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Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Steve Cole muses: Jean said I should do one entire blog talking about the company.

1. Like most game publishing companies, ADB Inc. was created a game designer who couldn't get anyone else to print his games. That game designer (me) had to learn how to run a business; many who could not have gone broke. It feels good when I actually get to design something, as opposed to running the company. I swear, there are entire days that I do nothing but handle whatever mess arrived in my email that morning.

2. We found termites in our warehouse, and they were trying to eat their way into a box of rulebooks. We moved the pallet and stamped out their mud tubes and they went away. The landlord got an estimate from an exterminator who wanted $1500 to kill them. The building is concrete, and being the dead of winter, the termites are all back in the ground. After I personally inspected the situation, I decided to buy a $20 bottle of termite killer and just go crazy with it, and have the likely areas of future infestations inspected at regular intervals. If the problem returns, we'll do what we have to do.

3. A bunch of guys who do a free RPG software package asked if they could include Prime Directive. The problem is that we cannot sublicense Paramount property, and it's anybody's guess if including it in a free RPG software generation package would actually violate that. (Don't expect an answer from Paramount.) The software guys offered to give us a software module for our website, which seems to be a way around the obstacles.

4. I'm actually working on a game (Project T) that will have the entire rules set on one 11x17 piece of paper (two pages of rules, one page of examples, one of page designer's notes). It's surprisingly refreshing to do a game that is so simple and uncluttered. I may do more of these. More later.

5. Jean's annual Christmas visits are usually dominated by one big project. This year it was supposed to be Traveller, but Jean wanted to get Romulans PD20M out of the way first, since she would eventually need it updated to do the fourth Traveller book. I argued against this, saying that Traveller would sell better and that Romulan Traveller was a year away and could be done next winter. Jean insisted that there would be time for both and I said that she should do Traveller first. But she convinced Leanna to let her do Romulans PD20M first, and (I was right!) it took the entire week, so nothing got done on Traveller. (Nor have any Traveller files appear in my email box since Jean got home.) Oh well, I can feel good about being right, and at least we have Romulans PD20M which might sell 10 percent as well as the first Traveller book. The lesson learned is for me to stick to my guns and trust my own judgement.

6. We really need to do a better job of marketing. Jean does a lot of really great stuff I don't know about at the trench level, but the important stuff (getting proper release information to wholesalers) is still not happening. Part of that is getting cover art on time (I'm waiting now for a cover that is six months late), part of it is getting the design far enough along that we can predict the price and release date. The wholesalers want 90 days notice, not because they need it but because the comic book industry does things that way. (The stores know that anything announced that far out won't happen anyway and they ignore it.)

7. Somebody noted the other day that a particular item had been posted on our page on Facebook before it was on the BBS or the website or the Forum. Others noted other items that were on the other locations before they were on our page on Facebook. It's just the luck of the draw. When I have an item that needs posting, I may post it on the BBS or I might send it to Joel to post there. Joel puts it on the website. Mike West or Jean might put it on the Forum, or maybe not. Jean will put it on our page on Facebook. Which one gets there first just depends. They all got it at the same time, but Joel only works a few hours each day, Jean has a real time job (and can only post things on our page on Facebook at intervals, so if she gets 10 pictures at once it may be three days before the last one gets posted, even if she was the first one to post one of the ten), and Mike West has a real job and posts stuff when he can. If the thing got sent from my desk when Joel was here, he likely got it posted first, but if I sent it to him after he left for the day, he won't post it until the next (business) day. There's no telling, and the odds of any one picture getting first on any one venue are totally random. Jean might get one picture of a new ship up first, but Joel will get all of them on the forum (and four selected ones on the 2500 page) before Jean gets many on our page on Facebook.

8. I often hear a gamer tell me "My retailer called the wholesaler who said ..." I want to hear these reports, but please understand that, while some of them are absolutely correct, many of them are incomplete or wrong. Everybody makes mistakes and nobody wants to admit they goofed, so there's every possibility that the story you got is wrong (whoever goofed is trying to shift the blame). More often, the story is incomplete or confused. Any retailer who just forgot to order the product you wanted is likely to blame this on the wholesaler forgetting to send it. (Any retailer who freely admits "I forgot" is certainly telling the truth and is a man you need to respect and support.) Any retailer telling you the wholesaler goofed, well, give him the benefit of the doubt. I have plenty of stories on file of wholesalers claiming "that is out of print" rather than admitting "we sold out and decided not to restock it." The wholesaler says that to keep the retailer from calling another wholesaler and spending money there.

9. I was updating the Wall of Honor recently, and someone asked if we could post larger versions of the pages to make them easier to read. We started doing that recently (1101 pixels instead of the old 793), but it will be the next time we update the pages (June) before this happens to most pages. Anyone who wants their page made larger can ask in the Wednesday Customer Service system. Anyone who wants to be emailed a 300dpi version of his page so he can have it professionally printed and framed can also ask in the Wednesday system.

10. It's only about 16 months until Jean Sexton is sitting at a desk up front full time the whole year. I cannot wait. Not only will we get more RPG products out, not only will she handle the marketing that isn't getting done, not only can she make proofreading changes to new products without bothering me, but she'll be another full-time multi-function worker who can grab any project I point her at and make it happen. Lots of stuff I'm not doing (or not doing well, or cannot even consider doing) will happen (or happen better). Jean works well with the group. The four of us designed T sitting around the dinner table, and Jean and Leanna worked together to write a cat detective story which I furiously committed to scraps of paper.