casinos on Planet Vegas.
LYR11: History of the Civil Wars, Part 23.
ISC13: The Magnificent Seven. A team of mercenaries tries to protect a village that won't help itself.

CBS1: That Y170s Show.
FED2: The Pelican Brief. Two lawyers search for the truth in the wreckage of a Romulan minesweeper as the countdown to war continues. Stars Owen Riley and Paul Scott.
KLG3: The Taming of the Crew. Kommander Konglet orders random executions to improve morale.
ROM4: Remus and Andro. Movie starring Nicholias Cage and Richio Glover; two unlikely neighbors share posh apartments on Remus on the eve of an Andromedan attack.
GOR6: Gornasaur. Walt Disney's 2332 classic.
THL7: Web of the Spider. Movie, 2 hours.
ORN8: The Great Convoy Robbery. Documentary.
LYR11: Wyn, Lose, or Die. Game show.
ISC13: Tombstone. Three tough brothers try to keep the peace in a small town that refuses to help itself.

PBS1: Real Life. As the gang prepares steaks for dinner, somebody asks the Lyran if he's seen the Hydran recently.
FED2: Chicken Hawk Down. A dozen Romulan soldiers try to fight their way to safety after their ship crashes on Somalius, but can manage only a humiliating rout.
KLG3: The Taming of the Crew. Kommander Konglet whips the crew into a frenzy.
ROM4: Different Cloaks. The adorable raggamuffin who moved in with the senator asks "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Praetor?" touching off a Romulan civil war.
KZN5: Beauty and the Beast. A Kzinti noble falls in love with an Earth girl, who starts pumping iron in her prison cell.
GOR6: Gorn Storm Rising. A young Romulan officer discovers an impending Gorn attack, but nobody listens.
ORN8: CSI Vulcan. Investigators make logical deductions.
LYR11: Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright. Disaster movie.
ISC13: Last Man Standing. Bruce Willis tries to stop a fight between two outlaw gangs that refuse to help themselves.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


Steve Cole reports:

On July 2nd, 1863, Robert E. Lee launched a massive "rolling attack" on the Union lines south of Gettysburg. His troops started from the south end, and one brigade after another was thrown against the union line. While the Confederates barely matched the Union forces in numbers, there was no doubt (then or now) that, on that day and for the previous two years, Lee's infantry was far better at the business of war than their northern brothers. Everywhere along the line, Lee's troops made ground, driving the Union forces back along wide stretches of the line. Major General Meade, commanding the Union Army of the Potomac, was quickly in trouble. He sent all of his reserves to the southern end of his line to prevent the rebels from crushing it, then began pulling troops from the north end of his line to reinforce the center. As brigade after brigade of southern troops smashed into his line, Meade knew he was in trouble, and he had already directed his cavalry to establish a screen behind his Army through which his defeated infantry could retreat. Meade knew that the next brigade or two that attacked would hit an empty spot on his line, a spot stripped of troops to save the crumbling left wing. He also knew that when that happened, the shattered remnants of First and Eleventh Corps (defeated on the previous day and now holding Cemetery Hill and the area around it), would be trapped and destroyed by the Confederate divisions of Generals Pender and Rhodes. Those divisions were clearly ready to attack in turn. Lee was within an hour of having the "victory on northern soil" that he so desperately wanted.

Then, something went wrong with the Confederate attack -- and it just stopped. The two rebel brigades aimed at the empty spot (those of Brigadiers Carnot Posey and Billy Mahone) simply did not attack. Meade did not know why the attack stopped until months later, when he read stolen Confederate reports.

Carnot Posey was the next in line to attack, and by the plan, his troops were to step off just minutes after the brigade on their right. They did not, for the simple reason that they had already used up their energy, ammunition, and water supplies in a four-hour battle with a hundred Union skirmishes who held the Bliss farmhouse and its nearby barns and sheds. The rebels had known the Yankees were there, and Major General Anderson (Posey's boss) had told him to chase the skirmishes away hours before. This should have involved a simple bayonet charge by one of Posey's four regiments, an action that would have taken only a few minutes. (The skirmishers were not there to hold the farm, just to screen the main Union line, and would have retreated without fuss if a determined attack had appeared. This was just the way such things were done.) Instead, Posey sent only part of a regiment, and instead of launching an attack, they just flopped down a couple of hundred yards from the farm and began exchanging sporadic rifle fire. The Yankees in the farm buildings saw no serious attack coming their way, and so they stayed behind cover and fired off enough shots to let the rebels know they were still there. Over the next two hours, Posey fed more and more companies into the skirmish, but never took personal charge or demanded that his colonels launch a spirited assault. The skirmishing went on and on, and by the time it was their turn for the main attack, Posey's brigade was "used up" in every sense of the word. It simply wasn't able to attack.

The next brigade in line was that of Billy Mahone, a rebel officer with an interesting reputation for alternating episodes of laziness and aggression. July 2nd, 1863, was a lazy day for Billy Mahone, and he apparently decided that since Posey did not attack, there was no reason for him to do so either. (Historians assume that if Posey had gone forward, Mahone would have followed his orders.) He even bluntly refused a direct order from Major General Anderson (sent by way of a courier) to get moving. Anderson himself was nowhere in sight, and spent the day having a picnic lunch with his staff behind Seminary Ridge, out of sight of the battle. (Had Anderson done his job instead of just assuming that his brigadiers were grownups capable of carrying out orders, he would have been on the front line, telling Posey to stop skirmishing and run the Yankees out of the farmhouse, and telling Mahone to attack on time.)

There was one final chance for the Confederacy. Major General Dorsey Pender commanded the division on Anderson's left, and Pender was ready to go with his attack, which would have (no doubt about it) destroyed the Union's First Corps. (After this, Rhode's division would have destroyed Eleventh Corps, and Meade would have left the field leaving half of his Army killed or captured.) Pender was anxious to attack, and was dumbfounded when Mahone did not move. In those days, of course, there were no radios. Pender could not call Lee to see if the plan had changed, and could not confer with Mahone or Anderson. Pender could have attacked on his own, but without cover on his right flank (where Mahone should have been) Pender knew that his attack could not succeed. Leaping on his horse, Pender rode like the wind to find Mahone and order him to attack. No doubt, Mahone would not have refused an order from a two-star general, not when it was delivered face to face, and Pender (no doubt) would have relieved Mahone of command on the spot had the order been refused. But Pender never reached Mahone, as he was caught by a random Union cannonball, tearing off his leg. (Pender died shortly thereafter.) In those days, the concept of a "second in command" did not exist, on either side. If a leader fell in battle, his place was taken by the senior of his subordinates, a process that (without radios) easily took an hour. (Someone had to notice that the leader was down, then go find the next senior subordinate -- if he still lived -- and tell him of his "promotion". That senior subordinate then had to turn over his own unit to his own senior subordinate, and then go to some spot where he could command the larger unit.) Today, of course, a battalion or brigade commander has two deputies (the executive officer and operations officer, either of which can take over) and a division or higher commander actually has three (four if you count the artillery brigade commander, who is probably hanging around headquarters because his own battalions are assigned to brigades). Without a commander, Pender's Division went nowhere, and Rhodes (still waiting for Pender to attack) watched the sun go down without realizing that it was setting on the Confederacy as well as July 2nd).
So, because he didn't "get on with the dirty work," Posey frittered away his brigade. Because Mahone was in a lazy mood, he did not attack. Because Anderson was not supervising his subordinates, neither of them got the job done, and Lee's plan for the day (a plan that, no question, would have worked) collapsed.

That empty spot where Posey and Mahone's attack should have gone on July 2nd was where Picket's Division went on July 3rd. Meade, being no idiot, had plugged the gap by then.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


We have, for many years, given military-style awards to staffers, playtesters, and others who did something to support the game systems and the company. We have grouped all of the awards we have issued onto the WALL OF HONOR at this web page:

We have done this for many reasons. First and foremost, to thank those who have supported us for many years. Game companies are small things, and only survive by the hard work of many volunteers, who give up their free time to make your free time more enjoyable.

Second, we want to encourage more people to support us by various means: playtesting, rules development discussions, submitting new ships and scenarios, writing fiction, conducting demos in their local game stores, playing our games and running events for our games at conventions, defending the forum from spambots, and helping to alert us to copyright violators.

Third, we want to encourage those who have earned ribbons to broaden their horizons and earn as many different kinds of awards (and colors of campaign ribbons) as possible. Every product line has its own color: dark blue for Federation Commander, light blue for Star Fleet Battles, red for Federation & Empire, steel for Starmada, green for Captain's Log, gold for Prime Directive, and many others. "Coolness" is defined not just by lots of ribbons, but by lots of kinds of ribbons, and the better ribbons (with a diamond, cross, or star in the middle).

There are many kinds of awards: medals of various types, honor bars (for conventions, demonstration games, and so forth), campaign ribbons, and other things. You should seek out chances to earn as many different kinds of awards as possible. Over time, you can work your way up from the pages with a dozen or more players to you own individual page in the HONORED INDIVIDUALS section. That's where we go to fill openings for staff officers, who have the best chance to earn the best awards.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Many people do not know that you can play FEDERATION COMMANDER on-line in real time against live opponents.

Eight years ago, www.SFBonline.com was created to provide players of STAR FLEET BATTLES with an on-line gaming experience. It was a smash hit as hundreds of gamers joined the battles. Tournaments and other competitions, plus general opening gaming, have gone on around the clock since then.

This successful operation has now been expanded to include FEDERATION COMMANDER!

Now you can play with real live human (not to mention Klingon, Romulan, Kzinti, Gorn, Tholian, Orion, and other) opponents all over the world in real time 24 hours a day! The computer automates many functions and acts as a friendly assistant for mundane chores.

For the modest subscription fee of less than $6 a month, you have access to all of the ships in the FEDERATION COMMANDER game system as well as new ships still in playtest and development. The Java Runtime system is compatible with Windows and Macintosh systems.

Never worry about a lack of opponents. Never worry about opponents who don't show up for games day because of silly reasons like family reunions or their own weddings. Don't be cut off from your regular gaming group while on vacations or business trips.

Even better, you can join in on-line tournaments and campaigns, and your victories will add up to a higher and higher average score!

The system also allows you to chat with friends, taunt your enemies, and watch other players fight their own savage battles. (Why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from someone else's?) This "observer" system allows players of either game to learn the ins and outs of the other game before deciding to invest time and money in it.

So come to www.SFBonline.com right away. You can even fly the Federation CA or Klingon D7 as a free trial, or watch any game in play. Legendary SFB aces and new FEDERATION COMMANDER aces strut their stuff in combat arenas all the time, and you can learn from the best.

Monday, August 02, 2010

This Week at ADB, Inc., 25-31 July 2010

Steve Cole reports:

The weather this week was warm (80s in the morning 90s and sometimes 100s in the afternoon) and clear. The Spam Storm stayed fairly calm, less than 500 per day.

The week always starts with Jean's memo about what we're doing for blogs this week. Between the canned blogs, the Friday Funnies, and the "this week" blog, we usually have to create one or two new ones.

Steve Cole and Joel Shutts spent a lot of time this week producing the new Walls of the Honored on the website, which is 80 pages of individual and group medals, awards, campaign ribbons, and so forth. That project should go live tomorrow.

Steve Cole worked this week on the Battlestations contract, the Apple Store contract, tracking down the BCH cards, Star Fleet Marines, the Walls of the Honored, PD Federation, quality control checks on 1400 map panels, and other projects. Steve has actually been feeling much better (despite his mysteriously low blood pressure) and did several hours of heavy manual labor in the yard and garden.

Customer Request Wednesday went well: Will McCammon was given missing ribbons. Matthew Lawson did a demo. Somebody asked us to sell the Frax stuff from Captain's Log on e23 and I mused that it might make a twelve-ship product including high-resolution cards and the Frax rules. The Frax BB ship card got done.

Steven Petrick continued working on Module Y3, and now has 66 of the SSDs finished.

Leanna began the PDF sales project by sending the CL#41 Supplemental File to e23.

Mike Sparks finished checking in the huge shipments of minis needed for Border Box #10 and to hold us until Bruce finishes his six-week bicycle pilgrimage.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


Steve Cole thinks out loud:

I don't know, and neither does anybody else, but they won't admit it. There is no real evidence that the workers were slaves, although one wonders if, 4500 years ago, the distinction between an out-of-work farmer being given "three meals and a place to sleep" for a day's work and a slave (working a full day and being fed and housed) made any real difference. Tradition assumes that they were slaves (traditions dating from centuries after pyramid construction, at a time when slavery was common), and modern archaeologists insist that they were not. I suspect that this has more to do with what archaeologists want to believe about that time period than anything anyone can prove.

The theory that they could not have been slaves is based on three known facts, but all of those facts are subject to interpretations.

First, even high-ranking workers (found in tombs near the pyramids) have stress fractures in their bones, indicating heavy manual labor. The theory goes that the vast bulk of workers could not have been slaves if the overseers were working just as hard. Maybe, or maybe that was just what the job called for. Perhaps the high-ranking overseers worked just as hard, but they doubtless got paid and fed better. Did the lower-ranking workers get paid at all?

Second, there are hundreds of tombs of people buried in the shadow of the pyramid. Why would slaves be allowed such a privilege? Well, who says it was a privilege? Maybe the king wanted his servants nearby. Also, it is estimated that 25,000 people worked on the pyramid, but only a few hundred are buried there. Obviously, the lower-ranking workers (slaves?) were not given such burials.

Third, there is graffiti inside the pyramid referring to the "gang of Khufu" and other work gangs. Ok, why does the fact that the workers were organized into gangs mean they were not slaves? Why does the fact that at least one of them knew how to write mean that the other members of the "gang" were not illiterate peasants or slaves?

Can we not just say "we don't know" about this one? What is the actual definition of slavery? Well, other than the "being property of someone", a slave is an unpaid worker who is not free to leave and find other work. If you were a farmer in Egypt you only worked so many months a year (due to the Nile flood cycles) so during the off months you sat idle, and either ate food you had stored, or you starved. If the king said you could work on his pyramid for three meals and a place to sleep, maybe you really had no choice? If you had no choice, were you any better than a slave?