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.
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 for Prime Directive PD20
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 online game system (for SFB
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 retired 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.
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.
have other staffers and volunteers who do specific things (and
sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including John Berg,
Howard Bampton, and Mike Incavo (Galactic Conquest
Kast (Klingon Armada
); and John Sickels, Tony Thomas, James Goodrich, Mike West, James Kerr, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive
Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each
one of them. Sometimes our volunteers become part of our staff; Jean
Sexton started out as a volunteer proofreader.
to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month,
by email or BBS or Forum or our page on Facebook, 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.
RANDOM THOUGHTS #172
Steve Cole's designs for Klingon
1. Why are we doing
transporter testing on animals when we have plenty of prisoners of
2. Did I offend you? Well,
fine, I'll just kill you. I don't have time to deal with you being
3. I have finally learned that I
cannot please everybody, but it's fairly easy to burn entire planets
to the ground.
4. Don't thank me for being so nice
to you. It's just an act while my Marines get behind you.
5. Nothing is worse than that moment when
you realize that the Klingon you're arguing with is carrying a
6. I don't need for you to
find the good in the Klingon soul. I just need you to sign the @#$%
7. So you think I'm in a
blind rage? Wrong. I know exactly what I'm doing to you and exactly
how much it hurts you. The blind rage is just an act to scare you into
8. Diplomacy is
the art of saying "Nice Kzinti" while the crew loads the
9. Some of my crew try very hard to be my best
friend. Fools! They need to make friends with the agonizer booth
10. It is better to fight and
lose than live your life as a coward.
On Being a Stranger in a Strange Land, Happiness, and Thankfulness
Jean Sexton muses:
By now it is oldish news that I moved from my native North Carolina to Texas. I've now been in Texas for over half a year and there are times I feel as though I am a stranger in a strange land. I heard this ringing noise when I was walking to my apartment the other day and saw a person wearing spurs. Spurs! On a Real Person! Not an actor or someone in a rodeo! Tumbleweeds still elicit a "Tumbleweed! There! Rolling!" response from me. And snow in November? It turns out this is normal! And while I love the big blue sky in Texas, I am keenly aware that it is different from the tall trees that abounded in North Carolina. I have to remember to order "sweet tea" here in an area where "tea" defaults to unsweetened tea, either hot or cold. And part of me still considers it heathenish what they call barbecue -- cow covered with a sweet, red sauce. Where is my pork with its light seasoning of vinegar and herbs?
And yet, I am happy, as happy as I have been in a long time. I have my own spaces (well, shared with Markie Dog Sexton) at work and at home and I'm decorating them as I want. My mother and I chat whenever we want, so doesn't seem we're far apart. I live so very close to work and to lots of stores. I'm able to work at "fun stuff" most of the time. I think I am making a difference to ADB and for our customers and that makes me happy, too.
All this month I've been thinking of things for which I am thankful. I am thankful for things such as good health and good fortune. I am thankful for my family who supported me in my move miles away from all that I knew to do a job they don't quite understand -- facilitating gaming and RPGing. I am thankful for friends who were there in person to help me move and who have supported me here. I am just as thankful for the community of friends that are out there, just an electronic whisper away, who are there when I need a laugh or some support or just a friendly hello. I am thankful for the people I work with who made it possible for me to be here and to bring Markie to work with me.
I am also thankful to you, our customers. Without your support ADB wouldn't be here and I wouldn't have the life I now lead. It is a modest life, but that is all I really want or need.
We hope that all of our American friends have time today to spend with family and friends. We give our heartfelt thanks for those who are working today to keep us safe and healthy. (For our friends elsewhere, thank you for indulging us in our time off today.) May you have much to give thanks for in the coming year.
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:
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.
Conspiracies Come, and Sadly, They Rarely Go
This is Steven Petrick posting.
There are a lot of conspiracy theories out there. This does not mean that some conspiracies were not real. (John Wilkes Booth had a band of fellow conspirators and intended what we would now call a "decapitation operation" against the Union government, but in the end only he succeeded in killing his target.) There is little doubt that there are a lot of "little conspiracies" going on even now, driven by the internet that allows so many like minded people to find each other.
One of the things that makes so many conspiracy theories seem somewhat plausible is a general ignorance of things outside of our own fields of interest.
One item that keeps coming up about the Kennedy Assassination is that "the records were sealed for 75 years." Obviously the government had something to hide in this one specific case.
Problem is, prior to about 1966 it was standard procedure to seal the records of any given government investigation for 75 years. It would have been unusual if the records had not been sealed. (And, by the way, most of the Kennedy assassination records have already been released to the public because so many people were clamoring that their being sealed must mean there was a conspiracy with the result that an act of Congress was passed to release them prematurely.)
Other things are to impute impossibility to the possible. In Oswald's case, he was a trained rifleman, and "JFK" to the contrary he was a competent shooter when he was in the Marines. He did not score "Maggie's drawers." And could a bolt action rifle be fired accurately in the time stipulated from the Zapruder film? Actually, yes. Because one of the key aspects is that the rifle was being fired at a receding target moving in a straight line. The shooter did not have to search for a dodging target, nor wait for the target to appear from behind cover between shots.
Once you do these things (find like minded people, impute the possible is impossible, and work on ignorance . . . this latter for example is that most people do not know how fast a bolt action rifle can be fired in the conditions under which Oswald was operating), you then simply start smearing your favorite villain of choice.
In John Wilkes Booth's case, there are some who still insist that members of Lincoln's own administration were in on the plot to kill him, and this explains how Booth was able to kill Lincoln.
So we live our lives surrounded by conspiracy theories. Big Oil, the Gnomes of Zurich, FDR knew about Pearl Harbor beforehand, Roswell/Area 51, the invasion of Somalia was to get the Somali oil, 9/11/01 was an "inside job." Most of them are put forward by people simply because they have their own agenda and railing against a larger conspiracy against them or their cause helps draw the ignorant in to support them.
Am I immune to all of this? No, not even myself. Even I can craft possible conspiracies behind some actions and activities. And I am certainly quite capable of "spinning a web of tissue" to link things together that can appear plausible. But what makes most conspiracies appear plausible to those not already part of them is a lack of knowledge about how things really work.
Like the records of Federal Investigations being sealed for 75 years is a government statute that long predated the findings of Warren Commission, and was not created to conceal the findings of that commission, but was simply the way things were done at that time.
This Week at ADB, Inc., 17-23 November 2013
Steve Cole reports:
This was a busy week as we had to shuffle the work schedule to
delay Captain's Log #48 to January. Jean kicked into high gear on Traveller Prime Directive. The
weather this week was increasingly cold, and it started snowing on
Saturday afternoon. The spam storm mostly remained at something under
200 per day. We had a company dinner at Dyer's BBQ and we all met
Simone's boyfriend Andy.
New on e23 this week: Battlewagon Article #2: The Battle of San Bernadino Straits - A Battlewagon Scenario.
New on DriveThru RPG this week: Battlewagon Article #2: The Battle of San Bernadino Straits - A Battlewagon Scenario and Star Fleet Battles Pocket Edition.
New on Wargame Vault this week: Battlewagon Article #2: The Battle of San Bernadino Straits - A Battlewagon Scenario and Star Fleet Battles Pocket Edition.
Steve Cole worked on
various projects, including stuff for Captain's Log #48 and the restart of the Starline 2500
product line. He also kept an eye on Jean's work on Traveller Prime Directive and
Tony's work on ACTASF-1.2.
Petrick worked on Captain's Log #48 and future SFB productions.
Leanna kept orders and accounting up to
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates and some
Jean worked on Traveller Prime Directive, managed our page
on Facebook (which is up to 1,847 friends), managed our Twitter feed
(74 followers), uploaded stuff to the PDF sites, commanded the
Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed
the blog feed, dealt with public relations from the
change in the Mongoose deal, took care of customers, and did some
Join us on Facebook and Twitter
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.
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
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've also added a Twitter feed which you can follow at https://twitter.com/ADBInc_Amarillo.
Be sure to follow us for a quick look at what is going on!
We hope to see you there! For Facebook users, be sure to add us to an interest group to see all of our posts.
RANDOM THOUGHTS #170
Steve Cole's thoughts on military
1. There is endless
debate over who was the greatest general in all of (Earth) history. I
have long ago settled on Genghis Khan. He was a national leader (which
lets out the likes of Patton, Montgomery, Lee, and Grant) who
conquered a vast empire (only Alexander the Great comes close).
Genghis made more military innovations than Alexander (who made none
other than lengthening the spears his father had issued) and the
empire of Genghis survived centuries after his death while
Alexander's crumbled within months.
2. Who was the greatest general of
the Civil War? Well, Grant is a strong candidate. While he was a
bloody butcher who just hammered the rebels, but he did display some
brilliant leadership at Vicksburg and some dogged defensiveness at
Nashville. Mostly what he did was fail to read the memo previous Union
generals read, the one that said "When Lee whips you, you're
supposed to go home for a few months." Lee is a sentimental
favorite and master of defensive warfare, but his ability to maneuver
died with Stonewall and his only two offensive operations failed.
Sherman has to be considered in that he conducted bold operations over
long distances, and fought more than a few major battles to victorious
conclusions, and I'd almost consider him over Grant. Thomas is one
almost no one remembers, but he may have been the best of the lot.
3. Sad to say it since I am an American soldier, but
the US Army has never really understood squad tactics, and gets by
with massive artillery and air support. I mean, we went into World War
I with that moronic chautchaut thing as our squad machinegun, and into
World War II with the very nice B.A.R, but neither of them was what we
needed and everyone else had: an actual squad machinegun like the Bren
or MG34. Look at the squads of other armies, and you find a machinegun
in every group of ten soldiers. The machinegun does the killing while
the riflemen just carry ammo, keep enemy soldiers out of hand grenade
range, and occasionally take over the enemy foxholes.
4. The Marine Corps "island
hopping" campaign of World War II deserves a serious look by
someone who examines the question: Why didn't they just bombard the
island the Japanese were on and invade the empty island next door?
That's how the Army did it. (Once they took the empty place, the
built an airbase and cut off supplies to the Japanese island they
5. I read something interesting the other
day. The US Army (during WWII) took pictures of every damaged B17 and
B24 that came home. They mapped out every bullet hole or flak fragment
hole in them onto a single model of each aircraft. Certain areas stood
out as devoid of any damage, which meant that any aircraft damaged in
that spot crashed. These spots were then given some armor plating.
6. The British have long claimed that the
debacle on Omaha Beach was because the US did not use British special
engineer tanks for obstacle breaching. There are conflicting sources
on this, some saying that the US tried to get these special tanks but
the British factories could only make enough for the British beaches,
others agreeing that the US didn't really think they needed the
special tanks. A careful analysis of the battles on Omaha Beach do
make it clear that the special engineer tanks would have added little
to the chaos that happened there. The problems were multiple. The
naval barrage did far less damage than anyone expected (on every
beach). The aerial bombardment was wasted because bad weather meant
planes had to drop bombs blind, and they were told to avoid hitting US
troops and so ended up hitting nothing. Nobody (British or American)
noticed that the German 352nd Infantry Division had taken over the
sector three months earlier, meaning that the defenses were much
stronger. The four "draws" that allowed access from the
beach to the top of the cliff were all blocked by unexpectedly strong
fortifications. The precise schedule of the landings meant that
useless anti-aircraft and other units were sent into a beach that was
expected to be clear of Germans, but in fact was not.
Swish, smack! Whip crack!
Smash, Maul! Pinch, nab!
You go, my lad!
Ho, ho! my lad!
The black crack! the back crack!
The black crack! the back crack!
Down down to Andro-town
Down down to Andro-town
Down down to Andro-town
You go, my lad!
Ho, ho! my lad!
Andros quaff, and Andros beat
Andros laugh, and Andros bleat
Batter, jabber, maul, and taver hoooooo!
Below, my lad!
Ho, ho! my lad!
The black crack! the back crack!
The black crack! the back crack!
Down down to Andro-town
Down down to Andro-town
Down down to Andro-town
You go, my lad!
Ho, ho! my lad!
by Mike Curtis
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.
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.
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
For more information about playing long distance, drop in on the Forum (http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2
) or BBS (http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/
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.
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!
The Driver Said "Uh Oh"
This is Steven Petrick posting.
On our recent trip I did most of the driving, which is fine as I like to drive and considered doing so much of the vacation for me.
As we were heading back out of Colorado, the road we were on was a dual divided highway and pretty much an interstate. Except that some of the small towns it passed through had actually erected stop lights. While the speed was posted at 75 MPH for most of the route, it would slow when you passed through (in some cases, beside as the town was entirely on one side of the roadway) these towns.
At one point in the drive SVC heard me say "uh oh." I did not say anything else after that, but SVC eventually concluded that I had said it because something was wrong. I did not get much more animated about things, and we simply kept driving.
The problem was that I had moved my left leg. How was this a problem? In this particular case, somehow the floor mat had adhered to the bottom of my boot, and moving my boot resulted in the floor mat coming up and curling around over the brake pedal. The "uh oh" was caused by the realization that I now had no brakes, the foot/parking/emergency brake being on the floor adjacent to the brake pedal, and thus also blocked by the mat. Having already gone the other direction on this road, I was aware that somewhere ahead was one of those towns I mentioned with a traffic light.
I did not want to upset the other occupants of the vehicle. This only because if I told them what was going on, there was nothing they could do about it. They were already all buckled up if something else went wrong, and even if they got unbuckled to move about the cabin, none of them could have reached down where my legs were to try to clear the problem. If one of them could have done something to clear the obstruction sooner, I certainly would have asked, but that was simply not possible.
I could drop out of cruise control and shift into neutral and drift to a stop, but there was other traffic.
So, having identified the problem, I continued driving (even though Jean, at least, was wondering what was going on because she had heard the "uh oh," and SVC was doing his best to disabuse her of any concept that there was any real problem). As I did so, my feet were desperately working on trying to get the floor mat out of the way.
We continued this way for perhaps a minute, although to me it seemed a much, much longer interval, as in about five or so minutes. I doubt we even covered an entire mile during the interval (even if we were going 75 miles an hour and thus were covering more than a mile in less than a minute). Finally the mat laid back down in its proper place, and I concealed a sigh of relief.
Things might have happened. A vehicle in front of us hitting its own brakes for some reason or other. Absolute disaster was possible. In the end, the driver had a few seconds of "excitement," but nothing happened and most of those present were simply left with a mystery of why the driver said "uh oh."
This Week at ADB, Inc., 10-16 November 2013
Steve Cole reports:
This was the week that our contract with Mongoose was modified
and we took effective control over ACTASF, the Starline 2500s, and Traveller
Prime Directive. The weather this week was mild. The spam storm mostly remained at
something under 200 per day.
Steve Cole worked on the
transitions for the 2500s and ACTASF, ordered the first new 2400s, did
color images for SFBOL third generation conversions, and did some work
on Captain's Log #48. He posted the first photos of a metal Kzinti 2500 DN and
declared to the media that: "I AM Plasma Man!"
SFBOL now fully supports the 3rd generation SSDs and
the first few of them have gone live.
Ramses, convinced he is a mountain lion, charged a
Labrador and a shepherd dog. The dogs, convinced that he was a
mountain lion (or maybe just insane) ran away.
Petrick worked on Captain's Log #48.
Leanna kept orders and
accounting up to date.
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates, got all of the
Federation Commander ship cards put on the shopping cart, and some graphics.
Jean got Battlewagon stuff ready to upload
to PDF sellers, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1,840
friends), managed our Twitter feed (73 followers), commanded the
Rangers, managed the blog feed, proofread various things, dealt with
waves of fake people entering the BBS and trying to post spam, took
care of customers, and did some marketing.
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).
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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 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
Want to introduce a friend to the Star Fleet Universe? Try the free download of Introduction to the Star Fleet Universe: Prime Directive and Roleplaying
found here: http://e23.sjgames.com/item.html?id=ADB8000
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
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.
Thoughts on the Fralli
Jean Sexton writes:
I don't know why the Fralli are always getting picked on. They may not be the handsomest beings by Human standards, but they have some very good strengths, not the least of which is being able to power their own equipment. Still, here is some recent commentary on the Fralli from the BBS.
Fralli on starship crews are always the first pick for away teams.
First, nobody cares if you lose them or "accidentally" leave them behind.
Second, few planetary predators will eat a Fralli.
Didn't the first war with the Klingons happen because the first Federation Away team the Klingons met was an all Fralli team?
"I have the Fralli commander on line now, Sir."
"Very well. On screen."
"Fralli commander.... whoa... off screen! Off screen!" ***gak***
"Sir, they're hailing us again."
***gag*** "Don't touch that panel, Lieutenant. Raise shields, arm phasers!... OK, Lieutenant, AUDIO ONLY."
"Yes, sir. Channel open."
"Fralli commander. Look, we're just gonna leave. DON'T follow us!"
Thanks to Steve Cole, Patrick Dillman, Loren Knight, and Steven Petrick for those Fralli moments ...
RANDOM THOUGHTS #169
Steve Cole comments on his recent
We were at a loss what to do on "Raton Day." There
wasn't much in Raton. We drove down the historical district (5
minutes) and did the KT thing (30 minutes). We were actually thinking
of going back to the hotel to spend the afternoon playing a game that
we had brought along. We decided to take an hour and run over Raton
Pass into Colorado because Jean had never been there. We stopped a the
State tourist office and a nice lady told us about another one of
those secret sightseeing trails past lakes, forests, old mines, and
interesting geology. That took a couple of hours and filled the
afternoon quite nicely.
For years, I have driven to
the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary every October to be "Chef Steve"
and prepare the wolf buffet for their fundraiser. Every year, I have
practically begged Leanna to "take a few extra days and take a
side trip and see something" before going home. Every year, she
said "no" because she was tired and wanted to go home. It
got to the point that I couldn't even remember what one was supposed
to do on a vacation. (We considered going to Branson but could not
find any shows we both wanted to see.)
Jean wanted to go along and wanted the side trips. Maybe that's what
convinced Leanna to take the extra time (and maybe that's what
convinced Steven Petrick to tag along and do most of the driving) or
maybe Leanna just wanted a decent vacation. We haven't had one since
2007 (when we went to Vegas to get married again to celebrate our 30th
anniversary) but even that trip was a disaster as we got very sick and
limped home driving a few hours a day before crashing in a hotel. We
went to England a few years ago but that was partly a business trip
(although Stonehenge and London were well worth seeing).
I did most of the planning in a general sense (the
route) which began with the wolf thing and ended in Raton (both things
I wanted to do). I let Jean and Leanna pick any stops along the route
they wanted. They decided to stop and see the little dinosaur museum
in Tucumcari on the first day, and I was quite okay with that. On the
morning after the wolves, I ran Jean the 15 miles west to the Arizona
border so she could see another state she had never visited. She came
away disappointed that we didn't take a few hours to see more.
Meteor Crater was within range, but not if we planned to see
Albuquerque that afternoon.
I had allocated an entire day for
Albuquerque but the ladies checked the tourist books and found nothing
there they wanted to see, so we went to Los Alamos instead to see the
(fascinating) nuclear museum. We didn't have enough time there
before they closed and plan to see it again on a future trip.
We had plans for the day in
Santa Fe that collapsed when the museum we wanted to see was not open.
Instead, Steven Petrick stayed in the hotel to read while I went with
the ladies to take a tram tour of the city, and walked over to see the
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi and the miracle staircase at the
We saw the museum the
next day and then took the scenic drive north along the Rio Grande Gorge to Taos, then around the Enchanted Circle to Red River and
Eagle's Nest, then through Cimmaron Canyon (where I spent most of my
summers as a boy) and on to Raton. I should mention that we stopped at
a national park office in the Rio Grande Gorge (just to use the
bathroom) and the nice lady told us about a secret road through the
deepest part of the gorge that led us to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge near Taos (a miracle of
engineering I wanted to see again). Getting advice on secret scenic
routes was something I have never done before, and it added a note of
spontaneity to the trip (and saw some great scenery we'd have never
known was there.) The trip through Cimmaron Canyon was somewhat
upsetting as big parts of the canyon were full of junky human
habitation that was not there the last time I was (decades ago).
On the way to Raton we saw a herd of well
over 200 buffalo (also known as American Bison) but nobody had a
camera out and (being the end of a long day of driving) it never
occurred to anyone to stop the car, turn around, and drive one mile
back to get a photo.
The next day we met one of my
lifetime goals and drove to a spot where a few feet up a hillside you
can touch the KT Boundary, the iridium layer from the time the
dinosaurs died. (Creationists think this layer is the clay from
Noah's Flood, which is when they agree that dinosaurs died.) It was a
hands and knees operation to get past the boulders and the only way to
actually touch the boundary layer was to lay down on the hillside
(which was too unstable to allow anyone to simply walk up there and
crouch down). Photos show me on my belly while Steven Petrick stands
beside me, but even he admitted that he could not have reached down to
touch the boundary without the unstable hillside coming out from under
On the last day we stopped on the drive home to
see Capulin Volcano, a perfect cinder cone you can drive to the top
of. There is a paved trail around the rim, but it's pretty steep and
has no handrails. The intrepid Steven Petrick completed the circuit but
none of the rest of us felt like trying it. (Given my weak leg that
has never healed, it was pretty much not going to happen for me.)
One aspect of the trip that was
interesting was "adventure dining." Now, going out to lunch
is a big frakking deal for me because I like food, but my idea of fine
dining is pretty low-key (e.g., Wendy's). When Leanna and I travel,
we rarely consider a local restaurant, preferring chains because of my
food allergy problems. Jean, on the other hand, considers it a lousy
vacation if she doesn't eat at places they don't have at home
(i.e., no chains). This had mixed results, and we all had some good
meals and some bad meals and chain vs. local really had no
correlation. I had bad and good meals from chains and good and bad
meals from locals. I have long since learned to include some
substantial food in the snack cooler just in case I have to skip a
meal at a restaurant.
"recreation" literally means "re-creating yourself"
by clearing your head, resting, refreshing your spirit, and getting
rid of some of the stress of ordinary living. The trip was a
considerable success on every front, and we're already discussing
plans for a future trip together.
PRESS RELEASE -- 13 November 2013
ADB, Inc. and Mongoose Publishing have
signed a contract modification which ensures that the three
joint-venture product lines (A Call to Arms Star Fleet, Starline 2500, and Traveller Prime Directive) will
continue and grow. This does not end the joint venture; it simply
realigns the responsibilities to better match each company's core
competencies to the best advantage. The two companies remain great
We will ask you to be patient a
little longer regarding elements of the new production plan. We could
not begin to work out the details on some items until the contract
modification was signed. (You're welcome to send your questions
which will be answered in future press releases as we resolve each of
ADB will assume primary design
responsibility for A Call to Arms Star Fleet including the revisions
to Book One and the entirely new future Books Two and Three. (Tony
L. Thomas will manage the designs as developer; Matthew Sprange remains
the designer of record.) ADB plans to sell these as both PDFs and
print-on-demand books. The revisions to Book One will include
adjusting the relative power of some weapons at various ranges,
revising damage scores for some ships, creating a new way to handle
seeking weapons, extending the range for transporters, changing
compulsory movement, altering some special actions so they no longer
preclude some other special actions, removing most of the crew quality
checks, clarifying any confusing rules, and adding unobtrusive
cross-indexes without resorting to formal rule numbers. ADB is
committed to maintaining the existing ACTASF game system and improving
it. ADB will be the only source for the purchase of new ACTASF books
and PDFs. Mongoose will retain ownership and control of non-SFU
versions of ACTA.
The Starline 2500 range will continue and expand.
Mongoose will remain the primary designer of new ship models, but ADB
will be responsible for production, marketing, sales, and quality
control. ADB is committed to keeping the 2500s in production as long
as someone buys them, and to adding new 2500s as long as enough
players buy new ships. The stands will be changed and most resin ships
will be replaced by metal ships. ADB has (with the signing of this
deal) become the only source for 2500s. Mongoose will fulfill or
cancel any back orders on file and any obligations to the Mongoose
Infantry. The contract modification happened when Mongoose had just
shifted production to a new facility, and until that facility is fully
on line, ADB will be selling 2500s by mail order only (not through
stores). We expect to do a major relaunch of the line in the first
half of next year. This will include the missing Book One ships,
several new ships, as well as changing the packaging and price
accelerate on the four Traveller Prime Directive books, which will be
written, produced, and marketed by ADB in both print-on-demand and PDF
formats. ADB will be the only source for the purchase of new books and
PDFs. We expect to see the first book released in the spring of 2014
and one or two of the other books later during 2014.
We have continued our long-awaited move to offer more of our products
as PDFs by way of the e23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault 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
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).
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. We have
started offering general RPG books there as well as some of the general
gaming materials that Steve Cole has written. We have started an
experiment to see if there is interest in Federation Commander
and Star Fleet Battles
on Wargame Vault.
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.
This Week at ADB, Inc., 1-9 November 2013
Steve Cole reports:
This was a "calm
before the storm" week, as we tried to get everything loose
finished up and battened down before next week, when a lot of work on
Captain's Log #48 begins. The weather this week was mild. The spam storm mostly
remained at something under 200 per day.
New on e23 this week Captain's Log #32 and Battlewagon Article #1 Rulers of the High Seas from Nexus, no. 1.
New on DriveThru this week was Battlewagon. It is also available on Wargame Vault.
Everyone worked on catching up things that happened
during the trip to New Mexico.
Steve Cole worked on
Communique #95, Hailing Frequencies, Captain's Log #48, and the mysterious Project
Petrick worked on Captain's Log #48.
Leanna kept orders and accounting up to
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates, added all of
the FC ship cards to the cart as individual items, and some
Jean worked on Hailing Frequencies and Project
Monrovia, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1826 friends),
deleted dozens of spambots from the BBS, managed our Twitter feed (69
followers), commanded the Rangers, managed the blog feed, proofread Communique #95, dealt with Mongoose, took care of customers, and did some
Simone Pike writes:
Many do not know that we have a page where you can download wallpaper with Star Fleet Universe
Check out what we have on http://www.starfleetgames.com/wallpapers.shtml
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.
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.
HAILING FREQUENCIES and COMMUNIQUE Released
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:
ADB, Inc. Announces Cardboard Patches, Sparks Controversy
By OLIVETTE ROCHE
AMARILLO, TEXAS – ADB, Inc publicly announced that their popular cardboard product would soon be available in wearable patch form.
According to company president Stephen V. Cole, “The patches are designed to slowly release cardboard into the user’s bloodstream, helping to prevent cravings. An icon on each patch identifies the strength of the patch, making it easy for users to ensure they are getting the right dosage. The patches are available in a wide variety of designer colors, including black on blue, white on black, and black on red. At approximately half an inch square, they can also be worn discreetly under clothing.”
The announcement was received enthusiastically by ADB’s customers. “This is wonderful,” said “Kommander K.,” who says he owns “a dozen Plano tackle boxes full” of cardboard. “You used to need at least a kitchen table’s worth of space to get a fix. Now I can just slap ‘em straight on my skin.” Others aren’t so sure, citing concerns over the long-term effects of cardboard use. Professor G. N. Sexton, a neurologist at Miskatonic University, believes that cardboard can have severe effects on vulnerable individuals. “Cardboard use seems to affect the language center of the brain, re-wiring it,” she said. “Users suffer a kind of aphasia, using normal words in bizarre ways. For example, they use the word ‘race’ to refer not to a competition, but to a nation or ethnic group.” In heavy users, the effects seem to be even more severe: “Users of high-strength double-sided cardboard lose almost any ability to communicate normally, using nonsense words like ‘DirDam’ and ‘ComPot.’ The heavier the cardboard use, the more resistant the patient is to remedial therapy. Most double-sided cardboard users are hopeless cases.”
Mr. Cole dismisses the concerns. “Most of these guys are career military,” he says. “Years of using military jargon will destroy anyone’s ability to communicate clearly.” He also dismisses claims that cardboard is addictive. “Most users voluntarily limit the amount of cardboard they use in a session, referring to any excess as ‘clutter.’ Would they do that if it was addictive?” According to Professor Sexton, it is. “Most cardboard users experiment with it during high school or college, then stop using it as they mature. For a small number of individuals, however, it is highly addictive and they need larger and larger doses. Some use thousands of counters at a time.” Even going cold turkey is not enough to break the habit, Sexton says, citing the case of “David Z.” “He used heavily for some years before finally giving up, but then found out about ADB from its page on Facebook. Within days, he was using cardboard again.” Some users seem to realize that they are addicted but don’t care: “I’m addicted to cardboard. I could give up at any time, but why bother?” says one.
Hardcore cardboard users form a small, tightly-knit subculture. Users think of themselves as an elite group, referring to themselves as “players,” a term borrowed from the hip-hop music culture to mean a high-status person. On blogs they claim to be a tiny minority of “risk takers.” Users meet at each other’s homes and on Internet message boards to use cardboard or plan meetings to use cardboard. Some will travel thousands of miles to meet at “game conventions” and binge on double-sided cardboard for three days or more. Professor Sexton believes this behavior is extremely dangerous and that double-sided cardboard should be banned. “It’s all bright colors and big numbers on the face of it,” she says, “but the flipside is crippling.”
Thanks to Terry O'Carroll for finding this article!
A Visit to Capulin National Monument
This is Steven Petrick posting.
Part of our recent trip was a visit to Capulin, a dormant (as they say there is some chance that it might erupt again someday) volcano raising up out of New Mexico.
I could talk about this for quite a while as I have a number of "military" observations about it, both "real world" and "zombie apocalypse." I am, however, going to limit myself to my walk around its rim.
First, I want to say that I brought a collapsible walking stick with me on the trip just for this moment, and then did not actually take it with me. That was a mistake.
If you have never been to this monument, you should go. The drive up the side of the volcano would give (if you have never driven around steep mountain terrain before) you an idea what it is like to drive around Italy's mountain roads, or the "yamas" of Korea, among many other places.
I would, however, suggest that you do not walk the rim unless your legs are in much better shape than mine now are.
There is a pathway that is "manmade" in that material has been poured (it appeared to me) to create it. It is, however, conformable to the terrain. There are no steps, so when you hit the steep parts . . . well they are steep.
There are also no hand rails, or guard rails. As I mentioned, you are walking the rim. One serious misstep could very easily see you pitching over either side, and both are themselves very steep in a lot of places. Steep enough that once you pitch over, you are going to keep going.
I strongly suspect that when I was younger, even as much as just 10 years ago, I would not have considered the path much of a problem. However, my legs are not as steady as they used to be (even if someone very recently mentioned they were well "toned"), and very definitely not as reliable (I "stubbed" each of my feet four times, eight times total, while on the walk, and each time was almost enough to bring catastrophe as it was). Most of this does come from my left foot, which really seriously does not work like it used to, but in all honesty is much, much better than it was just five months ago.
Five months ago I would not have attempted this walk at all, or at least I would not have attempted to complete it, but would have turned back pretty quickly. As it was, I could not tell you if my heart rate was elevated just because of the exertion of the walk around rim, or the contained terror. (I am afraid of heights, but possess that kind of courage that makes me face that fear and press on despite it, how I was able to graduate jump school, but it is still there even if I am trying to mask it.)
I really only attempted the walk at all because of another fear. Given how weak I was five months earlier, could I really hold onto the belief that the next time I got to Capulin, if at all, that I would be able to walk it then? No, to me this was a make or break, I either did it this time or accepted that I might never be able to do it.
About a third of the way around is a "down walk" branch (wide enough for one person at a time to go down and standing place at the bottom for two or three "close friends") to the "best place to look at the floor of the volcano." This was the point where I made another rather terrible discovery. My legs are bad as noted, but they handle "up" far better than they handle "down." Going down slope my legs are far less stable than they are going up. Far, far less stable. I can honestly say I did not get close enough to the edge to really look down into the crater (if I had had the walking stick, I probably would have, but my legs being what they are I had real fear that the slope combined with looking down would have been too dangerous a combination).
Convinced that surely things would not be much worse, I pressed on from that point, and things naturally got worse. First, there was much more up slope to contend with. (The only really positive thing I can say about my progress is that I never stopped unless there was a sign posted with something to read or pointing at something to look at in the distance and I had a pair of 7x50 binocular with me for that purpose, but I did stop every time I encountered such and was grateful for the break.) Second, once you got past the last of the up slope, the down slope was even steeper than I had imagined, complete with "switchbacks" that had not appeared while going up. Finally, there had been a light snowfall at the top, and the sunshine had melted much of it, but in the shadows provided by the vegetation . . . yes, ice. The man made trail had a rough surface, but still . . . ice. The ice was only in patches, there was no place where large stretches were covered, but a misstep, or a stub which left me trying to recover my balance and forcing a shift of a foot . . . well things could have ended very badly. (Did I mention my heart rate earlier?)
Maybe it was not all as terrifying as it seemed, maybe I am over speaking. Maybe a younger and more fit person would have been absolutely comfortable on that trail (there were lots of benches where one could sit and admire the view, but I never used one) and think the pathway ridiculously broad.
That few pounds of gray matter above and behind my eyes has, however, made a lot of adjustments to the physical capability I currently possess. About 10 years ago at our old warehouse I was standing on the roadway in front of the loading dock. Without really thinking about it I took two or three steps and did a vertical leap from ground level to land on the loading dock flat footed. Yes, my knees then had to unfold into the standing position, but I did it and was utterly unconcerned that it was beyond my capability. There are low brick walls that I used to easily jump to the top of and then step off without breaking stride. About three years ago whenever I went to our new warehouse with its lower loading dock I would jump to the top of it without thinking to save the steps of walking up the stairs.
I do not jump at all anymore.
Just before we went to Capulin the hotel we stayed at had a low brick wall that could be negotiated to save a few steps to breakfast. My brain looked at it and determined that I could walk to it, and step up on it, but I could not jump to the top of it without breaking stride, and the jump off the far side would probably harm my knees, so I always walked around it.
If we ever return to Capulin, I will probably not attempt to walk the rim again (I do intend to try to walk down to the bottom of the crater, and would have done so this time had we had the time available, but as it was the walk around the rim took much longer than I had imagined as my consciousness still thinks of a mile walk as something that takes a quarter hour no matter the terrain). I may only be in my late 50s, but I am pretty obviously on a very steep decline in physical capability. The distances I can walk have shortened over time. From the casual 20 miles without thinking about it of my youth, to the weekly 12 miles while I was in the service, down to the six miles I would casually walk in the 90s to try to maintain some stamina, to the hard fought two mile walks I often cannot find the enthusiasm to attempt of late (although I have built back up to them since last February when my left leg went completely wonky for a while).
My legs apparently "look good," but they are wrecks compared to what they were, and even my sense of balance is wonky. (Small bumps can throw me completely off balance and require me to grab a wall or chair or something to keep from hitting the floor, and part of my mind seems to be constantly monitoring my surroundings for something to grab if my balance does fail . . . does not seem to be conscious thing but buried in the automatic routines.)
You add that wonky balance to walking the rim of Capulin, and perhaps you can understand why my heart was racing with the utter lack of hand rails on that walk and steep falls to either side no matter how wide (or to me narrow) that path was.
Still, with all that said, if you get a chance to visit Capulin, you should, and if your health allows it, you should take the one mile walk around its rim. At least you will be able to say "what a wimp Steve Petrick has become if this frightened him!"
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.
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?
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.
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 online 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.
RANDOM THOUGHTS #168
Steve Cole writes notes to young people, those just
about to graduate and start their adult lives.
focused on getting to the day after graduation, but you need to have a
good idea of where you're going to be at age 25 and how you're
going to get there. At age 25 (plus or minus), you should have
finished school (and perhaps a term in the military), paid for your
education, married your forever-spouse, bought a house, and planted
some trees. Do you have the job skills to get a job that affords that
house? Are you serious about who you're dating and would they make a
forever-spouse? By the way, get to age 25 (true adulthood) with a
clean credit history and no police record.
2. You're in for a shock when you move into
your first home and find out that it doesn't have in it everything
your parents spent the last 25 years accumulating. All of that stuff,
from a hammer to a pair of scissors, has to come from somewhere. With
a strong family, you can probably start with the old (now surplus)
copy of everything.
3. When you buy a
major appliance (or a car, or the heating and air conditioning system
for your house) understand that nobody promised you'd have that
forever. Those things last a few years (from five to fifteen). When
you need a new one, you need to have the cash in the bank to pay for
it, not plan on putting it on a credit card and paying interest on
4. Buy the right house, and when you can, throw a
couple of hundred (or thousand) extra dollars at the mortgage. (Do not
plow your entire cash reserve into it; you might lose your job and
need that cash.) Those first few house payments on that mortgage
actually contain only a hundred dollars or so going on the principle,
so adding a few hundred here and there shortens your mortgage by
months and saves you interest at the end. Be careful because no matter
how much extra principle you pay, you still have another payment due
5. You need to make the right
kind of friends, people who are serious about their own future and
career, not people who do drugs or are always in trouble with the
6. By the way, while
you're getting that college education (or other education for an
adult career) be sure that you do three things: get a degree that
leads to a job, get a broad degree that can open the doors to a wide
range of jobs, and pick up a few electives and other courses that
broaden your view of the world. You also need to learn to write
effectively, spell correctly, use punctuation correctly, and clearly
state what you're trying to say.
7. Just personally, I think everyone
needs to spend time in the military, but then, it's frankly not for
everyone. Even for people who might enjoy learning a little about that
life and gaining a little self-discipline and some team-building
skills, giving up a few years isn't always practical. (Even joining
the reserve, these days, all but guarantees you a year overseas at an
inconvenient time.) One alternative is the State Guard, where you
could be a soldier, never get shot at or go overseas, not travel far
from home, and leave any time you want. If the military isn't for
you, at least go take the Red Cross first aid and CPR courses.
8. When looking for a
job, use a shotgun, not a rifle. Go for any job you'd enjoy in a
field you know, not one specific narrow job. Go for a line job, not a
support job, because support people get laid off first. Look for a job
with a bigger company where there is more training and more different
routes up the ladder.
9. Stay out of debt. Don't
go to an expensive college. Don't use student loans for anything
other than education. Avoiding spending anything on a credit card you
cannot pay off that month. If you have to, work from a written budget
(with a reserve for flexibility).
single most important decision you will ever make is the person you
will spend your life with. Choose wisely.
Back in the Saddle
Jean Sexton reports:
After spending a couple of days catching up on a huge backlog of emails, we are ready to get back to work. The vacation left us re-energized and ready to tackle the whole universe -- at least the Star Fleet Universe!
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
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
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
This Week at ADB, Inc., 25-31 October 2013
Steve Cole reports:
This was our vacation trip to the wolf sanctuary and then to
explore northern New Mexico. The weather there was cool, but not
bitterly cold. Friday we drove to Gallup. Saturday we fed the wolves
at Wild Spirit. Sunday Jean took a quick trip into Arizona just to say
she had been there, then we all saw Los Alamos nuclear museum. Monday
we toured downtown old Santa Fe. Tuesday we saw the Bataan Memorial Museum and
took a scenic drive through the Rio Grande Gorge to Taos, then around
the Enchanted Circle through Questa-Red River-Eagle's Nest, then
Cimmaron Canyon to Raton. Wednesday we drove into Colorado and toured
the Highway of Legend to see rock formations, lakes, forest, and old
mines. Thursday we saw Capulin Volcano and came home.
Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the
inventory, and managed customer service.
website updates and sunk pirates.
Jean was able to do some BBS
maintenance and customer service while on the trip, but prohibited any
discussion of business or politics. SVC checked the BBS every night
but not his email.
We're Back ... Almost
We are back in the office, but we have a huge backlog of email and information to process. We should be back in the saddle on Saturday.
Thanks for your patience as we took this time off.