The publication of Star Fleet Battle Manual goes back to an antediluvian era wherein a shitty photocopy of a badly typed manuscripts was just fine, just as long as you got the game out the door. I'm not saying SFBM has the worst layout I've ever seen, but it lies somewhere in that terrible middle range where one can find original D&D or Superhero 2044. It ain't pretty to look at. That's not a mortal sin by any means. You can find lots of great games that aren't very fancy. To make it work, a plain jane game needs to be utilitarian. SFBM as presented is not easy to use. The font is old and cruddy, like a bad photocopy. The layout is hard to follow, organization is a bit wonky, the split between the basic and advanced rules would lead to endless page flipping, things that ought to be expressed in table format are merely listed in the rules, and so on.
Don't get me wrong. I like this game. In fact, I like it enough that I'm considering rewriting it just to fix these presentation problems (and maybe address the dice issue of my last blog entry). I at least need a ready reference sheet of some sort if I'm gonna run this as a con game, anyway. (A fella named W. Robert Portnell has done a similar project with his "Academy Edition", which you can find at his Other Game Stuff page. I'll download the file later when I get home. When I first checked it out a year or two ago it was incomplete.) The ship control sheets also need updating to look more spiffy. Doing a redesign would be a good first step towards making my own ship sheets for FASA and SFB designs.
Addendum: Found a new fanpage for SFBM today: Bart's Star Fleet Battle Manual Page. Nifty!