Why Battletech Thrives and SFB Does Not

I don't feel this topic would get a fair, unedited discourse on the ADB site so here I go. I recently started playing Mechwarrior Online and it is pretty faithful to Classic Battletech of Jordan Weissman design and wondered why, really, SFB could not have achieved this level of notoriety. I reread a lot of the history of Battletech and at least in the beginning, SFB had a better license, more players and still is a richer and better tactical wargame. I would like to hear others' tboughts and compare them to what I think are some reasons.

One Reason

I guess I will start with one reason about which I am thinking. Long ago, SFB stagnated in its production value. I think Jordan Weissman was a bigger risk taker and spent large sums of money, some wisely and some not, in getting Battletech promoted. Given the head start SFB had with the awesome license they had, I kinda think they missed striking when the iron was hot, and at the same time kept their product line stuck in 1980 as far as artwork, etc. I think Battletech perhaps benefitted from the greater entrepreneurial savy of Weissman and diverged from SFB quickly in a commercial sense. See now why I felt skittish about posting this "over there". :-)

Please don't misunderstand, I adore SFB, its elegant complexity and endless hours of enjoyment it has given me and my friends. I just wish it would or could have a rebirth similar to what Battletech is enjoying.

Dennis Surdu

SFB was stuck in the 70's for

SFB was stuck in the 70's for around 30 years. And it only came out of the 70's by being dragged. Things we've talked about before here on the board. For example, SSD's looked like they were done on a 70's computer...because they were done on a 70's computer. And that was fine in the 70's and early 80's but they missed the boat by updating them through the years. The old argument is that they're 'fine and functional as is'. Sure, and the game has stagnated and lost players. And yes, I blame a part of that on the curb appeal. The don't look like the ships they represent and they don't grab anyone in the 21st century. Color could have been added 20 years ago as well as jazzing up the outline and system boxes. I believe the effort would have been worth it in the return. That's my view.

Secondly, as some have suggested previously, small and inexpensive minis could have been introduced during SFB's heyday. You'd have to spend a sizable amount of $ if you want the metal minis and I'm not saying they're not worth it. But how big is your market for them and how big would the market have been for small, plastic minis 10-20 years ago? Another opportunity missed.

Thirdly, well let me see how I can put it nicely...perhaps treating the customer base that was enthusiastic about the product with a little more respect. Perhaps not shooting down ideas you didn't like with as much sarcasm. Kinda like biting the hand that feeds you. At least that is the perception and perception can be just as damaging as reality. I've mentioned before seeing early CL's that had submissions that were flat out rejected only to see the same or similar appear years later. I can remember specifically a variant of the DN and the excuse was that there weren't enough DN hulls to justify the variant. And now how many variants of DN hulls do we have today? A lot.

Fourth, a real, determined resistance to change/modify/explore new areas. Not only on the part of the company but some of the old core players. That is my perception after seeing so many proposals just chewed up and spit out with very little constructive conversation. Great way to stifle creativity and a paying customers enthusiasm for the game. I'm not saying all ideas are great, nor am I suggesting that everything needs to be accepted. But I've seen quite a few really good ideas just go to waste (some of which we use in our FTF games and they are a wonderful addition and a lot of fun). That goes for new ideas, ships, races, weapons and fiction.

Fifth, it takes forever plus a week to get anything new. The tired excuse is that they need playtesting. Sure, it needs some and yes, some mistakes will always creep through...but they do anyway. I've pointed out two different things for two different races (Carnivon and Paravian) that apparently slipped through all the supposed playtesting (that DB's can fire more often than drones overall rather than slower than drones like everyone assumed. And that the QWT is suppose to be a FA weapon and not out of the #1 shield like assumed). And we won't even talk about the Andros. And sorry...it's been how many decades and X2 isn't done? That is way past the point of when it would have sold the most effectively.

I'm not sure how long they will be a viable business. My hope is that they are doing well and everything is prospering for them. But I have to wonder how many actual customers they have? I go into game stores and ask about SFB and they don't have a clue what I'm talking about. That isn't a good sign. And how many players on this and the BBS no longer have a FTF group to play with? A bunch.

SFB is a fantastic game to be sure. It is deep, interesting, intricate with a plethora of variability. But in today's fast food society of fast playing video games it is a hard sell. "Hey, instead of playing your first-person video game with awesome graphics and fast-paced action...how about playing this game that takes hours with a rule book the size of a small phone book"? Tough sell.

At some point is the company going to wrap and retire? Will they try to sell it? Would anyone want to buy it? I think for it to move into the 21st century it would need new management with new vision and direction. Anyone want to take bets on that happening?

And as we've talked about elsewhere, they are pricing themselves out of being competitive. As I mentioned, shipping is definitely out of whack when it costs $13 to ship a single piece of cardboard. They lost a sale today because of it.

And imo the offerings on E23 are too expensive. Some of the digital stuff is the same as the real product. Sure, there's no shipping when you get digital but you also don't get the counters.

So those are my thoughts based on my observations and discussions I've been in and read from others.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

New Direction

Yep, I agree and frankly the game could still thrive like Battletech or Steve Jackson's games only whne the torch is passed. A few strategies that may work:

1) Release a new glossy rulebook, in color and with updated artwork. Perhaps rewrite the rules and streamline some but not quite to the Fed Commander level. I don't know, maybe make Fed Commander the flagship product but even that has relatively low production value.

2) Maintain the mini fleet and stop confusing everyone with the various scales.

3) Release SSD books in a technical readout format similar to FASA, make them all color and include source material for each race. Start re-issuing with the new rulebook and for goodness sake keep ADB personnel out of the advertising. Of course they saw a spike in sales with the YouTube videos but how much larger would it have been with a decent semi pro hawking their wares?

4) Lastly, release at Gencon and make a big deal about it.

I know that all this is costly, which is why it will never happen until a new owner is found or chosen. I also realize that there are about 30 ways til sundown to run this play but they have killed their own creation. And you are right, try any constructive criticism and the teeth and claws come out.

Dennis Surdu

To Be Fair

I do understand they likely have little money. I doubt any of them are living on a golf course so I don't want to come down too hard. But, and a big "but", is they kinda do treat customers badly. I think that is something Jean was trying to fix with you-know-who.

Dennis Surdu

I very much commend Jean on

I very much commend Jean on her role in the company. I think she's done a wonderful job. And to be clear, I'd love to see the company prosper and expand in ways they've not thought possible.

Perhaps not too late?

But things would need to pick up the pace dramatically. Several modules are in playtest; Peladine, Nicozian, Borak and the Triangulum Galaxy to be specific. Time to make them a full-fledged module. Being in playtest for years is inefficient. Get some playtesting done, correct what you immediately see and then get it done. Will there possibly be errors? Sure, as I mentioned I caught two in the Carns and Parvs. And so what and big deal. Nothing is perfect whether it takes 6 months of play or 10 years of play. But get it out there and make it official.

The first module of X2 needs to be done and available for purchase with the next module being done and available by the end of the summer and the third by Christmas. Get it done, get interest in it and push it hard.

An 18 year General War has lasted nearly 40 years now. Keep that as a center piece but add alternate General Wars. Offer a 'time line' that includes the Carns, Parvs, Borak, Pels and Nicos. Make it dynamic. Doesn't have to be the 'Coalition vs. the Alliance'. It could be several different factions at war with each other that spills over to other factions during the 'fog of war'. There is an entire sector in the Alpha Octant that is empty that could fit the Pels, Nicos and Borak easily.

I've got 25 different races in the Alpha Octant for our FTF games. I've included four Omega races that I like since we will never play Omega in-and-of-itself and it isn't difficult to bring Omega up to Alpha standards (and I enjoy it anyway). I've also included on Companion Games race (Argonians). That is a LOT of variety and can be quite dynamic if properly constructed. ADB could easily do the same thing in an official time line. This creates for fiction, tactics, scenarios and interest.

Think of a General War V2 that has the Feds and Klinks as allies! Adds a little TNG flavor without violating any license with Paramount. Indeed, it was foretold in TOS that the Feds and Klinks would become friends. Okay, play up that angle.

In GWV2 the Lyrans and Kzin could be fast allies against some other foe(s).

Just need to think outside the box.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

Cats versus Dogs

Yep, completely agree. I really got a chuckle out of the Carnivon module. Thinking out of the box is not a dog race that hates the cats. Seriously? I guess this is where other games like Battletech shine too. SFB, IMO has long suffered from a lack of creativity with regard to its background. This could be just me since I never cared for the background ever since I started playing in the 80's. I tend to enjoy more gritty and less polished universes. SFB background is really just a tacked-on, contrived framework to give the ships some context.

Your ideas would have decent merit too in a reboot of the game. If the game system were ever sold and perhaps the TOS license did not go with it I can see some real possibilities. The game background is too G-rated in my opinion.

Dennis Surdu

Cats vs. Dogs supersized edition

In our revised FTF Alpha Octant we use the Maesron next to the Carnivon. So it would by two doggy races (referring to the Vulpa in Maesron Alliance) vs. two kitty races.

;)

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

Old Artwork

I played some SFB with a few folks today and they reminded me that SFB artwork actually held up well against the FIRST edition Battletech stuff. It wasn't long before Battletech surpassed SFB, however, especially after the technical readouts came out. It's just a shame that art, production and as you mention, the background simplicity remained stagnant in SFB since then. It's too bad someone doesn't come along and make an SFB Online similar to Mechwarrior Online.

But, today we were also reminded how nobody really seems to know that SFB is still even published. We had some curious onlookers who were quite amazed to see the game being played and were blown away to know it is still being sold.

Dennis Surdu

As I've mentioned before,

As I've mentioned before, I've walked into many game shops that had no idea what SFB was at all. Too be honest, the last time I saw anything in a hobby store at all was in the late 80's and 'maybe' the early 90's. Not to say that there isn't any stores out there with SFB stuff on the shelf, but I haven't seen it. Though I'd like to find a store with some SFB stuff on the shelf.

I'd even consider doing a game at a hobby store to bring interest if for no other reason than to expand our FTF group.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

Fan Based Mods

One thing discussed at the hobby shop where we played was how ruthlessly ADB squelched ANY fan-based product development out-of-hand without any regard to the actual threat posed to SFB sales. This is a dead horse but ADB was so ignorant in this regard that they threw the baby out with the bathwater. Almost twenty years after the Companion Games debacle can anyone honestly say the game's future was any less sacrificed by the threatening, over reaching way they approached the matter? ADB demolished any grass roots advertising and would-be followers of the game quite effectively. Imagine Ford Motor Company refusing use of their cars in a Fast and Furious movie or asking the producers to pay them first. Enough time has passed that ADB can no longer claim anything they did to punish free SSD variant posting or rules variations was anything but foolish. They are doing the same crap by screwing with SFBOL and forcing the idiotic re-design of all the SSD's. Pure stupidity. EVERY SSD made by them is already online through torrent resources or the like. Its like they think only by photocopying an SSD can a copy be made as in the 1980's. So, they make sure that the handful of die-hards actually using SFBOL remain just a handful. GAWD, please sell the game to Steve Jackson or Jordan Weissman!

A year or two ago someone made an app for a 32 impulse chart for Androids. I mentioned it was available the ADB website and Cole went ballistic, contacted the code writer and forced its retraction fom the Palystore. For an impulse chart app!!!! Now, there is no defending that he hadn't the right to have done so, but for such a mundane reason, he eliminated all free word of mouth hype he was getting and pissed everyone off who found out about it. Any mention of the act was deleted off the BBS. Acting that way is a nuclear option best employed when your product is actually still popular!

Dennis Surdu

Agreed

Yeah. Mr Grumpy has always had, at best, strong distrust of anyone else doing something with his baby when he does not have an ultimate veto over their actions. Take for example how he had regularly bad-mouthed Mongoose (and specifically Matthew Sprange) on the BBS, even during the period that the two companies had been working closely together. And heaven forbid that someone have a website, where Mr Grumpy has no control at all....

I'm not wishing any ill on Paul Franz, but If / When SFBOL is shut down, the only way a viable replacement can come along is if it relies on each user uploading their own SSDs and that the software works in such a way that ADB can't claim there is any of their IP being used by the *software*. In effect, going the route that allowed Torrent file-sharing to not get sued by the RIAA in the post-Napster era of file-sharing.

Not that I would put it above ADB at some point to turn their business model from one of creation to one of suing their customers. Other industries have gone that route and have yet to post sales numbers at pre-customer-suing levels, even after 20 years of trying. ADB have apparently swallowed other aspects of the RIAA's line about piracy, such as "lost sales" somehow could have been real sales if the customers were locked into having no alternative but spending money on ADB. Since they can't have a government fiat, they would be better off spending their energy on creating something people want to buy and stop squelching their free advertising.

Mongoose

I think we are in agreement, but to be fair with regard to the Mongoose thing, didn't Mongoose take FOREVER filling orders or something? I could be wrong. That whole deal was really kinda promising and at least initially a belated step in the right direction. It fizzled though, didn't it? Are the ACTASF sales robust? Perhaps it was meddling (as mentioned above) on ADB's part that diminished the game's impact? We will likely never know the whole truth on this one.

SFBOL is one of those data points to which I refer when comparing to Battletech. Check out Hairbrained Schemes kickstarter project. Pretty cool! I wonder if Cole granted the right to Paul Franz if he could pull something like this together on kickstarter. Of course, Jordan Weissman has a an ex-Microsoft exec leading the Hairbrained development team I think.

For online SFB, of course, I think a total re-write of the SFB background needs to be done to interest players these days. To me, a post General War universe where almost all of the races have pulled back to sectors around the homeworlds leaving VAST uncontrolled zones where new marauding ships and tech have taken hold would be fun. In this environment, the Alpha Sector races' navies would remain the penultimate space machines, exerting a tenuous influence over "Mad Max" zones where the starships exist but are treated like family heirlooms to be used sparingly in a clan warfare environment. Perhaps the Orions rise as a new superpower controlling large stretches of the new "wasteland" and scorched systems.....hehe.

Dennis Surdu

I don't recall offhand what

I don't recall offhand what product it was in (probably in one of the Captain's Log issues), but I remember an article that talked about a time after the GW. Attrition units (like gun boats) were being sold off like hotcakes to anyone with the cash to buy them. For prospecting, salvage or whatever. IIRC the weapons may have been removed or something but I'm sure an industrious entrepreneur could refit it with a variety of weapons.

In this case I could see the Orions also fielding some of the ships that are in the game. Salvaged warships would/could yield the weapons and supplies necessary to mount them.

It would be an interesting part of the game to play. A small Orion raider fighting some groups gunboats over rights to an area.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

Chasing non-authorized Comets Paramount to keeping the license?

I mean, in the end - it's the simple answer, as well as a pun. It's giving Mr. Grumpy the benefit of the doubt that the heavy-handedness was a requirement, but I can see it as part of the reason.

Witness what's happened to the Axanar production, with CBS (with, golly, a new series in development) suddenly NOT OK with it now that it's drawn a lot of attention. Perhaps acting as the control freak was a shared venture.

Then again, it's a industry with an abundance of control Freaks with a Capital FREAK, so maybe he just enjoys wielding the BanHammer - plenty of his peers sure do.

Unauthorized Comets

Well, I think you could be right about them needing to keep Paramount happy, but then much of the fan made stuff had nothing to do with TOS. My impulse app story is a good example, or even Companion Games. ADB was just being misguided IMO.

I often wondered what he would sell the game for if given a serious offer and whether the Trek license will go with a sale. Anyone have any idea what ADB market cap might be? ;-) How about revenue?

Dennis Surdu

Axanar

I forgot to mention since Axanar was brought up. SVC mentioned that they or perhaps Jean was happy about Axanar being shut down and promptly shut down discussion about it. Axanar should have been great advertising for SFB......"play SFB and the experience the battle yourself!". They would likely have to use a different name for the battle of course.

Dennis Surdu

My view

A friend forwarded a link to this thread to me so I thought I'd come out of the shadows and post an opinion.

1. Battletech is a much easier/less complex game than SFB. You can set up a Battletech company battle (12v12) at a convention and invite novices to play. With a 60 second intro, they can jump right in. Monopoly is one of the most popular games, EVER - because of its lack of complexity.

2. Battletech has rules for building your own Mechs, etc. SFB does not. Player customization adds popularity.

3. Battletech RPG seamlessly integrates with the tabletop game - they built an RPG *for* their tabletop game. While the SFU has RPGs, they are optimized for boarding missions, not for integration with the tabletop game.

4. ADB had the opportunity with FC to create a game that would truly appeal to mass market and compete with games like Battletech. Instead they focused on building a game that would be a "gateway game" to SFB. FC has 50% of the complexity of SFB when it should have been developed with 20% (energy allocation, movement, damage allocation - I'm looking at you).

5. Battletech invested in their background. They produced novels and world/empire guides that introduced the history and flavor of their universe in a way that captured the hearts and minds of their fans. SFB merely latched on to the pre-existing love of Star Trek without putting forth near the same level of focus on establishing their distinct brand in a "soft skills" way.

With some vision and investment, ADB still has an opportunity, due to the current Star Trek movies, to create a mass market game that can compete with Battletech and the more modern games like X-Wing and Firestorm Armada. SFB unfortunately, will never regain its former glory and will remain merely a nostalgic pastime for us grognards.

- Andy

My View Too

I agree Andy. I think the game will remain as-is until/unless it is passed on to someone with deeper pockets. I lament over this a bit, since it is a terrific game that is likely to die a slow death. I do not share your view that they still have time to reverse this trend. SVC is basically retired so unless he wins the lottery, it would be silly for ADB to run the risk of a re-launch. It would require the taking on of a bunch of debt and headaches. Hiring the artists alone would be daunting and I do not see the skill-set there to write a history or background like Battletech's. They manage that like a series of sci-fi writing contests and then use the fiction as filler for Captain's Log.

So, SFB really needs to fall into new hands. How much do you think the game system and Paramount license are worth? Heck, trash the license and rename the TOS races and such. Since ADB is privately owned, they can name their own price regardless of market value, however, so I doubt anyone could figure that out.

My guess is that 10 or 20 years from now, the game system will get sold and then you may see a rebirth, with a more marketable rules-set and the original game will be maintained as perhaps a hard-core variant.

Dennis Surdu

Post-GW small gunboats sold to prospectors, scavengers, etc.

I remember reading that, too. Might have made for an interesting game in its own right.

RPG?

I'd like to see some RPG campaign or video game or something, where the main player(s) start with some itty-bitty civilian craft and work their way up to something larger. I could see them going through workboats as some intermediate step.

I've often thought it would

I've often thought it would be interesting to have an SFB campaign somewhat similar to the Starfleet Command video game. In that you started with a smaller ship, like a frigate, and then work your way up to getting better weapons for it and then on to larger, more powerful ships.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

The Time Involved

Yeah, I was just recently dinking around with that game. It's fun, inside of it's limitations.

But the time involved between "upgrading your ship" in the real world U.S. NAVY (which is the model for the Feds, and allows for some principles to be applied universally en-SFU) is no less than 5 years a pop, and in the majority of cases never going to happen. The first limitation is that deployments to a given boat is generally 3-5 years. So in a 30-year career, you might have commanded 3 whole ships between being a department-leader LtCmdr and a desk-jockey Admiral somewhere.

The next thing is that each career is largely set upon a path within the first couple of years of service. First off, the USN (and prolly the Feds) is one of those military organizations described in Hienlien's Starship Troopers as having several non-combat officers to each combat-officer. To compensate, it breaks up it's officer corps into those that can command vessels and those who will not (e.g command-side and staff-side). While you might be able to go from Frigates to Cruisers, to command a carrier you have to have first commanded an air wing. That means taking a certain path in your career that excludes you from other paths (such as being a fighter pilot instead of a ship captain.)

So while it would be fun to do as a campaign (going from ship to ship), you would obviously be departing from what is realistic. After a while your players might be scratching their heads, wondering why they are allowed to fly ships for only a single deployment before being transferred. Myself, I was thinking of skirting the problem by sticking to the civilian craft, where many of these limitations are moot as long as you have the resources to upgrade.

There are enough civilian craft to go around. You could start with a heavy shuttle (which should be able to get you to a neighboring system) or a skiff (which has a range of a couple systems and is faster, to boot), Go into workboats, perhaps. Work your way up to a Free Trader or a small freighter. Go into large freighters, oversized freighters, freighters with skids, or freighter variants (such as repair freighters or salvage tugs). You might be able to go into auxiliaries at this point (asssuming you can get the contracts). At the twilight of your career, you might dip into some of the civilian bases (SAM, Complat, or even a CivBS). There is plenty of variety here, and that doesn't go into what a Pirate campaign can do for you...

SFB Video Game

Well, I envision a game a little differently, where small fleets in a team based environment go at each other in real time but pauses occur so energy allocation can take place. This would preserve the tactical feel of SFB and yet maintain a real-time environment similar to popular titles today. PVP options would be available and a campaign system that tracks captain performance and awards XP on a per battle basis. I think you should be allowed to play any ship in the game system but enforce S2 strictly for matchmaking. The game rules allow for safeguards against OP fleet mixes already. The XP may simply be VP awarded or lost in any given engagement. A ladder system could then be developed which could be used to grant high ranking players any number of goodies.

Dennis Surdu

Perspective from a Battletech player.

I am a relatively new SFB player but a long time Battletech player. I've seem Battletech's fortunes wax and wane over the last 25 years. There are a few things that helped it make its comeback(s).

Like other people have noted the games. MWO is just the newest, but there have been a bunch of games that have come out, but not all where successful. All the major games didn't require any previous Battletech knowledge so they where really accessible.

As noted, Battletech is also more tolerant of fan works. The most important of these is 'MegaMek', which is a computerized version of the war game. It's possible for one person to sit down and play a satisfying game against the AI. It helps people learn and you can play other people across the network. It's also free. It's like SFB:OL but the program does more of the book keeping for you.

For the last 15 years or so, Battletech has organized teams of people to run demos at stores and conventions. I know SFB/FC has the Ranger program but I don't know how active it is. The big benefit of this is that it gives new players an easy way to try the game to see if they like it. The demo teams are also great ambassadors, they bring interesting terrain and eye catching minis.

So Battletech does quite a bit to help new players get into the game, and to encourage old players to stick around. Star Fleet Command is what (eventually) got me interested in SFB. At the time, the connection between the two wasn't that clear.

Because of the peculiarities of SFB's license, I don't think we'll see an official tie in game any time soon. Which is a shame because I think that's the best way to reach a lot of players. If SFB could tolerate fan games/mods that would help, but they seem unable to. The only thing I can think of to help SFB/FC grow is demo teams, lots and lots of demo teams. Demo teams usually receive free stuff for their hard work, I don't know if SFB is in the position to be handing out goodies. It looks like they are between a rock and a hard place.

From my first post in this thread

"Fourth, a real, determined resistance to change/modify/explore new areas. Not only on the part of the company but some of the old core players. That is my perception after seeing so many proposals just chewed up and spit out with very little constructive conversation. Great way to stifle creativity and a paying customers enthusiasm for the game. I'm not saying all ideas are great, nor am I suggesting that everything needs to be accepted. But I've seen quite a few really good ideas just go to waste (some of which we use in our FTF games and they are a wonderful addition and a lot of fun). That goes for new ideas, ships, races, weapons and fiction. "

Axis and Allies came out in the early to mid 80's. They have at least one active board with a LOT of enthusiastic members (I'm one of them). The company, and from what I've read the game designer, actively listens to the fans. As a result, the game has progressed from what is now called A&A Classic to a plethora of different games (A&A Anniversary, Europe, Pacific, 1942, 1942V2, WWI and 1940 Global to name some of them). It seems 1940 came about as the result of a lot of input from the fans. And it continues to evolve and these mods are readily encouraged and available online in the board(s) and YT. And it has lots of YT videos from happy, enthusiastic people. As a result, I bet you can walk into any 10 hobby stores and 9 of them will know what A&A is and probably carry it.

Now I realize that there is a license to consider. And I realize that maybe over the years they've gotten 100 different proposals for the same thing. But it doesn't matter if it was 1000 proposals for the same thing...you don't get snarky about it. This is a paying customer that thought enough of the game to write in or post something they felt was creative. You don't get snarky because someone is enthusiastic. Doesn't mean you have to take everything and publish it, but you decline it nicely with a 'thank you but it's been proposed before and we feel it isn't a good fit because of x,y and z. But hey, thanks for proposing something and if you've got another idea toss it over to us to take a look at'. How hard is that? It isn't hard at all and the customer walks away feeling valued.

I once saw a snarky discussion about 'tech-sloshing'. The poor guy was jumped on pretty hard from company and a few veteran players alike. Why? Because of tech-sloshing? Great reason to make someone feel bad about suggesting something (think it was Klingons with photons). I saw this thread and started thinking....tech-sloshing...what kind of excuse is that coming from a company that has 6+ disruptor races? Feds with drones, plasma and gatling phasers? The same phasers for all the original races? Not a good reason at all really to be negative towards someone wanting to participate in the game.

And as a side, Jeremy Grey later on developed some excellent SSD's of Klingons with photons. Which isn't a bad idea and gives a little TNG flare to the game and makes it a bit more recongnizable to a newer generation of players. And you can't claim if violates any license since CL#3 had the very same think on a D7C.

Anyway, the point is to just be nice to the customer base. That can make a world of difference in-and-of-itself.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

Having said all that...

I would have no issue with demoing the game at a hobby store if for no other reason than increasing my FTF group. If it helped the game grow then it would be a happy by-product.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

Ranger Program

Very late to this discussion.

From my experience, ADB is not stingy with product support.

In the past, when we approached them to support Council of Five Nations, every year they sent us a box of product with a retail value over $200. Now, some of that product was old stuff nobody wanted, and they were just clearing out of the warehouse. But some of it was brand new, high-demand goods.

I think you don't hear too much about the Ranger program because there are very few people these days with the energy and enthusiasm to promote ADB, the way Dave / IKVAvenger does. Waning energy comes with age and other life concerns. Waning enthusiasm comes with how ADB treats people, even people trying to help them sell product.

Check out the ADB BBS; there is a thread dedicated to the Ranger program. As of right now, the time I'm posting this, the last post there is from a-year-and-a-half ago.

Link:
http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/
> > Seeking Opponents
> > > > Rangers Demonstration Program

-DC

Snarky

Sad to say it but Cole and his band are not going to change. They kinda have a core band of sycophants running block for SVC too, so good luck disagreeing with ADB on anything in public. This BBS was a direct result of his behavior after all. But, I know he reads this site too. I was more concerned about hoping they would change years ago but I think they have finally made their own bed. Most people know on a personal level the guy has little charisma and thoughtfulness and will respond to customers more with rudeness than intelligence. Ranger programs aside, the game's only hope for a bigger fanbase is for SVC to dump control of the game. I don't want to make personal attacks too much but he is just not liked and I know MANY folks who simply refuse to give him money anymore. Besides, nothing new for game is really worth the money paid anymore and unless they up their production values soon the only ones playing are going to be aging fifty-somethings......which I will be soon ;-)

Dennis Surdu

World of Starships

Check out what Cole just posted on his BBS about watching Jingles World of Warships videos.....he apparently is having an epiphany about a World of Starships game..........

Dennis Surdu

Bit of a thread drift

As a player, I've come to really appreciate the SFBOC. Not meant to be a gratuitous board promotion, but I've personally learned a LOT from the members here. Special shout outs to Peter, Grimace and Mudfoot just to name a few. One of the things I also appreciate is that changes to the game can be freely discussed in a friendly atmosphere. This has helped me shape our FTF games into more enjoyable sessions.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

World of Starships

I think a World of Starships like Mechwarrior Online is a good idea if SVC can convince someone to do it AND produce it. That can cost millions I am afraid and may be a day late and a dollar short :-(

Dennis Surdu

Car Wars

Remember Car Wars? After a decade or two of successful releases and getting rather bogged down in its own complexity, the original little cardboard counter edition was canned by SJG and replaced with a new shiny version with big expensive components, better balance and simpler, cleaner rules. It tanked. I suspect that trying the same thing with SFB would have the same result.

There are a lot of rules in SFB that add nothing (life support, impulse movement != warp movement, TAC precedence, speed change cap) and a lot that could be changed wholesale without affecting the meat of the game (EW, drone construction, dogfighting, probes) but the thing that makes SFB what it is is its sheer tactical complexity. There's plenty of room for other games that cover the same ground (FC, ACTA, Armada) but I doubt you can change SFB much without breaking it.

Adding shiny components might attract the sort of people who are attracted to shiny things, but I don't think they're the sort of people who would play SFB anyway. So all it would do is increase the price rather substantially. The grognards wouldn't buy the expensive stuff and the shiny fans wouldn't like the rules. Kids today, tch.

Car Wars

Yes, you may be right but that is why I think a complete reboot and re-launch of the game may be warranted. That will never happen until control of the game lands somewhere else. Perhaps, if online play can be ignited somehow it can be avoided where the game evolves or dies.....the tabletop game that is. I am guessing the average age of players is nearing 50 for Pete's sake! It would be nice to see a software developer take an interest.

Dennis Surdu

Would any company be

Would any company be interested in SFB if it came up for sale? And would ADB ever consider selling? I don't know the answer to either question. Not really sure what the company is worth. I suppose you'd have to look at current inventory as well as sales for the last five years and realistic projection sales for the next five years.

Sales of Captain's Log may be somewhat of an indicator perhaps. But how many CL's do they sell? And how many active players actually are playing? Of those active players, not all would purchase a product or CL.

This may have gone past the point of being viable for someone to seriously want to purchase. And the license would be key. Does it transfer to a buyer? I would suspect not. I have no way of knowing. But if it doesn't transfer they there would be no point in purchasing the company.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser

Pretty Much, Dave

Well, a potential buyer would certainly be looking at past sales as an indicator of future sales, but they would look to buy not just the company's IP, but get the License as well. Without the license, the company can't continue forward as they do now. The only alternative for the company, without the license, is to keep the rules and ditch the star trek. As one can imagine, without the name/ship recognition and without being able to use the names (Klingons, Federation, Romulan, and Larry Niven's Kzinti), the value of the game goes down precipitously.

I'd be just as happy being able to use the ruleset for a different setting, but it's already shown to be a somewhat loser. It's not like the Triangulum Galaxy or Omega sector is really rolling in the dough. It would take some serious advertising to take off in a non-Star Trek way.

Thought

Sorry to bring this from the dead, but I have not been on for a while. My thoughts is that BattleTech is still alive and, while not near the 40k level, has a chance to improve. The biggest reason is BattleTech Alpha Strike. It does what Federation Commander failed to do.

Alpha Strike is a simplified, much faster system that can both handle large numbers of units and works well for real fast smaller ones. You can also convert between the two games, so if you design a mech for Battletech you can move it easily to Alpha Strike. FC is not really a simple/fast system. While faster and simpler than SFB (what isn't?), a match is still a too long. It does not handle large fleets well (try and throw a dozen ships per side) even with the cadet ships.

ACTA SF could have been a good thing to revitalize the universe, but the mistakes made with the release (bad models, a system that was not playtested well and did not capture the feel of SFB much at all) really hurt. Sure, it is fixed pretty well now, but it has taken a long time and most people who were interested at release moved on which stunted the growth of the game and the interest in the 2500 line. Add to that the loss of Mongoose's name and distribution. It is not easy to find in FLGSes, even ones that carry many other minis games. Certainly, I can walk into two stores here and by Battletech minis, but no Starfleet is in sight. ADB does not have the resources to promote it themselves in the way Catalyst can push their products.

If you have not tried it ACTA is fun. I use large tokens for the ships, not the minis, with the ships properly scaled to each other and it works great. Also, the new designer has posted an idea of how to add shield facings to the game on Board Game Geek, which is part of the SFB feel and should have been integrated into the rules.

A construction system for SFB would be AWESOME, but it will never happen because (A) SVC does not want "unofficial" designs to confuse players and upset the balance of the game,(B) SFB points and builds do not conform to breaking down into formulas as they are balanced through a playtest, SVC is scared Paramount/CBS will think they authorize designs built on Star Trek proper, and (D) it is not necessary for success. Warhammer, 40k, Warmachine, and so on do not have design systems either. But if the game had conversions to the simplified system this would totally rock.

Eric Phillips

Eric Phillips wrote:

>>Certainly, I can walk into two stores here and by Battletech minis, but no Starfleet is in sight. ADB does not have the resources to promote it themselves in the way Catalyst can push their products.<<

I see that as a major problem. We have several hobby stores in the area that have never heard of Starfleet Battles. And this is even going back many, many years. In fact. I'd say it's been the 90's since I've been in a hobby shop that actually knew what SFB was and/or had product.

If it's not in the shops then the internet is the only resource. But if folks don't even know it exists then you're not going to get new people playing the game. Simple test really; is the SFB community larger or smaller now than it was five years ago? Was in larger or smaller than ten years ago? And so forth. Simple math.

My other car is a D7 Battlecruiser