Merging of the Universes
FROM AMARILLO DESIGN BUREAU, INC. 31 JULY 2007
PRESS RELEASE: STAR FLEET UNIVERSE AND
FEDERATION COMMANDER WEBSITES MERGE
Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc., is pleased to announce the completion of its project to merge its two websites. The new one (www.FederationCommander.com) is now an integral part of the original site (www.StarFleetGames.com). All of the content of FederationCommander.com is now part of StarFleetGames.com so nothing was lost.
We originally created a separate website for our newest product line out of concern that the complex StarFleetGames.com website would confuse the new customers playing Federation Commander. However, our increasing web savvy (in the person of Matthew Cooper, our in-house webmaster) improved StarFleetGames.com to the point that it was no longer confusing to anyone. (The new index lists everything on the site with easy-to-follow links.)
While the cost of maintaining two websites was a factor, our primary motivation was one of increasing customer service by eliminating customer confusion. What was confusing people was that we had two sites that, increasingly, duplicated each other. Most of FederationCommander.com had become part of the improved StarFleetGames.com, and players of Federation Commander were increasingly seeking information about our other product lines (driving us to include more and more data about those other products on that site).
The new combined site uses the original url (www.StarFleetGames.com) but (after the DNS entry propagates) the FederationCommander.com url will just go to the StarFleetGames.com/federation and you won't even notice.
All of the services and features of both sites remain, although some have been merged. StarBlog remains in service, replacing the Hot News Blog that repeated the same information. Hailing Frequencies, the opt-in newsletter, remains in operation and subscribing to it is easier. The non-identical pages for certain product lines have been combined into unified and complete pages. It was always confusing that the Commander's Circle was not on the Federation Commander website; this is no longer a problem. The two shopping carts had become nearly identical, but the few non-identical items were confusing everybody. The one shopping cart (https://www169.safesecureweb.com/starfleetstore/merchant2/merchant.mvc) has everything you need, without the confusion.
We ask customers to bear with us as the transition period plays out. There are literally hundreds of links on the various pages of the site, and converting those that went to various parts of FederationCommander.com to go to the analog spots on StarFleetGames.com cannot have been a perfect process. If you find a broken link, or one that goes to an unexpected place, please let us know. Our staff continues to review every link on www.StarFleetGames.com in rotation to verify links and update them with new information, but knowing that a particular link is going haywire will allow us to fix it immediately.
We welcome feedback on the merged website. Contact us at graphics@StarFleetGames.com with your comments and any suggestions for improvement. We want to thank Spellmann and Associates for hosting (and the initial design of) FederationCommander.com and helping us move into a new era of our web presence.
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. 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. Paul Franz charges barely enough for the On-Line game system (for SFB and FC) to pay the server costs.
Federation & Empire would not exist without Jeff Laikind in charge of the overall game system and the Ship Information Tables, or without Chuck Strong (a real-world colonel from Space Command) keeping the scenarios updated and coherent.
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 who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including Scott Tenhoff, Chris Fant, and Stewart Frazier (the F&E staff); Jean Sexton (Director of Proofreading and Product Professionalization), John Berg (Galactic Conquest Campaign); and John Sickels, Matthew Francois, Jonathan Thompson, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive). 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.
New Boosters being readied to ship
This is Steven Petrick Posting.
As of Friday (27 July 07) we have received all of the components needed to ship Boosters #16, #17, and #18. While various problems got in the way of this project, we are going to make our shipping date on these (first shipments to distributors start on Monday). In fact, the first of the distributor orders is already packed and only needs its UPS label to be ready to go.
We have also received the remastered masters for the Seltorians. There are problems with two of the ships that will require them to go back for another round with the sculptor, but we are hopeful that this will only delay release of these miniatures by another week. We regret this, but want to make sure that the errors we found are fixed. There is never a good time to ship a bad product.
STEVE COLE WRITES: Of all the features I love about Tivo, the one I actually use most often is the eight-second backspace button. I use it to get back to the start of a scene after fast-forwarding through commercials, but I use it more often to hear dialog I missed or see some leopard take down a gazelle one more time.
I wish my car radio had one. (I don't actually know if satellite radio has this, but I hope they add it before I buy my next car as I want satellite radio.) I was listening to a show today while driving back from the post office, and heard "... percent of teenagers have a myspace page, and parents are concerned..." I wished I could have hit the backspace button and heard if this was 20% or 80%. Anybody know?
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. We are developing a line of non-game products (calendars, paperback books, ship books, plus Cafe Press). We have an Amazon store (not to make money so much as to put our products in front of other groups of potential customers), and the MySpace page exists for that reason as well. 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.
Greatests Myths: The American Revolution
Myth: The US won the American Revolution wearing buckskin and hiding behind rocks and trees shooting at the stupid British wearing bright red coats and standing in a straight line.
Truth: The US won wearing bright blue coats and standing in a straight line; we just learned how to shoot faster, the French helped, and the British had an ocean in the way of their Army. This myth seems to have originated in a Bill Cosby comedy routine.
Communique #19 has been posted
Sorry it's two weeks late, but we had Origins to go to and survive.
Communique #19 (July 07) has been posted. It includes:
New ship: Klingon E7 cruiser
Revised ship: Klingon F5 Frigate (Nothing changed; just graphic upgrades)
Big ship: Romulan NovaHawk
Intruder Ship: Romulan FireHawk
New Scenario: 8CM10 The Pirates Find An Ally (four players)
Also: Questions about Battleships Attack answered by the designer
I WANT YOUR COMMENTS!
Graphics Director Matt Cooper writes:
As the graphics (on the web sites and in the products) continue to here at ADB, Inc., I am learning about new things every day, and drive SVC crazy because I do my list of things to do before he is ready to give me another list.
We have made serious changes to both websites (the legacy site now has a new front page, site map, and index), and you are welcome to not just comment on my changes, but suggest further changes, and check the changes I make.
Here is my e-mail: graphics@StarFleetGames.com or you can comment on either forum.
Going to Press Day
Today we're going to press with the ship cards for BOOSTER PACKS 16-17-18. These are 16 new ships, numbered 81-96. BOOSTER PACK 16 has five new ships, BOOSTER PACK 17 has seven new ships, and BOOSTER PACK 18 has four new ships. It's an intense, busy, day processing reports and getting the files laid out.
Taking the Day Off
STEVE COLE REPORTS: I took the day off. I normally work at least half a day on Sunday, often a full day, but two or three times a year I take a whole Sunday off just to rest and mentally recharge. Today was one of those days.
FRANK BROOKS WRITES: Federation Commander
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 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 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
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 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 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.
Buried in Work
Lots going on, and lots to do.
Mail order is unusually heavy, and wholesalers (who used to order a bunch of a new product and now don't even order enough to cover pre-orders) are sending in restocks for BATTLESHIPS ATTACK and SUPPORT SHIPS. I still have pre-Origins things not done, and need to send the booster cards to press Monday (when I have jury duty, what fun).
No matter which of the 999 things on my "must do today" list I do, it was worth doing. No matter how many of them I do, it wasn't enough.
Even so, it's good to be busy, and it's good to never have a lack of something to do.
Great Military Myths: Overkill
Myth: The US and USSR had (or at one point had) enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world seven (or any other number you want to pick) times.
Truth: This number is based on a calculation that involves dropping the most effective bomb on the biggest target, counting the projected casualties, dividing that number into the total population, then comparing this to the total mega-tonnage on hand. In reality, there were never enough bombs to kill everybody once because there are so many people living in small groups in remote areas. To be sure, a post-nuclear world would be pretty awful and it's questionable if a stable breeding population could have survived the following century.
Myth: While on the nuclear annihilation subject, we could mention the myth that Nuclear Winter would plunge the world into decades of sub-zero temperatures.
Truth: The study that proposed Nuclear Winter left a few things out of their calculations (oceans, rain, the rotation of the Earth, sunlight, among others). Several volcanic explosions had exceeded the "threshhold" for atmospheric dust. A study by the US National Academy of Sciences found that the real effects were a ten degree drop, that that only in the center of each continent, which would last for two years. The same study noted many other effects which would have made post-nuclear life extremely difficult and miserable.
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 php-forum or the discus-bbs 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. Ask for a "Fed Commander played here" sign to be included in your next order.
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 website 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.
From Steven Petrick:
After Origins clean-up continues. Products that returned to the warehouse from the Origins events have been inventoried and are now being put back into stock. While we do not have to go to Origins again for a year, we have to inventory and put into storage all the equipment that we use to run the events and operate the booth so that they are readily accessible for the next year. This way we save time in that we will not be trying to find the shelving units to the booth display; we will know right where they are stored. We also inventory the materials we use for the various tournaments, disposing of those that are no longer useable and making notes about what will have to be replaced. All the radios we use to maintain communications between the tournaments, the various judges, and the booth, are checked back in (together with their associated chargers) and all batteries are removed (to make sure they do not self-destruct and destroy the radios in the coming year). The radios and batteries, like the rest of the Origins specific materials are all put away in specific locations so that they can be easily accessed the next year.
As a bonus, the items are not becoming office or warehouse clutter which could be easily damaged. Instead, they are in their assigned places, all ready to be packed in the vehicle for departure to Origins next year.
From Steven Paul Petrick:
Work progresses on many projects. This week, SVC and I intend to take a first look at sending fixes for the selected fiction story for Captain's Log #36
to the author. The story is a clash between major Seltorian and Tholian units that the author, Randy O. Green, created from snippets of information from the historical backgrounds of various units. Randy melded these items into a cohesive story which SVC and I have reviewed.
No, I am not going to tell you the story here, you will have to wait for Captain's Log #36
to learn any more about the action and what elements are tied together.
SVC and I have both read Randy's story, and checked the background items he is using to build his story. We simply need to communicate to Randy some corrections that he needs to complete his story and make it mesh with the way the Star Fleet Universe
works. Randy is already looking forward to these fixes, as we had the opportunity at Origins to sit down with him, and with senior staffer Michael Filsinger in attendance, and discuss several of these points. We do not often have such opportunities, but in this case we already had Randy's story (submitted some months before) and were ready to discuss it with him when he showed up. Mike Filsinger had not read the story, but served as a sounding board for our thoughts and read a further outline that Randy had brought with him during the discussion.
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 (www.StarFleetGames.com/fc) 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).
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 (Steve Cole) 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!).
I have heard that "dog days of summer" has to do with the star Sirius, but I don't really know what it means.
Mike is off for the weekend. So is Matt.
Leanna has been sick for two weeks but still came to work until yesterday, when she stayed in bed. Saturday she never got out of it. (Update from Sunday, she still hasn't, and plans to see her doctor on Tuesday, the earliest she could get an appointment. The idea of going to the emergency room makes her sick.)
Petrick and I are still rebuilding our strength from Origins. Today we played a game of TIDE OF IRON which is some kind of WW2 tank game I bought at Origins because it was full of toy tanks and toy soldiers. Took is about an hour to figure out that the designer has no clue how war works, treating suppressive fire and "attack" as two separate functions with entirely different methods and results. Oh well, we'll fix it for him and, hey, we actually got to PLAY A WARGAME which we don't do often enough.
Congratulations, Mike and Kila
Our warehouse manager, Mike Sparks, got married today. (His wife, Kila, was born on Halloween and Friday the 13th is always her lucky day.) The ceremony was in a beautiful wedding garden south of Canyon. He SAYS he'll be back to work Monday. We shall see.
Congratulations and the best of luck, Mike and Kila!
Graphics Director Matthew 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!
Crash and Burn
Steve Cole Reports: Man, I had no idea that (given my current state of health) the Origins trip would take so much out of me. I need to rest up and recharge; I'll try to actually accomplish something next week. The idea that I could pop out of the car and go right to work on anything (e.g., communique and the newsletter) proved too hopeful. Later, guys.
Home from Origins
STEVE COLE REPORTS: We got home from Origins late last night, tired but happy.
We had good sales, good games, met good friends, and generally had a good time. The three women who ran the booth for me did a fantastic job. The crowd was small for a number of reasons (it's always bad on 4th of July, Gencon is planning a blowout for its 40th anniversary and those who could only do one picked that one) but those who were there had a splendid time.
The show was well run by the GAMA crew. There was massive confusion about the "vouchers" which were given to judges, and lots of people got wrong information, but it all worked out.
This was the 9th one since ADB incorporated, and we have the system down pretty well. Everything went very well. The drive was pleasant, despite some heavy rain in spots.
Three special moments of note...
1. Jen Pyle, my primary booth babe, is expecting her first child in six months. Her husband Bart was very protective. I gave them the baby spoon that was baked inside my mother's wedding cake; I had my first solid food out of it 55+ years ago.
2. During the F&E tournament, we stopped to have the tournament judge (Lieutenant Colonel Charles Strong) swear in Staff Sergeant Dan Knipfer (who has spent 19 years in the Air Force and wanted his final hitch to begin on the 4th of July at Origins).
3. Randy Green brought me a 105mm cannon shell casing which had been used to bombard Taliban battle positions in Afghanistan early this year. The engraving thanked me and ADB for supporting the War on Terror and this empty cannon shell means more to me than my Origins award from last year.
Report from Origins
Graphics Director Matt Cooper writes: Steve and Petrick are out of the office this week attending Origins. Word is everything is going great, they're selling games, and they are having a blast.
FEDERATION COMMANDER: PLAY IT ON LINE
Many people do not know that you can play Federation Commander on-line in real time against live opponents, any time, night or day, for under $4 a month.
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.
Monday, the day we leave for Origins. We're almost ready; the only things left at this point are things involving loading the car. (Ok, one item that only sort of involves loading the cart is that the "pre flight box" that has been used to gather stuff going to the show has to be repacked, with some of its stuff going into the "in flight box" (the box of stuff to read, stuff to eat, spare sunglasses, and the two-way radios), the tournament box (which has everything Petrick needs to run the tournament), the booth box (which has everything SVC needs to run the booth), or other places. Hm... it occurs to me that I have not seen the travel atlas that we always take. I need to ask Petrick where it is.
We will depart sometime after 3pm (the earliest we can leave and still arrive in Oklahoma City after rush hour) and 6pm (the latest we can leave and get a decent night's sleep in Tulsa). Preferred time is 5pm. We have left late twice (once to help Leanna pack games and once when a last second 5 minute errand took 65 minutes). I am not sure if we have ever left early, but maybe this will be the year.
We'd be loading the van now but Leanna decided that this year she would rent us a larger vehicle to take more stuff, and it's reserved for noon pick up. Also, Mike Sparks isn't here to load it anyway, as he's late for work attending to an errand (something about going to the court house and buying a marriage license).
It's Sunday, the day before we leave for Origins. The whole crew is down here working, almost a full day, getting stuff ready and stacking it by the door.
We have done this eight years (this is year nine) and have it down to a science. We have a long list of things to do (saved every year and reused, as updated-adjusted-modified) and we're working through it. It's like the checklist for an airplane about to take off. Every detail, from "check the number of convention policy letters in the booth box and print more if less than six" to "get the magazine racks out of the attic and stack them by the door". We also have new products to assemble, and the initial shipments to wholesalers to pack. Last year, we got the parts for the two new products the Friday before Origins, and despite leaving an hour late we left Leanna and Mike without packing the Tuesday wholesale shipments or even assembling the games to go in them. This year, we got all the parts two days earlier and had all the games assembled by Saturday.
Added note: As we departed the office Sunday, everything on the list that could be done had been done. Everything else on the list was "cannot be done before Monday".