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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

In praise of our volunteers

The adventure/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.

Even at that, the ONLY way the game industry survives is by the hard labor of unpaid volunteers who (for some free games) provide no end of valuable services to game publishers.

Mike West answers rules questions on Federation Commander. Nick Blank does the same thing for Federation & Empire, Andy Palmer for Prime Directive d20, Gary Plana for GURPS Prime Directive, and Mike Filsinger for Star Fleet Battles.

Frank Brooks runs the Play-by-Email system as a volunteer and Paul Franz charges barely enough for the On-Line game system to pay the server costs.

Federation & Empire would not exist without Chuck Strong (a real-world colonel from Space Command) doing scenarios, or without Jeff Laikind in charge of the overall game system and the Ship Information Tables.

Very little would get done on any of our games except for the Playtest Battle Labs run by Scott Moellmer in Colorado and by Joe Butler in Tennessee.

We have other staffers who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including Scott Tenhoff, Chris Fant, Stewart Frazier, John Berg, John Sickels, Matthew Francois, Jonathan Thompson, Mike Curtis, Loren Knight. Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each one of them.

Added to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month, by Email or BBS or Forum, 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.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Got any Marketing Ideas?

Marketing Director Vannessa Clark writes: While I have a strong education and quite a bit of experience in marketing, I can always use a new idea (particularly about this unique game industry that I have joined).
If you have ideas for a new product, a new way to sell existing products, or just a new way to do things, drop me a line at Marketing@StarFleetGames.com and let me know. I'd be happy to discuss any of these ideas with you.
One of the ideas I have heard in the last month is to create a team of RPG players who will cruise trek and sci-fi web sites to spread the word about PRIME DIRECTIVE, effectively the only supported and growing RPG for the genre.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Exciting Days

Steve Cole writes: We just posted seven products to the old cart. Matt will put them on the new cart this afternoon. They are:
4103 Tholian Attack
4314 Neo-Tholian Squadron Box #14
4315 Tholian Squadron Box #15
5308 Special Map pack (advanced copies of the maps from Battleships Attack and Distant Kingdoms)
0080 Juggernaut Mini (resin kit)
0103 Base Station
0771 Neo-Tholian NDD and NFF

I just put the cover for FC: Battleships Attack on the old BBS and (just guessing) Gary Carney will move it to the new Forum later today. (He knows how and I do not.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Into the Vaccuum

Steve Cole writes: There is something about the magical time a project is finished. (The copies of Tholian Attack are stacked in the warehouse to go out to wholesalers Monday.) OH, the project isn't REALLY over; I have to file the copyright forms, send the guys who earned free copies instructions on how to get them, and go put two copies in that box out in the warehouse marked "archive copies".

I have another project to do, of course. Boosters 13-14-15 (the March release group) go to press in a week or two, and I have already finished the five bonus ships and given them to Steve Petrick to review. When he's done they'll go to Mike West, then to all of TeamFC, then to the printer. (We have them reviewed in this order so that if there is a mistake ... and there are always several that get caught during this checking process ... I don't get ten identical reports of the same mistake.)

The April release series is easy for me (just miniatures, and the Omega Master Rulebook that Petrick has already finished). May has CL35 (I have GOT to finish that fiction story), June-July have FC:Battleships Attack and SFB:R11, and those will be busy months.

But perhaps for this week I can work on things that never got worked on when I was busy with FC:TA, such as PD:Feds, the paperback books, and Leanna's Fighting Starships. It is this magical "not very busy" time when I can get future products moved far enough along that we can actually put them on the release schedule.

What is really helping a lot is having Matt and Vanessa here. I can delegate things to them instead of spending time explaining why they aren't getting done.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Changes to the web site

Graphics Director Matt Cooper writes: We are going to be making some serious changes to both web sites.

The Legacy site will become prettier to look at and easier to use. Now that I'm in the office, SVC doesn't have to use the BBS to post things that need to be in the various databases. The legacy site has grown for eight years, includes duplicated and overlapping information, and too many things have not been updated. The most important thing is for ADB to have an internal list of what IS there so we know to update it.

The new FC site will be getting some tweaks and new material. We have already added pages for the Tholians, and a graphics download page, and a web banner download page.

As I make these changes (some of directed by SVC, some by Leanna, and some by Vanessa) you are welcome to comment on them, and even test them to see if they work. But more than that, PLEASE feel free to email me (graphics@starfleetgames.com) if you have any ideas or suggestions. SVC is fond of saying that "not everything can be on the front page" but with a little creativity, I can perhaps make sure that the front page tells you what is here and where to find it.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Get up, right now, and go to the office photocopier. Take everything out of your wallet and make a copy of both sides of it. Put the copy in a SAFE place. Be sure that you used enlargement so you can read the phone numbers to call and report lost-or-stolen credit cards. Do this again every year.

As you put stuff back into your wallet, see if there is anything that you should toss (maybe an old receipt of a bus ticket).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

If you want to know, see ... POLYGLOT!

If you really want to know what's going on in the adventure game industry, you can't do better than:

They do a free PDF newsletter every two weeks (look for the link for current issue) in which lots and lots of companies provide press releases, information sheets, and other data to tell each other, the retailers and wholesalers, and the consumers what the heck is going on.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Federation Commander Play-by-Email

FRANK BROOKS WRITES: Federation Commander Play-by-Email Playing Federation Commander by email 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. The basic gist of the Federation Commander Play by Email (PBEM) system is that you and your opponent submit your orders for the turn to a moderator via E-Mail. The moderator then processes them, and sends a "Sitrep" (Situation Report) to the players via E-Mail. 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 Federation Commander 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 of Federation Commander. Moderating a Federation Commander PBEM game is also an excellent way to learn more about the Federation Commander rules. While there are some disadvantages to PBEM (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 to 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 Federation Commander PBEM, please visit the Play-by-Email section of ADB Inc.'s website at www.starfleetgames.com/pbemgames and we will be happy to help you.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A day at ADB

Steve Cole writes: We're closing in on Tholian attack.
Cover: proof approved, being printed.
Maps: in Dallas being mounted
Counters: On hand
Ship cards: printed, being laminated now
Rulebook: finalized this afternoon (Tuesday)
Final playtest and proofreading under way.

Other things....
Looking forward to the next project.
Matt is making improvements to the web site, and Vanessa is marketing things.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Global Warming? Climate Change?

I just don't know about this Global Warming thing. Obviously, something is going wonky if the north polar ice cap lost 35% of its area and 40% of its thickness. Something is going crazy when a whole glacier the size of Massachusetts down in Antarctic broke up and disappeared in a two week period. I can grasp the theory that there could be a tipping point where one more tiny change means a whopping big result out of scale with any previous change.

But did man cause it? I don't know. And would giving up America's precious cars change it? Not proven, one way or the other. Which means we need to find out, not pretend there is no problem or over-react to a politically-driven hypothesis.

Earth's climate has many cycles which overlap, some of them countering each other. I frankly don't believe that anything the human race can do would cause a bigger change than is happening already, but I accept that I could be wrong. And I would like to know. And while there is some evidence and some theories and some guesses, there is today no PROOF. I respect those who think that the theories and guesses mean we need to ACT NOW, and some reasonable conservation matters are always a good idea.

One good test is to see where those who are arguing that global warming means we must change society were on the changing society issue before global warming showed up. Yep, right where they are now. The left is saying we must give up cars and gasoline, and the right is saying more oil and bigger cars won't hurt a bit. Both were saying that before the term "global warming" was "discovered" and now they insist it proves their point. And the point keeps changing. It's actually been getting cooler the last five or six years, which is why the global warming crowd now talks about global climate change. I don't want my grand-nephews to die of bad weather just because the global warming crowd was ham-handed in their propaganda. If this is real, prove it. I'll agree to tax money being spent on honest research to find out.

The case for global warming (or climate change) is based on rising levels of C02. The problem is, there is no proof in the ice cores that C02 will cause a climate change. In fact, the opposite. The ice cores show that CO2 rises AFTER the weather changes, not before. Now, we are in the middle of the worst C02 increase in known history, and ok, I'll consider the theory that this will change the climate. I will even consider it a probability. But the point is that since this has never happened before, nobody knows what it will do. An interesting point is that the UN computer models for the weather show that the C02 levels will cause a major climate change, but those models do not include a few known and proven factors (like the sun today is not the same as the sun 30 years ago) and those factors are 10-100 times the impact of human-produced CO2.

Here's a thought. Half of the human race does not have electricity or clean water, and we're never going to provide them with either without burning more fuel (of some kind). Even better, "giving up the cars" doesn't really change THAT much since everybody then has to get to work by bus or train. The social upheaval of suddenly having all of the suburbs become uninhabitable due to the "how do I get to work" issue could be serious. The social upheaval of evacuating coastal cities would be worse, and I don't see anybody trying to figure that one out.

Here is another thought. Most of the melting ice is already either floating in the ocean or on places where the "ground" is below sea level, and won't change ocean depth. But it will make the ocean less salty and that MIGHT change the way warm water moves around, stopping the conveyor that takes equitorial heat into the north and south, which could mean other problems (like that crazy movie a while back).

I don't know what's up, and frankly, neither does anybody else. There is a lot of hysteria on one side and a lot of head-in-the-sand on the other side. I'm all for finding out what the heck IS happening. I'm all for doing reasonable things that would make sense even if there was no such thing as global climate change. But I do resent the hype and the hysteria, and I don't trust the "it will all be ok" crowd either.

Leanna and I used to come to work in two cars, since she worked 8 hours a day and I worked ten. Now, we come to work in one car four days a week (I work 8 hours those days) and in two cars two days a week (I work 12 hours those days). That cuts our family gasoline consumption 25%, saves us money, reduces greenhouse gasses. It makes sense, even if it makes for some very long days.

The UN just issued a new report "proving" global warming, but it is politically motivated (their "cure" to the problem is to move western industry into 3rd world countries; this was the same thing Kyoto tried to do, and no, Kyoto had nothing to do with the environment, and everything to do with shipping jobs and money from the west to third world countries).

I have no doubt that anyone with Google can find all the data, fact, theory, and opinion they want on global warming. Here's a few sites that tend to dispute the "prevailing wisdom". Those who support the global warming theory should read them, while those who dispute the theory should study up for the next debate around the table in the coffee break room: Friendsofscience.org, CO2Science.org, and JunkScience.com (there are many others). Better is an intriguing interview with a real weather scientist who has never taken a time from the oil companies: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/columnists/steigerwald/s_492572.html [If somebody will email me a couple of web sites that support the climate change theory, I will post them in a future blog]

Of course, after what my doctor told me last week (lose weight or die!), and the fact that I have no children, global warming is the least of my personal concerns. But it still bothers me, and the kids (Isis and Ramses, my bengal wildcats) REALLY do not like snow one bit.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

How to find opponents

STEVE COLE WRITES: Many gamers are looking for new opponents. This is nothing new. When I was a teenager, there were maybe four wargamers 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, and works much better, and you have a lot of ways to do it. For best results, do all of them.

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-in's every day, and since it's free you can try it every month or two and find out of somebody near you has signed in.

You can go to the forum and find the area where local stores and groups post announcements and invitations and let people know you'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.) Feel free to go to your local store and ask them to let you post a notice looking for opponents.

You could also run a demo of Federation Commander (or any of our games) and "grown your own" opponents. If anybody already plays the game you demo, they'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.

The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to our Legacy site and look for the button that says Player Resources. Under that menu is a link for Starlist. 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 five thousand 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 your 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.

The original web site has a bulletin board system and the 8th item on the main menu is "seeking opponents". 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. Many of those on Starlist and StarFleetGames.com/discus will be players of Star Fleet Battles, but most of those can be convinced to play Federation Commander. Indeed, over half of the names on Starlist are people who quit playing Star Fleet Battles for lack of opponents (or because SFB was too complex for them or their opponents) and most of those are ready recruits for the faster cleaner Federation Commander game system. With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see the links list on our site).

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 cards who got emails from other gamers in their home towns who were seeking opponents. You can go always go to SFB Online and play Federation Commander on-line with live opponents from around the world for the princely sum of $4 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.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Saturday at ADB

I slept late and had a big breakfast. After five-six hours of uninterrupted work, I plan to get lunch, take Leanna shopping, and go home.

Just the owners today, although Mike is due in later to bind books. Vanessa gets upset when they run the bookbinding machine (which is in her office until the new office space is ready) while she is here, and threatens people with duct tape. So Mike plans to do it while she's not here.

Mostly, I'm just trying to catch up on things. I spent an hour reorganizing everybody's "to do list" for next week. Sounds like a waste of time but the only bigger waste of time is to not do the plan and end up doing the wrong things in the wrong order.

I sent about 30 new avatars for the forum to Matt; he'll load them next Wednesday.

I did some checking and found that I had already done 18 of the 32 ship card-sides for Distant Kingdoms, which is lightly penciled in for September. I have done two of the 16 for Battleships, which is firmly inked in for July.

I have 2/3 of the CL35 story done (gotta finish that after TA goes to press) and we have the CL36 story (although Petrick has some rules glitches I have to rewrite and check with the original author). The CL35 story is more Klingons (Hey, if you don't want Klingons, get somebody else to write the story) and the CL36 story is Seltorians, Tholians, and ... Klingons.

My big focus (besides keeping Vanessa's whip away from me) is getting the scenarios finalized for Tholian Attack. The playtesters wrote them and tested them and sent me finished drafts so all I have to do is "page layout" them. For FC:TA, the covers, maps, and ships have gone to press, and the counters have been here for months. Once I finish the scenarios (the rules and ship descriptions are done) the rulebook is finished.

Matt (feeling Vanessa's whip, no doubt) did some new pages for this site; you'll find them under the site map button.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Another day at ADB

We're continually getting the company better organized. I give everybody a list of things to do and the details and priority, and they do them and send me notes on what was done and what needs something else before it can get done.

Crazy thing is, the employees are now sending ME lists of things for ME to do and I somehow end up doing them. I have got to learn to let go of some of the things I insist on doing myself, and then start teaching others to do the things only I can do.

Matt will be sending his first covers to press today(Friday), and will be learning how to work the printing companies' FTP sites (they're all different).

Vanessa has been getting the Amazon store up and running to see if we can find new customers over there. (If you already use our existing carts, please continue to do so.)

Vanessa has been cracking the whip. While I barely got communique 14 done on time, 15 is done a month early and I have already done the hardest parts of 16.

We're closing in on the final changes for the Tholian Attack rulebook.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Free stuff for Fed Commander players

STEVE COLE WRITES: Some people do not realize that you can download what amounts to a free copy of part of the FEDERATION COMMANDER game (enough to play a few battles). Go to our Legacy site and you will find a lot of stuff you can download. Some of those downloads include:
o The free First Missions packet (demo version of Federation Commander). (Some groups are now using this as an "even faster" version of the game system.)

o Turn guages and firing arcs for the tabletop rules.

o Sample ship cards.

o Wallpaper of game covers.

o Frequently asked questions.

o Information for Retailers.

o The original theatrical trailer (ok, not that, but it was the original flyer handed out at trade shows).
o Notes from the game designer on what parts of the older game Star Fleet Battles we decided to include in Federation Commander.
But that's just a start. If you join the Commander's Circle, which is free, you can download the monthly Communique which includes scenarios, tactics, and new ships. You can also access a database of Federation Commander players looking for new opponents (you!). We just uploaded communique #14, and communique #15 will upload on 10 March.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A trip to the doctor

I don't go to the doctor often, despite being old and overweight. The untimely death of our long-time webmaster Joe Butler inspired me to do so. (Let's skip the part about my appointment being delayed an hour by drug salesmen who never seem to make appointments but never have a problem getting right in.)

On a television show, the doctor comes in, orders some tests, and after the commercial, tells the hero what is wrong and how to fix it and he's all better by the time the credits role. In real life, the two conversations are separated by two weeks, a dozen lab tests, and a stress test (which sounds like something I will flunk).

[This painfully reminds me of my one great attempt to get my brother to go to the doctor for a general physical; he was dead a year later.]

The doctor (no big leap of intuition here) told me to lose 30 pounds as soon as I can and then decide if I'm going to maintain that weight or get down closer to my proper weight. (Anyone who has met me knows I'm over a hundred pounds too heavy.) Worse, my weight problem is all in the worst place (my beer belly, and I don't even drink beer!); I have almost no fat anywhere else. So, a little more exercise (pushing myself away from the dinner table is suggested) and a little more sleep and take my blood pressure every day (mine was over 200 at one point today, and down to 120 ten minutes later, so they think I'm just afraid of the doctor, which is probably true) and in two weeks when the tests are back we'll see how it goes.

I will let you know. But a word to the wise....

If you haven't seen a doctor in a year, go see one. What the heck.

If you are overweight, lose some weight. If you are 100 pounds over weight, go see a doctor about losing weight. And if your spouse has a handy diabetic testing kit, run the test once a month just for grins and chuckles. And take your blood pressure once a week.

If you just haven't felt right in a while, go see a doctor.

If you feel FINE and are not overweight, go see a doctor every year or two, check your blood pressure every month, and (if your spouse is diabetic) take that blood test once a month.

And vitamins. Take some vitamins. Can't hurt. And eat better. Less sugar, less fat, more vegetables (and potatoes are not vegetables, they are starches).

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Another day at ADB

Things are frantic as we start sending parts of THOLIAN ATTACK to press.

We sent the maps to press yesterday and SVC took Matt over to check the proofs today. Tholian attack will have two panels of web maps, but we are also printing the two asteroid panels for Battleships and the two gas giant panels for Distant Kingdoms.

We finished the ship cards just now and will send them to press in the morning.

We're working on the rules.

Vanessa and SVC worked on the product schedule for the rest of the year. Looks like SFB Module R11 will be the Origins product (not an official decision yet) and that the second SFB module (possibly one of the three Omega modules in development) will be done in October. (We need to schedule printing those rulebooks between the September print run of Distant Kingdoms and the November printing of Captain's Log.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cafe Press

Graphics Director Matt Cooper writes:

Have you ever heard of Cafe Press? Cafe Press is a website where you can open up a free online shop and promote products on your website. CafePress creates and sells products with your designs. So upon learning about Cafe Press, Leanna set up an account and I have uploaded several designs for T-shirts, Coffee Mugs, Ornaments, Mousepads, etc.


If you have any questions or comments or would like to see something on CafePress to buy, Let me know , I will set it up for you!


Friday, February 09, 2007

Federation Commander Wallpaper

Graphics Director Matt Cooper writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download Federation Commander Wallpaper.

Klingon Border, Romulan Border, Klingon Attack, and Romulan Attack are currently available in the following sizes : 800x600, 1024x768, and 1280x1024.


If there are any other sizes or any other images that you would like to see turned into wallpaper, please feel free to write me at graphics@starfleetgames.com and I will get it set up for you.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Alas, Joe Butler, we knew you well

Last night, a dear friend and college, Joe Butler, passed away after two months in intensive care fighting for his life. Joe was our webmaster on the other site, leader of one of the two main playtest groups, and the Origins Desk Judge for the national tournaments.

It was Joe who showed up at Origins every year and held the tedious and boring job keeping records at the desk. He did so with charm, professionalism, tact, and courtesy.

It was Joe who built www.starfleetgames.com and kept it going. It was Joe who ran the discus BBS and had the thankless job of dealing with those who could not follow the rules. It was Joe who hunted down the address of people who illegally posted our products on their sites and got the ISP to yank the material.

Most of all, it was Joe who (as part of a very small team) kept the Star Fleet Universe going during the interregnum when our previous publisher went out of business. It was Joe who ran the Origins events for that one awful year when no one from Texas could go and there was doubt that the Universe would last another year. It was Joe who told the most loyal of fans to keep the faith, that SVC would fix the TFG mess given another few months. And it was Joe who was the first to be told that the contract was signed and to take the site live and send out the announcement we were back in business.

On the other BBS, a hundred people have posted their messages of sympathy and condolence, which have been a great comfort to Stacy, Joe's fiance and the love of his life.

Joe did a lot of nice things for a lot of nice people, and we could not have made it this far without him. Fear not, another webmaster will take his place, but it will never be quite the same without Joe.

Joe, you'll be missed. Now rest some, you earned it.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Take a first aid course

Everybody ought to take the Red Cross first aid course. Look them up in the phone book (every decent-size town has an office) and ask them for the next first aid class schedule. It costs something ($20 here) but it's worth if you save somebody sometime.

While you are at it, take CPR. (They sometimes teach both on the same day.) I heard somewhere that, statistically, someone in every class saves a life. I took the course in Boy Scouts when I was 14, and two weeks later saved my grandfather's life when he collapsed in front of me. I enjoyed his company another ten years before heart disease took him from us. It was kind of neat in the military that every time we taught CPR they had me get up in class and tell the story, to get people to pay attention that, yes, somebody in every class eventually uses it to save a life.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Federation Commander MySpace!

Federation Commander brings you...Federation Commander MySpace!

Marketing Director Vanessa Clark writes: Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. is pleased to announce that we now have a MySpace page! Be our friend and find us! Make comments, view upcoming blogs (yes we will be blogging there as well!), and see what's going on with Amarillo Design from another side! Our MySpace page is ran by Matt (graphics) and myself (Vanessa-Marketing Director) so you will get different interaction with Amarillo Design Bureau than you have in the past.

If you can think of anything we could add to Myspace that would enhance your overall Star Fleet experience, just let us know.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Product Development moves ahead

This site (fed commander) isn't much about Star Fleet Battles, but over on our other site, we have had a rolicking good time developing new SFB products that might, one day, turn into FC products.

ADB takes 2nd place to no other game company in making its designers (and designs) accessible. You can, on that site, watch us develop new products, and take part in suggesting new features, new ships, new scenarios, and so forth.

Just today, we had people ask for scenarios to be included in new products, and opened the door for anyone who wanted to write a scenario to write those two.

And just today, somebody told me I was wrong about something, and I actually considered his argument before having him executed!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Attention Restaurant Owners

One of my pet peeves, ok?

Every restaurant should have, on every table, a small "trash can". It doesn't have to be any bigger than a salad bowl, although probably deeper.

People who eat in retaurants really do want to keep their table uncluttered. Give them a trash can and they WILL use it for all kinds of things. Soiled napkins, sugar/sweeterer packets, the wrappers from the straws, creamer packets, fat and bones trimmed from their steak, the foil from the baked potato, and no end of other things.

I told this once to a friend who owned a restaurant. She refused to implement my plan, for these reasons.
1. Nobody wants that trash on their table. (HEY, it's ALREADY on the table!)
2. Nobody wants to eat with the last group's trash. (HEY, you don't leave that trash on the table NOW, why would you leave a full trash can? Just empty it after each group of diners. Sheesh.)
3. Too much bother for the waitress to empty. (HEY, the waitress is ALREADY picking up all that junk!)

Saturday, February 03, 2007


Many people do not know that you can play Federation Commander on-line in real time against live opponents.

Eight years ago, http://www.sfbonline.com/, was created to provide players of Star Fleet Battles with an on-line gaming experience. It was a smash hit as hundreds of gamers joined the battles. Tournaments and other competitions, plus general opening gaming, have gone on around the clock since then.

This successful operation has now been expanded to include Federation Commander!

Now you can play with real live human opponents all over the world in real time 24 hours a day! The computer automates many functions and acts as a friendly assistant for mundane chores.

For the modest subscription fee of less than $4 a month, you have access to all of the ships in the Federation Commander Game System as well as new ships still in playtest and development. The Java Runtime system is compatible with Windows and Macintosh systems.

Never worry about a lack of opponents. Never worry about opponents who don’t show up for games day because of silly reasons like family reunions or their own weddings. Don’t be cut off from your regular gaming group while on vacations or business trips.

Even better, you can join in on-line tournaments and campaigns, and your victories will add up to a higher and higher average score!

The system also allows you to chat with friends, taunt your enemies, and watch other players fight their own savage battles. (Why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from someone else’s?) This "observer" system allows players of either game to learn the ins and outs of the other game before deciding to invest time and money in it.

So come to www.sfbonline.com right away. You can even fly the Federation CA or Klingon D7 as a free trial, or watch any game in play. Legendary SFB aces and new Fed Commander aces strut their stuff in combat arenas all the time, and you can learn from the best.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Happy Birthday, Lt Commander Data!

Born this day in 2338.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Feeding the spiders

I try to come BLOG every day. (Vanessa gets violent if I don't.) Supposedly, the reason is to keep the spiders fed, so they won't think our website is one that isn't updated. Blogging every day means we're an active site, I guess.

Maybe the theory is that if I come blog, I'll notice something else that needs to be done, updated, changed, moved, or whatever? I don't really see how, since the blog place is not even on the site, and I can blog every day for a year without even seeing the site itself.

Anyway, our new web guy, Matt Cooper, made a minor change yesterday. The original site design meant that to click on "commanders circle" took you to a screen that had a link that took you to another site where, if you scrolled down a ways, you might notice the actual entrance to Commander's Circle. Matt changed that to a link that goes directly there, skipping a confusing step.

We have some ideas about rearranging some of the links. The spot on the front page that says "star blog" was supposed to work a certain way and doesn't (and can't, and doesn't need to). So the theory of the moment is to better utilize that rectangle for links to a site map, the shopping cart, and some other things.

We'll also be adding pages for SFB, F&E, the Tholian Holdfast, and Tholian Attack soon.