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markelphoenix
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Old July 19th, 2020, 03:21 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Farling View Post
LWD are not creating a VTT, they are providing integration so that your character sheet can be used online alongside other VTTs (where the VTT supplier, or their community, have created the relevant links to the LWD web site to access the character sheet).
The campaign screen with the rolling and what not definitely gives off a replacement for VTT roller/state tracking.

I guess for me, I would expect that content was the priority. From my understanding, their bread and butter was Character Generators that promptly updated once new source material was released.

My expectation would be content first. Provide the same value that you made your name on, which was pretty awesome character generators that stayed up to date with material release.

If meeting that expectation, and able to continue to deliver on the core value proposition, then explore/prioritize on VTT integration.

Part that's confusing for me, is if they focused on the first priority, the VTT's could consume a JSON of a character, then when session was done, the VTT could export back out JSON for HLO to consume to update any character growth or new items.
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flyteach
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Old July 19th, 2020, 05:56 PM
I think @markelphoenix is onto something here. For playing around a table, with everyone on HLO and linked to the campaign, then some of the functionality may be useful. However, for a VTT, the dice rolling and encounters are already set up. So, while CT may be useful for in person play, there's a different paradigm for integrating with a VTT (and, quite frankly, I believe quite a bit less work if we stick with the bread and butter character generator/tracker). We don't need/want to recreate encounters, stat blocks, and rolls outside of the VTT when we're online.
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charlieluce
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Old July 19th, 2020, 08:00 PM
My groups have been using MapTool for maps for years, even in face to face games, but we just use it as a substitute for physical maps, not for character sheets or combat control or even the fancier movement/lighting options. If I had an interface that would let me link tokens on the MapTool map to characters running in a Campaign Theater script and display different condition markers when appropriate then that would be pretty much all I needed. I'm not sure how much work that's going to end up being, though.

Currently Running: Pathfinder Second Edition
Currently Playing: D&D 4e,
Pathfinder First Edition
Former Games: D&D 5e, Mutants & Masterminds (2E & 3E), Savage Worlds
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Farling
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Old July 20th, 2020, 12:27 AM
For me, the main benefit of HL was that it would dynamically update all the stats when a character received a buff or debuff. The added benefit to this for HLO is that a group buff can (in the future?) be applied as a single action, rather than having to edit each character individually.

When GMing, I've always run the monsters from within HL, never using whatever map system is being used for live or online play; for the same reasons, that PCs can debuff monsters and all the stats will be updated live.

For me, Integration of HLO with a VTT would allow the HP to be displayed on the character's token (effectively providing a health bar for other players to see the party member's health).

Farling

Author of the Realm Works Import (http://forums.wolflair.com/showthread.php?t=58156) and Output tools (http://forums.wolflair.com/showthread.php?t=59981)

Last edited by Farling; July 20th, 2020 at 12:30 AM.
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Frodie
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Old July 20th, 2020, 05:45 AM
I guess our 2 cents, we use HLO just for character management and vtt (Fantasy Grounds) for everything else. Don't really use CT, so can't really say one way or the other. But we are happy with HLO so far.
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markelphoenix
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Old July 20th, 2020, 05:58 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlieluce View Post
My groups have been using MapTool for maps for years, even in face to face games, but we just use it as a substitute for physical maps, not for character sheets or combat control or even the fancier movement/lighting options. If I had an interface that would let me link tokens on the MapTool map to characters running in a Campaign Theater script and display different condition markers when appropriate then that would be pretty much all I needed. I'm not sure how much work that's going to end up being, though.
Question is how much do you value certain functionality.

Do you prefer source materials being available to create new characters and opponents within a few days or weeks of release, or do you prefer them spending time developing down the VTT route?

For me, it's the large lag time between new source material releases being available for character and NPC generation.

IF they offered ability for people to create custom packs for certain rulesets so that the community could effectively develop for it, I would be happy. I don't know how that plays with licensing, though...I just am tired of waiting for source material to be made available by a delay of many months.
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charlieluce
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Old July 20th, 2020, 06:13 PM
Since I'm running Pathfinder Second, I haven't had a lack of content issue. I realize that I'm lucky that way; way back when I originally got Hero Lab it was for Mutants & Masterminds, and it used to drive me crazy that M&M bugs were not getting fixed while there was a steady release of material and fixes for Pathfinder.

As for the bigger question, I could be wrong but it looks to me that the same functionality that is being developed for VTT integration will also contribute to things like customized character sheets and character export/import, which I think are good things even if I never try my hand at doing a simple MapTool framework.

Currently Running: Pathfinder Second Edition
Currently Playing: D&D 4e,
Pathfinder First Edition
Former Games: D&D 5e, Mutants & Masterminds (2E & 3E), Savage Worlds
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rob
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Old July 20th, 2020, 10:31 PM
@flyteach and others:
After reading your responses, I see the disconnect. My reaction was to the phrasing "Now I see it's put off indefinitely.". The critical words here are "put off". To me, that translated to an intentional choice to "put off" something, when that's not the reality on our end. As outlined in the separate thread I flagged above, the necessary foundational pieces for starships simply have not existed until the current development work is complete. So it wasn't a choice.

The actual completion timeframe of starships IS "indefinite" at this moment in time, since we haven't settled on what's next after GenCon. However, I can categorically state that the delays behind starships have NOT been borne out of having something AGAINST them, which is how I (perhaps wrongly) read the statement that left me confused.

Yes, this is obviously a subject that I'm very sensitive to. I still feel betrayed by the ex-employee that was entrusted with the botched server code. That failure forced us to lay off multiple good people who were blameless. And I've spent almost a year rewriting everything to get us back to where we were supposed to be last August. So there's no end of frustration for me with how this has all unfolded. <sigh>

Now that we're all on the same page, I'll move on to some of the other topics brought up over the past week...
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rob
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Old July 20th, 2020, 10:38 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by NCCraftBeer View Post
Thanks for the update. Please take care of yourself. Is there anyway to either sign up for notification when items like the PF2e Advanced Players Guide are available or pre-order?
We don't currently do pre-orders. It's one of the myriad items in the Book of Infinite Tasks, so we'll get to it at some point.

We strive to release the material for rulebooks on the "street date" set by the publisher for the physical book. As such, the APG will be available on July 29th. Based on where we stand right now, it looks like we'll have a few days of material that won't make it on time, so we'll have 95% of the book complete on the 29th, with the remainder being in place on August 5th.
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rob
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Old July 20th, 2020, 11:41 PM
<spanning multiple posts with extensive snipping>

Quote:
Originally Posted by markelphoenix View Post
As a customer, it appears as if the 'plot has been lost' with focus being on trying to simulate virtual tabletops, when the market is already inundated with virtual tabletop offerings. What the market is not inundated with is character generators for these games.
We are in NO WAY working on another VTT. I agree that there are lots of VTTs out there. The current talk centering on VTTs with HLO is in regards to enabling data to be fed out of HLO and into the existing VTTs.

The work on Campaign Theater is in no way seeking to replace VTTs. The current VTTs do not get down into all the gritty details of character creation, so they gloss over lots of that. This extends to all the nuances of items and abilities that are used during play. However, that's all critical information when running a game. Campaign Theater seeks to give GMs control over all of those aspects, and share that information across the gaming group, with a suitable level of detail for the game system. All of the visual aspects of maps and the like are ignored, as those are the areas where the VTTs focus their efforts. CT focuses on the data that the VTTs largely gloss over.

See below for more details on this...

Quote:
Originally Posted by markelphoenix View Post
If team is currently inundated with source material, shouldn't that take a higher priority over additional tabletop functionality?

As a customer for a character generation tool, my expectation is of rapid offering of released source material that adds options to character creation. Perhaps I have rose colored glasses of the Hero Lab Classic days and am just remembering prompt and verbose delivery on content releases.

My expectation would be content first. Provide the same value that you made your name on, which was pretty awesome character generators that stayed up to date with material release.
Allow me to dispel this misconception straightaway. We have more more data file developers on staff than all other developers COMBINED. So, yes, our focus is absolutely on CONTENT FIRST.

Beyond that, there also seems to be an incorrect assumption that our staff is all interchangeable pieces. Our staff includes both software developers (including myself) and data file developers. They are in no way interchangeable. Think of a football team. Does it make sense to have a quarterback playing middle linebacker? Or an offensive tackle playing quarterback? In case you're not a football fan, it doesn't.

We have people who are experts in browser-based client applications written in JavaScript, C# on the server, C++ for the Hero Lab engine, databases, IT, and a myriad other areas. We also have staff who are experts in writing Hero Lab data files, which uses its own completely unique language that is tailored for modeling RPG mechanics. There are many here on the forums who will affirm that expertise in any one of those is hard won, and an expert in one area will frequently not even be functionally literate in another. So we all work together, each serving our position on the team.

For reference, a big book like the APG requires roughly 600 hours of work in the data files alone to complete. That does NOT include time to augment the engine to support new capabilities that are needed, nor time to add/improve behaviors within the UI for the book, nor server support for those pieces. Add all that together and the total approaches 1000 hours.

That's more than SIX MONTHS of work for ONE BOOK, and it necessitates expertise across a broad range of technical arenas. Now multiply that the by the number of books, and there's a ton of work to be done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markelphoenix View Post
Part that's confusing for me, is if they focused on the first priority, the VTT's could consume a JSON of a character, then when session was done, the VTT could export back out JSON for HLO to consume to update any character growth or new items.
Maybe you've missed it, but we've been spending a significant amount of time working to achieve the first half of that. The data needs to be in a format that can be readily consumed by a VTT (or other tool). It also needs to be done in a manner that remains valid despite years of continual release of new books that revise and expand the rules. And since we need to support multiple, ever-evolving game systems, it must be done in a manner that is entirely data-driven. That's no cakewalk.

The second half is not likely to ever happen. The reason for that is that many of the details the HL requires are simply not maintained by the VTTs. Even if we export them, the VTT throws them away. Since those details don't exist within the VTT, they can't be exported and fed back into HL. This is something we pursued with a couple VTTs years ago, it proved to be a major gotcha.

The reality of that second half of the problem is the motivation behind Campaign Theater. We have all the data, including all the gory details that the VTT doesn't track. So we focus on the material that the VTTs gloss over and present it to the gaming group in a clean manner. We allow it to be controlled by the GM and shared appropriately through the CT interface. Shortly, we'll be exporting all that data so the VTT can retain what it wants and ignore the rest. The net result will be two tools working in unison with one another, each focusing on its own areas of expertise.
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