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Lone Wolf Staff
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 8,265

Old August 8th, 2008, 01:00 PM
Hi Guys,

As is usual, topics like this invariably come up immediately before something major, such as GenCon next week. :-(

I would love to take the time to explain this in more detail for you right now, but I leave for the airport in 2.5 hours. So I'll give you a basic explanation and then go into more detail when I get back from GenCon (in a couple weeks).

As most of you are aware, we've been developing a new product for RPGs entitled Hero Lab. Colen and I have been adding extensive new functionality to that product that is planned for integration back into AB. In fact, we've gone to great lengths in designing Hero Lab features to ensure lots of the new stuff will benefit AB. Unfortunately, the problem with getting it actually released for AB has been four-fold:

1. We have one big thing planned for AB that has no bearing on Hero Lab, and we keep getting hit by surprises that have kept us from getting that completed.

2. There's one facet of Hero Lab that I desperately want to integrate into AB that will represent a *revolutionary* improvement for data file authors. I have been putting off the AB update because I *so* want to incorporate this new stuff, but I just can't seem to get the time to re-integrate it into AB.

3. The development effort involved in getting Hero Lab to its current state has far exceeded our original expectations. As such, we've spent vastly more time and energy on it than was planned, and that has obviously been a major factor with the seeming inattention to AB.

4. As quite a few AB users have commented both here in this thread and elsewhere in the past, AB is a very solid product right now, so there isn't a compelling need for it to be updated. Meanwhile, Hero Lab has gone through the same evolutionary process that AB did when it was first released, wherein there have been lots of things that would make it significantly better that we can add right away, and there are competing tools that we need to stay ahead of.

In brutal honesty, item #4 is probably the most critical reason why AB has not yet been updated. Put yourself in the shoes of a parent with two children, one of whom is happy, healthy, and doing well. The other child is a young infant that is constantly demanding your time for a littany of reasons. It's really easy to focus all your attention on the infant, much to the dismay of the healthy child. That's basically what's happened with AB and HL, and I'm definitely the guilty parent here. :-(

At one point late last year, we had a plan mapped out for how to address this in what we thought was a reasonable way. But we found out there was a huge hole in the plan when we talked to our legal counsel and had to scrap it. It feels like that was just a few months ago, but it's acutally been 9 months now. :-(

I don't begrudge you guys for feeling like we owe you an AB update - we absolutely do. But the nature of development is that it's incredibly inefficient to spend a little bit of time on each product in parallel - it's much better to focus months of effort on something and produce an excellent result. There are only two of us doing development here at Lone Wolf, and I spend an inordinate amount of my time on all of the business stuff as well, so we effectively have only 1.5 developers here. We can only accomplish so much, and I keep focusing on the infant child. While it wasn't my intention, I've essentially ignored the healthy child and now that healthy child is not happy with me.

This doesn't tell you what we're going to do to fix the situation - I honestly don't know the answer right now. However, this at least gives you an honest assessment of where we're at. Colen and I have been talking about lots of strategies for AB in the past months, and we now need to nail something down. If possible, we'll spend some time at GenCon discussing it further (unlikely). Otherwise, we'll discuss it when we get back.

Please give us a chance to figure something out and present it here. After that, you can line up with torches and pitchforks if you wish. :-)

For those of you who will be at GenCon next week, stop by and say hello. We'll be in booth #2339.

Thanks, Rob
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