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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In Praise of Our Volunteers

The adventure game (wargame+roleplaying game) industry is a small one, and there isn't the kind of money inside of it that other industries have. The industry consists of creative game designers willing to work 60 hours a week for half the pay they could command outside the game industry, all because they get to BE game designers.

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

Mike West answers rules questions on Federation Commander. Mike Curtis does the same thing for Federation & Empire, Jonathan Thompson and Jean Sexton for Prime Directive PD20 and PD20M, 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. Bob Pomroy 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, Thomas Mathews, and Stew Frazier) busy moving projects forward.

Very little would get done on any of our games except for the Playtest Battle Labs run by Scott Moellmer in Colorado and by Mike Curtis and Tony Thomas in Tennessee. And all of the other playtesters are invaluable to us.

We have other staffers 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); Daniel Kast (Klingon Armada); 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.

Many years ago, we began awarding medals, ribbons, and other "decorations" to staffers and others who contributed to each product, and some other projects. These awards not only recognize those who contributed to the various projects, but encouraged others to begin making their contributions to future projects. We have created the Wall of Honor at http://starfleetgames.com/ArtGallery/Wall%20of%20Honor.shtml. This is a tribute to over 30 years of volunteer work. We hope you visit it to say thanks to all the volunteers and their efforts.

Monday, November 29, 2010

This Week at ADB, Inc., 21-27 November 2010

Steve Cole reports:

The weather this week was cold in the mornings (often freezing) and in the high 50s or low 60s in the afternoons. We had no rain or snow. The spam storm was running from 840-1200 per day.

This was the week we were finishing CL#42. We didn't quite get there (94.38%) but we did finish it on Sunday, the day after this reporting period. Because of the work on CL#42, a lot of stuff (uploads to e23, customer requests) did not happen.

For those who track such things, our progress on CL#42 was posted each day: Sunday 56%, Monday 64%, Tuesday 72%, Wednesday 75%, Thursday 79%, Friday 91%, and Saturday 94%.

Steve Cole and Steven Petrick spent seven straight 12-hour days on CL#42, but always found 30 minutes to walk the 2km trail they use to improve their health. Steve Cole did post his "practice tweets" on the BBS periodically, and seems set to start real tweets next month.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out.

Joel did website updates, including the last of the low-toner ships from Tholian Attack.

Jean Sexton worked on CL#42 (and virtually nothing else) this whole week.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself.

1. The American Civil War is misnamed, because a civil war is two groups trying to take over a single country. Robert E. Lee had no more interest in taking over Chicago and New York than George Washington had in conquering London. It could properly be called the War for Southern Independence or the War Between the States.

2. I went to my favorite BBQ restaurant one day, and found that they had changed the brand of pickles they put on the BBQ plates. The new ones are foul awful things and I won't eat them, and I don't want to eat BBQ without pickles. I spoke with the owner's daughter (a friend of mine) and she insisted that "everybody" loves the new pickles. I told her that I did not, and that I would not be returning to her restaurant. I made it plain that I was not angry, but I won't pay for food I don't like, and if I'm the only customer who doesn't like the new pickles, then she made the right decision to kick me out to make more people happy.

3. One of the special treats in my life is Ancient Alien shows on TV, mostly because I love archaeology. I can tune out the nonsense about aliens and just look at great film of archaeology sites I'll never get to go to.

4. The last F-100 fighter jet is now a museum piece at the Texas Panhandle War Memorial in Amarillo. This plane, converted into a flying target, was unable to complete that mission due to a mechanical problem. Being the last F-100 the Air Force had, a colonel made a decision to send the plane into a belly landing rather than blow it up. Written off as scrap, the plane was donated to the aviation museum in Amarillo and has now been transferred to the war memorial.

5. Could we have a little honesty? Extending the top bracket tax cuts is not going to cost the treasury $700 billion. In fact, it won't cost the treasury anything. That $700 billion number assumes that the rich people (currently doing nothing with their money because of the government's onerous policies) will continue to do nothing. If the cuts are extended, the money will be invested and generate more tax revenue than the $700 billion figure. Why cannot people understand that tax rates are not the point, but tax REVENUE?

6. I cannot figure out how polygamy is a sustainable business model.

7. Television has promoted the idea of asking your girl to marry you and whipping a ring out of your pocket. Bad idea. A woman should pick her own ring (within your budget). She's going to be wearing it a long time. You should discuss the concept of marriage before you pop the question, and be working toward formal engagement as a step in a long and complicated process. You should actually discuss with your love "when the time comes, do you want me to go buy a ring or do you want to pick it out yourself a few days after I ask the big question."

8. Romance is important, but making sure you marry the right person is far more than just finding someone you're in love with. You have to have shared interests and shared goals. Conflicts (such as whether to have children or live in a certain city or attend a certain church or vote for a certain political party) will destroy a marriage, and you had better identify those and deal with them in advance (or, if they cannot be dealt with, you need to move on).

9. Whenever you see something about the Green Movement, dig a little deeper. Some of them want to save the planet, but others just want to expand government control of everything and have no actual interest in the planet.

10. How about we set congressional salaries equal to military salaries for the same time in service?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

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 continue to expand our line of non-game products on Cafe Press (http://www.cafepress.com/starfleetuniv).

Our page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf) exists to put our products in front of other groups of potential customers. We also are releasing YouTube videos that show what you'll find in "the box" and our latest releases. You can catch our videos on our channel here:

We tried a lot of things that didn't work (Google Pay per Click, full-color ads in trade journals) and a lot of things that did work (banners on gamer websites, Star Fleet Alerts) and are always looking for new ideas. If you have any, send them to us at Marketing@StarFleetGames.com and we'll think them over.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mean Jean

You can tell that SVC has been working on the layout and editing of Captain's Log #42 for too long when he writes something like this to tease me. This filk is to the tune of "Sweet Dreams" by the Eurythmics. -- Jean

Mean Jean said to change these,
Who am I to disagree?
She said I missed a parentheses,
Jean is always naggin’ ‘bout somethin’.

Sometimes she wants a comma,
Sometimes she wants to take one out.
Sometimes she wants to cap this;
Sometimes she wants to de-cap that. . .

Mean Jean said to change this,
Who am I to disagree?
She said my work is hit or miss,
Jean is always naggin’ ‘bout somethin’.

Sometimes she wants a quote mark,
Sometimes she wants to take one out.
Sometimes she wants to bold this;
Sometimes she wants to de-bold that. . .

Mean Jean said to change that,
Who am I to disagree?
She said my work is falling flat,
Jean is always naggin’ ‘bout somethin’.

Sometimes she wants a hyphen,
Sometimes she wants it just one word.
Sometimes she wants italics;
Sometimes she wants just plain ol’ text. . .

Parody copyright (c) 2010 Stephen V. Cole

Thursday, November 25, 2010

On Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks

Jean Sexton writes:

I was going to write an essay about the things for which I give thanks, but I think George Washington in 1789 wrote it far better than I ever could. I thus share his words with you.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favourable interpositions of his Providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed; --for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish Constitutions of Government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; --for the civil and religious Liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; --and in general for all the great and various favours which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, That we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions; --to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our National Government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

We at ADB, Inc. wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


ADB, Inc.’s page on Facebook is now up and running, and we’re finding a lot of new faces who haven’t been around the BBS or Forum. We have pictures up of ADB, Inc. staff, links to many of our videos, snippets of information, and interaction with our fans. Jean Sexton is the main voice you will hear on our page on Facebook. If she doesn’t know an answer, she’ll ask one of the Steves and ferry the answer back.

All that is left is for you to “like” the page for Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.
if you haven’t done so already. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf.

Many people on our page on Facebook have not been on our BBS, so perhaps our new outpost on Facebook will become the place for those who want to keep up with current events without the intense atmosphere (and flood of information) found on the BBS. If you are very busy on a given day, checking our page on Facebook would tell you quickly if something important has been announced. The page also has its own art galleries, plus a place where you can post a review of our products. It also has discussions where you can link up with fellow gamers.

We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Random Thoughts #18

Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself.

1. I was startled by a clown when I was about eight years old and to this day just don't like them, and cannot enjoy them. I wonder how many other people bear these emotional scars? Note to clowns, stop wandering through the audience and scaring the little kids.

2. It's reached the time of the year that my metal desk is cold to the touch. The colder weather sucks the heat out of the metal via the concrete floor, and it's not even that cold, still way above freezing. When the freezing weather gets here, my metal desk becomes impossible to touch. I gotta consider putting some 2x4 boards under the desk legs as insulation.

3. The American Revolution was not a revolution, but a War for Independence. For it to be a revolution, it would have had to be an attempt to overthrow the British royal family.

4. A regulation golf ball has 336 dimples.

5. While the West Bank Palestinian leaders go through the motions of negotiating with Israel, the Palestinian media continues its barrage of "Israel has no right to exist" propaganda. I think that the US should adopt a policy of having nothing to do with the Palestinians (no aid, no pressure for talks) until they stop the Arab-language hate speech.

6. I read an article the other day proposing that the voting age be raised to 26. The point was that it was lowered from 21 to 18 because of drinking (no longer allowed at 18) and the draft (which no longer exists). People under 21 (and most of those under 26) have no idea how the world works, and tend to go for simplistic and idealistic solutions (if they vote at all). Worse, having little contact with the real world (jobs, taxes, bills) they tend to vote however their teachers tell them to vote. Science also notes that the human brain isn't fully developed until 25, particularly in areas that deal with decision making and impulse control.

7. I wonder what would have happened if smart bombs had been available in World War II? (Ok, the Germans had a small number of radio-guided bombs, but they were not in general use and nobody else had them.) Can you imagine B-17s cruising over Germany dropping individual pinpoint bombs on factories, bridges, rail yards, and so forth? You could do the job with smaller numbers of bombers, but the German fighter defenses would have still required large bomber formations. Maybe you could arm three-quarters of the bombers as "defensive" aircraft with lots of machineguns and armor and no bombs? (The US actually built such modified bombers during the war but found them ineffective when used in tiny numbers.)

8. While we're on the subject, I always wondered why the US did not put heavier (20mm) cannon in the noses of B17s to stop the German head-on attacks.

9. We are apparently raising an entire generation of people who have no idea which way "clockwise" is.

10. Did Sarah Palin cost Republicans control of the senate? Maybe. She did pick the candidates in Nevada, Colorado, and Delaware (forcing out more moderate candidates most people think would have won), and they lost. Some of her other picks (in states where no Republican could have won) also lost. She also made a mess of the Alaska election, but that didn't affect control of the senate. Sarah, like the Tea Party, is new at this, and principle got in the way of the Bill Buckley axiom of "nominate the most conservative person who can actually win the election." That, or she just misjudged the strength of the expected tidal wave.

Monday, November 22, 2010

This Week at ADB, Inc., 14-20 November 2010

Steve Cole reports:

The weather this week was mild, touching the freezing mark during some nights and getting to 73F most afternoons. There was some wind and clouds on some days, but no rain. The spam storm continued, ranging from 950 to 2029 per day.

While nothing got uploaded to e23, there was progress on several items destined for upload, including the first Tholian and Orion card packs.

Steve Cole worked on CL#42 all week, reaching 51.56% finished (each page has eight steps, so 495 of the 960 steps are done). He also did some more of the low-toner FC Ship Cards, some blogs, the rough layout of Alien Armada, and some customer requests.

Steven Petrick worked on CL#42 all week.

The two Steves continuing taking a 30-minute walk every day (healthy exercise), spending most of that time discussing how to survive a zombie-infested planet. (They have been watching the WALKING DEAD series.)

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date, got the Apple store contract executed, and continued work on the first Kindle book.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and continued adding products and images to Café Press.

Joel did website updates, hunted copyright pirates, did the covers for Alien Armada and CL#42, and helped get images ready for Café Press.

Jean proofread CL#42, did marketing, and still some work done on GURPS FEDERATION. Jean reports that our page on Facebook has passed 560 friends.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Playing Star Fleet Universe Games Long Distance

Playing games by Email or by post 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.

When playing Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander using the Play-by-Email (PBEM) system 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 FC or SFB 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. Moderating a game is also an excellent way to learn more about the game's rules.

Prime Directive games can be played by posting on the Forum. The GM of the game gets players, approves their characters, then sets up situations for the characters to face. It takes a bit longer because the players are not sitting around the table, but it also allows people who are spread out across the world to play.

Players of all our games are expanding the frontiers of playing long distance. Some are trying chat, some are adding webcams to that, many are trying out VOIP so as to get close to a face-to-face experience.

While there are some disadvantages to playing long distance (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 long distance, drop in on the Forum (http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2) or BBS (http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lights! Cameras! The SFU Hits YouTube!

Ever wished you could take a peek inside a shrink-wrapped box or look behind the pretty covers of a book? Then these videos are for you.

The brainchild of Mike Sparks, our YouTube videos are of three types. The first is about a specific product line and you can hear Steve Cole (yes, he is the talking hands in our videos) discuss the products that are in one of the different games. The second kind is what ADB, Inc. has released in a particular month. These are a great way to catch up quickly on the new items.

It is the third kind that let's you see what is in the box. A boxed game such as Federation & Empire is taken out of the box item by item so that you can see what's in there. From rulebook, to charts, to maps, to counters, each item is shown and discussed. It's a lot of information to pack into a short clip, but SVC and Mike manage it.

Check out our channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames and be sure to bring the popcorn!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Steve Cole lists:

10. Your turn signal is still on.

9. Is there some reason you are cruising at 60mph when the speed limit is 70mph?

8. Whatever that is that you're messing with on the seat, could you leave it alone until you get where you're going?

7. Could you maybe look in my direction before you pull out in front of me?

6. Turn down your sound system. I have one of my own and don't need to share yours.

5. If I am driving the speed limit, I do not have to get behind the slow cars in the other lane so you can drive faster.

4. It's raining, so maybe you might turn on your headlights so people know you're there, even if they don't help you see?

3. That was a red light, you jerk.

2. I take it that you're the one guy in the whole world who isn't required to signal when he's about to change lanes?

1. Put down the cell phone!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Decline and Fall of One Human

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Technically, I should have posted yesterday. I got an E-mail from Jean Sexton reminding me to, and I thought about it several times during the day, but I was tired enough when I left the office that it had just slipped my mind.

Before Mike Sparks came to work for us, I spent a great deal of my work day doing things in the warehouse. I was constantly up, moving around, lifting things, carrying the things I lifted, and putting them down. It was a surprising amount of physical exercise, enough so that even after Mike had been here for a while, when it became necessary to move an "I" beam and lean it against a wall to get it out of the way, I did it myself. No, I did not heft it to my shoulder, I basically raised it about hip high so that my back was straight and bearing the load and just walked where I needed to go keeping the beam balanced.

Now . . . I have done so little physical work over the past few years (Mike pretty much does that) that I have begun to seriously "go to pot". Muscles just are not getting used like they used to be. My walking pace has slowed and much of the formerly inherent strength in my arms and legs has vanished. My Stamina level is less than a quarter of what it used to be (I know this because there is a stride exercise machine in the office, and six years ago I could run it for an hour and not feel tired, now it kills me to be on the thing for ten minutes it seems).

All of which is to say that thinking is, of itself, hard work. Trying to draft a new SSD, or create a new scenario, or revise a new rule, or what have you is tiring, at least mentally. There have been times in the last few years where I have found myself so exhausted while driving the twenty miles home I have had to desperately fight to keep from nodding off in a car moving 70 miles an hour.

Another problem is that I wind up fighting exhaustion with food, which added to the lack of exercise has an inevitable consequence. I am having to think more before I eat, or I will simply eat everything that is in front of me and appears edible. I really need to cut down on the intake (or do something about increasing the physical activity levels, preferably both).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

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 war gamers 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, works much better, and there are a lot of ways to do it. For best results, you should do all of them.

If you play Federation Commander, then 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 if somebody nearby has signed in. http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/

Primarily for Federation Commander players, the Forum has a topic where local stores and groups post announcements and invitations. Players can let other players know they'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.) http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2

You can to go to a local store and ask them to let you post a notice looking for opponents. You could also run a demo of your favorite game(s) and "grow your own" opponents. If a person already plays the game you are demoing, he'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. There is also Craigslist, but you should use the normal caution you would for meeting a stranger.

The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to http://starfleetgames.com/starlist.shtml. 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 a 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.

You can find opponents for all of our games on our BBS. Go to http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/ and you'll see "Seeking Opponents" on the main menu. 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.

Friends of our page on Facebook can use the Discussions tab and find topics for the various games. Not a friend? Become one here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf

With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see http://www.starfleetgames.com/links.shtml for suggestions).

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 cars who got Emails from other gamers in their home towns who were seeking opponents.

You can go always go to SFB Online (http://www.sfbonline.com/index.jsp) and play Star Fleet Battles and Federation Commander on-line with live opponents from around the world for the princely sum of $5 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, November 16, 2010


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself.

1. I was trying to crack a pecan in my office. Steven Petrick heard the banging and came to check, found out what I was doing, and left. It now occurs to me that if I am ever trapped inside my desk drawer, he will ignore the banging and leave me trapped there. Maybe I should make it a point to keep my cell phone on my belt instead of taking it off for comfort and leaving it lying on my desk?

2. I wonder if it would not be better to have all of the US polls close at the same time, say 10pm Eastern? (With early voting, there really is no need to have them open "after work hours" any more, so even if Alaska and Hawaii closed in mid-afternoon, nobody would be denied a chance to vote.) Then "election night coverage" would be limited to a single hour with the totals (and control over Congress) given right away and the commentators spending the rest of the hour explaining it to whoever is still listening?

3. I wonder if anyone else has the same mental block I have about my age? I really have no idea how old I am. I can (and do) add it up (since I know my birth day) whenever asked, but it amazes people that I cannot just spit out my age on request without adding it up.

4. Almost unnoticed on election night, Oklahoma voted 70% in favor of a referendum to block state courts from using Islamic Sharia law in any case before them. Some 76% of Oklahomans voted to make English the state's official language, which gives you some idea of the support for that to be found nationwide.

5. If you want your girlfriend to wear sexy clothes, consider that nothing is sexier than a wedding gown.

6. If you haven't bought your girl flowers in a month or two, it's way past due. You can go by Sam's Club and pick up a fistful of very nice flowers for five bucks, which she will delight in arranging in a vase she already has. No more excuses.

7. Just because something CAN be done does not mean it SHOULD be done. (Maybe it's not a good idea to do it. Maybe something else is more important.)

8. Just because something SHOULD be done does not mean it CAN be done. (Maybe you don't have the time, money, or technology to make it happen?)

9. There are a lot of things on your personal budget (or the national budget) that some salesman (or politician) will try to convince you should be increased, but sooner or later you have to look at the total spending and the total income and make them match.

10. The free market will take care of most things, but when the free market fails, government has to step in. The problem is that 90% of the time, the failure of the free market is caused by the last time the government stepped in.

Monday, November 15, 2010

This Week at ADB, Inc., 7-13 November 2010

Steve Cole reports:

The weather this week was increasingly cool. We had a huge rainstorm on Thursday night which turned to the first snowfall of the winter on Friday morning. Most of the snow had melted away by the weekend.

The spam storm continued to climb, from 899 on Sunday to 2766 on Friday, the highest in months.

Jean says Facebook has climbed steadily to 540 friends.

This was the week that we sent out Communique #59 and the newly formatted Hailing Frequencies.

New uploads to e23 this week included the F&E 2010 Rulebook, the F&E Compendium, and the Federation Commander Reference Rulebook.

Steve Cole worked on the story for CL#42 for almost all of his time this week, but he did do a few more low-toner FC cards for the Commander's Circle. He also found a moment to send FC high res countersheet jpgs to Garrett for FCOL and codes for CMYK colors to Richard Smith for FC Omega.

Steven Petrick worked CL#42 stuff all week.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date and continued work on the first Kindle Book.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and continued adding products and images to Café Press.

Joel did website updates and new Café Press products, and did Hailing Frequencies with Steve Cole and Jean.

Jean continued doing marketing and GURPS FEDERATION.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Free Stuff for Star Fleet Universe Players!

Steve Cole writes:

We have a lot of free stuff on our website. Let me point you to some of the most popular things. Doing this in alphabetical order we start with Federation & Empire. They have play aids and countersheet graphics here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#FNE

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). First Missions will give you enough of the game that you can try it out. Go here to download it: http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/first-missions.shtml

But that's just a start. Commander's Circle has lots of free resources such as various formats of the Master Ship Chart, Ship Cards, the current and back issues of Communique, scenarios, and playtest rules. If you register, then you can find other Federation Commander players.

Prime Directive players can find a treasure trove of play aids, including medals, insignia, maps, the timeline, and lots of other goodies to spice up a game. These can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#PD

Star Fleet Battle Force
has new cards and play aids as well. These are located here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#SFBF

Star Fleet Battles
players have the Cadet Training Manual and Cadet Training Handbook. These were done as a way to get players into the complicated Star Fleet Battles game system. You can download them for free here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/CadetTraining.shtml Also available on the same webpage are lots of SSDs for the game.

We have wallpaper for your computer so you can show your SFU pride. Those are here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/wallpapers.shtml

Don't forget Hailing Frequencies, our free monthly newsletter. Covering all our games, you can read back issues here: http://www.federationcommander.com/Newsletter/past.html Don't forget to sign up to get the link delivered straight to your email box each month. You can "opt in" here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/newsletter.shtml

There are many historical documents which are available for download. Maps, deck plans, assorted graphics, and much, much more can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/historicaldownloads.shtml

Browse our master index to find all sorts of interesting information: http://www.starfleetgames.com/masterindex.shtml

As you can see, you could spend days browsing. We hope you enjoy what you find.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Michael Sparks writes:

Looking to express your appreciation of the Star Fleet Universe? Need somewhere to send a gift-giver where you know you'll like what you get? Have to replace your mouse pad? Look no further! We have a storefront that sells all sorts of Star Fleet Universe designs on a variety of items. From buttons to mouse pads to t-shirts to hoodies, we've got them all! Klingons, Federation, Romulans, and the bad-boy Orion Pirates, each one has designs.

See www.CafePress.com/starfleetuniv for these items. And take a look at our newest designs featuring art from Xander, one of our hot artists.

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: Support@starfleetgames.com

Friday, November 12, 2010

CSI: The Locations You Probably Won't See

Steve Cole suggests:

CSI: Gettysburg
"Well, Mister Pinkerton, what do you think?"

CSI: Guantanamo
"Well, just what DID who flush down the toilet?"

CSI: Vulcan
"The logical conclusion of the evidence is obvious."

CSI: Amarillo
"My my, Jean's garden in the ADB back lot is certainly well fertilized.

CSI: Roman Empire
"Emperor, would you like to just pick the guilty party and save us the trouble?"

CSI: Klinshai
"Thanks to the planetary security and recording system, all cases are closed before lunch."

CSI: Galactia
"Give me a nuclear warhead and I can identify the Cylons for you."

CSI: Middle Earth
"Oh heck, we all know Sauron is behind it. Lunch, anyone?"

CSI: Berlin
"Mein Fuhrer, is there anyone else you would like us to find guilty?

Thursday, November 11, 2010


This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Ninety two years ago, on the eleventh hour, "The Great War", or "The War to End All Wars", supposedly came to an end.

It did not really as what happened then was merely a cease-fire. Peace treaties would take years more to finally officially end it. And in many places in the world shooting associated with the war continued (to include some U.S. troops fighting Bolsheviks in what would soon be the Soviet Union).

For most Americans this is simply a day off.

For a few, this is another day when they will place themselves between that faceless majority and the potential horror of another 9/11/01. Another day when they will be called on to visit a village where the Taliban have executed women for daring to seek an education. Another day when the road they are driving on may have a mine in it. Another day in which someone may approach with a bomb wrapped around his body.

As you enjoy your own vacation, remember that others are paying for it with their sweat, and may pay for it with their blood. And remember that thousands of others have in the past paid with their sweat and blood so that you can be safe today to enjoy your holiday.

Take just a little time in the day to remember what this day is about and to give thanks that their are men and women who even today are placing themselves between you and horror.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Steve Cole reports:

We have released this month's issue of the Hailing Frequencies newsletter and this month's Communique. Hailing Frequencies has the latest company information and covers all of our games. You'll find news on the latest releases both in print and e23, what's new on Cafe Press, information on the company, and even serialized fiction. Hailing Frequencies also has links to the latest Star Fleet Alerts, which are press releases about new products and when they will be available for order. From Hailing Frequencies, you can link to Federation Commander specific news in the latest Communique, a free PDF newsletter which is full of good things for FC players, including new ships, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules.

You can subscribe to Hailing Frequencies at this link: http://www.starfleetgames.com/newsletter.shtml

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Star Fleet Universe Wallpapers

Joel Shutts writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download wallpaper with Star Fleet Universe art.

Check out what we have on http://www.StarFleetGames.com/wallpaper

Big monitors, small monitors, we have something for nearly everyone. 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 1680 x 1050, even 2560 x1600. If you need a different size, we'll see what we can do to fill that desire.

If there are any other sizes or any other images that you would like to see turned into wallpaper, please feel free to contact us at graphics@StarFleetGames.com and we'll work your request in.

Monday, November 08, 2010

This Week at ADB, Inc., 31 October - 6 November 2010

Steve Cole reports:

The weather this week continued to be mild, with cool mornings and warm afternoons. The spam storm roared along, exceeding 1500 on most days. The Friday staff meeting reviewed plans to make sure that Captain's Log #42 includes all of the necessary communications and notices. The Fight For A Cure tournament saw the tree posted and the first games played.

New uploads to e23 this week including Gorn Ship Card Pack #1.

Steve Cole worked on the low-toner ship card project (most of Romulan Attack has now been uploaded), did Hailing Frequencies and Communique #59, and (mostly) worked on Captain's Log #42. Sadly, that project had to be delayed two weeks when several fiction authors failed to deliver promised stories (at least, publishable stories).

Steven Petrick worked on CL#42 and on the project to get the SFB Master Rulebook read for uploading to e23.

Steve and Steven continued taking a 30 minute, 2km walk every day at 3pm, extending it 20 feet each day.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date and continued work on the first Kindle book.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and continued adding products and images to Cafe Press.

Joel did website updates and reworked Cafe Press with Mike and Hailing Frequencies with Steve Cole.

Jean continued doing marketing, proofreading, and work on GURPS FEDERATION. Jean reports that our page on Facebook rocketed from 506 to 527 friends in one weekend.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson provided today's blog:


When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.


The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.


It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.


I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.


My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much


No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.


The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.


The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.


To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.


Saturday, November 06, 2010


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 over 30 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.

Friday, November 05, 2010


The Gorns are here, there's no kind of support ships.
We're all alone, in distress.
Run Run Run, from their Guns Guns Guns.

I want to be at home on Romulus,
drinking cold falcon ale,
Orion girls nibbling at my toes.

Parody copyright (c) 2010 Stephen V. Cole

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself.

1. Most people don't understand that wars get their names by popular consensus of historians, not by the International War Naming Committee. A war known by one name in one country may be known by another name in another country. Russia, for example, refers to World War II and the Great Patriotic War. World War I was of course not called that until World War II started. It was known as The World War because war was going on all around the world, but there was very little of the war in the Pacific (a few Japanese landings on a few German islands). The American Revolution wasn't a revolution at all (the French Revolution and Russian Revolution were) but the name American War for Independence is awkward. Texas has the same problem in that the Texas Revolution was technically the Texas War for Independence. The war between Iran and Iraq was known as the time as the Persian Gulf War, but is now known as the Iran-Iraq War because most people think that the Persian Gulf War was the one in 1991 (Desert Storm), which is also known as Gulf War I and as The Kuwait War. The invasion of Iraq by Bush #43 is variously known as Operation Iraqi Freedom, Gulf War II, and The Iraq War.

2. New scam I have seen of late: Your IRS payment was rejected. This takes you to a website to clear up your tax situation, which of course is not the US government at all, but criminals who want your name, address, social security number, bank account number, and so forth.

3. I don't think anyone can actually understand The Lord of the Rings without reading the Harvard Lampoon book Bored of the Rings.

4. I said it before but it needs to be repeated. Note to Project Runway: gray is not a color.

5. I love Zingers (not that I am allowed more than one pack a month on this diet) but I would actually prefer them without the cream filling. Same thing for Twinkies and Cupcakes. I like the cake. I like the frosting. I see no point in the cream filling. It's just messy and has no flavor.

6. You actually cannot see the Great Wall of China from orbit (not without a good pair of binoculars) but you CAN see several large open-pit mines from orbit (without the binoculars).

7. A few days ago, I was using the PC in the other office to check what Jean did on Facebook, when a screen popped up listing a bunch of viruses that had infected that computer and wanting me to "click here to purchase virus removal and protection software". Having been told what to do, I ignored this and reported it to Leanna, who had Mike run a scan that said there were no viruses. Leanna said that the original scan that "popped up" was itself a viral attack and a scam.

8. I don't know for sure, but has any city in the world other than London put up a monument to a woman who burned the city to the ground? (I refer to Boudica.)

9. The Department of Justice allowed a deadline to get ballots to military personnel to expire without doing anything about it, denying hundreds of thousands of soldiers (80% or more of which will vote Republican) the right to vote. This is political corruption of the highest order if not criminally negligent.

10. James Madison, who wrote most of the original constitution, said in Federalist Paper #45 that the federal government was limited to "principally on external objects, such as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce." Ok, where in all of that do we find welfare, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or the EPA?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Many people do not know that you can play either STAR FLEET BATTLES or 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. It since 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 $6 a month per game system, you have access to most of the ships in the STAR FLEET BATTLES/FEDERATION COMMANDER game systems 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.

We continue to develop FEDERATION & EMPIRE for an on-line environment and have playtesters working out the kinks. We'll let you know as soon as it is ready to release.

So come to www.SFBonline.com right away. Players can even fly the FC Federation CA, FC Klingon D7, and the SFB Federation and Klingon tournament cruisers 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.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Why Example Articles are Hard to Do

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Work progresses on Captain's Log #42. One of the things done is an example article. In a sense this one shows one of the problems with the kinds of examples that are routinely requested. It is not a matter that I resist doing them, but that often the requested example is too broad. What is needed is for the person requesting to be more specific about what it is he wants.

Take for example a request for deck crew operations.

Okay, fine. What deck crew doing what?

While there are some things that all deck crews have in common (whether the notional deck crews all non carriers and non carrier escorts have, or the deck crews on carriers and carrier escorts), such as repairing shuttles and fighters or loading cargo points, and (after the appearance of advanced shuttles)replacing chaff packs.

There are other things that are different between bays.

Hydran deck crews on a Lancer are often concerned with transferring fusion charges to Stinger fighters, but not concerned with transferring hellbore charges, but Hydran deck crews on a Ranger are concerned with transferring hellbore charges. All Hydran deck crews (and the deck crews of all carriers) are concerned with hanging pods on pod rails, but Hydran, Tholian, and plasma empire deck crews are generally not concerned with hanging drones on drone rails.

This does not even get us into disruptors, photons, and plasma torpedoes.

Nor does this move us into the Omega Octant or the Magellanic cloud.

This is the problem. I can do an example, but what exactly is the example being asked? Too many different moving parts make any example unmanageable, and the current example article literally ran out of space (you will see it in Captain's Log #42, but as extensive as it is, I was not done).

It is still, I think, a good article which does much to answer the question that was asked, it is just that I really still have more I could say.

So if you want an example of something, try to keep it down to something that is manageable. Pick the carrier you want to see the deck crews running around in. Define the planetary assault scenario and try to keep the number of moving pieces down to just what is needed to resolve the thing it is you actually want demonstrated rather than just asking for an example of planetary assault. [After all, a planetary assault might be a single Admin shuttle carrying a pair of boarding parties out to kill a bunch of unarmed colonists, or a battle fleet led by a Battleship with six (or more) ground combat locations to resolve, the more moving parts, the more complexity.] The sad fact is that I cannot read the minds of the people asking for examples, I need them to define what precisely they think is unclear that needs an example to make it clear.

Monday, November 01, 2010

This Week at ADB, Inc., 24-30 October 2010

Steve Cole reports:

The weather this week was typical fall for the Texas panhandle, with most afternoons in the 70s and most nights dipping into the 40s. The spam storm continued, hitting 1474 on Monday and dropping to 714 on Saturday.

This was the week that the Fight For A Cure tournament completed registrations, and the tree was posted on the 31st. Good luck and good hunting to everyone. The new tournament format (35 players and 64 seats, with empty seats available for re-entries for six weeks) is a test for next year's national championship tournament.

New uploads to e23 included Kzinti Ship Pack #1 and the Omega Playtest Pack. The company decided on 29 October that FC Reference Rulebook and F&E 2010 Rulebook will be uploaded by the time CL#42 goes to press and SFB Master Rulebook (through Update E) will be uploaded by December 1st. That will provide a searchable primary rulebook for all four primary game systems (including Starmada, which has had one for years).

Steve Cole continued the project to put low-toner versions of all FC cards on the site, reach #42. His work on Captain's Log #42 officially kicked off on Saturday, with six pages sent to Jean. He also continued his weight loss and exercise program, pushing the daily walk past 30 minutes, and did some marketing and other things.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #42.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date, worked on the Calendar and continued work on the first Kindle Book.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and continued adding products and images to Cafe Press.

Joel did website updates and worked with Mike to put the first Star Fleet Universe calendar on Cafe Press.

Jean continues to do marketing and webmastering while making some progress on GURPS FEDS. She reported on Monday that our page on Facebook had passed 500 friends.