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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

End of the Quarter

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Today ends the first quarter of calendar year 2009. Much has changed in this first quarter, and while we are somewhat settled and making progress, much still needs to be done.

We have survived our first major "precipitation event" with no signs of leaks in the roof (a good thing). Since it was the first such event, we spent time covering all of the electronics with plastic tarps to ward off the possibility that the roof was not as sound as we were told. Always better to be safe than sorry in a new place. Inspectors do the job they are paid to do, but they are human and errors do occur.

For now, all is well and we continue marching into the future.

Monday, March 30, 2009

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, Andy Palmer for Prime Directive d20, Gary Plana for GURPS Prime Directive, Richard Sherman for Star Fleet Battle Force, 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. Mark Tutton does made-to-order decals for our Starline miniatures at a cost that barely covers his costs.

Federation & Empire would not exist without Chuck Strong (a real-world colonel from Space Command) in charge of the overall game system. He keeps his staff (Mike Curtis, Ryan Opel, Scott Tenhoff, 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 who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including Jean Sexton (Vice President of Proofreading and Product Professionalization); John Berg and Mike Incavo (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.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Propaganda and Entertainment

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Information is what we have to base decisions on. Often, the information we use to make those decisions is incomplete. More often, it is deliberately twisted to lead us in directions that the presenter wishes us to go.

A recent episode of the TV series "Life", for example, issued the flat statement that U.S. military personnel receive "less than minimum wage". One of those little propaganda lines inserted into entertainment in order to promote a philosophy.

Little messages like the above are sprinkled all through our entertainment media. A constant barrage. Soldiers are stupid. Ex-Soldiers are the most common source of criminals and the homeless.

Oh . . . there are exceptions. Soldiers who oppose what the writers oppose and disobey orders and act against the interests of their own country (as long as that country is the United States) are heroic and intelligent.

Sometimes I wish the people who put all those stabs at soldiers into shows could get the lives they would have if others were not holding the walls, but for that to happen the rest of us would be dragged down with them.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Aftermath of the Storm

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Much to my surprise, we actually got snow yesterday. According to reports, about seven inches. While a Blizzard warning was in place, I saw nothing I would have characterized as a Blizzard (especially after having been caught in one while driving). Still, it is likely that if we had tried to come into the office yesterday, we would have wound up spending the night here. Driving conditions did become quite hazardous, and there were more than a few accidents.

The snow is melting away quite rapidly. I shoveled the walk in front of the office, and the snow I casually dumped to the side is almost completely gone. The snow beside my car is more puddles than snow, and there are several hours of daylight remaining. Some of it will doubtless stick around for another day in the shadows, but by tomorrow it will be as if the event never happened.

While we need the moisture, I will not complain if there is not another fall of snow for a while. The odd thing is that while the event was going on, the first long-range forecast on the weather channel predicted more snow this next Friday. Subsequent forecasts during the night did not indicate any such thing. This is more the norm in long range forecasts, but still it has been a surprise that snow was predicted for last night a week out, and it happened despite the fact that there was nothing visible of it in the weather patterns that I saw until it happened. And all the way until it did I was not expecting anything more than a light dusting, if that.

Well, it has come and gone, we have survived it, and it looks like the roof of the new office does not have any leaks (so far). This being the first major precipitation event since we moved in.

Friday, March 27, 2009

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.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Great Blizzard of '08

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Tomorrow, being the 27th day of March, and well into Spring, we are anticipating a blizzard with maybe a foot or more of snow.

This is somewhat unusual. I watch the Weather Channel (old Army habit, I like trying to keep tabs on weather or not I am going to be soaking wet, freezing, or frying so that I can dress appropriately). This is literally the first time that I can recall where an event has been forecast a week in advance (last Friday this "rain and snow mix" first appeared), and not changed. Sure, some details have changed. The predicted temperature ranges have gone up and down a little. The chance of precipitation falling from the sky has (once they started giving that data) has varied from a low of 60% to a high (today) of 90%. But they have never changed the predication that it would in fact happen on Friday, the 27th.

Just last night they changed a forecast once more. On Tuesday they said it would rain the next Tuesday, but last night they said it would not rain.

I have been watching the radars,and I just do not see where the moisture for this event is coming from. Usually you can track rainfall/snowfall across the country before it finally hits us (or more usually "misses" us), but all I have really seen this time is pretty normal cloud cover without a lot of precipitation hitting points west of us.

If this even really does hit, it is possible we may not make it to the office tomorrow. As is, we are "battening down the hatches" since this will be (if it in fact hits) the first major weather event since we occupied the new offices and warehouse. No matter how much everyone assures you that "The roof don't leak", it is best to be prepared (we are spreading tarps over exposed equipment and material).

We have very mixed feelings about things. On the plus side we really do need the water, but on the negative side we really do not need a blizzard.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Medal of Honor Day

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Today is "National Medal of Honor Day". Most of you have probably never heard of it, because it is not a holiday, and most media will not mention it in support of their own editorial policies.

The Medal of Honor has not always been "The Award". Indeed, when it entered service it was awarded for things that had nothing to do with "courage under fire", in addition to being awarded for such displays of courage. It was only later that it was restricted to those who displayed the greatest courage and self-sacrifice.

The Medal of Honor is known as "The widow-maker", because so many of the awards are made posthumously. This is not really fair. It is rare indeed that an individual performs the act for which he receives with award with the intent to earn it. Thus the award does not make widows.

Most civilians do not understand what this shiny piece of metal and colored ribbon means to military men. Most in the combat arms do covet it, i.e., would like to somehow measure up to the standards to receive one. And all will accord automatic respect (even beyond the simple requirement to salute the holder of the award) to anyone who has it. Those who have been in combat recognize those among their number who have gone beyond the limits most would mortal man to be capable. Because most of them did it not to achieve "glory" for themselves, but to save their buddies.

Whether it was a badly wounded man throwing himself on not one, but two enemy grenades, smothering their explosions with his own body to save his friends in the same fighting position, or the medic who repeatedly crawled forward under enemy fire to drag the wounded back to safety, or the blinded machine gunner, continuing to man his gun under the verbal instructions of his wounded assistant gunner, these are men who met a test and passed it that few of us could even imagine.

It is right and proper that such men should be honored, and remembered, even if the media would rather that you forgot.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Stephen V. Cole writes:

We have merged the two websites. The combined site now has a new front page, site map, and index, making it a lot easier to use. You are welcome to comment on the changes, but more importantly, please suggest changes, and check the changes we make.

Here is my e-mail: Design@StarFleetGames.com or you can comment on either forum.

Monday, March 23, 2009

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Battlestar Galactica has come to an end. Those involved in it have done and aired a special to tell us how proud they are of the ending, and how proud we all should be of the ending they have crafted for us.

I am not one of those who found the anti-climatic ending that followed the big battle scene at all satisfactory.

Is it the worst ending of all time? Well . . . depends on your own viewpoint. I found it very hard to see something positive in 39,615 people voluntarily committing mass suicide. I seriously wonder under such circumstances, how many of them were alive at the end of the first year. Galen Tyrol decided to go to Scotland from the sound of things. With just the clothes on his back and what he could carry, I doubt he survived the first winter. How many of the colonists do you suppose were taken by wolves, lions, and etc.? How many died from eating the wrong thing?

And as others have pointed out elsewhere, they lost all semblance of their civilization and culture. Reverted completely to savagery. Lost the ability to write, much less read.

It was a stupid ending, very poorly thought out beyond the simple "would it not be neat".

We, the viewers, deserved far better than the show delivered.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Helping the Unemployed

Steve Cole comments:

Recently, Jay Leno announced that he would go to Detroit and put on a free show (two hours of him telling jokes) for the unemployed in that hard-hit region. Shortly thereafter, tickets (given out free) began to appear on eBay for hundreds of dollars. Jay Leno was upset, and convinced eBay to block such sales.

Rush Limbaugh then took Jay Leno to task, noting that the people selling the tickets were unemployed and could use the money more than two hours of entertainment. Good point. If Rush was interested in fixing the mess (rather than his ratings) he might have called Jay Leno personally and discussed it with him, then announced (equally good for ratings) that he had shown Jay Leno the error of his judgment and convinced him to allow the sales.

Thinking this over a bit more, it occurred to me that perhaps Jay Leno (or anybody else wanting to give a free show to help the unemployed) might instead sell the tickets and donate the proceeds to the unemployed. Somebody like Jay Leno could sell a DVD of the event.

For that matter, why didn't Rush Limbaugh announce his own show, run the right way (sell the tickets, donate the money), and then sell a DVD of the event on his website and donate THAT money?

Saturday, March 21, 2009


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 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 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.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Stephen V. Cole writes:
Our website is vast and full of fun, useful, and interesting documents, charts, play aids, illustrations, and other things. Most of the best stuff is found at: http://starfleetgames.com/playerresources.shtml which has lists of resources and links to other lists of resources. Take a look down the list and see if there are documents you always wanted and could never find or documents which you never knew you were looking for.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Global Warming

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Is global warming true, and in fact a product of the activities of humanity, or is it just hyperbole?

History says that there have been periods of global cooling and global warming before, most of them predating Man (really severe events), some of them (most less severe) during the period of Man's existence as a species, and some (again of the less severe variety) during Man's ability to record events.

One of the things that is really needed (perhaps this has been done) is a correlation of known weather patterns with known historical incidents. There was a period when the Scandinavians were wreaking havoc on Northern Europe and the British Isles, and reached down through Russia and even into the Mediterranean Sea. During this period they even attempted to colonize North America, and did colonize Iceland and Greenland. There was a bumper crop of young men in Scandinavia, and that population pressure drove much of their accomplishments.

What was going on with the weather at that time? It could not have been a result of industrialization, but there was quite clearly a period of global warming, and this had to have been going on for a while, since Greenland was habitable and "Green". (Archaeological studies of the Viking settlements have established that this was a fact, not Leif Ericsson tricking fellow Vikings into going there through false advertising.) What was happening in the rest of the world at this time, climate-wise? What was the cause?

Note that just because there was not massive industrialization in that period, it does not mean that Man's efforts are not affecting the current climate patterns. While all Man's isolated efforts might not be enough to shift the climate, it might be enough to tip an existing balance. Perhaps overload things enough that when the next "event" happens (say a major volcano) there will be world wide disaster because we have eliminated a previously existing safety factor through our activities.

The problem is that right now we do not know, and it seems cannot know.

No "computer model" of the climate works. If they did, then weathermen would be able to forecast the weather with near 100% accuracy a week in advance. The number of hurricanes could be predicted with accuracy. The Climate system is currently way too complex for the abilities we have to figure out what it does and why in precise terms, rather than the generalities we have now (and that is all they are, generalities, or predictions would be far more precise). Worse, every computer model that has been held as a proof that man is causing global warming have proven to be wishful thinking of their programmers. (The programmers seem to want to prove man is at fault for global warming, and causing them to weight things to that end.) This results in predictions that the world will end in forty years unless we do the things the Man is causing Global Warming true believers want us to do. If you start the model in 1900, it still says that the earth will be uninhabitable for man in 40 years, i.e., we all died in 1940.

So, Man might be "THE Cause", might be "A Cause", might be "A Contributing Cause", or everything Man is doing actually has zero effect on what is happening with the global climate patterns.

There is ample room for doubt, and those who have sold their souls to the "Man is the Sole Cause of Global Warming" have seriously hurt their cause by their frequent overstatements and willingness to twist anything and everything to prove their point, even to the point of denying that Global Warming events have occurred in the past (the "Greenland was never Green" argument for example).

Man may be a contributing cause to global warming, but just now the real jury, as opposed to the Kangaroo jury used by the Man caused Global Warming enthusiasts, is still out. That does not mean that the real jury (the Climate itself) will not ultimately find in their favor and make all of us wish we had listened, but they have utterly failed to make their case to reasonable people and have earned great discredit by the very shoddy manner in which much of their case has been presented.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

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 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.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Update on My Injured Finger

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

My right pinky finger is almost done healing. I know have a nice kind of "V" shaped scar on the tip of it, and the sensation of touch there is . . . well off. Not like it was before the pallet crushed it. The finger is fully functional, at least in so far as I can tell. I am not having any more difficulty typing with it at a computer keyboard than I have ever had (since I first learned to type). But it seems a little more sensitive to touch than it was before.

Mind you, I am not complaining. It would be the dickens to learn to type without a pinky (as other fingers would have to take over the job of hitting the keys that the pinky hits). So while it may be a while before I "forget" that the Pinky is "sensing" things a little differently than before and the sensations from there become "normal", at least it is still there and doing its job.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Who Watches the Watchmen

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Yes, the title is a movie currently playing, and the movie has its own take, but the question is a legitimate one.

We see an example of it in Iran, where the Mullahs are the watchmen, and their upper tiers have become as corrupt as any entrenched political group.

In our society, We the People are the watchmen. We are to judge those who rule over us and, with the power of our votes, judge them as fit or not. There is a question of just how many of us are taking this task seriously, and our failure to do so may ultimately doom the Republic. Because no one is watching us. No one makes us fulfill our task as the watchmen, so most of us are increasingly divorced from what our elected leaders are actually doing, whether they be Republicans or Democrats, Congressmen, Presidents, Governors, or Mayors.

There will come a day when a reckoning will be had for the inattention we have paid as our leaders at all levels have slid the country towards the abyss. In the end, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Free stuff for FEDERATION COMMANDER players!

STEVE COLE WRITES: Some people do not realize that you can download what amounts to a free copy of the FEDERATION COMMANDER game (well, enough of the game to play a few battles). Go to 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 gauges and firing arcs for the tabletop rules.

o Sample Ship Cards.

o Wallpapers 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 Communiqué which includes scenarios, tactics, and new ships. You can also access a database of FEDERATION COMMANDER players looking for new opponents (you!).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Moving In Continues

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Another Saturday, another day of work for ADB, inc. Not all of our time was spent grinding our noses on the stone, however. Lenna picked up various pictures that had been framed and she and SVC spent some of the afternoon figuring out where to hang them. Most of them are of various Cats (not all "domesticated"). So now we have art on the walls to look at as we make our way around the building. One of our favorites is a picture of five fluffy kittens wearing wings and looking like little angels, but the cat we like best in that picture is a little gray short haired kitten with devil's horns and the caption "Nobody's Perfect". That one is the one we all want to take home.

On the negative side, SVC's E-Mail program has suddenly stopped working. Efforts to get it up have failed, so come Monday we will have to call in the local computer expert (a man named Doyle, who you are all familiar with in that he was the one that got my computer back up so that Module G3 could be completed).

Other than that, we all survived the terrible blizzard yesterday (of which there is now no trace).

Friday, March 13, 2009

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Today is the second "Friday the Thirteenth" we have had in a row. So today is also one of the worst weather days we have had. It is cold, and threatening to drop frozen precipitation. There is even a threat of overnight snow. It is not really something we can complain over much about since we have had little snow this winter, and frankly we could use a lot more "moisture from above" than we have gotten of late. We just do not need it in the form of "black ice" on the roads.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Stephen V. Cole 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. Cafe Press creates and sells products with designs provided by various companies. So upon learning about Cafe Press, Leanna set up an account and we have uploaded several designs for T-shirts, coffee mugs, Christmas ornaments, mousepads, etc.

See www.CafePress.com/starfleetuniv for these items. And take a look at our new I-heart-Klingons T-shirt!

If you have any questions or comments or would like to see something on Cafe Press, let me know and I will try to set it up for you! Email me at: Design@starfleetgames.com

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Another Day in March

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

SVC is working on getting Briefing #2 ready for publication. I am working on a file to send to Steven Jackson Games as a final element of our visit there, and on Module G3A, Captain's Log #39, and other projects. Mike Sparks is processing orders with Leanna, who is printing books to keep the inventory up.

Pretty much, it is a normal day.

There is a chance of snow in the forecast for today, and possibly some freezing rain overnight. We could really use the moisture, but not if it makes driving hazardous.

SVC had some car trouble (second time). Some defect in his car causes the electrical system to go dead overnight, and requires that the battery be replaced.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Steve Cole reports:

We have released this month's issue of the Hailing Frequencies newsletter and this month's Communique. The newsletter has the latest information on release schedules and company news, as well as lots of other useful content. It also has links to the new Communique, a free PDF newsletter which is full of good things for Federation Commander players, including new ships, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules. The newsletter also has links to the most recent Star Fleet Alerts, the press releases that tell your store when to expect new products.

Monday, March 09, 2009


Stephen V. Cole 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.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Final Comment on ADB's Spring Break

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

As noted by Jean Sexton (thank you for covering for us while we were away) we successfully completed the drive back to Amarillo yesterday. It was not "non-stop" as we hit several rest areas and had lunch on the way (we had dinner after reaching Amarillo, but before we turned in the rented van and picking up Leanna's vehicle, but that stop was on the way to the turn in point from out of town).

Today, we mostly got caught up on E-Mails (and I slept a little longer . . . I guess driving all the way back took a little more out of me than I had thought).

Steve Jackson has a very good crew of people working for him, and it was good to see that his company is doing well and expanding (kudos to him). I will note this even though it was the first time I had ever met him (I had run into some of his people at Origins, but never on a formal basis, prior to this point).

Steve Jackson and his people went out of the way to make our time there pleasant and enjoyable.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog

Jean Sexton reports:

Steve Cole has posted that he, Leanna, and Steven Petrick are all home from Austin. It sounds like the trip was productive on many levels. Not only did they work with Steve Jackson Games, but they also got to visit with family in the area.

Yesterday SVC sounded very excited about his day. He and Leanna accompanied Steve Jackson to various printing companies and served as advisers about Print on Demand (POD) capabilities. Remember that earlier I wrote that the game industry has a very different culture from most businesses? Well, the various companies they went to could not believe that Steve Jackson's advisers were also his competitors!

I don't know about the Amarillo folks, but while I enjoy traveling, I also enjoy coming home to my bed, my easy chair -- in short, my home. I miss the furkids while I am gone and I think that they miss me (or perhaps the cats merely miss my opposable thumbs).

The one bad thing about traveling when you are in a small company is that no one does your work for you while you are away. It just sits and grows and Grows and GROWS! I know that I have sent Steve Cole reports on Ship Cards for Federation Commander and will soon be sending him a draft for another part of Prime Directive Federation. I am not the only one who gets Ship Cards, so probably my reports are multiplied by others. No doubt, orders have been sent in to ADB, Inc. I expect the Steves and Leanna to stay busy for the next week trying to catch up.

And now I return the StarBlog back to Steven Paul Petrick's capable hands. It has been a pleasure keeping you all informed.

Friday, March 06, 2009


Steve Cole writes:

I constantly see things on industry mailing lists and in my Email where people want advice on entering the game business. The best advice I have is my free book which you can find at www.StarFleetGames.com/book as a nice multi-chapter PDF.

In one recent case, an individual wrote to say: "I just lost my job and have decided to be a game designer for a living. I need a stable income of $4,000 a month. How long would it take me to get there? Three months? Six?"

I laughed and cried at the same time. For one thing, I don't make $4,000 a month now and I've been in the industry 28 years. (A few years I have made that much, barely, but not in the current market.) The sad fact is that except for the lucky three or four, game designers won't ever make that much. Worse, you probably cannot make a living as an independent game designer at all, since game publishing companies were (99% of the time) created to publish the owner's games because no other company would publish them.

In another case from some time ago (I'm going to blur some facts here so that nobody can tell who I'm talking about), a young game enthusiast decided to quit his day job and focus his full time efforts on game design and publishing. His wife said that she would allow this only if he "brought home" a paycheck of a defined amount each month. He had some money from an inheritance which was separate property and his wife allowed that he could use this. Well, he went through the nest egg, borrowed money from savings without telling his wife, maxed out the credit card he got for the business, and then got two more cards (those offers in the mail) without telling his wife and maxed them out. All the time (his company lasted 18 months and did a dozen products) he was "bringing home" the required paycheck. His company was making a profit beyond expenses, but not enough to cover the paycheck, but the paycheck continued because (a) his wife insisted and (b) he was sure he would start making more sales any time. One of the credit cards was a $5,000 cash advance spent on advertising (which produced few if any new sales). Every month, he wrote that paycheck but came up short elsewhere. He had established credit with the printers and with the companies that sold him advertising pages so he ended up deeply in debt to the printer and to advertising publishers. Worse, his first product (which sold well enough) ran out of print, but it was going to cost $20K to reprint it and the dwindling rate of sales (nowhere near as good as it had been 18 months earlier) would not support the debt load, but he "had" to reprint it to avoid looking like a company on the way out. Finally, with no more places to borrow money and creditors threatening legal action, he took the case to his wife for a home equity loan. She, of course, had no clue that his company was $40K in debt (for which he was personally liable) or that most of the family savings account was gone. It's a wonder she didn't kill him or leave him, but she did force him out of the game business immediately. He sold out for what he could get and applied that money to the debts. Moral of the story, if you are married, make your wife a part of every business decision and do not keep secrets from her about family money.

In another case (actually, there are four or five of these I have seen, all about the same), an enthusiastic game designer who knew nothing about the industry but was sure his game was the next big thing got a home equity loan, printed thousands of copies of his game, and THEN (and only then) asked other game companies how to contact stores and wholesalers to sell his game. He had no clue what size the market was (few games sell over a couple of thousand copies) or who the wholesalers were or what it would take to get them to buy (some now demand that you pay them $500 for advertising before they will carry your game) or even what the discount structure was (which meant that his cost per game was fairly close to the 40% of the retail price he had printed on the games). Moral of the story, learn as much as you can about the industry before you spend a dime getting into it. GO READ MY BOOK FIRST.

I see lots of gamers who think that running a retail store, and on-line discount store, or a game publishing company involves low work and high reward. It does not. If it did, a lot more people would be in this business.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

On Playtesting and Vacations and Re-Creation

Jean Sexton reports:

I just finished talking to Steve Cole and he is busy doing playtesting at Steve Jackson Games. He sounds like he is having a wonderful time and quickly assured me all was well and headed back for the game.

This may be the closest thing the Steves have had to a vacation in a while. SVC left the laptop at home, so he can't just pop on the BBS and see what is happening. Neither Steve has access to email. Steven Petrick does not have his mighty reference collection at his fingertips, so he is not answering SFB questions. Almost everyone is trying very hard to give them time away from ADB, Inc. and to let them de-stress.

I'm glad the Steves and Leanna are having fun. Everyone needs time away from work to rest and to enjoy recreation. Through letting your mind rest, you allow yourself to re-create your outlook on the world. Through such freshness, new insights come; with new insights come new products for us all to enjoy. I shall wait patiently for the Steves and Leanna to return back home and see what new thoughts they bring with them.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Of Jacuzzis and Mezzanines and Friendship

Jean Sexton reports:

I just got off the phone with Steve Cole. He and Steven Petrick are going to go out to the airport in Austin to pick up Leanna as her flight gets in. Why Petrick? According to SVC, it is so he can put Petrick on the rental car agreement and let Petrick drive. SVC mentioned something about driving in Austin is like driving in Morocco. Apparently he thinks Petrick would be happier were he in charge of the vehicle.

SVC also said that Leanna's room has a jacuzzi in it. He just chortled about it, so I think we shall do what the old movies did and fade out on that scene.

The mezzanine continues to rise at Steve Jackson Games. SVC went all engineering on me and was talking about crush loads and how much weight "this" would bear as opposed to "that". He sounded just as happy as a clam in water! It really is interesting to see the mezzanine in full light (via the pictures on the SJG site). I did actually climb to the top of it when it was in Amarillo and it will hold lots of warehouse "stuff" in its new home, I feel sure.

One of the things that struck me during the talk with SVC is a comment he made that Steve Jackson and he had known each other and been friends longer than he'd known Leanna. He was full of enthusiasm for some games they got to play at SJG (and they did sound like fun). In some lines of business, there would have been an undertone of jealousy, but I think the game design business is different. People sound genuinely happy when a "competitor's" game is going to do well. I like being part of that culture, even if I am only on the fringes. I look forward to Origins when I'll get some up close doses of the culture (and the friendship) again.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


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

Eight years ago, 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 (not to mention Klingon, Romulan, Kzinti, Gorn, Tholian, Orion, and other) 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 FEDERATION COMMANDER aces strut their stuff in combat arenas all the time, and you can learn from the best.

Monday, March 02, 2009

And the Mezzanine Starts to Rise!

Jean Sexton reports:

Steve Cole and Steven Petrick delivered the mezzanine to Steve Jackson Games today. SVC looked at the construction plan and told them why it wouldn't work; the contracter then came up with what SVC said was "an incredibly cool new plan."  SPP and SVC were able to go to the airport and trade the truck for a car.  When I called SVC, he and SPP were eating dinner with Steve Jackson and some of the people from SJG. (Thanks to Steve Jackson for feeding our Steves!)

If you visit SJG's Warehouse 23 site, you will find photos of the construction.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Steves Arrive Safely in Austin

Jean Sexton reports:

Steve Cole and Steven Petrick arrived in Austin today around 5:10 pm, their time. They left Amarillo bright and early this morning at 7:30 am and headed down the road with a truck loaded to the max with the mezzanine from the old building.

They told me they made good time, although SVC said that at the end of one of his shifts his ankle was tired from constantly changing speeds (the highway they were on ran through all sorts of towns and wasn't really an interstate) and his hands were going numb from gripping the steering wheel so tightly.

There was a lunch break in Bowie--apparently they took a suggestion from me to be an order that they would sit still at a place with real chairs and eat real food. (smile) I am glad they did as they had been traveling 5 hours at that point.

I know that assembling the mezzanine was a time-consuming process the first time they raised it. I have a feeling it shall not be easy or quick this time either.

By the time you read this, SVC and SPP will be resting in the hotel, watching TV or perhaps reading a book. Let's all hope that tomorrow I am not blogging about the mishaps of the day, but it is a report that all is on schedule.