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Saturday, April 30, 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.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Texas Zone

Somewhere in a lonely office
There's a girl starting to realize
That east coast fate has turn its back on her
It's two A.M.

It's two A.M., the work is done
She's sitting here shakin', the ink's still warm
Maybe her proofreading is tired of checkin' morons

Yeah, there's a pen on the loose, bottles smackin' heads
Wrapped up in silence all the sense is dead
Cannot proofread, her whole life spins into a frenzy

Help, she's stepped into the Texas zone
This is a madhouse, should have stayed at home
Her starships been moved past the moon and star
Where is she to go now that she's gone too far?

Help, she's stepped into the Texas zone
This is a madhouse, should have stayed at home
Her starships been moved past the moon and star
Where is she to go now that she's gone too far?

She'll be in a rage
When the purple hits the page
She'll be in a rage
When the purple hits the page

She's falling into madness -- destination unknown
Double-crossed proofreader -- all alone
Can't get no respect, can't get reprieve
Where is Steve?

Well the pen weighs heavy on her shaking hand
This far from the promised land
When the purple comes
He'll know damn well he has been graded

Help, she's stepped into the Texas zone
This is a madhouse, should have stayed at home
Her starships been moved past the moon and star
Where is she to go now that she's gone too far?

Help, she's stepped into the Texas zone
This is a madhouse, should have stayed at home
Her starships been moved past the moon and star
Where is she to go now that she's gone too far?

She'll be in a rage
When the purple hits the page
She'll be in a rage
When the purple hits the page

When the purple hits the page

Help, she's stepped into the Texas zone
This is a madhouse, should have stayed at home
Her starships been moved past the moon and star
Where is she to go now that she's gone too far?

Help, she's stepped into the Texas zone
This is a madhouse, should have stayed at home
Her starships been moved past the moon and star
Where is she to go now that she's gone too far?

She'll be in a rage
When the purple hits the page
She'll be in a rage
When the purple hits the page

She'll be in a rage
When the purple hits the page
She'll be in a rage
When the purple hits the page

She'll be in a rage
When the purple hits the page
She'll be in a rage
When the purple hits the page

She'll be in a rage
When the purple hits the page
She'll be in a rage
When the purple hits the page

(parody by Steve Cole)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

TV Show Writers Sometimes Do Poor Research

This is Steven Petrick posting.

There was one of those moments, among so many, that showed up recently on "Grimm" (and got us speaking at lunch about many similar scenes).

There is an accident involving a handgun. specifically a revolver of the type used by police back in the day.

Three young men are drinking and "doing a little weed," and one shows off one of his father's samurai swords. This prompts the kid whose house they are all in to go upstairs and get his grandfather's pistol. None of these kids (all teenagers, probably all at least 18) apparently know nothing of gun safety.

Having retrieved the gun from under his mother's bed to show his friends, one of them immediately grabs it, pulls the hammer back, and pulls the trigger.

Rule #1, Treat Every Firearm as if it is LOADED. Even if you personally observed someone unload a firearm before handing it to you: CHECK.

Okay, the pistol has discharged, but apparently that bullet went wide, i.e., no one was apparently hit.

However, this being "Grimm," one of the two kids NOT holding the handgun is a "Wesen," and the "startle response" from the gunshot causes him to reveal himself to his friends.

The startle response to his appearance causes the kid holding the pistol to drop it, whereupon it hits the floor and discharges a second time, killing the Wesen kid. Just bad luck.

Also, impossible.

Unless someone actually cocked the hammer (and even then it would be unlikely, although within the realm of possibility).

But if you drop a revolver on the floor with the hammer currently resting on a discharged cartridge, all the gun is going to do is make a big "thud" when it hits the floor. It cannot fire.

If it was an automatic, you might (MIGHT) make a case that the defined circumstance happened (because once an automatic fires, it automatically ejects the spent cartridge, loads a new cartridge (assuming a magazine with cartridges is loaded) and cocks the hammer. In such case an rather shot out (heavily used over a long time) automatic might have enough wear that the hammer will fall as a result of the drop.

But the situation is impossible with a revolver if no one has cycled the weapon (pulled the hammer back which would simultaneously rotate a new cylinder with an unfired cartridge into position to be fired).

The upshot is that when I saw the scene as it was described by the surviving kid (the other non-Wesen kid had been murdered, prompting the investigation) the one thing that went through my head was "he is lying, it cannot have happened that way.

Unfortunately, it was just another example of bad story telling, and when has that ever happened before on a TV show?

Wednesday, April 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.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Steve Cole ponders various thoughts that came to mind.

1. Why are there pyramids all over the world? Did they use plans left by ancient astronauts? Hardly. A pyramid is the logical shape of a loose pile of dirt, rocks, or anything else. The sides slope inward because with low-tech building technology that is the only real way to produce a massive structure that is stable. If you build a cubic structure from stacked stones or mud bricks you cannot get it very high (fifty feet is pushing it with good cut stone blocks) because the internal pressure will cause it to sag outward, split apart, and fall down. Having the sides slope in results in the pressure going inward against other stones leaning in the other direction, producing a stable structure. Steel beams will allow you to build vertical walls, but those weren't really available in ancient times.

2. Why are UFO abduction stories so consistent that they must be real? I don't really know. Could it have anything to do with people reading the books by other abductees? A better question my by why the alien who examined Betty and Barney Hill looked remarkably like the one on Outer Limits a few weeks before their interrupted journey.

3. Immanuel Velikovsky was the earliest of the non-mainstream science writers. A Russian-born psychologist, he began to write astronomy books while seeking answers to the question of why so many humans had so many psychological problems. His general idea was that some astronomical event had so deeply scared the psyche of the entire human race that we were all crazy. In his view (expressed in is book Worlds in Collision), the original Solar System was Mercury, then Mars, then Earth, then the asteroids, then the four gas giants. At some point something ran into Jupiter causing it to emit a blob of material that became the planet Venus. This planet then spiraled into the inner system, narrowly missing Earth (but inspiring many ancient legends), and stabilized in the second orbit. This pushed Mars out of the second orbit, past Earth (another narrow miss, causing another round of ancient legends a few centuries later) to eventually end up in the previously unoccupied fourth orbit. While his theory was nonsense, he was the first writer to theorize that planets moved around in the early Solar System (turns out they did, but not those planets or that way) and that astronomical events could have an impact on human history. He also proved that if the book was interesting enough, there were millions of people willing to read scientific nonsense. Except for his books, we might never have had the whole ancient astronaut thing.

Monday, April 25, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 17-23 April 2016

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week that focused on Captain's Log #51. The weather this week was mild; we even got a little rain.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was Star Fleet Battles Module X1R Rulebook.


Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #51, sent a graphic to SFBOL3G, and kept up to date with a few minor fixes to A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Deluxe.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #51 and did quality control on large shipments of miniatures.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with one 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 worked on the Prime Directive page Captain's Log #51, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3.066 friends), managed our Twitter feed (184 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Captain's Log #51, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, April 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.

Saturday, April 23, 2016


Steve Cole muses about things that make him feel good about the future of the Star Fleet Universe.
1. Continuing cordial emails with Paramount.
2. The steady stream of Starlist requests, averaging about one per day.
3. Emails every week from players returning to the game after a break of several years.
4. The surge in orders for SFB Basic Set by Alliance, the largest game wholesaler.
5. The steady growth of our page on Facebook, which recently passed 3,000 friends.
6. The reliable performance of the staff, who have worked hard to improve the quality of our products.
7. Warehouse manager Mike Sparks constantly ordering yet another restock of miniatures from the casting house.
8. Leanna coming to me every week with a list of parts we need to reprint for old products that still sell (white boxes, map panels, countersheet, even dice).
9. Every week, two or three players write in to thank me for doing the games and providing so much entertainment and so many valuable lessons.
10. Every week, somebody less than half of my age who runs another game company asks me for advice and thanks me for it.

Friday, April 22, 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, April 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/).

Wednesday, April 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!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Captain's Log #51 is on the horizon

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Work preceding apace on Captain's Log #51.

Most of the SSDs are done, some remain to be done. Some will require additions to the Romulan Master Starship Book before it can be completed.

The Battle Group tactics articles for both Federation Commander and Star Fleet Battles have been formatted, requiring only their introductions and their specific scenarios to be written.

The Platinum Hat Victory article is already in the can.

SVC has selected, in conference with Jean Sexton and myself, the lead fiction story for the issue, and editing proceeds apace.

The "Monster Article" requires some tinkering (and I wish that I was doing that, but just do not have a "feel" for it just now).

The "Ask Admiral Vanaxilth" files are in, edited, and waiting for their space in the book.

A selection of scenarios have been created from which the book will be filled.

Monday, April 18, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 10-16 April 2016

Steve Cole reports: 

This week was set aside to do everything that can't wait until after Captain's Log #51. (The three weeks of that project begin on Monday.)

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Deluxe Edition Rev-N. ACTASF Basic Edition Rev-F and the eight packs of ship cards were updated on DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault. The eight ship roster card packs were added to Warehouse 23.


Steve Cole worked on fiction submissions, finding at least one story good enough for Captain's Log (he already had one and will have to pick between the Monday), blogs, and other things.

Steven Petrick worked on the SFB Module C2 update, fiction submissions, and quality control.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with six 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 worked on fiction evaluations, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,059 friends), managed our Twitter feed (183 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread more of the Romulan Master Starship Book, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing

Sunday, April 17, 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.

Saturday, April 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.

Friday, April 15, 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, April 14, 2016

On Finishing A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Deluxe Edition

Steve Cole writes:

The plan for A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, Book-1.2 called for a preliminary "Basic Edition" which would fulfill the promise Mongoose made to replace the original book and its rules with a working rules set, followed by a "Deluxe Edition" which would have the same rules but with more art, background, an expanded painting guide, a new tactics section, and expanded annexes. It is the Deluxe Edition that will become the printed hard copy rulebook. The battle plan was to get the PDF version of Deluxe-1.2 (and the PDF version of Federation & Empire: Minor Empires) onto to download stores, then do Captain's Log #51, then check any player reports and do the hard copy versions of ACTASF Deluxe (and F&E Minor Empires).
We are taking the opportunity to put the story of how this project came together into the blog as a lesson in project management for customers and other game companies alike.
The first step was to notify the design and editing team of the plan, and to post a public "last call" for input. This gave Tony L. Thomas (developer of Book-1.2) time to round up any rules fixes and players a last chance to get any questions they had answered and any suggestions they made processed.
Steve Cole then set about creating the Deluxe Edition. The first thing he did was to check the corresponding (smaller) chapters in the Basic Edition. He discovered a problem with the painting guide chapter (which was written for the original resin ships that are no longer produced) and asked Tony to do a new painting guide. Steve then went to work on the parts he had to create.
The expanded background from Chapter 10 was not that difficult, but there was a lot of it. He consulted the published background of the Federation, Klingon Empire, Romulan Empire, Kzinti Hegemony, and Gorn Confederation and expanded the material in the Basic Edition accordingly. He even added the lists of presidents and emperors from the Prime Directive roleplaying books. Once complete, this section went to Jean Sexton for proofreading.
The new tactics chapter was fairly easy to compile, as we had published many tactics articles in issues of Captain's Log. We simply copied all of that into the ACTASF format and sent it to Tony, who approved some of it, deleted items that applied to deleted rules, and rewrote some parts of it to reflect the updated rules. This new chapter then went to Jean who was giving her Purple Pen of Proofreading a workout.
Steve then took the Basic Edition Annex chapter and added some additional material (Tony's designer notes, a fleet chart, a new glossary, and some notes about A Call to Arms rules not used in ACTASF), created the Deluxe Version of the Annex chapter, and sent that to Jean for proofreading. (Well, that's the simple version. The real story is that Steve opened up the annex chapter, dumped in everything he could find including tactics, notes, and other things, and gave that stewpot of unrelated items to Jean. She then divided the "junk basket" into three parts like Gaul: the new annex chapter, the new tactics chapter, and "other stuff we might use somewhere sometime but not in the book." Steve then reformatted the material into the three parts and submitted the tactics and annex chapters to Jean.)
Steve then moved on to the painting guide chapter, using Tony's new text and photos, some of the original text and photos, a revised asteroid article, and Matthew Sprange's history article about the Red Dagger Squadron (and Tony's photos of ships painted for that squadron) to create the revised and expanded painting guide section. This was when Steve discovered that when Mongoose sent the original photos of this section months earlier, they had accidentally left out a few of them. Steve did not inventory the photos when they originally arrived, but once he found what was missing, he asked for them and Mongoose sent the photos. This should have inspired Steve to check another archive of photos from Mongoose, but it did not.) Once the photos were in place, Steve gave this chapter to Jean.
Jean proofread the four chapters and sent them back to Steve for fixes. Steve made the fixes (more or less) and Jean checked them, having some of them done over, suggesting alternatives to others, and finding some more. A few back-and-forth passes and both Jean and Steve declared the expanded "back of the book" chapters finished.
At this point, Jean pointed out that page 1 (the table of contents) and page 2 (publisher information) had to be different for the Deluxe Edition. Steve printed her the Basic Edition pages which she marked up. A few round of back-and-forth and these were ready.
Steve then turned his attention to Tony's report of some minor corrections (and a few from Jean) for the "core" pages 3-96 which were common to both Basic and Deluxe Editions. These changes were quickly made, but care had to be taken to make the changes to Basic Revision E (producing Basic Revision F) before we created the Deluxe versions of those pages (which differed only in the footers and some added art). That "last call" for input resulted in one avid player sending five requests for clarifications (which were made as needed) and 13 proposals for rules changes (one of which had been made a year ago and another was used; the rest would have required sending the entire game back to playtesting. While some of those were worthy of consideration, that starship had left the dock).
Once all the changes were made, Steve "cloned" the core chapters, changed the footers, and had the Deluxe versions -- except for the art.
There were two types of added art to be added to the core pages. One was to survey the pages and fill any empty spots from the clip art file (which fortunately Steve had taken an entire day to organize years ago.) This was easily accomplished. The more complex element was to add the "photos of painted miniatures" to the ship cards in Chapter 9. This should have been easy as we only had to insert the file of photos from the original book. There were a few tricky bits here, however.
First, the file we had received (a year earlier) was not complete. Steve asked Mongoose for the missing pieces. Here we faced a problem. Steve sent the request after Mongoose closed on Friday. By the time Steve could expect to get the photos on Monday, Mongoose would already be closed. (There is a six-hour time zone problem between Texas and London.) As a backup, Steve Cole asked Tony Thomas and Kent Ing to provide photos of these ships from their own fleets. Steve really hated doing this as it might have turned out that Mongoose would make their actions unnecessary, but both were willing to send them anyway (even building and painting ships for the purpose). Against Jean's advice, Steve had included a prediction in Communique, released on Saturday, that the Deluxe Edition would be uploaded Monday. Steve felt confident that between Mongoose, Tony, Kent, and a secret backup plan, all of the missing art would somehow turn up. Jean reluctantly agreed that Steve "had a plan that deserved to work."
Some of the ships that Tony and Kent did were for the "civilian" section which did not have photographed minis in the original hard-bound book printed years ago by Mongoose. With the help of Tony and Kent, these ships now have proper photos. Others were used for a couple of ship cards which Steve Cole had added to the game when doing Edition 1.2 and then promptly forgot to arrange art for.
Monday came and Mongoose provided all but one of the missing ships. Even with all of the ships from Mongoose, we went ahead used some of Kent's Federation photos because this added more variety to the book, and Kent is a swell guy who went out of his way.
It turned out that missing ship was missed because Mongoose's art director did not realize that the Kzinti Fast Cruiser and the Kzinti Fast Battlecruiser were the same thing. (Jean pointed out that Steve's Tolkienesque tendency to use multiple names for the same ship had once again exploded.) This was a problem because with the time zone differences, it was already too late to get the missing photo. By dumb luck, this was the ship that Tony tried to paint in a hurry, but Tony had ultimately decided not to send a photo of a ship he considered to be unworthy of the product. Steve then turned to his last backup plan: He asked Jean to extract the ship photo from the ship roster card file. Jean said that it was too hard to extract the ship since she doesn't know how to use Photoshop and Simone Dale, our graphics director) was not scheduled to work before the deadline to upload the PDF of the Deluxe Edition. Steve told her to export a photoshop version of the ship card and sent it to Simone's computer. (Steve thinks he can run Photoshop. Simone and Jean are skeptical.)
With the clock ticking and the deadline looming, Jean went to her archives of ship roster cards to extract the needed ship art. At this point she discovered that when Jon Woodland worked on the ship cards a year  earlier, he had noticed the missing Kzinti fast ship and had gotten the original photo from Mongoose. Jean extracted that image from the ship roster card and sent that to Steve, who celebrated the good fortune with a suitable exhortation and placed the ship in the book.
Then the final step began. Steve opened each chapter of the Deluxe file and exported it as a PDF, then strung all of the PDFs together in a single file. It was noted that the Deluxe Edition PDF is three times the size (in megabytes) of the Basic Edition PDF because of the extra art.
Leanna printed a copy of the Deluxe PDF and Jean checked it. She found two minor glitches, neither of which affected game play, and (looking at the clock) got the file uploaded with a few minutes to spare.
And that is how we managed to get a complicated project done under a tight deadline.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Steve Cole ponders a few obscure pieces of military  history that came to his attention.

1. The number of French civilians killed by US air strikes and artillery bombardments during the Normandy landings and subsequent two months of heavy combat was almost exactly equal to the number of US soldiers killed in France during the same period of time.

2. While the Japanese battleships Yamato and Mushasi had the biggest guns (18 inches) the US did not in fact know that the guns were that big until after the war when they captured the blueprints, spare barrels, and ammunition stockpile. The US Navy assumed that the ships had 16-inch guns and were about the size of the Iowa-class. (They were actually at least 20% bigger.)

3. Britain nearly collapsed during the early days of the Battle of the Atlantic when the handful of German U-boats nearly strangled the island from supplies. The thing that would have helped most and fastest was to divert a hundred or two bombers from scattering bombs over the German countryside to daylight patrols over the ocean to bomb U-boats and (at least) force them to submerge where they could not find convoys to attack. However, Churchill flatly refused to divert a single bomber from pounding Germany.

4. A recent conference at the Marshall Center included a history professor proclaiming that the Pearl Harbor conspiracy theories (that FDR baited the Japanese into attacking) would not die but did not have a leg to stand on. While I agree that the theory cannot be true I think it is unprofessional for a history professor to dismiss the case without proving it to be false. The theory does have a leg to stand on (the battleships had only peacetime crews and would have to return to California for more crewmen before they could fight, FDR wanted to get the US into the war) and deserves to be thoughtfully refuted. To simply say that it isn't worth discussing is how dishonest historians get rid of inconvenient theories. FDR wanted the US to be at war with Germany, not Japan. Nobody knew that the aircraft carriers would dominate naval war from 1942 onward so throwing away the battleships was never a good idea.

Tuesday, April 12, 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.

Monday, April 11, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 3-9 April 2016

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady progress. We finished the Deluxe Edition of A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2 and released Communique and Hailing Frequencies.

New on DriveThruRPG and Wargame Vault this week was Federation Commander: WYN Ship Card Pack #1.


Steve Cole finished the Deluxe Edition of ACTASF as well as Revision F of the Basic Edition. He also created Comnmunique #124, wrote a month worth of Random Thoughts blogs, and sent a bunch of ship graphics to the SFBOL3G project. He even did this week's Friday Funny graphic.

Steven Petrick worked on scenarios for Captain's Log #51, line items for the SFB Module C2 update and Romulan Master Starship Book, details for the Lyran Master Starship Book, and instructions for the needed art to complete the Romulan Master Starship Book.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with four 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 including Communique #124 and Hailing Frequencies and some graphics.

Jean worked on revised ship card packs for ACTASF, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,059 friends), managed our Twitter feed (180 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread ACTASFDX, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, April 10, 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.

Saturday, April 09, 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:

Thursday, April 07, 2016

A Look At How My Mind Works

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Not too long ago SVC posted a note about choices for changes to what happened in World War II. Two of the choices he offered me were for a lot of additional trucks, or for upgrading all the Sherman tanks to the Easy 8 Standard for the invasion of Europe. He noted I chose the latter, and I felt some explanation was in order.

When presented with such choices my mind tends to race over a lot of "details." Thus, while I recognized the worth of the trucks, it was the details that were the problem.

It is easy enough to imagine an increase in truck production in the United States resulting in the trucks themselves being available. It is also true that the manpower pool available in the United States was  not exhausted and the draft could have easily found the necessary personnel to operate the trucks. Bearing in mind in this latter category that we are not just talking about truck drivers. The trucks would be organized into "truck companies," and the companies themselves might be organized into battalions. The trucks would need mechanics (controlled by the higher organizations) and administrators (in the higher organizations), plus cooks and other personnel. The units would require fuel, rations, and other material support. All of this is a marginal detraction from the added lift (the tonnage the trucks could move) the trucks would provide to the Army in Europe.

The problem is shipping.

Moving the trucks from the U.S. manufacturers to England before the invasion could be done over time and not have a noticeable impact.

Moving the trucks to Europe is, however, another and significant issue.

The number of bottoms of shipping is finite, and every time you move these trucks from England to the continent, you are bumping something else.

Worse is the problem of harbor capacity. One of the major problems with moving stuff into Europe was that the capacity of Cherbourg and the invasion beaches was finite. A lot of shipping (having been shepherded safely across the Atlantic or across the English Channel) would wait for weeks to be unloaded. The trucks are thus blocking the deliveries of other things. (There are a lot of cases of merchant ships being only partially unloaded and then being sent back to the United States, part of their cargo still aboard, to pick up additional cargo.) The Logistics situation in Normandy was pretty much a mess, and it is surprising that things worked out as well as it did. You may not be aware that in some cases artillery batteries were rationed as to the number of shells they could fire in a given day because of the shortages.

So the trucks create an additional burden of bumped cargoes and personnel. Would their carrying capacity have ultimately made up for it? I have no doubt it would. But there would have been delivery delays of material and personnel as a result of adding them. They do not in and of themselves create additional harbor capacity or more ships. They MIGHT have provided enough mobility that maybe Schelde Estuary would have been cleared sooner and the major ports it supported captured and put into operation sooner, and maybe the German 15th Army would have been destroyed rather than escaping. Hard to tell.

So the tanks.

The tanks appeal to me on a number of issues. They are heavier than the earlier Shermans, but not so much that they would have reduced the numbers that could have been carried by available shipping and delivered, at least by any significant number.

But they make up for that on so many levels.

First, by eliminating the 75mm gunned Shermans there is a simplification in the delivery of main gun rounds if all of the Shermans, both those in the armored divisions and the independent battalions are using 76mm

Second, there is a simplification in spare parts as those necessary only for the older Sherman models are deleted meaning fewer spare parts are needed overall.

Third, the Easy Eight was more survivable, better able to sustain a hit.

Fourth, the 76mm was deadlier, and German vehicles that survived hits by the 75mm would be destroyed (the Panther and Tiger would still be problems, but the Easy Eight itself was, again, more survivable).

The survivability means more tanks recovered and put back into operation. Fewer crew losses both to fatal injuries and crippling injuries, which in turn means more tanks in operation at any one time.

I hope the above makes it clear why I chose the route I did.

Wednesday, April 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.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016


Steve Cole writes:

In February-March of 2016, several products entered the final editing stage at about the same time, generating a lot of work in the office. Each project was at a different point in the process, or rather, at several points. A single 40-page rulebook might have a few pages on which SVC is making staff report fixes, a few pages being read by SPP, a few pages on which SVC is making SPP fixes, a few pages being read by Jean, a few pages on which SVC is making Jean fixes, and a few supposedly finished pages on which late staff reports or things just noticed or problems created while fixing something else are causing more fixes to be made. At one point, SVC had on his desk a single four-page rules section (covered by marks from Jean), two separate emails from the staff listing more fixes to be made to those four pages, and a sinking feeling that nobody had asked Steven Petrick to read this chapter (he had not) meaning another round of fixes, changes, and checks is in the future.

It is always frustrating when someone finally notices something that has been there all along. (As I write this, somebody noticed something in one game that has been there without being noticed for two years.) Sometimes that is just the way it happens, and sometimes the first proofreading found so many boulders that the rocks, pebbles, sand, and dust went unnoticed. Style sheets evolve over time. Jean has continually reduced the number of capitalized words she allows Steve Cole to use, and stopped allowing emphatic expressions to use all caps and required them to use lowercase italics. All of that results in some things that have been "like that for years" suddenly becoming errors to be fixed.

F&E Fighter Operations was almost finished. The final PDF was on the download sites, and final reports were arriving randomly as people noticed things that could have been noticed earlier, but weren't. Oh well, whenever mistakes are noticed, they need to get fixed. This generates problems in that Jean Sexton (Vice President of Proofreading) has to carefully check every change that is made because she has already done her proofreading of the book. She carefully scans all reports and checks them against a final copy to make sure that fixing one mistake did not create another. If Steve Cole notices and fixes a mistake that nobody else noticed, he circles on the mark-up copy Jean gave him it so that Jean will know to check the change. It was a never-ending process; even after we printed hard-copy books people will be finding things they should have found months earlier. As this was the final check before hard copies were printed, Steven Petrick and Jean Sexton read the whole thing again just to be sure. They found numerous things, some caused by later staff fixes and some that were there but unnoticed the first time. (The first seven times.)

On the other hand, F&E Minor Empires was just reaching the final design stage. The entire manuscript had been created, and the staff read it a final time, finding things that they did wrong or that the formatting created. Federation & Empire is a unique product in that most of the rules are staff-written (the rules for most of our games are written in the office by one of the Steves) and the F&E staff are notorious for doing brilliant rules that are full of minor typos and glitches. They seem to feel (with some justification) that if they did all of the creating, somebody else can fix the minor problems. The problem is that the only people available to do that are the Steves and Jean, who need to be creating other stuff. Jean and SVC tend to get a little grumpy when the F&E staff just won't get better at capitalization, spelling, sentence-verb agreement, singular-plural agreement, and formatting. The Steves (under Jean's stern hand) have actually gotten pretty good at handing Jean their own manuscripts that are 99% mistake free; the F&E staff sends Jean work with 30 or more typos on every single page and has not improved in five years. That causes endless hours of work by valuable people who have limited time (i.e., the Steves and Jean). We could literally get another product a year done if the F&E staff could deliver work of the "quality" of what the two Steves produce. We have lately tried to impress upon them the need to improve their text files, and that it's really no extra work to do it right the first time.
Steven Petrick was working on the Lyran and Romulan Master Starship books (two separate books). He was finished with the Romulan except for Jean doing her careful proofreading of the finished book, art that SVC was still working on (in between other things), and every two or three days there would be a report from some staffer about something he just noticed. (Remember that the Federation MSSB had been on the PDF stores for months, and players continue to find minor items that need attention even in that).

Then there was A Call to Arms: Star Fleet. A year ago we uploaded Basic Edition Revision E and we had seen very few reports of things wrong. So, the easy enough solution was to take Revision E, make one or two fixes, then add the background, painting guide, and tactics sections to produce the Deluxe Edition. (Revision E would get those last corrections and become Revision F, the final Basic PDF.) So Steve Cole spent a whole week pounding on his keyboard to create about 40 pages of additional material, and then another week making any fixes Jean wanted made. (This was another boulders, rocks, pebbles, sand, dust situation. Jean was finding mistakes on the third try that were obscured by bigger mistakes on the first two.) At least, the added materials (pages 97-152) were finished, and SVC began the final process of making the last two or three fixes to Revision E. Except that we found that there were more unmade fixes in an old file that nobody remembered. So, while doing those, Steve C just had to go post "last call" and that (of course) produced things nobody had ever noticed, ideas to change things that had already been rejected but still had to be reviewed, and a few other things. Also, Jean had spent a year making fixes to the ship cards and sending the same fixes to Steve C to make in the book, 99% of which had already been handled in Revision E. But we had to be sure, and it took Jean all of three days to confirm that all of the fixes had, indeed, already been made. Was this wasted time? It turned out that way, but at the start, it was only too logical that we had to check just to be sure.

Now, the theory was to get Minor Empires and ACTASF Deluxe uploaded as PDFs and then go work on Captain's Log #51. When it was done, we'd round up any public comments on ACTASF Deluxe and Minor Empires and release all three hard copies on the same day. (Then we could start on Federation Admiral.) At least, that's the theory, but the scheduled day to start on Captain's Log #51 was (at this point) nine days ago and we're still making fixes to ACTASF Deluxe (can't upload it until we finish) and Steven Petrick just tore apart the Order of Battle data for Minor Empires, all of which has to be done over.

Monday, April 04, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 27 March - 2 April 2016

Steve Cole reports: 

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

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was Star Fleet Battles: Module R12 Rulebook.


Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Deluxe edition, the SFU history book, Captain's Log #51, and other projects. He pushed his return to regular exercise too hard and had to back off.

Steven Petrick worked on scenarios for Captain's Log #51, the master starship books, order of battle corrections for Minor Empires, and the SFB Module C2 update.

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

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,054 friends), managed our Twitter feed (180 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 edition, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, regained her lawful ability to drive a car, and did some marketing.

Sunday, April 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.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

On Dependence and Independence and Gratitude

Jean Sexton muses:

Have you ever wished for your own personalized taxi service? Someone who would pick you up, take you home, take you to run errands? That is pretty much what I have had since getting out of the hospital in mid-January. It sounds nice, but it has its pitfalls unless you are so wealthy that you can afford your own driver.

The people who have been giving me rides are the kind folks at ADB: Steve and Leanna Cole and Steven Petrick. It is hard on the office when I have to be taken to a zillion appointments -- sometimes multiple ones per day. Instead of an appointment taking an hour of "Jean time," it suddenly takes two man-hours. As is typical of many doctor appointments, it may take a couple of hours and that suddenly becomes four man-hours removed from the ADB's ledgers. Some of my appointments have been early in the morning and that is hard because none of us are morning people. (In truth, I am the closest person at the office to being a morning person and those who know me chortle at that notion.)

It isn't just appointments. It is doing "normal things" such as picking up medicines, going grocery shopping, taking Wolf to the vet, and going to events. I cannot drive down to the Coles and go to a play with them. Instead someone has to come get me and then take me home.

We've been figuring out shortcuts. For a while I was so weak that Leanna picked up groceries from a list I gave her. Steve could pick up my medicine. Petrick would drop things by. Now I am up and about and feel normal, so I want to do more. I am grocery shopping and since I am trying to only go once a week so as to not inconvenience anyone, it takes a long time. We've learned that Leanna can take me and leave when she finishes her shopping. Then I can call a Steve to pick me up and take me home.

Independence is a goal I now have achieved as of a couple of days ago. I hated having to bother someone for early appointments, for doing ordinary things. I considered a taxi, but the price is too steep for day-to-day life. I live on one piece of a bus line and the stores I want to go to are on another. Add in the transit time and my cold things would no longer be cold. Back when I started I doubt I could have made the walk from the bus stop to my apartment.

I have to remember how many steps that I have made toward independence. I can lift more than 10 pounds, meaning I can take out my trash (the dumpster lids were above my capability to lift). I can move my chair back out when it "walks" toward the wall. I can do my own shopping. I can actually go to work and accomplish something. And now I can drive.

I have a deep gratitude to all those who have sacrificed their time to take me places. Most of the time it has been someone volunteering to take me somewhere or allowing me to catch a ride to a destination. That is easier for me to handle than having to ask someone to take me somewhere.

Now that I am driving again, I want to keep an eye on my neighbors. If someone is having a problem, I want to be able to drop by and tell them I am going to a destination; would you either like me to pick something up for you or would you like to ride along? Do you need me to walk your dog? Can I help you in any way? Then maybe I can repay all that everyone has done for me and pay it forward a bit.

Friday, April 01, 2016

New Counters for F&E Announced

SVC announces: The exciting news you have all waited for. We're reprinting ALL of the F&E counters in the new graphic format shown below.

Jean adds: These new counters are expected to provide the players with an exciting way to feed their cardboard addiction and provide positive cash flow for ADB. In addition, we know that younger players prefer flashy graphics.