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BJ
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Old September 28th, 2019, 03:45 PM
"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"

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Sigil
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Old September 28th, 2019, 07:06 PM
Glad to hear Rob is feeling better. Hoping for the best!!
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talsharien
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Old September 30th, 2019, 03:38 AM
Thanks for the update and explanation as to what has been going on.
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Azgulor
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Old September 30th, 2019, 09:38 AM
Rob, thanks for the update. Glad to hear you’re doing better and thanks for the update, even when some of the news is so difficult. I’ve been lucky enough to work in environments that were like family as you’ve described and losing great people in such environments is extremely difficult. My sympathies go out to all of you, especially those whose positions were lost.

While the RealmWorks news is disappointing, it definitely sounds like Lone Wolf is focused on the appropriate get-well plan. As much as I rely on RealmWorks, it’s far more important that Lone Wolf be viable and profitable so that its customers can continue to benefit from Hero Lab. I certainly am grateful that current RealmWorks capabilities and server access aren’t going anywhere.

Also, while I am a long-time Hero Lab Classic customer, I like what I’m seeing in HLO. More importantly, my two sons vastly prefer HLO, so take whatever anecdotal evidence you like from the younger generation embracing HLO.

I’m eager to see Campaign Theater and utilize it in my games. VTT integration is nice, but it’s not how I play today but I’ve derived a ton of benefit from HLC’s Tactical Console and this sounds even better!

I do have one piece of additional feedback but I’ll separate it from this post. Thanks again for the updates and may you and Lone Wolf see continued good health moving forward.
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Azgulor
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Old September 30th, 2019, 09:39 AM
Rob, so here’s my feedback/ask in light of the updates. With RealmWorks in “fixed” mode and a renewed/more focused approach to Hero Lab, I’d really like to see better Lone Wolf support of Savage Worlds in HLC or HLO (preferred). I am in no way trying to diminish the herculean efforts of the Hero Lab community in creating data sets for Savage Worlds to date. I understand that Pathfinder and Starfinder are the HL bread-n-butter systems and they will remain the primary systems that my family uses. However, Savage Worlds continues to gain ground. Since I prefer Hero Lab & want to support Lone Wolf, I would gladly pay for additional data sets that can incorporate Savage World expansions in a more timely fashion.

If we’re going to see a renewed focus on all things Hero Lab, I’d like to see this better support of Savage Worlds realized. The current method has unfortunately caused me to seek out other character-building software to support my Savage Worlds needs (with mixed results). This is revenue that I would much rather send Lone Wolf’s way, and I’d like to be able to utilize a single-set of tools for my RPG character-building needs. My concern is that lacking that ability, or having to rely on a piecemeal fashion as we have to date, is that over time a shift is going to occur that moves me somewhere else entirely. You guys have been great and I want to remain a loyal customer for the long-haul, but I have to balance practical utility against customer loyalty.

Thank you.
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qcgreywolf
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Old September 30th, 2019, 03:14 PM
Paragraph #4 is how I’ve been reluctantly describing Lone Wolf to friends, family and fellow gamers. “Lone Wolf used to be great at a couple of things, now their just doing a bunch, really poorly”.

I am glad to hear the focus and communication is coming back to my most valuable gaming software company.

Time heals all wounds, “they” say. And if you guys start to focus on making things great over there, one or two projects at a time, I think we’ll all see better things happening.

Thank you for the truthful update. I can handle heavy news, especially if there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
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thaX
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Old October 3rd, 2019, 07:59 PM
I am saddened that employees had to be let go, for any reason, and that projects had to be sidelined for the focus on others. My concern from the beginning is that HLO came out way to soon, that Starfinder (and likely PF2) needed to be on HLC as HLO was tested out and a build finalized for the project.
The offline use is still a concern for many, and having the main default as a running character sheet is not feasible for a majority of players within conventions and game stores. Printing is still an issue, as Starfinder has the HP and SP reversed and there is only the "One" PDF format with no recourse for alternate character sheets to have the information to populate on.
I am sure these issues will be resolved at some point, but I wonder if HLO had started with PF1 Alpha instead of Starfinder, if a lot of development would have been aided by user input that were better versed in the rules and interactions that have been stumbling blocks in the past.
I will eventually buy HLO, for PF2 and Starfinder, so I want it to succeed. To start, there needs some sort of file system for characters to be brought up offline. A reader mode, if you will.

A way to have custom character sheets would also be nice. How about selling the Character Folio for us to print with?
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BJ
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Old October 4th, 2019, 07:30 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azgulor View Post
Rob, so here’s my feedback/ask in light of the updates. With RealmWorks in “fixed” mode and a renewed/more focused approach to Hero Lab, I’d really like to see better Lone Wolf support of Savage Worlds in HLC or HLO (preferred). I am in no way trying to diminish the herculean efforts of the Hero Lab community in creating data sets for Savage Worlds to date. I understand that Pathfinder and Starfinder are the HL bread-n-butter systems and they will remain the primary systems that my family uses. However, Savage Worlds continues to gain ground. Since I prefer Hero Lab & want to support Lone Wolf, I would gladly pay for additional data sets that can incorporate Savage World expansions in a more timely fashion.

If we’re going to see a renewed focus on all things Hero Lab, I’d like to see this better support of Savage Worlds realized. The current method has unfortunately caused me to seek out other character-building software to support my Savage Worlds needs (with mixed results). This is revenue that I would much rather send Lone Wolf’s way, and I’d like to be able to utilize a single-set of tools for my RPG character-building needs. My concern is that lacking that ability, or having to rely on a piecemeal fashion as we have to date, is that over time a shift is going to occur that moves me somewhere else entirely. You guys have been great and I want to remain a loyal customer for the long-haul, but I have to balance practical utility against customer loyalty.

Thank you.

We do have Savage Worlds support planned for down the road, we just have to finish other projects before we can tackle it.
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Azgulor
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Old October 7th, 2019, 10:30 AM
Thanks for the update, BJ. That's great to hear!
Azgulor is offline   #9 Reply With Quote
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