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Monday, October 05, 2015

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

Steve Cole reports:         

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

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

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

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

 Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

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

Sunday, October 04, 2015


Jean Sexton writes:

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

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Play Online

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

Ten years ago, www.SFBonline.com was created to provide players of Star Fleet Battles with an on-line gaming experience. It was a smash hit as hundreds of gamers joined the battles. Tournaments and other competitions, plus general opening gaming, have gone on around the clock since then. It since expanded to include Federation Commander!

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

For the modest subscription fee of less than $6 a month per game system, you have access to most of the ships in the Star Fleet Battles/Federation Commander game systems as well as new ships still in playtest and development. The Java Runtime system is compatible with Windows and Macintosh systems.

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 02, 2015

Clash of Wills

From Captain's Log #12:

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

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

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

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

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

(c) 1993 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

End of a Project

This is Steven Petrick posting.

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

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

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

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

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

Progress is being made.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

In Praise of Our Volunteers

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

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

Mike West answers rules questions on Federation Commander. Mike Curtis does the same thing for Federation & Empire, Jonathan Thompson for Prime Directive PD20 and PD20M, Jean Sexton for GURPS Prime Directive, Richard Sherman for Star Fleet Battle Force, and Andy Vancil for Star Fleet Battles.

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

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

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

We have other staffers and volunteers who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including John Berg, Howard Bampton, and Lucky Coleman (Galactic Conquest campaign); Daniel Kast (Klingon Armada); and John Sickels, Tony Thomas, James Goodrich, Mike West, James Kerr, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive). Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each one of them. Sometimes our volunteers become part of our staff; Jean Sexton started out as a volunteer proofreader.

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

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Steve Cole's thoughts on a surprising and little known part of military history.

The P-51 Mustang was clearly the best fighter of World War II. No other aircraft comes close. The British are fond of saying "and it was a British design" but that's just not the case. Here's the story.

North American was trying to get into the business of selling combat aircraft to the US military, but older and bigger companies had all the contracts. The British came to the US and asked to buy ground-attack fighters.  (The British had, for all practical purposes, no ground-attack aircraft in 1940 and were embarrassed that pretty much everybody else did.) The US military leadership said that all of our production was spoken for (by them). Then the US government remembered North American and suggested that the British to go to them.

North American proudly proclaims that they designed and built the first prototype in only 102 days. The reality (rarely mentioned in public) was that North American had several designs already finished, but no customers for them. When the British showed up, North American grabbed the design that was closest to what the British wanted, made minor changes (adding bomb racks), and produced the first prototype in the storied 102 days. (It did not actually fly until 45 days later. The 102-day prototype was missing a few internal parts that September day in 1940.)

The P-51A used an American engine that wasn't very good for high-altitude work, but would be good enough for the low-altitude job the British wanted it for. North American asked for a license to build British engines that were good for high-altitude work. The British (seeing no reason for high-altitude engines but happy to collect the licensing fees and the lavish praise of their superior engine) promptly handed over the designs. With the superior high-altitude engines in hand, North American then offered the P-51D to the US Army Air Forces as the long-range escort that would make bombing Germany a practical business model. The US Army Air Forces had, by that point, realized that unescorted daytime bombing formations were a very expensive proposition involving lots of lost aircraft and lost aircrew. The P-51D provided the missing element that made daytime bombing successful. (Well, sort of successful. Fighters did not improve the accuracy of bombing, which was lucky to put one bomb in 10 into the targeted factory.)

And so, my British friends, thanks for the engine that won the air war. Consider that payback for World War I, when the US built no fighter planes but provided the French and British with superb engines that greatly improved their fighters.