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Tuesday, March 31, 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.

Monday, March 30, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 22-28 March 2015

Steve Cole reports:

This was the week we began printing Captain's Log #50 and laying plans for the next projects. The weather this week was warm often over 70F. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day. We had a staff meeting on Wednesday to review how much progress had been made on various projects and assigned priorities for the week. Later, the design team met to take the first look at content for Captain's Log #51. We did release another 20 pound-o-ships bags, which sold briskly.

Steve Cole worked on the Captain's Log #50 FLAP list, Star Fleet Alert, and Captain's Log #50 Supplemental File. He added Captain's Log #27 and Captain's Log #50 to the history book, and quality checked a shipment of Starline 2400 Federation DWs.

Steven Petrick worked on the Klingon Master Starship Book and quality checked a shipment of Starline 2400 Federation DWs.      

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

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with three new entries and three updates.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory, and quality checked a shipment of Starline 2400 Federation DWs..

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on the Kindle version of For the Glory of the Empire (almost ready for upload!), updated ACTASF ship roster cards (Klingons, Civilians, Romulans), managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,561 friends), managed our Twitter feed (136 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Captain's Log #50 Supplemental File and some advertising, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

On Writing and Proofreading and Marketing

Jean Sexton muses:

My job at ADB is different than the job that others in the company have. My work spans all phases of a product's life. Let me tell you about it.

As we start a new product I am often involved. For these meetings I wear my marketing hat. I ask myself, "Who will buy this? Who are we aiming for and can that be broadened? How can we add 'zing' and make it more exciting?" This sometimes worries the Steves. Will I ask them to toss out perfectly good (but too thematic or of limited appeal) ships? Will I tell them I need more excitement in a story? Will I barely restrain my eyes from rolling and pronounce their carefully laid plans as "boring"?

Then comes the creation of the item. I sometimes have a writing assignment. I have a confession to make. Writing doesn't come easily to me. I struggle not to sound pedantic. God help me if I must write dialogue as my characters would all sound alike. My creative writing is limited to Olivette Roche "research." I have to confess that is easy. I write something I know would have the Steves wincing. If they howl in anguish, it is perfect. Olivette is the right character for me -- she hasn't really got a creative bone in her body. She steals ideas from the past and writes them. She sees a situation involving the Federation and anyone, then believes that the "anyone" is in the right, especially if they are Klingons. Since I am writing a synopsis of a trivideo, book, or story, what is totally improbable to impossible gets blithely ignored and incorporated as part of a "good story."

Then comes the proofreading stage. Ah me, that is some of the most thankless work I do. The Steves hate capitalizing and de-capitalizing words. Before I came, no one cared if it were "Come to the Bridge" in the first paragraph and "The captain walked on the bridge" in the second. I have heard, "Jean, the guys know what we mean," until recently. To me, an edited book should never draw attention to the editing. You should never notice it, because what you are reading is right. If we write "The Gron ships are at SW-I and 21 hexes from the base," then you wonder if we meant 21 or 12.

The problem with proofreading is it takes a while. I might notice "Gron," but not see SW and see it as wrong until I read a couple more scenarios and ask "What is the difference between SW-I and WS-I?" Since I moved to Amarillo, I have insisted on seeing the "fixes." When I lived in North Carolina, I would check the new product when it came in, then wince as the "fix" to the problem wasn't. If "Bridge" became "vridge," that was a cringe-worthy error. I have had to learn that "perfect is the enemy of good enough" and turn things loose lest I proofread them to death and you never get them.

Once the item is released, the design team can rest on its laurels. I can take off my writing and proofreading hats. But what is this I see before me? It is the marketing hat! I need to build the buzz and keep it going until the item is available. I need to keep it simmering as people buy it and report how much they like it. It is a delicate balance to make people aware but not sound pushy and turn them off. I have to be aware of the rules of the various forums so as not to break them with commercialism.

In the midst of all that, I need to keep "housekeeping tasks" going. Just because we are working on an item doesn't mean that social media comes to a stop. Spammers certainly don't take a break. Customers have questions. Older books need to go up as PDFs (and they need marketing). All of those are part of my job.

Then just as I think the coast is clear come the clarion words, "Jean, we're having a meeting to discuss the next book. Come tell us what you think about it." And we are off to the races!

There is one thing I can say about my job -- there is never a dull moment!

Saturday, March 28, 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.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Here is what you can expect on a date with a suitable member of any of the SFB species.

Federation: Make First Contact.
Klingon: Go dancing. Saber dancing.
Romulan: Attend the submarine races.
Kzintis: Heavy petting.
Gorn: First attend the ballet, then just hold you close.
Tholian: Attend a Rock Concert.
Orions: They will steal your heart.
Hydrans: Just want to hold you close.
Lyrans: Heavy petting.
WYNs: Stay home and watch the house. Burglars, you know.
ISC: Attend an anti-war rally.
Seltorian: Attend a Beatles concert.

Thanks to Mark Kuyper, Timothy Steeves-Walton, Andy Palmer, Sandy Hemenway. This originally appeared in Captain's Log #20. (c) copyright by Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Movies Unseen

This is Steven Petrick posting.

When did going to the movies become so hard?

I looked up recently, and noticed that several movies was interested in seeing have come to the theaters, and gone, and I did not go. Not even to the $2.00 theater to see them.

Does not sound like much, until you consider that not only have I not seen the latest "Night at the Museum" film, but it was too difficult to go see "The Battle of the Five Armies" and the conclusion of "The Hunger Games" even though I had seen all of the previous movies in those series.

It is not like it is any harder to get to the main movie theater here in Amarillo (I drive right by it every morning on the way to the office, and every evening on my way home). The experience has just become something I am no longer willing to endure.

I honestly do not think I will go to see the next "Star Trek" film, much less the next iteration of the "Star Wars" series.

I would much rather go to my own home and read a book or watch something on TV.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Random Thoughts #224

Steve Cole ponders the curious origins of interesting words:

1. PETTICOAT, now referring to a lady's undergarment, simply means little coat. Men wore petticoats from 1300 to 1500 by which time they were called waistcoats. (They might today be called Eisenhower Jackets.) When women adopted grand dresses that were designed to balloon out from their legs, tailors adopted the old term for little coat to describe the undergarment that produced the required volume.

2. PHAETON, a word now used occasionally to name a particularly sporty vehicle (from a two-horse buggy in the 1700s to a Rolls Royce today), was the name of the son of Helios, who drove the sun chariot across the sky. Phaeton convinced his father to let him drive one day, but he could not control the horses and Zeus killed him to save the Earth.

3. PHANTASMAGORIA, meaning a dreamlike fantasy in which characters appear and fade almost randomly, was the name of a kind of slide projector invented in 1802. Theaters had used the "magic lantern" for many years to project images on a screen. Mr. Philipstal's improved device inset transparent characters into opaque slides, so that only the character was projected (onto a thin screen, from the back side). The think screen could be mechanically pulled forward and backwards, making the characters grow or shrink in size. He invented the name for his device in a very early version of "branding." His concept of slides was quickly copied by other theaters.

4. PHOTOGRAPHY, the science and hobby of printing a picture onto paper, has a long history. Cameras had existed from the 1600s, but the only thing they would do is focus an image (by their lens) onto a canvas. An artist would then sketch out the key outlines and points with a pencil, then paint over the marks. No end of inventors tried to find a way to permanently capture an image. (It is arguable that somebody succeeded in the 1600s based on one artifact that may be something else.) Possibly the first to succeed was a Frenchman named Niepce who took a photograph of his garden with an eight-hour exposure in 1826. He called this a heliograph. Niepce's friend Louis Deguerre improved the process and by 1835 could produce permanent images on copper plates coated with chemicals in a few minutes, and this became the deguerreotype. (Both used cameras produced by a German company with 200 years of experience in making them.) In January 1839, an Englishman named Talbot improved the process using tin plates and called it photogenic drawing. These are the "tin types" found today as family heirlooms or museum pieces. In March 1839, Sir John Herschel finally achieved a truly practical process (which still took several minutes) and named it photography, combining the first part of Talbot's device and the last part of Niepce's.

5. PIANO, a musical instrument with 88 keys, was first invented in 1709. (The name comes from the Italian "piano e forte" which means "soft and loud" because it could make sounds of both qualities.) Harpsichords had been around for 200 years and clavichords for a century before that, but these "plucked" the strings, producing a sound that was loud enough only for a small room. The piano, which hits the strings with a hammer, could be heard throughout a concert hall, but with an adjustment, could be "turned down" to play in a smaller room.

6. POMPADOUR, a high-swept hairstyle similar to today's "big hair," is the name of a French estate and a minor title of nobility. Jean Antoinette Poisson was a young French lady adopted and educated by a rich banker. She became the mistress of Louis XV. A beautiful woman and perhaps the first to define high fashion, she set the styles for Parisian fashion for her entire lifetime and beyond. Louis XV loved her so much that he bought her the estate of Pompadour and with it the title of marquise (later elevated to duchess). Sometimes a modern woman who is obsessed with fashion will be nicknamed "Madame Pompadour." The first syllable (pomp) is now used to signify a ceremony carried out in a grand style.
7. POPLIN, an English word for a type of cloth woven from silk threads in one direction and worsted yarn in the other, is simply the English mispronunciation of the French papaline (Pope's Town). The cloth was invented and first manufactured in Avignon, which had been the seat of the papacy from 1309 to 1376 and remained the property of the pope until 1791.

8. POST, as in mail, originated as post (same word), meaning a station or depot (which it still means today if you happen to be in the Army, hence the Post Exchange). For thousands of years, great kings would keep their kingdoms an empires in order by establishing a post every 25 (or so) miles along the main roads. If the king needed to send orders to a nobleman or general in the far reaches of the kingdom (or even to another king) a rider took it to a post, where other horses and riders were based. A fresh horse and rider then took the letter to the next post. The letter thus kept moving around the clock. This system (obvious if you think about it) was used by Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, and before them all by Darius of Persia. The posts became small towns in their own right and it was not unusual for local leaders and traders to pay to have an outgoing rider take their own letters, since a few extra letters hardly overburdened the horse. Marco Polo noted that the Chinese used such a system, and described the stables every 25 miles as "posts" in the sense of a small military fort (or "outpost"). His popular writings were widely read in Europe, where the system still existed in various forms in some areas. As European civilization grew, postal systems became very common and the upper classes often exchanged letters by regularly scheduled couriers. The term spawned words such as postman, post office, and posthouse. The term "posthaste" means "go as fast as those guys who ride between the posts."

9. POTATO, the edible tuberous root we now eat (in one form of another) almost every day is simply the English attempt to pronounce the Spanish word potata, which in turn is the Spanish attempt to pronounce the West Indian world batata. This was first discovered by Spanish explorers. (It is first mentioned in a document dated 1526 which does not describe it as something new.) That plant was what we now call the sweet potato or yam. It was cultivated in Europe as a novelty but few people thought it was edible. By 1550, Spanish explorers in Peru had encountered the unrelated white root vegetable that is the actual potato. The Incas called it papas but the Spanish were convinced it was just a white batata. That plant proved far more amenable to European pallets.

10. PRECIPICE, a cliff, comes from the Latin praecipito which means "head first." In ancient Rome, some criminals were executed by being thrown head first from a cliff. The term also produced precipitate meaning "to fall" (rain is precipitation) or "to rush in head first."

Tuesday, March 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, March 23, 2015

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

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of catching up, finishing the last pieces of Captain's Log #50, and waiting for the cover art to arrive (which happened on Friday). The weather this week was mild. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day. We held our first formal company staff meeting in months and decided that not having meetings was one reason things haven't been progressing as they should have.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was Ship Card Pack-D from Federation Commander Briefing #2.

Steve Cole worked on final Captain's Log #50 items, the Supplemental File for Captain's Log #50, and (after a long break) resumed work compiling the History of the SFU book.

Steven Petrick worked on the last parts of Captain's Log #50 (including the playtest countersheet for the F&E Romulan Civil War scenario), the Klingon Master Starship Book, and parts of Captain's Log #51.

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 and three updates.

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 the marketing plan for Captain's Log #50, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,559 friends), managed our Twitter feed (136 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Captain's Log #50 one last time, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, dusted off the Kindle version of For the Glory of the Empire, and did some marketing.

Sunday, March 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, March 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, March 20, 2015


The Captain of the Federation Survey Cruiser Lewis & Clark reported back to Starbase 26 after a five-year mission in the off-map region.

"Admiral, we have won great glory in our war with our enemies in the galactic core. We have bombarded their planets, destroyed their freighters, harassed their bases, and mined their supply routes."

"But Captain," the Admiral pointed out, "the Federation doesn't have any enemies in the galactic core region."

"We do now!"

Thanks to Robert Herneson. This originally appeared in Captain's Log #20. (c) copyright by Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Steve Cole's questions you should ask yourself when negotiating a business deal. This includes when a salesman walks into your office with a new service or a sales clerk in a store tries to sell you something.

1. Is the only information I have on this subject coming from the guy trying to sell me the deal?

2. Are we trying to get this done or are we just trying to see which one of us is the bigger elephant?

3. Am I making a deal which produces no benefit other than the warm feeling that I made a deal with someone?

4. Is it really true that I have to take this deal right now (before I can do any checking) or it will be gone forever?

5. Has anybody looked this guy up on internet to see if there are websites complaining that he's a crook?

6. How are these future payments guaranteed? If the whole deal depends on them taking a huge gamble, what happens if they lose their bet and I get nothing?

7. Is this guy setting up a deal where he gets paid if it works or not and I only get paid if his actions beyond my control just happened to produce results?

8. Is the guarantee that this will work only a promise that he will do the exactly same thing again (at my further expense) if it does not work?

9. If this thing you want to sell me is "very collectible" why have I never heard of it? For that matter, have I ever seen similar items being actively bought and sold?

10. Am I buying something I don't want, can't afford, and don't need, just to impress people I am not impressed with?

Wednesday, March 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, March 17, 2015

Saint Patrick's Day

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Today is Saint Patrick's day.

According to tradition, there are no snakes in Ireland because Saint Pat drove them out.

It is unclear if he did this in a Buick or a Ford, but there are apparently no snakes in Ireland.

It is known, however, that the snakes refused to help pay for the gas (well, they are snakes after all).

Monday, March 16, 2015

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

Steve Cole reports:

This was the fourth of the three weeks of finishing Captain's Log #50 as we continued to wait for art that is late. Bruce Graw (who casts our miniatures and designed Omega) visited on his cross-country bicycle trip. The weather this week was cool in the mornings trending warm in the afternoon. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

No new PDFs were uploaded this week as we focused on getting Captain's Log #50 complete.

Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #50, finished Communique #111, dealt with a recalcitrant pirate, and walked a new record of 2+3/4 miles to build up his strength and health.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #50 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 six 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 improving Captain's Log #50, managed our page on Facebook (which is at 2561 friends after Facebook did a purge of all inactive accounts, with us losing over 30 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 Captain's Log #50, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, March 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, March 14, 2015


Steve Cole writes:
More than four decades ago, sitting at the dinner table with my father, brother, and mother, I brought up the subject of the faulty organization of the US armored divisions during World War II. Since my father had served in the 14th Armored Division and was the senior colonel of the local Army Reserve, I figured he would know. He agreed that the organization needed more infantry. (A German panzer division had two battalions of tanks and four or six of infantry; a US division had three of each. A battalion is 700-1000 men.) He noted that in several cases during WW2, units from infantry divisions were attached to his division and that the engineer battalion was always getting used as spare infantry.
He also told me a curious story that I did not bother to research until now, almost half a century later. He said that a unit of black infantry had been attached to the division. Nobody wanted them so they were assigned to Combat Command R (my father was a lowly radio operator in the headquarters of that brigade-sized formation) because its commander was less senior that the other two Combat Commands. Combat Command R didn't particularly want them either, but couldn't turn them down. When the tank battalion complained (as they did every day) about the lack of infantry support, the colonel gave them the black unit (Provisional Company #4, as I found when I looked it up, about 140 soldiers.). The tankers were only barely glad to have any infantry at all, until the black troops were thrown into their first battle. "They fought like demons, like they had something to prove," my father told me. He had witnessed one of their attacks with his own eyes from the commander's half track.
Doing a little historical digging proved this to be the case. By November of 1944, the US Army figured out that it was burning up infantry replacements a whole lot faster than expected. (They did not really understand that the faulty system itself was causing casualties.) They started taking able-bodied men from the rear units, replacing them with men who were wounded or sick who could not serve in combat. Many of the malingerers wandering around the Army rear were told that they would not have to go into combat (and could stay with rear area support units) if they would just "come back to work." (That's another story.) Even that was not enough, and some forward-thinking general suggested asking for volunteers from the black support units. (There were only a few small units of black combat troops in France. There was a whole division of them in Italy and another in the Pacific.) The original memo asking for volunteers said they would go into white units as individual replacements, that only privates could volunteer, and that sergeants or corporals who wanted to fight would have to accept demotion to private first class. Several thousand eager black volunteers appeared.
Then Army Policy got in the way, saying that black men could not be mixed into white units. The black volunteers, already retraining as infantry, were formed into platoons of about 40 men, but these had no (official) sergeants and were little more than armed mobs. The former-sergeants in those platoons who were now privates stepped up as squad leaders and did what sergeants do. Those phantom sergeants turned the armed mobs into actual combat-capable platoons. When the platoons were sent to the front, the unit getting them had to provide one white officer and one white sergeant for each platoon. These men were surprised (and delighted) to find that the platoons had an (albeit unofficial) internal organization.
Most of the black platoons went to infantry divisions, where they became one platoon of one company per regiment (about 2500 men).
About 10 platoons went to the 12th Armored Division to serve as entire companies, one each in the three halftrack infantry battalions.
The last three platoons went to the 14th Armored Division as Provisional Rifle Company #4. Those platoons spent about one month in combat before the war ended.
By all accounts, the platoons performed well in all respects, equal to white platoons. This was partly because the men were picked volunteers, partly because blacks hated the Nazis more than typical whites hated them, and partly because, as my father said, "they had something to prove."
The problem came after the peace when the Army ordered the platoons to disband and the men to return to their original non-combat units. This sparked outrage, as the black men had earned their combat patches and wanted to stay with their divisions (which wanted them to stay). About half of them did go back to service units where they served (with complaint) in menial tasks. The rest were rescued by Benjamin Davis, the only black general in the US Army, who got them assigned to one infantry division and one artillery unit, where they could at least stay together and in a "combat" unit. It was a shameful way for the Army to treat combat veterans who had served with honor and distinction. As my father said: "they fought like demons, like they had something to prove."

Friday, March 13, 2015

Steve Cole Reveals the Top 10 Ways to Win an Argument with a Woman

10. [Nope, that won't work. Deleted.-Jean]

9. [You haven't actually tried that one, have you? Deleted.-Jean]

8. [This is one just suicide. Deleted.-Jean]

7. [You owe Leanna a present for just writing this one down. Deleted.-Jean]

6. [That one worked until women got the vote. It doesn't work any more. Deleted.-Jean]

5. [The last time that one worked, your father was still single. Deleted.-Jean]

4. [Not a chance that one would work. Deleted.-Jean]

3. [Not this one either. Deleted.-Jean]

2. [It theoretically would work, but there isn't that much chocolate in the world. Deleted.-Jean]

1. [Ok, I admit, that one would work, but you'd regret using it for the rest of your life. Deleted.-Jean]

Thursday, March 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, March 11, 2015


This is Steven Petrick posting.

Communications failures abound in life.

Not too long ago SVC decided on a project. As part of this project he assigned me to review a rule submission. All well and good, I had done such things before.

In this case, however, I responded in a somewhat miffed tone that it was near the end of the day, and the job SVC had just given me to do would require (in order to meet the deadline SVC was imposing) me to work through the night, and I had not even had dinner yet.

As one might imagine, my negative complaint in turn angered SVC. He knew that reviewing a new rule was something I had done many times, and at most it would take me only a few hours. From his standpoint I was being unreasonable and petulant.

Neither of us knew that the other was working from a false premise.

I was quite aware that the rule SVC was directing me to review did not exist, and therefore he was not actually assigning me to review the rule, but to create the rule virtually from scratch. That is not a few hours work, that is an all day job, and to meet the deadline of noon the following day would require me to stay all night.

SVC, however, honestly believed he was in fact telling me to review a written rule provided by a someone outside of the company. The individual concerned had submitted several pages of material and the rule was included in that material.

The ultimate problem was that, yes, the individual had submitted several pages of material, but where the rule was concerned had simply noted (in effect) "ADB will have to create this rule to support this submission." There was literally nothing more than that in so far as this rule.

So both SVC and I were angry. I because I believed he was imposing an unreasonable deadline to create a new rule virtually from scratch, SVC because he believed I was being unreasonable about refusing to review a proposed game rule which he knew would take only a few hours. He was being courteous to tell me about it the night before so that I could work on it the next morning, coming at the job fresh after a night's sleep.

Miscommunications like this can be very destructive. Sometimes they do not work out and friendships can be destroyed. In this case, our "discussion" on the matter eventually got to the point where we both went back to the "draft rule" only to discover that, yes, all the author had sent was a rule title and (again in essence) "ADB will have to create this rule to support this submission." At that point SVC extended the deadline (because he had decided that he did want this project to be done), allowing me a day to get the job done, and all was well with the world once more.

Tuesday, March 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, March 09, 2015

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

Steve Cole reports:

This was supposed to be the third and final week of work on Captain's Log #50 but delays in the cover art gave Jean time to proofread the book again (and again). The weather this week was mostly cold. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #50 and when weather permitted took walks for exercise.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #50.

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

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with two 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 and became officially engaged to be married.

Jean worked on articles for Captain's Log #50, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,552 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 Captain's Log #50, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, March 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, March 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, March 06, 2015

Boot Hill

Boot Hill, Boot Hill,
So Cold, So Still.
There they lay side by side,
The Stevens who died,
When they pranked Jean one too many times.
Though she whanged them to death,
With their dying breath,
They both tried to prank her again. 

(c) 2015, Stephen V. Cole and Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Humans Can Be Programmed

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I often talk of programming subroutines in my mind. These are things that go on "in the background" without any real conscious thought on my part, as far as I can tell. SVC has noticed these on occasion. An example being the "Penske game" we used to play on Origins trips. SVC was often flabbergasted that I could be driving the vehicle and conducting a conversation with him, and suddenly pick out a Penske vehicle in the distance. I thought nothing of this as it was simply a programmed subroutine to look for them, little more than "pattern recognition."

Something yellow is moving in the distance.

The something is too large to be a car.

The yellow has black marks in particular places.

At a closer range the black marks on the top of the yellow vehicle are not a tinted window.


It is a little harder to spot a "stealth" Penske. Not all Penske vehicles are yellow, some are white, and these tend to get a little closer before being spotted for a score.

This is not, to me, unusual.

As a young lieutenant every time I went into a "tactical" situation I had multiple subroutines running. I had some mission to accomplish, and some of them were more intense than others (requiring more subroutines). The subroutines took care of things like listening to the radio. Any time I was in the field under conditions of maintaining radio contact I had to listen to what was coming over the radio. Whether I was running a non-tactical training exercise (such as how to set up camouflage nets) or a tactical exercise involving maneuvering to assault a hill, I had to keep an ear open to what was coming over the radio. Sure, my radio operator would call me over if I was needed to actually talk on the radio, but listening to it was a source of information on what was going on around me. Much more intense in the tactical scenario, because I might need to slow the movement of my own platoon if I heard over the radio that a platoon supporting my attack was being delayed, for example. Keeping track of that let me adjust my own plans and be ready for any overall change of mission my company commander might give me.

But listening to the radio was a subroutine, a small portion of my brain given over to that and advising the "command center."

Another subroutine was using that previously mentioned "pattern recognition" software, looking for things that were "out of place" and might mean a hidden enemy position, or one of my squads moving in the wrong direction, or an element of a flanking platoon intruding into my line of advance.

While all that is going on I might be issuing an order to a squad, or speaking with a squad leader about something he saw, or one of his men saw, and thinking about where to place a machinegun to cover my movement, or perhaps to support a flanking platoon.

And in the event I take fire, there was always a subroutine running about where the nearest cover was (I once surprised SVC when he announced that a sniper was firing at us on a walk and I simply responded that I would drop behind the hill for cover. Up to that moment SVC had not even realized we were just below the crest of rising ground and by simply lying flat would be out of the purported sniper's line of sight and of fire.

There is an upper limit to the number of subroutines I can have running at one time. Many of the ones from my days in the Army have languished and died from lack of use and been overwritten by new ones (such as the Penske game one that has been running, annoyingly, since SVC started the game . . . I cannot stop counting Penske vehicles when I am driving).

Wednesday, March 04, 2015


Steve Cole ponders various thoughts that came to mind.
1. There was a flurry of news about those little plastic things that prevent the guy in the airplane seat in front of you from leaning back. Didn't you lean back? So you want to steal space from the guy behind you but expect the guy in front of you to do without you passing that space along?
2. It's comical to see the badly spelled or phrased words in spam from foreign countries. I as "invitated" dozens of times to click on some link, and that's just one example. Given what I do for a living, I am always tempted to reply with a proofreading guide, telling them "You meant 'invited' as there is no such word as 'invitated' just in case you didn't know" but do I really want to make their spam more effective? Worse, do I want to tell them that I actually READ their spam.
3. Confucius said: "You have two lives. The second begins when you realize there is only one." I like that. Once your perception shifts, everything starts over.
4. There is a 1909 penny attached to the Curiosity Rover on Mars to help calibrate the camera. Is this going to be proof a hundred years from now that the US owns Mars? Are there any more US coins even farther from Earth? I don't know.
5. When I was young (maybe 14) I went to a movie with my parents. Back then, you often got a short subject movie for free as part of the feature, and one of these was a National Geographic wildlife thing. It mentioned tropical penguins, those who do not live in ice and snow of Antarctica. At some later point, a teacher told the class that penguins only lived in Antarctica. I said that I had seen tropical penguins in a movie. The teacher was livid, insisting that I was making it up, and actually told the entire class not to believe anything I told them because I made up stuff like that. At the time, I was so humiliated and angry that it didn't really occur to me that a quick check of an encyclopedia might prove my case, so I suffered in silence and was mocked by my classmates for years. (I was a bookworm and spent all of my time reading everything I could get, which meant I had something to say on almost any subject, but my classmates had been warned not to believe me, making me something of a laughingstock.) I happened to think of this incident the other night and went to Google and sure enough, tropical penguins showed up (in South America and southern Africa) right away. These days if some teacher does that to some child, I hope that the child whips put a smart phone and proves the teacher to be a fool. (Of course, I hate it when I'm chatting with somebody, mention something, and they whip out a smart phone to look it up.) Proving the teacher is wrong sometimes backfires. A history teacher once told the class a couple of "facts" about World War II, one of which was even in our history book, but both were just flat wrong. I showed up the next day with a dozen history books to prove this, but was told to shut up. Arguing further, I got sent to the principal's office to be punished for insubordination. My parents were outraged, and the next day my father walked into my history class (uninvited and unexpected) wearing his Army uniform (he was a colonel) and proceeded to lecture the teacher on what was a fact and what was not, using those same history books I had brought to prove she was plain wrong. He then left. The teacher blew a fit and hauled me to the principal's office, only to find my father had gotten there first (with the history books). The principal warned the teacher not to argue with me without checking her facts, and that if I got any grade from her on any test or report card other than A+ he would want to see proof or she would face the school board's disciplinary committee. That teacher found other ways to make my life miserable, such as denying me a chance to compete in a national history contest with big cash prizes. I wouldn't have won anyway, but would have liked skipping school for a day to take the tests.

Tuesday, March 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, March 02, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 22-28 February 2015

Steve Cole reports: 

This was the second of the three-week final push to finishing Captain's Log #50, and we were over 77% done by Saturday. The weather this week was cold, with snow limiting us to work half-days most of the week. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

Steve Cole worked on almost exclusively on Captain's Log #50, and was unable to get his walking done most days. He did get a good report from his new doctor, who considers Wolf to be the best thing for Steve's health.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #50.

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 and some graphics.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2521 friends), managed our Twitter feed (134 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, and did some marketing.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

On Snow, More Snow, and Even More Snow

Jean Sexton muses:

When I moved from my home in North Carolina to Amarillo,Texas, I thought I had a handle on things. Amarillo was a bit north of where I lived, but about where I grew up in northeastern North Carolina. Texas is in the "South" according to books. I thought I'd move to a climate that was a bit less damp and a bit cooler.

Amarillo isn't exactly "normal" Texas. It is part of the Texas Panhandle. It is on the Caprock, the high plains. It is about 3,600 feet above sea level.You can see storms divide to go around the Caprock. Amarillo gets less than half the precipitation of my former home. However, sometimes Amarillo gets its own private weather. A weather band will come and sit on Amarillo and snow. And snow. And snow! I am beginning to think most of the precipitation comes as snow!

In eastern North Carolina we realize that snow is slippery. Should you drive on slippery things? No, of course not. On the forecast of snow, then you know what to do. You get milk, eggs, bread, and toilet paper (along with any other things you are out of). If you are on well water, you pick up water. You make sure the car has gas, even if you aren't going to drive.

When it snows in North Carolina, many local places close. There's no need to drive on slippery roads; wherever you would be going is closed. Besides, you have everything you need because you bought your staples already. And the snow will melt in a few days.

In Amarillo, people go out and buy staples. When it snows, they go driving around! In slippery snow! The good thing is that Amarillo prepares for snow. Intersections get sanded. Major streets get plowed. Sidewalks for businesses get shoveled and salted.

I'm adapting, at least some. The entrance to my apartment gets some snow buildup. I've been sweeping the snow to create a pathway to the main sidewalk. If I do that before it gets turned to ice, then things are better. A couple of my neighbors are helping me if the apartment complex doesn't shovel the sidewalks. They will make me a path to the point where the sun has melted the ice. (I live on the shaded north side of the complex.)

I can handle driving in an inch or so of snow. My skills there are slowly increasing. Luckily, the Coles are willing to pick me up when the snow is deeper. I miss my "snow days," but I remind myself there will be plenty of those when I am truly retired. In the meantime, I will learn to embrace the snow. And more snow. And even more snow!