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Monday, February 29, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 21-27 February 2016

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady progress. The weather this week was cold on Monday but warmed steadily.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was Star Fleet Times #41-#45.


Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2 Deluxe (doing the painting guide section), Minor Empires (staff reports and Jean's proofreading of the text), art for the Romulan Master Starship Book, placeholder art for the Lyran Master Starship Book, and Communique #123. Steve walked half a mile on most days, wrote a blog, and did some art for SFBOL3G and Facebook.

Steven Petrick worked on the Romulan Master Starship Book and Lyran Master Starship Book.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on Nexus fiction; managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,016 friends); managed our Twitter feed (177 followers); commanded the Rangers; dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS; managed the blog feed; proofread Minor Empires, A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2 Deluxe, and Romulan Master Starship Book; took care of customers; uploaded PDFs; and did some marketing.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

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.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

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, February 26, 2016

The Ships that Were Never Built, part 2

Hydran cruiser HMS Forgiveness
Hydran destroyer HMS Cowardly
Hydran light cruiser HMS Lukewarm Dedication
ISC destroyer Assault
ISC frigate Veteran of Ten Battles
ISC strike cruiser Vengeance

Captain's Log #17, (c) 1995 Amarillo Design Bureau.
Thanks to David A. Coulthurst, Jeff Laikind, Larry Ramey, Richard Brooks, Stephan Fassman, Scott Fridenberg, Jeff Zellerkraut, and Reece Watkins.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

More Progress on Master Star Ship Books

This is Steven Petrick posting.

More work done on the Romulan Master Star Ship Book. Jean is reading and editing pages that the rest of the guys have reported (and I thank them very much for it, but reports are still coming in so it is not finished) and SVC is creating graphics (almost all of the non-X KR graphics are done).

The Lyran Master Star Ship Book is moving along. I am trying to get through the Lyran Democratic Republic as an addition to this (they are both Lyrans and use a lot of the same stuff), but the Lyran Democratic Republic is actually harder because they have many cases where there is only one ship, which changes the format of the refits (one ship, gets its refit, you can hardly say that it was "rare" in one year, becoming "common" in another year, before becoming "standard"). Plus the Lyran Democratic Republic Order of Battle was last updated back in 1993, and they have gotten a few new ships since then, so I have to go through their Order of Battle and account for these. And there are other problems.

I was expecting to make more headway on the Lyran Democratic Republic today than I did, because something else came up. The Federation & Empire guys need input on the Lyran Democratic Republic now, which means instead of dealing with each ship as I came to it, I had to do a mass search and update. And there are still questions to resolve. Lots of "general" units have been published since 1993. Does the Lyran Democratic Republic operate the variant of the Armed Priority Transport called the "Cutter?" If so, how many of them? What about hospital freighters? What about Auxiliary Scouts? We have so far determined that any use of "Heavy" or "Jumbo" freighters by the Lyran Democratic Republic is "conjectural," but they must have used at least some "large" and "small" auxiliary cruisers.

The list goes on.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

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, February 23, 2016


Steve Cole writes:
1. Your $500 Macy's gift card will expire in three days. (See attached file or link for copy of card.)   
2. Edits of contract attached. (Unzip the file and check paragraph nine.)
3. The delivery of your ordered goods is impossible.  (Attached is a zip file with details.)
4. Urgent fax document attached (guess what, it's a zip file).
5. Last minute cruise package $35/day. (Click the link to download information.)
6. What are you doing for lunch tomorrow? (Attached is a zip file with a menu of a new restaurant.)
7. New career for you, easy training, immediate high-paying jobs. (Click the link to download information.)
8. I demand a refund. (Attached is a zip file with proof I paid for the order you never sent.)
9. New diet plan safely and permanently sheds excess pounds. (Click the link to download information.)
10. Looking for an internship in your industry. (Attached is a zip file with my resume.)
In every case, the zip file (or sometimes a PDF or a link to a download) is a virus-packed stink bomb ready to explode.

Monday, February 22, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 14-20 February 2016

Steve Cole writes:

This was a week of steady progress. The weather this week was cool, and warm on a few days. We had a meeting with the staff of AMA-Con, a local convention scheduled for July, to decide that ADB would have a booth and events there.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was Captain's Log #41. Also new were the color SSDs for Star Fleet Battles and the Federation Commander ship cards that are from that issue. Associated works are the Captain's Log #41 Supplemental File and the Hurricane scenario.


Steve Cole worked on Federation & Empire Minor Empires, ship graphics for the Romulan Master Starship Book and SFBOL3G, blogs for Jean's stockpile and Communique for next month.

Steven Petrick worked on the Star Fleet Battles Module C2 update and the Romulan Master Starship Book. He also reviewed some scenarios and fiction.

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

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 getting some of the old Nexus material in shape to upload, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,008 friends), managed our Twitter feed (177 followers), commanded the Rangers, discussed new RPG systems for Prime Directive with two outside designers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Minor Empires, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did a lot of marketing for our Kindle book, For the Glory of the Empire.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

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, February 20, 2016

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, February 19, 2016

The Ships that Were Never Built, part 1

Andromedan Negotiator Class Cruiser
Federation battleship USS Gandhi
Federation destroyer USS Good Ship Lollipop
Federation heavy cruiser USS Defiler 
Gorn battleship Barney
Gorn frigate Alligator Belt

Captain's Log #17, (c) 1995 Amarillo Design Bureau.
Thanks to David A. Coulthurst, Jeff Laikind, Larry Ramey, Richard Brooks, Stephan Fassman, Scott Fridenberg, Jeff Zellerkraut, and Reece Watkins.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

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, February 17, 2016


Steve Cole's thoughts on several incidents in military history that no one outside of the military remembers today.
1. During the Kuwait War [1991, also known as the First Gulf War, the Second Gulf War (Iran vs. Iraq being the First), and as Desert Storm] a brigade of the 2nd Armored Division was operating as the third brigade of the 1st Mechanized Division (replacing a brigade that wasn't available for war). On the third day of the ground campaign, this brigade slammed into a major Iraqi defensive position manned by Republican Guard troops. Rather than surrender when attacked, the Republican Guard units fought fanatically, continuing to fight after their positions were overrun. They were very good about sneaking around and firing rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs, think bazookas) into American vehicles. These did no serious damage to the tanks and only rarely did they seriously damage a Bradley (infantry carrier). The problem was that (in the thermal night sights used by the American army) the impact of an RPG on the side of a vehicle looked like the firing of a main tank cannon. This created serious confusion, and in a two-hour battle the US lost five tanks and five Bradleys -- all of them to American tanks that saw an RPG impact and thought that the vehicle hit was an Iraqi tank firing its cannon at the Americans. Fortunately, good vehicle design limited casualties to a dozen killed or wounded.
2. Remember the Tonkin Gulf battles back in 1964 in which Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked US destroyers, inspiring Congress to pass the Tonkin Gulf Resolution and start the Vietnam War? There is a story behind that. The CIA was using small boats to smuggle guns up the Vietnamese coast into North Vietnam for us by US-based rebels trying to overthrow the communist government. The North Vietnamese, unhappy with this flow of arms, used their navy (a few torpedo boats) to stop the small CIA boats. The US Navy then sent groups of destroyers on sweeps into the Gulf to drive the torpedo boats away and allow the CIA boats to go forward. The Vietnamese torpedo boats stood their ground (that is, their water) and fought back. (It also happens that one of the US destroyers had a defective rudder and heard "torpedoes" in the water every time they turned left.)
3. It is a meme of the Korean War that the US troops were stuck on the roads while the clever Chinese "volunteers" scrambled along mountain trails to get behind them, trap them, and destroy them. It's a little more complicated than that. The Chinese did have excellent infantry that was accustomed to long fast marches. They were light infantry because they simply didn't own much in the way of heavier weapons like artillery. They did indeed use a good strategy to sneak down those trails to get behind American units. At that point, other Chinese troops would use human wave attacks (as they had no supporting artillery) to get the front-line US units to retreat down roads that had lots of Chinese ambushes waiting. Those ambushes cost a lot of American lives and captured a lot of vehicles and weapons, but in almost every case the heavier-armed Americans broke through the trap and escaped because trucks on a road are faster than infantry on a mountain trail. The Chinese tactic only worked when the Americans didn't know there was about to be a battle. Once the Americans were actually fighting, they out-gunned and out maneuvered the Chinese almost every time.
4. Rocket artillery has the advantage of being easy to move (the launcher is lighter than a cannon as it does not have to contain the explosion of the fuel) and able to fire a lot more rounds in less time than a battery of gun artillery. This means it can really put a lot of explosives into a small spot very quickly. A conventional cannon bombardment gets started slowly and the enemy has time to take cover or move. The disadvantages are that each rocket weighs a lot more than one cannon shell (as the fuel isn't contained when ignited so the rocket uses a lot more) and rockets are not that accurate (until GPS made them super-accurate). The normal use for modern GPS rocket artillery is counter-artillery, in that once a radar determines where the enemy cannon are, the rocket launcher can smash anything in that spot. Since there are fewer counter-artillery missions than other types of artillery missions, the ammunition weight isn't that big a problem. Modern artillery is taught to move to a new spot, fire a few shots, then move before the enemy can hit back. Rocket artillery responds so quickly that this tactic is nullified.
 5. It was the destruction of the Spanish Navy at Trafalgar in 1805 that triggered the wave of independence that swept Latin America. The French (with a larger fleet) lost more ships but suffered less of a long-lasting effect. It was the largely undamaged and victorious British fleet that enforced the famous Monroe Doctrine (the US proclamation that no European power, i.e., Spain, had the right to dominate or control trade with Latin America).

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

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.

Monday, February 15, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 7-13 February 2016

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady progress on new products. The weather this week was cool. We did release Hailing Frequencies, Communique #122, and the Kindle version of our first fiction anthology (For the Glory of the Empire) this week.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, DriveThru Fiction, and Wargame Vault this week was the edited and lower-priced version of the PDF of For the Glory of the Empire.

Steve Cole worked on Hailing Frequencies, Communique #122, art for the Romulan Master Starship Book, art for SFBOL3G, and wrote some blogs. Despite working less than full time as he continues to recover from surgery, he kept up to date on all of his routine work and email and walked Wolf every day. With Steven Petrick's help, he completely reorganized and cleaned up the Gorn art files.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #51, Star Fleet Battles Module C2 update, and the Master Starship books.

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

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 got our first Kindle book uploaded, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,998 friends), managed our Twitter feed (177 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, started to proofread the old Nexus stories for eventual use, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Thoughts on Valentine's Day

Steve Cole writes:

Never quit trying to be romantic.

For couples who have been together for a long time, romance often becomes an unspoken understanding) (which means no longer happens). Presents are not as big a deal when they have become written line items in the family budget. You've said "I love you" so many times that it seems pointless to repeat it one more time. That special snack item you sometimes picked up for your partner now comes in a bag of a dozen you buy at the grocery store out of force of habit. You've been everywhere you ever wanted to go so taking the weekend off to travel to some special somewhere is so boring you'd rather just stay home. You've been out to special dinners at every restaurant in town and it just seems silly to spend the money again to eat the same boring food in the same tired place.

So don't let "same old thing" turn into "nothing." Try something new, just because you once liked trying new things with your partner back when your partnership was new and exciting. Or maybe you go to someplace you long ago got tired of, just see what changed. Maybe you trade a couple of your chores just to see how the other half lives. Maybe you spend a little of the money the budget gives you for your own special treats on something your partner would like to have. Maybe you try a little harder to do a little more for your partner. When your partner does something you like, say "That's why I'm still in love with you after all these years."

Saturday, February 13, 2016

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, February 12, 2016

Last Words of Famous Captains, part 2

They never use suicide shuttles. Mostly.

You forgot to load what?

Displacement always works. At least it has so far. Go ahead and give it a whirl.

Where did the weapons officer go?

I allocated power for it. What do you mean it's not there any more?

Captain's Log #17 (c) 1995 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


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:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

They Are Trying To Make Us Think The Machines Are Human

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Well, I got one of the new "robo calls."

This one is designed to mimic an actual human as the caller.

The phone rings, you pick it up and a cheery female voice (after registering that a male voice has answered, which takes a second or two, i.e., a noticeable delay) says "Hi! Is the lady of the house in?"

When you respond "This is a business." there is again a noticeable delay while the computer is checking its list of responses, then the cheery female voice says "Oh. I am sorry, I did not know this was a business. We will update our records. Bye."

The thing is (besides the very noticeable beats between statements) that when I answered the phone I stated that this was "Amarillo Design Bureau," but the program is not set to catch that. Instead, as noted, there were a few beats of delay while the program noted the male voice and chose the cheery female voice to respond.

They are getting better, but you can still detect the difference between a real person and a machine.

But as in the Movie "Eyeborgs" we may come to a day when the President of the United States is a machine, and none of us will be the wiser.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

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.

Monday, February 08, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 31 January - 6 February 2016

Steve Cole reports: This was a week of good news and steady progress. The weather this week was chilly, often dropping to freezing during the night. The first of the non-updated SFBOL2G SSDs were deleted this week.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was the SFB Module R11 Rulebook


Our first Kindle Book got very close to release.

Steve Cole worked on ships for the Romulan Master Starship Book, ship graphics for SFBOL3G, fiction for Captain's Log #51, blogs, and other projects.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #51, the Romulan Master Starship Book, and the SFB Module C2 update.

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 got taken off of oxygen and the breathing problem that almost killed her just stopped, so the drainage tube was removed. She worked on deals for new RPG systems, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,989 friends), managed our Twitter feed (175 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread fiction, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

On Rest and Boredom and Recovery

Jean Sexton muses:

After escaping from the hospital, the doctors all told me to rest and give my body time to recover. I wasn't really very strong; I could walk around the section of the hospital that I was in, but I needed help with oxygen and I needed something to steady me. I was the walking champion of the floor, but that was because walking helped ease my stress, so I walked a lot..

I didn't realize how hard it would be to do something as simple as walking in my apartment. I was hauling around 50 feet of tubing around the apartment and if it could get caught on something or kinked, it did. When I walked outside I had to haul around a tank of oxygen. If I needed to go to work either to do something only I could or because there were multiple appointments in one day, then the machine that condensed oxygen, my "portable" oxygen tank, the dog, and I would have to be hauled to work and back home. Everything was a huge effort.

So I mostly stayed home. I was tired, so I didn't want to do anything that required focusing. The book I had read some in the hospital was quite heavy, so if I dropped it when I dozed off, my toes woke me up when the book hit them. Cooking and baking could have dangerous consequences if I didn't focus, so I limited myself to microwaving meals or eating cold ones.

The lack of focus meant watching TV shows just to have noise in the house. I did do some simple work from the house, but I discovered the wasteland of daytime TV firsthand. I was bored. Bored, bored. So bored. I waited for the days when I felt strong enough to go to work.

I don't handle boredom well. It finally came time to go to the doctor who was focusing on my lungs. I told him how bored I was and how difficult it was for the folks at ADB to haul me and the equipment to and from work. He really listened to me and sent me forth to walk for six minutes with one of his nurses. Finally, just shy of four weeks out of the hospital, I was able to breathe well enough to keep my oxygen levels up. He decided that as long as I wasn't trying to sleep, that I could go without oxygen. Hallelujah! I was finally free to travel tether free.

The very next day I had more good news. My body decided to stop making fluid around my lungs and the drainage catheter came out a week early. It turns out this was really good since my body was trying to incorporate the tube and sutures into my body.

On Friday I got my CPAP machine and I while I still have to have oxygen at night, it should mean I get healthier. It turns out I was forgetting to breathe sometimes -- never a good situation -- and this should solve that.

Recovery is a long, hard road. It is made up of a lot of baby steps that you might not notice. Talk to friends who can remind you that two weeks ago it took 25 minutes to walk 0.2 miles and this week it it took about 15 and you weren't as tired. Recovery is helped by exercise and by eating sensibly. Both may be hard. I know that I eat when I am under stress and recovery is stressful. I am trying to eat healthy things when I do eat.

Am I recovered? Not yet. I still tire easily and I have to concentrate sometimes to get enough oxygen in my lungs. My poor body is still battered and sore. I am not allowed to drive for at least seven more weeks. And losing weight (and then maintaining a healthy weight) will be a life-long effort. Still, I am improving and ADB will see more of me during working hours. That should translate into better service for you!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

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, February 05, 2016

Last Words of Famous Captains, part 1

What do you mean, I forgot to power the tractors?

How many weasels do we have armed? None? Really?

It's a pseudo-torpedo. I just know it is!

Give me the weapons readout on a Stinger? No, not the whole squadron, just one Stinger. Oh, that is just one ...

What do you mean: "The racks are empty"?

Captain's Log #17 (c) 1995 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Projects Continue Apace With New Headaches

This is Steven Petrick posting.

SVC is producing more graphics for the Romulan Master Star Ship Book (he just finished the King Condor and its variants, to include the King Shrike), and I am generating new graphic requests (I just sent him the SeaHawk files).

However, today we discovered a couple of boo-boos.

One of these that no one had reported was that the listing of the various SeaHawk variants had the wrong rule numbers (found by accident while creating the "request for graphics" file). This has been fixed.

The other is that, while I had created the file a while ago, somehow I had never sent the file of "Romulan Generic Units" out for review. The product might have gone to press without that file being reviewed (and as the SeaHawk error above demonstrates, I am not perfect). Fortunately one of the checkers asked, in essence, why I had not sent the file to him, which revealed the error. The file has been sent now.

I am still working on the Lyran Master Star Ship Book, which is in pretty good shape as a draft, and am  going through the Lyran Democratic Republic, which despite being a smaller empire is actually harder to do. The problem is that the Lyran Democratic Republic's smaller fleet is spelled out, year by year, in Module C3, but since that was published . . . well things have changed somewhat. As an example, while it does not impact the year-by-year lists directly, the entry for the "Light Monitor" in Module R11 specifically notes that the Lyrans gave a light monitor to the Lyran Democratic Republic in Y163, later taking the ship back and replacing it with a regular monitor. Not a big deal, but the entry on the arrival of the Monitor in the historical background had to be modified to reflect the arrival of the light monitor and the subsequent exchange. Add to this,  however is that the Lyran Democratic Republic Monitor has its on (R14.0) series rule number (because it was unique, i.e., the only monitor the Lyran Democratic Republic ever had), which has led to that rule number being expanded and subdivided to account for  not just the monitor, but the light monitor and the consideration of converting the monitor into a fast monitor (never done).

Of course the Lyran Democratic Republic also had one specific rule for "bases" in its (R14.0) rule numbering sequence) which has been expanded to cover (conjectural) stellar fortress, (conjectural) advanced technology starbase, (conjectural) starbase, (conjectural) advanced technology sector station, (conjectural) sector station, (unique) advanced technology battle station, battle station, (conjectural) advanced technology base station, base station, (conjectural) advanced technology civilian base station, civilian base station, systems activity maintenance station (because of the UIMs), and ground based defense disruptor stations (because of the UIMs). All other Lyran Democratic Republic bases are handled by the rule "same as a Lyran base of the same type."

And then there is that specific rule number for Lyran Democratic Republic auxiliaries that will have be dug into (has to cover those auxiliaries that get phaser-Gs, the others are the same as a Lyran version).

There is also the question of what to do with the "conjectural Lyran Democratic Republic fighters."

So if you think my job is often easy . . . see the title of the last blog I posted (GRIN).

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

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, February 02, 2016


Steve Cole's thoughts on several subjects that came to mind at various times.

1. If you're taking a bunch of medications, you need to have a written list of them on your person at all times. (This could be written in the back of your appointment book, or typed on a piece of paper.) Anything that happens to you is going to involve a doctor wanting to know what medications you are on, and this way, you have all the answers.

2. If you are responsible for a parent or other loved one, you need to have a similar document about them, but include such things as medical history and doctor contacts.

3. Recently, one of the software programs I used suffered a fatal corruption and had to be reinstalled. During that process, I had to go back through the "settings file" which I had not seen since 2002. I discovered several places where clicking on a little box would make the program stop doing some stuff that had annoyed me for over a decade. I feel stupid for not having sought solutions to those complaints. Instead, I just grumbled and lived with them.

4. Back when I was in college (early 70s) one of the more popular songs (we had record players back then, tapes did not appear until after I graduated) was MacArthur Park. It was haunting and sad and nobody really even thought of trying to understand what it meant. It was (as one might guess) a guy who just broke up with his girlfriend and misses her and the relationship, but knew it was what it had to be. It was 40 years later before I understood that the opening line (Spring was never waiting for us, girl) meant that their relationship was doomed because it lacked at least one of the necessary elements to make a marriage work, and thus could not go on. The songwriter ate lunch in that park with his girlfriend for about two years, and stuff in the song is stuff they saw every day. Families often had birthdays, and the city often had sudden rainstorms. As people gathered their stuff and ran for shelter, now and then some family would abandon the birthday cake which was then ruined by the rain, causing everyone who passed it on the dash for shelter to feel sad for them.

Monday, February 01, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 24-30 January 2016

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady progress. The weather this week was cool.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was Captain's Log #18 and Star Fleet Times #36-40.

Steve Cole kept up to date on routine stuff, worked on fiction (finding and editing a story that will go into a future Captain's Log), talked with a potential author for a new Prime Directive series, got the new Traveller book from Mongoose and put Jean and Mike West to work on the PD version, did a bunch of art for SFBOL3G, and did some art for the Romulan Master Starship Book. His exercise program moved forward; most days he was able to walk half a mile.

Steven Petrick worked on fiction, Captain's Log #51, the Romulan Master Starship Book, and the SFB Module C2 update.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with five new entries and one updates.

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 (mostly) rested at home and went to doctor visits but did manage to get into the office for two brief and productive periods. She got PDF uploads restarted, took a fiction story home to read, and mapped out some other projects.