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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

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, August 29, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 21-27 August 2016

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady progress on several projects. The weather this week was around 70F and often cloudy.

New on Warehouse23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was the Federation Commander:  Lost Empires Preview Ship Card Pack.

Steve Cole worked on Federation Admiral (all of Chapter 3 has gone to Jean), ship graphics for the Romulan Master Starship Book, ship graphics for SFBOL3G, Star Fleet Stalingrad, blogs, and graphics for Jean to post.

Steven Petrick worked on the Romulan Master Starship Book, Lyran Master Starship Book, Captain's Log #52 battlegroups, and the Star Fleet Battles Module C3 update.

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 managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,195 friends), managed our Twitter feed (198 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Federation Admiral and the Romulan Master Starship Book, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

On Balancing and Cooking and Working

Jean Sexton muses:

Sometimes I think that life is a balancing act. How much can I do of this activity and still have time to do what I need to do? How much can I eat and still stay healthy? How little can I eat and still stay healthy? How much can I spend on "fun things" and still have for the necessities of life (and paying off medical bills is one of those necessities)? Balance, balance, balance seems to be the theme of my life now.

Cooking is one of those things where I must find balance. So many of my recipes are old ones and designed for a family of four where everyone is working hard. Some of my recipes are "add this ingredient until it looks right." Some recipes can only be cut down so far. Once you reach "one egg" you cannot really divide it any further. So to stay healthy, I am having to learn to trim back what I make. Can I make one potato's worth of potato salad? If I cannot trim the recipe any further, can I freeze it or give some of it away? It's a hard thing to rethink and health-wise I cannot afford to just eat all of the extras.

Working is another place where I am trying to find balance. All of my professional life I have worked far more than 40 hours a week. In North Carolina, I often ate at my desk (which I could do as I was salaried). If I had set a goal I needed to meet, I'd work until I met it. Sometimes I would start a project and look up to find I'd just worked 12 hours. Now that I had my brush with the Angel of Death, I want to try to have a life. But it is hard to break the habits of so many years. I am trying to take off at a reasonable hour so that I can eat at an earlier time than I have been (that also helps with my sleep). I am trying to take walks so that I can keep getting healthier. I am trying to let people tell me about problems rather than searching them them out at night. I've been reviewing more on review sites (a new-ish hobby) so I have more to do outside of work. And yes, I find myself fixing food rather than heating up a frozen meal.

So where is the balance point? I'm not sure. But I will keep hunting for the right point for me.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

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, August 26, 2016


Hey, Klingon look at me. Do you fear what you see?
You ain't seen the best of me yet.
Give me time I'll make you regret this war.

When you invaded here, you thought I'd quake in fear.
How's that working out for you, guy?
How many of your men had to die?

[Chorus] Remember my game! War!
I'm gonna fight forever. I'm gonna teach you to cry.
My fleet is coming together. Klingons will see me and die. War!
I'm gonna send you to heaven. Light up your ship like a flame. War!
I'm gonna fight forever. Klingons will faint at my name.
Surrender, Surrender, Surrender, Surrender,
Surrender, Surrender, Surrender, Surrender!

Hey, Klingon fear my might, 'cause I can make it right.
You can shoot with all that you got,
Give me hell, I'm over the top of you.

Hey, Klingon I am tough, and you don't have enough.
I'll pound your ship 'til it breaks,
Ooo, I got what it takes.

[Chorus] Remember my game! War!
I'm gonna fight forever. I'm gonna teach you to cry.
My fleet is coming together. Klingons will see me and die. War!
I'm gonna send you to heaven. Light up your ship like a flame. War!
I'm gonna fight forever. Klingons will faint at my name.
Surrender, Surrender, Surrender, Surrender,
Surrender, Surrender, Surrender, Surrender!

(Our apologies to the Broadway musical Fame)

(c) Stephen Cole and Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Steve Cole notes things that came to his mind.
1. I have tried the computerized ordering system at McDonald's and found it awkwardly designed and hard to use. Going screen by screen, page by page, is just not needed. Why did they not just have everything (with smaller pictures) on one screen (sized so the whole thing shows, no scrolling) and you just move your hand past row upon row of ingredients, tapping the ones you wanted? Some items of the current system are only found by scrolling down the page to off-screen items, and nothing tells you there IS an off-screen portion of the page. Trying to replace $15 per hour minimum wage kids is one thing, but making it harder for the customers is not a good plan.
2. I read a lot of books. I have, for many years, always had a book in the bathroom that I was reading a few pages at a time. Any convenient scrap of paper, or a formal bookmark, or one of those advertising cards torn from a magazine would serve as a bookmark. It was, however, always difficult to remember just exactly where on the two facing pages I had stopped. The idea of always stopping at the bottom of the left page had an appeal, but often there were people waiting for me, or that wasn't a good place to stop. Recently, I hit upon a solution. I drew a small mark on the backside of my current bookmark, and as I put the book away at the end of each visit, I turned the bookmark so that the mark was facing the page I had stopped on and was lined up with the actual place I stopped. This had made it very easy to pick up where I left off rather than re-reading or missing part of the book.
3. I love the show Ice Road Truckers, but I wonder about something. They send trucks with various loads up these ice roads to remote communities. Each community gets various loads over the three months that the roads are open. The drama on the show happens when the trucks break down in the middle of nowhere, too far north for satellite phones to work. It seems to me that a more efficient way would be to plan ahead and get a bunch of loads going to one community and send them all in a convoy. I'd send every truck in my company to the same place, maybe 20 minutes apart. The last truck might be a wrecker truck carrying a mechanic and a medic. If anybody has a problem the next truck is right behind him. If a truck totally breaks down, we can swap loads out. The company's senior driver would be in the mix and able to make command decisions. I'm not sure I wouldn't send a pickup truck 24 hours ahead just to make sure the road is open. (The drivers seem to rely on rumors and gossip to find out if a road is actually available for use.) Under their current system every community gets a load or two each week; under my system they'd get all their loads at once and some community would be last on the list (and probably getting cranky about waiting that long) but I might pick the communities for convoy service that are the most profitable and efficient for me and let the other companies take the harder to reach places.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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.