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Sunday, August 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.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

On Route 66 and Cadillacs and Steaks

Jean Sexton muses:

Sometimes we get visitors in Amarillo. Of course, we are excited to show them the business, from entry to printing plant to warehouse. But what else is there in Amarillo? Over the next couple of months I'll be looking at some of the fun things to do in the area.

Route 66 ran from Chicago to Los Angeles and then to Santa Monica. It was created in 1926 and was officially decertified in 1985 when the interstate system took over the pathway, bypassing the cities and towns along the way. Still, there are maps that show how to follow the old path. Part of that goes through Amarillo. Along the 6th Street Historic District there are all sorts of boutiques, antique stores, and restaurants with something for nearly every traveler.

Cadillac Ranch inspired the Cadillac Range mountains in Cars. These 10 Cadillac cars, each buried halfway in the dirt of the field, display their fin art for all to see traveling west of Amarillo. Decorated with multiple layers of paints, this public art is often redecorated by people traveling by.

And then there is the Big Texas Steak Ranch. Have you seen Tex Dinoco in Cars?  He was inspired by the big stretch limousines at this restaurant. Probably most famous for the 72 ounce "eat it all in one hour and it is free" steak, the Big Texan is an over-the-top view of Texas.

There are many more things to see and do, but these are right at Amarillo and on Route 66. Stay tuned for the next post I write!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Gerrold's Laws of Infernal Dynamics

1. Any ship in motion will always be headed in the wrong direction.

2. Any ship at rest will always be in the wrong place.

3. The energy required to change either one of these states will always be more than you can afford to expend, but never so much as to make the task totally impossible.

(c) 1993 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #12. Thanks to Tom Gondolfi.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Got Any Marketing Ideas?

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

We tried a lot of things that didn't work (Google Pay per Click, full-color ads in trade journals) and a lot of things that did work (banners on gamer websites, Star Fleet Alerts) and are always looking for new ideas. If you have any, send them to us at Marketing@StarFleetGames.com and we'll think them over.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What Steven Petrick is Working On

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Not much to report on ongoing projects.

Most of the graphics for the Klingon Master Star Ship Book are done, but some still need to be done.

Line item reports on errors are still showing up and being dealt with as they appear. Recently a significant gaff was found and fixed. That gaff is in regards to "Anarchist" ships. While SSDs for these ships have appeared, most are simply "what if so and so empire converted a ship it captured from such and such empire" and not formally published. As most Anarchist articles are general guidelines despite a few published SSDs, we do not normally include those ships. The exceptions are generally those "formally published" or for which there is a "real history." Thus, of course, the Hydran book included the original Anarchist ship, the D7H Anarchist. Just as obviously a Tholian book will include the TK5 Exile, an Orion book the OK6 Conquest, and a WYN book would include several different ships of Klingon, Kzinti, and Lyran manufacture (plus some others).

So, what was the gaff that showed up at this late date? Way back in Captain's Log #19 the "Drone Ranger" was published as part of an "Anarchist" article in which Hydran ships were converted to Klingon technology. The Drone Ranger, however, was defined as a "real ship" and was given the name Maelstorm (improperly spelled Malestorm in the article). While there is no published scenario involving the ship, its background led to it playing a role in the fiction story in Captain's Log #36, albeit as a background supporting character. It was,  however, in a role specifically mentioned in its write up (supporting the Seltorian Tribunal against the Tholians).

So at this juncture the ship's description had to be inserted into the Klingon Master Star Ship Book and updated to the standard thereof. This has been done. And an errata item for the Ranger in the Hydran Master Star Ship Book has been generated for a future reprinting that will include this ship as a variant of the Ranger.

The Romulan Master Star Ship Book continues to be updated with elements that appear in the Klingon Master Star Ship Book that are appropriate to it.

I am also working on a scenario file for Captain's Log #51.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Monday, August 24, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 16-22 August 2015

Steve Cole reports:

This was the week of significant progress. The Federation & Empire counters arrived, restoring the F&E Boxed Set, F&E Advanced Operations, and F&E Reinforcements to stock. We also moved our shopping cart to a new host, upgraded the software, and added the new items. Fans began buying the new counters. The weather this week was hot. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week were Captain's Log #14 and SFB Commander's Edition Update #2.

Steve Cole worked on the Fighter Operations 2015 rulebook, completing the changes and sending the whole thing to the staff. Steve's injuries (from his accident last week) kept him from exercising much, but he managed to make a quarter mile every day.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #51 and the Klingon Master Starship Book (which would be finished except that Steve Cole was too busy with FO15 to create the Early Years and X-ship art). Steven Petrick proofread FO15 in a bid to move that project forward and out of the way. He made some updates to Romulan Master Starship Book but that book remains mostly on hold as the staff focuses on the final fixes of Klingon Master Starship Book.  

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with three new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean won the "Battle of the Fighter Hyphens" against the Steves, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,722 friends), managed our Twitter feed (156 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread (About Federation & Empire, Klingon Master Starship Book, Fighter Operations 2015), took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.