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Monday, December 31, 2012

This Week at ADB, Inc., 23-29 December 2012

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of intense work on Captain's Log #46 under the stern lash of Jean's whip. The weather this week was cold. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on e23 this week: PD One: Graduation Exercise.

Steve Cole and Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #46 and not much else. Steve Cole did finish the Wall of Honor updates from last August. As part of the work on the issue, Steven Petrick processed a lot of BBS proposal topics.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel was out of town most of  the week visiting family, but did create some demotivationals for Jean and fixed some out-of-date webpages.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1420 friends), proofread Captain's Log #46, and did some marketing.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

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 Andy Vancil 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. Tenneshington Decals does made-to-order decals for our Starline miniatures and is run by two of our fans: Will McCammon and Tony Thomas.

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, Tony Thomas, James Goodrich, 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.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

This Year at ADB: 2012

Steve Cole reports:

It was another good year, although it was strange not to go to Origins. Without that intense deadline to focus on, we had a far less stressful year, although that also meant we lost track of time and didn't get as many products out as we wanted to. (That was aggravated by the fact that seven of the 2012 products will actually appear in January 2013 due to production issues. Oh well, 2013 will set a record for new products.) We will be at Origins 2013.

Star Fleet Battles got some new products including Module E3 the Borak. Steven Petrick continued his project to update existing rules and SSDs, which then go into new hard copy and PDF products. This included the R3 and R2 SSD books, Advanced Missions rulebook, T2012, and other things. The original SFB Pocket Edition was added to e23, as was the original boxed game and the three original expansions.

Star Fleet Marines was launched as new product line in late April with the first module (Assault). During the production phase, Marines evolved from a one-time thing into an entire product line.

Captain's Log #45 was late due to a lack of fiction and a lack of Origins-inspired focus. This pushed Captain's Log #46 into January of 2013.

We continued to add new products to e23 for all of our product lines, including all of the out of print Star Fleet Times issues, all of the out of print Prime Directive First Edition products, and the first four issues of the ancient JagdPanther magazine (done by Steve Cole long before Task Force or ADB even existed). Some of the products sent to e23 included F&E ISC War, Captain's Logs #19 to #27, SFB Module E3 Borak and R107 Nicozians, and Jean Sexton's free Intro to SFU RPGs book (which was a smash hit with over 1000 downloads, even if it was free). We even uploaded the ancient Federation Space game and the three volumes of the SFB Commander's Edition.

Tribbles vs. Klingons was unveiled as a future product, but reaction was so strong that we decided to make this our first full production commercial product. That means overseas production, which proved far more complicated that it should have, and this won't see print until 2013.

Federation Commander saw a few more ePacks of ship cards uploaded to e23, but most of the work went into Reinforcements Attack which (unfortunately) got delayed into January by the die-cutting company.

Starmada saw the release of the first books for the new Nova Edition done by the able Daniel Kast.

Roleplaying games were not neglected as we released Romulans PD20M and Jean completed all of the work on Prime Directive Traveller (except for the deck plans which artists continue to struggle with).

Federation & Empire saw all of the Ship Information Tables updated. They are on the BBS for easy access.

The Joint Venture with Mongoose continued with the rest of the Starline 2500 ships appearing and much good work done to correct mistakes in the original rulebook. At least, the Gorns no longer lumber around space like wallowing bathtubs. The first Call to Arms Journal was well received as it seamlessly brought scouts into ACTASF under the firm guidance of ADB's rules team. Matthew Sprange continues to be fun to work with.

Our page on Facebook grew from under 1100 friends in January to over 1400 in December. Jean Sexton continues to manage the page, upload amusing photos and graphics, and deny Steve Cole access to his password.

Our second Platinum Hat SFB Tournament attracted more players than the first and proceeded very efficiently under the gaze of judge Peter Bakija.

Leanna continued her work, which is rarely seen by outsiders as she does the real business of the business. Jean managed the marketing campaign and proofread everything, some of it twice. Joel Shutts graduated from college, continued managing our website, doing our graphics, and sinking hundreds of pirate websites. Customer Service manager Mike Sparks kept orders going out, conventions fully supported, and everyone happy.
Our staff remained very busy. Ace playtesters Scott Moellmer, Tony L. Thomas, and Mike Curtis led their teams through many challenging products, and produced articles for Captain's Log as well. Our artists (Adam Turner, Dale McKee, Loren Knight, and Xander Fulton) continued to produce outstanding work. Paul Franz took SFBOL and FCOL to new heights, managed the continuing Warlord campaign, and conducted a Talkshoe conference every Thursday. Frank Brooks continued his expert management of our PBEM system. Chuck Strong led a very effective F&E staff.

Our new Kyocera 9540 printer Ziva replaced the worn out Samantha, which retired after printing three million pages. Our second automatic bookbinder arrived. We also bought two more rolling book carts, Steve Cole's first non-Mac computer, and an iPad.

On a personal note, Leanna and Stephen Cole celebrated their 35th anniversary this year, and even relived the four weeks of their whirlwind courtship. Stephen, who lost the hearing in his right ear in May 2010, finally got a hearing aid. Stephen took Leanna to see The Nutcracker for her birthday, and noted that "this is the one without the ducks".

Steven Petrick's beloved Honda died at the age of 25 and the replacement car was destroyed by someone who thought her car was a phone booth. He now has his third car this year.

The year ended the way it began, with Jean Sexton's annual pilgrimage to ADB, Inc., headquarters in Amarillo. This year was unique in that Jean was also able to visit during May (since we did not go to Origins), seeing Texas in the summer for the first time. We all look forward to May of 2013 when she moves here permanently. In fact, we look forward to 2013 for many reasons, which I'll tell you about in a few days.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Galaxy of Song, pt. 2

Research has determined the favorite songs and groups of the various empires:

Tholian: Classic Rock, Monsters of Rock, "We Will Rock You."
Orion: Gangsta Rap, "Take the Money and Run."
Hydran: "The Colonel Bogey March," "Hit Me with Your Best Shot," "(I Long to Be) Close to You." The theme music for the Expeditionary Fleet was "Long Way to Tipperary" and "Eastbound and Down."

Thanks to Jonathan McDermott, Douglas Oosting, Richard K. Glover, Larry Ramey, Chris Young, Sandy Hemenway, Steven Petrick, Stewart Frazier. Originally published in Captain's Log #21, (c) 2000.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

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. 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.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Join us on Facebook

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! Be sure to add us to an interest group to see all of our posts.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas!

From those of us at ADB to our friends who celebrate Christmas, we hope yours is a happy one, filled with joy, love, family, and friends. We hope everyone else has a grand day.

We are taking today off, so please be patient as answers to your questions and emails will be delayed.

If you are thinking of placing an order through our storefront, please be aware that the last shipment out this year will be Wednesday afternoon. Leanna will print off orders Wednesday morning, so get yours in. She'll finish the year-end accounting by January 2, 2013 and will reopen the shopping cart then.

Monday, December 24, 2012

This Week at ADB, Inc., 16-22 December 2012

Steve Cole reports:

This week began with furious work on Captain's Log #46 and ended with the arrival of Jean Sexton for her fifth and last visit to the ADB offices. (When she returns in May, it won't be for a visit, but to move here.) The weather this week was colder. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on e23 this week: PD One: Prime Adventures #1 from 1995.

Steve Cole worked mostly on Captain's Log #46, getting almost half of it into Jean's reading stack. In other work, he got six more pages done for the Wall of Honor update from last August, wrote another reserve blog, and evaluated the ACTASF Gorn ship cards.
Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #46 and Module C6 Lost Empires. 

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel did website updates, chased pirates, and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1410 friends), proofread a dozen pages of Captain's Log #46, and had an exciting bus trip from North Carolina to Amarillo.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself about the rank of senior military officers.

In the US military, we have a rank called brigadier general, commonly known as a one-star general. In the British military, this is simply a brigadier, not a general, but in the US during the revolution, we had so few generals (the only generals being what is now the two-star rank of major general) that the brigadiers wanted to be introduced as "general" during social functions. So the Continental Congress called this rank Brigadier-General so that politically connected people who held that rank could be introduced at parties as "General Smith" without the distinction being made which kind of general they were. (One aspect here is that brigadiers were still part of a branch like infantry or cavalry, while generals were not part of a specific branch of the Army but were just "generally" good at being leaders.)

Various European navies (and the US) used the term commodore for an officer one step higher than the captain of an individual ship. American commodores were appointed as needed to command several ships. Congress, traditionally reluctant to appoint senior military officers, created the term "flag officer" as an official rank in 1857, this being the equivalent of a European rear admiral, which is now a US two-star admiral. (The term "flag officer" in a generic sense refers to any admiral or general as each has his own personal flag.) In 1862, Congress created one-star Commodores and two-star Rear Admirals as formal ranks, and that continued to 1899 although few commodores were actually appointed.

It might be noted that the US Congress did not like naming higher generals (fearing a coup). Only George Washington and Winfield Scott held the three-star rank of Lieutenant General, despite the unspoken question of who was a lieutenant general the assistant to as there was no higher general. Grant was made a lieutenant general so that two hundred major generals did not complain about him being in command of men technically senior to him by date-of-rank. Grant was made a four-star general in 1866 because the Confederacy had several four-star generals and things got confusing at post-war parties. (The Confederacy gave generals the rank of whatever kind of European general was commanding that number of men.) The US finally admitted that it was just silly not to use (European) ranks appropriate to the number of troops actually commanded (by European generals). Congress, however, really confused things by making the rank "general" instead of the European "colonel-general" partly because the British used the term "general" for someone higher than a lieutenant general and lower than a field marshal. This confuses everyone because a generic General Smith introduced at a party might be one, two, three, four, or five stars, and the only way to be clear is to introduce him by the unofficial title of "four-star General Smith." The theory was that there were so few of the big generals that you'd know them by name and not get confused.

European armies have a rank called Field Marshal which is higher than a four-star general. (This comes from the Middle Ages title of "marshal of the field" which was sometimes higher and sometimes lower than a general.) When the US finally needed five-star generals in World War II, George C Marshal refused to be known as Field Marshal Marshal so we got stuck with General of the Army as the five-star title. Somebody forgot to check the paperwork because John Pershing had been General of the Armies (note the plural) in World War I. Because of that plurality, lots of people who don't understand think Pershing was a six-star general.

The Navy constantly complained during 1870-1899 that one-star generals got to be addressed at social functions by the generic word "general" and sounded more important than the Navy's equivalent one-star commodores. The Army complained that the Navy had taken to skipping the one-star commodore rank and promoting captains straight to rear admiral. So, it was decided to eliminate the almost unused commodore rank and make one-star admirals "rear admiral lower half" with the silly lower-half thing referring to the Navy seniority list. Except it never really did, as there were a lot more "lower half" than "upper half" rear admirals, you had to be formally promoted to upper half (not just get there as you gained seniority over time), and all rear admirals (upper or lower) wore the same two-star uniform. (A handful of US naval officers held the official but temporary rank of commodore during World War II because a really big Navy needed more admirals than the limit Congress had given for them.) The Army complained constantly that lower-half rear admirals got to wear two stars like higher-ranking major generals, confusing civilians at parties as to who was more important. In 1982, the Army won a victory and forced the Navy to name any future one-star officers commodore instead of admiral. The Navy tried to convince everyone that these men were commodore-admirals (following the pattern of brigadier-general) so they could be introduced at parties as admiral so-and-so. Nobody was happy, and in 1986 Congress eliminated commodore once again, went back to upper/lower-half, but this time lower-half rear admirals only got to wear one star. The Army considered that fairness had finally broken out, and the armed forces lived happily ever after.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

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/).

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Galaxy of Song, pt. 1

Research has determined the favorite songs and groups of the various empires:

Federation: Theme from T. J. Hooker.
Klingon: Dire Straits' "Love is a Battlefield."
Romulan: Queen "We Are the Champions."
Kzinti: Stray Cats, any bagpipe music.
Gorn: "Anchors Away!"

Thanks to Jonathan McDermott, Douglas Oosting, Richard K. Glover, Larry Ramey, Chris Young, Sandy Hemenway, Steven Petrick, Stewart Frazier. Originally published in Captain's Log #21, (c) 2000.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

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!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ends of the World

This is Steven Petrick posting.

The Mayan calendar is scheduled to run out this Friday, 21 Dec 2012. Some have taken this to be a sign that the Maya knew, somehow, that 21 Dec 2012 would be the day the world ended.

I fall into the category that believes the Mayan calendar, like every other calendar, would simply roll over and start a new cycle. So, no, I do not believe the world will end this Friday. (I have hedged my bet here,  however, but buying some lottery tickets, and if the winning number shows up on one of my tickets . . . head for the hills!)

I think there have been about a half dozen "end of the world" events that were widely circulated in my 56 years of life to date. So far the world is still here. And of course I know that the next "end of the world" event is already being hyped (I think it is set for 2028, and unlike the Maya "prediction" which was non-specific, i.e., no event is associated with the date although some say that disaster will come from the galactic core, 2028 is a "big rock fall from sky kill us all" event).

Even so, there are other alarming possibilities in the wings.

For example, the Yellowstone Mega/Super Volcano is past due to erupt, and if it does it will pretty much put paid to the United States and may cause enough atmospheric chaos to wreck human civilization, perhaps fatally.

Yellowstone or a big rock are both massive extinction events that could destroy not just humanity, but eliminate a lot of other species, allowing mother nature to wipe the board and start over again. Perhaps a new intelligence will arise and find us as fossils, perhaps mother nature will be done with her dalliance with intelligent life on this planet for all time. Perhaps she will done with life period.

Of course, there is the other option. Our civilization is so linked by travel that perhaps a major pandemic could destroy us. To a certain extent our civilization is very fragile. If enough key people with knowledge of how things work die, the rest of us could starve or freeze even if we survived the plague. Too much of our society depends on things being created in one area and moved to another. Fertilizer to grow enough food in to feed the people in an area is not generally created in that area, but trucked in from the factory. Further, we have already gleaned the easy to recover resources, and now need our advanced technologies simply to reach the resources we need to maintain the same technology. A major pandemic shutting down access to deep mines and deep water drilling and other operations could leave us in position where it is, after the plague burns itself  out, impossible to access those resources any more. The resultant struggle for resources that are available will only make things worse, leading to a spiral of declining quality of life and further disease outbreaks decimating the survivors even more as medical technologies are lost. Hungry people ravaging the countryside for things to eat could see the extinction of various species before we ourselves are reduced to a sustainable population.

The more advanced and interconnected our civilization becomes, the more possible that it might all collapse like a chain of dominoes if the right blow is struck at the right place.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How to Find New 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-ins 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 5,000 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 post to see who is out there. 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 online 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.

Monday, December 17, 2012

This Week at ADB, Inc., 9-15 December 2012

Steve Cole reports:

This was intended to be the first week of the three-week goal line charge on Captain's Log #46 (the first workbook file was posted), but that was disrupted by the death of SVC's uncle which took him out of the office most of the week. The weather this week was cold, and a freak storm on Friday knocked out our internet connection. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

Steve Cole finished Communique #84 in time for Joel to upload it on the 10th. He did over 30 pages of Captain's Log #46, including the main story. Blocked from most work by the internet breakdown, he spent Saturday on Communique #85, doing two ships and the scenario, and updated more multi-person pages on the Wall of Honor.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #46 and Module C6.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel did website updates, chased pirates, and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1408 friends), proofread Communique #84 and Hailing Frequencies, and did some marketing.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself about the curious origins of interesting words:

1. HELPMEET, which is a spouse, is an unnecessary word since helpmate already exists. But the Bible used the term "help meet" (suitable helper) as two words and everyone read it as one word and the result was the almost forgotten duplicate word for the same thing.

2. HERMETIC, which today means "sealed air tight" and often assumed to mean "welded shut," got there by an unusual route. The Egyptian god Toth was the one responsible for learning, science, and art. The Greeks decided that he was the same guy as Hermes, or Vulcan, the blacksmith of the gods. The 42 books of all Egyptian knowledge were known as the "books of Toth" and the Greeks called them "the Hermetic books." What passed for science in ancient days was a mix of guesses, alchemy, and the occult, and Hermetic was taken to mean "secret" and from there evolved into "airtight." The application of heat to create the airtight seal is assumed to be there because Hermes was a blacksmith familiar with the hammer-welding process.

3. HOBBY, a pursuit (perhaps a sport or craft) done for amusement or exercise (physical or intellectual) comes to us by a very strange route. In the old days, the Moors of Spain had a certain kind of performance done by actors and dancers. This came into Europe as "the Moorish dance" and reached England as "the Morris dance." Troops a Morris dancers entertained across England. By tradition, the dance troupe always included Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Maid Marion, a whole bunch of clowns, and "The Arab Rider" who had a small wicker "Arabian steed" fastened around his waist. This was known as a hobbyhorse because that word had always meant a small horse or pony used on a farm cart or in a mine (think Shetland Pony). Various people fashioned similar toy horses for their children in the 1600s, allowing them to play at knights of the round table or perhaps horseracing. These were known as hobbyhorses and that term still applies to toy horses mounted on springs that small children ride to this day. A child who ignored his other toys or duties to play with his hobbyhorse was said to "have a hobby" and from there the term moved onward to refer to hobbies as the word is used today.

4. HOBO, an itinerant unemployed person, has a murky but entirely American origin. Some think it comes from the musical instrument the oboe, and referred originally to wandering musicians who played to beg for money. Others thing it comes from the French-Canadian "haut bois" which lumberjacks called to say a "high tree" was about to fall. A weaker theory is that it derives from "hi, beau" or "hello, boy" but few consider this likely. The strongest theory may be that it comes from hoboy (a menial worker who cleaned public rest rooms at night), that word possibly having gypsy origins.

5. HORDE, a large crowd or army of misbehaving people, originally applied to the Mongols, who invaded Europe around 1235 and made a mess of things. They called their camp an ordu, and the Poles (as they did to many foreign words) changed this into horda, and from that point it quickly evolved into horde (and later, the "e" fell silent).

 6. HOYDEN, a boisterous misbehaving girl, derives from heathen, another word for barbarian and one particularly applied to American Indians who screamed while attacking. The word is seldom used today.

7. HUMOR, a term now linked with comedy, was more properly linked with "mood" as in "being in a foul mood." The Greeks thought that the body was ruled by four humors, as humor was their word for fluid. Someone who is "in a good humor" currently has his body ruled by the fluid which makes people happy.

8. HYACINTH, a certain type of flower, comes from an ancient Greek youth, Hyacinthous. He was a good kid and Apollo liked playing games with him. The demigoddess of the west wind, Zephyrus, wanted him to grow up and become her lover, and a puff of her wind caused a discus thrown by Apollo to strike the lad. She had intended it only to cause him to break off his friendship with Apollo, but misjudged the breeze and the discus killed him. Stricken with grief, Apollo caused a beautiful flower to spring from the blood-soaked ground where the boy died.
9. HYDRAULIC, meaning something operated by water, comes from the Greek words for water (hydro) and pipe (aulus). An ancient Greek named Cteibius had invented the first water-powered musical organ and named it a hydraulic organ. The adjective was, thereafter, applied to any machine that operated on or by water.

10. HYMN or religious song comes from a Greek boy named Hymeneal. He pursued the affections of a girl who found him insufficiently studly to deserve her affections. He wanted to spend time with her, so he dressed as a girl and went on an outing with her and many other girls. Pirates appeared and captured the girls, taking them to another land. The pirates (weary from the journey and resting up for the intended debauchery celebration) fell asleep. Hymeneal cast off his disguise and killed all of the sleeping pirates (which even an un-studly man would find fairly easy), returning the grateful girls to Athens and their even more grateful parents. He won the affections of his intended (or, the story varies, the families bribed her to marry him with a huge dowry), and married her amid great fanfare. New songs of love and devotion were written just for the occasion, and became hymeneal songs. As the songs were at least semi-religious and often sung in the temple at subsequent weddings, the term eventually applied to any song sung in the temple. Indeed, we may not have had music in church at all except for the fact that when the pagan Greek temples were converted to churches about 350AD, the congregations would not give up their hymns.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

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.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Top 10 Questions a Captain Never Wants to Ask during a Battle, pt. 2

Thanks to Geoff Chard.

6. What do you mean "he went to the bathroom"?

7. If you're not using the UIM to aim the disruptors, then what are you using it for?

8. What do you mean "you're not sure" whether you launched the real or the pseudo plasma torpedoes?

9. You're using the stasis field generator to keep the vegetables fresh?

10. You're using one of the seeking weapon's control channels to steal pay trivideo?

Captain's Log #18 (c) 1999, Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Last Resort Fails Again

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Can "Last Resort" get any worse?

We had two people executed on the family boat in the last episode, but apparently neither of them were actually family members of the crew. While they clearly had crew members reacting to the threat to their families, none of the exploded emotionally to the deaths of the two women.

And the SOSUS system was  not able to pick up the Pakistani submarine? And the Pakistani submarine was able to evade the U.S. Navy blockade and the previous escort of U.S. Navy ships to hide under the merchant vessel? (Of course, admittedly, the existence of a SOSUS net around the island has never made any sense and is just a plot point that it happens to have its own separate SOSUS net.)

I know diesel-electric boats are difficult to track, but who put out enough information to the world that a Pakistani sub was even able to make the intercept?

And where did the Pakistani sub go? Why was it not standing by to take off the Pakistani team? And why would the Pakistanis not assume that the Americans might also attempt to board the boat and guard against it better? I mean, they had just boarded the boat themselves, so they knew it was possible and should have had a good idea of the means and methods that might be used. Putting the ship in high gear and a continuous circle would have made boarding from the water impossible, and it is not like the Pakistanis would have to pay for the gas. And their submarine could have served as a final back up, i.e., try for a rescue and we will torpedo the ship and sink it.

And throwing the bodies overboard . . . Would it not make more of a statement to line each new body up in a row on the deck of the ship? What was the point of tossing them over the side?

This of course ignores the major plot point that the U.S. Government was planting evidence of rogue Pakistani tactical nuclear devices in order to have an excuse to nuke Pakistan. (An invalid one any way, the U.S. is not able to use nuclear weapons against rogue states without provocation . . . don't believe it, consider the fact that North Korea has not been nuked and the unlikely case that we will preemptively nuke Iran.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Exploring Excellent Ebooks

We have continued our long-awaited move to offer more of our products as PDFs by way of the e23 and DriveThru RPG websites. So far on e23, we have released a lot of stuff for Federation Commander, including the Revision Six Reference Rulebook, the 72 ships from Federation Commander Briefing #2 (divided into six packs of 12 ships and a separate rules pack), and more than a dozen Ship Card Packs. Our ebook PDFs are in color and high resolution. PDFs of most books are searchable (older Captain’s Logs are not).

The way e23 works, once you buy a product, you can download it again for no cost if you lose it or if we upload a revised version of that edition. Thus, the people who bought Reference Rulebook Revision 5 were able to obtain Reference Rulebook Revision 6 for free (and to download it again when we discovered we had accidentally left out rule 4S).

We must note that these products are copyrighted and are not to be uploaded or passed around to your friends. Doing so is piracy, a criminal act, and may result in us deciding not to offer any more PDF products. We have already uploaded many Starmada, Star Fleet Battles, Federation & Empire, and GURPS Prime Directive products We have created a new page that allows easy access to our PDFS for sale on e23. From here you can see what we currently have posted and have links to those products.

Our Prime Directive PD20 Modern books are sold as ebooks exclusively through DriveThru RPG.

So check them out! Many people like the fact they can search our rulebooks for a keyword and find everything that pertains to that issue. Others like the fact they can carry around multiple books on one device. Some Ship Cards are available exclusively through e23. Whatever your reason for using them, we hope that you enjoy them and rate them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


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, 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 Federation Commander players, including new ships, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules.

You can subscribe to Hailing Frequencies at this link:

Monday, December 10, 2012

This Week at ADB, Inc., 2-8 December 2012

Steve Cole reports:

This was a normal work of week, except for SVC, who missed most of it due to a series of circumstances. The weather this week was cold in the morning and comfortable in the afternoon. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on e23 this week Captain's Log #27 and the last Star Fleet Times bundle (46-50).

Steve Cole worked on Communique #84 and Reinforcements Attack, despite missing all of Wednesday and Thursday repairing his wind-damaged fence (needed to keep the Bengals from slaughtering every mammal in the neighborhood), half of Friday with an appointment, and half of Saturday taking Leanna to see Nutcracker for her birthday.

Steven Petrick worked on SFB Module C6 Lost Empires and on Captain's Log #46.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel did website updates, chased pirates, and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1404 friends), proofread various things, and did some marketing.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

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/wallpapers.shtml

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.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

On Holidays and Cleaning and Planning

Jean Sexton muses:

There are times I envy my mother. She has to be the most organized person I know. Her calendar is always full of penciled-in notes. ("Other people's plans may change," she explained to me when I was young, "and I'll need to change the note.") Everything has a place and (if she has her way) everything is in its place. Even decorations and such live in a particular spot. For once, my decorations are organized (well, sort of). Right now, most of them are in storage except for a few plants that I've bought to brighten things and except for the decorations at work. My mother would be pleased.

I'm making decisions for the holidays, including who gets my office decorations. They won't suffice for the area that I will have at ADB and I will have a front window that will need to look professional, so most of the existing decorations need a new home. My office plants will not travel to Texas (especially the nine-foot-tall dragon tree that I got over 30 years ago), so someone needs to love them. The ceramic Christmas tree I made for my grandmother will go to Texas. The wooden snowman she made me along with a small tree have already been mailed to Amarillo for this holiday. As I clean out my office and the place I am living, I am making decisions about what to keep and what will go with me. The choices are hard for me. So many things hold memories of my parents and grandparents. I've decided that some things will go to dear friends along with the stories of how they came to me. Then the things will make someone else happy and new memories will be created with them. The rest I will organize somehow when I get to Amarillo.

I struggle with organization. I seem to have inherited from my father the tendency to set things down and not get them where they belong (except for the flyswatter that must live on the refrigerator so I may murder spiders and wasps that wander into the house). The only way I can seem to manage to pretend to be organized is to plan. I learned some tricks from Mom -- start at the due date and work backwards. I'm cleaning up old emails at work prior to my leaving, so I divided the number I had by the months I would have to work on them and I delete that many each month. I've looked at the stuff in my office and I am dealing with five of them each week. Slowly my office empties and my emails vanish into email heaven.

I know that SVC is looking to me to keep him organized and ADB on track. He wants me to do marketing and that requires planning. To that end, I found a monthly planner and that will let me see key dates at a glance. I can also back up from release dates and plan to release an announcement two weeks before we get a product in house and then email a Star Fleet Alert when it is available for "pre-order" (i.e., when it is in-house). Trickier will be the alerts both to the retailers that they should order it from the distributor and to the distributors letting them know it is coming out. There's also the publicity that goes with that. I'll also need to have a list of websites to make our announcements on (and their posting policies). I'll need to contact prominent reviewers and bloggers with whom I hope I can build good relations and see if they can work in a mention/review of our new "thing." All of that requires planning so that I have things ready to pop on the correct day without suddenly thinking, "Oh, BAD WORD! I forgot that SFB Module X15, Captain's Log #123, Federation Commander Xorkalians Attack!, and the Prime Directive Xorkalian Sourcebook are coming out today and I need to contact EVERYONE with the news! Even worse, I have to write the news!!! AAAAAACCCCKKKKKK!!!!!"

I have faith that I will meet the challenge.

Friday, December 07, 2012

The Top 10 Questions a Captain Never Wants to Ask during a Battle, pt. 1

Thanks to Geoff Chard.

1. If you didn't put the drones in the scatterpack, where did you put them?

2. You loaded the photons with WHAT instead of antimatter?

3. Why is the cook leading the Marines?

4. You did WHAT to the warp engines?

5. If the pilots are still on the ship, who is flying the fighters?

Captain's Log #18 (c) 1999, Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

How Not to Get into the Game Business

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.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Revolution Revulsion

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I remain perpetually stunned by what passes for competent action on TV.

One of  the episodes of "Revolution" had our heroes holed up in a store while the villains attacked from outside.

This was apparently a very unusual store, as a single sniper on the roof was able to hold off the bad guys. The situation was so bad, that the bad guys resorted to the tactic of sending one man at a time into the sniper's field of fire in order to run the sniper out of ammunition.

We are assured that Miles, the former Marine among the heroes, is responsible for the training and discipline of the bad guys.

Apparently from what I saw he is both a complete idiot and a charter member of brainwashing school of training.

As I have commented before, while I can understand the Monroe Militia being armed with muskets, I cannot fathom why they would not be rifled muskets. If you can make muskets at all, you rifle them, and there is no deep dark mystery on how to make a Minie ball, so the rate of fire of rifled muskets is no slower than regular (un-rifled) muskets and accuracy is on a par with modern rifles.

The upshot is that if you are trying to break into the store (and by some strange quirk of geography it is impossible to approach from the sides or rear of the building so that you must advance through the sniper's field of fire), it is perfectly feasible to place accurate suppressive fire on the sniper's position while your assault team rushes the building and breaks in.

The assault team can approach dodging, making the sniper's job more difficult (hard to try to track a running, and dodging, man when other men are shooting at your exposed head and shoulders).

Tactically, if there is one sniper and you have X number of men, it is better to have all of them rush the sniper's position then send them one at a time to be killed. All of them rushing the sniper means a better chance of getting close enough to hit him with an unrifled musket, and fewer men killed over all then allowing a constant one-shot one-kill strategy in order to run the sniper out of bullets. Sending one man at  time (particularly if you were not providing any covering fire) simply ensured that the maximum possible number of your men would be killed.

That is a recipe for mutiny and fragging the officer who came up with that brilliant plan.

It also is a superb demonstration that the people who do these shows have no concept of how things really work and just how stupid they believe soldiers really are as they assume soldiers would, like the unthinking automatons they know them to be, would rigidly obey the orders and run out to their deaths as the 10 men before them did.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


Steve Cole muses, just thinking to himself that most of the time just TRYING something has a very real cost.

Often, someone will suggest we try a particular project on Kickstarter. (We have a BBS topic for that and many people have made suggestions, a very few of which we will actually have the time to try within the next year.) Lots of people have made suggestions for such things, but many of them do not understand what Kickstarter is and is not good for.

In one case, the individual suggested that we try doing a glorious full-color version of the Federation Commander rulebook with lots of art. This was not a new idea, and I already knew what the cost would be because I already had to decide (years ago) that it was not possible to include that in the box. It costs almost 10 times as much as the black-and-white rulebook we did use and, because it has to be printed in minimum runs of 3,000, we would not be able to correct mistakes or update rules as we have with the black-and-white rulebooks we print for ourselves. (I also wonder if there is any point as the next time I do an FC product or correct a rules mistake the expensive color book is obsolete.)

The individual in question, however, knew that and was suggesting that we do this as a separate book people could buy. He knew it would cost a lot of money and he knew that we would never invest the money without knowing it would sell. To his mind, Kickstarter was perfect because if it didn't sell enough we could just drop the idea.

The problem was that I know how many Reference Rulebooks we have sold, and I know that number is less than the minimum print run for a color book, and so I knew we could not make that work. In theory, Kickstarter might let us raise just enough money to print the books even if we sold only a fraction of them, since we obviously sell books for more than they cost and the profit on a few books might pay for printing books we never sold. Of course, there isn't much point in going to all of the effort to create such a book just to break even when the same effort would produce something that would make a profit. (Understand that by profit I mean money to pay the company overhead, not money that would actually end up in my pocket. If a product isn't going to help pay that overhead, and it will take a substantial amount of employee time to do, we really would lose money even on a book that sold for more than it cost to print.

But there is more to it that that.

It takes a bunch of work just to get ready to do a Kickstarter project. (This includes getting press quotes, preparing graphics and a mockup and a video, and working up all of the stretch goals.) I should know, as I have four other games I'm trying to do right now, without having found enough information to do any one of them. (It seems dumb to stop working on projects half-finished to start some other project. We've done it before, but only when the new idea is just really cool. When the new idea is the pet project of somebody and that project had found no public support, it goes to the back of the line if it even makes it into the line.) Then you have the cost of managing a Kickstarter project, including two high-ranking employees continually monitoring everything posted, plus all of the marketing and supporting press releases and no end of other things. Giving something a try on Kickstarter is not free. Every time someone posts something, Jean and I have to discuss how to respond, and that takes time away from other work.

In this case, I carefully explained to him why I would not even try (despite some rather stressful badgering he kept up far too long). Anything we do on Kickstarter means something else we did not do on Kickstarter, and other things had much higher priority. This one didn't even get added to the end of that very long list because I could tell from the sales figures from a similar product that (as I explained above) could not justify the amount of company resources it would consume.

Giving a new restaurant a try is one thing. (You're going to eat anyway and one bad meal experience isn't going to ruin more than one day of your life, if that much.) Trying something that involves using very limited resources means we have to very carefully pick our battles, and this one did not get picked.

Monday, December 03, 2012

This Week at ADB, Inc., 25 November - 1 December 2012

Steve Cole reports:

This was a quiet week, as everyone absorbed the disappointment that late counter shipments will delay several products to January. The weather this week was cooler than before but not uncomfortable (except in some over-cooled restaurants). The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

Steve Cole worked on Reinforcements Attack, the revised cards for the Romulan Attack reprint, Captain's Log #46, wrote more blogs for Jean's reserve stockpile, approved the revised countersheet proofs, processed some Ranger reports, and appeared on Talkshoe.

Steven Petrick worked on Module C6 and Captain's Log #46.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel did website updates, chased pirates, and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1393 friends), proofread things, and did some marketing.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Play Online

Many people do not know that you can play either STAR FLEET BATTLES or
FEDERATION COMMANDER online in real time against live opponents.

Ten 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

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 online 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 online environment and have
playtesters working out the kinks. We'll let you know as soon as it is ready to

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.

Saturday, December 01, 2012


 Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself about the curious origins of interesting words:

1. HALCYON days are a period of calm. Halcyon was a Greek demigoddess, who loved and married a human. When he was drowned in a storm, she threw herself into the sea. The gods turned them into kingfisher birds, which the Greeks thought build floating nests. The two-week period around the winter solstice were the Halcyon days when the sea was calm because of the nesting kingfishers.

2. HALIBUT is the largest of the flounders, often reaching eight feet long and weighing 300 pounds. Halibut is an expensive and excellent fish. In old English, all of the flounders were "but" and the best of them was reserved for eating only on holy days, thereby becoming the holy flounder or halibut.

3. HALLOWEEN was the Celtic new year's eve, a night when ghosts walked the Earth and witches held their annual meetings. Almost all of our traditions date from that pagan period. When the Christian Church decided to turn all pagan holidays into Christian ones (with as few real changes as possible so as to keep the people on board) the last day of October became All Saints Evening, and since the old English world for saint was hallow, we got Halloween.

4. HANDICAP, a word meaning both a physical challenge an individual must endure and a bonus given to a weaker player in order to create an equal contest, comes from an old European contest of the 1300s known as "new faire" or "hand in the cap" in various locals. Three people would put some money into a cap. One of them was the umpire. One of the others would offer a trade, some item he owned by some item owned by the other. The umpire then decided which was the lesser item and how much money had to be offered "to boot" to produce an equal trade. The two protagonists then stuck a hand in their pocket and on an agreed signal pulled it back out. If both held money, the deal was made and the umpire kept the money in the cap. If neither pulled out a coin the deal was off but the umpire still kept the cap money. If only one pulled out a coin, the deal was off but that player got the money in the cap.

5. HANGNAIL, a painful broken nail on the hand or foot, derives from the old English word angnael, which was any sore on the foot, such as a wart or corn. The "nael" referred to a carpenter's metal nail, since a sore somewhat resembled such a nail driven into a block of wood. Over time, the current meaning appeared.

6. HARVEST, to gather crops, derives from the German word herbst, which means the third quarter of the year when most crops were ripe. As it moved into old English, the "vest" part was associated with a festival, a celebration that the years work was done and the time when everyone stayed home and warm was at hand (so one last party prepared everyone for the boredom of the winter). The later word autumn and still later fall replaced harvest as the name for the calendar quarter, and harvest became the term to gather crops at any time of the year.

7. HAZARD comes from the Arabic word al zahr, meaning the die or half of a pair of dice. Gambling was rampant in Europe and England after the Norman Conquest (1066) and most of it involved dice. Because great sums could be wagered and lost, the term "to hazard" came to mean any risky venture, be it physical or financial.

8. HEARSE, a vehicle for carrying the dead to the cemetery, comes from herse, the French word for a type of plow consisting of a wooden framework with spikes projecting down into the earth, allowing it to plow several furrows at once. When turned upside down, it sometimes resembled the framework used to hold the 13 candles used in holy week celebrations in church. Such a framework was later added to the funeral celebrations of great men, and then of lesser men as well. Eventually, a wheeled version of the framework (resembling the original plow) was used to carry the dead to the church and thence to the cemetery, and that meaning continues to this day.
9. HECTIC, meaning nervous excitability, comes from heklios, the Greek work for "habitual." The Greek doctor Galen identified a particular disease (now known as tuberculosis and earlier known as consumption) by the habitually flushed cheeks of the patients, and named it hectic fever. Patients of this disease are noted for their nervous excitability.

10. HECTOR, which means to harass or annoy someone, comes from Hector, the prince and greatest warrior of the Trojans. The Romans (who thought they were descended from the Trojan refugee Aeneas) considered Hector to be the epitome of selfless courage, and the term had that meaning until it fell out of use in the 1300s. In the 1600s someone resurrected the term and applied it to a group (or class) of street thugs in London, and the actions of these swashbuckling ruffians give us the present meaning.