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rob
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Old February 3rd, 2015, 01:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Dubya View Post
I understand your point, but I respectfully disagree. Saying something like, we hope to release custom calendars in some form in mid 2016 at least puts it on the map. Excuses only get you so far. I'm willing to be patient but I'm going to be sorely disappointed if this feature is ignored indefinitely. This is what the salesperson sold me on, the only reason I spent money on this software. If we're going on two years without the feature that I put money on... Let's just say I'll be walking by the LWD booth a little more quickly in future.
It’s highly unlikely that calendars will be available before the end of this year. It’s much more likely that they will finally be available in the first half of 2016. That’s a complete GUESS, but it’s based on what I know about our current timelines and projections, as well as the survey results. At this point, I can’t do anything better than this guess, and there are lots of things that could occur between now and then that could shift things around some.

As for the person in our booth making calendars the focus during the demo at GenCon, that should NOT have occurred, and I apologize for it. I’ll make sure that we don’t repeat that mistake again. It’s one thing to show a preview of something with disclaimers that it’s not released yet and there are no guarantees when it will actually be finished. It’s something entirely different to portray something as part of the product that’s being purchased when it’s not. My guess is that the person who did the demo was one of the developers who got excited about all the stuff we’ve already got in place, and he failed to emphasize that it’s neither complete nor available yet. That’s a drawback of being a small company with no “sales staff” – just developers and similar staff helping out with booth duty at the Con once a year.

Please look for a private communication about this from Liz tomorrow. She's in charge of this stuff and I'm sure she'll be wanting to talk to you about it tomorrow.
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Old February 3rd, 2015, 02:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Nemesis View Post
Well, LWD sold me a piece of software with a critical functionality, that is expected to be part of every modern piece of software, missing (namely "export") without even mentioning that it wasn't there. So I'm a bit hesitant in trusting them, as I've been burnt once already.
This is entirely your OPINION regarding what functionality is expected by users. As @Farling stated above, the survey results clearly present a very contradictory story. From this end, we have a few loud voices about export being required here on the forums and overwhelming results from the user community at large that state most users don’t want or care about it. If you were in our position, which data would you interpret as the most accurate reflection of what the user base as a whole really thinks about export?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemesis View Post
The problem is, some of the these features were promised a long time ago (see Dubya's posts) and even advertised as selling points for the software.
Looking back at the original Kickstarter promises, there are only three things I spotted that we promised and don’t have in place yet. They are the content market, web-based player access, and calendars. The first two of those are being worked on, and the third was found to be flawed based on the feedback from the Beta team. We announced that discovery relatively soon after the Kickstarter, and we offered all backers full refunds a couple months after that. We had many more backers INCREASE their pledges than asked for refunds – I don’t remember the exact refund count, but I do remember it was no more than five. By the time we released V1.0, what we advertised exactly matched the actual product capabilities. So the only complaints that can be levied about unfulfilled promises at this point are those from Kickstarter backers. And those backers were given the opportunity to get a refund.

The Kickstarter backers who wanted calendars have been incredibly patient and understanding. Based on comments from various backers here in this thread alone, I can only conclude that their patience stems from (a) happiness with the functionality that exists, (b) perceived steady progress on all the features that we don’t have in place yet, and (c) satisfaction with our communication about the issues, problems, and choices we’ve faced along the way.

What I find very surprising is that the people who are most vocal and upset with things are those who purchased Realm Works after V1.0 was released. This includes people such as yourself and @Dark Lord Galen. We took great care to make sure that the website and all marketing information about Realm Works accurately reflected what was available in the product and clearly identified the things that were planned for addition in the future. So I just don’t understand how users with no valid claims to being misled (as far as I’m aware) are up in arms while those who DO have valid claims are patient and supportive. [Note: The situation with @Dubya is a separate matter from anyone who purchased the product based on how we portrayed the product on our website and elsewhere online.]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemesis View Post
But then the results of the survey are not used as a strict development plan but are just a guideline and the wording in the update at least sounds a bit like the features people voted on might be moved up and down if it's covenient to do so. Then why do a survey at all, if the results are just a general guideline and you reserve the right to change the position of features on the list? It just feels off (and I know other people have commented on this as well already).
As I outlined earlier in this salvo of posts, there’s a huge difference between being beholden to the results, using the results as a guide, and ignoring the results altogether. Beholden to the results would mean that we HAVE to work on the #1 feature. It doesn’t matter if #2 is only a few hundredths of a point behind it. It also doesn’t matter is if the #1 feature will take us 10 times as long and requires the full attention of developers who are already focused on other tasks, resulting in no chance of getting the feature implemented for a long time. Using the results as a guide means looking at the top few results (in our case, the top three) and identifying which ones of those can be (a) implemented most easily and (b) completed by developers that aren't already committed to other tasks. And ignoring the results is just plain stupid, since it undermines the success of the product, so that’s not even an option to discuss.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemesis View Post
The fact that journals came off on top of the most-wanted list just seems a bit too convenient. LWD is a business and they have to make money, so the features that are most beneficial to LWD as a company are those that either expand the user basis or will get more people to spend money on the software. Neither calenders nor export (or a lot of the other features) do that, but journals do.
Is it possible you’ve been watching a few too many conspiracy themed movies lately? Of the top three requested features, two require extensive backend development work and one requires very little. In the pursuit of getting the content market and web-based access up and running, we have LOTS of backend work that needs to be completed. So the developers who know the backend stuff have to stay focused on those tasks. That leaves the one new feature that doesn’t entail lots of backend work as the best choice for us to work on right now. That task happens to be journals, since we already did 98% of the backend work a long time ago and merely need to get the UI work done now.

For the record, the #1 requested feature was Individual Player Reveal*. Features #2 and #3 were separated by 0.01 points, which is statistically irrelevant, meaning they were tied for second. One of those two was journals.

*This is the reason we announced in the update that we’d almost certainly be focusing on Individual Player Reveal next.
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Old February 3rd, 2015, 02:01 AM
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Originally Posted by enrious View Post
I also admit that I haven't really looked at any marketing material and so was completely unaware that Realm Works has been listing Exporting and/or Printing materials as a built in feature - where did I miss that?
They aren’t advertised as part of the product in any way, so you didn’t miss anything. They weren’t part of the original plan, even going all the way back to the Kickstarter two years ago, since the focus of Realm Works has always been electronic delivery. During the Kickstarter, those two features were requested and we put them on the list with everything else to be addressed at some point in the future.
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Chemlak
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Old February 3rd, 2015, 03:38 AM
Firstly, thanks, Rob, for the information and feedback on the feedback. It's very enlightening.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rob View Post
The Kickstarter backers who wanted calendars have been incredibly patient and understanding. Based on comments from various backers here in this thread alone, I can only conclude that their patience stems from (a) happiness with the functionality that exists, (b) perceived steady progress on all the features that we don’t have in place yet, and (c) satisfaction with our communication about the issues, problems, and choices we’ve faced along the way.
I just wanted to address this from my own perspective (it would appear that I'm one of these patient and understanding Kickstarter backers). (a) is not quite what I would represent it as. (What, Chem is saying something even vaguely negative about RW and LWD? Inconceivable!) I am happy with the general level of functionality that RW provides. I am not happy that calendars are currently on the back-burner. Nor am I angry about it. It's just "a thing".

Yesterday I was engaged in a very interesting discussion with a fellow RW user who simply asked me "why are calendars so important?" (I then got a very detailed précis on current calendar functionality from a developer, but that's another story.) The short version of my answer was that I have 25 years of campaign records (I GM in a persistent-world version of the Forgotten Realms with crossover to 21st Century Earth) and I want to get my dates to match up between the game-world calendar and the Gregorian calendar.

The counterpoint was that surely that's just for me, do my players actually care? And the only answer I could come up with was "not really". Calendars are for me, as the GM. So that I can track events, seasons, time passing, everything like that (including things like putting festivals into my game at the right time of year, to make the game world more real). My players want journals. So I want journals.

And that, ultimately, is what's keeping me happy: features that I want (and it's pretty fair to say that I want ALL the features) are on the schedule. That's enough for me.

Of course I want calendars to be finished as soon as possible. That's not going to change. (In fact, after learning how complex and flexible they can be, I probably want them even more than I did before.) But, as I said in the calendar request thread, if calendars didn't top the survey (which we now know they didn't), we have no-one to blame but ourselves. For failing to convince everyone how important they are to those of us who want them. I can't blame LWD for that. I won't. Rob and the team have been forthright, and far more transparent than most companies would be about what's going on. I respect that, a lot. And so I continue to offer my support, even when they aren't able to do what I want.

Chief Calendar Champion Chemlak

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Viking2054
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Old February 3rd, 2015, 08:34 AM
I hope that LWD is taking into account the word of mouth factors the GM/DM that is creating content for their group is going to have on the adoption of Realm Works. A GM being happy with the product is probably worth 4 or 5 player editions since it won't mean anything to players if their GM's aren't happy and actually using the product.

As one of three GM's in my group, and the only one that has actually purchased the product, I've advised my group to not purchase and take a wait and see attitude. There are a few key features I want before I'm going to recommend my players consider purchasing the player edition and I don't think either of the two regular GM's, besides myself, are even looking that hard at the software. We've been doing things old school for so long that the software isn't mandatory even if, once it's finished, it would make our lives easier.

I can understand journals and individual player reveals beating out other things. So, I can wait a while for calendars.

But you've also got to understand that a lot of GM's pour out a lot of their soul into their worlds and that can include creating custom calendars with recurring events for their worlds. Players may not care, unless they've actually seen a custom calendar that a GM handcrafted and then filled out with notes as to what the players were doing. I've had players read through a calendar for one of my campaigns like that and chuckle while recounting what their character was doing in the game and starting an evening long discussion over dinner about what fun we've had.

I can understand LWD putting printing/exporting on the back burner also. But I don't understand your statement about printing at least not being an integral part of the software. I can't think of a single piece of software other then Realm Works that deals with large amounts of text that doesn't have a print function. Printing to me seems like such a basic functionality that it should be sitting there ready to go as part of your development software package. Now maybe formatting of the printed data might be lacking to the point of total suckage, but if the basic printing feature isn't there then I just don't understand why you would consider using that software development package/suite.

I'm not upset with LWD's decision, I just don't understand all of your justifications. Some of them seem weak to me.

Anyway, for me and my group at least for the foreseeable future I will dabble and they will wait for my wholehearted recommendation before considering making a purchase. Unfortunately, that means I won't be subscribing for cloud storage until I'm satisfied with the software. Once I'm happy, then I pay for more then the 6 month subscription that came with the initial purchase especially since I'm not going to be using it anyway.
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liz
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Old February 3rd, 2015, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Viking2054 View Post
I can understand LWD putting printing/exporting on the back burner also. But I don't understand your statement about printing at least not being an integral part of the software. I can't think of a single piece of software other then Realm Works that deals with large amounts of text that doesn't have a print function. Printing to me seems like such a basic functionality that it should be sitting there ready to go as part of your development software package. Now maybe formatting of the printed data might be lacking to the point of total suckage, but if the basic printing feature isn't there then I just don't understand why you would consider using that software development package/suite.
I can shed a little light on this. The vision for Realm Works from the very beginning was digital delivery of content to players - through the player view in game, the player edition in between sessions, and eventually the web-based player access.

Prior to launching the Kickstarter, our beta team of over 100 users spent over a year using Realm Works, and printing was not raised as a concern or priority by those users. However, it was mentioned during the Kickstarter, which is how it was added to our to-do list. However, it was secondary to getting our original digital delivery methods in place.

That should give you a good amount of context.
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Old February 3rd, 2015, 10:14 AM
Firstly, I want to thank rob and the Lone Wolf team for all the hard work they have put in on this product. I'm one of the lucky ones that it turns out the feature I think is most needed was at the top of the list. I use journals for a variety of things in my current game, and the fact that my campaign has run for 26 years it is nearly essential in recording all the things that happen to the PCs/NPCs during each session (and even some behind the scenes things). Much like LW, I also work in the software industry in a small company (10 developers, but only 3 .NET developers, of which I am one), and frankly, the amount of work they have accomplished to this point is phenomenal! Still, it is essential to keep in mind that everything can't be done overnight with a small company like LW, priorities have to be set, and some clients won't be happy. That's just how the business works.

That said, I can't see Journals being that much use without Calendars following in short order. The reason I say this is because of the dates needed in Journals, having to convert Gregorian to some Custom Calendar date is going to be difficult at best. The interface just isn't friendly enough to make this an easy task. The result is, any Journal entries in large quantities are going to be painful to re-date. Just can't see how these two aren't inter-dependent upon the other.

Now I do know that the functionality is in place to finish Calendars. I was on board early enough that I was able to create a few of my world's calendars before that functionality was restricted. Mine still exist, though I can only choose one to be my live Calendar. This means I will not have any problems when the Journals arrive, but that doesn't mean there isn't an issue with Journals without Calendars functionality. Personally, if I hadn't been on in the early days and been able to get my Calendars into the system, I probably would have ranked Calendars #1 rather than Journals. And that may be true with a few of the very early RW testers, which unfortunately, may have skewed the Calendars ranking in the survey. I know that is why I didn't rank then as high as everyone else.

Anyways, just my two pennies worth.

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AEIOU
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Old February 3rd, 2015, 11:10 AM
Various comments on various items.... There are no right answers and LWD is being forced to make some very hard decisions. We're not helping but in the end I'm hoping it's cathartic for all involved.

I loved Rob's positive outlook on patience. I'd add options like grudgingly complacent or not satisfied but living with it.

Viking2054 hit the nail on the head. Player sales are 100% reliant upon GM buy-in and support. I know. I've steered people both directions based on their needs.

Rob's reveal that calendars are realistically a year out does help pull things into perspective. I really appreciate knowing how impacted the dev team is and what realistic timeframes are as it helps me to manage my expectations. If the #2 survey item is a year out, then some things simply aren't going to happen.

The closer you are to the source, the more constricted the view. There are trees in the forest. These forums are those trees....

I've participated in numerous alpha's, beta's and user-focus-groups for projects big and small and have talked with a lot of devs/teams. The earlier you get into those groups, the closer you are to core or pure vision aspects of the project. You know what it's supposed to be so you are blind to what others may need it to be. And you take things personally. And you lose the ability to dream.

Your experiences may not mirror mine. Objects in the mirror may be closer than perceived. Caveat emptor. Etc.... I am but a data point in the continuum.
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Indus101
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Old February 3rd, 2015, 12:23 PM
Rob, thanks for taking the time to answer the concerns here, including my own about calendars working with whatever journal system you implement next. Great to know that they've already been tested and work fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kendall-DM View Post

That said, I can't see Journals being that much use without Calendars following in short order. The reason I say this is because of the dates needed in Journals, having to convert Gregorian to some Custom Calendar date is going to be difficult at best. The interface just isn't friendly enough to make this an easy task. The result is, any Journal entries in large quantities are going to be painful to re-date. Just can't see how these two aren't inter-dependent upon the other.

<snip>

Personally, if I hadn't been on in the early days and been able to get my Calendars into the system, I probably would have ranked Calendars #1 rather than Journals.....
I think this is what I was trying to express in my earlier post when I said my concern maybe journals should have sprung out from calendars, instead of the other way around. I've read a lot of posts in this thread citing custom-created worlds from pre-existing (purchasable) ones, but I don't see how that has any bearing on the calendar / journal conversation. Don't most campaign settings, whether Golarion, Dark Sun, Forgotten Realms, Star Wars, and the list goes on...., have their own custom calendar? Even, in some cases like Golarion, if they mirror the Gregorian calendar, don't they still have their own custom names?

So when the content market goes live and we buy a Golarion adventure path, will things that happen on specific calendar dates be pre-converted by LWD staff (or whoever the publisher of the content is) into Gregorian names? And then do they convert back to the correct names when the calendar system is finished? And what of worlds that don't align with the Gregorian calendar? I have no idea if Forgotten Realms / WotC will be publishing on the content market, but how will the Calendar of Harptos integrate with the Realm Works Gregorian calendar in the meantime?

I can guess that the short answer is probably, that will all just make do until calendars can be gotten around to. And that's fine. For the most part, it is just a topical / naming thing that can be worked around. It just seems that when it comes to selling / purchasing fantasy worlds, the cart is leading the mule on this one. These popular fantasy worlds (minus ones that perfectly mirror the Gregorian calendar) are going to have to be modified until calendars are implemented, and that's something to be considered.

Finally - please everyone keep this civil. Rob, Liz, and LWD are building an incredible product that keeps getting better and better. Chill out and take the long view. Please.
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Kendall-DM
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Old February 3rd, 2015, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Indus101 View Post
I think this is what I was trying to express in my earlier post when I said my concern maybe journals should have sprung out from calendars, instead of the other way around. I've read a lot of posts in this thread citing custom-created worlds from pre-existing (purchasable) ones, but I don't see how that has any bearing on the calendar / journal conversation. Don't most campaign settings, whether Golarion, Dark Sun, Forgotten Realms, Star Wars, and the list goes on...., have their own custom calendar? Even, in some cases like Golarion, if they mirror the Gregorian calendar, don't they still have their own custom names?

So when the content market goes live and we buy a Golarion adventure path, will things that happen on specific calendar dates be pre-converted by LWD...
Ok, crap, I just remembered that the Calendars can be lined up so that the dates do match. It's entirely possible once you get two Calendars in alignment to convert one to the other. Earlier in the Beta I had removed by Gregorian Calendar (and thus, crashed my RW at that time), but there is a system in place were you can match a date from one calendar with a date from another calendar and it will be able to percolate that change for all dates from one calendar to the next (through all the years, centruries, epochs, etc. as long as you have them set up). So there is more than likely a conversion that is done by mapping a date from one calendar to the next. At least that was the case in the early Beta, but that may of changed since then. If it is even remotely the same, the conversion will be cake.

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