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Tuesday, June 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.

Monday, June 29, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 21-27 June 2015

Steve Cole reports: 

This week we continued work on current projects. The weather this week was hot. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23, Wargame Vault, and DriveThru this week was the Star Fleet Battles Cadet Training Handbook. New to DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault were SFB Playtest Module E3 -- The Borak Star League and Federation Commander Klingon Ship Card Pack #3.

Steve Cole worked on art for the Klingon Master Starship Book, final fixes for A Call to Arms: Star Fleet-1.2F, the countersheets for the Federation & Empire projects, and other projects. Steve was forced to do his daily half-mile walks with Wolf in the early morning because of the afternoon heat.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #51 (battle groups), the Klingon and Romulan Master Starship Books, and other projects.

The Starline 2500 project continued as the three new ships were on sale.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with two new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date. Later in the week, Stephen and Leanna slipped away briefly to watch Leanna's niece get married.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.
Simone totally reformatted the front page of the website and did a cover for the Federation Commander Scenario Log.
Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,642 friends), managed our Twitter feed (152 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Federation Commander Scenario Log and Klingon Master Starship Book, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

On Memories and Reality and Changes

Jean Sexton muses:

One of the things about moving is that I as I unpacked my unmarked boxes, I discovered old treasures. Sometimes it would be knickknacks; sometimes it would be books; sometimes it would be pictures. I have a near-photographic memory -- it only works when I am near photos. Finding these treasures brought back many memories.

I love Throwback Thursday on Facebook. I wanted to be an actress and when the camera turned on me, I was. There are pictures of me doing the Titanic pose well before that film came out. I had the coolest sunglasses back in 1964. There are photos from trips. Color or B&W, each one has its own interesting perspective.

And then there are the photos that I took. I love digital cameras. No more developing film to find that the whole batch is fuzzy. Just hit delete and the bad photos are gone, never to be seen again. My grandfather and mother were photographers; I even dated a photographer for a while. They taught me about composition and what makes a good photo. I absorbed their lessons.

So I am scanning some of the best of the old photos and saving them. I am lucky to have skilled friends who can remove the red from some of the faded photos and restore them to their vibrant blue skies. Then I bask in the memories that the pictures bring. As is typical for most families, the photos reflect happy times.

A friend brought up that I seemed to yearn for those happy times. In some ways, I do. It is so easy to wish for a simpler time when my parents were in control and my biggest worry was what to play next. But even then, life wasn't perfect. Would my friends like "this"? Would I do okay in school? Would I have to stay inside and practice handwriting? (It didn't help much; to this day my handwriting is a mystery to the uninitiated.) Would I be teased today? (Now they call it "bullying.") No, there were cares and worries even back then. They just weren't memorialized in photos.

I got asked if I would change anything. My first instinct was "YES!" No bullying, a little more popularity, some poor choices later in my life remade in a different direction, some things undone. My life would have been so more pleasant.

But would I be the same person? Would I have ended up in Amarillo, working for ADB? Would I have learned kindness and sympathy for others? Would I understand what it was to know that I had only $19 to my name and a bunch of debt (poor choices in a relationship)? Would I know that I had the inner courage to face an evil person and stand up to him? 

I don't know. I like who I am now. I learned to care about people. I learned that life is not always easy. I learned to stay on budget and pay off bills. I learned that I have courage when others are threatened. I like my job and the people here in Amarillo. I like my apartment. Without the adversity, I might not have grown as a person. Without the difficulties, I might have continued to drift where I was.

So I would choose not to change my past. However, I don't have to wallow in it, either. I choose to remember the good things, the happy times, my friends. And I choose to keep on living my life now, exploring where I am, meeting new people both in Amarillo and via the web. I will remember the lessons of the past so that I (hopefully) won't repeat them. And I will look to the future so that I think through some decisions so that I make good ones.

And I will keep scanning those old photos and sharing them with my friends. I can visit my happy memories, but remember to live today.

Saturday, June 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.

Friday, June 26, 2015


91. Every drone you try to control at once will require one aspirin in the morning.

92. Have a battle plan. It won't survive the enemy's first maneuver, but you should always have a plan.

92. Specific reinforcement will always be on the wrong shield. [Note: This was the numbering as published pre-Jean.]

93. The rule you thought was perfectly clear will be disputed by 14 other players and the judge will rule against you.

94. In a target-rich environment, you don't have enough weapons to kill everything that is trying to kill you.

95. The target you shot was not as important as the one you ignored.

96. If you think it doesn't matter if you sideslip or not, it will.

97. No matter how many times you count it, your opponent always has time to decelerate and weasel.

98. The average die roll is 3.5, which means your opponent gets the 3 and you get the 4.

99. The new rulebook you thought was a reprint was actually a revision.

100. Every PF can be a minesweeper. Once.

101. If the rule makes you invincible, you mis-read it.

102. One turn before your first PBEM victory, your hard disk will crash.

103. If your opponent is doing what you expected, he's up to something you didn't expect.

-- Garth Getgen, Steve Cole, Steven Petrick, Larry Ramey, Kirk Spencer, Jessica Orsini, Ron Sonnek, Andy Vancil, Ben Moldovan, Mark Kuyper, Howard Berkey, Timothy Steeves-Walton, David Keyser, Oliver Dewey Upshaw, Carl Magnus-Carlsson, Kirk Spencer, Richard K. Glover, Jeff Zellerkraut, Andy Palmer, Sean Newton, Daniel Zimmerman, Jason Goodwin, Michael Sweet, Paul Stovel, John Sierra, John Sickels, Sandy Hemenway

(c) copyright by Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Master Starship Books and Progress

This is Steven Petrick posting.

The Romulan Master Starship Book has had a first formatting run through up to the point of the Early Years ships and the creation of the general section for them. The Early Years ships are creating headaches, because the way they were done does not easily fit into the existing format, and creating a new special format for them is going to be required. Doing the general section is simple drudgery, but it is not one of those things I am looking forward too. The book is already nearly 100 pages long with few graphics, and as noted the Early Years are not yet in a format.

The Klingon Master Starship Book is creating its own headaches. As you all no doubt know, one of the hardest things is checking your own work, which is why I am grateful to the individuals who are helping with the project. Even so, I am constantly finding things. I have spent the last couple of days just reading the book from start, and being stunned by errors I have made. One of the Klingon dreadnoughts had instructions for its separated boom that were wrong, they were instructions for a B10 boom, not for a C3/C4/C5/C6/C8/C9/C10 boom. That, of course, meant going back and checking every DN to see if the same mistake had occurred and fixing it.

I have gotten to this point, and no one had noticed that the Klingon D5XD did not have the "bombardment" paragraph (since added).

There have been other glitches (like adding a noted that the B10T emergency tug does NOT get an increase in its command rating if it is carrying a P-H5, P-B4, P-V7, or P-M11 pod (or pods).

I am making every effort to keep the typos and other errors down [recently found a cross-reference for the Tug-A as (R3.8) instead of (R3.9)], but there is a lot of this.

There is also the simple problem that this is the third book in the series, and that means that the "technical input" (not the technology, but the input) has advanced, making the Klingon book better than the earlier Federation and Hydran books (and doubtless the Romulan book will be even better).

In any case, work continues, progress on the books is being made.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Join us on Facebook and Twitter

ADB, Inc.’s page on Facebook is now 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.