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Monday, April 30, 2007

In praise of our volunteers

The adventure/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.

Even at that, the ONLY way the game industry survives is by the hard labor of unpaid volunteers who (for some free games) provide no end of valuable services to game publishers.

Mike West answers rules questions on Federation Commander. Nick Blank does the same thing for Federation & Empire, Andy Palmer for Prime Directive d20, Gary Plana for GURPS Prime Directive, and Mike Filsinger for Star Fleet Battles.

Frank Brooks runs the Play-by-Email system as a volunteer and Paul Franz charges barely enough for the On-Line game system to pay the server costs.

Federation & Empire would not exist without Chuck Strong (a real-world colonel from Space Command) doing scenarios, or without Jeff Laikind in charge of the overall game system and the Ship Information Tables.

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.

We have other staffers who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including Scott Tenhoff, Chris Fant, Stewart Frazier, John Berg, John Sickels, Matthew Francois, Jonathan Thompson, Mike Curtis, Loren Knight. Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each one of them.

Added to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month, by Email or BBS or Forum, 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.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Got any Marketing Ideas?

While Vanessa Clark has moved on to greater things, we at ADB (who already knew a lot about marketing games and learned more from her) are still interested in great marketing ideas, ways and places to sell our products as well as new products to sell. We are developing a line of non-game products (Calendars, paperback books, ship books, plus Cafe Press). We have an Amazon store (not to make money so much as to put our products in front of other groups of potential customers), and the MySpace page exists for that reason as well. 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 web sites, 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.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Steve Cole reports: Leanna and I keep our two Bengal Cats home and safe. They have a huge yard to play in, and it includes eight-foot stockade fence with two feet of metal sheeting mounted on top (it slopes in at a 45 degree angle). They come and go through their cat door and play (safe, inside the yard) as they please. Once a week, sometimes more, they get a walk on a leash around the neighborhood.

Bengal Cats are a crossbreed between Egyptian Maus and Felis Bengalensis asian leopard cats. They are designed to be "show cats", but Isis and Ramses are rejects (not good enough to win blue ribbons) and we got them so we could live with wild animals. These two hooligans are, literally, five generations out of the jungle. Ramses is 14 pounds and Isis about 9. They are faster and smarter than any house cat or barn cat you have ever seen. Ramses can jump eight feet straight up and can jump a ten-foot gap; Isis isn't far behind and has caught birds in flight. While they are loving lap-cats who enjoy a good rubber brush as much as the next cat, they are sudden death to any rodent, bird, other cat, or small dog that comes within reach. I have permanent scars on my legs from times Ramses and I did not agree on whether his walk was over.

Last night I got home early and took Ramses for a late evening patrol. Apparenlty, I didn't get the gate completely latched and it blew open during the night. Ramses apparently discovered this sometime after midnight, and took it upon himself to patrol his newly-expanded turf. We discovered the problem this morning when we couldn't find Ramses, and Isis was playing in the front yard. An hour of searching produced no Ramses, so Leanna and I went to McDonald's for breakfast, after which she went to a meeting while I went back home to find the lost boy.

Another hour of searching was to no avail, and Isis was throwing a fit to see her person walking around outside, so I put her on a leash and let her out the gate. She was off like a shot (well, to the end of the leash) and dragged about 50 yards across an open field to a large bush, under which (of course) Ramses was sleeping soundly. Shaking himself awake, he looked at me for a few seconds and then trotted back home and waited patiently at the gate for me to catch up and let him in. A quick check found no bites or other problems, so I gave him a can of tuna and got to the office an hour late.

Now I just have to explain the missing poodle to the neighbors.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An easy fix to the PHP software problem

Steve Cole reports: For the months we have used PHP software for the forum on this site, I've had to pay about $100 a month in employee costs to "check user registrations". The problem is that every day, we get dozens of robots trying to sign up for the forum to post Viagra ads and other spam. Vanessa had to set the Forum for manual registration, which takes a lot of time.

When this issue was mentioned on the other BBS (the discus one on the legacy site), Dean from Star Ranger said that he had fixed the problem by including a "question" with the registration, one for which the answer is in the human-accessible FAQ file. Result, the number of bogus robot spam registrations dropped to zero immediately.

So, Dean, I owe you lunch. You're saving me a hundred bucks a month and saving Matt no end of aggravation.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Graphics Director Matt Cooper writes:

As the Graphics progress here at ADB, I am learning about new things every day, and drive SVC crazy because I do my list of things to do before he is ready to give me another list.

We are in the middle of making serious changes to both web sites (the legacy site now has a new front page, site map, and index), and you are welcome to not just comment on my changes, but suggest changes and check the changes I make.

Here is my e-mail: graphics@starfleetgames.com or you can comment on either forum.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Federation Commander Play-by-Email

FRANK BROOKS WRITES: Federation Commander Play-by-Email

Playing Federation Commander by email 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.

The basic gist of the Federation Commander Play by Email (PBEM) system is that you and your opponent submit your orders for the turn to a moderator via E-Mail. The moderator then processes them, and sends a "Sitrep" (Situation Report) to the players via E-Mail. 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 Federation Commander 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 of Federation Commander. Moderating a Federation Commander PBEM game is also an excellent way to learn more about the Federation Commander rules.

While there are some disadvantages to PBEM (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 to 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 Federation Commander PBEM, please visit the Play-by-Email section of ADB Inc.'s website at www.starfleetgames.com/pbemgames and we will be happy to help you.

Friday, April 20, 2007


April 20th has been a sad day for several years, being the birthday of my late brother, Christopher R Cole. For the first few years of the company, Chris worked for us part time, more so he and I could spend time together than for any other reason.

Christopher was his mother's son, just as I am my father's son. While my father and I are both military engineers, my mother was a nurse and my brother a psychologist. He worked with deeply disturbed people, and was for several years Amarillo's resident expert on UFO abductions (people who could not face their real problems imagined that they were UFO abductees; Chris had all of the books and could tell in a session or two which book the patient was copying his imagined experiences from) and once helped a seriously disturbed man who imagined himself to be a serial killer (Christopher eventually found the books the man had read, and was able to help the man after "catching" him in his lies about being a serial killer).

Christopher went through a very difficult divorce and became deeply depressed. He got sicker and sicker and would not accept the urging of my mother to get to a doctor for a checkup. He eventually was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and went through a fairly rough ride before passing away alone at midnight in a hospital. I will always remember the day that I tried to force him to go to the doctor, a few months before he was diagnosed, and allowing him to leave the office with a promise he would go to the doctor tomorrow. I knew he was lying to me, but I had my own life to deal with and just gave up arguing with him. Had I somehow forced him to go to the doctor, they probably would have caught "it" in time for him to have survived.

The moral of the story, and the reason I am inflicting it upon you, gentle readers, is that if someone around you is obviously sick and not going to the doctor, somehow find a way to make him go. They don't even have to be THAT sick. Someone who is depressed, seriously overweight, not sleeping well, or shows a sudden loss of energy or strength or weight, or any other sudden-onset problem, should be encouraged, bribed, and if necessary forced to go see a doctor. It could be a matter of life and death. Problems caught early and easier to deal with.

For that matter, is there some relative or friend of yours who lives alone and you see maybe once or twice a year? Maybe you should call this person and meet for lunch, just give them some human contact.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tragedy in Virginia

The hearts and prayers of our staff go out to the families devastated by the Virginia Tech tragedy, and to the students who no longer feel safe on their campus. Steve Cole went to Texas Tech 35 years ago and studied civil engineering; the attack on engineering students was disturbing.

It's a shame that some are trying to make political mileage out of this. I have seen politicians wanting to round up every gun in the country, and politicians wanting to allow anyone to get a permit and carry a gun on campus, both claiming to have the perfect solution.

Let the students finish the semester in peace, and the families grieve for their losses. We, as a nation, can solve the campus security situation in a sane and effective way over the summer.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How to find opponents

STEVE COLE WRITES: Many gamers are looking for new opponents. This is nothing new. When I was a teenager, there were maybe four wargamers 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, and works much better, and you have a lot of ways to do it. For best results, do all of them.

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-in's every day, and since it's free you can try it every month or two and find out of somebody near you has signed in.

You can go to the forum and find the area where local stores and groups post announcements and invitations and let people know you'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.)

Feel free to go to your local store and ask them to let you post a notice looking for opponents. You could also run a demo of Federation Commander (or any of our games) and "grown your own" opponents. If anybody already plays the game you demo, they'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.

The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to our Legacy site and look for the button that says Player Resources. Under that menu is a link for Starlist. 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 five thousand 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 your 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.

The original web site has a bulletin board system and the 8th item on the main menu is "seeking opponents". 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.

Many of those on Starlist and StarFleetGames.com/discus will be players of Star Fleet Battles, but most of those can be convinced to play Federation Commander. Indeed, over half of the names on Starlist are people who quit playing Star Fleet Battles for lack of opponents (or because SFB was too complex for them or their opponents) and most of those are ready recruits for the faster cleaner Federation Commander game system.

With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see the links list on our site).

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 cards who got emails from other gamers in their home towns who were seeking opponents.

You can go always go to SFB Online and play Federation Commander on-line with live opponents from around the world for the princely sum of $4 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 16, 2007

Monday in Amarillo

A little cool but no rain and the snow is gone. We are printing Omega Master Rulebooks. Wholesalers are reporting an awful first quarter due to WizKids deciding to only deal with Alliance in future, which is taking a lot of business away from every other wholesaler.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Free stuff for Fed Commander players

STEVE COLE WRITES: Some people do not realize that you can download what amounts to a free copy of part of the FEDERATION COMMANDER game (enough to play a few battles). Go to our Legacy site (www.StarFleetGames.com/fc) and you will find a lot of stuff you can download. Some of those downloads include:

o The free First Missions packet (demo version of Federation Commander).

o Turn guages and firing arcs for the tabletop rules.

o Sample ship cards.

o Wallpaper of game covers.

o Frequently asked questions.

o Information for Retailers.

o The original theatrical trailer (ok, not that, but it WAS the original flyer handed out at trade shows).

o Notes from the game designer (me) on what parts of the older game Star Fleet Battles we decided to include in Federation Commander.

But that's just a start. If you join the Commander's Circle, which is free, you can download the monthly Communique which includes scenarios, tactics, and new ships. You can also access a database of Federation Commander players looking for new opponents (you!).

The old site (www.starfleetgames.com/masterindex.html) lists a number of downloads, and the new site (federationcommander.com) has a download section as well.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Snow in Amarillo

It's snowing (not much, but some) but we're down here printing Omega Master Rulebooks. They take about 10 minutes each to print and the print engines max out at a total of 75 books per day.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Friday the 13th, and it's raining in Amarillo. It's also cold, not freezing, but still cold enough nobody wants to be outside.

We are finishing the Omega Master Rulebook today. We've been finishing it for two weeks, but there is always some glitch or gripe or fix that has to be done. Anyway, we're done. It's all assembled in one nice 334-page PDF to send to the print engines down the hall. Of course, Vanessa threatens us with bodily harm if we start printing before she leaves. (The print engines are pretty noisy.) We'll print one copy today, page through it over night, and make the last fixes in the morning, then print all weekend. It takes about ten minutes to print one book (on one machine, we have three) and each machine can only print about 35 copies per day. With any luck we'll have enough monday morning to do the monday orders, and then play catch up all week. Orders are heavier than expected.

May will be a great month. We've got a great start on Captain's Log #35 and of course FC: Academy is done except for printing the cover, which takes Matt an hour or two and the printer a week.

Petrick is almost done with SFB Module R11, and I'm all but done with FC: Battleships Attack, so June and July look good too.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cafe Press

Graphics Director Matthew Cooper writes:

Have you ever heard of Cafe Press? Cafe Press is a website where you can open up a free online shop and promote products on your website. CafePress creates and sells products with your designs. So upon learning about Cafe Press, Leanna set up an account and I have uploaded several designs for T-shirts, Coffee Mugs, Ornaments, Mousepads, etc.


If you have any questions or comments or would like to see something on CafePress to buy, Let me know , I will set it up for you!


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Always Remember: GOOGLE!

Unlike many of you, I grew up in a time before the internet, before home computers. I was 23 years old when the first 16K desktop computer with a magnetic tape system and no disks or hard drive arrived in my home town. So computers are not first-nature to me. I know that you can find anything with Google, but I sometimes just don't remember that you can always find anything with Google.

Take for example, the British postal codes. We keep Starlist (the list of known players and customers) in zip code order. This works nicely for the US, and even for Canada. Britain, however, decided to name post codes for cities and when the cities were named a couple of thousand years ago, it didn't occur to anyone to name them alphabetically from north to south. So, some British gamer who lives in Stoke on Trent (post code ST, part of Staffordshire) and asks for Starlist would be sent Essex (SS, 300 miles away) and London (SW, 250 miles away) but would not be sent Cheshire (SK) or even other parts of Staffordshire (which have the code WV for no apparent reasons).

For eight years I have told British players to just tell me the adjacent post codes so I can send those lists. Never even occurred to me that in 15 seconds on Google I could be looking at a nice map (actually, any of a dozen of them, many by various companies helping customers find the nearest branch office) of England (and the rest of the UK) showing me that ST is adjacent to SK, DE, WS, WV, TV, and CW. In quick time, the customer has a much more useful list of people who are much closer to him, some within five minutes!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Dinosaurs-1 (theropods/carnivores and sarupods/brontosaurs), dinosaurs-2 (duckbills/crested-duckbills/boneheads, stegosars/ankylosaurs, ceratopsians), crocogators (crocodiles, alligators, caymans, and so forth), and pterodactyls (both short-tails and long-tails) are all grouped into the category Archosaurs ("ancient lizards").

If Protoavis (about 230mya) is really a bird (most think it's some random bones from two or more creatures) then one would have to make the birds equal in stature to the dinosaurs, rather than descended from them.

It's not really clear if all of these disparate archosaur-creatures descended from one single ancestral species yet to be found in the fossil record, or if they arose simultaneously from various species of Thecodont (the earlier group that ran the planet before 240mya) or Reptiles.

Of course, scientists are just not at all sure how a new species arises (although they know it does; DNA tests of polar bears has proven they are mutated brown bears). It is possible that one day a bit of cosmic radiation hit the DNA of some pre-embryo and caused a mutation which happened to turn out to be beneficial and meant that descendants of that one critter became in ten-fifty thosuand years the new species. It's also possible that some environmental effect caused a fairly common and harmless variation that runs rampant through a species to become advantageous (but then again, did this fairly common and harmless mutation come from a single unique ancestor?). For what it's worth, we do know that every single person on the planet descends from one specific woman who crossed the Red Sea from Africa into Yemen, and that every single person on the planet descends from a single male who lived in some different time and place, so maybe...

[BTW: That sailback Dimetrodon in your toy dinosaur set is actually a pre-dinosaur (Permian age) critter which is the distant ancestor of mammals including humans.]

The most widely accepted theory is that birds are descended from some creature that looks pretty much like Archaeopteryx (154mya), and that the dramaeosaurs (which mostly date after Archy) are just the closest dino relatives to birds (cousins), not ancestors of birds (birds split away from the dino family tree about 160mya). Virtually all dinosaur paleontologists accept this as more or less proven fact (admitting that a lot of details remain unknown).

This is part of the generally-accepted theory that there was a huge gene pool of many unrelated small theropod species (and a few mediums and one really big species) at any given time, and that when the environment changed the top predator went extinct and one of the medium-sized ones grew up into the six-ton/forty-foot niche and one of the really small dinos grew up to take the opening in the medium-size racket. We do know that the Allosaurus bloodline (which ends more or less with Acrocanthosaurus) died out (after evolving into something halfway between Allosaurus and T-Rex) and the Coelurosaurs (which include T-Rex) grew up and took over.

I should mention radical Olshevsky Theory which nobody but George Olshevsky accepts. Under this theory, there is always a number of even smaller species living in the trees (birds!) and that whenever the big six-ton dino dies, one of the one-ton dino species grows up, one of the 50/500-pound dino species grows up to take that job, and one of the 1-pound birds grows up to take THAT job. George thinks that dinosaurs are in fact the descendants of ancient birds (never found in the fossil record since bird bones are too small to make nice fossils), not the other way around. If George wasn't such a gadfly then maybe his theory would be taken seriously.

The other theory (which for some reason is a favorite of Biblical Paleontologists and, less curiously, of a whole lot of Bird Paleontologists) is that whether Protoavis is real or not, there just must have been real birds not related to dinos around for a long time prior to Archy (but birds don't fossilize very well so we have never found these). Except for the questionable Protoavis, there are no birds earlier than Archaeopteryx, but there are a lot of small feathered dinosaurs after him. Some of those could be descendants of Archy who evolved back into dinosaurs rather than continuing into birds.

Of course, I'm an engineer, not a Paleontologist, but I have read a lot of dinosaur books.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Federation Commander Wallpaper

Graphics Director Matt Cooper writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download Federation Commander Wallpaper.

Klingon Border, Romulan Border, Klingon Attack, and Romulan Attack are currently available in the following sizes : 800x600, 1024x768, and 1280x1024.


If there are any other sizes or any other images that you would like to see turned into wallpaper, please feel free to write me at graphics@starfleetgames.com and I will get it set up for you.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

An old friend goes out of business

I got the press release Friday that Matthews Simmons Marketing went out of business. The collapse of Mathews-Simmons Marketing was a shock. We all expected Mark would have to do something after the financial debacle that was Games Expo, but I don't think anyone thought it would mean shutting down his entire empire. Mark Simmons had several different activities:

Games Expo, his new trade show in Vegas venture, which crashed when 1/10 of the expected number of buyers showed up.

Publishing Games Quarterly Magazine: No great loss. It was a slick magazine where companies with more money than brains paid to have articles printed about their products.

Publishing Games Quarterly Catalog: The only thing to survive, only because it was sold to a new company owned by his employees and ex-employees. This is the industry bible and the industry cannot survive without it or something more or less identical to it. If the new guys can't make a go of it, somebody else can, I have no doubt.

National Games Week: This was one of those high-sounding ideas that nobody but Mark took seriously. In theory, lots of gamers invited friends to come to their homes and play games during National Games Week. This would get those friends excited about playing games and they would go to their game store (which they probably didn't know existed) and see signs that said "national games week" and buy games. It was kind of hard to see if this was accomplishing anything or not.

It's been known for some time that Mark was in trouble. Too many small game companies
bought expensive full color ads in GQC and GQM, got no sales, and had no money to pay for the advertising
and no real interest in doing so. At least two such companies privately told me they felt
that the likely results of the ads had been seriously over estimated and did not produce
the implied revenue, leaving them feeling cheated. Without the money he had already earned by printing the ads, Mark's empire was running out of gas.

Mark, for those who didn't hear, has a new job as the US agent for one of the Chinese manufacturing companies that does stuff for game publishers.

I knew that the collapse of Games Expo had left Mark in trouble, but I really thought
that MSM itself would survive. Pity it did not. Mark hasn't really left but he will still be missed.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

It's snowing in Amarillo

Steve Cole reports: Not much snow, just enough to cover the grass while the pavement has kept itself melted off. Over night, we'll get a thin coating of ice. Amarillo has had more White Easters than White Christmases and this will be another one of them. Despite being in a heated building, I'm cold just sitting here. When I rest my forearm on the desk to work the mouse, the desk is cold as ice, probably heat conducting through the metal desk and concrete floor into the ground. I want to be home in my recliner with a warm cat and a rerun of CSI. Actually, the only reason to come to town (I could make up the work later) was to get groceries so I wouldn't have to get out tomorrow. Leanna and I only cook a few times a week (if you don't count microwaving a can of something as cooking) but the weekends are mostly when we do this. I did rustle up some eggs, bacon, and potatoes for supper last night. Anyway, I'm here at the office, went through Email and the BBS. We're all excited about getting to work on CL35 with half of it done and the rest of it easily done over the next six weeks, instead of doing all of it in two weeks. Monday, we'll get going on Monday.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Federation Commander brings you...Federation Commander MySpace!

Federation Commander brings you...Federation Commander MySpace!

Marketing Director Vanessa Clark writes: Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. is pleased to announce that we now have a MySpace page! Be our friend and find us! Make comments, view upcoming blogs (yes we will be blogging there as well!), and see what's going on with Amarillo Design from another side! Our MySpace page is ran by myself (Vanessa-Marketing Director) so you will get a different interaction with Amarillo Design Bureau than you have in the past.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

College Sports and Other Things

I heard the local radio talkshow guy ranting this morning.

Seems that high school athletes sign up emotionally with a coach, but legally with a school. If the coach leaves, the athlete is stuck. To change schools costs him a year of eligibility. This is an issue because the new coach may have a different playing style that does not utilize the types of player that the old coach leaves behind. The radio talkshow guy wanted students who had not yet enrolled released from their contract without penalty if the coach moves between signing day and the first day of class.

I know nothing about this and don't even watch sports (other than America's Cup yacht racing) but it sounds good to me. Let's do it. Yup.

I wonder how many people make a decision or take a position on a subject they know nothing about after hearing one brief thing from one source? I wonder how many issues are just not that clear cut? I wonder if the proposed change would mean that a college that wanted a particular player could not just hire the coach and get the player that way? Would this happen? I dunno. I know nothing about the business of college sports. I just wonder if there is more to the issue. But I don't watch sports so I don't care to learn. Let's just change the rules (the policy, the law, the politician, whatever) and move on.

Yeah, that would work.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Single-Source Debating Tactics

From time to time, on the BBS or Forum or Email, I find myself debating something (unrelated to the company or its products) with somebody who is vastly more interested/passionate than I am. These people seem to think that if I do not drop everything I am doing to go do research and refut their arguments, that they have "won" something. Maybe it makes them feel better about themselves. Go figure. I have a business to run and really don't care if they believe something that isn't true (although I get cranky when they spew such nonsense on my BBS and drive my customers away).

One of the most annoying tactics of these debating types is "I found one source that supports my view and therefore the argument is over and all other sources are invalid." This could be about Field Marshal Montgommery (British and US sources don't agree on much of anything), the bird-dinosaur theory (95% of scientists think birds are dinosaur descendants, but those who find the question fun to argue delight in quoting the tiny minority who say otherwise), Holocaust denial, global warming, or even the question about whether the Arabs who fled Israel in 1948 did so voluntarily, out of reasonable or unreasonable fear, or were forced out at gunpoint. (Almost 60 years later, every Palestinian great-grandfather "remembers" that he was one of the few forced to leave at gunpoint, not one of the vast majority who left because the Mufti of Jerusalem said to get out of the way of the invading armies; one recent book says what no other book ever said, based on "new research" which boils down to asking said grandfathers what they "remember"). It's hard to convince Biblical Paleontology people that they actually have to read some science books, not take the word of some web site that "every paleontologist has abandoned the bird-dino theory" (a statement that is an outright lie; I know because I read the mailing list where real Paleontologists discuss dinosaurs every day and they think the theory is stronger than ever).

If you really want to know the truth rather than just win some imaginary debating game, you really have to read all sides of the story, not just accept verbatim the claims of some web site that is pushing their agenda. (Didn't your mother tell you that there are at least two sides to every story?) I can tell when the guy pestering me about whatever subject is getting 100% of his info from one of these one-sided web sites that ignore any data they don't agree with (and then lie and say no such data exists). Global warming sites are like that, along with the Bible Literalist sites. I think the climate is going crazy but I am not convinced I have to live on a commune and grow sweat potatoes to stop it, and I have read the Bible (the greatest collection of moral and ethical teachings ever written) without believing that the world is only six thousand years old.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Many people do not know that you can play Federation Commander on-line in real time against live opponents.

Eight years ago, http://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.

This successful operation has now been expanded to include Federation Commander!

Now you can play with real live human 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 $4 a month, you have access to all of the ships in the Federation Commander Game System 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 on-line 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.

So come to www.sfbonline.com right away. You can even fly the Federation CA or Klingon D7 as a free trial, or watch any game in play. Legendary SFB aces and new Fed Commander aces strut their stuff in combat arenas all the time, and you can learn from the best.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Working ahead is kind of cool

Having more people around the office is kind of cool, since it means I can work on my creative stuff (designing games) far ahead of the last minute.

The next product is the Omega Master Rulebook for SFB. It's done.
The next product after that is Captain's Log #35, which is almost half done.
The next product after that is FC: Battleships Attack, and all 8 battleship cards are done. I haven't done the rulebook yet, but I'll work on that next week.
The next product after that is SFB Module R11, and probably 70 of the 96 SSDs (ship cards) are done (by Petrick).
The next product after that is Boosters 16-18, which have a total of 16 new ships, and all are done.
The next product after that is FC: Distant Kingdoms and the 16 ship cards are done. I did one of the two battleship cards this morning.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Vanessa elopes, Paramount surrenders, Leanna's dream shot

I never saw it coming, but Petrick and Vanessa are in Las Vegas. They got married last night at the Luxor, the one shaped like a pyramid. Petrick was dressed as Marc Anthony and Vanessa as Cleopatra. I don't know when or if they're coming back. The only phone call described "striking it rich" and I don't know if that means in love or in the Casinos.

Paramount called and said they were turning over Star Trek to ADB since we have done a better and more consistent job of it than they have. I'm announcing a new series for this fall, STAR TREK: PRIME DIRECTIVE in which a prime team will tour the Federation in a small ship (captained by grumpy retired star fleet commander R Lee Emry) solving problems. Being a prime team capable of anything, we can rip off anybody. I'm already reviewing leftover scripts from JUSTICE for the trial episode, from UNIT for the commando raid episode, from NCIS for the crime scene episode, STANDOFF for the hostage rescue episode, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA for the space combat episode, JERICHO for the planet after a natural disaster episode, and SURVIVOR for the lost on some crappy planet episode. Like Law & Order, I plan to change one or two of the seven principle cast members each season, starting with the actors who ask for raises. In fall 2008 we will launch the second series, STAR TREK: KLINGONS which will explore how the Empire really does things. We will also have a series of four-hour mini-series events (two or three a year) titled STAR TREK: EVIL EMPIRE which will be set in the mirror universe. Actors are already signing up since playing a bad guy is more fun than playing a hero.

Leanna has packed up and left for Los Angeles. She was offered her dream shot on TOP DESIGN and says she can do better than those idiots on the show. I just hope the judges like purple since everything Leanna does it purple. Just look at the back covers of the last ten products. Six of them are purple.

Mike Filsinger is changing the SFB mauler rules while Chuck Strong is changing the F&E mauler rules. I wonder if the new ones they do will match any better than the current versions of the same rule in the two different games.