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Monday, April 24, 2017

This Week at ADB, Inc., 16-22 April 2017

Steve Cole reports: This was a week of steady work on current projects.

The weather this week was pleasant.

New on Warehouse 23 and DriveThru RPG this week was Dungeon Tiles.


Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #53 (Kraken story), blogs, and other projects. He finished updating the Wall of Honor (and with it the Captain's Log #52 FLAP list) and read the LDR Master Starship Book. He continued to update F&E SIT files including the first complete WYN SIT and the first (mostly blank) version of the Jindarian SIT ever done.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #53 (Kraken story, battle groups), quality control assembly and shipping, and the LDR Master Starship Book.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Wolf guarded the office, chasing away Steve Cole¹s bad mood and other demons.

Jean worked on the GURPS Prime Directive revision and the ISC Empire Sourcebook, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,791 friends), managed our Twitter feed (220 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Captain's Log #53 story (Kraken) and the Wall of Honor, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Join us on Facebook and Twitter

ADB, Inc.’s page on Facebook is 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 22, 2017

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/).

Friday, April 21, 2017

Star Fleet Trivideo Schedule, pt. 8

10 pm:

KZN5: Beauty and the Beast. A Kzinti noble falls in love with an Earth girl, who starts pumping iron in her prison cell.

GOR6: Gorn Storm Rising, a young Romulan officer discovers an impending Gorn attack, but nobody listens.

ORN8: CSI Vulcan: Investigators make logical deductions.

LYR11: Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright. Disaster movie.

ISC13: Last Man Standing. Bruce Willis tries to stop a fight between two outlaw gangs that refuse to help themselves.

(c) 2003 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, April 20, 2017

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!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

On the Pain of Kindness

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I have been trying to get back into walking around the block on a steady basis.

About a week ago, I stepped outside and saw movement over by the parked cars, and recognizing it as the movement of a cat, I clicked my tongue to see if the cat was interested in being petted.

Most times nothing happens (the cat keeps walking, sometimes after a short look in the direction the sound came from), sometimes the cat will sit and wait to be approached and petted. In this case, the cat shot towards me at a dead run and proceeded to emit that shortened "mew" cats make when they are distressed and something is not right.

While petting the cat, I noted that, while not skin and bones, it had obviously missed more than a few meals recently, even though otherwise healthy and unmarked (no notches in its ears, no scars on its face, coat generally thick and in good condition). Its paws (which were all four white) were dirty, and its pads were scuffed.

I felt sympathy, but there was nothing I could do about it, So after petting it for a bit, I stood up and began my walk, in the hope that when I returned the cat would have moved on. At first, that seemed to be the case, but as I approached my door, I heard the repeated low "mew" of a cat in distress. The cat had moved out of direct sight into the breeze way and stayed at the corner where it could see around to where my door was.

My apartment complex under the current owners does not allow pets. But I have "remnants" from the days when I had cats. In the hopes that I would find the cat's owners, I let it in. I pulled out the one remaining litter box and set it in the bathroom and showed it to this cat, which, while not immediately using it, gave an indication of knowing what it was for. It religiously used it every day. I had some dry long storage cat food, and set this out in a styrofoam bowl together with another bowl with water. It was in good health (except for the obvious lack of regular meals recently), with no fleas. (Conditions locally have not been conducive to the annual flea outbreak, so the only real source of active fleas are those associated with the warm places of man, often ruthlessly suppressed by biologic and chemical means, and the dens of various animals.) Its ears were clear of mites, and other apparent health issues did not appear extant . . . except an apparent head cold.

A little unsure at first (an indication of at least some bad run ins with people in its recent past), by the end of the second day it was flopping down to allow its tummy to be rubbed. While it spent time in my lap while I watched TV, its big thing for most of the time it was with me was to at least be in the same room. (It decided that I toss and turn too much to share the bed with me, but slept on a pad near the bed.

I could not keep it, and got Jean to advertise for its owners. (Everything about this cat screamed "pampered house pet.") In the end to no avail.

The problem is that there was no way I could keep the cat, as much as I wanted to, not least because it had the colors (gray and white), length of fur (not really long, but definitely not short) and general build (if not the clubbed hind paw) of the cat who had last been my longest companion. Still, I knew enough not to give it a "formal" name. But I could not keep it. Sooner or later management would discover its presence and bad things would follow. And that basically meant that on Friday, the cat would have to go to the pound, even though that is a certain death sentence. But it was obvious this cat had no capability of surviving on its own, i.e., whatever had caused it to be running around loose, it had no hunting skills and anything it had eaten in the interim was scavenged. Not taking it to the pound would not really be an act of kindness, but an act of cruelty as the cat's life might be longer, but it would also be more brutal and full of suffering.

Turning the cat in would break what little is left of my heart once more.

As it is, the cat had good fortune to find me, and doubly good fortune that it happened that today the local ASPCA shelter had an opening for a cat.

I have had to give the cat up, and will have the sorrow of going home once more to an empty space, after the brief period of its greeting me every evening in thanks that it had been taken in and food and water were plenty, it was petted as much as it desired, and its coat frequently brushed as it sat in my lap. Even though I know it now has a chance of a longer and healthier and happier life than what would have been its lot at the pound, and would reclaim the cat immediately were I to learn I had won tonight's lottery drawing, for now, I will have to nurse the new emptiness in my life for its having been in it, however briefly. And thus the title of  this blog, the pain of kindness.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

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.