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Feedback from a FC rookie on the PDF offerings
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Zencal
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Joined: 07 May 2022
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2022 10:21 am    Post subject: Feedback from a FC rookie on the PDF offerings Reply with quote

A few years ago, I came across Marcowargamer's videos on Federation Commander and thought FC was like something I'd like to get into -- less complicated than SFB (which I tried in the 90s), but closer to BattleTech, which I thoroughly enjoy. So I ordered Romulan Border, had some fun, and started to look into where to go next.

I have limited storage space (London 1-bed flat + married = just one bookcase for gaming), so wanted to explore pdf offerings; but I found it so frustrating to work out which of the pdfs included the ships from the core sets (and was surprised how many simply weren't available as pdfs) that I gave up on FC.

Well, there's a new kid on the block doing videos--djthorsilver--and my interest is again piqued. But I've had another look and it seems there's been little change in the pdf offerings for FC--and still no pdf of one of my favourites, the fed destroyer from Franz Joseph's book. Sad

Still, I bit the bullet and picked up a few of the ship packs from Warehouse 23 after reviewing the master ship chart and working out which had at least some of the ships from the Romulan Border set, but was disappointed to find they have huge, unequal margins. (The pdf previews really should show at least one of the ship cards with a huge watermark to make this clear.) I was expecting to print two ships to a sheet, double-sided, and cut the sheet in half; but the margins mean this isn't going to look nice at all. To get something nice, I'd need to take snippets of each page to capture just the ship card and print the images instead. Doable, but not as simple as it should be.

Anyway, the point is I think the pdf offerings hurt the growth of what I think could be a more popular game, especially when physical stock can be hard to find.

I expect these suggestions have been made before, but here's my 2 cents:

1) Every ship in the core products needs a pdf. (Pdfs are useful even if you have the physical products. I'm not a fan of dry-erase; I'd much rather print out ships for the Romulan Border set I have and use these with a pencil and eraser. Yes, I can and have scanned; but that takes more time, especially if you want to achieve good quality and no skewing.)

2) The ship card pdfs should have minimal white margin, to allow printing 1 or more ships per page without wasting space because of large, uneven margins

3) This may be heresy, but I think ADB should sell individual 'empire' pdfs that include most of the ships for that empire (certainly those from the border + assault products + selected general ships), with separate pdfs for things 'middle era' (to include all empires).

Anyway, just some hopefully seen-to-be constructive suggestions from someone who will likely now buy a couple of more physical FC products and stop there, but who would spend many more
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Zencal
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Joined: 07 May 2022
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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2022 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, looks like my last sentence got truncated... I had used the British pound symbol just were it was truncated.... maybe that broke something?

It was meant to be:

Anyway, just some hopefully seen-to-be constructive suggestions from someone who will likely now buy a couple of more physical FC products and stop there, but who would spend many more (british pounds) if the pdf offerings were better.
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Steve Cole
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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2022 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1) Every ship in the core products needs a pdf.
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I think they do. Did you check the commander's circle?
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2) The ship card pdfs should have minimal white margin, to allow printing 1 or more ships per page without wasting space because of large, uneven margins.
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We tried that and it didn't work for most people as their printers could not print that close to the edge. So we stopped doing it. We tried doing them slightly smaller so they would print like that and people were unhappy that they were smaller. So, no way for us to do this, the home printing technology cannot handle it.
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3) This may be heresy, but I think ADB should sell individual 'empire' pdfs that include most of the ships for that empire.
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The reason we do not is that having bought the pack of all Klingon PDFs you would expect free updates every time we did a new product, meaning all of the work for a new product would go out the door for free and we wouldn't get paid for the time to create it (hence, there would be no further products). The solution we adopted was to do every ship for an empire in some pack or other so you could buy the whole empire (just not in one pack, it would be the same price, you could not expect 74 Klingon cards for the price of six) and we could update them as time went by through the process of more packs. Then the packs didn't sell well and it wasn't worth our time to do more packs.
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2022 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the record, every ship card from Klingon Border and Attack, and Romulan Border and Attack, is available in the back issues of Communique. Granted, you'll have to spend some time paging through them to collect the ship cards, but they are all there.

There are also a ton of other ship cards available in Communique.
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Zencal
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Joined: 07 May 2022
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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2022 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Huh... I composed my reply in a text editor and it looks like the forum doesn't like the curly apostrophes that were in it any more than the british pound symbol... (though it looked ok in preview). Take two.
[Mod: I deleted the truncated post. Yes, smart punctuation breaks the posting on the forum. Please avoid that.]

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Thanks for the reply!

Steve Cole wrote:
1) Every ship in the core products needs a pdf.
=
I think they do. Did you check the commander's circle?

Well, I've egg on my face. I was about to post a list of the ships that I couldn't find; say that if they're in communiques, I'm not sure how to find which for which ship; and suggest adding a communique column to the master ship list.

Thankfully, I thought to have another look at the master list before posting that and saw it *does* have that column, and you're right, all the ships I double-checked look to be in a communique.

I can only guess that the reason I didn't notice this before was because there are ships where a communique is listed in the product column, and I hadn't noticed the 'comm rev' column.

Thanks to you and mjwest for making me have another look!

Steve Cole wrote:
2) The ship card pdfs should have minimal white margin, to allow printing 1 or more ships per page without wasting space because of large, uneven margins.
=
We tried that and it didn't work for most people as their printers could not print that close to the edge.

Apologies, I didn't mean *no* margin, but a *minimal* margin that you choose based on what you feel is reasonable and practical. I'd think 0.5cm is relatively safe. But what's most important to properly support home printing is that all margins be *equal* in size (albeit they really should be reasonable in size, too). Being unequal, means they don't centre on the sheet even with scaling.

E.g., here're print previews of both 1 and 2 ships-to-a-page from one of the pdf ship packs that I purchased yesterday vs a pdf I created from scans of Romulan Border that I did yesterday after editing (mostly to get the background true white so it doesn't waste ink trying to make off-white) and putting into a new pdf: https://imgur.com/a/qPslJx2

Note - the light grey border in the images aren't the margins, they're the background of the preview page. The pure white surrounding each card are the margins as they'd be on the printed paper. My printer supports borderless printing, so I've left the margins on pdf TINY to match the physical products

Note 2 - the print previews of my pdf have larger left/right margins than you'd expect. The pdf I created does *not* have these, but given I'm putting each ship on its own pdf page and the proportions are for 1/2 US Letter, it's unavoidable that this happens when the 1/2 US Letter page is scaled up to full US Letter for printing; the proportions aren't the same. I'd need to put two ship cards on a single US Letter page in the pdf itself to avoid this, but I'd rather do 1 to a page so I can print out just what I want and deal with the margin that gets added on print. (If ship cards were done in ISO paper sizes, where proportions of 1/2 pages are exactly the same as full pages, this wouldn't be an issue.)

Now that I know all the ships in the physical products do have pdf ship cards one way or the other (communique or ship packs), I need to work out whether I get better quality by a) scanning the physical cards that I do have and making up my own pdfs (I spent a couple of hours yesterday getting my workflow optimised) or b) taking the ADB pdfs, snipping just the ship card to an image, and doing the same. I'll have a play with that today.

Steve Cole wrote:
3) This may be heresy, but I think ADB should sell individual 'empire' pdfs that include most of the ships for that empire.
=
The reason we do not is that having bought the pack of all Klingon PDFs you would expect free updates every time we did a new product, meaning all of the work for a new product would go out the door for free and we wouldn't get paid for the time to create it (hence, there would be no further products).


I don't think that needs to be the case. Add 'volume 1' to the name of each of the empire pdfs and clearly explain which physical products are covered by each. An empire's volume 1 should include whatever's in the border, assault, and selected boosters. (A volume could combine empires if there are too few ships for a couple of empires to warrant their own volume.) As new physical products are released, use your current model and provide in a small pdf pack priced by how many unique cards are in it; once enough unique cards have been released, combine into a new volume and edit product descriptions in the ship packs to make clear they're now available in a combined pdf.

I know I sound like I think this is simple and maybe this just isn't possible. But as a new player, the current buy-in and effort to get the pdfs to try and match a physical product so you can be completely digital from the start, or even just to get pdfs to match the physical products you do buy, is too confusing and frustrating. Yes, the master ship list is a great resource, but knowing this even exists and having to go to it to find out how to get pdfs of ships in physical products shows it's not exactly newbie-friendly; it feels like gatekeeping.

I know some say that it's the complexity of the game that puts people off, and I'm sure that's the case to a degree; it's not for everyone. But I think there are a lot of people that would buy into the game who haven't: not because of the rules, but because of the current distribution model for the digital content.
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Zencal
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Joined: 07 May 2022
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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2022 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zencal wrote:
Now that I know all the ships in the physical products do have pdf ship cards one way or the other (communique or ship packs), I need to work out whether I get better quality by a) scanning the physical cards that I do have and making up my own pdfs (I spent a couple of hours yesterday getting my workflow optimised) or b) taking the ADB pdfs, snipping just the ship card to an image, and doing the same. I'll have a play with that today.


B. Definitely B. It's much faster than trying to fiddle with lining cards up properly in the scanner; and the colours end up purer and the text crisper.

I'm surprised that your PDFs (that I've tried so far) have off-white between the bottom of the fractional power numbers and the bottom border. I need to manually correct to make it pure white so it doesn't waste ink, but I was having to do the same with the scans, too, and it's just as easy to fix in yours as the scans.

So, yeah, B ftw.
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Zencal
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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2022 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zencal wrote:

I'm surprised that your PDFs (that I've tried so far) have off-white between the bottom of the fractional power numbers and the bottom border. I need to manually correct to make it pure white so it doesn't waste ink, but I was having to do the same with the scans, too, and it's just as easy to fix in yours as the scans.


Ah, after doing quite a few more, I've not realised this off-white is added by the pdf viewer I'm using to display the file to get the snipped (I guessing to add some depth viewing scrolling pages), and the snipping tool is picking this up. So it's *not* in the source pdf's themselves.

(I wish I could edit to add this to the previous post, rather than flooding posts to this thread! But I thought it should be noted.)
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Zencal
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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2022 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've finished going through the cards included in my Romulan Border set and found them all in the communiques. I've perfected my workflow and have cleaned them up to trim the margins for my personal printing.

Just one niggle - the fleet scale version of the Romulan Condor Dreadnought CON is only available in 'low toner' greyscale as far as I can find. If that could be added to the queue for a colour version at some point (e.g., the next Romulan pack), that would be appreciated!
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Dal Downing
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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2022 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zencal, just a friendly tip. Don't forget to sign up on for the Hailing Frequency Newsletter.

ADB decided to focus a newsletter as a whole on the company and not just one game. They sprinkle a new Ship Card in every now or then. Plus it's a good read.
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Zencal
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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2022 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dal Downing wrote:
Zencal, just a friendly tip. Don't forget to sign up on for the Hailing Frequency Newsletter.


Thanks for the tip! Will do! Smile
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Steve Cole
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2022 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

suggest adding a communique column to the master ship list.

Such a column has been there for 15 years.
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Zencal
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Joined: 07 May 2022
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2022 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve Cole wrote:
suggest adding a communique column to the master ship list.

Such a column has been there for 15 years.

Shocked Ok, I sense a degree of condescension there that I don
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Zencal
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Joined: 07 May 2022
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2022 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve Cole wrote:
suggest adding a communique column to the master ship list.

Such a column has been there for 15 years.


Shocked Ok, I sense a degree of condescension there that I do not think was warranted. Fair enough if you are exasperated by the mistake I made, but it was not as obvious as you think it is. I respectfully suggest taking a step back and trying to look at the game as a newcomer does.

Anyway, that
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xris
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Joined: 01 May 2022
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2022 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zencal wrote:
Steve Cole wrote:
suggest adding a communique column to the master ship list.

Such a column has been there for 15 years.


Shocked Ok, I sense a degree of condescension there that I do not think was warranted. Fair enough if you are exasperated by the mistake I made, but it was not as obvious as you think it is. I respectfully suggest taking a step back and trying to look at the game as a newcomer does.

The problem is that since SVC has been around from day 1, he knows where everything is and what information has been published or not.

Unfortunately, it also means he just assumes everyone else also has a similar encyclopedia knowledge of everything FC. Not a very good attitude to take with new players who are trying to get into FC or SFB.

BTW, Zencal, a welcome from another UK (new) player, I'm located in Hampshire.
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Zencal
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2022 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And the last sentence was meant to be: Anyway, that is me done. o7

Rather than using my Mac, I was writing this on my iPad in Safari, which apparently uses the curly quotes unliked by the forum software; hence me now writing as Data speaks
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