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Saturday, February 28, 2015

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 for Prime Directive PD20 and PD20M, Jean Sexton 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 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 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.

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 and volunteers who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including John Berg, Howard Bampton, and Lucky Coleman (Galactic Conquest campaign); Daniel 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.

Added 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.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Your Weird Uncle at Thanksgiving

He ... always eats while ... grandpa talks,
He snacks ... while cousins take a walk.
They ask him to dinner ... in late fall.
Where they serve ... roast Butterball.
He likes potatoes and green peas.
Loves cranberries ... drinks iced tea.
He looks at the feast and wants it all.
So he'll slice ... that Butterball.
Any ... drumstick he wants ... he'll get.
He will eat ... a whole pie ... without regret.
He ... is the meaning ... of excess.
His plate ... holds more than he'll digest.
They ask him to dinner ... in late fall.
Where he eats ... that Butterball.
His ... days of fasting ... are all gone.
His meals ... go on and on and on.
But he thinks ... that the pounds ... are worth it all.
So he eats ... more Butterball.

(c) 2015 Stephen V. Cole

Thursday, February 26, 2015

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. You will find us on Twitter as ADBInc_Amarillo. 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: http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames.

We tried a lot of things that didn't work (Google Pay per Click, full-color ads in trade journals) and a lot of things that did work (banners on gamer websites, Star Fleet Alerts) and are always looking for new ideas. If you have any, send them to us at Marketing@StarFleetGames.com and we'll think them over.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Captain's Log #50 Moves Along

This is Stephen Petrick posting.

We are, as you are all no doubt aware, continuing our drive on Captain's Log #50.

The SSDs have been selected, and SVC is completing his editing of the first draft of the ship descriptions and Annex #3. I write the initial draft and try to make sure the relevant information and something of interest in the ship backgrounds is done. A lot of times the ships are suggested by players and I making my own observations about what I think of their usefulness.

There are a dozen ships this time around, and technically four more as SVC has done some never before seen ships in the Star Fleet Universe for Federation Commander.

As files are completed, they move to Jean Sexton for her edits, and some of them will come back to me for another review.

We are fairly well versed in what needs to be done to get a Captain's Log done, but as always the unexpected interruption does intrude and creates distraction and delay. So far, we are on track however.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

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.

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'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.

Monday, February 23, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 15-21 February 2015

Steve Cole reports:

This was the first of three weeks of final work on Captain's Log #50. The weather this week was mild. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week were a revision to the Federation ship roster cards and a revision to the Civilian ship roster cards,

Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #50, dabbled a bit on his history book project, did quality control work on a shipment of Starline 2500 miniatures, walked 1/4 or 1/2 mile every day, and tried a very bland version of Chinese stir fry for the first time in his life.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #50 and did quality control work on a shipment of 2500s,

The Starline 2500 project continues to wait for production molds that are two months late.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with five new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on revising A Call to Arms: Star Fleet ship roster cards, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,514 friends), managed our Twitter feed (133 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Captain's Log #50, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

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/).

Saturday, February 21, 2015

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!

Friday, February 20, 2015


On Andromedan Displacement Device:

Warning: This device may act haphazardly if used improperly; do not try this at home.

On Andromedan Tractor Beams:

Warning: Use only as directed. May cause irritability and tension when used against Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Kzinti, Hydran, Lyran, Orion, Tholian, ISC, Gorn, and just about any intra-galactic forces. For repair or replacement of damaged parts, send the defective part (postage pre-paid) back to Androma Technical Works Field Repair Shop, Starbase Desecrator-5, Andromedan Galaxy (allow 401 years for delivery, repair, and return of the damaged goods).

Thanks to Hyun Yu. This originally appeared in Captain's Log #18. (c) copyright by Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Steve Cole evaluates:

For most of my life, doing a little math indicated that during my last few years I would get to watch the first manned Mars landing on television. I'm no longer so sure. Given my age and health, I have 3d6 years to go, and I don't see us making it.
1. The estimated date for a landing has constantly slid later and later. I figure the estimated landing date is about as far away now as it was in 1969 when we watched the moon landing on television. At that time it was estimated as 1989.
2. We've basically made zero progress for six years toward building the systems to do the job, with no real likelihood of any serious progress anytime soon.
3. The thing is, we still have no idea how to actually land people on Mars. Rovers, sure, but they only weigh a ton or two. Six people, space to live, air to breath, food to eat, and other supplies to stay for months or
years -- nobody knows how to land that much stuff. The atmosphere of Mars is so thin that parachutes won't do much for a vehicle that big. Retro-rockets -- ok, those will do it, but they add so much weight to what leaves Earth that it just doesn't seem plausible. Then again, maybe. We're pretty much to the point that we have to launch several rockets then link up somewhere (in orbit, in lunar orbit, in Mars orbit, on the surface of Mars) so maybe we just add another rocket launch just to carry the fuel for our landing system. What's another few dozen billion dollars?

4. Everybody knows we get a launch window to send something to Mars every two years. But the really best windows, the kind you probably need for something as big as a habitat spacecraft, come along every 14 years. The next one is in 2018 (NASA can't do that, maybe some private company could but I doubt it) and after that 2032. To be alive in 2032 I have to live longer than my parents and frankly I'm in a lot worse state of health than they were.
5. Radiation is going to be a deal breaker. A Mars astronaut will (each year) get radiation during flight equal to 10 times the annual limit for workers in a nuclear power plant. Radiation on the surface is still seven times the limit as that thin atmosphere doesn't help much and there is no magnetic field. Radiation shielding is very heavy and the cost of this trip is based largely on the weight. So add another rocket launch (and a few billion) to carry up to orbit the radiation shields for the capsule, or invent some new kind of electromagnetic shielding. Oh, then you have to land a much heavier capsule with more radiation shielding, and some kind of Mars minivan with more radiation shielding. Did I mention that we still have no practical idea how to land
something that heavy?
6. We have yet to keep a spacecraft flying that long without bringing up spare parts. The International Space Station gets a cargo ship every few months with the parts needed to keep it running. Even more fun, once we got the International Space Station up there, we found out we didn't know as much as we thought we did about how things work in space. The International Space Station is a Rube Goldberg jury-rigged mess of wiring and plumbing and ducting that was not in the original design. Does anybody want to take a newly designed rocket ship to places you can't get spare parts and only then find out if there was something you didn't know about how things work in space more than 200 miles from Earth? We probably need a three-month pre-Mars mission (just loop out and back to nowhere) to test the design. What's a few more years and another hundred billion?
7. The human body doesn't really seem that well designed for space. Sure, we've kept a few guys up in orbit for a year or more, but we've also seen some pretty bizarre things happen to their bodies. They start (slowly) going blind, their muscles atrophy more than exercise can rebuild, and all kinds of other things start breaking down. We now think we can send people on multi-year missions (or one-way permanent colony missions) without anything more than informed guesswork about whether their bodies will function that long.
8. This accomplishment is going to cost a trillion dollars (probably two) with no cash return for the investment. (There is nothing on Mars worth bringing back. Even sample rocks for sale could not be done on a scale that pays for the trip, or any significant part of the trip.) Frankly, I think the taxpayers are tired of donating money for such projects. (Note that we never went back to the moon for the permanent colony that everybody in 1969 said would be operational by 1989.) This assumes that somehow our government suddenly starts to function on something other than wishful thinking as a budget model.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

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.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Petrick’s Counters to Cole’s “Dating during the Zombie Apocalypse”

Steven Petrick counters "Dating during the Zombie Apocalypse"

1. The dating pool may just be too small. How likely is it that there will be an even number of boys and girls? Let’s not forget that polygamy will not necessarily end with the apocalypse, and the ladies will still tend to cluster around the most powerful male.

2. Sex may be entertaining for the males, and the supplies of condoms in the abandoned quickie marts will be comparatively plentiful, but other forms of birth control are going to be sadly lacking. The ladies may decide that "other forms" of entertainment are less hazardous to their own long term health and survival.

3. While a little romance may be life-affirming, keep in mind that just because the zombie apocalypse has happened, other aspects of humanity will not suddenly end. Jealousy mixed with ready access to implements of destruction and a general “tomorrow we die” viewpoint can encourage eliminating competition.

4. Getting too involved with anyone can result in your not seeing the zombie horde in an attempt to rescue that one, causing you both to be bitten. Even in the apocalypse there must be enlightened self-interest in order to survive and that may require you at times to abandon someone, or even shoot them in the leg first to get away.

5. While you have an equal chance to scavenge, the bigger guys can carry more, or take your stuff from you to impress the girls.

6. Work trucks suffer the same problem as anything else. Be aware that someone may take your work truck from you so they can impress the ladies.

7. Sure, the church is irrelevant, but keep in mind that insanity may cause some to worship the zombies, and use their feminine wiles to position you as a sacrifice to their new faith.

8. You may not have to spend money, but you will have to spend effort. Even in the zombie apocalypse the girls will go more for the good provider and defender than they will for the man barely able to provide for himself. Of course see #3 about “eliminating competition.”

9. Unless the lady you are pursuing is completely submissive, inevitably there will be arguments about which road to take, what store to look into looting, does this pistol make her posterior appear fat. What? You really think that something as minor as the zombie apocalypse is going to take women’s minds off of what really matters?

10. While her parents (and yours by the way) may already be dead, that does not mean that her big brother, current husband (however estranged) or boyfriend won’t be around and not appreciative of your efforts to take advantage. Things will not really change in the zombie apocalypse, but their resolutions may be simpler (see #3 once more).

Monday, February 16, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 8-14 February 2015

Steve Cole reports: 

This was a week of triumph for Steve Cole (who finally finished the fiction story for Captain's Log #50) and for Jean Sexton (who saw our page on Facebook grow past 2500 friends). The weather this week was a mix of cold and warm days, typical of the Texas panhandle. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week were the SSD book for SFB Module R11 (in both B&W and color), the expanded Captain's Log #36 color SSD pack, and the revised Hydran Master Starship Book.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week were the civilian ship roster card pack for A Call to Arms: Star Fleet -1.2 and several updated and corrected roster books including the Romulans and Tholians.

Steve Cole worked on the Captain's Log #50 story. (No author had submitted one, and Jean told Steve a year ago to write "Day of the Dragon" for the Golden 50th issue. With a whole year to go, Steve put it off until last December. Being forced to write a story without any outline or idea is difficult, and it was the first of February before "the idea" for the story presented itself.) He also did whatever was needed to finish the graphics for the revised Hydran book, write three blogs for Jean, get needed graphics to the SFBOL3G project, to assemble PDF roster packs for ACTASF, and to finish Communique #110. He added six issues of Captain's Log to the SFU history book he is compiling. Steve also took his longest walk in three years (an entire mile around the south lake) taking Wolf on his first visit to the Duck Park.

Steve Petrick finished the revised Hydran Master Starship Book and worked on Captain's Log #50, Captain's Log #51, and the Klingon Master Starship Book.

The Starline 2500 project continues to wait for production molds that are two months late.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with three new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone sent out Hailing Frequencies, uploaded Communique #110, did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on roster card updates for A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2511 friends), managed our Twitter feed (over 100 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Hailing Frequencies and Communique #110, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

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

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://www.warehouse23.com/products/introduction-to-the-star-fleet-universe-prime-directive-and-roleplaying

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 downloadable art for your computer and iPhone 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.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Dating during the Zombie Apocalypse

Steve Cole, speaking as someone who had serious challenges in the dating arena when he was single, thinks that dating, romance, and marriage will be far easier during the Zombie Apocalypse.
1. The dating pool is going to be incredibly small. You may have only one or two choices in a group of a dozen people, and those choices won't have much choice other than you. Heck, it's better than being alone and divorce is pretty easy when there is no such thing as a court or a lawyer.
2. During the zombie apocalypse, there isn't much in the way of entertainment other than curling up together and making out, even with someone you would have never married in the pre-apocalypse world.
3. In a world where death is everywhere and your life expectancy is under a year, a little romance is the only
life-affirming activity available. It's the only thing that gives you a reason to stay alive (other than the fear of getting dead).
4. You need someone to watch your back who won't leave you behind when the hordes appear, and the person you sleep with is your closest friend and the person you cling to physically and emotionally.
5. Nobody cares how much money you make. It's how many cans of food you have in your backpack and how many cartridges you have for your gun that count, and you have the same chance to scavenge that stuff as anyone else.
6. A man's "work truck" is actually going to impress potential mates as it is loaded with supplies and guns. There is no need to own a fancy dating car in addition to the "work truck."
7. What church you attend is pretty much irrelevant. There are no atheists in the zombie apocalypse. Everybody prays all the time. It's not like you are going to be arguing over which church bake sale to support.
8. For guys, there is no need to spend money on flowers and jewelry or even to clean up for a date. For women, there is no need to shop for the perfect cocktail dress, nor is there any reason spend an hour doing your hair and makeup. Being the only two unpaired people in the group is pretty much enough to spark a romance. (See above, what the heck else is there for you to do anyway?)
9. There are no arguments over what house to buy or what city to live in, since you'll be on the run. There are no arguments over the budget, since there is no money. There is no argument about where to go on vacation because life during the zombie apocalypse already is a vacation.
10. It's not like you have to meet your sweetheart's parents and ask their blessing. They're almost certainly dead.

Friday, February 13, 2015


On ISC Plasmatic Pulsar Devices:

Warning: Not tested in actual combat; results may be radically different than simulator; DO NOT use this device against an Andromedan ship; may require multiple attempts for a successful target lock-on. Not responsible for lost or misdirected pulses.

On Gorn Navigation and Warp Engine Modules:

Warning: This product is guaranteed to survive one (1) High Energy Turn only; do not attempt any radical maneuvers; warranty null and void after the first HET, or above speed of warp 2.289428485107.

Thanks to Hyun Yu. This originally appeared in Captain's Log #18. (c) copyright by Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Exploring Excellent Ebooks

We have continued our long-awaited move to offer more of our products as PDFs by way of the  Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault websites. So far on Warehouse 23, 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 Warehouse 23 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).

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 are also listing Federation Commander, Federation & Empire, and Star Fleet Battles products on Wargame Vault.

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 Prime Directive products. We have created a new page that allows easy access to our PDFS for sale through the various venders. From here you can see what we currently have posted and have links to those products.

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 as PDFs. Whatever your reason for using them, we hope that you enjoy them and rate them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Klingon MSSB Advances, Hydran MSSB Abides

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Work continues apace on the Klingon Master Starship Book (among other projects). Drafts are out for review, the major hangup being a review of the Klingon fighters to make sure a good update on their deployments gets into the book.

The Klingon book is going to be bigger than the Hydran book, not unexpectedly as the Klingons have more ships. It is also a matter that the Klingons have something no other empire has: Security Stations.

Just as the Hydrans required a look into their use of "casual fighters" (R9.R6) which expanded into some of their "general" units, the Klingons need a look at how security stations apply to some of their "general units."

The Klingons also have the unique "penal ships," but these are all rule specific ships and do not add anything beyond their rules.

Even so, some time has been taken to go through all of the submitted items in regards the Hydran Master Starship Book, and its second printing with its corrections is being loaded onto the computers even now for release. Most of the items were minor, a missed carriage return, an unnoticed bad "text paste," and a few places where the wrong "seeking weapon control rating" slipped past as examples. Seeking weapon control ratings matter to the Hydrans simply because it allows them to make use of "remote controlled fighters" (and minesweeping shuttles, but most famously suicide shuttles), so it needs to be correct on the bases where it matters.

In two cases there were "graphic errors." The ship graphic of one Hydran dreadnought variant was imported from another product and did not "scale" properly, so it was much bigger than it should have been. And we forgot to add the visible extensions on the sides of the underside view of the Hydran fast patrol ship leader graphic to account for the extra space needed for the added systems. These have been fixed.

Overall, we here at ADB are grateful that our customers, that is you who are reading this, did not find many errors (we are embarrassed by the discovery of a single one of course). We can take pleasure in having done a pretty good job, even if it was not perfect. And that gratitude must extend to the individuals who volunteered to review the material before the book was finally published. Without them there would doubtless have been many more mistakes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


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 ebook, 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 a new ship, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules.

You can subscribe to Hailing Frequencies at this link:

Monday, February 09, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 1-7 February 2015

Steve Cole reports:

This was frustrating week of slow progress. The weather this week was cool, but warmed up. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day. On Saturday we held a brief party to celebrate the anniversary of Wolf's adoption.
New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week were Captain's Log #10 and updated and new A Call to Arms: Star Fleet ship roster card packs for the Federation, Gorns, Orions, and Tholians.

Steve Cole worked on the Captain's Log #50 story (when he wasn't interrupted), History of the SFU, revising ACTASF ship roster card packs, Communique, Hailing Frequencies, and other things.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #50 and #51, the Klingon Master Starship Book, the revision to the Hydran Master Starship Book, and other things.

The Starline 2500 project continues to wait for production molds that are two months late.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with three new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates, worked on setting up Hailing Frequencies, and did some graphics.

Jean worked on uploading (and constantly correcting) the ACTASF ship roster cards, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2499 friends), managed our Twitter feed (over 100 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Communique, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Star Fleet Universe Downloadable Art

Simone Pike writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download backgrounds and covers with Star Fleet Universe art. We have art that will work on Facebook, iOS7 iPhones, Android devices, and computers. You will also find art you can use as binder spine cards.

Check out what we have on http://www.starfleetgames.com/backgrounds.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 downloadable art, please feel free to contact us at graphics@StarFleetGames.com and we'll work your request in.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

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 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.

Friday, February 06, 2015


On Seltorian Particle Cannons and Web Breakers:

Warning: Results unpredictable outside the originating galaxy; do not attempt to engage Milky Way galaxy ships, as this will usually tick them off without doing any significant damage. Use only as directed, against Tholians.

On Federation Photon Torpedoes:

Warning: May cause damage to your shields if used improperly; not responsible for irate Klingons, Romulans, or Andromedans; may cause power shortage on certain classes of ships; do not use overload setting on destroyer-class or smaller ships. If shield damage persists after five (5) consecutive uses, contact your field technical support immediately.

Thanks to Hyun Yu. This originally appeared in Captain's Log #18. (c) copyright by Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Dogs, Discipline, and Who is Training Whom

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Both SVC and Jean have pointed out a truth: while I grew up around dogs, I never "owned" a dog.

In my family we had spaniels, both cockers and springers, and Labrador retrievers, as well as cats. The dogs all belonged to my younger brother, not by my choice, or my older brother's or our parents' choice, but by the dogs' choice. For whatever reason, every dog that ever entered our household became my younger brother's dog. They followed him devotedly, gathered around him when strangers appeared, and interposed themselves between him and any danger they were able to recognize. They were willing to lay down their lives for him.

Why this was so was not something I questioned growing up, it was just the way of things. No dog ever followed me when I left the house, or went to the bedroom with me when it was time to go to bed nor did they do these things for my older brother.

We were involved in petting them, feeding them, playing with them, but if my younger brother (only 18 months younger than I to the calender day) left, the dogs went with him.

Jean's current dog barks at a pitch that seriously grates on my nerves. I really want him to be more restrictive of his barking. However, as it has been pointed out that I have never owned dogs, I withdrew from the dog, neither encouraging or discouraging any of his behaviors unless they were destructive (like trying to dig through the cushion of a seat). I did this to allow SVC and Jean, both of whom did "own" dogs, to train this one.

I am (honestly) not fit to train a dog simply because I have never "owned" a dog. The "partnership bond" is simply not there. That does not mean that dogs take an instant dislike to me or any such thing, simply that I am, by and large, not the focus of their affections or loyalty.

I do understand training, however. A big part of it is "consistency." If you want a behavior to stop, then you must consistently treat the behavior in a negative context. No, this does not mean that you hurt the dog. Hurting the dog is bad because it interferes with the need for trust.

So, the dog barks and truly annoys me. So when he barks I take him to the back bathroom and lock him in with the light out, and leave him there until five minutes after he has stopped barking. If this is done consistently, he will realize the link between his barking and being locked away in the dark. But it must be done consistently, or he will fail to make the link.

I do not dislike the dog. Jean will no doubt tell you I say awful things to the dog, like the fact that he is so small we will have to stew him before we eat him, or that I have come to administer a vicious beating to him. The truth is that he is a dog, and as long as my tone and volume are not harsh or raised, all is fine in his world because the words themselves have no specific meaning he can understand.

He does know, however, that when I grab his leash and head for the back that he is being punished and he does not like it, and does his best to plant all four of his paws and resist being dragged back there.

Except of late he has taken to trying a new tack. As we near the door to the bathroom, he begins trotting along as if it is his idea to go there. I think he is hoping to play "Br'er Rabbit and the thistle patch," pretending he wants to go into the dark bathroom in hopes that I will not lock him up.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015


Steve Cole ponders various thoughts that came to mind.

1. If it's important, you'll find a way to do it. If it's not important, you'll find an excuse not do.

2. Make the other guy play your game; don't play his.

3. Invited to a group activity, you're given the leftover equipment nobody else wanted to use. If you're serious about learning if the group activity is something you'd be interested in, you'll put up with it once or twice. After that, whoever provided the equipment for everybody else needs to provide decent equipment for you. (And if everybody else bought their own stuff, buy your own when you know that this is something you'll continue.)

4. Successful people want to find opportunities where helping yourself also helps others. Unsuccessful people are out for themselves and don't care if anyone else benefits or not.

5. Be very careful in making enemies. If there is a way to work with or within the existing power structure, give that a try first before you launch a revolution. (Most revolutions fail and most revolutionaries are remembered unfavorably.) Claire (on Outlander) should have told the priest something like this: "You know that Satan sets traps around the old ruins to ensnare souls. This leaf is part of the trap; it made the boy sick enough that a demon could get inside him. If you let me cure the damage the leaf did with this elixir, you will have an easier time of removing the demon while the boy is still alive." That would have been win-win-win. The priest (who knew the kid was going to die) gets to claim he saved him. The boy lives. And you now have a priest who will ask for your help not reject you as a person.

6. Never get into a battle with a pig. The pig enjoys the mud, and enjoys getting you dirty.

7. I came across a Polish proverb the other day that made me laugh. "When someone tries to involve you in their drama just say 'This is not my circus; those are not my monkeys,'  and move on."

8. If you find something offensive, maybe you should go looking for it less often?

9. Scientists told us not to freak out about Ebola and we did anyway. But then, when they told us to freak out about global warming we just laughed at them.

10. Fifty years ago, my Boy Scout Handbook included this story: Two boys were walking down the forest road. Upon reaching the camp, Bill noticed that Fred's boots were fairly clean while his own boots were muddy. Bill asked why, and Fred said "I look where the mud is and put my feet somewhere else." The point of the story (in the handbook) was to not go places or do things that were going to be "muddy."

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

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.

Monday, February 02, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 25-31 January 2015

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work frustrated by constant interruptions and roadblocks. The weather this week was moderate in mid-week but seriously cold and wet by Friday. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23 this week is Captain's Log #38, Captain's Log #38 Color SSDs, and SFB Module D3 in color.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week are Captain's Log #38; Captain's Log #38 Color SSDs; Captain's Log #38 Supplemental File; SFB Module D3 in black & white and in color; and the A Call to Arms: Star Fleet ship roster card packs for the Federation, Klingons, Romulans, Gorns, and Kzintis.

Steve Cole worked on the Captain's Log #50 fiction, but being forced to create a good story on demand is tedious and the constant interruptions delay the creative process. He also managed to continue his work on the History of the SFU book and do some blogs.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #50, the Klingon Master Starship Book, and the revision of Hydran Master Starship Book.

The Starline 2500 project continues to wait for production molds that are two months late.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with five new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on fixes to the A Call to Arms: Star Fleet ship rosters, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2490 friends), managed our Twitter feed (over 100 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread several things (Captain's Log #50 fiction, revised Capitalization Guide, fiction writer's guide, revised text catalog), took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Working for ADB, Inc.

Jean Sexton writes:

Many times people want to know what it is like to work for ADB. In my previous job as a librarian, people would ask how many books I got to read each day. Now people want to know what games we play. It is a very different job than people expect.

The main difference between my old job and this one is that I actually have some free time. In my old job I worked full time, but most of my spare time was spent working for ADB. Now I do have time that I spend at home and with my pets. Still I keep an eye on things so that if something starts to go south, I can keep it from going out of control by morning. Many of our staff and regular customers know I am online pretty late and contact me with questions, observations, problems, and sometimes just to say "hi."

One of my jobs is to answer the phone. It is amazing to me how many robot calls we get wanting to loan us money (we don't do that). We get lots of calls asking us to donate money and some of the people can get downright nasty if you refuse. If you are tasked with fundraising and you get the person who answers the phone, please listen to that person. If you are told that the owner doesn't take that sort of call, believe it. Maybe the boss is a softie who cannot say no, so gave orders that the call never go to him. Demanding to be put through won't trump orders from above.

I'm in charge of the blog. We have some important blog posts that rotate through so that new people can find answers to questions without searching the archives. Each week I get a post from Steve Cole that summarizes our activities for the past week. Usually Steven Petrick posts at some point during the week. Steve Cole keeps a running list of thoughts that he sends to me. I try to make sure that something funny gets posted on Friday. And if the Steves have already posted something and there's a "vacant" day, I try to take it on. It's hard for me as I am an editor/proofreader and not really creative.

I take care of our BBS and the FC Forum. Mike West is the moderator on the Forum, but when we get spammed, I need to deal with it. The BBS is fairly well self policing now, but regular maintenance has to be done.

Social media is also my area. Our page on Facebook is quite active and there are fan pages for each of our games. I try to keep an eye on all of those. Sometimes I have helpful information; sometimes I need to scotch a rumor. People know that I lurk on Facebook and sometimes mention me in a comment to make sure I see what is going on.

I handle a lot of things regarding our releases. For PDFs, I handle uploading them to DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault. I write many of the descriptions. I try to keep the schedule flowing. I also try to get the word out, as I do for our print releases as well. Then those posts need to be monitored in case of questions.

Then there's the proofreading/editing part of my job. Each month we put out two newsletters: Communique and Hailing Frequencies. For Hailing Frequencies, I am responsible for reporting on several sections (Tournaments, Demoes and Cons, and Prime Directive). Then there are our magazines and products that need proofreading/editing as well. I stay busy, no doubt.

This dry recitation doesn't begin to show the joy I have in this job. The Steves tease me, acting as "big brothers." Leanna treats me as her kid sister. Our customers frequently check in on me. I can have my dog at work with me and everyone loves playing with him. (He even has his own chair in my office and beds in several different offices.) I get to make our products better and interact with our customers.

Life is good in my job and I am happy.