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Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby astronomypete » Tue May 14, 2013 8:54 pm

Products, the Future, and Jean

Steve Cole reports:

We're in a situation in which we need to "transition the company" into a new form for the future. We need to be doing games with "four pages of rules, a mounted board, a deck of cards, and some toys" if we want to thrive in the current market. That transition will not be a mere flip of a switch, but will involve considerable effort. We have to learn new skills on many levels. We need to start immediately on new projects such as TRIBBLES VS. KLINGONS.

But Murphy's Laws include one particularly haunting one: Whatever has to be done immediately, something else has to be done first.

And the first thing I had to do was get Jean Sexton moved to Amarillo. It was the worst possible time, given Origins staring us in the face and my broken leg, but it had to be done now for Jean's safety (not to mention her mental health and general well-being). She was in a situation that was not just toxic but dangerous, and she had to leave there as soon as she finished her 30 years and her retirement kicked in. She could not leave earlier and needed to leave as soon as she could.

It would be great if moving her was over when we got back to Amarillo with her and a huge U-Haul truck full of her lifetime accumulation of everything you can imagine, but there was more to it. We had to get a new office built (which was still not quite finished when she got here) and trying to add new phone lines revealed the collapsing state of the Civil War-era phone system in the building we bought. So, time and money had to be spent on a new phone system (something we have known for years had to be done). Even that was not all of it it, as we have to help her get everything into her new apartment and sorted out so she can live there. As anyone who has moved knows, the first day in your new home has a lot more to do with stacks of boxes than it does with throwing a housewarming party. She cannot empty a given box because she cannot get to the place where stuff needs to be put away because of other boxes stacked in front of it. So, we pitched in (as much as she would allow) to move boxes around to clear a few square feet of floor space. She then began processing boxes on the edge of the empty spot. If something could be put away (in a closet or cabinet) it was. Otherwise, the box had to go to the far side of the empty spot. Everything put away was a victory, and the empty spot got bigger every day as she worked through it. (She couldn't even sleep in her new apartment for almost two weeks because there was nowhere to set up her bed. Leanna made our guest room available for as long as she needed it.) Every now and then she found something that the moving crew loaded that should have been left behind, and that item has to be returned to its proper owner in a tense exchange with an unhappy ex-boyfriend for something of Jean's that the packing crew accidentally left behind.

Carl von Clausewitz (the greatest military theorist of all time) said that you should never change anything, but if you do, you should not be afraid to change everything. So, Jean's arrival means a lot of things will change. She will take over answering the telephone from Steven Petrick, the Rangers from Steve Cole, the e23 program from Leanna, and convention support and customer support from Mike Sparks. We bought an answering machine, so from now on during meetings the phone will go to voice mail so that we don't have four people doing nothing while the fifth takes a phone call. We will be hiring one or two new employees (one to help Mike with inventory and orders, another eventually to replace Joel Shutts, our graphics director who went to his first grown-up job last week).

Origins is looming. It's only 29 days away as I write this, and none of the new products are ready. Captain's Log #47 is the highest priority, and that (at least) will get done. We've become experts at doing those and in two or three weeks we'll be printing copies. That doesn't leave a lot of time for anything else. The Federation Master Starship Book will be released, at least in an interim form. It's done except for art and whatever reports show up, but reports show up every day (and more will show up once it's released). I've decided that whatever state it's in a few days before the trip is what will be on sale (at the show and on the cart) and will be frozen for at least six months or maybe a year. If we keep fixing trivial details on the Federation book, the Klingon book won't ever get started. The amount of work that will take the Federation MSSB from 90% to 99% finished would take the Klingon MSSB from 0% to 90%. SFB Module C6 (Paravians and Carnivons) was derailed by the fatal crash of Steven Petrick's computer. That is being replaced, but even so, doing and checking 120 SSDs in 29 days is going to be a severe challenge, especially given that Captain's Log #47 is in line ahead of it. I have not officially given up all hope of finishing it, but reality is biting. In theory, the Federation Commander Tactics Manual only needs page layout, as Patrick Doyle has written all of it. In theory, once Captain's Log #47 is finished, I'll jump into the FCTM and whip it into shape quickly. Well, everybody needs to have a theory. Speaking of theories, Ken Burnside says he can whip up an SFU version of Squadron Strike, but I suspect that only happens in time for Origins if we allow him to take universe-violating liberties with the database that have gotten us into trouble with other joint ventures. That won't be allowed, and whether Ken can produce a viable product in the time available is not known.

And even if work on those products must begin immediately, other things must be done first. Old friends visited for one day, and since one of them is working on a vital part of Traveller Prime Directive and we can get a lot more done at a table than over the phone, we have to take advantage of a rare and unplanned visit. The spring trip to Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary was 11-12 May and had been scheduled for so long that we could not cancel it. The annual company picnic (a local trade show where we get enough free office supplies and chocolate to last a year) will wipe out one day of this week. For some strange reason, the other 10,000 people going to the show don't care if that is inconvenient for our schedule. We managed to upload something to e23 during Operation Fetch and the week before, but nothing was ready for the next week. Jean is going to push hard to get at least a couple of items (that I did two months ago) checked so they can be uploaded. When she finishes checking them, it will take me most of a productive day to make her corrections. Oh well.

After Origins, we get to the real future. TRIBBLES VS. KLINGONS needs overseas production (which I have no idea how to do) and a Kickstarter launch (which ADB has never done and could not be done until Jean was here to manage it). Traveller Prime Directive won't need Kickstarter but still needs to be finished. (The space combat system has never been finalized, players want to be the television deck crew and rules must be written for that, and of course 12 sets of deck plans must be done (half of which exist in some form). It's one of three planned joint venture lines with Mongoose. The other two are the Starline 2500 series miniatures (we have told Mongoose not to send us any new ships to review until every ship from Book One is on the market) and the ACTASF rulebook (which was done in such a rush that major revisions must be made before it can become an online PDF or a second book can be published). It remains to be seen if the rules problems in ACTASF and the production problems with the 2500s have fatally wounded those product lines. We're basically going to have to reboot them to make them the success they should have been. We have several more games with a few pages of rules, a deck of cards, and some toys in our future, including Merchants of the Federation (with Jay Waschak of VBAM) and Battlestations Star Fleet (with the Siadek brothers of Gorilla Games). The components of TRIBBLES VS. KLINGONS will give us a start on KRAG (Klingon Rapid Assault Group), the inside-the-ship man-to-man combat system. There are new card games and dice games out there, as well as (you guessed it) STAR FLEET MARINES VS. ZOMBIES.

The future does not by any means include abandoning the existing product lines. Over the next two years, SFB will get X2, F&E will get Minor Empires, FC will get X-ships and go beyond the Borders of Madness, Star Fleet Marines will get a third (armored cavalry) and fourth (monsters) module, new RPG books (Orion Pirates, Feline Empires, Gorns) and new game engines will be done, the long-awaited expansion deck for SFBF will happen, Starmada needs another couple of books, and more Starline 2400-series miniatures will be done. Those won't be the only products released for existing lines.

We hope you will come with us to this exciting future.
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby Ben2 » Tue May 14, 2013 9:25 pm

Well there's a whole bunch of stuff in there it may not be wise to put on the internet.

You particularly don't want to express a lack of confidence in a product line that has sold fairly well once the teething troubles were resolved. Not continuing to expand the line as models are completed is not going to improve the momentum of the game.

While I've got a list of stuff I'd like to see in ACTA:SFU 2nd edition, the current edition with the errata is a good fun game.
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby billclo » Tue May 14, 2013 10:25 pm

Agreed, a case of a little too much information.

I am not giving up on ACTA:SF, but it might cause others with less investment/dedication to question their purchases.
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby mechascorpio » Wed May 15, 2013 1:25 am

I found the whole post shrill, babbling and kind of creepy. Further, SC is basically blaming the players for the delay in Traveller Prime Directive and doing so with strawmen that don't reflect what's been said here (WTF is "players want to be the television deck crew"??).

Whatever. It wasn't the first time they've aired the one-sided dirty laundry, so I'll just assume this won't be the last. I actually unliked the FB page today because I don't need to see that kind of whining and weirdness in my feed.
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby Captain_Nemo » Wed May 15, 2013 1:43 am

There are so many things that I want to write here and I do not have the language skills to accomplish that endeavor. So I'll keep it short.

I hope that Jean settles in swiftly and well. I hope that your leg quickly heals. I hope that you all keep cooking this Star Fleet stuff for as long as you want.

I understand why you dissed ACTASF. The game isn't perfect, no game is; but for me this is a fun game. It's a Beer & Pretzels play date. :) You don't have to think, you know? In fact, it's the only one of the games with your label on it that I enjoy.

And the models rock! Even the resin ones were fun to mess around with.

Well, that's all that I have. Rock on ADB!
I said,"Qapla! Baaaaby!"
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby Dagretto » Wed May 15, 2013 2:05 am

I saw this today too. All that I'll add is, for all the warts this game has, and the failures starting off, the current line and quality of the Starline 2500 minis makes me to NEVER want to buy a SL2400 mini again (and I have quite a few).

Also I like the ACTA rules quite a bit (played a lot of Noble Armada previous), really would not want to see them go away...

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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby Jean » Wed May 15, 2013 3:25 am

First, let me write about Traveller PD. We've never blamed the players for the delay. We are taking into account that folks do want to emulate TOS by being the bridge crew and we do need to cover how to do that. The truth of the matter is that given my Real Life situation, I bit off more than I could chew. I hope with the move to Amarillo that I'll be able to get this done.

As for ACTASF, we want it to succeed. We want every game store to carry it. We want return customers. We want all of the empires to have Starline 2500 ships to fly. We are acknowledging the problems of the past and wanting to make sure they are fixed.

Most of the folks seem to think this is a positive blog. It is about how ADB's future will change now that I am in Amarillo. We've had a lot of feedback on it, mostly positive. We are excited about our future; we invite folks along for the ride.
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby riftsinger » Wed May 15, 2013 3:36 am

:oops: x2 post (odd one was my first write up oh well )
Last edited by riftsinger on Thu May 16, 2013 3:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
ok sunshine eat alpha strike !
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby riftsinger » Wed May 15, 2013 3:41 am

hay ADB . ACTASF/2500 has me spending money none of your other stuff is doing that this game is what ive been waiting for to play in the SFU . it needs work but then sfb needed doomsday lets all try and get on with making this a great game .
ok sunshine eat alpha strike !
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby kyrolon » Wed May 15, 2013 3:59 am

Jean wrote:First, let me write about Traveller PD. We've never blamed the players for the delay. We are taking into account that folks do want to emulate TOS by being the bridge crew and we do need to cover how to do that. The truth of the matter is that given my Real Life situation, I bit off more than I could chew. I hope with the move to Amarillo that I'll be able to get this done.

As for ACTASF, we want it to succeed. We want every game store to carry it. We want return customers. We want all of the empires to have Starline 2500 ships to fly. We are acknowledging the problems of the past and wanting to make sure they are fixed.

Most of the folks seem to think this is a positive blog. It is about how ADB's future will change now that I am in Amarillo. We've had a lot of feedback on it, mostly positive. We are excited about our future; we invite folks along for the ride.

Jean, thanks for posting, as always. I hope Amarillo (the city) treats you well. Please understand the nervousness though when we see one of the heads of the company that holds the fate of ACTA SF in its hands using the phrase "fatal damage" in referencing a game we have all invested in quite heavily. I will add that ACTA and especially the SL2500 line has revitalised our SFU gaming group. We just don't have time anymore for SFB and the size games we like to play.

I hope this was just Steve putting things in perspective, and stating that what we can all agree was early mismanagement by Mongoose may have doomed ACTA SF to a decline. There is some very bad perception out there. The only way forward though is through, and I hope ADB will give the game the "reboot" (to use SVC's word) that it needs. Republishing the rulebook including the addenda and offering a pdf would be a great start, and it sounds like that is what you at ADB want. I concur. If developing new things is taking away from correcting old problems, by all means please correct old problems first.

Where you would lose many of us is if you simply pull the plug on ACTA SF now. We are stuck in. It is either through the issues or nothing.

Thanks for reading.

Dan
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby Stu-- » Wed May 15, 2013 7:52 am

I personally don't think it's an unfair post - at least it's an honest one.
ACTA:SF is a good base game (at least for Klingon v Federation) but it has so many holes in it that if you play for any length of time they will become very apparent, and even more so if you start messing with lots of drones and plasma.

But unless I'm missing stuff it's Mongoose's game - they should be the ones fixing it and of course ADB have to take some of the blame that it doesn't work - they should have tested & evaluated.

I don't think it's beyond fixing - but it needs to be done unless they are just going to sell the models and bin the rules.

What would be great, since this is in the open now - would be to know the Mongoose point of view - is this all going to be fixed and the product lines added to, or is it all going with the dodo ?
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby Zarathustra Suicune » Wed May 15, 2013 10:13 am

I agree in that I think it is too early to dismiss Call to arms Star fleet, as there is interest in it in my gaming group, it is just they are finishing off their stuff first. Yes the early mismanagement may have caused some damage, but not enough to be fatal, especially when you think how GW is killing BFG, that is essentially handing the starship combat genre to anyone who can be brave enough to get a game going.
viewtopic.php?f=103&t=52225 My call to arms painting log.
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby McKinstry » Wed May 15, 2013 11:18 am

billclo wrote:Agreed, a case of a little too much information.

I am not giving up on ACTA:SF, but it might cause others with less investment/dedication to question their purchases.
I'm sticking with it and overall, while you have to get used to SVC's style, a reboot might not be a bad thing. The models are great, the shipping issues in the US are mostly fixed and a clean set of 2.0 rules wouldn't be awful.

Something to create a little positive buzz would be good.
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby billclo » Wed May 15, 2013 11:31 am

What I would like to see if they release a new version of the rules, would be a free upgrade to the new rules. I can't in good conscience tell people to buy V1 of the rules, since there have been many changes and a lot of errata. The game as it currently exists barely resembles what is in the rulebook - the changes (mostly needed IMHO) have been pretty extensive. And more clarifications are needed, frankly. I don't want a rulebook that is as bad as the SFB rulebook, but there is a LOT of ambiguity in some areas of the rules.

I'd be willing to ship my old rulebook to the Ohio facility and they send me a new V2 rulebook for free.

I thought that the original post was maybe a little too brutally honest, frankly, but that's Steve's style. But it did seem a little too doomy and gloomy. Maybe that was not intended, but that's what I got out of it.

I hope things improve for ADB; they've definitely hit a major rocky patch, but hopefully things will get better.
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby Loki1965 » Wed May 15, 2013 1:18 pm

As a long time player of SFB I have always enjoyed ADB's honesty and openness with customers, also their commitment to quality, and "getting it right".

Modules I have waited for, for years, have been delayed at the last minute because of various issues. When this has happened there has always been a post explaining why and, when the module has been published it has always been worth the wait and the extra effort that went into getting it right has made for a good product.

CTA:SF reminds me of the "pre-doomsday" versions of SFB at the moment which had plenty of errata. But that meant that when the doomsday version of the SFB game was finally released the rules where much stronger - some things were lost, others were gained - overall the balance was better. SFB not only survived the interregnum but came out better than ever.

The CTA:SF rules may (or may not) evolve as new Ships / Empires / Weapons get added but that is the nature of any rule set.Between ADB and Mongoose I'm betting that this will not just be a good game, but a great game with great models.
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby H » Thu May 16, 2013 11:47 am

Stu-- wrote:I personally don't think it's an unfair post - at least it's an honest one.
ACTA:SF is a good base game (at least for Klingon v Federation) but it has so many holes in it that if you play for any length of time they will become very apparent, and even more so if you start messing with lots of drones and plasma.

But unless I'm missing stuff it's Mongoose's game - they should be the ones fixing it and of course ADB have to take some of the blame that it doesn't work - they should have tested & evaluated.

I don't think it's beyond fixing - but it needs to be done unless they are just going to sell the models and bin the rules.

What would be great, since this is in the open now - would be to know the Mongoose point of view - is this all going to be fixed and the product lines added to, or is it all going with the dodo ?
Mongoose's point of view, will no doubt be a reasonably bussines and tactful one (if they even specifically make one, which i doubt), Matt isn't one to air all his thoughts in blogs and facebook, whilst Steve seems to revel in it, Without Jean as a voice of reason, and a regular tidy upper of Steves random comments I think a lot of people would have binned it all off.
Steve and ADB seem intent on explaining things in minute details, a book is delayed... this is because freds budgies favourite toy caught fire and killed the neighbours etc etc.
I do hope Steve's leg gets better, and I hope Jean settles. but from a business perspective, it isn't really relevant. Does anyone know what Richard branson is up to right now? no, but he's still got a massive business empire and a lot of money.
ok, if Richards PA is on here, just keep quiet ;-)
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby MongooseMatt » Thu May 16, 2013 12:19 pm

Stu-- wrote:What would be great, since this is in the open now - would be to know the Mongoose point of view - is this all going to be fixed and the product lines added to, or is it all going with the dodo ?
We are not going to get into a public mud-slinging fight. However, I can say that Star Fleet is most certainly not going the way of the dodo and we'll have some cool news for you very soon!
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby Notsnoble » Thu May 16, 2013 3:44 pm

I hope so. I gave ADB my two cents on FB today. I doubt it'll engage anyone's brain, but I'm looking forward to some good news from this end.
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby mdauben » Thu May 16, 2013 4:14 pm

Traveller Prime Directive won't need Kickstarter but still needs to be finished. (The space combat system has never been finalized, players want to be the television deck crew and rules must be written for that, and of course 12 sets of deck plans must be done (half of which exist in some form). It's one of three planned joint venture lines with Mongoose. The other two are the Starline 2500 series miniatures (we have told Mongoose not to send us any new ships to review until every ship from Book One is on the market) and the ACTASF rulebook (which was done in such a rush that major revisions must be made before it can become an online PDF or a second book can be published). It remains to be seen if the rules problems in ACTASF and the production problems with the 2500s have fatally wounded those product lines. We're basically going to have to reboot them to make them the success they should have been.
There's a lot of info in this paragraph on ADB and Mongoose but I agree with a number of the previous posters that the concerns about ACTASF could have been presented in a more positive way. Casting doubt on the viability of a product line does nothing to attract new players and could well turn off exsiting players. Do the rules have problems? Sure, but they are hardly fatally flawed. ACTASF is a fast, fun system that I really enjoy. As far as the miniatuers line, IMO the once they overcame the initial resin bobble the only problem IMO is the slow release rate. Since the release of the last big box sets the rate of new models has dropped to a crawl and any news of a new supplement and associated new fleets and ships has dried up. :(

I can't speak for others, but I was originally heavily invested into SFB. Rules, supplements, models but when the last playing group I was part of fell apart I just lost interst in the complexity that was SFB. Now, ACTASF has reignited my interest and I've probably spent over $600 on new products and I'm eager to spend more. Just provide me with more books and miniatures and I'll buy everthing you can make! :D
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Re: Copied from the ADB Facebook Page

Postby Ben2 » Thu May 16, 2013 6:10 pm

Basically this.

You can teach someone to play ACTA in 20 minutes. Most people would rather slit their wrists than learn a game as complex as SFB.
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