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rob
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Old November 23rd, 2013, 04:46 PM
Realm Works is now in the hands of all our Kickstarter backers, but the big question that many of you are wondering is what's left before the product is complete and ready for the official V1.0 launch. There are a lot of factors involved, so this update provides an outline of the remaining items we'll be focusing on over the upcoming weeks.

Getting Required Features Into Place

Before we'll release Realm Works, it needs to be what we consider "feature complete". In other words, all the features need to be in place and working sufficiently to enable full use of the product. We have a LONG list of features that we plan to add AFTER the V1.0 launch, so it's not a matter of adding tons more features. In fact, Realm Works is nearly "feature complete" at this point. There's only one major feature left to be added for V1.0, plus an assortment of small things that won't take long to incorporate.

So What's the Big Missing Item?

The one big feature that's still missing is full server syncing. This is a fundamental component of Realm Works and the product would have a huge gaping hole without this piece being in place. What is it? It's the cloud server that will allow users to create, manage, and tailor their realms. It's also the cornerstone for enabling GMs to share content with their players, which is one of the core purposes of Realm Works. So we absolutely need this piece to launch V1.0.

Note: Web-based player access is not going to be live for V1.0, but it's being actively worked on and will be rolled out incrementally. We'll be starting with a core subset of features when it first goes live, and then additional pieces will be added as they become solid and ready for release. In the interim, GMs will still be able to share information with players through Player View during the game. In addition, players should be able to sync down revealed content to their own copy of Realm Works.

Product Quality

In addition to making sure all the core functionality is in place, we're also working hard to ensure the product works smoothly. As most of our current users will attest, Realm Works does a lot of things really well. However, it also has an assortment of bugs that we're fixing as fast as we possibly can, and there are even a handful of users who have not been able to get into the product at all. Before we'll declare things ready for a V1.0 launch, these bugs need to be fixed.

The vast majority of bugs are things we can identify and fix pretty quickly. It's the handful of other bugs that are the real issue. We have a few users encountering errors that are simply mystifying to us. We've already spent many days investigating these bugs and will likely spend many more days working to understand exactly what's going on so we can fix things. At this point, we have no idea how long it will take us to solve these bizarre errors, especially since we're unable to reproduce the problems on our end.

Refining Usability

A large chunk of the remaining work (primarily syncing) must be implemented on the server. Once all the pieces are in place on the client and the bugs are well in hand, we'll spend whatever remaining time we have continuing to refine the overall interface. Over the past six months, the interface has been massively overhauled and transformed into a smooth experience for users. However, there are still many refinements we can make. None of these are required for V1.0, so these refinements won't hold up the V1.0 release. The client interface team will simply work on them while the server logic is being tested and made bulletproof by the server team.

Documentation

We currently have the meat of the product documentation written, but it still needs a fair chunk of work before it's ready for a V1.0 launch. We're going through everything now and will be reworking the overall organization and presentation in various ways. I don't expect the documentation to take more than a couple weeks at this point, so it won't impact the release timeframe at all.

Tutorial Videos and Data

Over the past couple of weeks, we've managed to complete about 75% of the tutorial videos that we originally planned. Many of these videos have been released to the Kickstarter backers already, and the rest will be made available as soon as they are ready. The tutorial data we provide is being created at the same time that we're putting together the tutorial videos, which means that material will be wrapped up along with the videos. At this point, finishing up the remaining few videos will be wrapped up in a matter of days, so this piece of the V1.0 release is essentially complete.

Company Website

A major project we've been working on in parallel with Realm Works itself is a complete reboot of our company website. It's been completely redone – from top to bottom. At one point, we were worried whether we'd have it done in time for the big V1.0 launch, but that's no longer a concern. The new website should be launching this coming week, so it won't impact the V1.0 launch at all. Oh, and just for those of you who are wondering, none of the Realm Works development team has spent time working on the new website – the new site was put together by an entirely separate team.

Online Sales Portal

This one probably seems a bit odd to many of you, but it's the final key piece that we have to put into place for launching V1.0. We need to have the means to actually sell the product. Our current online sales portal that we use for our existing products is horribly out-dated and has been in desperate need of replacement for awhile. It's also not able to support some of the capabilities we need for Realm Works. So we have to create a new sales portal.

The sales portal was supposed to have been written awhile ago. However, the team member slated for that task has instead been focusing on Realm Works development for the past many months, so it hasn't been done yet. We don't need to have everything in place for the V1.0 launch, but we need an assortment of core capabilities. That will take us a few weeks to complete.

What's the Bottom Line?

All of the above are just details. The one question that I'm sure you want an answer to is: When will V1.0 be released?

With one exception, all of the items above should be completed in a few weeks. The big wildcard is getting server syncing fully operational, so the release pretty much hinges on this one thing. It's the one item where there are still many unknowns, due largely to the fact that we haven't been able to start fully testing yet. The database structure had to be finalized first, and that was just completed with the big release that went out to all Kickstarter backers last Friday.

Our goal is to get an initial release out to the Beta team before Thanksgiving that includes syncing. That will allow them to start testing things in earnest. From there, it all depends on how quickly we can identify and fix the bugs that are uncovered by the Beta team. Once everything seems solid with the Beta team, we'll release full syncing to all our Kickstarter backers, which should uncover any remaining bugs that weren't found by the Beta team. Once those bugs are fixed, we'll be ready to launch V1.0.

In a best-case scenario, we could potentially complete that entire process in three weeks from the point where we first release full syncing to the Beta team. However, that's not very likely. Four weeks sounds a bit more realistic, which would put the launch shortly before Christmas. Everything really depends on the number and complexity of the bugs we uncover, so I'll keep everyone informed with how things are progressing once we have full syncing in the hands of the Beta team.

Please keep one thing in mind. We desperately want to get this product out the door and into everyone's hands. We also recognize how valuable it will be for users to be able to leverage Realm Works for their games over the holidays. We're working our tails off to make that happen.

Thanks for being patient while we get this product finished up!

Note: This update is being cross-posted both on our support forums and as a Kickstarter Update so that all interested parties can readily obtain this same information.
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Ashran
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Old November 24th, 2013, 10:22 AM
I was wondering when we will start seeing the stuff reached in the stretch goals such as the razor coast, the blight and so on ? I seem to remember it was promised after the beta was out of the door, but I don't think I saw a firm date on those.
(I don't want to sound like a pain in the ass, as I find the program a dream come true, even if a bit tricky to master, I think seeing thoses "realms" or adventures already built in would help us to master it completly )
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lifer4700
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Old November 27th, 2013, 04:31 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob View Post
In addition, players should be able to sync down revealed content to their own copy of Realm Works.
Players are going to need to own a copy of Realm Works? I thought it was a tool only the GM had to buy.
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lifer4700
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Old November 27th, 2013, 04:32 AM
Oh, and thank you for the informative update!
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Nikmal
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Old November 27th, 2013, 04:36 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by lifer4700 View Post
Players are going to need to own a copy of Realm Works? I thought it was a tool only the GM had to buy.
Lonewolf had mentioned that there will be player versions available. This will allow the GM to show reveals and such on their computers as the adventure unfolds then. The player versions are free, last I heard that is. I do not think that has changed based on not seeing it being brought up again.
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rob
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Old November 27th, 2013, 05:07 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by lifer4700 View Post
Players are going to need to own a copy of Realm Works? I thought it was a tool only the GM had to buy.
Here's the answer I provided back in August in another thread...

What we have said from the beginning with the Kickstarter is as follows:

1. The web-based player access will be completely free. Please note that's the web-based portal and not the standalone client.

2. We would like to make the standalone client version of RW free for players as well. The problem with doing so is that the support costs will be roughly 5-6 times what they will be for GMs (based on the average gaming group size). Given that we've been having quite a variety of technical issues already with wildly varying computer configurations during the EA release, those costs will likely be significant. We have to pay for those support costs, which means the money to pay staff to provide that support has to come from somewhere.

There are three places from which we can derive the revenue. One option is to boost the initial price for GMs, putting the burden on them. Another option is to charge players a small amount to use the standalone client. A third option is to increase the monthly fees for the cloud to incorporate those costs, although this again puts the burden on the GMs. We haven't finalized this decision yet, but we'll definitely do so prior to launching V1.0.


FYI, the above concern is the primary reason we haven't announced any pricing for the product yet. We're still wrestling with this one and working to get a handle on a few remaining issues with certain computer configurations.
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rob
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Old November 27th, 2013, 05:12 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashran View Post
I was wondering when we will start seeing the stuff reached in the stretch goals such as the razor coast, the blight and so on ? I seem to remember it was promised after the beta was out of the door, but I don't think I saw a firm date on those.
(I don't want to sound like a pain in the ass, as I find the program a dream come true, even if a bit tricky to master, I think seeing thoses "realms" or adventures already built in would help us to master it completly )
Please check out Backer Update #51. There's a section entitled "Kickstarter Game Content" that should answer your questions.
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asw122
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Old November 27th, 2013, 09:48 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob View Post
FYI, the above concern is the primary reason we haven't announced any pricing for the product yet. We're still wrestling with this one and working to get a handle on a few remaining issues with certain computer configurations.
Good to know, though it would be nice, considering that the release is supposed to be less than a month away, if we had at least an idea of what the costs were actually going to be. All I've seen so far is a ballpark for the GM product, but nothing on the monthly cost for the cloud or the player stuff. Not expecting an exact commitment, but we've had $40-50 for the main product, even an idea would let us start budgeting.
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JackOfAllGames
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Old November 27th, 2013, 10:44 AM
As far as web vs. standalone program goes, I bet that I'll be fine with web. The question for me will be more, "Can it be viewed offline?" If data can optionally be viewed on the LAN, that would work for everyone in my group.

Our problem is that some of us don't have reliable internet. If we're going to use RealmWorks, we won't want to be interrupted by an internet problem.

I will say that I like the idea of browser access in general. My group is part Windows, part Linux, and part Android. Based on what I've seen from LoneWolf so far, we're not likely to see Linux and Android versions any time soon. =/ Fortunately, all of those devices have browsers. It's something that'll work.

Last edited by JackOfAllGames; November 27th, 2013 at 10:45 AM. Reason: Edit for clarity. "support" changed to "versions"
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Nikmal
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Old November 27th, 2013, 05:32 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob View Post
Here's the answer I provided back in August in another thread...

What we have said from the beginning with the Kickstarter is as follows:

1. The web-based player access will be completely free. Please note that's the web-based portal and not the standalone client.

2. We would like to make the standalone client version of RW free for players as well. The problem with doing so is that the support costs will be roughly 5-6 times what they will be for GMs (based on the average gaming group size). Given that we've been having quite a variety of technical issues already with wildly varying computer configurations during the EA release, those costs will likely be significant. We have to pay for those support costs, which means the money to pay staff to provide that support has to come from somewhere.

There are three places from which we can derive the revenue. One option is to boost the initial price for GMs, putting the burden on them. Another option is to charge players a small amount to use the standalone client. A third option is to increase the monthly fees for the cloud to incorporate those costs, although this again puts the burden on the GMs. We haven't finalized this decision yet, but we'll definitely do so prior to launching V1.0.


FYI, the above concern is the primary reason we haven't announced any pricing for the product yet. We're still wrestling with this one and working to get a handle on a few remaining issues with certain computer configurations.
Rob,

I would say instead of wrestling with it in house.. shout it out as a poll on the forums and a mass email to your email list asking what their preferences are via the 3 choices above. This way you get an overall feel for what your consumer base might want

just as an FYI I would choose #2 personally (the bolded one above in Rob's posting)

Last edited by Nikmal; November 27th, 2013 at 08:29 PM. Reason: Calrified my choice
Nikmal is offline   #10
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