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-   -   An Update from Rob (http://forums.wolflair.com/showthread.php?t=63258)

BJ September 28th, 2019 04:42 PM

An Update from Rob
 
"Lone Wolf is undergoing several major changes and I wanted to personally take the time to update everyone on what those changes are and how they will impact our users.

While Lone Wolf is a business, the company itself is comprised of people. And when it’s a small company, it’s more akin to family. There’s also our user community (you), which in many ways is like our extended family. Over the more than 20 years we’ve been creating software tools for gamers, we’ve garnered a significant number of loyal fans – fans who have been crucial to our success and whose ongoing support is greatly appreciated.

This sense of family was core to how we operated in the past, but when I got deathly ill three years ago, I strayed away from that. Now that I’m mostly back to my old self and finally completing my rehabilitation, I’ve realized we need to get back to those roots. You should see that shift reflected here in the increased level of disclosure and in future communications from myself and staff.

For quite some time, we’ve spread ourselves too thin across different efforts, and that’s been especially true for me personally. We’ve been doing an insufficient job at multiple tasks instead of a great job on a much narrower set. This has clearly hurt us. By implementing the changes outlined below, I fully believe we can get back to producing our normal level of quality products in a timely manner.

To start with, effective immediately, we are officially suspending work on Realm Works while we focus on improving our other products. Realm Works is “my baby”, and there’s a great sadness in making this decision, but the reality is that, despite our efforts, Realm Works is failing as a commercial venture with what limited resources we can put into it. There are quite a few things we could do to improve it, but that would require a significant investment of time and resources, neither of which we currently have.

Various aspects of Realm Works may begin to emerge within the Hero Lab Online framework in the future, but the Realm Works desktop product will not see further development at this time. Realm Works will absolutely continue to be available, and the servers will continue running, so the product will remain incredibly useful in its current form. However, for the foreseeable future, no more coding changes will occur beyond the significant bug fixes that went out over the past couple weeks.

Another big change we’re making is with our staffing. For quite some time, we’ve been leveraging investment financing to allow us to carry extra staff and pursue some varied objectives while we transitioned from Pathfinder 1st edition to 2nd edition. – one of which is on the verge of readiness (more on that in a moment). Alas, we didn’t get those projects completed within the investment funding time window (due to spreading ourselves too thin), so corresponding adjustments are now a necessity. We’re therefore saying goodbye to some excellent people, and that just adds to today’s pain.

Everything thus far sounds somewhat dire. So the obvious question is whether there’s any good news to take the sting out of the bad. Thankfully, the answer to that is a resounding YES.

First off, Hero Lab Classic isn’t going anywhere and it just received a major upgrade in the form of native 64-bit support on both Windows and Mac. If you haven’t downloaded them yet, please do so, as you should see both performance and stability improvements. We also have several data packages ready and waiting for release. However, Apple has changed their rules and is now refusing to let us update our Hero Lab Classic iPad app, so the new packages have been held up while we determine how to appease Apple. We obviously want to release them on all platforms simultaneously, but we’ll need to come to an agreement with Apple before we can do so. We’ll provide an update as soon as we make some headway here.

For Hero Lab Online, Shadowrun 6th Edition hits store shelves in early October, and we’ve been working hard to launch support for it in the weeks ahead. We’re also preparing the big hardcover books for both Pathfinder 2nd Edition and Starfinder, not to mention some significant performance and reliability improvements. But the truly BIG thing we’ve been putting into place is something we’ve dubbed Campaign Theater™. We previewed it at GenCon in an early Alpha state and you may have seen the video promo on our social media. Since the preview, we’ve been fleshing things out and testing like crazy so we can debut it in time for the holidays.

So what exactly IS Campaign Theater? The goal is pretty simple. Bring all the power of Hero Lab, in a unified manner, to everyone in the campaign – GM and players alike. In HLClassic, we’ve long had the Encounter Builder to let GMs prepare scenes and the Tactical Console to let GMs run them. But everything within HLClassic is disconnected, and nobody can see what anyone else is doing during the game. While still quite helpful, there are major limitations with this approach. Now imagine a unified display of all participants in the current scene, with the GM seeing everything and players only seeing a suitable subset of information the GM allows. Any time a player makes a change to their PC, or the GM to a monster, everyone sees the update in real-time on their own device. And imagine having all your scenes prepped and ready to play out with a few clicks. That’s just the tip of Campaign Theater and what we’ll be starting with.

Some of you have mentioned this sounds a little bit like a virtual tabletop. Well, sort of, except that our focus is on all the detailed character/monster manipulation that VTTs don’t excel at and Hero Lab does. So there may be some similarities, but very little overlap. In fact, we’re developing these capabilities with the ultimate goal of integrating with VTTs, allowing those products to focus on all the tabletop visuals and Hero Lab to handle all the character mechanics in a coordinated manner. I like to think of it as the RPG equivalent of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

We’ll have more to share regarding Campaign Theater in the near future, so stay tuned for that. As you can see, there’s still plenty to look forward to in the next few months, and even well beyond that.

In closing, allow me to say a big THANK YOU for your continued support over the years. It’s been extremely gratifying to create products that I love and to know that thousands of gamers are using them every week. Thank you for giving me – and the rest of the team here – that opportunity. It means more than we can express.

Sincerely,

Rob Bowes, President"

You can also read on our website.

Happydevil43 September 28th, 2019 05:27 PM

Wow.. just wow... I have no words.

good luck guys.. i know it must of been a hard decision.

KefkaZ September 28th, 2019 05:35 PM

Bummer. I'm guessing that means the content market will also no longer be receiving updated products?

BJ September 28th, 2019 05:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KefkaZ (Post 282655)
Bummer. I'm guessing that means the content market will also no longer be receiving updated products?

Unfortunately, no.

Cammagno September 28th, 2019 07:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BJ (Post 282651)
To start with, effective immediately, we are officially suspending work on Realm Works while we focus on improving our other products. Realm Works is “my baby”, and there’s a great sadness in making this decision, but the reality is that, despite our efforts, Realm Works is failing as a commercial venture with what limited resources we can put into it. There are quite a few things we could do to improve it, but that would require a significant investment of time and resources, neither of which we currently have.

What an epic fail...

kbs666 September 28th, 2019 07:25 PM

If its dead would you guys considering releasing the source code?

Maidhc O Casain September 28th, 2019 08:02 PM

Well, damn. Sadly, I have zero interest in HLO unless and until you get PF1 going. And even then, I'll need something akin to the HLC editor capabilities, adjustments, etc. for it to be truly useful.

Before you completely halt RW development, will you at least consider fixing the problem that prevents it from integrating 64 bit HLC portfolios? That functionality was there previously, after all, and I for one had come to rely heavily on it... Happy as I am to have HLC going 64 bit, I'd almost rather keep the 32 bit version if 64 bit is never going to be supported by RW.

Itzi September 28th, 2019 08:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kbs666 (Post 282661)
If its dead would you guys considering releasing the source code?

+1 to this.

It would be incredible if Lone Wolf - rather than just sitting on the code for the rest of forever and letting all that effort be for naught - would release the code to the open source community.

Acenoid September 28th, 2019 09:05 PM

So sad hearing that ppl are loosing their jobs over this :(


@Itzi
Surely they would try to sell that thing to some potential buyer, instead of just giving it away for free ^^. it's far from broken. Anyways it would be great of course to see such a great tool become open source :)
Also Rob stated that they might include pieces of RW in the HL framework, doubt that they will then give functionality that they want to sell away "for free"...

@LWD
I understand the decision if it has commercial reasons. And I hope that LWD will get things back on track and is able to reconsider / restart development.
Think about another kickstarter to collect the funds for future upgrades, think about paid DLC/features ...

Again, such a shame to see that RW is being put to a halt after you implemented all those interfaces and market stuff :(
Probably would have been better to implement more features & functionality which would have made RW even more attractive to hesitant buyers.

All the best job & healthwise!

EDIT: Remove a paragraph regarding bugfixes, since it has been covered by Rob...

Valyar September 28th, 2019 11:13 PM

Truly disappointing. :(

Few questions
  1. Would you continue to provide support to end-uses over the support channel, or we are on our own?
  2. Would you do fixes if something occurs in future that breaks things in a bad way?
  3. Would you continue to sell the product?
  4. Would you discontinue the online sync capabilities or this will remain available?
  5. Have you considered to open the code to the community?
  6. Have you considered to accept pro-bono work for RW?

Toblakai September 29th, 2019 12:48 AM

I think the problem is that Realm Works has a much smaller potential user base. HL is good for all players and GM's. RW is only useful to GM's, which my anecdotal evidence puts that at roughly 20-25% of players. In addition it only is really full used by GM's that like to create their own worlds and have the time to do that. FG probably can cover a lot of the use cases for potential RW customers for GM's that don't create their own worlds and want to buy premade content.

Valyar September 29th, 2019 01:04 AM

At the moment I use the application as database for everything from rules and player-related content to monsters, adventures and campaigns.

Each rulebook is fully uploaded in RW. The content is 1:1 with the book, but in much more organized way and all relevant articles shared with my players. This is so much convenient and it actually improves every damn aspect of my RPG hobby.

They simply failed to capitalize on what amazing piece of software this product is. :(

Viking2054 September 29th, 2019 04:16 AM

Any chance of opening up the content market to user submissions of original material? I know copyrighted intellectual property would be off the table, but user submitted npc's, monsters, plots and such that don't violate anyone's IP could be nice to have access to and might earn you and the creator some coin as well.

Akodoken September 29th, 2019 07:50 AM

I am disappointed as well.

I saw there was a new stable release which addressed some of the bugs. On Friday, I decided to fire up RW again and I was happy with the updates. I bought the three Kobold Press releases for RW. Then last night I come home from game night to see this announcement.

Man, my timing could not have been worse...

I hope you find your footing again. HeroLab is one of my favorite pieces of software and there is now some major competition out there.

Greebo September 29th, 2019 09:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kbs666 (Post 282661)
If its dead would you guys considering releasing the source code?

+1

Sadly, I am no programmer, but maybe those with the skills in the community could salvage RW and unleash its full potential.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Toblakai (Post 282672)
I think the problem is that Realm Works has a much smaller potential user base. HL is good for all players and GM's. RW is only useful to GM's, which my anecdotal evidence puts that at roughly 20-25% of players. In addition it only is really full used by GM's that like to create their own worlds and have the time to do that. FG probably can cover a lot of the use cases for potential RW customers for GM's that don't create their own worlds and want to buy premade content.

Yes and no. Like I said in a thread, that got deleted, Realm Works could have had a much larger user base, if creative writers would have been targeted as well. That is something the World Anvil devs are doing.

Farling September 29th, 2019 09:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Greebo (Post 282682)
+1Sadly, I am no programmer, but maybe those with the skills in the community could salvage RW and unleash its full potential.

If I saw the code, the first thing I'd do is shift it from their windows-locked toolkit to Qt. Then it would be simple to get it on Mac and Linux too :-)

Toblakai September 29th, 2019 10:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Greebo (Post 282682)
+1

Yes and no. Like I said in a thread, that got deleted, Realm Works could have had a much larger user base, if creative writers would have been targeted as well. That is something the World Anvil devs are doing.

Yeah, this would have been a good target also. But I suspect this is an even smaller audience than GM's.

Valyar September 29th, 2019 10:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Farling (Post 282685)
If I saw the code, the first thing I'd do is shift it from their windows-locked toolkit to Qt. Then it would be simple to get it on Mac and Linux too :-)

I would have done the same. It will also reduce the cost as what they currently use is not free.

Toblakai September 29th, 2019 12:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Valyar (Post 282690)
I would have done the same. It will also reduce the cost as what they currently use is not free.

Not sure when RW development started for sure but it looks like before 2010. QT would be a good choice now, but back then it was not as obvious a solution as it would be now. Mac support wasn't added until the very end of 2009, possibly after the choice of development platform was made.

You also assume it would reduce the cost, they are paying for a library because the platform didn't have support for the features they needed. It is very possible that QT did not have that support also, necessitating that they pay for a third party tool also.

ruhar September 29th, 2019 01:10 PM

I am shocked, saddened, and angry. (FYI before you slam me for that there is nothing wrong with feeling all that including anger.)

I have done my share of complaining but I have also tried to be supportive and cheered for LWD. Because of that I am sad that RW didn’t make it. I’m also angry because the ball was dropped. There are some faults and there are some circumstances that couldn’t be helped.

I wish LWD does well going forward. I just ask that you consider options to allow RW continue forward in some manner. There have been some good suggestions or maybe sell it to someone or a company that is willing to work with it and help it grow into the great product it was meant to be. I still believe in it and don’t want it to wither and die.

For those having to leave LWD I’m sorry you have to leave and wish you well.

Farewell
Ruhar

Maidhc O Casain September 29th, 2019 01:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ruhar (Post 282696)
I am shocked, saddened, and angry. (FYI before you slam me for that there is nothing wrong with feeling all that including anger.)

All three of these work for me as well. While RW isn't quite dead - it's still available, the servers are up and running for syncing, etc - and I'm super glad of that, I am an Alpha Wolf backer who doesn't believe he got his $250 worth. Based on my experiences with Hero Lab (Classic) over the years I thought this was a good investment. Guess I learned my lesson.

ruhar September 29th, 2019 03:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Maidhc O Casain (Post 282700)
the servers are up and running for syncing, etc - and I'm super glad of that, I am an Alpha Wolf backer who doesn't believe he got his $250 worth. Based on my experiences with Hero Lab (Classic) over the years I thought this was a good investment. Guess I learned my lesson.

That brings up an interesting question. Will the servers remain up? If so, how long? Will we be charged for it?

As a fellow investor I question what that too but at least the program as is has a lot of value. Kickstarter is a risk. You have decide if the gamble is worth the risk.

Maidhc O Casain September 29th, 2019 04:15 PM

Rob said in the update that the servers will remain up. FWIW, my understanding is that nothing is going away - there's just not going to be anything new.

As to what they'll charge for server access... who knows? The lifetime 'top tier' server access with no charge was my primary reason for pledging at that level.

ruhar September 29th, 2019 08:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Maidhc O Casain (Post 282704)
Rob said in the update that the servers will remain up. FWIW, my understanding is that nothing is going away - there's just not going to be anything new.

As to what they'll charge for server access... who knows? The lifetime 'top tier' server access with no charge was my primary reason for pledging at that level.

Since they aren't going to support RW I hope they will consider a lower subscription rate.

Farling September 29th, 2019 11:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ruhar (Post 282707)
Since they aren't going to support RW I hope they will consider a lower subscription rate.

The subscription rate is to keep the servers powered on.

Nikmal September 30th, 2019 04:51 AM

I have to say that this is truly saddening. I am one of the original beta testers for RW and to see it no longer being produced, is maddening and saddening. I lived for touting this piece of software to my friends and family. But I do agree in that the software and it's potential is just not "there" yet compared to where it should be at this time.

I have been using it for such a long time and will continue to do so for as long as I can. I would hate to see this be no longer supported to allow it's users to no longer use it at all. I am glad that I can still enter data into it.. but it makes me nervous that I might not be able to in the future.. I hope that this is not ever going to be the case at all?

Exmortis September 30th, 2019 05:12 AM

wow I just blew over 100$ with exchange when content market was released.....Now I feel like a sucker, I hoped that my purchased would feed the beast and show value, now i feel like the sucker, I paid a fair chunk of money for a shelved product. Release, money grab, and run. May not have been intent, but it sure feels like it on the other side of the fence.

With out any hope of refund.

OH yeah feeling like supporting HLO now.

/sigh I guess I should have known better.

Nikmal September 30th, 2019 06:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Exmortis (Post 282716)
I paid a fair chunk of money for a shelved product. Release, money grab, and run. May not have been intent, but it sure feels like it on the other side of the fence.

You still GET the content though.. it is not going to go away. So you will be able to use said content like you would any data that you enter yourself. So the value is still there. They just aren't producing more for RW is all. So I would not say that you "blew" the money.. because it is still your content that you can use. :)

Acenoid September 30th, 2019 06:09 AM

there is still the possibility that they will reanimate the project at a later stage, when the business model works better again?

Who knows, maybe they will sell it, Iam sure that you can earn a lot from this tool by implemententing lets say top 10 of the requsted features. Calendar, web and some player functionality sure would help in sales. anyways, I will also continue to work with RW. Win 10 is there, Ill be able to do a bare bones export in the worst case...

Still crossing the fingers that eventually Lwd or someone else will pickup RW.

gloranphile September 30th, 2019 11:05 AM

That's a very big bummer. My hope was that we'd get the opportunity to export to web at some point.

It's pretty much the only reason I backed as a beta user way back in the Kickstarter.

Oh well, at least I can use it as a rules manager for my game.

Dunkin September 30th, 2019 12:36 PM

Unfortunate.

Tough decisions for the company and tough situations for the employees and those laid off by this restructuring.

Realm Works is still valuable and useful tool in a very niche area of DM campaign management (to my knowledge). Plus, those who have utilized its potential have invested a lot of time in it.

The grim reality looks like RW will not develop further officially. However, I would like to see how the community could continue the potential it still has.

Plus, what about the opportunity of trading RW databases? Some people have done an excellent job in building up rules and private gameworld databases. Is there any opportunity to share that content with others?

MaxSupernova September 30th, 2019 12:49 PM

At this point is anyone even a little bit surprised? It's been almost 7 years of next-to-no communication, user created solutions to functionality gaps, and in-jokes about missing promised features.

Being unable to make a product like this workable in 10 years (since development started) is testament to either terrible design decisions, terrible project management skills, a complete lack of willingness to resource the project properly, or an inability to admit that the product wasn't going anywhere a long time ago, or perhaps a combination of all four. If you couldn't give it the resources to make it work, that should have been (and I suspect it was) clear a long time ago and your customers deserved to know long before this point.

Seriously. 10 years, and you walk away with initial promises unfulfilled.

Poor form. Boo.

Nikmal September 30th, 2019 01:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MaxSupernova (Post 282733)
At this point is anyone even a little bit surprised? It's been almost 7 years of next-to-no communication, user created solutions to functionality gaps, and in-jokes about missing promised features.

Being unable to make a product like this workable in 10 years (since development started) is testament to either terrible design decisions, terrible project management skills, a complete lack of willingness to resource the project properly, or an inability to admit that the product wasn't going anywhere a long time ago, or perhaps a combination of all four. If you couldn't give it the resources to make it work, that should have been (and I suspect it was) clear a long time ago and your customers deserved to know long before this point.

Seriously. 10 years, and you walk away with initial promises unfulfilled.

Poor form. Boo.

You left out the true reasons, small (very) business and very poor health of lead developer of software for almost 3 years. The software has not been around for 10 years

Acenoid September 30th, 2019 01:09 PM

I think as well that it's a bit of overreacting it's not like our life or job depend on it.
Many IT Projects still fail now adays... vor various reasons.

Farling September 30th, 2019 03:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gloranphile (Post 282730)
That's a very big bummer. My hope was that we'd get the opportunity to export to web at some point.

I guess you already know that there is a tool which can be used to eventually get you to the web, via create realm export, run tool to convert it to HTML, upload HTML files to web site.

MaxSupernova September 30th, 2019 03:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nikmal (Post 282736)
You left out the true reasons, small (very) business and very poor health of lead developer of software for almost 3 years. The software has not been around for 10 years

Yes it has.

In the kickstarter (almost 7 years ago) they claimed to have been in development for 3 years.

Nikmal September 30th, 2019 05:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MaxSupernova (Post 282744)
Yes it has.

In the kickstarter (almost 7 years ago) they claimed to have been in development for 3 years.

It was in "development" (beta) not released until after the kickstarter. So hence me saying it has not been around for 10 years.

EightBitz October 1st, 2019 03:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nikmal (Post 282718)
You still GET the content though.. it is not going to go away. So you will be able to use said content like you would any data that you enter yourself. So the value is still there. They just aren't producing more for RW is all. So I would not say that you "blew" the money.. because it is still your content that you can use. :)

Not true. The data I enter myself can be selectively exported and imported.

EightBitz October 1st, 2019 03:09 AM

I have a lot of things I'd like to say on this point, negative and positive.

The one thing I think is worth saying, with all sincerity and honesty is this:
Rob, regarding your health issues, you've been in my thoughts, and I'm glad you're well now.

Nikmal October 1st, 2019 04:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by EightBitz (Post 282759)
Not true. The data I enter myself can be selectively exported and imported.

Not sure where you are going with this though? It is true that you can selectively import/export data to and from your realm that you created. But that is not what was being said above. He was saying that the value of the money he spent to buy product for his realm is no longer there. I disagreed as he is using said product and therefor the value is there.

The data he entered can still be exported if he should choose to do so though.


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