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Saturday, April 30, 2011

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 and Jean Sexton for Prime Directive PD20 and PD20M, Gary Plana for GURPS Prime Directive, Richard Sherman for Star Fleet Battle Force, and Mike Filsinger for Star Fleet Battles.

Frank Brooks runs the Play-by-Email system as a volunteer. Paul Franz charges barely enough for the On-Line game system (for SFB and FC) to pay the server costs. Bob Pomroy does made-to-order decals for our Starline miniatures at a cost that barely covers his costs.

Federation & Empire would not exist without Chuck Strong (a 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 who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including Jean Sexton (Vice President of Proofreading and Product Professionalization); John Berg and Mike Incavo (Galactic Conquest Campaign); Daniel Kast (Klingon Armada); and John Sickels, Matthew Francois, Jonathan Thompson, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive). 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.

Many years ago, we began awarding medals, ribbons, and other "decorations" to staffers and others who contributed to each product, and some other projects. These awards not only recognize those who contributed to the various projects, but encouraged others to begin making their contributions to future projects. We have created the Wall of Honor at http://starfleetgames.com/ArtGallery/Wall%20of%20Honor.shtml. This is a tribute to over 30 years of volunteer work. We hope you visit it to say thanks to all the volunteers and their efforts.

Friday, April 29, 2011

101 Ways to Kill the B10, Part 1

Celebrating the release of Captain's Log #6 on e23, let's take a look at some of the ways.

#1. Tell the media it serves buttered popcorn on media nights.

#2. Tell the crew the popcorn is being replaced with healthy alfalfa sprouts.

#3. Transport tribbles into the engine room.

#4. Dare it to chase the Millennium Pelican through asteroids.

#5. Tell the Klingon EPA that it runs on leaded dilithium.

#6. Force the crew to read The Kzinti in the Hat.

#7. Schedule it for conversion to a mauler.

#8. Have it built at a Yugo plant.

#9. Tell Congress it is Space Station Freedom.

#10. Flush all the toilets at once while the Emperor is in the shower.

c. 1994, Amarillo Design Bureau, from Captain's Log #16

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Steve Cole reports: Things are jumping around the office, and that shows up as various things announced on the website or on the page on Facebook. This often results in people asking questions, and we're here to answer them!

I posted in a recent MY DAY that Leanna had called a meeting and demanded that C3A get done in the next week or ten days. This resulted in one customer worrying that this "surprise deadline" would result in a rushed product.

You really shouldn't worry about Leanna's deadlines producing inferior or rushed products; she won't allow those anyway. What she's doing is telling Steven Petrick and myself to ignore distractions (like submissions of new fiction that might or might not be used in Captain's Log #47, or picky rules arguments on the BBS) and finish C3A (which has been overdue since February).

A customer suggested that we should bundle Romulan Attack and Klingon Attack in order to increase sales. Players are always sending us suggestions (and we use more of them than any other company) and suggestions for bundle deals are very common. However, bundle deals don't work and we rarely if ever do them.

There is really no point to bundling Romulan Attack and Klingon Attack, nor would doing so push sales of those products. Retailers hate bundles of products, as it just complicates things. (A gamer who bought Romulan Attack, then mistakenly bought the Bad Guys Attack bundle and found out he just bought another copy of Romulan Attack, will go back to the store complaining.) Bundling them on the website (when not being sold to the wholesalers who did not want them bundled) would upset the retailers even more. (Retailers hate it when we sell something on the website that they cannot order from wholesalers.) Because of the way the industry works, bundling would have to be at the same price as the two products (no discount, as discounts upset retailers).

Why are we so concerned about upsetting retailers? Because there are not enough retailers in the first place, and not enough of them stock our products. Remember that 95% of the retailers in this industry are "mom and pop" stores (with mom wondering if pop is ever going to turn a profit and bring home a paycheck) and anything which "takes money out of the retailer's pocket" gets retailers VERY upset (which is why we never ever offer discounts anywhere, and why we don't do a lot of other things that customers suggest).

Remember that the game industry is very small, and most companies are run on the basis that the owner gets as a salary whatever is left after the bills are paid. (This is why we don't spend thousands of dollars giving away free posters, ball caps, or other stuff that multi-million dollar corporations in other industries give away.)

The release of the PDF of GURPS Federation on e23 prompted some questions about scheduling, and one player even humorously asked Jean if his hard copy would be "nicely proofread" before it was printed. Well, of course GURPS Federation will, indeed, be nicely proofread! It will be the best-proofread product in the history of ADB, Inc. It was nicely proofread months ago (and we fixed the last four or five things, such as multiple spellings of Malcolm/Malcomb, after the reports from e23 buyers). It's a combination of factors.

FACTOR ONE: We cannot release a new product in this industry unless you tell the wholesalers 60 (preferably 100) days in advance that it is coming, so that they can get stores to pre-order it and avoid having to stock it in their warehouse.

FACTOR TWO: Because of the need for Steve Jackson Games to approve the GURPS Federation manuscript (and with no idea if that process would take two weeks, two months, or two years) we could not schedule the release of GURPS Federation until it had been approved, which meant, we scheduled it for three months from the day we got the email from Steve Jackson green-lighting the project.

Normally (and normal is not good) we announce a product three months in advance, at a time when it's not nearly finished. (Usually, the key parts are in final playtesting at that point, but some things that don't have to be playtested are often not even written when the announcement is made.) So, "normally," Jean calls in the final proofreading corrections about 36 hours before we start printing the product, and sometimes as late as two hours before we start printing the product!
Everything is "nicely proofread" but in the case of GURPS Federation there were two additional (and very rigorous) proofreading steps (Steve Jackson and 60+ players who bought it on e23) that are not the "normal" way of doing things.

We are waiting now to see if pre-sales of PDFs on e23 hurt paper sales or not. (Steve Jackson Games does that with almost every product, says it doesn't hurt paper sales, and takes advantage of the proofreading that results as a byproduct.) If it turns out that it doesn't hurt sales, we may well start releasing PDF copies of a few other products 45 days before the print copies (although that will all but certainly mean releasing the product 45 days later than we normally would!).

With Leanna's thunderous "Where are the new products?" meeting last Monday, I had to actually do a schedule instead of just muddling through.

Marines was delayed to fall (the second round of playtesting showed that the first round botched the combat tables), as was Federation Admiral (the outside writer's manuscript just didn't match the SFU knowledge base, so major parts had to be done over).

Starship Aldo (a sixteen page booklet) has to start printing on Friday to make it to Free RPG Day on time. It won't be released on e23 or hard copy until around Origins, because of the rules on products done for Free RPG Day. This will be a fun product (done for both GURPS and PD20M). A post-war salvage ship finds a wrecked freighter. Burned paint on the side includes the letters "aldo" but nobody knows (without going on board) if the ship is the freighter Geraldo Rivera, the military auxiliary Aguinaldo, or the luxury liner Waldorf Astoria.

Next, GURPS Federation (already finished) will be released (probably 16 May) along with C3A Andromedan Threat File (which should be done by early next week).

Then, Captain's Log #43 will be done. With the fiction already finished, this is just two weeks of really intense writing and editing by the Steves and long sleepless nights of proofreading for Jean.

At Origins, we expect to have three major products: Federation Commander Transports Attacked (the ship cards are already in final proofreading), ISC War (the counters will have to be done next week, we are sure, but Chuck Strong has already finished most of the work on the rules, SIT, and scenarios), and Distant Armada (another of Daniel Kast's Starmada products, and he's pretty reliable on getting those done on time). We might also have the E-module on Borak Star League, but real world issues for the guy creating it may or may not allow that to happen. (He is a Navy officer, and if the Pentagon says he has to go smack somebody with a cruise missile, the Borak will have to wait.)

This fall is still a sort of vague misty watercolor vision, but it will include Fed Admiral, Star Fleet Marines Assault, and Captain's Log #44. We might also get another product or two out, but I don't want to speculate on those at this time. We'll have to tune that misty vision into crystal clarity in time for Captain's Log #43.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

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. We continue to expand our line of non-game products on Cafe Press http://www.cafepress.com/starfleetuniv. 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. 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:

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.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself.

1. Over my lifetime, I have become intrigued by numerous questions and subjects, great and small. Some are political (e.g., affirmative action, supply-side economics, big vs. small government), some are religious or philosophical (e.g., creation vs. evolution, is there a God, was Jesus married), and others are historical (e.g., was Hitler an idiot, did Robert E. Lee make a dumb decision about Pickett's Charge). Some are about SFU (do I really want to publish X3 rules, do I really like that story a certain author sent in, which way to I decide on some rules question). As each arises, I study the issue as thoroughly as possible, come to a conclusion which thereafter forms a part of my worldview, and move on to another issue or subject. Often, over the years, I come to forget most of the details of each subject. This gets me into trouble when I encounter someone who is new to the issue (or who only cares about one issue for his lifetime). They're up-to-date on details, while for me the answer is clear but he details of how I reached that answer are murky. I rarely have the time to revisit the entire issue and reconstruct the thought processes that came to my decision. Given the pressures of limited time and limitless other things to do, I often just give my answer and decline or refuse to discuss it further. (Trust me. I looked into it, and that's the answer, and I don't really have time to go through it again every time somebody new stops by.) This can result in various reactions. Some are angry that I won't give them a hearing. Some do not believe that I ever studied the issue at all. One friend demanded that I either stop everything and do a month of work to refute his position, or publicly renounce my own and accept his. (That didn't happen. I may not have time to look it all up again but I know he's wrong on everything.) In a similar vein, I sometimes have local political friends who get fired up about something (the Fair Tax, rumors about people moving money around just before the Fall 2008 crash, the secret Swiss bank accounts of this or that president). More than a few of these have asked for a meeting, handed me 50 pages of stuff they copied from the Internet, and demanded that I not only read the material immediately, but that I either publicly accept their theory or instantly produce proof that they're wrong. (I have some very strange political friends, locally.)

2. Shouldn't beheaded be deheaded?

3. Why is it that things are served on a silver platter, not a golden platter? For that matter, I'd rather have my dinner on a stainless steel platter, or maybe a ceramic platter. And why is no one born with a golden spoon in their mouth, while many are born with silver spoons in their mouths? Wouldn't a stainless steel spoon or a plastic spoon be just as hygienic? Gold and silver have not always been first and second, in that order. In the ancient world (e.g., Egypt's New Kingdom and earlier) silver was far more valuable than gold (and meteoric iron was more valuable than that). Silver was just not as easy to find in old Egypt. In the US military, the rank insignia for a 2nd lieutenant is a gold bar, while the rank insignia for a higher 1st lieutenant is a silver bar. (The gold oak leaf of a major is lower than the identically shaped silver oak leaf of a lieutenant colonel.) Why? Because silver symbolizes the self-made American man, while gold symbolized inherited European wealth. Thus, to the US military, the man who earned his position is better than a man of the same rank who inherited it, or, said another way, America is better than Europe.

4. Bucky Katt says that half of the people want to wipe out the Fralli because they're ugly, half of the people want to wipe out the Fralli because they're useless, and the final half want to wipe out the Fralli to use their hides to make cheap hats.

5. Boulevard is the French word for "bulwark" or "defensive wall." Paris had such walls, which advancing technology made obsolete. When that happened, the city fathers decided that the old walls, being wide, flat on top, solid (centuries old), and in a circle around the city, would make a wonderful new place for citizens to walk around (and excellent new retail frontage). This gigantic 50-mile long strip mall was known locally as "the boulevard" and (a few decades later) that term began to be applied to wide streets in new parts of the city. Eventually, the word came to America, not as the word for a defensive rampart, but as the word for a wide and pleasant street (with or without lots of retail space).

Monday, April 25, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 17 - 23 April 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of continuing work on products that haven't gotten finished yet. The weather this week was warm, starting to reach actually hot temperatures in mid-afternoon. The spam storm continued at about 100 per day.

Newly uploaded to e23 was Captain's Log #5.

Steve Cole suffered pain (apparently a pinched nerve in his back) on Wednesday, which sent him home on Friday and Saturday. Despite this, he finished the Ship Cards for Transports Attacked, and continued work on Captain's Log #43, Star Fleet Marines, and the mysterious U contract. He reviewed a story synopsis by Mike Bennett and told him to change the "miracle shooting" if he wanted it published. He also put the Romulan Attack scenarios into the FC Reference Scenario Book, checked out the iPhone Dac App, reviewed and rejected the Phaser Needle proposed by Tony Cutcliffe, and wrote three reserve blogs (one of which Jean swears will never see the light of day).

Steven Petrick worked on C3A and Captain's Log #43.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date and served notice that the design department needs to finish a product.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Joel did website updates, smacked pirates, and helped Mike.

Jean reports that our page on Facebook has reached 789 friends and that e23 sales are the best month this year. She worked on Starship Aldo.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


ADB, Inc.’s page on Facebook is now up and running, and we’re finding a lot of new faces who haven’t been around the BBS or Forum. We have pictures up of ADB, Inc. staff, links to many of our videos, snippets of information, and interaction with our fans. Jean Sexton is the main voice you will hear on our page on Facebook. If she doesn’t know an answer, she’ll ask one of the Steves and ferry the answer back.

All that is left is for you to “like” the page for Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.
if you haven’t done so already. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf.

Many people on our page on Facebook have not been on our BBS, so perhaps our new outpost on Facebook will become the place for those who want to keep up with current events without the intense atmosphere (and flood of information) found on the BBS. If you are very busy on a given day, checking our page on Facebook would tell you quickly if something important has been announced. The page also has its own art galleries, plus a place where you can post a review of our products. It also has discussions where you can link up with fellow gamers.

We hope to see you there!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Proposals and Problems

This is Steven Petrick posting.

One of the fun-filled parts of working here at Amarillo Design Bureau is proposals. We want proposals, but proposals vary.

We recently got one that wanders once more into the forbidden realm of "the called shot". This is a concept that keeps coming up, that once you have destroyed your opponent's shield you can, for some cost (usually an overall reduction in the number of damage points) destroy specific things on the target ship. Like for example all of the photons on a Federation ship, or all of the shuttle boxes on that Hydran ship (taking out his fighters, or at least his ability to rearm them). Or any of a host of other targets.

The problem is that it turns the game into "who downs a shield and gets a couple of internals first", because everyone is going to target the things that make it impossible for the other guy to keep fighting, meaning he has to disengage with his otherwise healthy ship.

Another problem is the submission of new systems (whether weapons or just something new a ship can do) ideas.

One of the biggest problems with these is that they are often "unfinished", i.e., the author had an idea, but did not complete the rules. It is very difficult to deal with a rule for a new system that lacks such simple details as how much (much less what kind) of energy is required to operate it. But I get suggestions for "two turn arming" systems with no indication of how much power is needed. (It would be nice to know how much the designer thought it needed if he gave his system careful consideration before suggesting it.)

Then there are the ideas for new weapons in which the designer is convinced "they will only be used the way I think they will be used", which ends up with weapons that are oh so much more powerful if they are used the way the players would use them.

We need proposals, and have a proposals board and a proposals topic on line. New ideas help bring new challenges to Star Fleet Battles, Federation Commander, Federation & Empire, and indeed the whole Star Fleet Universe to keep that universe interesting not just for the new player, but for the veterans of the system.

It would just be a whole lot easier to develop the some of them if the writer would take the time to review his work, perhaps with a friend (you can at least find someone on line who is a gamer if there is no one nearby), and seriously consider the rules as they stand.

That means look not just at open space, but take the time to seriously ask yourself if your new weapon might be affected by a radiation zone in an adverse way (which in turn would mean that an ion storm is probably going to have an effect also). And keep in mind that we also now have the Magellanic Cloud (and their technologies) and the Omega Octant (and its technologies, but also consider the Qixa home space and its effects) to consider.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Klingon, Gorn, WYN, and Hydran Bumper Stickers

Klingon B10:

(I don't have to.)


Klingon Ship on the Hydran Border:

NOT the rear shields!
PLEASE, Not the rear shields!


Several Gorn and WYN ships:

This ship makes WIDE turns!


Hydran ship:

If you can read this, you have made a serious tactical error.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

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/).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

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!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself.

1. Is a Monkey wrench used ON a monkey, or BY a monkey? I'm just curious.

2. Adolf Hitler gazed out the window of his Argentine ski chalet. The snows outside the window gave him a chill, reminding him all too well of the decades he had spent frozen in suspended animation. Behind him, a new generation of staff officers droned on and on with their reports. Everything was ready for the Fourth Reich. New secret weapons, including orbital death rays, were on line. Stealthy scramjet fighter-bombers would sweep the skies. The bases on the far side of the moon were on standby to launch their missiles of death. Massive armies stood ready, armies that did not yet realize he was their leader, but those soldiers would welcome him with enthusiasm once the secret was revealed. It took just over an hour for the last of them to complete his report, covering new submarines powered by cold fusion engines. "Very well, field marshals, generals, and admirals. I am very pleased," he said. "You may launch Operation Victory. But gentlemen, make no mistake. This time ... this time ... no more 'Mister Nice Guy.' This time, we stop for nothing until we win."

3. I have known for some time that Darth Vader had an older brother named Taxi and a younger sister named Ellie. However, I found obscure references to a third and younger brother, and set out to identify him. After checking dozens of fan websites and references, I discovered his name in the Astronomicron, the book of Sith mysticism. The younger brother's name was Drafty. Sadly, I also found references to three cousins (children of his father's brother), so I have more research to do. One of them may be named Carrie.

4. Did you know that the first words from the Moon were a blooper? (I am not kidding.) Neil Armstrong was supposed to say "That's one small step for a man..." but left out the word "a". If you listen to the tapes, you can see that he realized halfway through the planned statement that he blew the line and was momentarily thinking about starting over, but then just went ahead and finished. You can hear the disappointment in his voice, knowing that he goofed and could never fix it.

5. Perhaps that is not as bad as Jack Kennedy, whose most famous quote ("Ich bin ein Berliner") actually translates into "I am a jelly doughnut" (I am not kidding) because nobody on the White House staff looked up the actual German phrase ("Ich bin ein Berlinischer").

6. According to Bucky Kat, if you take a monkey, wrap him in copper wire, put him into a wet bucket, and kick him down the stairs, you will generate electricity. The system is renewable so long as the monkey stays reasonably healthy. Bucky is working on a spinning multiple monkey version for use in cars and a gorilla-powered version for use in trucks. A hybrid car would be an SUV with a hybrid monkey-gorilla engine.

7. I liked the TV show STORAGE WARS (about junk dealers bidding on abandoned storage lockers) but I think Barry and Jarrod should join forces, jointly bid, then let Barry have his pick of one collectable and let Jarrod sell the rest in his thrift store.

8. Most of the commercials on my XM radio (which only receives one channel, Fox News) are for gold coins or to hire truck drivers. What's going on?

9. I wonder if you could make a truck line work by having a depot every four hours. A driver takes off in the morning, drags a trailer to the next depot, drops it off, picks up a different trailer, and comes back. He's home with his family every night.

10. I am currently about halfway through the last book in the Earth's Children series, the only about Ayla that started in Clan of the Cave Bear. While I loved the first four books, I found the fifth book boring and am seriously wondering if I will give up trying to read the sixth book (Painted Caves). Partly it is just boring, as the people visit one sacred cave after another (and they're all the same). Partly I don't like where the story is going. I understand that the Witch Doctor Union has got to pressure Ayla to join (and on their terms, which will force her to give up her name, her husband, and her children). She is just too powerful for them to allow her to go into business as a doctor in competition with them. I have been in groups where someone hated me (for no good reason) and wanted to do me harm, and I see some hate-filled people in the cast who are going to cause trouble I don't want to read. Like I said, I don't know if I'll finish it. I'd rather the series had ended with book 4.

Monday, April 18, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 10 - 16 April 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of major progress on Star Fleet Marines, although the current round of tests may result in the game being delayed until after Origins so we can develop the scenarios and the air-ground interactions better.

The weather this week was warm and very windy, passing 50mph on Thursday. The spam storm remained calm, although it passed 100 on one day.

New uploads to e23 included Captain's Log #4, Lyran Ship Card Pack #1, the updated Federation Commander Omega playtest pack, and a new GURPS Federation with some typos fixed. PD20M Federation went on DriveThru RPG.

Steve Cole worked on SFM, Captain's Log #43, Starship Aldo, and the mysterious U contract. He also did new ships for Communique #65, and worked on the WYN Ship Card pack.

Steven Petrick worked on C3A and Captain's Log #43.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date and sent out orders.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and reorganized the warehouse

Joel did website updates and smacked some pirates.

Jean worked on our page on Facebook and made some progress on Starship Aldo.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

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 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-in's 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 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 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 use the Discussions tab and find topics for the various games. 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 on-line 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.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

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

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 wallpaper for your computer 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 15, 2011

Romulan and Kzinti Bumper Stickers

Romulan BattleHawk:

If you can read this, I am in really big trouble.


Romulan King Eagle:



Kzinti Battlecruiser:

I'll bet YOU taste good on toast!


Kzinti Scatter-Pack


Thursday, April 14, 2011


This is Steven Petrick posting

One of the problems with a small business is that you cannot really afford to have anyone get sick. Everyone is critical to the company's operations and an illness of one member causes disruptions to the entire operation. This is not because other members are not cross-trained to handle necessary tasks, but the simple fact that in picking up the extra work their own tasks start falling behind. One job can be done well, two jobs can be done about half as well.

It gets worse, however, if the illness turns out to have been fairly contagious. A small company with small offices can be an easy breeding ground for such a predatory virus, especially when several of the company employees already suffer from allergies which mask the initial symptoms. By the time realization comes that it is not allergies, the disease has already had its chance to travel through the airways of the company.

If one person gets sick, others can pick up the slack, and several people can do part of one job, and their own, for a least a little while. In a small business, when multiple people become ill, it is a complete disaster.

You have choices.

You can keep coming to work despite the illness. This means no matter how good your intentions you will not do your own job well and mistakes can come back to haunt the company. Worse, people can keep getting re-infected and start a vicious repeating cycle.

You can accept that you are sick and stay home. At least no one else will be infected and those who are not yet sick may get some work done, but anything requiring your personal input will be blocked from completion.

The only reason flu viruses have not destroyed more small businesses is that they are relatively fast. They strike, put you down for a few days, and then leave you weak and not up to the top of your game for a few more. But then they pass. However, you have to be careful not to be exposed to anything else during the period of weakness when your immune system is trying to reset.

Small businesses have to always be on their toes about illness. It may be better to send an employee who is sniffling home than to lock him in his or her office and simply hope no one else gets ill.

Illness, however, will come, especially if you have a lot of personal contact with people outside of your business.

And as always, its effects will be a plague on their business.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself about changes he'd like to have to Tivo.

1. The two things I want most, Tivo cannot do. The first is that there should be no schedule changes after the programs appear two weeks ahead, and that includes no showing a different program than the one listed.

2. The second thing I want that Tivo cannot do is for there to be no more shows that start or end one or two minutes before or after the hour. (The third thing is for SyFy to hire some decent movie script writers, but I gave up on that long ago.)

3. Biggest thing I want from Tivo is this. When you show me an ad for a movie that's going to be in theaters, I want to click a button and have Tivo remember that movie when it shows up on Tivo a year or two later. I don't want Tivo to add it to my schedule without asking me, but an alert would be nice (especially an alert that played the original trailer).

4. I want a way to tell Tivo "any time you aren't recording something, default to a channel I pick (e.g., cable news) so I will have the last 30 minutes recorded and can catch up on the news with enough backlog that I can fast forward through reports I don't want to see (and through commercials).

5. I don't want any more reruns that show up as new shows or new shows that are listed as reruns.

6. I want a real description for every show. I do not want any more episodes of American Greed where the description is just "Lives Change" with no clue what episode it is.

7. I want a way to set up folders, name them, and move shows into those folders. I want to be able to keep some of my favorite archaeology shows (for years) in a folder I labeled "archaeology" without having them scattered all up and down the "now playing" list where Leanna is prone to delete them.

8. I want an alert when two of my season passes, or a season pass and a show I clicked to record, conflict (which usually happens when the schedule changes). I want that alert the second Tivo finds out about it, not buried in the recording history file after it's too late to get both shows.

9. I want to be able to download a show from the "on demand" page while I am recording one of my regular shows.

10. I want a Tivo-style "go back eight seconds" button on my XM radio so if I miss something important I can go back and hear it and then catch back up to the current point in time during the next commercial.

If anyone wants to know, Random Thoughts #34 was judge as being "too political" by my webmistress and she just "forgot" to use it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Michael Sparks writes:

Looking to express your appreciation of the Star Fleet Universe? Need somewhere to send a gift-giver where you know you'll like what you get? Have to replace your mouse pad? Look no further! We have a storefront that sells all sorts of Star Fleet Universe designs on a variety of items. From buttons to mouse pads to t-shirts to hoodies, we've got them all! Klingons, Federation, Romulans, and the bad-boy Orion Pirates, each one has designs.

See www.CafePress.com/starfleetuniv for these items. And take a look at our newest designs featuring art from Xander, one of our hot artists.

If you have any questions or comments or would like to see something on Cafe Press, let me know and I will try to set it up for you! Email me at: Support@starfleetgames.com

Monday, April 11, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 3 - 9 April 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was the week that Steve Cole was sick with a cold and got almost nothing done on his creative list (and barely kept up with the admin list).

The weather this week was mild at night, reaching the 70s and even 80 in the afternoon.

The spam storm seems to be fighting back against the new filters, crossing 100 for the first time in weeks.

New uploads to e23 included Captain's Log #4 and GURPS Federation.

Steve Cole worked on Star Fleet Marines, got Communique finished, and got two new ships done for the WYN epack..

Steven Petrick worked on C3A and Captain's Log #43.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and got another video uploaded.

Joel did website updates and did covers for the new e23 products.

Jean proofread Communique and helped with the editing of Hailing Frequencies. She reports that our page on Facebook is up to 775 friends.

Mike Webb, a vice president of Alliance Distributors, came by for several meetings about marketing our products and helping us reach more stores.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Star Fleet Universe Wallpapers

Joel Shutts writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download wallpaper with Star Fleet Universe art.

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

Saturday, April 09, 2011


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 e23, what's new on Cafe Press, 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 FC players, including new ships, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules.

You can subscribe to Hailing Frequencies at this link: http://www.starfleetgames.com/newsletter.shtml

Friday, April 08, 2011

Andromedan Bumper Stickers

On an Andromedan Terminator:

Hit me with your best shot!


On an Andromedan Intruder:

That which does not kill us, merely fills our panels.


On an Andromedan Conquistador:

If you can read this, look behind you.


On just about every Andromedan ship:

T-Bombs on board

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Emergency That Never Comes

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Most of us will pass through our lives never having to face an emergency. For us it is simply a matter of interest to read that someone had just finished a course on administering the Heimlich Maneuver, or cardio-pulmonary respiration, when they were faced with having to actually apply their lessons to save a life. It is, however, almost a standard that in a crisis situation where there are mass casualties, the majority of people may want, may even try, to help, but simply do not know how.

For most of us, this emergency will never come.

We would all be a lot better off if everyone, as part of their education (not just those who get into the scouts, whether boy or girl) were taught some pretty basic first aid: simple things like treating for shock, or recognizing heat exhaustion and
heat prostration or how to bandage relatively simple wounds.

Much of this is taught to soldiers in basic training in a very short period of time; would it be that hard to teach the entire civilian populace as they pass through high school?

You do not think you will face an emergency when you walk out the door, and yet taking a little time in your life to put together little emergency kits would let you be prepared: a small first aid kit in the trunk of your car, a few extra items carried on your person.

Few of us, in our modern lives, realize how important it can be to be able to access fire. Fewer and fewer of us smoke, and so do not carry lighters, but also have no intrinsic knowledge of how to ignite a flame without one. Would it really hurt you to carry a small disposable lighter so that if you needed a flame, one would be handy?

You do not know what will happen to you, beyond question, on any given day. Most of you already have a very powerful tool for emergencies in the cell phone, but what can you do to keep the victim you have found alive until the ambulance can get there?

Sometimes getting the victim out of burning wreck may entail having to cut through his or her seatbelt; having a knife available to you can be a life saver in such a case. Using that knife to cut material for a tourniquet would not be out of the question.

Knowing how to apply a tourniquet and that you need to loosen it now and again to allow some blood flow to the restricted area is also important. Knowing you should record the time you applied the tourniquet so you can tell the medic when he gets there (if your cell phone was able to summon one) is also important.

Think about the things you can have with you, the things you can keep in your car, the things you should have around the house.

Learn first aid, do not let it be something you are trying to figure out for the first time when the emergency is upon you.

The Emergency May Never Come, but there is no reason for it to take you unprepared when it does.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


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 on-line 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.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself.

1. Memo to self: Do not put that bottle of small white medication tablets on the shelf next to the bottle of small white airsoft pellets.

2. US Marshals caught the East Coast Rapist, who raped seventeen women in several states. Good for them! Now, taxpayers get to spend a million or two holding trials in several states. It seems to me that in the case of multiple-state crimes, you could have one Federal judge and one Federal jury listen to several state prosecutors each present their cases. He could then go to Federal prison with each state paying a share of the cost. None of the states wants to convict him and then let another state try him, and if they wait until he finishes one state's sentence, the witnesses and evidence for other states will be stale. Now, when Congress finds enough brain cells to elect me king, there is going to be a Federal death penalty for committing some number of rapes north of three. The execution will be conducted by a firing squad composed of one male relative (boyfriends included) nominated by each victim (who wants to). Before the execution, the rapist will be strung up naked by his ankles, and each victim (who wants to) will get one swing at his gonads with a baseball bat. The procedure will be videotaped for KingTube and all rapists in the country will be warned that this is what will happen to them when they're caught unless they march into a police station and surrender right away.

3. Mother's Day is the busiest long distance telephone day of the year. Why do so many people move so far away from their mothers?

4. Most of what you think you know about the dodo bird is wrong. They were actually a species of pigeon. They were not stupid, but were very defensive and could not realize that their world was no longer free of predators and that a human with a club was deadly. Dodo birds were not fat, at least not naturally, but the last dodos alive were in European royal zoos where they were overfed.

5. I read that the guest appearance of Adrian Pasdar as a Homeland Security agent on the television show Castle is an effort to launch a new series (staring him, about that). Besides being fed up with the Hollywood fantasy that US military veterans fake terrorist attacks in order to keep the public focused on the War on Terror, my concern is that such a series is not going to be believable as there just aren't that many terrorist attacks. One possibility would be to do the 22 episodes of the series as four or five "arcs" of multiple episodes so there are only a few attacks per year. Sort of a series of mini-series.

6. According to Bucky Kat, civilizations run at faster speeds in warmer climates. Thus, Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Incas, and the Aztecs all reached civilization faster, then got tired and cranky and needed to take a break so they just collapsed. Same thing for Rome, which is a little cooler than Egypt. Temperate civilizations like England, France, Germany, and the US reached their peak next, and are about to run out of steam. Canada, on the other hand, hasn't even reached a point of civilization yet, since Canadians (according to Bucky Kat) spend half of each year frozen solid, so they'll peak sometime in about a hundred years. This actually seems to be a pretty good plan, as each civilization can start where the previous ones left off.

7. While Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is the most famous of US speeches, there is actually no copy of what he actually said. The various newspaper accounts are vary somewhat (as the reporters were writing the address down longhand in real time) and the only copy in Lincoln's handwriting clear consists of page 1 of one draft and page 2 of a different draft. (The two pages overlap by a sentence or so, proving each is part of a different draft and the combined total is obviously not the actual speech given.)

Well, that fills up the assigned space (Jean will be happy to have another blog in the file), and it's all non-political (so Jean will be twice as happy).

Monday, April 04, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 27 March - 2 April 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of hard work on SFB Module C3A and Star Fleet Marines.

The weather this week was mild, and the spam storm remained below 100 per day.

New uploads to e23 included Andro Ship Card Pack #1. The lost file for Captain's Log #4 may get unstuck next week. GURPS Federation has been uploaded but not yet released.

Steve Cole worked on SF Marines and Captain's Log #43 and read part of the C3A book. He also worked on the April issues of Hailing Frequencies and Communique, wrote a reserve blog that won't be used for two weeks, and worked on the Lyran and WYN ePacks.

Steven Petrick worked on C3A and Captain's Log #43.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Joel did website updates, uploaded more demotivationals and large size asteroid hexes, and smacked pirates.

Jean is busy proofreading.

Sunday, April 03, 2011


Many people do not know that you can play either STAR FLEET BATTLES or FEDERATION COMMANDER on-line in real time against live opponents.

Eight 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 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.

We continue to develop FEDERATION & EMPIRE for an on-line environment and have playtesters working out the kinks. We'll let you know as soon as it is ready to release.

So come to www.SFBonline.com right away. Players can even fly the FC Federation CA, FC Klingon D7, and the SFB Federation and Klingon tournament cruisers as a free trial, or watch any game in play. Legendary SFB aces and new FEDERATION COMMANDER aces strut their stuff in combat arenas all the time, and you can learn from the best.

Saturday, April 02, 2011


This is Steven Petrick posting.

I had mentioned that if "Battle: LA" were actually going on, I would be heading towards the "sound of gunfire and explosions and the rising pillars of smoke." It is not so much that I think I could do anything individually to save the world. My current physical limitations are such that the best use that could be made of me would be to position me somewhere you needed to not have the aliens capture. I am not able to rapidly run away from them or rapidly charge towards them, but I am quite capable of standing my ground, to the bitter end if need be.

So, what can I bring to the dance? Among the things I have is a fairly eclectic selection of firearms ranging from a shotgun to a .22 rifle. WhatI would take is my Mini-14, because it can use the standard round used by the U.S. Military (cal .223/5.56mm), and I have a good collection of magazines. I also have, from my days in the service, a secondhand set of LBE (Load Bearing Equipment), including magazine pouches and a canteen. I have some Battle Dress Uniform jackets that still fit, after a fashion, blue jeans, and some well broken-in boots. I would probably take a BDU cap. I have a selection of hand arms (ranging from a .22 up to .44 magnum), but I lack anything in the 9mm range. (If I ever win the lottery, I will pick up a 9mm pistol, but for now I lack one.) I do not have copious supplies of ammo for any of my pistols, and so in the name of saving weight I would forgo taking one on me personally.

I would, however, load every one of my firearms and all available ammunition into the car before I headed out to the front, as well as any containers of water and cans of food I could acquire. I may not need to use my 98K, but there may be someone willing to fight who knows how to operate a bolt action rifle and he can have mine, as well as any of my other weapons. This is "win the war; worry about the losses later."

If I wound up with real combat troops, then the first time someone is no longer able to use his M16, I will replace my Mini-14 with his M16 and swap out magazines. My Mini-14 can fire the same round, but the barrel is not designed to use the hotter loads modern M16s fire. I will loot casualties of things, like a helmet to replace my hat, unused grenades, a radio. These make me more useful to the combatants (since I would not be aware of the aliens tracking the radios).

I have served before, so I have some useful skills. I can take over a machinegun, or if held in the Forward Operating Base I can serve on a mortar crew.

I know how to follow orders. I know the difference between cover and concealment, although arguably what is cover against an M16 may not be cover against the aliens' small arms and I will need to learn that difference and quickly.

In short, from a standing start at my home I can arrive in the combat zone semi-equipped to fight (I do not have a radio, but I have a first aid kit, food, water, weapons, ammunition, knives, an entrenching tool, binoculars, clothes, boots). And I have at least a modicum of the knowledge of how to conduct myself in a combat zone and function as part of a military unit.

Friday, April 01, 2011

A Topsy-Turvy World

Steve Cole exclaims:

I went to bed last night and all was well. Today I find ...

Steven Petrick has won the lottery and has gone convertible shopping. His request/demand for a leave of absence indicates he plans to drive all of Route 66 and will be back when that is accomplished.

Mike Sparks has been hired by a Hollywood film director and his next film will be Indiana Jones and the Klingon Artifacts. (The premise is that Indy's many times great descendant is now in the archaeology field. The blending of two successful franchises is sure to be a hit.) He's at home so he can pack up things to move.

Joel Shutts has designed the killer app "Mafia Wars in FarmVille" (where you bury bodies and increase the fertility of your farm) and is out today as he is gleefully buying more computer hardware so he can repeat his success by producing "Mafia Wars and Sorority Life" (the premise was left to my imagination)!

Leanna, the love of my life, has gone shopping with Petrick. Whatever she saves him on his convertible, she gets to use to buy "girl stuff." She mentioned joint season tickets to the "Broadway on Tour" series and that if I didn't want to go, then I could sleep in the gazebo. She plans on being back at work on Monday.

Jean Sexton has decided to move here and fix main dishes that do not include onions, green peppers, and mushrooms so that Petrick (when he returns) and I can be more productive and not lose any days due to food allergies. She also is hooking up our computer monitors (and home TVs) to stationary bikes and says that we must pay the price for watching non-work things. (Apparently there is software that can determine if we are playing games or on some site other than ADB's and then we have to power our own monitor.) However, she has to give at least 90 days notice at her current job, so she's not here either.

At any rate, I am at the office by myself right now and trying to teach Ramses and Isis to answer the phones. This has been less than successful, although my blood loss is not severe enough to cause me to pass out yet. So if you call, please give me time to answer the phone!