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Winterfyre
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 14

Old September 3rd, 2018, 10:15 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob View Post
3. There has been some fear that we would hike the hosting service rates in the future once users are “hooked”. While we understand that fear, we have absolutely nothing to gain by doing something like that. In fact, we would have everything to lose. All of our products have succeeded thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations from gamers. If we don’t put out a product that gamers endorse, we’re going to fail. And I can’t think of a better way to turn gamers against us than to begin extorting them. With HLOnline, we have to keep the servers running and managed, so we need to charge a nominal fee to cover those costs. But there’s no intelligent business case for us to jack up the price for hosting.

5. The very existence of the hosting fee has been challenged by a few users, since the content is already being purchased. The reality is that, if a user purchases HLOnline today, the expectation will be that the service can be used years down the road – without any further purchases. We have to keep the servers running and properly managed, and that incurs an ongoing cost on our part. We need to pass that on to users in some form. So we’ve split out the hosting service separately from everything else. The hosting fee is independent of how much content a user has acquired. It’s the same amount for everyone, whether a user has purchased a single item or everything we’ve released, since it’s solely a reflection of using the servers.

7. Another recurring concern is the lack of internet access that some users experience. Without getting into a debate over how many users fall into that category today, let’s focus on the future. The new HLOnline product is intended to take us many years down the line. Every year, internet access becomes increasingly more accessible and less expensive for everyone. At some point, not too far out, it will be nigh ubiquitous. We have built HLOnline on the premise that those without internet access today will have it in the relatively near future – lonely cabins in the woods, notwithstanding – and that the meager bandwidth requirements of HLOnline today will be perfectly reasonable for the vast majority of prospective users.

8. On the subject of internet access, another claim that’s been leveled is that internet access at conventions is a huge problem, with GenCon being a primary example from past years. At GenCon last week, we ran our entire Character Creation Station (8 computers) on a single mobile hotspot from within the Sagamore Ballroom (Paizo’s Organized Play hall). Our performance was excellent, and other users reported the same experience on our forums, including users who reported using the WiFi service offered by GenCon. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that every convention has excellent connectivity today, but it definitely serves as a concrete example that internet access at conventions is steadily becoming more accessible, just like everywhere else.

9. A few are worried that we could pull the plug on the product at any time and leave everyone “screwed”. While it’s theoretically possible that we could go out of business, the reality is that the company has been in business almost 25 years (founded in 1994). We’ve been creating digital tools for tabletop games for 20 years, starting with Army Builder back in 1998. Hero Lab itself has been going strong for more than a decade. So the likelihood of HLOnline just disappearing is extremely slim.

13. Various comments have centered on what happens when a user stops paying for the hosting service, with claims going so far as saying that everything is automatically deleted. I can understand how that would cause fear, but it’s far from true. Another claim is that we’ll hold your material “for ransom” and deny all access to it. That’s also absolutely not true. The reality is that, when a user’s hosting service is suspended, that user can continue to access all his/her characters normally, albeit in “demo mode”. That means the character is fully viewable, printable, and will even be exportable once that capability is fully integrated for all users. The key restriction is that a character can’t be further edited if it’s beyond a “starting” character (e.g. 1st level).
3 - If your cost goes up, our cost goes up. You can not tell us they will never go up. Under HLC content is a fixed cost and I don;t have to worry about an increase, by your choice or your service providers choice, ever.

5 - Content that can be used for years down the road, if we keep paying the subscription fee.

7 - I should also point out that every year the COST of internet access goes up.

8 - Sure, use one of the biggest gaming convention in the world as your baseline "if it works here it should work everywhere" argument.

9 - What if the server farm you are using to host HLO goes under, do you have a local backup of everyones data? How long would i take to relocate to a different provider?

13 - "when a user’s hosting service is suspended, that user can continue to access all his/her characters normally, albeit in “demo mode”. That means the character is fully viewable, printable, and will even be exportable once that capability is fully integrated for all users. The key restriction is that a character can’t be further edited if it’s beyond a “starting” character (e.g. 1st level)."

In other words, all of the data packages, character progression and everything we've paid for is held for ransom until we resume of payment?

I have a better idea, since your main justification for internet is to allow players to use advanced features, which last I've heard weren't working yet, and connectivity during gaming sessions, make THAT the part of HLO the subscription is required for. Make the character creation, updating and leveling that we buy data packages for free.
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Toblakai
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Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 412

Old September 3rd, 2018, 12:08 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Winterfyre View Post
3 - If your cost goes up, our cost goes up. You can not tell us they will never go up. Under HLC content is a fixed cost and I don;t have to worry about an increase, by your choice or your service providers choice, ever.

5 - Content that can be used for years down the road, if we keep paying the subscription fee.

7 - I should also point out that every year the COST of internet access goes up.

8 - Sure, use one of the biggest gaming convention in the world as your baseline "if it works here it should work everywhere" argument.

9 - What if the server farm you are using to host HLO goes under, do you have a local backup of everyones data? How long would i take to relocate to a different provider?

13 - "when a user’s hosting service is suspended, that user can continue to access all his/her characters normally, albeit in “demo mode”. That means the character is fully viewable, printable, and will even be exportable once that capability is fully integrated for all users. The key restriction is that a character can’t be further edited if it’s beyond a “starting” character (e.g. 1st level)."

In other words, all of the data packages, character progression and everything we've paid for is held for ransom until we resume of payment?

I have a better idea, since your main justification for internet is to allow players to use advanced features, which last I've heard weren't working yet, and connectivity during gaming sessions, make THAT the part of HLO the subscription is required for. Make the character creation, updating and leveling that we buy data packages for free.
You sound very bitter. LWD has made their decision, it is unlikely to change. Just move on.
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darkops
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Join Date: Mar 2017
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Old September 4th, 2018, 08:52 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by darkops View Post
10. Let me be the first to say that 95% of what I want from HLC is a PC generator/character sheet for use in live play (spells, conditions, etc. included). If GM aids like campaign encounters can be added then that will be welcomed too. But if all you can achieve is a port that gives me the same reliable, stable, quick, and efficient PC generator then I accept that ANY other features (shared space ships, GM trackers for parties, etc.) can only be offered online! Perfect. That is the dual platform support that I want. Strip those 'bells and whistles' that I won't ever use and give me the HLC features for those new RPG rulesets. We understand that you have a small company and have put focus on HLO. I also recognize that you have not definitively stated that HLC is dead or will never have support. But you need to recognize that if the generation of new content (new rulesets, not adaption of existing content into pre-existing rule sets) is solely focused on a different platform, then you have somewhat abandoned the old platform. As HLC waits in limbo for you to decide if we are worth getting the new RPG rulesets it will still 'feel' like you have abandoned HLC. Perhaps even just increasing company communication can help. I only found out that the 2e playtest was on HLO by reading strange 2e posts in the forums. I didn't realize you were even supporting 2e until after you had thrown something out there. Again, it makes HLC feel somewhat abandoned.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob View Post
While this may sound like a simple request, it’s far from it in practice. It all boils down to the opportunity cost of tasking staff members to focus on HLClassic instead of HLOnline. As a small company, we simply don’t have enough staff to afford the luxury of dedicating staff for many months to bring each game system to the HLClassic platform – at least, not right now. Once we get HLOnline into a more mature state, we can re-assess the option of investing many months of effort into bringing games from HLOnline to HLClassic. For now, we need to focus those particular resources on the new product and continuing to support all the existing games on HLClassic – for which books continue to be published.

It’s absolutely not a question of deciding if you are “worth” getting the new game systems on HLClassic. It’s the harsh reality of severely limited resources, balancing our priorities, and practicality.

Increasing company communication is definitely an option – this was echoed above by Tim and Josh.
A prime example of HLC looking abandoned can be seen in this thread. My last post in that thread read as follows:

Quote:
Originally Posted by darkops View Post
So I think we are diverging from the point of the thread without getting the answer to the thread's question. The timeline is as follows:

June 2018 - Planar Adventure released
July 12 - Question asked by user when data package will be released.
July 20 - Staff states that the package is late and will be released after GenCon
Aug 2-5 - GenCon
Aug 12 - Question asked by user when data package will be released.
Aug 22 - No response as of yet.

So can we get a TCD for HLC?
It is now 2018-SEP-04 and we still don't have any communication from the team as to when the late data package will be available. In the past you guys were prompt with delivery of these products, not usually 3+ months late. This is the kind of end of product life abandonment evidence that many HLC users are pointing out to you guys. This is an example of simply maintaining your current product suite, not adding new systems from HLO to HLC as suggested above.

If you allow me to make one cynical 'comment' then it would be this:

"At this rate the PFS Additional Resources update (usually a delay of 1-2 quarters) for these products will be pushed out faster than you guys"

We all know that your staff are being utilized on HLO. But actions speak louder than words and right now your actions are pointing towards a huge absence of support for HLC. The optics of your decisions do not align with the statements of intention from staff and I think you guys need to find away to lessen the gap.
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Asandir
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Location: Virginia, USA
Posts: 328

Old September 4th, 2018, 09:59 AM
With regard to the PF1 updates,see BJ's response here:

http://forums.wolflair.com/showthread.php?t=61110

Minutus cantorum, minutus balorum, minutus carborata descendum pantorum.
Asandir is offline   #84 Reply With Quote
Fuzzy
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 409

Old September 4th, 2018, 10:08 AM
Guess it's a good thing they didn't sell a 2018 bundle.
Fuzzy is offline   #85 Reply With Quote
BJ
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Old September 4th, 2018, 04:09 PM
We will start catching up on our HLC data file releases this month! We have no intention of abandoning classic, and HLO isn't entirely to blame either, we're simply short on freelance data file authors.

I intend to post a call for new contractors soon. Hopefully, that will also aid in keeping us on track.
BJ is offline   #86 Reply With Quote
rob
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Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 8,005

Old September 10th, 2018, 07:04 PM
Instead individually replying to many different posts that in some cases are related, I'm going to consolidate things and answer a variety of questions in one post...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duggan View Post
And, since you were discussing personnel changes, is Colen entirely out of the game, replaced by DaveM? That's the impression I'd gotten, but I didn't want to jump to conclusions.
Over the past year...

On the Dev side, Colen has departed, as has Ian. On the CS side, DaveN is also no longer here.

On the Dev side, we have added DaveM, RyanD, Josh, and Gabe. On the CS side, we have added Rone and RyanF.

That's a healthy bit of growth for a tiny company like Lone Wolf, if you ask me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuzzy View Post
I would have been extremely happy if Hero Lab could work as the 'server' for a web based UI. This is not something I feel the need to pay to have 'hosted' elsewhere, if I could do it myself. Long ago there was discussion of an API to have other programs access the Hero Lab back-end - this would have been the quickest path to an Android client. Throwing out everything and starting from scratch, while completely changing the business model - just makes no sense.
To confirm what a few others have already opined, the vast majority of our users either lack the necessary technical skills or would simply prefer to pay a couple bucks a month to have someone else do all the work and provide a solution that allows them to "just play" and use whatever device they want. That's basically the same reason why the vast majority of our users buy the data packages from us for games like Pathfinder and Shadowrun. They could write those files themselves or they can spend a nominal amount of money to have someone else do all the work and keep them maintained.

From a business standpoint, our goal is to make our products as desirable as possible to as broad a spectrum of potential users as possible. We believe the path we're chosen is the best way to achieve that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EightBitz View Post
It absolutely will be easier [to go from HLC to HLO than the reverse]. HLO is being built with all the features and functionality of HLC, plus more. Moving content from HLO to HLC will require either building that extra functionality into HLC or downgrading the HLC dataset to make the square peg fit in the round hole.

Going from HLC to HLO will be like moving all your stuff into a larger house/apartment. You won't have to get rid of any of your stuff, because it'll all still fit.

Going from HLO to HLC will be like moving all your stuff from a larger house/apartment into a smaller one. You'll have to get rid of things that won't fit, and maybe buy a smaller bed.
Thank you for this summary! It's a PERFECT analogy!

Quote:
Originally Posted by thaX View Post
Is it too much to ask for a viewer for offline use? Even one that just shows the basic character would be enough. This would, of course, involve actually being able to save the character on one's own computer and using the save file to view that character.
A solution like this is on our "short list". However, it won't be a separate viewer. It will instead be the ability to "take a snapshot" of your character within the HLO product, which will pull all the necessary bits down from the server. That snapshot will then be able to be navigated and viewed without an internet connection. I believe I described this in a bit more detail in an earlier post in this thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mergon View Post
I find HLO very good for designing characters for creating PF2 characters. But I play and DM a lot of my games from my laptop with no internet connectivity. This makes it unuseful in those situations.
I also hope they add a Save to .pdf feature. I tebd to use Firefox, and printing character sheets using 2 browsers is a pain.
As a fellow Firefox user, I feel your pain. Personally, I wish Firefox would fix the glaring problems in their printing support that have been there for quite a long time, but it seems their priorities are focused on other things.

To my knowledge, the gotcha with this request is that "saving" to a PDF is essentially the same as "printing" to a PDF. Generating a PDF typically means creating something "for print" that is simply saved as a PDF instead of going to a physical printer.

The only "solution" that I can see here - and I use that term loosely - would be to generate a humongous page that contains the entire contents of the character and all descriptions. Then it would be possible for users to have the browser save the complete page as HTML, which would allow it to be subsequently loaded and viewed in a static manner. That seems incredibly ugly to me, which is why we are planning to support the "snapshot" approach described above to enable offline viewing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by darkops View Post
It is now 2018-SEP-04 and we still don't have any communication from the team as to when the late data package will be available. In the past you guys were prompt with delivery of these products, not usually 3+ months late.

We all know that your staff are being utilized on HLO. But actions speak louder than words and right now your actions are pointing towards a huge absence of support for HLC. The optics of your decisions do not align with the statements of intention from staff and I think you guys need to find away to lessen the gap.
For the months of June, July, and partially August, the vast majority of our resources were focused on getting the PF2 Playtest into place for HLO in time for GenCon. We only had about two months to get everything into place for the PF2 Playtest. For the past few weeks now, that focus has been shifting back so we can get caught up on all the PF1, Shadowrun, and other stuff that was put on hold out of necessity to have something decent at GenCon.

There is an HLC desktop update due out very soon that includes some improvements/refinements that I think will be well-received. There is also an HLC iPad update due out not long after that with its own set of improvements/refinements. On the data file side, we've been putting stuff into place for multiple books that will start being released in the weeks ahead.

So you'll start seeing concrete evidence in the very near future that we're now actively working to get caught up on things that languished while we focused on getting the PF2 Playtest into place for GenCon.

Thanks!!!
rob is offline   #87 Reply With Quote
Parody
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Old September 10th, 2018, 09:41 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob View Post
To my knowledge, the gotcha with this request is that "saving" to a PDF is essentially the same as "printing" to a PDF. Generating a PDF typically means creating something "for print" that is simply saved as a PDF instead of going to a physical printer.
What they're suggesting here is for HLO to generate a PDF itself, rather than going through the browser's print system. Thus it would include everything HLO wants, formatted exactly the way HLO specifies, independent of the browser, OS, etc.

My guess is that you'd do this on the server, but I'm not an experienced web app developer.


Last edited by Parody; September 10th, 2018 at 09:52 PM.
Parody is offline   #88 Reply With Quote
dacoobob
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Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 103

Old September 14th, 2018, 12:41 PM
Rob, thank you very much for posting this and for your replies throughout the thread. As a longtime HLC user I've been pretty skeptical of HLO so far, but this post has allayed my worries enough that I finally pulled the trigger on buying a HLO account for my Starfinder characters.

And I'm loving using it so far! Being able to pull up my character on my phone as well as my tablet and laptop is wonderfully freeing, and the interface is snappy and attractive. There's still a few bugs and missing features, but I appreciate that LW understands and isn't charging for the server fee yet while those things are being worked on.

Thanks again for your candor, and for the hard work of everybody at LW.
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Parallax
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Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 1

Old September 29th, 2018, 10:36 AM
I am supremely disappointed in the direction your company decided to take with going online only with Starfinder and PF2. Seeing as the many hundred of dollars i have sunk into your system i feel discouraged and let down by essentially being told we aren't worth your time to continue pushing forward with the current offline capable system.

Considering how many players i have showed, then they themselves purchased your product. It sucks that we now see your over all plan after spending the money thus far. considering everyone i play with is serving on a ship or overseas where your so called internet capabilities are expanding so wonderfully.
You have effectively alienated a entire base of your following. There is no internet that isn't restricted to hell in most of these locations, if any at all. which means there is no purpose for myself, or to try and get others to further support or purchase your product, congratulations.

As for the excuse that those who wish may program it ourselves, If i had the time to program to that extent i wouldn't have spent hundreds of dollars supporting your company.

truly cannot express my disappointment in your decisions.
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