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Sunday, April 30, 2017

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.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Changes to the Blog

Jean Sexton writes:

After a lot of soul-searching, we've decided to post less frequently and to stop posting the "rotating" blogs that you see about a third of the time. You'll still see This Week and the Friday funny on a regular basis. At least once a week we'll post something else from either Steve Cole, Steven Petrick, or me. Hopefully this will make your visits here more enjoyable.

Friday, April 28, 2017

They Call Plasma Wiazowski

Out here in space they've got a name
For phasers, drones, and plasma.
The phaser's Jean, the drone is Steve,
And they call plasma Wiazowski.

Wiazowski blows your ship apart,
And sets the wreck a' burning
Wiazowski makes the planets feel
Like they have just stopped turning.
Wiazowski! (Wiazowski!)
Wiazowski! (Wiazowski!)
They call ... plasma ... Wiazowski

Before I knew
Wiazowski's name
heard hundred points of plasma
I had a crew ... they had my back
And the stars ... were always shinin'

But then one day
I failed my crew
I left them dead and dying
And now I'm trapped,
So fully trapped
Without a cloak to hide me
Wiazowski! Wiazowski!
They call ... plasma ... Wiazowski

Out here they have a name for death
And a name for enemy.
When you're trapped and all alone,
There ain't no word for victory.
I'm on a trashed and crippled ship
Without a shield to save me.
Wiazowski blew my ship apart
Please send my shuttle to me.
Wiazowski! (Wiazowski!)
Wiazowski! (Wiazowski!)
They call ... plasma ... Wiazowski
Wiazowski! (Wiazowski!)
They call ... plasma ... Wiazowski
(c) 2017 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Got Any Marketing Ideas?

ADB, Inc., is always interested in great marketing ideas, ways and places to sell our products, as well as new products to sell. Our page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf) exists to put our products in front of other groups of potential customers. You will find us on Twitter as ADBInc_Amarillo. We also are releasing YouTube videos that show what you'll find in "the box" and our latest releases. You can catch our videos on our channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames.

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

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hopefully, A Blog for Thought

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I have read a lot of history. Reading it does not necessarily mean that I know what really happened. It has been written that "history is a joke the present plays on the past." The history that is taught is often twisted to reflect "contemporary norms."

And history is also taught from a point of view. You might think you know American history, but you would be surprised to know how our history as taught in classes on world history in China, or Russia, or even France.

For that matter, you may have just a smattering of knowledge of the fact that there was a "Mexican-American War," or that we twice (three times if you count the Fenians after the Civil War) invaded Canada (during the Revolutionary War, and again in the War of 1812), and they have their own views of those incidents (it is a bigger point in Mexican history since in their view it was an aggressive war of conquest on our part in which over half of what was then Mexico was absorbed into the United States).

The biggest thing I have learned from reading history is that often the leaders think they have "new ideas" and are ignorant that those ideas have been tried before, and have often led to catastrophe. Because it has also been written that "those who refuse to study the past are doomed to repeat it."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Steve Cole¹s further thoughts on the zombie apocalypse.
1. Let's face it, there really aren't zombies (no more than there are vampires and werewolves) but the way we're overloading this planet with people something is going to happen sooner or later. There is little functional difference between a world full of zombies and a world full of desperate people who are trying to escape the dreaded mega-flu, or super-volcano, or something else. Preparation should be general, for zombies, tornadoes, riots, plague, and even the election of someone you don't like.
2. It's great to talk about the best gun for the zombie apocalypse, but the reality is that you'll go to World War Z with whatever gun you have. If you have a few thousand dollars and no guns and want to get the best, get a good semi-auto rifle with 30-round magazines in either 7.62-39 (AK47 ammo) or 5.56mm (M16 ammo) and a pistol in 9mm Luger. (There are three kinds of 9mm: 9x19 Luger, 9x18 Makarov, and 9x17 380, and you cannot mix them in each other's guns. The 9mm Luger ammo is also known as parabellum, 9x19, and NATO 9mm.) After that, a couple of good hunting knives and a multi-tool will at least cover the basics. A small pocket knife isn't going to be much use except to cut your own wrists. Machetes can be useful against zombies but there aren¹t any of those.
3. A closet full of great guns is meaningless if you can't get home to collect them, so you may want to consider keeping some kind of legal and practical weapons in the trunk of your car. Or you could get a pistol permit. Or something else. Too many guns is a liability when you have to move suddenly, unless you¹re planning on raising your own militia. Even then, do you really think handing desperate people a rifle makes them automatically loyal to your command?
4. Food is important but bulky. If you have half a dozen power bars (each) in your desk, car, and home, you'll at least last long enough to find something else (as long as you rotated them regularly). The real problem is water. Water is easy to contaminate, you need more of it than you need food, and it¹s heavy to carry. A gallon weighs eight pounds and you need at least a gallon a day (more in hot weather). The simple solution is to get one of those water filters that you can use as a straw.
5. Something I learned in the State Guard is that the best food to have in your pocket is a brownie sealed in a plastic or foil pouch. These are easily found at any pre-apocalypse convenience store. Brownies have enough calories to keep you going and enough moisture to not require water to drink with them. (Power bars are dry and assume you have a bottle of water in your other hand.) Brownies do not melt like a candy bar or crumble like cookies or crackers. You can sit on it, step on it, sleep on it, fall on it, or roll over on it, and a brownie is still a brownie. Besides, they taste better than power bars.
 6. Women need to be ready for the apocalypse as well as men, and I don¹t mean just a bag of make-up essentials. Long before the apocalypse, a woman needs to learn how a pistol and an assault rifle works, test fire them, learn to hit a target with them (or at least know their maximum reliable range), and have access to them (preferably to one of their own). Assault rifles (for all the negative press) are perfect for women because of their low recoil. A 120-pound woman firing a 12 gauge shotgun (outside of a movie) or a bolt action 30-caliber rifle isn¹t going to be able to recover from the shock of the first shot in time for the second shot. By all means, ladies, stash a few of your special supplies in your backpack.
7. Prescription medicine is going to be a problem. Even if you get extra out of your insurance company and pack whatever you have in a special easy-grab pouch, soon enough you won¹t have it. Learn enough about your own health to know what to do to minimize your health issues if you have to go without it for extended periods.
8. Everybody talks about bugout bags. You should have several, one in your house and one in your car and another one in your spouse¹s car. Include a water filter, flashlight (one of the hand-cranked kind that also have a radio and a cell phone charger), a big hunting knife, some spare socks, a small first aid kit, a multi-tool, $20 in currency and a couple of dollars in coins, a toothbrush (which is surprisingly important for staying healthy), and a map. Then fill it up with whatever else is handy and seems plausible. Since you cannot predict the nature of the apocalypse, half of whatever you put in there will turn out to be useless, but the other half may save your life.
9. Nobody knows what the apocalypse will be like. Great plans to go to a mountain cabin or off-shore island won't mean much if the apocalypse turns out to be different than the last movie you saw. Stay flexible, and be fully prepared to stay in one place and fully prepared to go somewhere else with whatever your car (or your backpack) will carry.
10. More elaborate preparations run into practical limits of cost, storage, and carrying. You can have a year of food in your house but you cannot carry it when you need to run. A big armored truck needs gasoline that you won¹t be able to get after the third day.

Monday, April 24, 2017

This Week at ADB, Inc., 16-22 April 2017

Steve Cole reports: This was a week of steady work on current projects.

The weather this week was pleasant.

New on Warehouse 23 and DriveThru RPG this week was Dungeon Tiles.


Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #53 (Kraken story), blogs, and other projects. He finished updating the Wall of Honor (and with it the Captain's Log #52 FLAP list) and read the LDR Master Starship Book. He continued to update F&E SIT files including the first complete WYN SIT and the first (mostly blank) version of the Jindarian SIT ever done.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #53 (Kraken story, battle groups), quality control assembly and shipping, and the LDR Master Starship Book.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Wolf guarded the office, chasing away Steve Cole¹s bad mood and other demons.

Jean worked on the GURPS Prime Directive revision and the ISC Empire Sourcebook, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,791 friends), managed our Twitter feed (220 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Captain's Log #53 story (Kraken) and the Wall of Honor, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Join us on Facebook and Twitter

ADB, Inc.’s page on Facebook is 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.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

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/).

Friday, April 21, 2017

Star Fleet Trivideo Schedule, pt. 8

10 pm:

KZN5: Beauty and the Beast. A Kzinti noble falls in love with an Earth girl, who starts pumping iron in her prison cell.

GOR6: Gorn Storm Rising, a young Romulan officer discovers an impending Gorn attack, but nobody listens.

ORN8: CSI Vulcan: Investigators make logical deductions.

LYR11: Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright. Disaster movie.

ISC13: Last Man Standing. Bruce Willis tries to stop a fight between two outlaw gangs that refuse to help themselves.

(c) 2003 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, April 20, 2017

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!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

On the Pain of Kindness

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I have been trying to get back into walking around the block on a steady basis.

About a week ago, I stepped outside and saw movement over by the parked cars, and recognizing it as the movement of a cat, I clicked my tongue to see if the cat was interested in being petted.

Most times nothing happens (the cat keeps walking, sometimes after a short look in the direction the sound came from), sometimes the cat will sit and wait to be approached and petted. In this case, the cat shot towards me at a dead run and proceeded to emit that shortened "mew" cats make when they are distressed and something is not right.

While petting the cat, I noted that, while not skin and bones, it had obviously missed more than a few meals recently, even though otherwise healthy and unmarked (no notches in its ears, no scars on its face, coat generally thick and in good condition). Its paws (which were all four white) were dirty, and its pads were scuffed.

I felt sympathy, but there was nothing I could do about it, So after petting it for a bit, I stood up and began my walk, in the hope that when I returned the cat would have moved on. At first, that seemed to be the case, but as I approached my door, I heard the repeated low "mew" of a cat in distress. The cat had moved out of direct sight into the breeze way and stayed at the corner where it could see around to where my door was.

My apartment complex under the current owners does not allow pets. But I have "remnants" from the days when I had cats. In the hopes that I would find the cat's owners, I let it in. I pulled out the one remaining litter box and set it in the bathroom and showed it to this cat, which, while not immediately using it, gave an indication of knowing what it was for. It religiously used it every day. I had some dry long storage cat food, and set this out in a styrofoam bowl together with another bowl with water. It was in good health (except for the obvious lack of regular meals recently), with no fleas. (Conditions locally have not been conducive to the annual flea outbreak, so the only real source of active fleas are those associated with the warm places of man, often ruthlessly suppressed by biologic and chemical means, and the dens of various animals.) Its ears were clear of mites, and other apparent health issues did not appear extant . . . except an apparent head cold.

A little unsure at first (an indication of at least some bad run ins with people in its recent past), by the end of the second day it was flopping down to allow its tummy to be rubbed. While it spent time in my lap while I watched TV, its big thing for most of the time it was with me was to at least be in the same room. (It decided that I toss and turn too much to share the bed with me, but slept on a pad near the bed.

I could not keep it, and got Jean to advertise for its owners. (Everything about this cat screamed "pampered house pet.") In the end to no avail.

The problem is that there was no way I could keep the cat, as much as I wanted to, not least because it had the colors (gray and white), length of fur (not really long, but definitely not short) and general build (if not the clubbed hind paw) of the cat who had last been my longest companion. Still, I knew enough not to give it a "formal" name. But I could not keep it. Sooner or later management would discover its presence and bad things would follow. And that basically meant that on Friday, the cat would have to go to the pound, even though that is a certain death sentence. But it was obvious this cat had no capability of surviving on its own, i.e., whatever had caused it to be running around loose, it had no hunting skills and anything it had eaten in the interim was scavenged. Not taking it to the pound would not really be an act of kindness, but an act of cruelty as the cat's life might be longer, but it would also be more brutal and full of suffering.

Turning the cat in would break what little is left of my heart once more.

As it is, the cat had good fortune to find me, and doubly good fortune that it happened that today the local ASPCA shelter had an opening for a cat.

I have had to give the cat up, and will have the sorrow of going home once more to an empty space, after the brief period of its greeting me every evening in thanks that it had been taken in and food and water were plenty, it was petted as much as it desired, and its coat frequently brushed as it sat in my lap. Even though I know it now has a chance of a longer and healthier and happier life than what would have been its lot at the pound, and would reclaim the cat immediately were I to learn I had won tonight's lottery drawing, for now, I will have to nurse the new emptiness in my life for its having been in it, however briefly. And thus the title of  this blog, the pain of kindness.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

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.

Monday, April 17, 2017

This Week at ADB, Inc., 9-15 April 2017

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work on current projects. We released Communique #136 and Hailing Frequencies for April.

The Easter Bunny Cruiser from Communique #136

The weather this week was nice.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with a new entry.

Steve Cole worked on F&E SIT updates (Kzinti, Gorn, Romulan, and Federation were posted; Orion, Hydran, and Lyran were brought up to current format; Vudar were given the new base chart; the WYN notes started being organized into a SIT), Captain's Log #53 (articles), blogs, and other projects. He finished the updates on individual medal pages on the Wall of Honor and started on the multi-person pages.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #53, finished the Lyran Master Starship Book, worked on quality control assembly and shipping, and sent the LDR Master Starship Book to the staff (and started handling reports).

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 sent out the newsletters.

Wolf guarded the office, chasing away a bunny carrying a basket (oops!).

Jean took a few days off, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,787 friends), managed our Twitter feed (219 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Hailing Frequencies and Communique, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Wolf Dog Sexton on His Easter Day

Wolf Dog Sexton muses:

My Human Mom is fixing ham for Easter. She says that my doctor says ham isn't good for me to eat. All I know is that it smells yummy.

She spent a long time "dying eggs." She made some yellow and some blue so I could see them. (Yes, I can see colors.) Others are sort of muddy looking, but she likes them.

Mom says that the Easter bunny left me some toys. TOYS!


Through with the toys. I chased a bunny once but it went very fast and I couldn't get it. I wonder if the Easter Bunny is fast. Do you think the Easter Bunny tastes good?



Mom and I went on our Long Walk today. I sniffed really hard for the Easter Bunny. I didn't smell him at all. I wonder if he cheats like the birds and flies places so I cannot smell him.


I think I killed the Easter Bunny.

Well, at least until I want to kill him again. Tomorrow.

I hope your Easter is as good as mine.

Nap time. Later.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

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.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Star Fleet Trivideo Schedule, pt. 7

10 pm:

PBS1: Real Life. As the gang prepares steaks for dinner, somebody asks the Lyran if he¹s seen the Hydran recently.

FED2: Chicken Hawk Down. A dozen Romulan soldiers try to fight their way to safety after their ship crashes on Somalius, but can manage only a humiliating rout.

KLG3: The Taming of the Crew. Kommander Konglet whips the crew into a frenzy.

ROM4: Different Cloaks. The adorable ragamuffin who moved in with the senator asks "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Praetor?" touching off a Romulan civil war.

(c) 2003 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Things That Go "Bang"

This is Steven Petrick posting.

First, yes if you are reading this it was backdated to fill the gap. Funny things happened on Thursday leading to changes in schedule and my intent to get this done before Simone left for the day was sabotaged when Simone did not come in. The office cleared early, and I was well on the way home before I realized I had not done a blog.

Friday rolled around, and while I knew I had missed a blog, the approaching storms led to the office being evacuated and the blog again being forgotten.

The above having been said in fair confession, blogs are always difficult for me to do. I dislike repeating myself (although obviously I have now done this several times in noting this difficulty . . . sign) and my life is otherwise so dull there is little to talk about. (This despite Jean often commenting that my life compared to hers has been full of excitement and adventure.)

Recently on the board someone mentioned the idea that it would be difficult to get comfortable baby sitting a nuclear device despite all of the safeguards and fail safes. I could not help the observation that baby sitting anything that might go bang is a case of "you may as well be comfortable." While I did not observe it in the topic, the fact is that there are pretty much only two places to be when a nuclear device goes off: Close enough that you do not feel a thing (i.e., baby sitting it), or far enough away that you can look up and say "what was that?"

I have, at various points in my service, baby sat with lesser devices. Whether 81mm or 107mm mortar shells, or simple fragmentation grenades, and various levels of ordnance in between (to include demolition charges and claymore mines). It does not bother me to have a grenade (or grenades) snugly fastened to my LBE/LCE.

There are,  however, cases where things that go "bang" make me very, very nervous.

The euphemistic name for these are "dud rounds."

The odds are very high that a given shell (whether fired by a 60mm mortar, 40mm grenade launcher, or 16" naval rifle) that has impacted without detonating will not detonate subsequently. But, unlike an unused munition, the odds that it might go off on its own in response to even the most mild stimulus are comparatively very high. The odds that a particular dud that has been laying around for decades will suddenly go off in reaction to relatively mild stimulus are even higher due to age having caused the chemicals to degrade and become even more sensitive to "shock" than when they were originally manufactured.

So while things might go "bang," it literally does not (or more appropriately, did not) bother me to ride around in a vehicle loaded with explosives that were properly stowed, and it would not bother me to ride around in a vehicle with a nuclear device that was properly stowed (albeit in that case I would be taking someone else's word on the matter).

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

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 many more ship card packs. For Star Fleet Battles, you can find colorized SSDs, perfect for helping someone find all of the different systems. 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 books are also sold as ebooks The GURPS Prime Directive line is exclusively on Warehouse 23. Prime Directive PD20 Modern books are available on Warehouse 23 and DriveThru RPG.

We are also listing Federation Commander, Federation & Empire, and Star Fleet Battles products 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.

Also in these online stores are older titles (older versions of Star Fleet Battles, some old Task Force Games titles, JagdPanther, and Star Fleet Times. You can also find our coloring books and Starmada titles.

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 vendors. 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.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


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, April 10, 2017

This Week at ADB, Inc., 2-8 April 2017

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work on current projects.

The weather this week was mixed, with cold rain on Tuesday and warm sunshine on other days..

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was the Lyran Master Starship Book.


Steve Cole worked on blogs, the Wall of Honor update, F&E SIT updates, two ships and a scenario for Communique #136, material for Hailing Frequencies (set for Tuesday the 11th), and other projects. Stephen and Leanna celebrated the 40th anniversary of their first date.
Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #53, the Lyran Master Starship Book (which he finished), quality control assembly and shipping, and the LDR Master Starship Book.
Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.
Simone did website updates and some graphics.
Wolf guarded the office, chasing away two squirrels (one of which was flying).
Jean worked on the revision of GURPS Prime Directive, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,780 friends), managed our Twitter feed (219 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, worked on her parts of Hailing Frequencies, proofread Communique #136, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Star Fleet Universe Downloadable Art

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 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, April 08, 2017

On Writing and Creativity and Publishing

Jean Sexton muses:

Recently Steve Cole told me to give him a list of changes that GURPS Prime Directive needed. After several pages of changes from substantive to moving from "race" to "species" or "empire," he agreed that the book needed an overhaul. One thing I wanted to do was end the artificial separation between the empire information and the species information. So much of what is true of the Kzinti Hegemony is reflected in the species; having those in totally different parts of the book made it less convenient for the player. I have found a few missing advantages/disadvantages in their chapter and those will also be added.

One thing that always niggled at me was assigning a personality trait to a species without noting that this was a cultural thing. The revision tries to address that situation. Some things just were inaccurate as further exploration of the US Air Force tapes revealed. Those will also be corrected.

One thing that showed up were the Inter-Stellar Concordium (ISC) species weren't well-developed. I wanted to have more than a paragraph that "The ISC has a cat species, too," or "Lizards, we got lizards!" That's where the creativity showed up -- a streak I didn't really know I had much of. I've been fleshing out some of these species, based upon a story that Josh Spencer wrote for Nexus #16 and a history that focused on the formation of the ISC that appeared in Star Fleet Battles Module Y2: The Early Years II. A couple of the species have appeared in recent Captain's Log issues. It is a challenge to take the pieces of information and make them into a cohesive whole. Some of the information will be in the GURPS Prime Directive revision; some will be a part of the future ISC sourcebook.

It has been fun creating the background. Who would have known that the Rovillian culture loved sports as much as they do? I found out more about the Veltressai that will likely appear in the next Captain's Log. I found hints of the Pronhoulite culture and liked their quiet practicality. I think my historian father would have liked the Q'Naabians. And next on the list are the Korlivilar. I know there is more to them than "cats."

When will this be published? I don't know and I refuse to set a timetable. My time is taken with many other projects being a higher priority.  I do know the book will have to be longer. I do think it will be more consistent in tone with the primary GURPS books than its predecessor. I hope that you will enjoy it!

Friday, April 07, 2017

Star Fleet Trivideo Schedule, pt. 6

9 pm:

GOR6: Gornasaur, Walt Disney¹s 2332 classic.

THL7: Web of the Spider. Movie, 2 hours.

ORN8: The Great Convoy Robbery; documentary.

LYR11: Wyn, Lose, or Die; Game show.

ISC13: Tombstone, three tough brothers try to keep the peace in a small town that refuses to help itself.

(c) 2003 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, April 06, 2017

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.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Elements of SFU History and The LDR Master Starship Book

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Way back in the 1980s Stephen Koehler created the Lyran Democratic Republic by taking Lyran ships and changing the phaser-3s to phaser-Gs (and in some cases upgrading the phaser-2s on the ships to phaser-1s). As part of this he also introduced the Caracal police corvette (an FF-DW like conversion of the Manx police corvette).

This mini-empire (a single province of the Lyran Star Empire) broke away from the empire and achieved independence, and a history explaining this, and alluding to various political machinations, was included.

All of this was introduced in Nexus #13 to the Star Fleet Universe at large.

It was an exciting time in the  Star Fleet Universe where enthusiasm sometimes overrode research.

What this meant was that the known background of the Lyran Empire as operating on a sort of feudal system meant that all counties provided the same basic warships (heavy cruiser, light cruiser, destroyer, and frigate) and each provided at least one of the specialty ships (scouts, tugs, etc.) so that each duchy (of five counties) basically provided an organized fleet.

The Lyran Democratic Republic, as part of being granted autonomous status, so the history says, was required to give up its two speciality ships, noted as a scout and a minesweeper prior to Y150.

This is where things go off the rails a bit.

First, if the nascent LDR was operating a scout, it would have been present at the Battle of the Long Claws. There are (historically) two scouts in that battle, one provided by the Foremost county in support of the LDR, the second is owned by the Enemy's Blood Duchy from which the LDR is seeking independence (eventually). That pretty much means that the LDR could not have had its own scout, because in Y150 the only "speciality" ships available were the tug, scout, and commando destroyer. Since there were only three speciality ship types available, there is no way that the LDR would have had two of them, and since the scout was clearly not one of them in any case . . .

So you ask "what about the minesweeper, you have not mentioned it."

The problem with the minesweeper is that the class does not enter service until sometime in the Y160s, so it is not available as a "speciality ship" that the LDR could have been operating or have given up in the early Y150s.

Now, of course, the "commando destroyer" did not exist as an SSD at the time the LDR was originally created. It does exist now, and has a year in service date that makes it available in the Y140s, so the history of the Lyran Democratic Republic in the Master Starship Book has been adjusted to reduce the loss of specialty ships from two, to only one, and that one is a commando destroyer.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017


Steve Cole ponders thoughts on dinosaurs:
1. Cruralispennia multidonta is a new bird from 131 million years ago found in China. The early evolution of birds (which split from dinosaurs somewhere around 150-154 million years ago) is not well understood, but there were true birds flying 90 million years before T-rex stalked his triceratops prey. This new Chinese bird shows that there were a lot of very different kinds of birds flying only 20 million years after the first bird appeared.
2. Lots of fossil news comes out of China these days for several reasons. One is that the Chinese didn't really start looking for them until 20 years ago, and due to the global fascination with all things dinosaur, the Chinese are determined to find all of their dinosaurs in short order. (It took a century and more for us to find the many well-known North American fossils.) Chinese national pride is at work, as the Chinese government rewards scientists who bring good publicity to the nation.
3. In Siberia there is a region the size of the continental US which is covered in mile-deep lava that was deposited 250 million years ago. These "Siberian Trappes" are what gave the dinosaurs their shot at the big time. (Trappes is a word for "steps" which is sort of what they look like, lots of flat plains bordered by cliffs going up or down to the next flat plain. Usually all of the elevation changes are in one compass direction.) These huge volcanoes (far bigger than Yellowstone) erupted for 100,000  years, poisoning the atmosphere, the rain, and the oceans. The food chains collapsed in most places and 95% of plant and animal species became extinct.  When the eruptions were over, small groups of unusual plants and animals in "special case" areas were all that were left, and these evolved into new types, one of which happened to be a dinosaur.
4. The Archosaurs are a very old group of reptiles from the ancient past. They appeared at the start of the Triassic. Their descendants include crocodiles and birds, as well as extinct lines such as dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and marine lizards.
5. Plesiosaurs are a long-necked marine lizard (think Loch Ness Monster, or a brontosaurus with flippers for legs). A new study of the bones in several nearly complete specimens indicates that in most species the neck primarily bent down, not up or sideways. This may mean that plesiosaurs glided along just above the bottom (or just above a school of fish) and reached down whenever they wanted a snack.
6. Vertebrates (animals with spines, like snakes, lizards, dogs, and humans) started climbing out of the rivers and onto the land about 385 million years ago. And evaluation of several different animals from that time period shows that at this moment in history, the eyes of river fish tripled in size when they became amphibious creatures. The increase in size would have almost no value to a creature living in water, but would make the life of a creature living in air much more workable. Perhaps what happened is that river fish noticed food just above the water (plants, insects, or whatever). Evolutionary theory holds that random mutations happen on their own, and those mutations that prove to be useful create new animals (while those that have no virtue die out). Water animals that had these larger eyes were better suited to grabbing this "just out of reach" food because they could see it. Some of those creatures had another spontaneous (or directed by unknown designers) mutation in which their fins became larger and stronger and could allow the fish to climb up on wet rocks, the better to grab the food.
7. Horseshoe crabs have been around for a very long time, far longer than dinosaurs. Some point to these and say that they are exactly identical and disprove evolution. The reality is that they are clearly of the same family of critters but not the same species, and are not identical. Someone who as not being specific might note that a house cat and a leopard were "identical" and a quick look says they're clearly from the same tribe, but no scientist would call them identical. These ancient crabs only prove that our planet's biological history is as mysterious as it is awe inspiring.
8. Some 78 million years ago (during dinosaur times), a very big rock of some kind struck Iowa. Estimates of the explosive force indicate it could have killed land animals the size of cows up to 650 miles away.
9. One key adaptation that made mammals successful was the three-lobed molar, the chewing teeth at the back. With the ability to both sheer and crush food, the variety of foods that mammals could eat expanded exponentially.
10. Recently, three teeth were found in Mexico that are clearly tyrannosaur and from about the time of T-rex, but they have clear differences and are apparently from an unknown cousin of "the big boy" of the dinosaurs. No skeletons have been found so not much is known.

Monday, April 03, 2017

This Week at ADB, Inc., 26 March - 1 April 2017

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work on several projects.

New on Warehouse 23 and DriveThruRPG this week was the final edition of the Prime Directive PD20 Modern Supplement. Print copies should be arriving to people who ordered them.


The Starlist Update Project moved forward with one new entry.

Steve Cole worked on F&E SIT updates (a new, complete Federation chart was posted), blogs, two ships for Communique #136, and other projects. He finished the art for the Lyran Master Starship Book and started the update for the Wall of Honor.

The Shapeways store and the 2500/2425 projects moved on. More models were uploaded and the brass masters for the metal SaberHawks were ordered.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #53 submissions, the Lyran Master Starship Book, quality control assembly and shipping, and the LDR Master Starship Book.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Wolf guarded the office, chasing away a warthog.

Jean finished her share of the Captain's Log #52 FLAP list, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,765 friends), managed our Twitter feed (220 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Lyran Master Starship Book, worked some on her revision of GURPS Prime Directive, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

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.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

On Walking and Food and Life

Jean Sexton muses:

Weight has always been an issue with me. I love food and I love reading books, far more than exercising. That is a deadly combination. I slowly gained weight, developing issues with blood pressure and with diabetes. I had a breast cancer scare years ago (the surgical biopsy revealed no cancer). Then I had the very real endometrial cancer. Shortly thereafter my heart stopped twice when I was fighting sepsis. Risk factors for the cancer included never having had children and being too heavy. The former I could no longer change, but the latter was well within my control.

Last year was a struggle to regain the life I had led before my hospitalization. I came off supplemental oxygen and started walking more. I regained my driving privileges. (I had seizures when my heart stopped and that meant no driving for three months until my brain healed.) I told myself that I would continue to walk to the mailboxes and back rather than drive there. I came off the blood thinner that was supposed to help my heart not work so hard. One of my blood pressure medicines was dropped; the other slowly was lowered. My walks with Wolf got longer so that most days I was walking around the apartment complex three times. My stamina slowly increased. My muscles slowly returned in my legs. Finally my blood sugar dropped to the point where I was considered pre-diabetic and the medicine for that was discontinued.

Then the struggle with my weight resumed. I was cooking and baking again. I was fixing healthy food and eating it. I trimmed back on how often I ate out and how much bread I ate when I did. It didn't help that I came off the diabetes medicine at Thanksgiving when food I love is in abundance and continues through Christmas and New Years (not to mention the Super Bowl and Valentine's Day).

I took stock of things in February. I could not let myself throw away this life I was given. I decided to buy the cheapest Fitbit on the market. If I hated it, I wouldn't have wasted much money. If I loved it, maybe I would walk more. So at the end of February I bought myself a present, the Fitbit.

I discovered that the Fitbit was only as good as the work I was willing to put into it. I decided to put the work into it that it and I deserved. I found out I wasn't walking quite the distance I thought I was. I was getting in around 7,000 steps. I discovered that the support that Fitbit offers will track calories. I had done that back when I was first diagnosed with diabetes, so I knew I could do it again. That's when I discovered I was eating too much of my healthy food. I needed to change not only what I was eating and but how much I was eating. I also needed to increase the number of steps I was taking.

I do have a competitive streak and Fitbit feeds into that. Could I meet the challenges it gave me -- being active more minutes and taking more steps? Of course I could. Could I meet the calorie challenge by not eating as much? That I could. I added a premium service so I could compare myself with the "Fitbit world" of people. Fitbit showed I had 3,942 steps after lunch. I could take 60 steps and get over 4,000 steps. I slowly started losing some weight and walking longer distances. The turning point came one night when I had taken 10,000 steps and I decided it was a lovely night to walk anyway.

ADB has been supportive of my need to walk more. I get huge amounts of time walking with Wolf. He stops and smells grass, corners, bushes, trees, walls, and whatever draws his interest. That makes for time, but not distance. At ADB I can walk the length of the building and back for my breaks and get in a lot of steps and a few more active minutes. It is boring as all get out, but I remind myself of all the interesting time I had in the hospital. It is remarkable how quickly boring walking becomes more attractive. (Wolf thinks I am crazy to walk up and down when it is obvious that nothing has changed, so he sits where he can keep an eye on me.)

I got tangible proof that the walking is helping more than just my weight at the last doctor's visit. From that visit, the measurement of my blood sugar showed I was almost normal, just barely pre-diabetic. My blood pressure was so good that the last remaining medicine for that issue was halved. I got a well-done from my oncologist as he noticed the weight loss and assured me there was no sign of the cancer's return. One of my proudest moments was when a friend wrote that I was inspiring her to get healthier.

One of my saddest duties is to tell Steve Cole when one of our customers has transferred to the Black Fleet. I hope that it will be a long time before I join that fleet. Please do what you must to stay healthy, too. On my page on Facebook, I always finish my daily wrap-up with some variation of "And life is good." For me, it really is and it is getting better. May you feel the same.