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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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
RANDOM THOUGHTS #242
Steve Cole ponders his thoughts on internet spam:
1. I was told a story once, by someone who insisted it was true and was in a position to have known. Back when they invented the Internet, somebody at that table suggested charging a penny per email. It would, the story said, have been easy to implement a system from the start that did not let an email into the router loop until some account had paid the penny (or a fraction of a penny). The vast majority didn't want to bother, or thought that the internet should be free. If that system had been in place, there would be no spam. Spam only works by blasting 40 million or more emails and even at a quarter of a penny per email that would not be something spammers could afford.
2. Sometimes I find myself admiring the cleverness of the spammers in creating subject lines that make me open the email thinking it might be real. These started with pathetic attempts like "Here is the document" but have now graduated to claims to be court summons, invoices, or (my personal favorite) "Why did you file this lawsuit against me?"
3. Sometimes I find myself wanting to email the spammers corrections to their typographical errors. But I resist.
4. I remember my first Nigerian spam email, and thinking right away that this must be asking me to do something illegal like money laundering. Didn't take long to hear that it was that and so much more (that they would eventually want money to pay for customs fees or bribes or bank transfer fees or whatever). The one thing I did realize above all else was that to delete spam is to be one of 39.9 million people who ignored it, but to play with them is to attract attention, trouble, and even physical attacks. There are plenty of reports of people being kidnapped.
5. We got an alert on the game industry chat system of a scam that started in Australia. They sent out a lot of emails to any address with a shopping cart, asking if the cart will take credit cards. Once they get an answer (I just delete these) they order tons of stuff using stolen credit cards, then have it shipped to some address in their country. (The local police, one can assume, will be no help at all once the thousand dollar credit card charge is declared fraudulent and taken back out of your account.) Once they have the merchandise they just sell it on their own discount store. The original bunch in Australia had everything sent to an abandoned gas station in the countryside. Somebody who had no idea what was going on was paid to sit there and read a book all day and sign for the packages and lock them in the building. The crooks would then call from a burner phone to see what showed up and (if anything did) they would stop by to get it. You can recognize this one because it always asks if you take credit cards and asks for your catalog or website so they can order stuff, but never names a product they want to buy.
6. Worse than spammers are the viruses. They want you to open some document which then infects your computer. They will then harvest your mailing list for valid email addresses, then use your computer (as a zombie) to do things like probe other websites for weaknesses, bombard websites with millions of requests thereby shutting them down, make brute force attacks on log-in passwords, and other nasty things. A variation of this is the "click on this link" scam, usually part of an email with such amusing headlines as "negative item posted to your record" or "are these your naked photos?" or "why did you send me this subpoena?" or others.
7. I get about 2000 spams a day, but the filters stop all but about 150 per day. The reason I get so much spam is that my email address is listed on the company contact page, and spambots always scan anything on a website that says "contact" looking for working addresses.
8. Something spambots do is find a legitimate address and then make up a few thousand addresses combining that domain and common names or titles, e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org
, and so forth. The ones that don't bounce are actual addresses.
9. Chinese spies are really good at tricking inattentive people. They buy a domain that is an alternate spelling of a real company (e.g., defensecompany.com instead of defensecontractor.com) and use it to spamblast the real company with emails like "I am out of town. I have a presentation tomorrow and my copy of the secret manual on the new weapon is corrupted. Can somebody email me a new copy?" It doesn't work every time, but it works often enough.
10. The last time I had the computer experts do their thing to my PC they found a "Bitcoin miner" program, which somehow used my computer during the night to look for Bitcoin accounts and try to drain them of money. It seems likely that I got this on a pirate download website. When downloading a stolen copy of one of our products (so I could file a DMCA), that thing came along for the ride. It's gone now, and new security software will make sure it never comes back. But the point is that some websites (the ones with pornography or with pirated stuff you can download) are swarming with virus attachments. Sometimes the file you think you want to download (usually a complete copy of a popular book) isn't that at all, but a virus. (They never had a copy of the book, but they knew it was popular. Supposedly there are sites out there offering free copies of the next book in a popular series of the next episode of a popular TV show.) Being the company president I have to go to pirate sites to find the information to instruct Simone in DMCA notices and that's why I'm vulnerable to those most evil of viruses.
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.
Update Project moved forward with three new entries.
Leanna kept orders
and accounting up to date.
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates and some
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.