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FOUR QUESTIONS FOR OUR CUSTOMERS
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Steve Cole
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Joined: 11 Oct 2006
Posts: 3080

PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 3:35 pm    Post subject: FOUR QUESTIONS FOR OUR CUSTOMERS Reply with quote

Every now and then, any business needs to take a look at how it does business. Anybody who wants to can answer these four questions. If you have a desire for privacy, then email me their answers to these four questions (design@StarFleetGames.com) and please do CC our marketing director Vanessa Clark (marketing@StarFleetGames.com). So far as that goes, feel free to include our business manager, Leanna Cole (sales@StarFleetGames.com) and my partner Steve Petrick (rules@StarFleetGames.com).

1. What are we NOT doing that we SHOULD be doing?

2. What ARE we doing that we should do DIFFERENTLY?

3. What ARE we doing that we should NO be doing?

4. What new concept or idea should ADB investigate to improve its operations?

I won't promise to reply to all who Email, and (because so few know how the business operates) I suspect that most of the answers will be things we can't change or can't afford, but don't let that stop you. I'd rather be given 100 suggestions that I cannot implement than not given one really great idea.

(Members of the US Marine Corps will note that I ripped off their survey. Hey, steal from the best.)
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zackwalk
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Steve
one idea I have is to release a federation commander Annual rules book with all the rules in the fedration commander system in one book it is a pain to go through alot of communiques and annexes.you can look at Star Fleet Battles master book series for inspiration.plus you could squize in bestpapers of the year in there if space allows


another thing i suggest is to get more of the original playtesters to play on federation commander online.the organzed league is a good idea but the online games are a great "hook" also.


One thing you should worry about is the adding on of rules. not to much
thank you
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1. What are we NOT doing that we SHOULD be doing?

Chaining your interns to their desks so that they can't escape!
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Vanessa
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Joined: 09 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

terryoc wrote:
1. What are we NOT doing that we SHOULD be doing?

Chaining your interns to their desks so that they can't escape!
Shocked
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just kidding, Vanessa!

1. What are we NOT doing that we SHOULD be doing?

While ADB isn't a miniatures company, it has a huge line of minis. You should be marketing your miniatures to players who don't play SFU games, as well. The non-canon-Trek minis, like Lyrans, Hydrans, Andromedans etc etc could easily be used in other games like Full Thrust, Battlefleet Gothic, etc. If possible, work up a simple set of FT, BFG etc stats for these line(s) for the ships to encourage players to buy them.

Recruiting Rangers aggressively & supporting them. I sent in a Ranger application a while ago, and got no reply (yet). I took for granted that it was OK and I am going ahead with demos, but you need to do a lot more with Rangers, IMO. Part of Privateer Press' success has been that they have a very active volunteer demonstrator program of their own.

2. What ARE we doing that we should do DIFFERENTLY?

The miniatures contests should be part of your marketing plan IMO. E.g. a new miniature comes out in January, then in March you schedule a painting contest for that figure. The Marketing Director then takes the photos of the painted mini and puts them in Star Fleet Alert, the blog, or wherever and reminds people that this mini was a recent release and they really should have it in stock. Same applies for existing minis - have a plan to continually remind retailers and customers about your existing mini range, using the photos of painted minis as examples.

3. What ARE we doing that we should NOT be doing?
Letting SVC deal with routine tasks like deleting spam emails and assigning file numbers to submissions. He's too busy. Too often submissions don't get a reply, which results in people posting in the 'hey steve cole' thread asking whether or not the email got through. When it is possible, I suggest that you get a part-time office helper to go through the email, delete obvious spam, assign file numbers etc to submissions and file them appropriately, and so on.

4. What new concept or idea should ADB investigate to improve its operations?

Moving to Australia to avoid all that snow!
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Steve Cole
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Random replies....

Deleting Spam. Annoying as it is, it's my Email and I don't want anybody else deleting stuff. We tried that once and things that should not have been deleted got deleted.

Submission numbers: Yeah, I just quit doing that a while ago (six months? 18 months?) when I was busy and never had time to catch up. If you sent a submission and did not get an answer, do not resend it but send me an email with the original file name so I can find it. (My attachment folder has like 2000 things in it, and most people did a lousy job of putting names and email addresses on it.) The real problem is that the original submission idea (that every week we would do a few off the top of the list) didn't work (we were spending too much time evaluating submissions that fit into products three years in the future) so we converted to a system where we don't review anything; we just (when we decide to do a new product) check every submission for possible use. Despite having told people this 27 times we STILL get people asking why we haven't done submission #12 yet.

I would not mind marketing our minis to other companies, BUT, they might. If we (without asking them) started printing books of "battlefleet gothic ships that match SFB miniatures" we'd be violating sombody's copyright, and if we asked, they would doubtless say NO since they want to sell THEIR miniatures to their people, not help us sell OUR minis to THEIR people. Now, I guess in theory, we could make some kind of deal with another company where we printed a book of SFB/FC ship diagrams for their minis and they printed one of our minis. Big problem there is that I have to many deals half-done with so many customers I'm just not starting new projects until I get something done.

Recruiting Rangers: BIG failure on my part. I need to turn that over to Vanessa. Anybody who applied, drop me a line and I'll find your application.

Minis contests for new releases. That's a possibility, although we have already announced a schedule for the next 11 months. We could I guess have another contest. One big mistake in your theory. People send us photos, not painted minis, to enter the contest, and the graphics director, not the marketing director, takes pictures when we need pictures.

I have been discussing the idea of a combined FC rulebook with Leanna and Petrick just today. I was thinking of putting it in Tholian Attack instead of the map panels.

There is not a thing I can do to "get some of the original playtesters to play in FCOL, nor do I see what that would accomplish. If they wanted to play FCOL, they would be.
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John Carter
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would really like to see the minis contests matching what is coming out. I only recently got into FedCom and haven't gotten any minis yet, but when I do I want to be in some contests.

Alas, all the upcoming ones are pretty funky...
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zackwalk
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got another idea as a possibility. How about a Star Fleet Universe Battlewagon.Basically a Ofificial ADB small demo group that visits Local game stores.bBut with Demo products also.(
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Steve Cole
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I want you guys to post your replies, suggestions, comments, complaints, praise, or whatever. If somebody posts their answers and I explain (as kindly as I can) why we can't use them, it doesn't mean that YOUR answers will be ignored, dismissed, or ridiculed. Indeed, even the dumbest possible suggest gives us all a change to learn something.

It's been enlightening for me that so many things we have done for years are not known to the most loyal of customers.
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Steve Cole
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SFU demo wagon....

When we win the lottery.

Problem is you're talking about full time paid people and a vehicle that gets a lot of miles, plus a lot of hotel/meal expenses. Maybe WOTC can do that since they supposedly have $100 million in domestic sales.

I'd like to, but the one time I drove to Denver to do it causes some problems. Sure, I showed the game to ten people and probably got six customers, but I was gone from home/office for two days and spend more money on gas and hotel and food than I'll make from those six customers in three years.
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markgeorgetwo
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2007 2:14 am    Post subject: your last message steve Reply with quote

Yes i think nearly everyone would like to win the lottery i have being trying to win on the uk one for years Sad but one of these days.
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jpat
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Joined: 19 Jan 2007
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Location: Iowa City, IA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2007 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few thoughts from the peanut gallery.

Although you didn't ask for good things, I'd like to name a few:

(1) The game's good. If it weren't, everything else would be moot.

(2) ADB itself. I've had good customer support when I've needed it. I also appreciate that the game's designer is so accessible.

(3) Community. The community here on the forums has been really warm and welcoming to me and helpful with questions.


A few other observations, some if not all of them doubtlessly naive and unattainable, all idiosyncratic. Very Happy

(1) Web site. The FC-specific Web site is pretty good. It's functional and seems designed pretty well. That said ...

(a) Priorities. To me, FC almost gets squeezed on its own home page by other related products (SFBF, PD). I realize these are related products, that someone looking up FC is disproportionately likely to be interested in the other two, but a first-time visitor might wonder whether all these products are part of the FC line (not really) or required for FC play (no).

(b) Forum. The forum interface is pretty standard, which is a good thing. Works really well, feels stable, and all that. It'd always be good to get more people over here and posting. You've got about 200 registered members but fewer than half have ever posted. I'm listed as your #29 poster in terms of number of posts with just 9 posts. Posting this message will rocket me to #28. Very Happy

(c) Product List. I can't quite decide, but it might make more sense to group related products together when possible (i.e., the set with the associated boosters, minis, and border box). I find it a tad odd that I have to click on a link to "tell me more" about any of these; I sort of expect that a product list is going to tell me already.

(d) FAQs. The paragraph spacing on the FAQs page is inconsistent, and fixing it would make the page look better.

(e) Store. The store seems to work pretty well, though I think I've yet to put an order through. The individual products are a bit deeply "nested" for my taste (e.g., I have to go to FC, then Starter Sets, then 4001 to see Klingon Border's product description), but that may just be me.

(f) Commander's Circle. I'm sure there's a good reason for this, but I'm not sure why I have to go offsite for CC.

(g) Blog. Maybe a more prominent link for the blog is needed. I finally had to ask someone where it was. That could just be me. Very Happy

(h) First Missions. Any reason not to promote First Missions on this site? If there's a link here, I haven't come across it.


(2) Two sites? Is dividing the FC discussion between this and the legacy site a good idea? Seems like it should all be in one place. Perhaps that's the plan?


(3) Minis. I agree with terryoc's suggestion of a broader marketing push for the minis apart from the game. Lots of people pick up Star Wars minis who have no intention of playing the minis game.


(4) SFB (FC) Online. An online presence is a good idea, especially as, right now, this is a fairly new game and one that's complex enough to sometimes make it hard to find face-to-face opponents. The demo account is a good way to get people to check things out. Still ...

(a) Player list. I think we're sort of getting there by the back door, but it'd be a good idea to have a thread in the FC Online section of the forums as a player list. (I'm on there, though not really a player yet.)

(b) Critical mass. Related to (a), it seems like for FC-only players to pony up money, there's going to have to be a critical mass of players. If I were someone thinking about paying up to $40/year for the service, I'd want to know that there's a better-than-average chance of finding an FC game on a night or weekend. There's a lot of competition for gamers' time, and many free gaming options (e.g., BSW, VASSAL) as well.


(5) Rules. The rules work. The specific rule I'm looking for is pretty easy to find. The rules are indexed, which is essential. A few things to consider, though.

(a) Graphics/layout. The book could probably be a bit more visual even if it added to the length. While I'm not suggesting an overproduced, full-color, glossy, 80-page manual like for BattleLore, it probably wouldn't hurt to have more graphical elements. I think potential new users looking at a 60-page book of nearly all text might feel intimidated, especially if they've heard how "hard" SFB (and presumably FC) is. Adding a little length to the book via some more illustrations and visual examples seems like a decent tradeoff to me.

(b) Example of play. I Know this is free online, but I think having an example of play in the rulebook itself might help people see how the rules flow together (and get them excited about playing).


(6) Plastic. More and more games are replacing cardboard bits with plastic ones. I know FC/SFB have a robust pewter minis line, but not everyone wants to buy, assemble, and paint them. There are probably all kinds of reasons not to have plastic bits, but plastic ones would have a bit more mass appeal.
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mahatmamanic
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Joined: 06 Feb 2007
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Location: Santa Cruz, CA.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2007 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jokes about SFB players reciting long strings of rule location numbers to eachother while arguing ("3.G.F.3.7.6 section C paragraph 2 CLEARLY STATES that my drone will...") are a staple of the gaming community, and I think they most likely intimidate some players who might otherwise consider playing the game. While I really like the clarity and organization of the rules system, the manner in which it is laid out taken in combination with the minimalist/dated graphical elements definitely adds to the grognard factor. A more modern layout style, perhaps with color illustrations or game examples making use of photos showcasing some of the lovely painted minis, would go a long way to mitigating the scariness of the rules for a lot of people and could make the game more accessible and friendly to the non-hardcore.

I also -really- like the idea of plastics. Shipping boxes of plastic ships would be a really fantastic middle ground between the counters (which I personally like but which really hold a lot more appeal for wargames purists than anyone else) and minis which have to be assembled and painted (which I have sworn off completely thanks to years of pain at the end of GW's whip). If I could buy a reasonably-priced box of solid-color plastic units for a particular race (a Kzin squadron, or a small Fed fleet, or whatever) not only would I be likely to buy them, but would be able to better draw others into the game at a local game store.

Would it be possible to create/ship smaller (less expensive) starter sets? If there were a box that was $30 rather than $60, and included the rulebook, some counters (or a few plastic minis) a couple of map panels, and a half dozen ship cards, it could draw people in. For a lot of potential players (particularly young ones) $60 is a big nut to crack just to get started in a game system, so some sort of stripped down starter set might be helpful.

Finally, I am not sure what the advertising budget is, but the game needs some extra pimpage. I'm a pretty devoted gamer, and I had no idea FC even existed until someone mentioned it offhandedly in a thread on BGG where I was requesting recommendations for wargames to play. As soon as I knew it existed, I wanted to buy it! Some more web/store visibility would go a long way...store tournaments with prize support including starters or expansions, contests on BGG giving away the occasional set, etc. could all help. Just don't put 10 Lite-Brite's around Boston with Romulans giving the finger.

Well anyhow...I know I'm the new guy here and I don't want to sound too negative...I'm loving the game so far and really looking forward to playing more (and more and more and...). Keep up the great work Smile[/quote]
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Takeyabue
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Joined: 12 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First: my own personal bias and point of view. I played a lot of SFB for up to about 10 years ago when I moved off to other games with local opponents. I first heard about Federation Commander last summer through a general news web site. It wasn't until last week however, that I pulled the trigger and finally made a purchase.

There is not a store I am aware of that carries the game in my extended area and so I rely upon this website and others for information on it. Hence the following requests.

A) It would be very nice if you listed just what ships/monsters the "sixteen full color double-sided laminated ship cards" included in Klingon Border, the "sixteen full color double-sided laminated ship cards" in Klingon Attack and so forth actually were. The picture at the bottom of the pages is nice, but it is hard to determine much from them. I finally did learn that by looking at the Squadron Packs of miniatures I could figure it out, but it did take some time and back and forth clicking.

B)While the two scales might be somewhat self-evident to people with experience playing SFB, I do think a page with comparison, both visual and text would go a long way to help one understand why there are two methods of play in a "simplified" game.

C) A couple of shots of games in progress with both counters and/or minatures could also go a long way to even if only of the size of the used with the contents.

D) The php method used opening downloads in the Commander's Circle creates errors in my work's firewall and my own monitored internet.

With that said, I am looking forward to running some ships for the first time in over ten years. Thanks for the effort to get those who strayed back.
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The ships included in Klingon Border are:
Federation: DN, BCG, CA, CL, FF
Klingon: C8, C7, D7, D6, F5
Kzinti: BC, FF
Orion: CR
Tholian: PC
General: squadron scale BATS / fleet scale SB, F-S, F-L
Monster: Planet Killer

The Ships included in Romulan Border are:
Federation: DNG, BCF, NCA, NCL, DW
Romulan: CON, KR, WE, BH, SKA
Gorn: DN, BC, DD
General: APT/AC, MB,
Monster: Dragon

Example of:
Squadron Scale Federation Heavy Cruiser
Fleet Scale Federation Heavy Cruiser

Fundamentally, squadron scale ships are the same cards (SSDs in SFB-speak) as used in SFB. Fleet scale ships are "half-sized" ships that can be used to play fleet battles much more quickly.
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