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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

RANDOM THOUGHTS #210

Steve Cole writes: These are things TV and movies taught me that are contrary to my own experiences and observations.
   
1. Absolutely everybody in the US loves and follows the sport of boxing. (The reality is, most don't.)
   
2. Everyone who does not live in New York wishes they did, except for the people who wish they lived in Los Angeles. (People who live there think so; those who don't live there mostly don't want to.)
   
3. Everybody wants to be an actor and wants to hear all about how actors organize their careers and events. (Few of us actually care.)
   
4. The good guy will always put down his gun when the bad guy holds an innocent civilian hostage. (A trained police officer will simply shoot the bad guy in the head.)
   
5. Lots of single women get pregnant, then raise their children (who grow up just fine, thank you) without the fathers being around. (The reality is that children without two parents are far less likely to succeed in life. Steven Petrick has a theory that lots of Hollywood shows repeat this so that Hollywood big shots are not annoyed by the young actresses who sleep with them and get pregnant.)
   
6. Absolutely everybody in the US loves and follows the sport of soccer. (I don't actually know anyone who does.)
   
7. Any group of 10 people includes someone who is gay, openly or otherwise. (I have a gay relative and some gay friends, who are swell people, but these comprise about one of every 50-100 people that I know.)
   
8. Pretty much every foreigner speaks English. (I have been to Germany where almost no one spoke English. I have been to England and have no idea what language they speak. I have been to Mexico and found very few people who speak English. On the other hand, every Canadian I have met speaks English quite well.)
   
9. Everybody has filled out their bracket for March Madness. (I have no clue what's that's all about. It seems to be some kind of sport thing.)
   
10. Every police investigation involves a visit to a strip club, somebody who had an affair, and an illegal alien who is afraid to talk to the police. (Ok, maybe that one is right.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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/).

Monday, October 20, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 12-18 October 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work on new products. The weather this week was mild. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.
  

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was JagdPanther #10.
 

Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2, almost finishing the ship roster section. He also did some graphics for the Star Fleet Battles On-Line 3rd Generation project and for the Hydran Master Starship Book and worked on the fighter rules for Federation Commander Border of Madness.
 

Steven Petrick worked on Hydran Master Starship Book and Captain's Log #50.
 

The Starline 2500 project moved forward as we wait for the prototypes to reach the mold-making company.
  

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with five 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 worked on PDF uploads, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,294 friends), managed our Twitter feed (123 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Hydran Master Starship Book and A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

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!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

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.

Friday, October 17, 2014

THE NEW SEASON ON THE ADB TV NETWORK (part 4)

Here's what's starting later this fall (Part four of four)
      

GOLD MINING MORONS: Why go to someplace yucky to mine for gold when you can do it in your own back yard? Watch our plucky crew of couch potatoes go to the wild outback of Amarillo, Texas, a full five miles from the nearest Cracker Barrel and Holiday Inn. Listen to Jean ask them "Why don't we go to North Carolina where there actually is gold?" Watch as they ignore Jean, set up a sluice box with instructions printed in Chinese, learn to drive a four-ton bulldozer, and set up a windmill to supply water to the operation. Will they find gold? No, there isn't any here, but they've got about the same chance of success as the guys on those other shows.
   

REALITY SHOW PREPPERS: Has your restaurant, bar, or hotel signed up to be on a reality show? Have you ever watched one? Don't you know that the first half of the show is going to make you look bad so the expert can save you? Avoid embarrassment by having our crew of experts (led by Fearless Leader Stephen) get there a week early. Expert chef Jean streamlines your menu. Expert accountant Leanna gets your books in order and drills you to memorize and recite the key numbers. Expert operations chief Steven whips you and your employees into a frenzy of cleaning. Expert web designer Simone rebuilds your website, launches your social media campaign, and installs new software. Expert maintenance chief Mike gets everything working and a repair schedule established. Meanwhile, our fearless leader rethinks your entire business plan. On tonight's episode, hotel owner Ken asks "You mean discounts for skinheads is bad for getting families to stay here?"
        

LEGENDARY: Each episode begins with the gang sitting around the ADB office chatting. Eventually, one of the Steves recounts a "war story" from his past, at which point our expert team of re-enactors (from the local college drama department) recreate the actual events. On tonight's episode, watch as the Steves crew the secret Army space shuttle to rescue a Nazi astronaut stranded in orbit for 75 years.
    

GAMING WITH THE STARS: We take Hollywood action heroes and run them through hard-reality RPGs based on their movies. In tonight's episode, Bruce Willis says "What do you mean I'm dead? That worked in the movie!"

GRIMMACE: Detective Patrick is cursed. Deeply depressed, he wants to die, but fate won't let it happen. Perhaps that's because he's one of the very few humans who can see the demons walking among us in their true form. The demons fear him because the pained expression on his face frightens them out of their wits. In tonight's episode, Patrick confronts a demonic chef determined to poison him with onions in a stew including human flesh.
 

CSI AMARILLO: In tonight's episode, the sheriff notes that the burglar who has robbed three houses so far this week was shot and killed by a housewife while robbing the fourth. "Case closed," he declares. "Let's go get a beer."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Yet Another Hydran Master Star Ship Book Update

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Jean Sexton has completed her read through of book's draft, and I have done the "designer's notes" page (which she has not read yet, but that is more or less a formality as she does not  have to go and look anything up).

At this juncture, I have some graphics SVC has not transferred to me as of yet (would be embarrassing to publish the book with "Federation PFs" on some of the "placeholder" graphics used to get page count), and four graphics that need to be corrected.

Other than that, I am just waiting on any final reports from the field. Then I will run off a final "check copy" which Jean will compare to her annotated corrections copy to make sure all of her marked corrections were done properly.

We will then do a final look at the layout.

That may require re-PDFing the book several times (the program has a tendency for stuff on pages to "jump" due to accumulated fractional errors in the layout, so the only way to be sure the layout works is to do a PDF, look for places where a jump has occurred, go back into the file and insert a blank line, sometimes take a blank line out, and then re-PDF the book and do it all again). That, fortunately can all be done on the computer screen.

So far, all of this has caused the book to grow from 106 to 110 pages.

There are always little niggling issues that turn up.

The original "R1.0" section file is modified for each new empire, and that always requires looking for things that get carried over from an earlier empire, and sometimes forgetting to add things for the new empire. An example of the latter is the FRX. The advanced technology fleet repair dock is an "X unit," so it should have access to Stinger-X fighters, but this was overlooked until just earlier this week (its fighter data has been adjusted to allow it to use Stinger-Xs). This is an issue that does not come up with any other empire (no one else has X-fighters), which is why it got overlooked, as the unit is not in any normal "X-technology" product, but was published in Module R11. Hydran X-ships that appeared in Modules X1 and X1R, and even in Captain's Log (the D7HX) allow for Stinger-X fighters, but previously not the FRX, but if a Hydran SBX or BATSX can have Stinger-X fighters, then surely the FRX should be able to operate them, so this has been (as noted) corrected.