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Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Steve Cole gives us a rare glimpse inside his work.

The whole concept of a "things to do list" becomes murky when you are head of a small company and have five or six different jobs, each with its own list. I have "things to do" lists for designing new products, print buying, marketing, contracts, graphics, supervising (and providing input for) everyone who works for ADB, Inc., and of course, that personal "things to do" list Leanna gave me.

In early June 2011, I finished Captain's Log #43 and had a week before I could begin the final book-layout work on ISC War, and during this time, my "things to do" list contained no end of miscellaneous tasks that did not fit neatly into any category, and this included only things that could not wait until I got home from Origins. I called it "trash week" not because the things were "trash" but because I had to "take out the trash" meaning "do the routine stuff that keeps this place running."

1. Do a Star Fleet Alert announcing the release of CL#43 and the release of the four Origins products.

2. I had to actually calculate the price of ISC War for the press release. This meant getting the staff that was working up the final documents to give me a page count, and then giving Leanna a list of components. She came back with two options (one with five countersheets, one with six) and I asked the staff to pick (they went for six). But part of that was an idea from one staffer to include a certain new kind of play aid, and I had to get a quote from a printer for that before I could decide not to include it (it would increase the price by $3 for one piece of paper).

3. I had to get press quotes for the covers of the products.

4. I had to hunt down the artist doing the cover art and ask him nicely to send in the final copies.

5. Leanna and Jean wanted to get one more old Captain's Log on e23, so I had to write a description for CL#10.

6. Jean wanted to get one more Ship Card Pack onto e23, so I had to create six LDR ships. (Five were easy, just variants of Lyrans, but one had to be done from scratch.) Then I had to do the counters and the scenario.

7. I had to finally complete work on the secret contract designated "U" which meant talking to lawyers and hunting down over 30 emails where we had agreed to this or that term, get those terms into the contract, and get the lawyer to change them from English into Lawyer.

8. I had promised to do counters for Module C3A and, well, they're on the list to get done but I don't know that they won't have to wait for after Origins.

9. We had to nail down the final things about the Platinum Hat, get Leanna to put it on the cart (the latest host site software upgrade means I can no longer do anything on the shopping cart myself), and help the SFBOL guys get the press release ready.

10. I had to do Communique #66 and Hailing Frequencies June 2011.

11. I had to actually finish CL#43, which meant doing the scenario graphics, getting Jean's reports, and doing a few last-minute updates and edits.

12. I had to work with Joel to create the actual covers for Distant Armada, ISC War, and Transports Attacked. Of course, that also means sending Jean copies of the covers for promotional and marketing use.

13. It is on my list of things to do to get Star Fleet Marines ready for a playtest-demo at Origins, but that is kind of on the "nice to do, but might not happen" list.

14. I promised the guy at Battlegrounds Games that I would do the written paperwork to extend his contract, which is currently expired (although he has an email promise from me to retroactively reinstate it, and instructions from me to keep selling stuff).

15. Mike Sparks wants to do the video for Andro Threat File and for GURPS Federation.

16. While Daniel Kast did 90% of the work on Distant Armada, I still was the one who had to lay out the rulebook, and I had to spend a few hours with him working out the ship list. Jean wants the rulebook send to her for proofreading.

17. I actually took a whole morning off to sleep in and rest. At my age, I just cannot do a four-week marathon of pre-Origins stuff like I could 10 years ago.

18. I had to write a couple of blog posts for Jean, as the blog must have a new post every day or internet people will think I died and the company closed.

19. Lots of "customer interactions" are part of my job. Despite pushing as many of those off to "after Origins" as I could, some would not wait (and some were so easy to do that it just made sense to do them). One internet discount store that phoned in wanted to use our pictures and buy direct from us, and normally I would spent a half hour with such people explaining to them why they are pond scum who are running the industry, but I just told Leanna "I don't want to talk to him. Tell him he cannot use our pictures and we won't sell to him." It felt good to do that, and I don't plan to waste any more half-hours explaining the immediate female parentage of these blood-sucking leeches to them any more.

20. I had to herd cats (the staff) to make sure that the parts of the three final products (ship list for Distant Armada, reports for Transports Attacked Ship Cards, and actual rules text documents for F&E ISC War) would be delivered to me when and as needed.