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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

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 for Prime Directive PD20 and PD20M, Jean Sexton for GURPS Prime Directive, Richard Sherman for Star Fleet Battle Force, and Andy Vancil for Star Fleet Battles.

Frank Brooks runs the play-by-email system as a volunteer. Paul Franz charges barely enough for the online game system (for SFB and FC) to pay the server costs. Tenneshington Decals does made-to-order decals for our Starline miniatures and is run by two of our fans: Will McCammon and Tony Thomas.

Federation & Empire would not exist without Chuck Strong (a retired 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 and volunteers who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including John Berg, Howard Bampton, and Lucky Coleman (Galactic Conquest campaign); Daniel Kast (Klingon Armada); and John Sickels, Tony Thomas, James Goodrich, Mike West, James Kerr, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive). Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each one of them. Sometimes our volunteers become part of our staff; Jean Sexton started out as a volunteer proofreader.

Added to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month, by email or BBS or Forum or our page on Facebook, 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.

Many years ago, we began awarding medals, ribbons, and other "decorations" to staffers and others who contributed to each product, and some other projects. These awards not only recognize those who contributed to the various projects, but encouraged others to begin making their contributions to future projects. We have created the Wall of Honor at http://starfleetgames.com/ArtGallery/Wall%20of%20Honor.shtml. This is a tribute to over 30 years of volunteer work. We hope you visit it to say thanks to all the volunteers and their efforts.

Monday, June 29, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 21-27 June 2015

Steve Cole reports: 

This week we continued work on current projects. The weather this week was hot. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23, Wargame Vault, and DriveThru this week was the Star Fleet Battles Cadet Training Handbook. New to DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault were SFB Playtest Module E3 -- The Borak Star League and Federation Commander Klingon Ship Card Pack #3.

Steve Cole worked on art for the Klingon Master Starship Book, final fixes for A Call to Arms: Star Fleet-1.2F, the countersheets for the Federation & Empire projects, and other projects. Steve was forced to do his daily half-mile walks with Wolf in the early morning because of the afternoon heat.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #51 (battle groups), the Klingon and Romulan Master Starship Books, and other projects.

The Starline 2500 project continued as the three new ships were on sale.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with two new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date. Later in the week, Stephen and Leanna slipped away briefly to watch Leanna's niece get married.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.
Simone totally reformatted the front page of the website and did a cover for the Federation Commander Scenario Log.
Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,642 friends), managed our Twitter feed (152 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Federation Commander Scenario Log and Klingon Master Starship Book, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

On Memories and Reality and Changes

Jean Sexton muses:

One of the things about moving is that I as I unpacked my unmarked boxes, I discovered old treasures. Sometimes it would be knickknacks; sometimes it would be books; sometimes it would be pictures. I have a near-photographic memory -- it only works when I am near photos. Finding these treasures brought back many memories.

I love Throwback Thursday on Facebook. I wanted to be an actress and when the camera turned on me, I was. There are pictures of me doing the Titanic pose well before that film came out. I had the coolest sunglasses back in 1964. There are photos from trips. Color or B&W, each one has its own interesting perspective.

And then there are the photos that I took. I love digital cameras. No more developing film to find that the whole batch is fuzzy. Just hit delete and the bad photos are gone, never to be seen again. My grandfather and mother were photographers; I even dated a photographer for a while. They taught me about composition and what makes a good photo. I absorbed their lessons.

So I am scanning some of the best of the old photos and saving them. I am lucky to have skilled friends who can remove the red from some of the faded photos and restore them to their vibrant blue skies. Then I bask in the memories that the pictures bring. As is typical for most families, the photos reflect happy times.

A friend brought up that I seemed to yearn for those happy times. In some ways, I do. It is so easy to wish for a simpler time when my parents were in control and my biggest worry was what to play next. But even then, life wasn't perfect. Would my friends like "this"? Would I do okay in school? Would I have to stay inside and practice handwriting? (It didn't help much; to this day my handwriting is a mystery to the uninitiated.) Would I be teased today? (Now they call it "bullying.") No, there were cares and worries even back then. They just weren't memorialized in photos.

I got asked if I would change anything. My first instinct was "YES!" No bullying, a little more popularity, some poor choices later in my life remade in a different direction, some things undone. My life would have been so more pleasant.

But would I be the same person? Would I have ended up in Amarillo, working for ADB? Would I have learned kindness and sympathy for others? Would I understand what it was to know that I had only $19 to my name and a bunch of debt (poor choices in a relationship)? Would I know that I had the inner courage to face an evil person and stand up to him? 

I don't know. I like who I am now. I learned to care about people. I learned that life is not always easy. I learned to stay on budget and pay off bills. I learned that I have courage when others are threatened. I like my job and the people here in Amarillo. I like my apartment. Without the adversity, I might not have grown as a person. Without the difficulties, I might have continued to drift where I was.

So I would choose not to change my past. However, I don't have to wallow in it, either. I choose to remember the good things, the happy times, my friends. And I choose to keep on living my life now, exploring where I am, meeting new people both in Amarillo and via the web. I will remember the lessons of the past so that I (hopefully) won't repeat them. And I will look to the future so that I think through some decisions so that I make good ones.

And I will keep scanning those old photos and sharing them with my friends. I can visit my happy memories, but remember to live today.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

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. Our page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf) exists to put our products in front of other groups of potential customers. You will find us on Twitter as ADBInc_Amarillo. We also are releasing YouTube videos that show what you'll find in "the box" and our latest releases. You can catch our videos on our channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames.

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.

Friday, June 26, 2015


91. Every drone you try to control at once will require one aspirin in the morning.

92. Have a battle plan. It won't survive the enemy's first maneuver, but you should always have a plan.

92. Specific reinforcement will always be on the wrong shield. [Note: This was the numbering as published pre-Jean.]

93. The rule you thought was perfectly clear will be disputed by 14 other players and the judge will rule against you.

94. In a target-rich environment, you don't have enough weapons to kill everything that is trying to kill you.

95. The target you shot was not as important as the one you ignored.

96. If you think it doesn't matter if you sideslip or not, it will.

97. No matter how many times you count it, your opponent always has time to decelerate and weasel.

98. The average die roll is 3.5, which means your opponent gets the 3 and you get the 4.

99. The new rulebook you thought was a reprint was actually a revision.

100. Every PF can be a minesweeper. Once.

101. If the rule makes you invincible, you mis-read it.

102. One turn before your first PBEM victory, your hard disk will crash.

103. If your opponent is doing what you expected, he's up to something you didn't expect.

-- Garth Getgen, Steve Cole, Steven Petrick, Larry Ramey, Kirk Spencer, Jessica Orsini, Ron Sonnek, Andy Vancil, Ben Moldovan, Mark Kuyper, Howard Berkey, Timothy Steeves-Walton, David Keyser, Oliver Dewey Upshaw, Carl Magnus-Carlsson, Kirk Spencer, Richard K. Glover, Jeff Zellerkraut, Andy Palmer, Sean Newton, Daniel Zimmerman, Jason Goodwin, Michael Sweet, Paul Stovel, John Sierra, John Sickels, Sandy Hemenway

(c) copyright by Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Master Starship Books and Progress

This is Steven Petrick posting.

The Romulan Master Starship Book has had a first formatting run through up to the point of the Early Years ships and the creation of the general section for them. The Early Years ships are creating headaches, because the way they were done does not easily fit into the existing format, and creating a new special format for them is going to be required. Doing the general section is simple drudgery, but it is not one of those things I am looking forward too. The book is already nearly 100 pages long with few graphics, and as noted the Early Years are not yet in a format.

The Klingon Master Starship Book is creating its own headaches. As you all no doubt know, one of the hardest things is checking your own work, which is why I am grateful to the individuals who are helping with the project. Even so, I am constantly finding things. I have spent the last couple of days just reading the book from start, and being stunned by errors I have made. One of the Klingon dreadnoughts had instructions for its separated boom that were wrong, they were instructions for a B10 boom, not for a C3/C4/C5/C6/C8/C9/C10 boom. That, of course, meant going back and checking every DN to see if the same mistake had occurred and fixing it.

I have gotten to this point, and no one had noticed that the Klingon D5XD did not have the "bombardment" paragraph (since added).

There have been other glitches (like adding a noted that the B10T emergency tug does NOT get an increase in its command rating if it is carrying a P-H5, P-B4, P-V7, or P-M11 pod (or pods).

I am making every effort to keep the typos and other errors down [recently found a cross-reference for the Tug-A as (R3.8) instead of (R3.9)], but there is a lot of this.

There is also the simple problem that this is the third book in the series, and that means that the "technical input" (not the technology, but the input) has advanced, making the Klingon book better than the earlier Federation and Hydran books (and doubtless the Romulan book will be even better).

In any case, work continues, progress on the books is being made.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Join us on Facebook and Twitter

ADB, Inc.’s page on Facebook is now up and running, and we’re finding a lot of new faces who haven’t been around the BBS or Forum. We have pictures up of ADB, Inc. staff, links to many of our videos, snippets of information, and interaction with our fans. Jean Sexton is the main voice you will hear on our page on Facebook. If she doesn’t know an answer, she’ll ask one of the Steves and ferry the answer back.

All that is left is for you to "like" the page for Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. if you haven’t done so already. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf.

Many people on our page on Facebook have not been on our BBS, so perhaps our new outpost on Facebook will become the place for those who want to keep up with current events without the intense atmosphere (and flood of information) found on the BBS. If you are very busy on a given day, checking our page on Facebook would tell you quickly if something important has been announced. The page also has its own art galleries, plus a place where you can post a review of our products. It also has discussions where you can link up with fellow gamers.

We've also added a Twitter feed which you can follow at https://twitter.com/ADBInc_Amarillo.
 Be sure to follow us for a quick look at what is going on!

We hope to see you there! For Facebook users, be sure to add us to an interest group to see all of our posts.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Steve Cole writes:

I happened to start watching the show iZombie and became fascinated by the clever concept, and by the considerable range of acting talent displayed by the leading actress (Rose McIvy) who has to become multiple characters in every episode.

If you haven't watched it, find a marathon and catch up quickly. This version of the zombie apocalypse is very different than others (and is, of course, loosely based on a comic book). Zombies are created by a combination of an energy drink called Max Rager and a bad batch of a designer party drug called Utopium. They came together at a party on a boat. Things got confusing because some of the people turned into zombies and others just turned into your average raging maniac. You can get infected by a zombie if they scratch you or bite you, or if you ingest their blood. Our heroine, Olivia Moore ("Liv Moore," get it?), became infected when scratched by a zombie.

In this version, Zombies are (at least at first) normally functioning people who can think and plan just as well as they could before they were infected. Even high functioning zombies have white hair, pale complexion, and a pulse rate of 10 beats per minute. The problem is that if you don't eat human brains, you degenerate into the kind of mindless drone zombie seen in every other version. A few zombies are seen in this condition and they are about as gross as the normal zombies on other shows.

Then the fun begins. Ingesting human brains means you get some glimpses of the memories of the human donor, usually toward the end of their life. It gets better. You also take on their skills, attitudes, and habits for a day or so while digesting the brain matter. There is also the minor detail that zombies can't taste much unless it's drowning in hot sauce. One more thing, zombies have the ability to more or less voluntarily go into "full-on zombie rage" which gives them considerable strength. And one last thing (borrowed from the vampire mythos): a critically injured human can be saved from death by infecting them as a zombie. But then they're the undead, so decide if that works out or not.

Liv Moore was a doctor (a surgical resident) but after she became a zombie she transferred to the medical examiner's office where it would be easy to get brains. The visions help her solve crimes. To explain them, she has convinced one of the detectives that she is a psychic. Since her "visions" lead to solved cases, the detective keeps asking for her help. Being a responsible person who didn't want to infect her beloved fiance (Major Lillywhite, yeah, you read it right), she breaks up with him, leaving him asking why. She also becomes somewhat lethargic and loses interest in her family and hobbies. Watching her friends and family (who don't know she's a zombie) try to convince her to resume a normal life is hilarious.

She has help in the form of her boss, Doctor Ravi, who easily figured out what she was even without knowing that the new zombie disease existed. He does research into the causes and cure for the condition, and reaches a successful result (sort of, it's complicated).

The antagonist is Blaine, the drug dealer who brought the bad batch of Utopium to the original boat party. He turned into a zombie (and infected Liv while she was escaping from him). Needing brains and being a criminal, he started murdering homeless people and runaway teens that nobody would miss. Then he became the biggest entrepreneur of all time. He took over a butcher shop by infecting the owner, and used it to process the dead bodies for brains that could be delivered to zombies able to pay for the service. He rounded up a bunch of criminal thugs and infected them, paying them in brains for their services (and thereby avoiding the dirty work of killing and slicing). Being a creative guy, he started infecting more people to grow his customer base, targeting really rich people who could pay big money for the brains they need. He infected a serious detective who makes sure nobody investigates anything related to Blaine. Then he found a new product in harvesting the brains of people with unusual experiences so that other zombies could share in the fun of being an astronaut (or whatever).
I won't give away the ending, but the season finale is worthy of the complicated story arc, the intricate characters, and the special sub-genre.

Monday, June 22, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 14-20 June 2015

Steve Cole reports:

This week we worked on current projects. The weather this week was hot. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week were Federation Commander Federation Ship Card Pack #3 and SFB Module Y3 SSD Book in both B&W and in color.

Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet-1.2F, Deluxe ACTASF-1.2, Captain's Log #51, fiction, art for the Klingon Master Starship Book, some things that Jean wanted, and other projects. The heat prevented him from walking as much as he wanted to.

Steven Petrick worked on the Klingon Master Starship Book (inserting the art as SVC had time to do it), the Romulan Master Starship Book, and the battlegroups for Captain's Log #51.

The Starline 2500 project leapt forward as the three new ships were put on the shopping cart (Orion DN, Klingon SD7, Kzinti NCA).

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with two new entries and an update.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on the text catalog and update list, made progress on the Kindle version of For the Glory of the Empire, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,637 friends), managed our Twitter feed (151 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Federation Commander Scenario Log, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Playing Star Fleet Universe Games Long Distance

Playing games by email or by post 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.

When playing Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander using the Play-by-Email (PBEM) system 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 FC or SFB 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. Moderating a game is also an excellent way to learn more about the game's rules.

Prime Directive games can be played by posting on the Forum. The GM of the game gets players, approves their characters, then sets up situations for the characters to face. It takes a bit longer because the players are not sitting around the table, but it also allows people who are spread out across the world to play.

Players of all our games are expanding the frontiers of playing long distance. Some are trying chat, some are adding webcams to that, many are trying out VOIP so as to get close to a face-to-face experience.

While there are some disadvantages to playing long distance (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 long distance, drop in on the Forum (http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2) or BBS (http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/).

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Lights! Cameras! The SFU Hits YouTube!

Ever wished you could take a peek inside a shrink-wrapped box or look behind the pretty covers of a book? Then these videos are for you.

The brainchild of Mike Sparks, our YouTube videos are of three types. The first is about a specific product line and you can hear Steve Cole (yes, he is the talking hands in our videos) discuss the products that are in one of the different games. The second kind is what ADB, Inc. has released in a particular month. These are a great way to catch up quickly on the new items.

It is the third kind that let's you see what is in the box. A boxed game such as Federation & Empire is taken out of the box item by item so that you can see what's in there. From rulebook, to charts, to maps, to counters, each item is shown and discussed. It's a lot of information to pack into a short clip, but SVC and Mike manage it.

Check out our channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames and be sure to bring the popcorn!

Friday, June 19, 2015


81. Always lab drones from a scatter-pack. You can at least admire the enemy's brilliant new loadout before you die.

82. At Range Zero, fire control is irrelevant.

83. If the enemy got to Range 4 when your plasma tubes recycled, you were on passive fire control.

83. Targets for the PPD are in one of two places: Out of arc or in the myopic zone.

84. Your enemy will point out a rule you did not know just before the point you were going to win the game. Your girlfriend will be there to watch.

85. Klingon phaser arcs are great when you are shooting and lousy when you get shot.

86. If you wait one more impulse to fire, your weapon will be destroyed.

87. If you are calmly expecting to win, you don't know all the facts.

88. Make mistakes; it confuses the enemy.

89. Your most brilliant term paper will be lost in a server crash.

90. Just when you announce your NSM trap, you realize you wrote down the wrong hex number.

-- Garth Getgen, Steve Cole, Steven Petrick, Larry Ramey, Kirk Spencer, Jessica Orsini, Ron Sonnek, Andy Vancil, Ben Moldovan, Mark Kuyper, Howard Berkey, Timothy Steeves-Walton, David Keyser, Oliver Dewey Upshaw, Carl Magnus-Carlsson, Kirk Spencer, Richard K. Glover, Jeff Zellerkraut, Andy Palmer, Sean Newton, Daniel Zimmerman, Jason Goodwin, Michael Sweet, Paul Stovel, John Sierra, John Sickels, Sandy Hemenway

(c) copyright by Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

How to Find New Opponents

Steve Cole writes:

Many gamers are looking for new opponents. This is nothing new. When I was a teenager, there were maybe four war gamers 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, works much better, and there are a lot of ways to do it. For best results, you should do all of them.

If you play Federation Commander, then 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-ins every day, and since it's free you can try it every month or two and find out if somebody nearby has signed in. http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/

Primarily for Federation Commander players, the Forum has a topic where local stores and groups post announcements and invitations. Players can let other players know they'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.) http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2

You can to go to a local store and ask them to let you post a notice looking for opponents. You could also run a demo of your favorite game(s) and "grow your own" opponents. If a person already plays the game you are demoing, he'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. There is also Craigslist, but you should use the normal caution you would for meeting a stranger.

The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to http://starfleetgames.com/starlist.shtml. 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 5,000 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 a 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.

You can find opponents for all of our games on our BBS. Go to http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/ and you'll see "Seeking Opponents" on the main menu. 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.

Friends of our page on Facebook can post to see who is out there. Not a friend? Become one here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf

With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see http://www.starfleetgames.com/links.shtml for suggestions).

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 cars who got emails from other gamers in their home towns who were seeking opponents.

You can go always go to SFB Online (http://www.sfbonline.com/index.jsp) and play Star Fleet Battles and Federation Commander online 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.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What Steven Petrick is Doing Currently

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I am continuing to work on the Klingon Master Starship Book. SVC is doing the various graphics (which requires me to provide him a list of what changes I need made to an existing ship graphic to present the variant I need). I am also working on getting the Romulan Master Starship Book into draft. As is usual, sometimes being near done with one project, and working on another similar one, something in the similar one will trigger a thought to check something in the earlier one. Thus, working on the draft for the Romulan Master Starship Book is making the Klingon Master Starship Book better. Although the thought processes are rather odd.

An example of what I mean.

There are no stasis field generators in the Romulan Star Empire, but something in the Romulans triggered a thought about damage to stasis field generators, so I went back and added to the line (in each case, there being more than one Klingon ship with such devices) that stasis field generators are destroyed on phaser damage points a reference to the rule under volleys that you can only score on phaser damage point per volley on a stasis field generator [you can find that under (D4.0), I cannot remember the exact rule number here, but it is under the phaser directional damage rule]. So it makes the book a little better by having that information in one place for each stasis field generator equipped unit. And it is important, because I know when I had such a ship under me taking damage, there were times when I really wanted to take a second phaser damage point on the stasis field generator during the resolution of a given volley in order to preserve a phaser I could actually fire on the next impulse (or the next turn), and could not because I had already scored a phaser damage point in that volley on the stasis field generator.

The draft of the Romulan Master Starship Book is currently through an initial run-through of all the published non-early years and non-X-ships, the fighters, and the ground forces. I still need to do the Early Years ships, X-ships, fast patrol ships, and general units.

For Captain's Log #51, I am down to needing one tactics article for the battle groups, one for each, but that will just finish the battle groups. Lots of other things still need to be done.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Steve Cole's thoughts on ADB and the future of the SFU.

1. Several times a week I get what I call a "Middle of the Conversation Question." This is one that assumes that I know everything about every product and every decision we ever made and can quickly answer any question on any obscure point. This includes things like these: "Why does this product have more pages than that product?" (I have no idea how many pages any product has without looking it up, but in this case they were both new packages assembled from rules that were in a previous edition and that's just how many pages each one took.) "Why do you charge for some Supplemental File PDFs and not others?" (I really had no idea what, if anything, we charge for any of those. Jean is in charge of PDFs. In this case, it was that the ones we charge for are the ones containing game value content that cost us money to create, while the free ones are just stream of consciousness notes, leftover bits and pieces, and rejected tactical papers.) While all questions I am asked have some level of interest and create some level of curiosity, all of them would be easier for me to answer if they included a "background of the situation which inspired the question" paragraph (or just a sentence). Often, I find that people out there have misunderstood something about why we do what we do and that needs correcting. Sometimes somebody has found something that fell through the cracks and needs to be addressed. All too often, somebody thinks I need to change the rules if I cannot instantly come up with an answer that he accepts. Most likely of all, the question would be answered by the rulebook if somebody consulted it.

2. Somebody asked how we decide which SSD book to upload as a PDF next. That's not the question; the question is which one we are going to upgrade to the current standard. (If we upload non-updated SSDs a few sour grapes condemn us and ruin our average.) Honestly, it's done by an algorithm that accounts for player requests, how hard it is to bring it up to current standard (some were done years ago and take a lot of updating), our best guess of sales potential, whether the product is a gateway to something else, the price of tea in Pakistan, and the number of dust bunnies on Mars on the first Thursday of the month.

3. The biggest problem with ADB is that too many jobs are chasing too few people. What seems to some outsiders as a "lack of focus" or "failure to keep schedules" is simply the result of overwhelming workload. We have too many product lines for the available manpower to support them properly (i.e., put out a new product for that line twice a year), and yet, without the multiple product lines, there isn't enough business to keep the operation healthy. Fans of one product line want the full potential of that line developed, but we don't have the time to develop every product we can think of. Worse, with so few people and so many jobs, when anyone is out for some reason (family event, illness, vacation) it comes out of the valuable design time (since the administrative work cannot be avoided or much delayed) To be sure (and fair), there are mistakes made and too much time put into projects we should not have bothered with. Time and money were spend on products that didn't sell all that well, but then, if you don't try a product, you don't know what it's sales potential is. In the end, what we can do is what we actually do: make a list of things we are partly done with, finish them in a logical order based on required work and potential sales, and be very careful about allowing any new product into the list. Now, recently we added Federation Commander Scenario Log to the schedule and actually finished it before some other things that we have been working on for a long time, but it took less than a day of Steve Cole time and less than three days of Jean Sexton time. The result won't be a million-copy seller, but it will be something a lot of people want.
4. Working on the new batch of F&E counters has inspired some to propose that we immediately replace all of the old sheets (216 counters) with new ones (280 counters). Surely, it is said, the players would love this. No doubt they would, but who is paying for it? Doing a run of new counters (four sheets, minimum print run) is $7,000, it would take at least two of those runs, and contrary to myth there is not a million dollars of unspent money in our bank account. Worse, converting four sheets of 216 to four sheets of 280 would take about a month of SVC time, and mean pushing SFB Module X2 and Federation Commander Fighter Ops farther away. Theoretically we might not get hurt too bad if we could convince players to buy all of the existing counter stock for those sheets (which would pay for less than half of the print run) but the time element isn't workable. That said, now and then we suddenly find ourselves with an out-of-stock F&E sheet but that doesn't mean an immediate reprint, but we need to reprint it as soon as we can, which might be six months or more later. That's good in a way as retailers would be very upset to have copies of Strategic Ops on their shelves with the old counters when customers can buy the same product with the new counters online. The brief stock-out lets them sell the existing copies before new ones arrive.

5. I just had Simone in the office to discuss taking catalog photos of a new miniature, and I taught her some lessons that apply to every catalog photo. First, make sure you have all of the parts and show them in the photo, otherwise customers will assume they aren't buying a complete item. Second, clean up any "mold flash" and "air vent tags" on the pieces so they look nicer. Everybody knows they will have to deal with such things but nobody wants to imagine cleaning up metal pieces before they make a purchase decision. Third, lay the parts out more or less where they go, all facing the same direction, so that players will be able to mentally imagine the completed unit and how cool it is. And fourth, don't shove parts right up against each other but don't leave a lot of room between them. Extra blank space "inside" the picture (between two of the parts) means that the overall picture must be smaller in the printed catalog (and in the online catalog in some shopping cart software) and that will make it harder for the customers to see detail and reduce sales.

Monday, June 15, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 7-13 June 2015

Steve Cole reports: 

This was a week of steady work on current projects. The weather this week was hot most of the week, but cool on Friday and Saturday. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day. We released Communique #114 and Hailing Frequencies on the 9th.

New on e23, DriveThru, and Wargame Vault this week was JagdPanther #15. DriveThruRPG and Wargame Vault also saw SFB Commander's Edition Volume I and  Federation Commander: Klingon Ship Card Pack #2.

Steve Cole worked on ACTASF-1.2F updates, Captain's Log #51, art for the Klingon Master Starship Book, Federation Commander: Federation Ship Card Pack #3, F&E counters, and did some blogs. He kept up his exercise program, walking over four miles with Wolf.

Steven Petrick worked on battle groups for Captain's Log #51, Romulan Master Starship Book, and Klingon Master Starship Book.

The Starline 2500 project moved forward as a production run of the three new ships was ordered.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with three new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date. She and Jean made great progress on the first Kindle book.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on the first Kindle Book, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,634 friends), managed our Twitter feed (151 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Federation Commander Scenario Log, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Free Stuff for Star Fleet Universe Players!

Steve Cole writes:

We have a lot of free stuff on our website. Let me point you to some of the most popular things. Doing this in alphabetical order we start with Federation & Empire. They have play aids and countersheet graphics here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#FNE

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). First Missions will give you enough of the game that you can try it out. Go here to download it: http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/first-missions.shtml

But that's just a start. Commander's Circle has lots of free resources such as various formats of the Master Ship Chart, Ship Cards, the current and back issues of Communique, scenarios, and playtest rules. If you register, then you can find other Federation Commander players.

Prime Directive players can find a treasure trove of play aids, including medals, insignia, maps, the timeline, and lots of other goodies to spice up a game. These can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#PD

Want to introduce a friend to the Star Fleet  Universe? Try the free download of Introduction to the Star Fleet Universe: Prime Directive and Roleplaying found here:http://www.warehouse23.com/products/introduction-to-the-star-fleet-universe-prime-directive-and-roleplaying

Star Fleet Battle Force
has new cards and play aids as well. These are located here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#SFBF

Star Fleet Battles
players have the Cadet Training Manual and Cadet Training Handbook. These were done as a way to get players into the complicated Star Fleet Battles game system. You can download them for free here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/CadetTraining.shtml Also available on the same webpage are lots of SSDs for the game.

We have downloadable art for your computer and iPhone so you can show your SFU pride. Those are here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/wallpapers.shtml

Don't forget Hailing Frequencies, our free monthly newsletter. Covering all our games, you can read back issues here: http://www.federationcommander.com/Newsletter/past.html Don't forget to sign up to get the link delivered straight to your email box each month. You can "opt in" here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/newsletter.shtml

There are many historical documents which are available for download. Maps, deck plans, assorted graphics, and much, much more can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/historicaldownloads.shtml

Browse our master index to find all sorts of interesting information: http://www.starfleetgames.com/masterindex.shtml

As you can see, you could spend days browsing. We hope you enjoy what you find.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Exploring Excellent Ebooks

We have continued our long-awaited move to offer more of our products as PDFs by way of the  Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault websites. So far on Warehouse 23, we have released a lot of stuff for Federation Commander, including the Revision Six Reference Rulebook, the 72 ships from Federation Commander Briefing #2 (divided into six packs of 12 ships and a separate rules pack), and more than a dozen Ship Card Packs. Our ebook PDFs are in color and high resolution. PDFs of most books are searchable (older Captain’s Logs are not).

The way Warehouse 23 works, once you buy a product, you can download it again for no cost if you lose it or if we upload a revised version of that edition. Thus, the people who bought Reference Rulebook Revision 5 were able to obtain Reference Rulebook Revision 6 for free (and to download it again when we discovered we had accidentally left out rule 4S).

Our Prime Directive PD20 Modern books are sold as ebooks exclusively through DriveThru RPG. We have started offering general RPG books there as well as some of the general gaming materials that Steve Cole has written. We are also listing Federation Commander, Federation & Empire, and Star Fleet Battles products on Wargame Vault.

We must note that these products are copyrighted and are not to be uploaded or passed around to your friends. Doing so is piracy, a criminal act, and may result in us deciding not to offer any more PDF products. We have already uploaded many Starmada, Star Fleet Battles, Federation & Empire, and Prime Directive products. We have created a new page that allows easy access to our PDFS for sale through the various venders. From here you can see what we currently have posted and have links to those products.

So check them out! Many people like the fact they can search our rulebooks for a keyword and find everything that pertains to that issue. Others like the fact they can carry around multiple books on one device. Some ship cards are available exclusively as PDFs. Whatever your reason for using them, we hope that you enjoy them and rate them.

Friday, June 12, 2015


71. If your attack run is going well, so is the enemy's.

72. Everything you thought the enemy used batteries for was actually allocated in advance. That ESP again.

73. If there is any rule that will result in a friendly seeking weapon targeting a friendly unit, it will happen.

74. When you fool the enemy seeking weapons into hitting the planet, you will remember that the victory conditions were damage to the planet.

75. As soon as you get your fleet in position to attack the enemy capital, a frigate will cut your supply line.

76. If you discover the perfect battle plan, you will be short one point of power.

77. You will never guess lucky about when to put extra power.

78. If you discover a term paper that means your plan is doomed, your opponent wrote it.

79. If your judge forgot to register your ace card, your first opponent will be a fleet captain.

80. The new ship you submitted has been in the file with somebody else's name on it for six years.

-- Garth Getgen, Steve Cole, Steven Petrick, Larry Ramey, Kirk Spencer, Jessica Orsini, Ron Sonnek, Andy Vancil, Ben Moldovan, Mark Kuyper, Howard Berkey, Timothy Steeves-Walton, David Keyser, Oliver Dewey Upshaw, Carl Magnus-Carlsson, Kirk Spencer, Richard K. Glover, Jeff Zellerkraut, Andy Palmer, Sean Newton, Daniel Zimmerman, Jason Goodwin, Michael Sweet, Paul Stovel, John Sierra, John Sickels, Sandy Hemenway

(c) copyright by Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Look into What I Am Doing

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Work continues apace on various projects.

The Klingon Master Starship Book is still accumulating some reports.

I have started looking at the Romulan Master Starship Book, but is it not necessarily the next book we will do. Still most of the first draft is done, although it is amazing how much of a headache modularity can be. I have not gotten to the Generic units, or the early years portion which I expect will be an even bigger headache since it will not flow into the format easily..

Various articles for the next edition of Captain's Log are in flux.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Star Fleet Universe Downloadable Art

Simone Pike writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download backgrounds and covers with Star Fleet Universe art. We have art that will work on Facebook, iOS7 iPhones, Android devices, and computers. You will also find art you can use as binder spine cards.

Check out what we have on http://www.starfleetgames.com/backgrounds.shtml.

Big monitors, small monitors, we have something for nearly everyone. 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 1680 x 1050, even 2560 x1600. If you need a different size, we'll see what we can do to fill that desire.

If there are any other sizes or any other images that you would like to see turned into downloadable art, please feel free to contact us at graphics@StarFleetGames.com and we'll work your request in.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015


Steve Cole reports:

We have released this month's issue of the Hailing Frequencies newsletter and this month's Communique. Hailing Frequencies has the latest company information and covers all of our games. You'll find news on the latest releases both in print and ebook, information on the company, and even serialized fiction. Hailing Frequencies also has links to the latest Star Fleet Alerts, which are press releases about new products and when they will be available for order. From Hailing Frequencies, you can link to Federation Commander specific news in the latest Communique, a free PDF newsletter which is full of good things for Federation Commander players, including a new ship, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules.

You can subscribe to Hailing Frequencies at this link:

Due to technical difficulties with the website, email to subscribers will be delayed.

Monday, June 08, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 31 May - 6 June 2015

Steve Cole reports: 

This was a week of intense work on various projects. The weather this week was hot, in the 80s most days. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day. Starfleet Command went back on legal sale this week at Good Old Games.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week were the two Starmada Logs (Nova and Admiral). Captain's Log #13 and Federation Commander: Federation Ship Card Pack #2 were new on Wargame Vault and DriveThru RPG.

Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, art for the Klingon Master Starship Book, Communique #114, Hailing Frequencies, Federation Commander Federation Ship Card Pack #3, and the Federation Commander Scenario Log. He also wrote some blogs that will appear later. Steve's exercise program included his longest walk in years (two entire miles) and his highest total for the week (5.25 miles) in decades.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #51, Romulan Master Starship Book, and Klingon Master Starship Book. He also proofread Hailing Frequencies and Communique.

The Starline 2500 project moved forward with the first sample copies from the new production molds.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with two new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on Hailing Frequencies and the Federation Commander Scenario Log, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,633 friends), managed our Twitter feed (151 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Communique, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

On Worry and Stress and De-Stressing

Jean Sexton muses:

By nature I am a worrywart. Did I do "this" right? Was there a way of doing it better? What if it has something incorrect in it? Did I miss a comma? Did I hurt someone's feelings? These questions worry at me.

Now my worry is that I don't know enough about marketing in this age of social media mixed with traditional forms of getting the word out. I've been flying by the seat of my pants, learning as I go. Things are changing so rapidly that it is hard to keep up with them.

Worry leads to stress. I know this. My worst nightmares in college were that I got a note in my box along these lines:

Dear Miss Sexton,

You signed up for Chemistry 304, The Uses of Mercury in Industry. I hope you have an intuitive knowledge of the subject as you have missed every class. Please do not forget the finals on May 2 at 3:30 pm.


Dr. I Know Everything

I would awake with my heart racing and would rush to find the printed class schedule to make sure I hadn't signed up for such a class. (Usually it was something more likely such as History of the British Regency Period or Great Poetry of Women Authors.)

Now I worry that I am not effective at getting the word out to people. This failure has real-life consequences for real people beyond me. ADB needs to make money in order to pay its bills and the salaries of those who work for it.

Over the years I have learned that stress makes me less effective. I circle around from one idea to another, fretting over the concepts, never being able to decide which is better. It solves nothing and creates its own set of problems.

So how do I reduce the stress? It cannot be mental exercises, because my brain derails and goes back to the problem. The best way for me recently has been to walk with The Wolf. We have a pattern we walk and that frees my mind to observe that this apartment is empty, that car has been in an accident, the honeysuckle is blooming, and drat, someone threw out food and I cannot let Wolf get his mouth on it. After that I need to pet Wolf because he says so. Physical exercise and love seem to drive out mental work and worry.

Another way I reduce stress is to cook something. It is a form of creation; to me that drives away the chaos of stress. I just need to reduce how much I cook as I tend to cook for several healthy appetites. I also clean. Again, this brings order from chaos. Sometimes I work on updating lists that I have of books and movies I own. I think "creating order" must be the key. Stress and worry are chaotic and don't survive orderliness.

So I continue to work, but I am working on decreasing the new worries in my life. I think I am succeeding.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

How Not to Get into the Game Business

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 online 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, June 05, 2015


61. If the enemy lets you get to Range 8, you are going to be anchored.

62. Be sure to guard the bridge. That way, you will have a shoulder to cry on when he raids the sensor track.

63. The only time Fred defeated you is the one he posted on his website.

64. Only the enemy will put Guards in the right place; remember his ESP?

65. The enemy launched 80 drones; you killed his scout. This means that one entire squadron of his fleet are drone-scout cruisers.

66. Mizia learned that trick the hard way.

67. You will never get the enemy to follow your retrograde, but you will never fail to follow his.

68. If you successfully cloak in front of 75 drones, 74 of them are targeted on the one Type-VI.

69. The enemy knows your weakness better than you know your own strength.

70. If your ally has a cloak, he will use it to leave you in the trap -- not help you get out.

-- Garth Getgen, Steve Cole, Steven Petrick, Larry Ramey, Kirk Spencer, Jessica Orsini, Ron Sonnek, Andy Vancil, Ben Moldovan, Mark Kuyper, Howard Berkey, Timothy Steeves-Walton, David Keyser, Oliver Dewey Upshaw, Carl Magnus-Carlsson, Kirk Spencer, Richard K. Glover, Jeff Zellerkraut, Andy Palmer, Sean Newton, Daniel Zimmerman, Jason Goodwin, Michael Sweet, Paul Stovel, John Sierra, John Sickels, Sandy Hemenway

(c) copyright by Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Help is Appreciated . . . But

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I am not perfect. I have never made any claim that I am. Thus I appreciate having people check my work. I am as prone as anyone to making typos, from the infamous to, two, too, and their, there, to the even more infamous "word not included that changes the meaning of the sentence" error, among others. So I appreciate having people look over my writing before it becomes more or less fixed in a published product.

Part of my job here at Amarillo Design Bureau, inc, is taking other people's submissions and editing them and formatting them. This includes scenarios, proposals, term papers, tactical notes, and, yes, articles. In many cases, if there is time, I like to send the edited and/or formatted copy back to the author to check. Sometimes the author will (on reading the edited copy) see a thought he wants to add. Sometimes the author will realize that I did not understand a point he was making, or the way he wanted a special scenario rule to work in  his scenario, or simply note that I have made one of the various blunders in typing that one can make and not noticed it. (Let's be fair to everyone here, proofing your own work is one of the hardest things to do because your mind knows you wrote something in a given sentence, and "sees" it even thought it is not there.) Calling me on my errors or misunderstandings does not bother me.

The problem is that I often get an article back from an author that says "here is a revised copy, I have made a few edits." This is an effort to be helpful, but when you get an article that (in an example of worse case) is a dozen pages long where someone has made a "few edits," you have no idea what has been changed. And you have no choice but to re-read and re-edit the entire article looking for those "few edits." The problem, you see, is that the author is still himself human, and in making those few edits might have made a mistake (see for example the "their, there" item above).

Something that should take just a few minutes to check becomes a whole afternoon's work re-reading a document that should be finished.

Again, to be fair, I regret that many of the (for example) battle group tactics articles are not sent by me with little notes that I changed this or that. But I am making gross over all changes, often changing the writers assumption that he is "not in command" but rather writing a series of suggestions to "he is in command." That is the tone we want for these articles and I have to make those changes and it affects every paragraph, and sometimes every sentence of ever paragraph. A short list of changes is just not really possible.

So if you get an article back from me to be checked, and you see a change to make, consider how hard it will be for me (or SVC, or Jean) to find your edit when you return the document. It is a lot easier for you to be proactive and mark the change some way than it is for us to search the whole document looking for your "one or two edits." You might colorize the text where you made the edit, or put it in a larger font so that it obviously stands out. You might send a change document that says "in the sentence beginning "The Borak will be easily . . ." the word "not" is missing, it should read "The Borak will not be easily . . ." (see what I mean about a missing word changing the meaning of a sentence?).

You could just put a couple of line breaks before an after the sentence you are editing (or the paragraph you are adding if you thought of something you wanted to add to your submission).

Really and honestly I appreciate the help, things are better with the input, but when (in a recent case) a dozen people send back articles sent to them for "review, comment, and correction" with the note "I have made a few edits" it finally reached the point where I ran screaming into the thunderstorm and did not come back until the next day.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Play Online

Many people do not know that you can play either Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander online in real time against live opponents.

Ten 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. It since 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 per game system, you have access to most of the ships in the Star Fleet Battles/Federation Commander game systems 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 online 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.

We continue to develop Federation & Empire for an online environment and have playtesters working out the kinks. We'll let you know as soon as it is ready to release.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015


Steve Cole ponders the curious origins of interesting words:
1. PRECOCIOUS, which now refers to a child who develops (physically or mentally) faster than normal, is actually just the Latin words for "before it is cooked."
2. PREPOSTEROUS, which is now used interchangeably with "ridiculous" or "absurd" actually means "doing things in the wrong order." It is from the Latin words "pre" (before) and "posterous" (the following).
3. PRETEXT, a false reason given to hide the real reason for doing or asking something, is the old Roman word for the toga worn by high-ranking officials. It meant "before the weave" and referred to the purple border on such cloaks. Even the Romans, however, used it in the figurative sense, presumably because the high officials who wore a toga pretexta were always giving one reason for their actions and hiding the real one.
4. PREVARICATOR, someone who lies, is the old Roman word for somebody with bowed legs (either due to injury, birth defect, or spending too much time on horseback). Such individuals were said to be unable to "walk a straight line" and the term was used for lawyers who secretly made deals with the opposite party to sell out their client.
5. PROCRASTINATION, putting off to a later time something that could and should be done immediately, comes from the old Roman words pro (for the benefit of) and crastinus (tomorrow).
6. PROFANE, which today means showing disrespect for a religious institution, comes from the old Latin words pro (which here means outside) and fanum (temple). Someone who was profane was not necessarily a bad person, but someone who had not become privy to the inner secrets of the faith. Originally used by pagans, the term was later used by Christians. Since taking the name of the Lord in vain or using it as a swear word is prohibited, we call such speech profanity.
7. PURPLE, the color which today is an equal mix of red and blue, began in ancient times as porphyros, which meant a kind of brick red. It came from some kind of shellfish that lived in the eastern Mediterranean near Tyre. Because each shellfish had only a tiny drop of the dye, producing it was very expensive and only rich people could afford clothing died with that color. It became the color of kings and emperors, and may well have been more reddish than purple is today. Up to a half century ago, the phrase "born to the purple" still meant that one was born into a wealthy family, but nobody says that today.
8. PYGMY, which properly refers to a group of African tribes but is sometimes used as a generic term for a smaller version of the normal item, began as the Greek word pygmaios, which meant the 16 inches from the elbow to the knuckles. The term was applied to tales of a tribe of tiny humans (only that tall) who lived in the southern reaches of the Nile. Of course, the story shrank in the telling as pygmies are actually about five feet tall. (Several other ethnic groups of short people exist around the world of about the same size, and anthropologists apply the same word to them.)
9. PYTHON, a large snake, was originally the name of a dragon who guarded the grotto at Delphi, where it was possible to talk to the gods and discern the future. Apollo slew the dragon when only a few days old and took over the grotto, installing a succession of oracles. Or so the story goes.
10. QUACK, the sound a duck makes as well as a fake doctor selling fake cures, comes literally from the sound of a duck. (Every language in the word in contact with ducks has the same word for their sounds.) Ducks always look a little silly waddling around and making that noise, and the Dutch applied the term "quacksalver" to an endless series of medicine show men selling no end of cures (salves) in the 1500s. Most of Europe quickly used their own version of quack for such fake healers and snake oil salesmen.

Monday, June 01, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 24-30 May 2015

Steve Cole reports: 

This was a week of steady work on current projects. The weather this week was warm with some hot afternoons. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was SFB Module Y2 SSD Book in both color and B&W. New to DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault was Star Fleet Time Newsletter  #1-#5.

Steve Cole worked on art for Klingon Master Starship Boon, Starmada Captain's Log PDF packs, Captain's Log #51, fiction, and other projects. He and Wolf walked 4.75 miles this week.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #51, the Romulan Master Starship Book, and the Klingon Master Starship Book.

The Starline 2500 project moved forward with the delivery of molds for three new ships (Orion DN, Kzinti NCA, and Klingon SD7).

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with three new entries and an update.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on a blog post, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,626 friends), managed our Twitter feed (151 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread some of the Klingon Master Starship Boon and the introduction to the Starmada Captain's Log PDF packs, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.