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Saturday, October 31, 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.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Trivideo Guide, Wednesday 18 October Y216, pt. 4

Transcribed from the USAF datatapes by Reece Watkins.

Unauthorized Pirate Broadcasting: (various times) "The Life and Times of the Dread Pirate Roberto" Episode 4: An accident with a new cloaking device renders Roberto's upper torso invisible, causing much consternation for his Orion parrot. (1 hr.)

WTTN, Tholian Channel 17: 8:00 p.m. "Vacation Dreamlands" (Original title: "The Volcanoes of the Sol System") Tonight: Mount St. Helens and the lower hemisphere of Io. (1 hr.)

Video Free Seltoria: 10:00 p.m. "Eternal Vigilance" Tonight: How to tell if your paperweight is actually a well-disciplined Tholian spy. (4 hrs.)

Captain's Log #14, (c) 1994 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Steve Cole writes:

On the high plains of the Texas Panhandle, we have these things called "playa lakes" which are a unique feature of the region. "Playa" is the Spanish word for "dried-up lakebed" and so a "playa lake" is what happens when rain fills up a playa basin. (The soil here has a lot of clay so the lower parts of the playas have clay beds about as permeable as the average dinner plate. Nothing soaks in.)

While this area has the occasional stream (with actual rivers 50 miles north and 20 miles south of Amarillo), mostly it's just flat. Not as flat as a pool table, but the change in elevation rarely exceeds 10 feet in a mile. The land is divided up into unconnected drainage areas each of which are one to five miles across with a playa basin in the middle. Playa lakes can be as small as a bathtub or as big as 200 acres. [In all fairness, those rivers I mention are fairly tiny streams 10-20 feet across and 1-2 feet deep, but they sit at the bottom of massive canyons a mile wide and 500 feet deep. This is because in this dry region we get no rain for weeks then a LOT of rain all at once.]

The key thing about playa lakes is that they have no inlet (except rain) and no outlet (except evaporation). It doesn't rain that often here. We get 22 inches a year, but usually get a third of that in one week at some random point, and this year we got all 22 inches in the first six months with more to come. (This is good since otherwise farmers have to pump water from deep wells.) Given rain, the dry basins suddenly become charming little playa lakes that last a week or two. Maybe 2-10 square miles of rainfall will drain into a playa lake that is the size of a few football fields, resulting in several feet of water. This gets really bad in urban areas where most of the soil is covered by streets, buildings, and sidewalks so everything flows off into the playas.

When it rains a LOT the charming playa lakes just keep growing because they don't have natural banks. (Given 40 days and 40 nights of rain, you'd have playa lakes miles across.) When the city expands into a playa basin (and there isn't anything else to expand into), the first houses are built on the higher ground around the edge but over time houses are built closer and closer to the dried-up lake. When we get a 100-year rain (about once a decade) the lower houses will flood.

The playas in the established parts of town are often dredged much deeper (so they will hold more runoff water; one of them is nearly 70 feet deep) and are connected to East or West Amarillo Creek by underground pipelines with extensive pump systems. The creeks drain north 50 miles into the Canadian River and then east via the Arkansas River to the Mississippi River, and thereafter to the ocean.

Below is one example, originally called Dunivan Lake and later renamed Lake Lawrence. Amarilloans call it "the ocean." It is in a major shopping area, has been dredged more than 70 feet deep, and at this point is "over-full" and flowing up into parking lots, nearby streets, and businesses. The trees seen sticking up out of the lake are over 30 feet tall.   

Below is another example called Lake McDonald. This playa is in John Stiff Park (the major park in the rich part of town) so it is maintained at a constant level (about 10 feet lower than shown here) for fishing, walking abroad, and recreating yourself. The trees in the lake are next to the submerged walking path, and you can see the top parts of a few benches extending above the water surface.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Master Starship Books

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Work continues apace on the Romulan Master Star Ship Book. So far, all of the smaller sections (X-Ships, Captain's Log ships, Fighters, Marines, Interceptors, and Fast Patrol Ships have gone out for checking. The parts are sent out in packets to avoid overwhelming the researchers in their reviews. So far, the researchers have found little on which to report in these sections. The first of these sections (Fighters, Marines, Interceptors, and Fast Patrol Ships) is being given to Jean Sexton for final review as the researchers have generally indicated that they have nothing more to report on it.

The Early Years, Main, and General sections still remain to be sent. SVC, as he has time, is working on the graphics for the Romulan ships.

In general, this book could probably be completed without me at this juncture, so if something were to happen to me (unlikely, but the "Murphy's curse" is alive and abroad in the world and even the most unlikely events sometimes occur with regularity) it should reach publication in a short while.

So far, the Klingon Master Star Ship Book has had very, very few reports on errors, an indication that the system has steadily improved.

I am not sure which book would be next, but on my own count have reason to push for the Lyran Star Empire to be next up.

Tuesday, October 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.

Monday, October 26, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 18-24 October 2015

Steve Cole reports:

This was the week of continued work on several projects. The second half of the week was our fall break. Jean's mother Carol visited, so Leanna and Jean took her to see everything around here worth seeing. The two Steves went on the annual Wolf Trip.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was Captain's Log #16.

Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #51, A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, and the third quarter reports.

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

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 managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,835 friends), managed our Twitter feed (162 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


The Steves and Jean are all on vacation! We hope you have a good Sunday.

Saturday, October 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.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Trivideo Guide, Wednesday 18 October Y216, pt. 3

Transcribed from the USAF datatapes by Reece Watkins.

Hydran Box Office: 9:30 p.m. "The Tritomic Methane Story" Series Finale: Dr. Gixafern blows himself to tiney bits in his laboratory. (105 min.)

ISCTV: 9:00 p.m. "Comedy Retrospective" Tonight: Veltressai Comedians Bob, Bob, Doug, and Doug McKenzie discuss the comedic significance of back bacon, toques, and beer, eh? (30 min.)

Unauthorized Pirate Broadcasting:
(various times) "The Life and Time of The Dread Pirate Roberto" Episode 4: An accident with a new cloaking device renders Roberto's upper torso invisible, causing much consternation for his Orion parrot (1 hr.)

Captain's Log #14, (c) 1994 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Night of the Screams

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Monday night I was tired and decided to go to bed early, actually before 2100 hrs.

I had just (to the best of my ability to judge) achieved sleep when I was brought to awareness by the sound of multiple female screams.

The screams in this case registered fully as "true terror," not a case of a females squealing in pretend fright in response to their boyfriends mock-attacking them.

The screams cut off, and I felt at that point obligated to investigate.

I got out of bed and drew on a pair of shorts before stumbling out the door of my apartment. I could see that I was not the only person who had heard the screams, as other doors were open and people were looking toward the row of apartments I am in, perhaps not aware of precisely which apartment the screams had come from, and now being accosted to a short overweight male in nothing more than a pair of shorts being backlit by the light falling from his apartment door.

Nothing I could do about that, so I continued to the door of the apartment next to mine, and as per military protocol I struck the door three times and waited.

A time interval passed, approaching the point where I felt I would need to knock again and thus raising my own sense of unease that something had happened.

At this juncture the door swung open revealing one of my neighbors, one of three females living in that apartment, now presented with the fat old guy from next door standing outside her door in a pair of shorts. As she looked at me I asked "Is everything all right?"

She responded with a quick explanation of the situation.

Shortly after this conversation, I turned to head for my apartment, but looking at the various other individuals standing in the doorways of their own apartments, I called out a one-word explanation.


With that, the tension resolved into a series of chuckles as everyone turned back into their apartments.

Wednesday, October 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/).

Tuesday, October 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!

Monday, October 19, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 11-17 October 2015

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work. Jean reorganized Steve Cole's MY DAY system of posts to eliminate some unneeded information and that is reflected in a slightly more streamlined THIS WEEK report.

New on Warehouse 23 this week was Star Fleet Battles Commander's Edition, Supplement #3.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week were Federation Commander: Andromedan Ship Card Pack #1 and
Star Fleet Battles Commander's Edition, Supplement #3.       

Steve Cole worked on the chapters for the deluxe edition of A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, customer and staff requests, wrote some blogs, and other projects. His exercise program is rocketing along, reaching a new record of 6.5 miles this week. Steve took Leanna and Jean to see the finals of the Cowboy Mounted Shooting World Championships.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #51, the Module C1 rulebook update, and the Romulan Master Starship Book.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward. 

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 managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,801 friends), managed our Twitter feed (161 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, October 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.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

On Books, Music, and Movies

Jean Sexton muses:

Many of you know that I started out my professional life as a librarian. I cataloged books (and later movies and music), describing them so they could be found online, and assigning them a place in the library so a person could take the item home. I want the same convenience for my personal items. Where did I put my book on garden design? Or that one on birds? Which Pentatonix CDs do I have? Did I buy the latest James Bond movie?

For several years I have used LibraryThing to catalog books. I can assign them to a "collection" such as "Lawyer's Bookcase." I can tag them with "subjects" such as "Science Fiction" or "Star Trek." The system generates clouds of tags for my authors and subjects. I can look up an author before I buy the "new" Kindle version to see if I already have a different version. (I handle collected works by entering the collected version in a regular collection and then entering the individual titles in "Books in collections.")

I don't just have a book collection. I have a collection of "movies" (that includes TV series) and CDs. I had been maintaining the movies in an Excel file that I could sort by title and then see what "call number" I had assigned it (a code of genre, format, and acquisition number) so I could watch it. That was terrific, except I didn't know what I had if I were away from the computer where the file was.

I also have a collection of music. That is organized by the media player that comes with Windows 7. But it means that I have to be at the computer with the most recent version of "My Music" to know if I have a particular performer.

Finally LibraryThing has worked out a way to add sound and video recordings. I'm working hard on adding my collections. I keep running into problems, though. Amazon and Library of Congress don't agree with how people or groups are entered. It means lots of fiddling and fixing. LibraryThing prefers to display names in a natural order: "Jean Sexton" for example. Library of Congress prefers to display names last name first: "Sexton, Jean." This gets interesting for people with one name, groups with commas in the name, and for some groups imported from Amazon.

A performer known as Kitaro born in 1953 gets entered as Kitaro, 1953-. LibraryThing turns that into 1953- Kitaro. All recordings imported from libraries must be edited so they'll display correctly. A group such as Peter, Paul & Mary becomes Paul & Mary Peter. The comma must each be deleted each time. Amazon has some groups such as Mannheim Steamroller entered as Steamroller, Mannheim. That is harder to catch as it displays correctly, but gets filed in the "S" section rather than the "M" section.

While these are the joys of an early adopter, it also does provide a way of checking my collections from any computer with a connection to the web. I am nibbling at this giant pair of elephants, but someday all my titles will be available. And I am doing the happy dance!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Trivideo Guide, Wednesday 18 October Y216, pt. 2

Transcribed from the USAF datatapes by Reece Watkins.

Federation Network: 10:00 p.m. "Politically Correct in the 30th Century." Tonight: Dr. Saccharine discusses how to calm a distraught Kzinti with tender words and folk songs. (64 sec.)

Kzinti Central: 10:02 p.m. "Food and Fun with Crrowl" Tonight: "How to Bone a Human." Special Guest Star: Dr. Stuart Saccharine. (28 min.)

Andromedan Channel Z: 7:00 p.m. "Etude in E Flat Random: A Little Night Static" Part 28: Rapidly fluctuating force patterns to a white noise accompaniment by the Kelvan Cacophony Orchestra. (5 hrs. π min.)

Captain's Log #14, (c) 1994 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, October 15, 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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Good and Bad Decisions

This is Steven Petrick posting.

On Monday something in the environment launched an attack on my person. The result was that I stayed home, even though my initial intentions were to get to the office that afternoon.

That was the good decision.

Tuesday (yesterday) I woke up, and was fully aware that I was not operating at an optimal level. I had, however, missed a day and felt a need to go in and try to make up for it.

The drive in should have been more than sufficient to tell me that this was a mistake. I do not think I am the world's greatest driver, or even in the top 100,000 or so. I am however reasonably conscientious and attentive to my surroundings while I drive. Yet I ran the tires of my car up against the curb not once, but twice. I was clearly not keeping the car steady.

I made a mental note to ask SVC, Leanna, and Jean to monitor my driving when we went to lunch, and then utterly forgot to do so, but fortunately nothing untoward happened in the driving.

We got back from lunch, and after a bit I noticed that my wallet was missing, i.e., not in my back pocket.

There was no question that I had it at lunch, because I had paid my check and I could distinctly recall returning the change from my payment to the wallet, but I had no conscious memory of having returned my wallet to my pocket. Returning to the restaurant did not uncover the wallet, it was not in my car, or in my office, and I knew those were the only places I had been since paying my check.

At that point I was pretty much too upset (and admitting that something was still interfering with optimal thought processes) to do anything but go home.

Not One of My Better Weeks So Far

This is Steven Petrick posting.

This is the second post for the day. I had the first post almost done when my fingers fumbled and hit some combination of keys that totally destroyed everything I had written in the previous post before I could post it.

Maybe I am still suffering from whatever hit me Monday morning (which was what much of that post was about in any case). That little incident put me to bed on Monday, and honestly I should have stayed home in bed on Tuesday (yesterday). Driving in had already made it very clear I was not firing on all cylinders, as my car's tires ran up against the curb, not once but twice just driving to the office (a thing that generally never happens, but was indicative that I was not driving as accurately as is my norm). I do not claim to be the best driver in the world, I am probably not in the top 200,000 of drivers in the world, but I am reasonably competent and conscientious about my driving. Scraping the curbs was a solid warning that something was still not right.

Not right as in my wallet disappeared.

I had it at lunch because I paid my bill and could clearly remember putting the change, and what the change was, into my wallet. At some point in the office I suddenly realized my wallet was not in my back pocket. The only places I had been since I last had clear knowledge of it was the restaurant, the car, and the office (and of course the respective parking lots). Retracing my steps to the restaurant met with no success, no one had turned in a wallet, and it was not in my car or in the office, and no one else (SVC, Leanna, and Jean) had seen it.

At that point, I was upset and distracted enough that I just went home (having left my name and phone number at the restaurant in the hopes that a good Samaritan would find my wallet and call me).

With my wallet lost, the added stress (apparently) of not being fully functional left me unable to sleep most of last night while I tried to think what had happened. Finally it dawned on me that I had not actually searched all of the office, but at that point it would have taken an hour (round trip) to drive into Amarillo from Canyon to check my suspicion and then return home to go to bed and too much of the night had already passed. I finally managed to get some sleep.

When morning came I headed into the office, and my suspicion proved accurate. While yesterday I would have sworn that I had not been to the back of the building that day, it turned out I had, and my wallet had worked its way out of my pocket and fallen on the floor of the back restroom, where it had sat patiently until I returned (no one had cause to go back there yesterday so no one else had found it).

It is a relief to have that resolved, but it was only one a number of things that all happened yesterday.

A short stretch of the center lane of I-40 was shut down, blocking my route into the office that morning (not a good thing to happen when you are not as alert as you should be). Leaving the office when I did got me almost home just in time to be blocked by police and sheriff's vehicles responding to a "shots fired" incident on my home street in Canyon: they had cordoned off two blocks which forced me to detour around them but did not keep me from my own apartment parking lot.

In all, it has been an eventful week so far, and truth to tell I am still not fully alert from whatever hit me Monday morning. I am, at least, functional.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Steve Cole's random thoughts on shared universes and crossover shows.

Recently, two new science fiction shows began: Killjoys (about some bounty hunters) and Dark Matter (about some mercenaries who wake up from stasis without their memories). When watching Killjoys one evening, I asked Leanna "Why don't they use that to open the vault on the lower deck?" and she gently told me that the vault in question was on the other ship in the other TV show with the other crew.

This set off a series of thoughts.

Why weren't the two shows set in the same universe? How much trouble would it have been to do so? Surely, it must be less trouble to invent one set of things like geography and culture and governments than to create two. With a firm hand in charge of consistency (please stop laughing, I know that every science fiction show changes the laws of the universe every time a new team of writers is hired) it could work.

This then led me to another idea, one I have had before and often mentioned at dinner but not in a blog.

Why don't all of the writers at all of the networks get together and link all of those police drama shows set in New York City? I mean, if you need a police commissioner on your cop show, why do anything other than ask Tom Selleck to step over from the Blue Bloods sound stage. I'm sure he'd do it for a reasonable price (actors love money and a walk-on role to give somebody a medal or a reprimand couldn't take that much time and bother). Surely the people who own Blue Bloods (Tom Selleck's show) would love to have a crossover with SVU (the sex-crimes drama also set in New York City). Can't one of the minor actors playing a sex crimes detective on Law & Order SVU show up at a crime scene and decide to leave the case in the competent hands of the Major Case Squad from Blue Bloods?

For that matter, are there not other shows that are totally unrelated but happen to be set in the same city? When new shows are created, why not put them in the same city as successful but unrelated shows and have the minor actors (who cost less) do walk-on roles to deliver a prisoner or a file? There was a really great show about FBI Witness Protection that was set in New Mexico. Why didn't every show putting someone into witness protection have an actor from that show briefly walk onto the set to pick them up and whisk them away?

This would get the viewers of one show to try another. So what if the other is on another network? Just arrange to have someone from that show appear on your show this week and send one of your people over to walk-onto their show next week! Everybody wins.

Monday, October 12, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 4-10 October 2015

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady progress on several projects. The weather this week was cooler, rain most of the week, warmer on Saturday. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was the Klingon Master Starship Book. It is also available in print.

Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet-Deluxe, Communique #118, Hailing Frequencies, art for the Romulan Master Starship Book, customer requests, and Captain's Log #51. Steve was back to full speed on his exercise program, walking the full five miles with Wolf.

Steven Petrick worked on the revision for Star Fleet Battles Module C1 and the Romulan Master Starship Book.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with a 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. She released Communique #118 and Hailing Frequencies on Saturday.

Jean worked on a new scenario for Federation Commander, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,796 friends), managed our Twitter feed (159 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread A Call to Arms: Star Fleet-Deluxe, Communique #118, and Hailing Frequencies, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, October 11, 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.

Saturday, October 10, 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:

Friday, October 09, 2015

Trivideo Guide, Wednesday 18 October Y216, pt. 1

Transcribed from the USAF datatapes by Reece Watkins.

The Romulan Channel: 9:00 p.m. "I, Colus" Episode 9: Chief of Staff Petricchio nearly causes an interstellar incident when he mistakes Minister for Andromedan Affairs Gastrightus for a common stomach ailment. (2 hrs.)

Gorn-o-Vision: 8:00 p.m. "Stuff We Can Sneak Up On" Episode 12: The Terran snail, a couple of sickly Seltorians, and white paint drying. (3 hrs., 30 min.)

Klinshai Value Channel: Continuous: "Mail Order Weapons of Mass Destruction." Tonight's special: Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat.

Captain's Log #14, (c) 1994 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, October 08, 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.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Projects and Interruptions

This is Steven Petrick posting.

With the Klingon Master Starship Book done, work moves apace to the Romulan book. SVC intends to keep a tighter grasp on the production of graphics in an effort to get this book done in a shorter time than the Klingon book. Work has already begun on these, but it must be born in mind that the Romulans will have more graphics than virtually any other empire, having three complete series of ships (Eagles, Kestrels, and Hawks). If neither of us had anything else to work on, this book would still probably not be done as quickly as we would like, but there are other projects to work on, and real world (outside the office) issues that need to be addressed and will take their fair share (and too often and unfair share) of our combined efforts.

Tuesday, October 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.

Monday, October 05, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 27 September - 3 October 2015

Steve Cole reports:         

This was a week of steady work on many projects, with two major projects finished (as signaled by the Red Moon). The weather this week was cooler, even outright cold on Saturday. The spam storm cranked back up to 200 per day, having needed several days to pound through the last round of filters. A joyous chapter in the lives of the Steves ended sadly as one of their favorite restaurants changed the menu to eliminate the only thing they would eat there.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week were the SFB Module C6 Rulebook and SSD Book (in either B&W or colorized).

Steve Cole did mostly support work on other projects this week, taking a break between his own projects. He did the last art for the Klingon Master Starship Book and the first 50 ships for the Romulan Master Starship Book, checked the SFB Module C1 SSD book, wrote blogs, created ships for SFBOL3G, and other things. His knees fully recovered, Steve worked his way back to 1/2 mile walking per day and 3 miles for the week.

Steven Petrick finished the Klingon Master Starship Book (to be uploaded this week), got a good start on the Romulan Master Starship Book, wrote a blog, and finished the update of the SFB Module C1 SSD Book (to be uploaded after the rulebook is revised).

 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 managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,784 friends); managed our Twitter feed (159 followers); commanded the Rangers; dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS; managed the blog feed; proofread SFB Module C1 SSD Book, the Klingon Master Starship Book, and the Romulan Master Starship Book; took care of customers; uploaded PDFs; and did some marketing.

Sunday, October 04, 2015


Jean Sexton writes:

It breaks my heart to see the flooding in South Carolina and coastal North Carolina. These areas are near where I lived for many years and I am familiar with them. While my family is currently safe, I pray for the safety of the residents within the area.

Saturday, October 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.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Clash of Wills

From Captain's Log #12:

A captain of the nearly crippled cruiser Potemkin was coming in to Earth for repairs. Most of his instrumentation was trashed and his helm control was minimal. After entering the system, his helm officer reported that there was a ship on a collision course.

The captain got on subspace and ordered the other vessel to change course. Shortly a reply came back for him to alter his course. Incensed he replied, "I am a Captain; change your course immediately."

"I am an ensign; change your course NOW!"

The captain was furious. "Now listen, Ensign. I'm coming in with a crippled *&%@#@@!! cruiser; change your course!"

"This is a @#!#%'%#@ planet ... Sir!"

(c) 1993 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

End of a Project

This is Steven Petrick posting.

With much thanks to the volunteers, in this case Ken Kazinski, Stewart Frazier, John Crawford, Terry O'Carroll, Ryan Opel, Gary Carney, and Loren Knight, the Klingon Master Starship Book has reached completion. SVC has created the final graphics (actually, updated corrections to graphics that were found in error) and these have been placed into the book.

Even better, Jean Sexton has said that all of her changes and corrections have been made.

So the book has been turned over to Leanna to be placed into production, and Simone has created the cover for it.

This book took far longer than it should have, and we are working on a system to try to streamline the production of the Romulan Master Starship Book so that it will take less time. The first section of this book has gone to the volunteers for checking, and SVC is working on some of the initial graphics (we need "placeholder" graphics simply to get a "page count" and verify the layout). This book actually exists right now as a rough draft. That is to say that all of the text has been assembled in rule number order, and all of the ship descriptions have been revised to incorporate the new data points including updated and expanded refit data. The graphics, however, still need to be done and the volunteers need to look for those things that I somehow missed and Jean has not read it yet. And of course as always with a new empire, the existing format as used in the first three books (Federation, Hydran, Klingon) has to be modified for the Romulans who have some differences from those three empires, even while having many similarities. In many ways, the easier book to do next (instead of the Romulans) would have been the Kzintis as their book will (except for not needing any UIM lines on non-advanced technology ships and not having any security stations to address on their generic units) be virtually identical to the format used by the Klingons (disruptors and drones).

At least when the Romulan book is done, it will be somewhat easier to then do the Gorns and Inter-Stellar Concordium (no cloaking devices or nuclear space mines need to be addressed, but other than they would use pretty much the same format as the Romulans).

Progress is being made.