In Praise of Our Volunteers
The adventure game (wargame+roleplaying game) industry is a small
one, and there isn't the kind of money inside of it that other
industries have. The industry consists of creative game designers
willing to work 60 hours a week for half the pay they could command
outside the game industry, all because they get to BE game designers.
at that, the only way the game industry survives is by the hard labor
of unpaid volunteers who (for honor, glory, and rarely some free games)
provide no end of valuable services to game publishers.
Mike West answers rules questions on Federation Commander.
Mike Curtis does the same thing for Federation & Empire,
Jonathan Thompson for Prime Directive PD20
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
to pay the server costs. Tenneshington Decals does made-to-order
decals for our Starline miniatures and is run by two of our fans: Will
McCammon and Tony Thomas.
Federation & Empire
would not exist without Chuck Strong (a retired real-world colonel from
Space Command) in charge of the overall game system. He keeps his
staff (Mike Curtis, Ryan Opel, Scott Tenhoff, Thomas Mathews, and Stew
Frazier) busy moving projects forward.
would get done on any of our games except for the Playtest Battle Labs
run by Scott Moellmer in Colorado and by Mike Curtis and Tony Thomas in
Tennessee. And all of the other playtesters are invaluable to us.
have other staffers and volunteers who do specific things (and
sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including John Berg,
Howard Bampton, and Lucky Coleman (Galactic Conquest
Kast (Klingon Armada
); and John Sickels, Tony Thomas, James Goodrich, Mike West, James Kerr, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive
Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each
one of them. Sometimes our volunteers become part of our staff; Jean
Sexton started out as a volunteer proofreader.
to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month,
by email or BBS or Forum or our page on Facebook, contribute in some way
to the company and its product line. They may report a glitch in an
existing product, playtest a product in development, suggest a new
product, point out something another company is doing what we may want
to take a look at emulating, look up a rules reference for another
player, report on somebody who using our property improperly, comment
on a posted draft of a new rule, or simply ask a question nobody else
ever dared to ask.
Many years ago, we began awarding
medals, ribbons, and other "decorations" to staffers and others who
contributed to each product, and some other projects. These awards not
only recognize those who contributed to the various projects, but
encouraged others to begin making their contributions to future
projects. We have created the Wall of Honor at http://starfleetgames.com/ArtGallery/Wall%20of%20Honor.shtml
This is a tribute to over 30 years of volunteer work. We hope you visit
it to say thanks to all the volunteers and their efforts.
RANDOM THOUGHTS #279
Steve Cole writes:
People often try to convince me to
publish some particular product. (It's how we select a lot of the
products that get printed, but there are advocates for many more
products than we can actually print.) Sometimes this is a gamer who
wants to buy the product; sometimes it's an outside designer who
wants me to publish the product.
The way you convince us to
create and publish something is to prove that the sales (in dollars,
not just units) exceed the costs. Some products are easier to do than
others. (Federation Commander Klingon Ship Card Pack #4 took less than a day to do; the
revised rules for Federation & Empire Fighter Operations or A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Book #1
took most of a year.) Obviously, you have to convince us that there
are enough people who will buy it to generate enough money to pay us
for doing it, but that number is key on several levels.
First, you have to meet the minimum print run.
If you want die cut counters, that means 1000. If you just want
laminated cards like Federation Commander, probably half of that. If you want PDFs, then
the minimum run is one.
But, second, you have to sell enough not
just for the minimum print run, but enough to be worth the payroll time to
create the product. Obviously, I cannot do a month of work to create
something that sells one copy, even if the minimum print run is one.
And the time that my employees (and myself) have to do products is
limited and finite. Doing one project literally means not doing
another one (at least not yet). A project by an outside designer
should take less time than one done by myself personally, but I've
rarely seen that actually happen. We spend more time fixing and
editing to make sure it works and fits inside the universe than
Then third, you
have to look at what is best for the specific product line. Doing any
significant work on Federation Commander Early Years delays the already announced
next project (Fighters Attack). Can anyone tell me that Early Years
will outsell Fighters Attack? I just don't think you can. On the other
hand, something that would take an hour to do won't slow down the
next major product significantly.
Then, fourth, look at
the whole company. Doing a product for Federation & Empire may mean not doing a
product for Star Fleet Battles. A new module for Starmada might mean not doing a new
book for A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, and so forth. We got a lot done in 2016, but some of
its schedule remain unfinished and we will have no trouble finding
more projects for 2017 than we can complete.
A key point is die-cut counters. Currently, the system
that produces them produces four 8.5x11 sheets, which means that any
product that requires counters either fits into the next sheet or
waits for the one after that. All four sheets (which could be from two
to eight products) have to be ready at the same time, which may mean
that we have to stop everything and complete a low priority project so
that the combined print run of counters can go to press. It might also
mean that a very important product has to wait months or a year for a
spot on a print run, or that adding a product that takes little work
but needs counters means delaying a product that also needs
course, sometimes my hands are tied. I cannot do a product which
exceeds our license, or one that requires parts that cannot be
Since we've just started work on
Captain's Log #52 I should comment that sometimes the thing people
want is not a product at all, just a few pages of the next Captain's
Log. That makes the minimum print run irrelevant, but also means it
cannot include counters. While Captain's Log is a zero-sum game
(with 144 pages, anything we do means not doing something else) and
cannot accommodate projects of more than a few pages, it does use work
resources already on the schedule.
This Week at ADB, Inc., 20-26 November 2016
Steve Cole reports:
This was the week of the American
Thanksgiving holiday. Between time off and family events, we only got
half a week of work done. The weather this week was cooler.
Steve Cole worked on
Captain's Log #52 and other projects including thoughts about releasing scaled deck
plans in PDF.
Captain's Log #52, the Master Starship Books, and other projects.
Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Jean worked on deck plans, managed our
page on Facebook (which is up to 3,406 friends), managed our Twitter
feed (208 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing
spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Master Starship Books, took
care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.
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
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.
RANDOM THOUGHTS #278
Steve Cole ponders thoughts on
1. The Triassic
was the first (oldest) of the three dinosaur ages (250 to 200 million
years ago). During this period, dinosaurs first appeared, but they
hadn't taken over the planet until the end of it. Lots of other
animals, families that lost the war for Earth to the dinos, are also
2. The Jurassic is the middle of the
dinosaur era (200 to 140 million years ago). It was a very wet, lush,
green time for Earth. This period includes stegosaurus, allosaurus,
and the duckbills. It also includes a chicken-sized predator Coelophysis who was the ancestor of Tyrannosaurus.
3. The Cretaceous is the last of the three
dinosaur eras (starting 140 million years ago), and ended 65 million
years ago when the big rock hit Mexico and the Deccan mega-volcanoes
messed up the whole planet. This period includes most of the dinosaurs
we know, including T-rex, raptors, Triceratops, Ankylosaurus (armored
tanks on legs), and the crested duckbills.
4. Dimetrodon was probably in your toy
dinosaur set. It looks like a lizard with a huge fin on its back
(which is called a sail). It was also in the original Journey to the
Center of the Earth movie. Funny thing is, Dimetrodon was not a
dinosaur, but a mammal-like reptile that died out in the Permian, long
before the first dinosaur was born. We humans actually have Dimetrodon
in our family tree. Say hello to your
5. Spinosaurus was as big as a T-rex but
had a huge sail on his back like the Dimetrodon (but was not related).
Spinosaurus was found in Morocco and Egypt. The first one found was
accidentally destroyed when the US bombed (1944) the Berlin museum
that housed his bones. About 15 years ago I was reading Dinolist
and asked the dinosaur scientists "You know where he's from.
Why not go there and drive around until you find one sticking out of a
rock?" Many laughed at my naivete but one of them (perhaps not
because of what I said) actually did just that and found another one
(and a lot of other new dinosaurs). I count this as my contribution to
dinosaur paleontology. Spinosaur teeth are a unique shape with unique
serrations on the edges, and lots of related "spinosaurids"
have the same teeth of various sizes. Since teeth are the most common
fossils found, scientists have a pretty good idea of where these
things wandered, including north Africa and Brazil.
scientists working in Mongolia found a bone bed containing a flock of
Avimimus (bird-mimic), a kind of dinosaur from the branch of the
meat-eaters that spawned birds. Bonebeds are great because you get
partial skeletons (or whole skeletons) of a dozen individuals, in this
case of the same species. Most dinosaur skeletons are found in a
jumbled pile missing half or more of the pieces, and scientists have
to guess about the missing bones from similar species. (For example,
they found half of a tiger skeleton but could tell it was enough like
a leopard that since they had a whole leopard skeleton they could
guess the missing bits.) Bonebeds sometimes have complete skeletons
laid out nose to tail (a bunch of dinosaurs died in one place), and
sometimes have random jumbles of bones (a bunch of dinosaurs died
somewhere else and their bones were washed into a big hole by the
actions of a river).
7. Words mean
things. The word "described" means (to dinosaur scientists)
that someone wrote a scientific paper in a peer-review journal which
gave lots of lots of details about known bones of some animal. In
theory, anyone who finds a random bone checks every published
"description" to see if his bone fits into a known critter
before he publishes his own paper defining it as a new critter.
Brontosaurus, Triceratops, and Stegosaurus are not species (e.g.,
tiger) but genera (e.g., big cat). Tyrannosaurus rex is a species, as
is Tyrannosaurus bator, the Asian cousin of T-rex. Many think that
bator is actually in a separate genera, Tarbosaurus bator, but that
argument is not yet settled.
9. On Earth today there are 6,199 different species of
amphibians, 9,956 different species of birds, 30,000 different species
of fish, 5,416 different species of mammals (about half of which are
rodents), and 8,240 different species of reptiles. Consider that we
know of less than a thousand species of dinosaurs and those cover a
period of 170 million years. Assuming a species lasts about four
million years, that means at best we know of 25 dinosaur species alive
at any given time. Even compared to the 2500 "greater mammals"
alive today, you can see that our picture of the fossil record is
murky at best. It's more likely that you will win the lottery than
become a fossil for some scientist of a new species to study 25
million years from now.
10. It is looking more and more like the extinction at the end
of the Permian (before the Triassic, the extinction that destroyed the
proto-mammals and opened the door for dinosaurs) was caused by massive
mega-volcanoes in Siberia. These erupted for a million years, covered
most of Siberia in lava, and totally wrecked the
We at Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. wish you the best of luck in your Black Friday shopping.
We at Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving Day! We will be taking the day off to spend in fellowship.
Join us on Facebook and Twitter
ADB, Inc.’s page on Facebook is now up and running, and we’re finding
a lot of new faces who haven’t been around the BBS or Forum. We have
pictures up of ADB, Inc. staff, links to many of our videos, snippets of
information, and interaction with our fans. Jean Sexton is the main
voice you will hear on our page on Facebook. If she doesn’t know an
answer, she’ll ask one of the Steves and ferry the answer back.
that is left is for you to "like" the page for Amarillo Design Bureau,
Inc. if you haven’t done so already. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf
people on our page on Facebook have not been on our BBS, so perhaps
our new outpost on Facebook will become the place for those who want to
keep up with current events without the intense atmosphere (and flood
of information) found on the BBS. If you are very busy on a given day,
checking our page on Facebook would tell you quickly if something
important has been announced. The page also has its own art galleries,
plus a place where you can post a review of our products. It also has
discussions where you can link up with fellow gamers.
We've also added a Twitter feed which you can follow at https://twitter.com/ADBInc_Amarillo.
Be sure to follow us for a quick look at what is going on!
We hope to see you there! For Facebook users, be sure to add us to an interest group to see all of our posts.
Situation Normal At ADB
This is Steven Petrick posting.
Work is proceeding apace on Captain's Log #52
. Various articles are coming together, and various plans and operations are proceeding as intended. The various tactics topics have been reviewed and the tactics sent out for grading.
Reports have been coming in on the Lyran Master Starship Book
, and a head start has been made on the Kzinti Master Starship Book
. The Lyran Democratic Republic Master Starship Book
is waiting in the wings to swoop down and seize a position for publication. So far only one checker has looked at it, however, and he was a special case. I do not want to flood the checkers with another book until they have finished the Lyran Master Starship Book
. I do not know which book will be next after the preceding.
We have an operational plan in the works for Thanksgiving. We will see how that works out, but we all know that Mrs. Murphy's darling little boy is just waiting to throw a spanner into the works. Mrs. Murphy's darling little boy is always waiting to toss spanners into the works (sigh).
We do, however, continue to make progress.
Playing Star Fleet Universe Games Long Distance
Playing games by email or by post is an alternative to playing
face-to-face. While there are a few differences (i.e., your opponent
isn't sitting across the table from you), it is the same game.
When playing Star Fleet Battles
or Federation Commander
using the Play-by-Email (PBEM) system you and your opponent submit your
orders for the turn to a moderator via email. The moderator then
processes them, and sends a "SitRep" (Situation Report) to the players
via email. You receive the results, write up your next set of orders,
and then submit your orders once again. The process is repeated until
the game is completed. Sounds simple? That's because it IS! It'll take a
little getting used to (after all, what doesn't?), but once you've got
the hang of it, you'll be lobbing photon torpedoes (or whatever your
weapon of choice is) at opponents from all over the world.
PBEM game has at least three participants: two or more players and one
moderator. The moderator's purpose is to accept orders from the players
and carry them out, reporting the results of those orders to all
players. While (s)he is not a player, the moderator fulfills a very
important role in the game. Good moderators and good players make for a
good, enjoyable game. Moderating a game is also an excellent way to
learn more about the game's rules.
games can be played by posting on the Forum. The GM of the game gets
players, approves their characters, then sets up situations for the
characters to face. It takes a bit longer because the players are not
sitting around the table, but it also allows people who are spread out
across the world to play.
Players of all our games are
expanding the frontiers of playing long distance. Some are trying chat,
some are adding webcams to that, many are trying out VOIP so as to get
close to a face-to-face experience.
While there are
some disadvantages to playing long distance (it does take longer to
finish a game), there are advantages as well. You can play against
people in other parts of the world (how often do you get to Australia,
anyway?), you can play multiple games at once, and you can have large
multi-player games (without worrying about running out of chips and
For more information about playing long distance, drop in on the Forum (http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2
) or BBS (http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/
This Week at ADB, Inc., 13-19 November 2016
Steve Cole reports:
This was a week of steady progress.
The weather this week was coolish.
New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was Captain's Log #25.
Steve Cole worked on
Captain's Log #52, Federation Admiral, blogs, demotivationals, and other projects.
Steven Petrick worked on Master
Starship Books, Captain's Log #52, and other projects.
Update Project moved forward with five new entries.
orders and accounting up to date.
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates and some
Jean worked on Captain's Log #52, managed our page on
Facebook (which is up to 3,389 friends), managed our Twitter feed (206
followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam
assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Captain's Log #52, took care
of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.
Ever wished you could take a peek inside a shrink-wrapped box or look
behind the pretty covers of a book? Then these videos are for you.
brainchild of Mike Sparks, our YouTube videos are of three types. The
first is about a specific product line and you can hear Steve Cole (yes,
he is the talking hands in our videos) discuss the products that are in
one of the different games. The second kind is what ADB, Inc. has
released in a particular month. These are a great way to catch up
quickly on the new items.
It is the third kind that let's you see what is in the box. A boxed game such as Federation & Empire
is taken out of the box item by item so that you can see what's in
there. From rulebook, to charts, to maps, to counters, each item is
shown and discussed. It's a lot of information to pack into a short
clip, but SVC and Mike manage it.
Check out our channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames
and be sure to bring the popcorn!
How to Find New Opponents
Steve Cole writes:
Many gamers are looking for new
opponents. This is nothing new. When I was a teenager, there were maybe
four war gamers in Amarillo that I knew, but there must have been more
as the one store that carried Avalon Hill games (then the only wargames)
would sell one or two now and then that my friends and I knew we didn't
buy. Funny, it never once occurred to us to ask the store manager to
give our phone numbers to the other guys. When I was in college, SPI
(then the second wargame company and rapidly becoming larger and more
innovative than Avalon Hill) had an opponent wanted list. I sent in my
dollar to get it, and found only one person (of the 20 on the list) who
was within 120 miles; the first and last person on the list were each
450 miles away (in opposite directions).
the concept of contacting other gamers has had decades to mature, works
much better, and there are a lot of ways to do it. For best results,
you should do all of them.
If you play Federation Commander,
then you can go to the Commander's Circle and enter your data (as much
or as little as you are comfortable with) and perhaps find opponents
near you. We are gaining new sign-ins every day, and since it's free you
can try it every month or two and find out if somebody nearby has
signed in. http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/
Primarily for Federation Commander
players, the Forum has a topic where local stores and groups post
announcements and invitations. Players can let other players know
they're around. How silly would you feel if you found out that the guy
who you've been arguing with on the forum for years actually lives in
your town. (That HAS happened.) http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2
can to go to a local store and ask them to let you post a notice
looking for opponents. You could also run a demo of your favorite
game(s) and "grow your own" opponents. If a person already plays the
game you are demoing, he'll doubtless drop by just to swap phone
Many towns have community bulletin boards on
the local cable company's "home" channel. These are variously free or
cost just a couple of dollars. It's hit-and-miss, but you could get
lucky. (When I commanded Company C of the 1-39 MPs, I gained a dozen new
recruits in a year that came from cable TV.) You could also buy a cheap
want ad in the newspaper or the free advertising newspaper (American's
Want Ads or whatever yours is called) found in quickie marts. There is
also Craigslist, but you should use the normal caution you would for
meeting a stranger.
The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to http://starfleetgames.com/starlist.shtml
Enter your data in the form, and you'll get a list of local players
back. (This may take a day or two as it is done by hand.) Starlist is
the most effective hunt for new players because the database has some
5,000 players in it, far more than all of the other sources combined.
The only drawback is that Starlist works with full information (name and
address) and those who are seriously concerned about identity theft
often find this uncomfortable. In all reality, however, Starlist would
not give an identity thief any more information than a local phone book
would, and if that's enough for those criminals to operate, they would
be vastly more likely to use the phone book than to request a copy of
You can find opponents for all of our games on our BBS. Go to http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/
and you'll see "Seeking Opponents" on the main menu. You can post a
notice there (and search the previous postings). Again, you can post as
much or as little information as you are comfortable with.
Friends of our page on Facebook can post to see who is out there. Not a friend? Become one here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf
With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see http://www.starfleetgames.com/links.shtml
there is a game convention within driving distance, it's worth a trip
to see if you might find someone who is also within driving distance. If
there is a game club in your home town or a store with a gaming area,
go there and set up the game and wait for somebody to ask what it is.
(Even better, take a friend who will play the game with you so you won't
be bored.) If there is a Star Trek club in your home town, show them Federation Commander
or Star Fleet Battle Force
There are people who have printed a card with the logo of one of our
games and their email address and left these in the windows of their
cars who got emails from other gamers in their home towns who were
You can go always go to SFB Online (http://www.sfbonline.com/index.jsp
) and play Star Fleet Battles
and Federation Commander
online with live opponents from around the world for the princely sum
of $5 per month. You might even stumble into somebody local.
are probably more ways than this to find opponents, but unless you live
in a cave somewhere, you can almost certainly find a new friend within a
short while by trying these methods.
Answers to the Top 10 Questions that a Starship Captain Never Wants to Ask, Q3
3. Why is the cook leading the Marines?
Errr, Sir, he isn't leading them, unless you count being in front
leading. I believe he feels the enemy will be more merciful than the
Marines after what he served them for lunch.
(c) 2002 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25
The Computer Wars Continue (and I am losing)
This is Steven Petrick posting.
Having an interesting time with computers of late.
Computer "A" will not work with Pagemaker at all, but I have a page maker file that must be operated on.
Computer "B" says "Pagemaker . . .? No problem . . . but you cannot PDF Pagemaker files on me."
But computer A will not do anything with Pagemaker
Computer B: "Not my problem, you made all of your edits, work it out, I am done."
I finally had no choice but to convert the Pagemaker document on Computer B to a "Word" document.
So that ends the problem, right?
Computer "B" now says "Oh, you want to PDF that Word file? I do not do that anymore either."
Fortunately I can take a Word file from computer "B" to computer "A" and computer "A," which says there is no such thing as "Pagemaker" is perfectly happy to PDF any Word files I give it.
At least I will not have future problems with the Pagemaker file, since I have converted it to Word, but it is just one more of those things that prove to me that computers do not like me, and they are all out to get me, or at least drive me out of what is left of my mind.
RANDOM THOUGHTS #277
Steve Cole's thoughts on preparing
for the apocalypse.
When the apocalypse comes, and it will, it
probably won't be something we expected, predicted, or prepared for.
Lots of everyday disasters (a storm, power lines down for a few days,
a train derailed into a oil terminal, a deep water oil well blows out
and pollutes the ocean) will happen before then.
Apocalypse scenarios come in various
kinds (mega-volcano, asteroid, plague, solar storm, gamma-ray burst),
and various speeds (developing over weeks or minutes), and may happen
when you are at home, at work, in your car, on vacation, or whatever.
A six-month stockpile of food and ammo in your home or a remote cabin
won't help you if you're at work and cannot get to your cache.
Your cache won't be of much use if others can get to it and steal it
before you get there.
Preparation should cover every possibility (to
the extent you can afford). It's about surviving the first 30
minutes (when you get away from the fire, the zombies, or whatever),
the first three days (by which time you will run out of the food
normally in your house), and the first three months (by which time you
should have reached or formed some kind of group in some defendable
So you need to plan for short-term
survival (get out of danger), medium-term (last for three days to a
week), and long-term (building a new society from the ashes).
1. No matter what happens, no matter
where you are when it does happen, you will have your body with you at
the time. You need to get your body healthy and keep it that way with
proper diet and exercise. Smoking and other drug habits will be fatal
flaws during the apocalypse, so break them. Exercise to build
strength, stamina, and speed. Five extra pounds is part of surviving
that first week, but any more than that will fatally slow you
2. No matter what happens, no matter where you
are when it does happen, you will have your brain with you at the
time, so prepare your brain by learning as much as you can about
survival. Read a few books, watch a few TV shows, learn some skills.
(Seriously, how many of us have ever made a fire by rubbing two sticks
together? The guy who can do that will be the guy everyone wants to
hang with and protect.) Learn enough about cars to keep one running.
Take the Red Cross first aid and CPR courses. Actually learn how to
make a fire by rubbing two sticks together. (It can be done.)
3. When it
happens, wherever you are, anything you habitually carry in your
pockets may be the key to your survival. Put one of those
mini-flashlights in a pocket. Hang a multi-tool in a pouch on your
belt. Get one of those bracelets of parachute cord. Fold up a $20 bill
and tuck it into the darkest corner of your wallet; if you walk three
miles to safety you can at least buy a meal while waiting for rescue.
Most people my age carry a small folding knife; if you don't, you
should. A friend of mine carries a lighter even though he doesn't
smoke. (Carrying a firearm is a massive responsibility; be sure you
have all proper licenses and training and obey all laws.) You cannot
walk around your whole life with a 40-pound backpack of survival
supplies, but a few simple items won't be too much. If your life
depends on medication, you may want to get some kind of small plastic
container and keep a few days of pills (a week if you can) in your
pocket at all times. Unfortunately for you ladies, fashion designers
decided you will carry all of that stuff in your bag and that will be
the first thing you lose when fleeing the first crisis of the
4. The simplest and most
common disaster is a power failure, which is also part of many
apocalypse scenarios. If you put a flashlight in your desk at work,
beside your bed, in your car, and beside the chair where you spend
most of your time at home, you'll at least be able to find your way
around without tripping over something and breaking your ankle. (That
would be fatal during the apocalypse and inconvenient if the disaster
is minor and the lights come back on an hour later.) Make one of those
a hand-cranked light (the kind that don't use batteries). The one I
have includes a port to recharge my cell phone. A gasoline-powered
generator in your home is expensive, the fuel has to be stored
properly, and when you have the only lights on for miles you may
attract hungry neighbors and wandering bandits, but if you want one,
go for it.
5. Food and water are needed for even short-term survival. It
wouldn't hurt to buy a box of power bars and put a couple in your
desk at work, a few in your car, and the rest in your home. (Replace
them every three months; you can eat the old ones as snacks.) Having a
bottle of water on the bookshelf in your office comes in handy for no
end of problems. (I last used mine when I had a mouthful of pills and
suddenly discovered my drinking cup was empty.) A bottle of water and
a power bar will get you through a day and a night. They aren't
enough, but your body's reserves will make up for the shortages, if
only for one day. Even Wolf has a survival plan. He has hidden Milk
Bones all over the office and Jean's apartment. If a disaster
strikes while we're out, those will keep him wagging and barking for
a week, long enough for us to get to him.
6. Keep a "go bag"
of essentials in your car. (If you don't drive to work, see if there
is a place you can keep the bag at your office, and keep an identical
bag at home.) Include key items like some food (power bars and a can
of beef stew), a sealed metal water bottle, a water filter, a
multi-tool if you don't want it on your belt, extra ammo if you
carry a pistol, toilet paper, wet napkins, a small quantity of money,
a first aid kit, a flashlight, a good hunting knife, local maps,
matches, a metal pot to boil water, and whatever else is appropriate
to your area (rain gear, winter clothes, etc.). You might also include
a change of clothing and an old jacket. (A pair of dry socks in your
desk drawer at work may come in handy on an ordinary rainy day.) A
good pair of hiking boots could be kept in the car with the bag. You
can go overboard and pack the trunk full, including a tent and an
inflatable boat, but let's not. Instead, just stock 10 times the
contents of your go-bag inside your home.
7. For medium-term survival, say a week,
you need more supplies, and that means storing them at home. Buy two
or three big three-gallon water bottles, fill them, and put them in
the bottom of some closet. (They'll come in handy if the water
system goes out and you need to flush a toilet. We have them in the
office for just that reason.) While every home has an average of
three-days of food, you need to store at least a week if not two.
(Obviously, this must be canned or dried food that won't go bad.)
The simplest way is to assemble one week of food for your family and
store it somewhere other than with the food you just bought and plan
to eat this week. Then replace it every couple of months and move the
original supply into the pantry for use this week and next. (It is
really too complicated to go through every week's groceries and swap
some of them into the reserve and reserve items into the pantry.
You'll end up forgetting to replace something. Better to replace the
whole cache all at once.) Pick a variety of items, including chicken
noodle soup which is a good supply of fluid to drink if it comes to
that. Remember that things like Raman noodles require a dependable
supply of water and fire.
8. For long-term survival, you'll need a
way to grow your own food and purify water found naturally. Buy one
(or more) of those "water filter straw" things and keep it
where you can find it. (It's easier to purify water from a puddle
than to find a stock of bottled water somebody abandoned.) You will
also need to grow your own food, which means buying $20 worth of
vegetable seeds and putting them into a waterproof container in a dark
closet. (Write the date on the box and in two years replace the seeds
and donate the old ones to a charity.)
9. For a true apocalypse
scenario, you need trade goods. Gold and silver coins might work in a
scenario where it is obvious that the world is going to return to
order in a year or two. If 99% of the population is dead (or undead,
as the case may be) you'll get more trade value with medical
supplies, food, ammunition, hand-cranked flashlights, small cheap
pistols, or other immediately useful items. Just remember when making
a trade, that the guy you're trying to trade with may not be above
robbing you at gunpoint.
10. I am not a big fan of building a big bunker full of
supplies three states away. It could be hard to get to, and in a true
apocalypse you'll get there only to find that the local contractor
who built it for you has moved in and brought his gun collection with
him. When the apocalypse happens, lots of people will be trying to
move, jamming the roads. If you aren't ready to survive for the
first week right where you are, you aren't ready to survive at
Free Stuff for Star Fleet Universe Players!
Steve Cole writes:
We have a lot of free stuff on
our website. Let me point you to some of the most popular things. Doing
this in alphabetical order we start with Federation & Empire.
They have play aids and countersheet graphics here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#FNE
Some people do not realize that you can download what amounts to a free copy of the Federation Commander
game (well, enough of the game to play a few battles). First Missions
will give you enough of the game that you can try it out. Go here to download it: http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/first-missions.shtml
that's just a start. Commander's Circle has lots of free resources such
as various formats of the Master Ship Chart, Ship Cards, the current
and back issues of Communique
, scenarios, and playtest rules. If you register, then you can find other Federation Commander
players can find a treasure trove of play aids, including medals,
insignia, maps, the timeline, and lots of other goodies to spice up a
game. These can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#PD
Want to introduce a friend to the Star Fleet Universe? Try the free download of Introduction to the Star Fleet Universe: Prime Directive and Roleplaying
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
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.
This Week at ADB, Inc., 6-13 November 2016
Steve Cole reports:
This was a week of steady
progress. The weather this week was decidedly cool. National elections
were held on Tuesday and by Wednesday morning we had a new president.
We released Communique #131 and Hailing Frequencies for November on the 10th.
Uploaded to the e-vendors this week were revised versions of Federation Commander: Klingon Ship Card Pack #4 and the Romulan
Master Starship Book. Printing began for the print version of the Romulan
Master Starship Book.
Steve Cole worked on Hailing
Frequencies and Communique #131, blogs, the new combat system for Federation Admiral, replacement ships for Federation Commander: Klingon Ship Card Pack #4, and new ships for Federation Commander: Klingon Ship Card Pack #5 and Federation Commander: Romulan Ship Card Pack #4.
worked on Hailing
Frequencies and Communique #131, a blog, Captain's Log #52
battlegroups, and various Master Starship Books.
Leanna kept orders and
accounting up to date.
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates and some
Jean worked on Hailing
Frequencies and Communique #131, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,374 friends),
managed our Twitter feed (207 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt
with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed,
proofread Captain's Log #52
battlegroups, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some
WHY IT TAKES A FULL DAY TO RELEASE A BOOK
Steve Cole writes:
When we completed the Romulan Master Starship Book, I noted this on MY DAY and people immediately started asking why it wasn't on the PDF stores for sale. Here is the answer.
When the design team types the last character of the book (which is what I reported), fixes the last correction, and inserts the last art, getting it on sale still takes a bit of work. Call it "post-production" or "distribution" if you like.
First, we have to actually make the PDF. It's a big book, and "print to PDF" takes a few minutes. Then, we print a copy and check it. Rarely, there are font problems or other issues, but these are easily spotted and fixed (requiring another round of PDF and print). There are no end of "settings" in the PDF software, and all of these have to be exactly right, and that never happens the first try, even running a comprehensive checklist. So we look at the first printing, figure out what settings are wrong, fix them, and do the book over, killing an hour. (Remember that various steps are done by various people, each of whom has more to do than this. The "settings" step has to be done by Leanna, and if she's busy getting mail orders shipped out, things may be delayed an hour or two.)
Mostly, there are format flow issues. What the PDF software creates is not always what we typed or (more importantly) where we typed it. Sometimes a paragraph is a line shorter or longer, which means that all of our efforts to make things break and flow properly are wasted. Paragraphs, charts, and art often "break" in ugly spaces, putting part of it on one page and part on another. If a piece of art three inches high ends up 2.9 inches from the bottom of the page, it kicks to the next column and leaves a big white spot so we have to go back and make the art a little smaller. Sometimes one word of a paragraph ends up on the next page and we do various things to pull it back onto the proper page. Sometimes a sub-heading or the heading of a chart or table is on one page and the chart or table is on the next. We have to force the heading to go to the next page. There are ways to make that automatic, but sometimes the automatic layout is uglier than the manual one. When you set it for automatic (i.e., no matter what, you stupid computer, keep these lines together!) sometimes you get a layout that leaves some big empty spots. We have been known to manually break a chart, put in a second header bar, and re-flow the entire book. The charts need to be accessible and look good.
The problem is that every "bad break" we fix cascades all the way to the end of the book. Pulling a line back or pushing a heading forward changes the flow of every page from that point on. So every time we change one thing, we have to go back and re-PDF and re-print the entire book and go to the point of the fix and start checking all over again. When things are really intense we just print a few pages at a time so that we don't waste so much paper. The Romulan Master Starship Book was 178 pages long, so imagine that we print a copy, find and fix a problem on page 22, then have to reprint the book before we can check page 23. That looks good, but moving on we find a problem on page 32 and have to do the book over again from that point. In a book of this size, it's not unusual to "go do everything over" 10 or 12 times, each time taking up to an hour.
Sooner or later, we have pounded all the way through the book and have a clean PDF. Somewhere along the line, Simone created the color cover, walked it around the building to get everyone's approval, and provided it in PDF format. (She also does small jpgs for the shopping cart.) This allows us to do the minor step of inserting the cover (a separate PDF) into the stack. If we don't miss any obscure settings, this just takes a few minutes.
Then we have to upload the book to Warehouse 23, Wargame Vault, and DriveThru RPG. Assuming nothing goes wrong, this can easily take an hour or two, not just for upload time, but to click all of the right boxes their software requires (which is not automatic). In the case of the Romulan Master Starship Book, the upload to one store failed three times for unknown reasons, meaning it took hours to do what everyone assumes takes only a few seconds.
Once the book is uploaded, each store has to release it. This depends on how busy they are and how many people are on duty. This should take minutes but can take a day, and on a holiday weekend or if someone is out sick or if a lot of companies are uploading a lot of books that day, it can take until the next business day.
Jean wrote the press release (from the product description) earlier and walked it around the building to get everyone's approval. Once the press release is approved, Jean checks to see if the book was released. (She can only do the press release once, and we have to have an actual link to every store, which means the press release waits for every store to release it.) In theory on a holiday weekend it might be on one store for a day or two before all of the stores have released it and we can do the press release. Once all of that happens, Jean goes to a a list she has of websites and posts the press release about the new product. Every one of these sites has its own (different) rules about what can be said, by whom, how often, and in what sections of their site. It can easily take Jean an entire day to jump through all of these hoops, cross all of these "T's" and dot all of these "I's" to make sure everyone knows that the book is out. This includes the email that one store sends to everyone who bought a similar product.
And of course, once that happens, we start getting feedback. People notice things that they don't understand, or minor typos, questions, clarifications, and whatever. Nobody ever released a perfect book, but in the miracle age of PDFs, we can fix anything and everything and re-upload it. In some cases, we have re-uploaded a new book every week for a month, in others (such as this one) we'll just do one final-fix re-upload when we're ready to start selling hard copy books. Just remember that the re-upload also goes through every one of the above steps.
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
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
on Wargame Vault.
We are expanding into Kindle books through Amazon. Our first book, For the Glory of the Empire,
was released there recently; more will follow.
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.
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.
Answers to the Top 10 Questions that a Starship Captain Never Wants to Ask, Q2
2. "You loaded the photons with WHAT?
Sir, the Doc had some bio-hazard material to dispose of and the photon
containment chambers were the only place the regulations did not
prohibit storing it.
(c) 2002 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25
HAILING FREQUENCIES and COMMUNIQUE Released
Steve Cole reports:
We have released this month's issue of the Hailing Frequencies
newsletter and this month's Communique
. Hailing Frequencies
has the latest company information and covers all of our games. You'll
find news on the latest releases both in print and 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:
Simone Dale 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
Check out what we have on http://www.starfleetgames.com/backgrounds.shtml
monitors, small monitors, we have something for nearly everyone. 800 x
600, 1024 x 768, 1680 x 1050, even 2560 x1600. If you need a different
size, we'll see what we can do to fill that desire.
there are any other sizes or any other images that you would like to
see turned into downloadable art, please feel free to contact us at
graphics@StarFleetGames.com and we'll work your request in.
I Voted! Did You?
Jean Sexton writes:
Today is Election Day in the United States. It is an election day which has gotten a lot of attention as the President of the United States will be elected. Even more importantly, local races, referendums, proposals, and bond issues that affect people directly are on the ballot. Now is not a time for apathy.
citizens of the United States, we choose our leaders. This is both a
right and a responsibility. At ADB, Inc., we are not pushing you to vote
for a particular candidate, a particular stance, or a particular
belief. We are simply urging you to vote. Vote as your conscience
dictates and do your duty as a citizen.
My father always said,
"If you don't vote, you have no right to complain about anything that
happens. You gave up that right when you didn't exercise your
responsibility and vote."
If you have already voted, well done! If not, then what are you waiting for?
This Week at ADB, Inc., 30 October - 5 November 2016
Steve Cole reports:
This was a week of steady
progress. The weather this week was cooler, dipping into the 50Fs.
There were two new ebooks up this week, Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault added a major title: the Romulan Master Starship Book. It is also available in print, direct from ADB.
A Halloween surprise was the Federation Commander: Klingon Ship Card Pack #4. It is available from Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault.
worked on blogs, Federation Admiral, Merchants of the Federation, Captain's Log #52, new Federation Commander ship card packs,
Communique, Hailing Frequencies, and other projects.
Steven Petrick finished the Romulan Master Starship
Book, continued reviewing line items on the Lyran Master Starship
Book, and continued finishing the draft of the Kzinti Master Starship
Book. He also worked on the Star Fleet Battles Module C3 update, quality control, and
proofreading other people's projects.
Leanna kept orders and accounting up
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates and some
Jean managed our page on
Facebook (which is up to 3,354 friends), managed our Twitter feed (207
followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam
assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Romulan Master Starship
Book, took care of
customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.
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
as a nice multi-chapter PDF.
one recent case, an individual wrote to say: "I just lost my job and
have decided to be a game designer for a living. I need a stable income
of $4,000 a month. How long would it take me to get there? Three months?
I laughed and cried at the same time. For one
thing, I don't make $4,000 a month now and I've been in the industry
over 30 years. (A few years I have made that much, barely, but not in
the current market.) The sad fact is that except for the lucky three or
four, game designers won't ever make that much. Worse, you probably
cannot make a living as an independent game designer at all, since game
publishing companies were (99% of the time) created to publish the
owner's games because no other company would publish them.
another case from some time ago (I'm going to blur some facts here so
that nobody can tell who I'm talking about), a young game enthusiast
decided to quit his day job and focus his full time efforts on game
design and publishing. His wife said that she would allow this only if
he "brought home" a paycheck of a defined amount each month. He had some
money from an inheritance which was separate property and his wife
allowed that he could use this. Well, he went through the nest egg,
borrowed money from savings without telling his wife, maxed out the
credit card he got for the business, and then got two more cards (those
offers in the mail) without telling his wife and maxed them out. All the
time (his company lasted 18 months and did a dozen products) he was
"bringing home" the required paycheck. His company was making a profit
beyond expenses, but not enough to cover the paycheck, but the paycheck
continued because (a) his wife insisted and (b) he was sure he would
start making more sales any time. One of the credit cards was a $5,000
cash advance spent on advertising (which produced few if any new sales).
Every month, he wrote that paycheck but came up short elsewhere. He had
established credit with the printers and with the companies that sold
him advertising pages so he ended up deeply in debt to the printer and
to advertising publishers. Worse, his first product (which sold well
enough) ran out of print, but it was going to cost $20K to reprint it
and the dwindling rate of sales (nowhere near as good as it had been 18
months earlier) would not support the debt load, but he "had" to reprint
it to avoid looking like a company on the way out. Finally, with no
more places to borrow money and creditors threatening legal action, he
took the case to his wife for a home equity loan. She, of course, had no
clue that his company was $40K in debt (for which he was personally
liable) or that most of the family savings account was gone. It's a
wonder she didn't kill him or leave him, but she did force him out of
the game business immediately. He sold out for what he could get and
applied that money to the debts. Moral of the story, if you are married,
make your wife a part of every business decision and do not keep
secrets from her about family money.
In another case
(actually, there are four or five of these I have seen, all about the
same), an enthusiastic game designer who knew nothing about the industry
but was sure his game was the next big thing got a home equity loan,
printed thousands of copies of his game, and THEN (and only then) asked
other game companies how to contact stores and wholesalers to sell his
game. He had no clue what size the market was (few games sell over a
couple of thousand copies) or who the wholesalers were or what it would
take to get them to buy (some now demand that you pay them $500 for
advertising before they will carry your game) or even what the discount
structure was (which meant that his cost per game was fairly close to
the 40% of the retail price he had printed on the games). Moral of the
story, learn as much as you can about the industry before you spend a
dime getting into it. GO READ MY BOOK FIRST.
I see lots
of gamers who think that running a retail store, and online discount
store, or a game publishing company involves low work and high reward.
It does not. If it did, a lot more people would be in this business.
On Walking and Falling and Walking Again
Jean Sexton muses:
Many of you know that my doctor has told me I need to walk to stay healthy. I've slowly increased from walking about a quarter of a mile a day to about two miles a day. It isn't easy for me to do, but I am not ending up exhausted as I did when I started back in January, 2016. That's only taken 11 months. Still I am proud of my accomplishment. Wolf usually walks with me, so it isn't a fast walk, but it gets the job done.
And you know what they say about pride -- it goeth before a fall. Well, just before Halloween, I went for a walk without Wolf (Steve had taken him to the office for company). I wanted to see how fast I could cover our "long walk" of three-quarters of a mile without Wolf checking every bush (at least it seems like every bush) for other dogs' messages. I was moving along and my toe hit an uneven spot in the sidewalk. I tripped. I couldn't catch myself, but in my attempt to not fall, I got to a spot where I mostly hit grass: very hard grass, but grass, not cement.
I lay there for a bit, taking inventory. My glasses had fallen off, my face felt a bit raw as did the heels of my hand, I had a sore spot where a tooth met the inside of my lip, and I was so embarrassed. Nothing felt broken and my clothes weren't torn. So I got up. I had two choices: take a shortcut back to the apartment (about a building's length) or go the four-building square that would finish up the planned walk.
I opted to finish the walk. I thought maybe I would be able to better tell what was damaged. I added a sore ankle and thumb, raw-feeling elbows, and a stiffening shoulder to the count. When I got back to the apartment I got some ice on my then elevated ankle. Steve dropped off Wolf that evening. I decided to walk Wolf, who obviously wanted his evening walk. We went on our long walk, albeit a lot slower and more carefully than our wont. (The path we take is such that I'm never more than five building lengths away from my door and frequently it is a shorter distance, so I could cut the walk short if need be.) We made it! On Halloween, Wolf and I didn't walk much outside, but I walked inside using the Wii Fit program and went for a solid 30 minutes. I was tired, but I made it.
If you've ever fallen, you know that the pain tends to get progressively worse for about three days. All those wrenched around muscles tighten up and hurt. I noticed it some this time, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the last time I fell over a year ago. I don't know if walking and exercising helped keep the muscles looser, but I know that the only things that were still sore three days after were my lip and shoulder. And I didn't take any medicine to accomplish this.
They say you should get back up and ride the horse that threw you. If it means not hurting as much for three days, I'll have to walk after I fall and try not to coddle myself excessively. I'll also try to be more careful so I don't fall again.
Answers to the Top 10 Questions that a Starship Captain Never Wants to Ask, Q1
1. If you didn't put the drones in the SP, where are they?
Well, Sir, the drones are in the scatterpack, but they don't have
warheads. The Marine commander felt his boys weren't sufficiently
serious abut training, so he borrowed some live nukes from the weapons
officer and they didn't get put back before the, um, action started.
(c) 2002 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25
Many people do not know that you can play either Star Fleet Battles
or Federation Commander
online in real time against live opponents.
Ten years ago, www.SFBonline.com
was created to provide players of Star Fleet Battles
with an on-line gaming experience. It was a smash hit as hundreds of
gamers joined the battles. Tournaments and other competitions, plus general
opening gaming, have gone on around the clock since then. It since expanded to
include Federation Commander
Now you can play with real live human (not to mention Klingon, Romulan, Kzinti,
Gorn, Tholian, Orion, and other) opponents all over the world in real time 24
hours a day! The computer automates many functions and acts as a friendly
assistant for mundane chores.
For the modest subscription fee of less than $6 a month per game system, you
have access to most of the ships in the Star Fleet Battles
game systems as well as new ships still in playtest and development. The Java
Runtime system is compatible with Windows and Macintosh systems.
Never worry about a lack of opponents. Never worry about opponents who don't
show up for games day because of silly reasons like family reunions or their own
weddings. Don't be cut off from your regular gaming group while on vacations or
Even better, you can join in online tournaments and campaigns, and your
victories will add up to a higher and higher average score!
The system also allows you to chat with friends, taunt your enemies, and watch
other players fight their own savage battles. (Why learn from your own mistakes
when you can learn from someone else's?) This "observer" system allows players
of either game to learn the ins and outs of the other game before deciding to
invest time and money in it.
We continue to develop Federation & Empire
for an online environment and have
playtesters working out the kinks. We'll let you know as soon as it is ready to
Romulan Master Starship Book Nears Release
This is Steven Petrick posting.
The Romulan Master Starship Book is going through its final checks. Basically Jean, Leanna, and SVC are turning the pages to see if anything hits them as not right. This is not changes in text, but formatting issues.
I spent last night, before I went home, tracking down "jumps." This is something where the page layout keeps changing (it looks like it fits the page, then suddenly it does not). The only way this can be beaten is to do a PDF, go through the PDF looking for these problems, then go back to the word document and insert a blank line where the problem occurred. Sometimes it is more complex requiring paragraphs to be moved around (because suddenly the graphic does not fit at the bottom of a column but is jumping to the top of the next column, or next page, so you have to move text from below the graphic to above the graphic to fill in the white space).
So there is a complete book with all known corrections made. Now we just have to get everyone to sign off on it.
RANDOM THOUGHTS #276
Steve Cole's thoughts on the philosophy of life.
Growing up, there were lessons that
stuck with me from the moment I first heard them.
1. You can get more done with first-rate
people and second-rate equipment than the other way around. I found
this out in the military and working as an engineer. The TV show
GOLD RUSH proved both sides of this. The first few seasons the miners
had no idea what they were doing and no matter what equipment they
had, they failed. A few years later they had learned their trade and
could do amazing things with less expensive equipment.
2. Just because something CAN
be done does not mean it SHOULD be done. There often isn't time or
resources to do everything you can think of. Some things that are
possible will cause more trouble than benefit (or no benefit at all).
Sometimes you find yourself negotiating a deal that makes no sense
just because you don't want to fail to reach an agreement.
3. Most of the time, the have nots can be traced
back in time to the did nots. People tend to sow the seeds of their
4. Just because it's in a book doesn't
make it true. Authors often make mistakes or have axes to grind.
Sometimes authors make outrageous and even outright false claims just
to get publicity or sell to a certain market segment. Sometimes an
author says outrageous things just to increase book sales. Then again,
sometimes a book published decades later has access to records that
the earlier books didn't even know to look for. Every history of
World War II written before the revelation of ULTRA and MAGIC is
5. The dynamic model is
something too many people ignore and too few understand. The basic
idea is that if you change one factor of an operation, other factors
may change on their own in unpredictable ways (or ways the manager
could predict but didn't want to admit). Say the manager of a
hamburger restaurant calculates that meat costs more than lettuce and
replaces half of the meat in his products with extra lettuce. Assuming
he sells the same number of burgers, is profits will increase. In
reality, customers will reject the lettuce burgers and the restaurant
will make far less profit. This often happens with government policy.
A few people have a problem so a new government program gives them
money. After all, do the math, there are just a few people who have
the problem so only a few dollars are needed. The problem is that lots
of people will see the free money and suddenly decide to voluntarily
get the problem so they get the money.
6. It's not about this time, but the
next time. Why does the military conduct a major operation and get
several people killed trying to rescue one man? Because you will never
get anyone else to do whatever that one man did that got him in
trouble. You won't convince pilots to fly over the enemy if you
won't do everything you can to rescue the one who got shot down. How
you treat one customer today will determine if any other customers do
business with you tomorrow.
7. Sometimes hard is just as good as
impossible in stopping people from doing the wrong thing. No lock is
perfect but a strong lock encourages burglars to go break into
somebody else's house. A 50-foot wall might encourage the sales
of 50-foot ladders, but it will discourage a lot of people from
climbing that high. In any case, someone carrying a 50-foot ladder is
moving slow and easy to spot before he reaches the wall. Sure, cyber
security just slows down hackers, but it may well convince them to go
hack someone else.
8. Excellence is possible and worthwhile; perfection
is impossible and pursuing it leads to frustration and failure. Said
another way, a thing worth doing is worth doing well, but not worth
trying to do perfectly.
9. Russian Army Proverb: Better is the
enemy of good enough. Said another way, a thing worth doing it worth
doing as well as the needs justify, but after that, you're just
wasting resources better spent on another thing worth
10. Sometime early in school the teacher was explaining the
strange combination of months (28, 29, 30, or 31 days) that made up
our year. One student said he had just read that "they" were
talking about changing the year to 13 months of 28 days, adding the
month of "Solaris" to the existing 12. I and everyone in the
room assumed that "they" were some powerful committee who
had control over printing calendars and that this was at least 50%
likely to actually happen. I couldn't decide how I felt about it so
I asked the other student to show me the source for this. I was
somewhat shocked to see that "they" were just a bunch of
guys who had an idea and that they had no authority to change the
calendar. Further research (remember that I was very young) determined
that the question of calendars was not in the hands of any given panel
or governmental body, but was determined by the entire body of
civilization. Since that time, every time I hear someone say
"they say the government will change the tax code next year"
or something similar, I know it is very unlikely that "they"
have any authority to change anything, and that whatever it is, there
are just too many people involved in deciding to change it for
anything to actually change.