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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Some Thoughts on Ship Design

This is Steven Petrick posting.

One of the easiest things to do is to design a supership. We have received designs where someone simply sat down and filled the largest sheet of paper he could find with the largest possible ship outline and maximum number of systems. Most submitted designs are for what amount to "pure combat" ships: designs that quite literally even sacrifice hull for power and weapons, i.e., there is no "padding," every single box is either a control space, a power system, or a weapon. So internal damage destroys power and weapons, but what does that matter when there is just so much more power and weapons, you do not need that hull, it just gets in the way of the power and weapons.

Another design philosophy often submitted is the "BPV" ship: a ship designed to fill a "gap" in the BPV forces of a given fleet. Obviously a ship must be there so that it can duel ships of other empires of a similar BPV.

And of course there is always the simply "perfect" ship. For example, no one ever submits a ship design that has less than a 5-6 breakdown rating. Almost all carrier designs have either multiple hatches (even if they have only six fighters) or launch tubes (even if the empire in question has never used launch tubes previously), or both. This is not to mention the occasional carrier design that has extra deck crews built into the design to turn the fighters around faster. (This includes on design that included two deck crews for every fighter.) The list of perfect ship designs is a long one.

The harder row (and this includes me, i.e., even I find doing this hard to do) is to try to design ships that are simply interesting to play: not perfect, but with character. Now, sure, there are some things that should not be addressed in character. A ship with a better Turn Mode to the left than to the right is not a good way to show character. The Federation destroyer has character (in its original design) because it literally had more weapons than it had power, even the AWR refit did not really fix that problem, but the DDG is probably the best (non-escort) version of the ship. It still has a bad breakdown rating, but it is interesting to fly. The Old Light Cruiser is another in this category with its (relatively) oddball movement cost, but even so the added phaser-1s it got (now has six rather than four) makes it a contender (especially after the "plus" refit) in its weight class.

Try to make the design interesting, and not simply go for perfection.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Space: Past and Present and Future

Jean Sexton muses:

Yesterday brought back a flood of memories for me. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard about the Challenger accident. I was checking the pre-filed cards in the card catalog when a student told me the shuttle had crashed. I sharply told him to not joke about such things. He told me it was true. I stood there and cried for the people who died while pursuing a dream, for the lost opportunities, for the children who were waiting to see a teacher fly in the shuttle.

So many people remember Christa McAuliffe and for many she is a symbol of the desire to be an astronaut. Ronald McNair is also a person to remember. He grew up not far from where I ended up living. He faced discrimination -- at one time it took a police officer asking, "You know, why don't you just give the kid the books?" for him to be allowed to check books out of a library. Yet his brother recalls that when Ronald saw Star Trek, he saw the dream of people of all races working together as "science possibility," not "science fiction."

I've been fortunate to watch many science fiction ideas become science possibility. Not only do people work together regardless of race, but we have an international space station. We are watching private companies reach for the stars to make space travel available to people. We have robots roaming Mars and sending back pictures. We use the equivalent of communicators every day. So many inventions came from things we needed to reach space.

Now the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is dreaming of mounting laser turrets on fighters starting in 2014. Are the SFU fighters about to take a step in becoming real? Will we resume our travels to space by visiting asteroids? Will we see asteroid mining in our lifetime? Will we find "new lives and new civilizations" or will they find us? Only the future will tell and we'll reach it (barring time machine invention) by living through an exciting time.

What we at ADB, Inc. know is that we'll keep dreaming of new starships for you to fly. May you fly them successfully

Monday, January 28, 2013

This Week at ADB, Inc., 20-26 January 2013

Steve Cole reports:

This was production week, as printers delivered color covers and cards and our own printing plant began to churn out rulebooks and Captain Log #46s. The weather this week was mild. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

Steve Cole worked on production all week. He checked final proofs at printers, quality control inspected arriving printed covers and cards, got the final rulebooks and Captain's Log #46 ready to print, and helped assemble products (even helping out on the shrinkwrap machine one day). He also checked DN stats for ACTASF Fleet Update 2.
Steven Petrick worked on getting his new G5 computer up and running and helped out on production.
Leanna dealt with unusually high mail orders as well as doing invoices for next week's shipments to wholesalers.
Mike worked mostly on new production, but he also kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.
Joel mostly helped with production, but also did website updates, chased pirates, and helped Mike.
Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1,452 friends) and did some marketing.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

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.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself:

1. We all know the story of the battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack and that the Merrimack should be called the Virginia and that while the two ships fought for hours neither one did much damage to the other. There is, however, something not many people know. The Union knew that the Monitor was the only ship able to stop the Virginia from destroying any wooden Yankee ship and breaking the blockade. For them, a tie was as good as a win and a loss would be devastating beyond all calculation. For this reason, the crew of the Monitor was told to use only "medium" charges of gunpower in their two eleven-inch guns. Back in those days, metalwork was not the science it is now, and a charge of gunpowder that would burst one cannon might work just fine a thousand times in an identical cannon. The factory making the cannon would test a few to the point they exploded and then tell the government not to use more than 2/3 of that much gunpowder. In the case of the Monitor, the used only half of the "suicide overload" charge of powder. Even so, the Monitor did crack the Virginia's armor, and (as the legend goes) maybe using the heavier 2/3 charge would have seen cannonballs going through that armor. The Union would not risk it, as the maximum 2/3 charge sometimes (one out of a hundred or so) blew up the cannon, and for a cannon to explode inside the small turret would mean that the ship was out of business and the blockade would have been broken. Something that almost nobody knows is that the Virginia challenged the Monitor to battle on two subsequent occasions. In the first, the Monitor remained docked under the protective guns of a Union fort. In the second, the Monitor ran away when the Virginia showed up. What does that tell us?

2. While he was alive, almost no one referred to Napoleon by that (his first) name. They referred to him by his last name, Bonaparte. Calling him by his first name did not become popular until decades after he died.

3. You've all seen a Swiss Army Knife with everything from scissors to a watermelon de-seeder. Have you seen the new French Army Knife? It has four corkscrews, a comb, a surrender flag, and a cheese knife.

4. Is poverty a problem in America? Of course it is, but poverty in America is not poverty in Bangladesh. The overwhelming majority of American poor have a car, air conditioning, a cable TV. The problem is that a lot of them are poor because of their own bad decisions, such as having multiple illegitimate children, or living a life of crime.

5. There are at least $8 billion of private student loans in default, representing more than 850,000 individual loans. There are $1 trillion in total student loans, more than any other kind of consumer debt, and much of it was spent for worthless degrees (and non-education expenses).

6. Dilbert's boss says he wants more "employee engagement" which means the employees work longer and harder for the same pay while management is happier.

7. William Bligh of the HMS Bounty (the mutiny and all of that) is much maligned in movies as being an incompetent petty tyrant who drove his crew to mutiny. The truth is otherwise. His crew was fairly rotten to begin with, and his discipline was no harsher than any other ship captain. After the mutiny, he managed a very impressive bit of seamanship, taking a few men in an open boat a vast distance to safety. After that, he was promoted several times, commanded a battleship in Nelson's fleet, was once given a unique honor by Admiral Nelson, and retired as a three-star admiral.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Does the Captain Know?

You're so hot ... flying free,
I'm so green that you won't take a chance on a noob like me.
That's something you couldn't see.
There's that look ... in your eyes,
I can read in your face that you want to fly into the wild.
But, Sir, I'm more than a child!

So can I fly with you, Major? Seek a little danger?
Does the Captain know that you've launched?
And I can follow your leader,
Keep up with your speeder.
Does the Captain know that you've launched?

You're the leader (You're the leader)
Better show me speed,
That's no way to lead,
Does the Captain know?
You're the leader (You're the leader)
Try to take it fast.
I won't be the last.
Does the Captain know?

I can see ... what you want,
But you think I'm too young to be flying on that kind of run,
So maybe I'm not the one.
You've got moves, I like your style,
And I know what you think when you give me
    a flash of your smile (smile)
But, sir I'm more than a child!

So can I fly with you, Major? Seek a little danger?
Does the Captain know that you've launched?
And I can follow your leader,
Keep up with your speeder.
Does the Captain know that you've launched?

You're the leader (You're the leader)
Better show me speed,
that's no way to lead.
Does the Captain know?
You're the leader (You're the leader)
Try to take it fast.
I won't be the last.
Does the Captain know?

So I can fly with you, Major? Seek a little danger?
Does the Captain know that we've launched?
And I will follow your leader,
Keep up with your speeder.
Does the Captain know that we've launched?
Apologies to Abba: Does your mother know?

(c) Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

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.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

On Pets and Loss and Choices

Jean Sexton muses:

Over the years many of you have read posts about my various pets. There was K'Ehleyr, my wrinkle-headed boxer. Along came Ralph Dog Sexton who stole my heart and saved me from a person who probably meant me harm. Inside the house lived Sapphire, a blue Burmese cat who had won her championship in Iowa, retired, and who then came to live with me. Each of them brought me joy and companionship. Pets ease stress and dogs offer unconditional love. Cats allow themselves to be served and reward people by purring. My life was enriched.

One of the reasons I have lived where I do in spite of the high crime rate is that it is very difficult to find places to rent which allow two big dogs and one tiny cat. I fully believe that one reason my boxer lived so long (15 years) is that she had a back yard to patrol and it was over half an acre. She made sure people out on the road went from one side to the other of her visual territory. She never did anything at a walk, except when she prancingly walked on her leash. She was so proud of her leash manners that she didn't pull on it at all. But in December, 2011 she pulled her last patrol. She was quite old and had gone grey with only her back coat retaining the redness of her puppy days. I mourned, but realized she'd lived a good, long life.

Ralph Dog Sexton was a fully grown dog when he showed up in my yard. He'd been badly abused at some point and was always afraid of a raised hand or a carried tool. The only time he'd face either of those down was when he thought he needed to stand between me and danger. I started working with him because he would need to learn to come inside if he were going to live with me in Texas. He started out scared of "inside" but came in anyway because I asked him to. He learned to go inside a crate for the same reason. He'd learned that collars wouldn't kill him and we were starting on leashes so that we could go on walks in Amarillo. However, in September, 2012 he lay down so he could watch me come home and fell asleep -- a sleep from which he didn't wake. That hit me very hard because there was absolutely no warning, no time to prepare. But I still had Sapphire who snuggled up to me as if she knew something was wrong and she could purr it away.

Sapphire was a delicate little cat (only five pounds at her heaviest) and was a terrible flirt. She adored men, all men, and would rub her whole body on them and talk to them and beg them to stroke her. I couldn't wait for her to meet the Steves and watch her wrap them around her dainty little paw. I'd found the perfect place to live in Amarillo: an apartment that would take her and me. She'd have windows to watch the world go by and peace and quiet in her domain. When I came back from the trip to Amarillo, she sulked as she always did. Soon I realized that Something Was Not Right, though, and she went off to the vet. She fought her way back from death's door to greet me on Monday and Tuesday as she always did -- head rubs and purring. The doctor proclaimed her to be "a little warrior" and confessed that he didn't think she'd be there on Monday when he came in. However, things went downhill quickly from Tuesday and on Friday I lost my little grey cat. She was 14 and had known love all of her life.

Loss is hard. There's the emptiness where you expect to see something. There's the quiet when you expect to hear a whuffle at the door. There's the pain when out of habit you turn down the pet aisle at the grocery store because you are bound to be out of something, only to realize there isn't anything you need there anymore. Yet to not experience the loss would mean never having a pet, never to love someone or something, never to care enough to have that pain.

I choose love and life and caring. I refuse to be so afraid of loss that I don't have anyone in my life. I will have a pet again once I settle in to the apartment and my new life. I will live my life out there in Amarillo. I will be surrounded by friends and stay in touch with my family. And someday I will either feel the whuffle of a dog or hear the demands of a cat who wants to be fed now, Now, NOW. I will do this, even if it means living through loss yet again. I am strong enough to endure all that life may toss at me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

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/).

Monday, January 21, 2013

This Week at ADB, Inc., 13-19 January 2013

Steve Cole reports:

This was not a good week. The delay in getting the Captain's Log #46 art (which finally arrived Friday night) meant that the covers could not go to press and release of the book was pushed back from 21 to 28 January. The weather this week was cool, maybe not as cold as earlier. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

Steve Cole worked on ship cards and Update #1 for ACTASF, final items for Captain's Log #46, took the covers for Booster Packs 34-35-36 to press and approved the proofs, did the final fixes to Reinforcements Attack, helped Daniel Kast wind up Battleships Armada, and took a running start at fixing the Captain's Log #47 story, which is intriguing.

Steven Petrick worked on SFB Module C6 until his hard disk crashed on Tuesday. (That will take two weeks to get fixed.) He had to do the Captain's Log #46 SSDs over again.

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, finished up the covers for the new products, and helped Mike.

Jean lost her beloved furkid Sapphire and was understandably off duty much of the week. Our page on Facebook is up to 1,442 friends.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

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!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

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.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Star Fleet Marine

Give me a mission, give me a gun, give me a chance to survive.
I'm just a poor grunt in the battle line. My God, I'll probably die.
My mother and father, and all of my friends,
All said goodbye to my face.
I've got the armor, and I've got the gun, I'm not a charity case.
I'll fight those hard fights, impossible odds,
Keeping my back to the wall.
If it costs me my life just to reach for my dream,
Well, I'm proud to be a Star Fleet Marine.

Give me an order that I can't refuse; Give me a fight I can't win.
This is my last time in the battle line, so like it or not, I'll take theŠ
Hard fights, impossible odds, keeping my back to the wall.
If it costs me my life just to reach for my dream,
Well, I'm proud to be a Star Fleet Marine.

Keeping my mind in a better place, while death's a heartbeat away.
Combat can be all I that heard that it was,
I close my eyes and I pray.
I'll fight those hard fights, impossible odds,
Keeping my back to the wall.
If it costs me my life just to reach for my dream,
Well, I'm proud to be a Star Fleet Marine.

I'll fight those hard fights, impossible odds,
Keeping my back to the wall.
If it costs me my life just to reach for my dream,
Well, I'm proud to be a Star Fleet Marine.
Got to be in Star Fleet. Proud to be a Star Fleet Marine

Apologies to Styx ("Blue Collar Man").

(c) by Stephen V. Cole and Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

More on the Computer Apocalypse and Recovery

 Steve Cole writes:

First, I want to say how much I appreciate all of the people emailing suggestions, information, and encouragement over the problem with Steven Petrick's computer's hard drive. It's always good to know how many people really care about the company.
We use G3 and G4 Macs, and PCs. We have an old G1 Mac we use to access some really old files that (I think) have all been converted already. But every now and then we find an old file that hasn't been updated. The oldest Mac is 14 years old, which is not old enough to get a driver's license.

 No, it's not as disastrous as it sounds. It amounts to a delay of a week or two in getting Steven Petrick back where he was. He is already back to work on one of the other Macs and should have rebuilt all 12 of the SSDs for Captain's Log #46 by mid-day Friday. It's mostly just annoying that we have to run around and find backup copies of files that he would (and in two weeks will) have at his fingertips.

Steven Petrick's computer had two hard drives, the primary and one he used to back up files. The primary died, and that cut off access to the backup. The primary drive is on its way to a recovery center that can salvage most of the data, probably. The backup we're not sure about, but it may be ok once we have access to it. So, guys, it doesn't help to make backups that the crash cuts off access to. Jean has mentioned flashdrive backups but those are done only in some key cases, few of which apply here.

We use Mac 9.2.2. because OSX isn't Mac, but Unix, and we hate it. (We had OSX on one machine and it was so bad we paid to have that machine converted to 9.2.2.) I do have OSX on the Mac at home and find it much harder to use which is why I only have limited BBS access from home (and nothing else on that computer works well enough to bother with). Plus, it would cost thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to convert the company to OSX or Windows 7. We'd need all new computers and all new software, and there are no buckets of money sitting around unspent. (I make less money than 90% of you do and work in the lowest paying job I have had since college just because I wouldn't be happy doing any other job.) Any older files we have to get and reuse would require major hoop jumping. 

There is no OSX version of the SSD software and Steven Petrick would have to take a month or two off work to learn a new vector graphic program, and every SSD would have to be done (in four hours) instead of cloned and modified (in 15 minutes). There is no automatic backup system for 9.2.2 that we know of (thanks to the 24 people who told us about Carbonite but we already knew that it doesn't work with Mac 9), although Jean sent us a possible lead on a system that might work (or not), which was the only piece of information anyone sent that we did not already know.

Obviously, one solution is to set up a big server and copy stuff there. The problem is that you have to find one that works with Mac 9.2.2 and that is ... tricky. We're on the trail of a solution, but its far from easy. You could buy a G4 (only available on the used market) and install some big hard disks (which are no longer made for G4s), or use some non-Mac9 server that has lots and lots of fun issues. [We may actually just upload files to a blocked FTP site no one can access. That or email them to a super-dooper-PC as attachments that can be emailed back if needed.] In the meantime, we've added another layer of protection with weekly CDs burned from the hard disks and manually copying key current products to thumbdrives.

Leanna's hard drive that crashed was the one that stored the PDF books so she could print single pages. (The printers have the same books but can only print the entire book, not individual pages. She needs to print individual pages when quality control finds a bad page.) She has reconstructed about 90% of this from e23 and my hard disk. Some SFB stuff remains to be recovered from Petrick's primary disk drive by the people in Dallas.

Leanna knows all about extracting text from PDFs but she also knows that only recovers half of the work in a given product. It doesn't recover the formatting which has to be done over, and it doesn't always copy perfectly, often randomly changing one special Mac character to some non-equivalent PC character, causing file print failures until the offending character is found and fixed. In some cases, it's actually easier and more reliable to retype it from a hard copy, and that is not easy.

It is interesting that the Macs have run for 14 years. (PCs won't last half that long.) We're in new ground that even Apple has never tested. Literally, no one knows what happens when you run a Mac that long. The system software sometimes corrupts when one character in the compiled language is damaged by a cosmic ray or something. It's been interesting. My computer still works but does some "interesting" quirky things I have learned to work around. (When I paste something, I have to click through a dialogue box saying it cannot paste the item, then it goes ahead and pastes it just fine anyway.) I can say that I have done a lot of stuff on the super-dooper-PC I bought earlier this year and, well, I can get about four times as much work done on a 14-year-old Mac. PCs just are still not up to Mac power levels and OSX doesn't have the same productivity because of needless features that are just in the way.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Computer Apocalypse

This is Steven Petrick posting.

The apocalypse has arrived.

My computer died last night, and the computer nerds have just announced that the hard drive is completely trashed and unrecoverable. Nothing on the computer can be recovered. Every Captain's Log file, every Module, every SSD book, the most recent update to the Master Rulebook, all of it gone. All of the various line item reports, on products everything I was currently working on, all of it.

Seems enough of a blog for the day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

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.

Monday, January 14, 2013

This Week at ADB, Inc., 6-12 January 2013

Steve Cole reports:

This was supposed to be a busy week getting stuff ready to ship on Monday, but the artist doing the Captain's Log #46 cover failed to send it, delaying everything. So, that left us trying to find useful things to do. The weather this week was colder. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

Steve Cole worked on ACTASF projects and new Starline 2500 miniature designs; made final fixes to Captain's Log #46; read a story that might work for Captain's Log #47 (assuming we change, well, everything in it); asked for quotes on cover printing; updated the rules to Line of Battle; did Federation ship card ePack #2 and sent it to Jean; and got Communique and Hailing Frequencies out.
Steven Petrick worked on SFB 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 including an online index for Communique, created demotivational cards, chased pirates, and helped Mike. He sent Hailing Frequencies and Communique and made some corrections to the Wall of Honor.
Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1,439 friends), proofread Hailing Frequencies, and did some marketing.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Steve Cole discusses the TV shows he watches: The last time I did this, people said I watch too much TV. Maybe so, although given the fact that some of these shows are short-run and others are on only sporadically, and some of them are the ones I watch to fall asleep and never finish, and I watch some while I exercise, it's not so bad as that.

NETWORK TYPE-A TELEVISION: This season has been, well, disappointing, with most of the new offerings pleasantly boring and many old favorites dropping into that category. I won't mention several shows I tried and dropped.

AMAZING RACE: I gotta admit that I sometimes fast forward through challenges and just see who got kicked off. Then again, I frankly don't care and probably wouldn't watch it except to get to the part of the recording that has Good Wife. (Because the football games often make this show late, we set it to run longer.)

ARROW: I hate "dark" shows but this one is actually pretty good, even if the combat scenes are just silly.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: I could do without the military conspiracy to create super soldiers plotline, but love the two lead actors and their respective sidekicks.

BECKETT: The best TV cop show of all time, if only they'd get rid of that annoying mystery writer and let Kate do her job.

BLUEBLOODS: Consistently good writing makes even the family drama stuff interesting.

BONES: Will she just get over herself, realize she has fallen in love, and marry Booth?

CSI: NY, VEGAS: These have fallen into the pleasantly boring category. I probably would not watch at all except for the cute blonde whose dad is becoming sheriff of Vegas.

ELEMENTARY: This modern spin on Sherlock Holmes is delightful and probably the best new show of the season.

GOOD WIFE: Good writing makes it watchable. She needs to go back to her husband and be nice to mom-in-law.

GREY'S ANATOMY: Once a major favorite, now little more than a soap opera with too much sex, I watch it as soon as it shows up because it's as comfortable as a pair of well worn shoes. It has unfortunately been fairly insulting to Christianity and shoves too much social commentary down my throat.

GRIMM: One of the two or three best shows on TV.

HAWAII FIVE OH: Overall disappointing. And everybody knows that McGarrett and Wo Fat are half-brothers, right?

LAST RESORT: How is it possible to do a submarine show when the writers have no clue how a submarine works? The background is so inane that it's easy to see why this nonsense was cancelled.

MENTALIST: Patrick Jane is just annoying but I watch it for Lisbon and to see if the two junior agents hook up again.

MOB DOCTOR: I loved this show when it came on but somehow I lost the will to watch the four episodes stored on TiVo.

NASHVILLE: Not a fan of country music, but the show is at least pleasantly boring and sometimes better. It is, however, somewhat more of a soap opera than I prefer.

NCIS: This is the top rated show of the year but frankly until DiNozzo asks Ziva to marry him I will find it boring.

ONCE UPON A TIME: One of the most cleverly written shows on television. It is a delight to watch.

REVENGE: Season one was interesting but season two with it's off-the-deep-end conspiracy theory sits unwatched in a folder on my TiVo.

REVOLUTION: I love post-apocalyptic shows but really, this one is so off-the-deep-end that six episodes sit unwatched in a TiVo folder.

RIZZOLI & ISLES: I love the two actresses and the cranky sergeant and this clever show goes to the top of the watch-now list whenever it shows up on my "now playing" screen.

SCANDAL: I cannot stop watching this clever show even if the insane plot about Republican vote-rigging is insulting to my intelligence.

SPECIAL VICTIMS: I'd watch Mariska read a phone book, but the constant political propaganda has worn thin.

MALE SOAP OPERAS: I love these, being an engineer.

AX MEN: It's back but could they not have gotten rid of Shelby and those idiots from S&S Aqua Logging? What happened to the guys from mule logging and helicopter logging? They were fun.
DEADLIEST CATCH: Won't be back for months but I have seen so many that it's becoming boring.

GOLDRUSH ALASKA: The Hoffmans seem to have gained some experience and learned how to do it.

HOW THE STATES GOT THEIR SHAPES: The first season was actually about the title but the second season is about all kinds of other stuff and just isn't as interesting.

ICE ROAD TRUCKERS: Won't be back for months, and if they don't get girls back in the driver's seat I won't watch it any more. Last season was boring for just that reason.

JUNGLE GOLD: Even I can see why their wash plant isn't recovering any gold. It's all set up wrong, and has no riffles in the sluice box. They got flim-flammed by Chris, who made money billing them to mine ground he knew was worthless.

BUSINESS SHOWS: If you own a business and are not watching these, you're doing yourself a disservice. The ones I follow include Bar Rescue, Hotel Hell, Hotel Impossible, Kitchen Nightmares, Restaurant Impossible, Restaurant Stakeout, Shark Tank, and Tabitha Takes Over. Not exactly business shows, but Princess, Holmes Inspection, Holmes on Homes, and 'Til Debt Do Us Part are also favorites, being shows from Canada. Project Runway, Sister Wives, and The Will: Family Secrets Revealed, are what I call "sort-of-business" shows.

CABLE SHOWS: I catch these now and then for pleasantly boring nighttime fall-asleep fare.

AMISH MAFIA: This show is a total hoot. Who knew those Amish were such fun?

COVERT AFFAIRS: A silly romp but fun to watch.

BURN NOTICE: I really don't know why we need these conflicting double plots every episode (where one is him trying to get back into the CIA and the other is his private detective company) but whatever. I watch it for the Irish girl.

HAVEN: While I'm not a fan of Stephen King but I really do love this show and wish she'd get with Nathan and live happily ever after.

LEVERAGE: A very clever show with good people.

NIKITA: I like Maggie Q and the new plotline, but for some reason I just never watched the eight episodes stored on TiVo.

PSYCH: The original and better version of the Mentalist, but I have something over 40 unwatched episodes on TiVo, but I love the show and am watching them slowly over time.

REDEYE: About the only news show I watch any more. Gives me all of the day's news and makes it funny.

WALKING DEAD: Despite the bad writing and plots full of holes, I do watch this every week as soon as it shows up, if only to make fun of their silly combat tactics.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Exploring Excellent E-Books

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.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ship Breaker

This war is like a tidal wave, spinning out of control.
Caught us out of position, all alone on patrol.
You're the right kind of captain, to release my inner warrior beast.
The invincible winner, and you know what you were born to be.
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
They don't mess around with you!
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
You don't mess around - NO NO NO!

Mistakes have set your ship on fire, burnin' out of control.
You made a reckless attack, now its takin' its toll.
You're the right kind of captain, to release my inner warrior beast.
The invincible winner, and you know what you were born to be.
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
They don't mess around with you!
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
You don't mess around - NO NO NO!

You're the right kind of captain, to release my inner warrior beast.
The invincible winner, and you know what you were born to be.
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
They don't mess around with you!
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
They don't mess around with you!
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
They don't mess around with you!
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
You don't mess around - NO NO NO!
Apologies to Pat Benatar (Heartbreaker).

(c) by Stephen V. Cole and ADB, Inc.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


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:

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

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.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Once and Future Captain's Log

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Captain's Log #46 is wrapping up, and SVC and I are looking at things to get started for the next issue.

The various papers and notes look like they are going to be a problem.

Few Command Notes have ever been submitted, and not many remain in the graded pool.

Term Papers largely dried up a while ago, and most of those in the graded pool are by one author.

Tactical Notes are increasingly dominated by just a few authors.

Conquest Notes and Call Out Notes have a similar problem.

Assault Notes are few and far between.

Without fresh submissions I am not sure we will have enough of these to publish. So I need all of you to consider your playing and determine if you have a tactic worth submitting. You cannot get published if you do not submit a paper (but at least it is not "publish or perish"). The topics are on the board for you to make your submissions.

SVC and I have discussed the concept for "battle groups" this time around, and we may get those topics set up soon, surely no later than the end of the month.

We do already know what the Monster Article will be. I doubt I will have as much fun with it as I did with this last one (which I hope you will all enjoy and get something of a kick out of).

I am hoping that once I get past Module C6 some ideas for additional articles to write for Captain's Log will occur to me.

As always, we need fiction, and if you can write you might send something in. Maybe we will pick it, maybe we will use it in the next Captain's Log if not the forthcoming one.

We are hoping to have a "Victory At" article in the next Captain's Log. And of course we are already starting our Origins planning.

Monday, January 07, 2013

This Week at ADB, Inc., 30 December 2012 - 5 January 2013

Steve Cole reports:

This was a busy week as Jean whipped the Steves into a frenzy to remove every typo from Captain's Log #46. The weather this week was cold. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day. Jean left to return to North Carolina on Friday, leaving the Steves in a state of mental and physical collapse.

New on e23 this week was Stellar Shadows #1.

Steve Cole worked mostly on Captain's Log #46 but found time to finish up the Reinforcements Attack rulebook and Communique #85, the first issue of the new format. Sunday night, Steve was driving the ladies to dinner when his car struck a previously deceased deer, causing serious damage to the car but no injuries to the passengers.

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

Leanna did the year-end accounting and royalties.

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

Joel returned from Christmas break, did website updates, chased pirates, created demotivationals, did the cover for Captain's Log #46 (over and over until Jean was happy with it) and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1,429 friends), proofread Captain's Log #46 and Communique #85, and did some marketing.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

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.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Scenario Bounced by Timeline

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I have said this before, but I am going to take this opportunity to say it again.

When you write a new scenario, always have someone else read it before you actually submit it.

One of the constant stumbling blocks is things that are missing or simply wrong.

For example, we had a scenario submitted for Captain's Log. Everything was hunky dory, until a check revealed that the key ship in the scenario was unique, as in only one such ship was ever built, and that one unique ship had been destroyed a decade before the year the scenario was set.

At that point the scenario was beyond salvage. We could not revise the year, to say the same year the unique ship was destroyed, because doing so made the background for the scenario impossible (not to mention playing hob with the selected drone speeds). The background absolutely required the incident to occur during the General War, as that is the only way all of the particular empires participating in the scenario could be present in the location where the scenario was taking place. We could not change the background because if there was not a war going on, the mission made absolutely no sense. Replacing the unique ship with the next nearest equivalent so severely unbalanced the scenario as to make it unplayable.

The result ultimately is that (after briefly reviewing the idea of making the scenario an "Olivette Roche Presentation") had to be bounced from the issue. The only way to make it playable is to completely revise the order of battle, and there was not time to do that.

Friday, January 04, 2013

A Galaxy of Song, pt. 3

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

Andromedan: "Jump!"
Lyran: "Eye of the Tiger," bagpipe music, "Stray Cat Strut."
WYN: "We Are Family."
ISC: "I Love You, You Love Me, We're a Happy Family."
LDR: "Born Free," any bagpipe music.

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, January 03, 2013

Through a Glass, Glowingly: A Vision of 2013 at ADB, Inc.

Steve Cole reports: I can say that I have never been this excited about a new year. We're going to do some great things in 2013, taking the company to a new level. It won't happen overnight, and it won't be easy, and I'm going to guess right now that it won't happen on schedule, but we're going to make it happen.

January will see a mega-release day of new products that were delayed from last year by die-cutting issues. These include Captain's Log #46; Federation Commander Reinforcements Attack; Boosters #34, #35, and #36; and the two versions of Starmada Battleships Armada.

February will see the second module for Star Fleet Marines. This one is Last Stand and will include scenarios inspired by history, including the Alamo, Dien Bien Phu, and the Hornet's Nest.

March will see the next Star Fleet Battles entry, Module C6 Lost Empires. This will be an alternative history module with the General War version of the Carnivons and Paravians.

We expect to complete the core rulebook for Traveller: Prime Directive during the first months of this year, but getting artists to do deck plans for 12 entire ships has proven to take longer than expected. After that, it should be relatively easy to release the three empire books. After that, our RPG line will expand further, although we haven't decided yet if we want to do a new empire book (perhaps Orion Pirates or Feline Empires) or a new game system.

April and May will see a major change in the company. Steven Petrick and I will get Captain's Log #47 mostly ready, then rent a truck and go to North Carolina to bring Jean and all of her stuff to Texas. She will be in the office full time by early May, and Captain's Log #47 will be released shortly after that.

There are some other projects that have waited too long that need to happen this year, including Star Fleet Battle Force expansions, Federation Admiral, and the Federation Commander tactics and scenario books.

June will see us return to Origins, now that it is at a reasonable date (12-16 June), at least for this year. Next year it bounces back to May and we may give Gencon a try.

As for Origins releases, I'm not ready to unveil them, but anybody could look at our product lines and figure out the next product (or two or three choices for it) for each line. I can say with confidence that we won't be going to Origins empty handed.

The second half of the year will see us take the company in a direction I never thought we'd be able to even dream about: boxed games with toys and only a few pages of rules. Projects here include Battlestations, Tribbles vs. Klingons, and Merchants of the Federation. This will involve two things we've never done (Kickstarter and overseas production) and I'm not at all clear on how either one of those is going to work. Stick around and we'll all find out together.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

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 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 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 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, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year Wishes

We want to pause to wish each of you in the SFU family a happy new year. May it bring you happiness, prosperity, good times spent with family and friends, and great gaming.

Work is continuing on Captain's Log #46. It promises to be great fun and full of information for all our games.