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thaX
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Old March 28th, 2020, 01:30 PM
It has always confused me as to why a character generator (an aid to the Pen and Paper game) would need to organized and be used as an initiative tracker.

It would be nice as a tool in addition to using it to keep track and create characters as HLC had done, but I really wanted to have the character generator finished first before using it in conjunction to the campaign initiative tracker.

To be fair, though, this is a bit more robust than what HLC had, and uses the online connectivity to it's advantage. My use of the App would be of the character generation side, not the campaign theater add on that seems to be the focus now. Having a good, printable character sheet, which has gotten better than the block a lot 14 page monster, is paramount. I am not going to have this at the table. at all. I will be going off the printed page or my own character sheet. The uses that this app does in real time is not useful as I will not be using it in that way, and the Campaign Theater seems to be more and more going in the direction of doing away with the pen and paper completely.

I liked the program (HLC), however I do realize that it had its limitations much like Etools had various limitations that Code Monkey had to deal with right from the beginning after they took it over. I don't know if those limitations were elemenated with the new App (HLO) or if there are new ones that the newer systems haven't needed to overcome yet, but it has gotten better over the last year. I realize that that App is meant to be a living character sheet type of interface, but my look at it is as a means to eventually have a stated out character in hand instead of a tablet or reader.

This is the main reason I have not purchased this program as of yet. I need either an offline way to access characters, or a better printed character sheet that has all the info needed to play the character, specifically in PFS organized play (or SFS). Preferably both.

What I don't really need is the connected initiative tracker, dependant on internet connection that I may not have. (Specially during Conventions like Gen Con)
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rob
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Old March 28th, 2020, 03:58 PM
The Tactical Console in HLClassic was a mainstay for LOTS of GMs. There was even a separate tool named Combat Manager that a user wrote for that sole purpose alone (and included things that our Tactical Console lacked). So I can understand that you may not personally have a need or desire for such a tool, but a large number of GMs actually DO. And a big complaint of the Tactical Console was that it was a tool that ONLY the GM could use.

As for why we launched Campaign Theater before "completing" character management, there are two main reasons. One character management is ever evolving, so it's never going to be "complete". More importantly, though, pieces of character management are inextricable linked to features we're adding for CT. Many of the things we're now doing for characters are built upon mechanisms that are shared with Campaign Theater. Please also keep in mind that CT is only in a fledgling state. There are numerous things we've got in the pipeline that will benefit GMs, individual players, and the gaming group as a whole.

The focus with CT isn't simply as an initiative tracker. Far from it. That's simply a core mechanism that - based on the popularity of the Tactical Console in Classic - we launched first. However, CT enables much more than what we could do with Classic by virtue of its connectedness via the internet. GMs can have one view of what's going on, while the players have another that only shows appropriate details. Changes made by the GM or a player can be immediately seen by everyone else. When a PC takes damage or apply a buff (or whatever else), the GM can see the updated state in real-time - and vice versa. When combat plays out, everyone knows who's up next, the state of everyone else, and everything can progress efficiently. For some gaming groups, they may already run like a well-oiled machine, but that's certainly not true of most gaming groups I've witnessed, so tools that boost that efficiency are a welcome benefit by many groups.

HLO is definitely moving towards being a replacement for pen & paper. That's because an increasing number of gamers want that. They want to tap an icon to roll the dice. They want all the "crunch" to be abstracted away and automatically handled for them. That way, they can focus more on the "role" playing aspects than the "roll" playing aspects of the game. For evidence of this, just look at how successful D&D has become by switching to a much more streamlined set of mechanics.

That said, the internet isn't quite ubiquitous enough to achieve the above goal yet. So we still support traditional character sheet output, exactly as we did within Classic. And there should be a variety of improvements and refinements coming to the character sheets shortly, driven largely by the feedback provided here on these forums and through support requests.

As I've already said in other threads, we weren't in a position where we could simply rewrite the entire product. The HL engine is 250,000 lines of C++ code. It's fast, flexible, and incredibly powerful. So whatever solution we chose required that we find a way to continue using that engine. Users want to be able to access the product from whatever device they choose, whether it be a desktop computer mounted in their game room or a tablet at the local game store or a phone on public transportation. The only way we found to address those two requirements was to develop a browser-based product. And in so doing, we've also made it possible to leverage the connectedness of everyone in the gaming group through a common server.

When it comes to conventions, we had many users reporting that they had solid connections throughout GenCon last year while using HLO. There were also some users who reported problems. So are things perfect yet? Nope. But progress on that front has been rapid, and the internet IS well on its way to becoming ubiquitous. Gamers are more and more reliant upon it, and they are wanting products that leverage what the internet offers. So that's where our primary focus lies, while we also strive to maintain "the old way" (e.g. character sheet output) for users who prefer that approach. We've made some mistakes along the way, but many of those have now been corrected, and HLO is now a pretty solid, reliable product that continues getting better with every new release each week.

The bottom line is that we're striving to give the majority of users what they want. And we're looking to the future with how best to leverage technology to achieve that basic goal. Just as Classic wasn't a fit for everyone, neither will HLO. We can't be everything to everyone - that's a fool's errand. And it's even more critical that we stay focused due to how tiny our team is. I would love to be able to create the perfect product for everyone, but even companies with billions of of dollars to spend can't achieve that goal. So we've chosen our path - support any device and connect users to each other - and we'll find out soon enough whether we've chosen well or poorly.
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Frodie
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Old March 29th, 2020, 05:45 AM
We really haven't used CT for our group. Seems cool, just not what we needed. But that may change now with everyone having to play remotely.

What we "used" to do, is have HLO for character management, (BTW - Thank You! It's great), and everyone around a table and a VTT for the map. We did everything else, the old way. We will get back to that once all this passes.

Anyways, one of the hold up with using CT at the moment, (for us), is the lack of adventure NPC and monsters. I am sure it's planned and it will be cool. I know it's a lot of work, but that might something to look at, seeing everyone is having game remotely now.

Thank you again for all ya'll hard work and time ya'll have put into all this.
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Ualaa
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Old March 29th, 2020, 04:01 PM
There seem to be enough features in CT that if Pathfinder 1e with 3pp support were added to HLO, I'd try it out with a year subscription.

Until then, unfortunately we're not playing PF 2e nor Starfinder.
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Koro76
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Old March 30th, 2020, 02:52 PM
I really like HLO for ease of use for stuff like clicking into spells, effects, rules, items, etc. to check the RAW vs RAI, and CT really helps streamline that. Combined with the character management features, it's great (At the moment, some things take more clicks and view-changing than I like, but I'm sure that's something we'll be seeing a lot of improvement to over time). Depending on how the upcoming TaleSpire beta goes, I might be able to ditch my collection of over 1,000 minis, and all my painting/basing supplies, bundles of mats, and dungeon tiles to go entirely digital, and save my back between moves. Huzzah!

Last edited by Koro76; March 30th, 2020 at 03:00 PM.
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Shadowfoot
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Old March 31st, 2020, 01:20 AM
I've just used CT with my group during our second online play. It made my job a lot easier. Everyone knew whose turn it was, and players could see how badly injured the party was. It will be even easier when the GM content of Age of Ashes is added.

🎲 Pathfinder 2e GM @GolarionToday
Need spawns invention, but imagination gives rise to need. — Logic of Design
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The_Traveller
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Old March 31st, 2020, 02:52 AM
In HLC I would use the TC extensively. I would also be using RW to manage adventures (I play D&D 5e AL). While I didn't have the characters loaded (I used simple placeholders) I did have monsters for each encounter, in some cases I could have 5 different encounters based on party strength. The TC made very easy to move from "Roll for Initiative" to combat.

Since HLO doesn't support my game system and doesn't appear to have an option to customize the ruleset HLO isn't going to replace HLC anytime soon, for me at least.

That said, I might take a look to see how the SR rules look and see what the CT has to offer now.
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thaX
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Old April 3rd, 2020, 06:27 AM
Thank you for the response.

For me, I am mostly playing in PFS organized play, so a lot of the connected players that a Home Game would have is simply not possible with the players coming in and dropping out from session to session. Placeholders could be used, I suppose, for the initiative tracker aspect.

My overall use of both products would be more on the character builder aid side of things. I was hoping that the price points for the licenses would have gone down from those of the program (HLC) for this app (HLO), but I know that a lot of work goes into things on your end and the pricing might have some other factors other than the basic stuff with the Program/App.

Thank you again for the detailed explanation, it makes me feel better that you folks are doing more with the App and I hope that the character sheet printout can be optimized to have the info in about the same area's as the character sheet in the book, or set up in such a way to include all the information needed for Organized play.
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Mathias
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Old April 3rd, 2020, 07:51 AM
thaX, could you please be specific about what is still missing from the printed character sheet to support organized play? I just printed one of my own characters, and I see character number, factions, pathfinder training, fame, and boons. Please add anything else you'd like to see to the Character Sheet Output Improvements threads in the PF2 and SF forums, so that we can get it on our to-do list. Also, in the PF2 printing thread, have you read Rob's comments about character sheets with the information in fixed locations?
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Dragnmoon
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Old April 3rd, 2020, 12:52 PM
Looks like he wants to see the Character sheet to mirror the book character sheet on lay out.
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