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Thorkull
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Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 20

Old July 31st, 2020, 09:11 AM
So hereís my use case for Hero Lab on iPad.
1. I donít play Starfinder or Pathfinder 2E. I find the setting of the first uninspiring and the rules of the second unpalatable. Iím not looking to get into a religious debate, just explaining where I, personally, stand.

2. Therefore, my use case is iPad app for in-person play. The ability to apply modifiers and update my character at the table is 100% worth all the money Iíve spent on the app over the years.

3. I also like to take notes for my game on my iPad while weíre playing. I much prefer to type these out as Iím faster and more accurate while typing. Iíve tried taking notes with a stylus before, but it was just clunky. This may change with Apple Pencil, but it will still be slower than typing for me.

4. Because the Hero Lab app doesnít rotate or support multi-tasking, I found a workaround using a keyboard case from Belkin on my iPad Air 2 that allowed me to rotate the iPad 90 degrees so I could use both my note-taking app and Hero Lab at the same time without have to constantly be fiddling with the orientation.
However, Iím upgrading to an iPad Pro 12.9Ē and my faithful Belkin case will be retired. I have been unable to find a case for the iPad Pro that works the way this one does. Therefore, I have a request to make of Rob and the rest of the team at Wolf Lair. Yes, I know youíre swamped with current game system projects and pivoting to more fully support VTT play, but Iím hoping that you will consider adding one of these options to your roadmap:
A) Add Pathfinder 1E support to HLO and offer users the opportunity to migrate their book purchases over. I imagine thereís a lot of work that would have to be done here, but it seems like the best long-term solution. You could then set and end-of-life date for the iPad app *and* convert legacy game system users to HLO subscribers. Since browsers already support multitasking, we get the ability to run HLO and a note-taking app side-by-side.

B) Add multitasking support to the iPad App. This seems like it would allow you to keep the portrait orientation for the display (so no need to worry about layout changes) and provide users with the ability to run it side-by-side with a note-taking app.

C) Bite the bullet and add a landscape mode orientation layout to the iPad app. I know you have been resistant to do this in the past due to the time investment, and I agree that this is the least optimal. It would have been brilliant 6 years ago, but I think this ship has sailed. Iím only listing it here because itís still a possibility.

D) Ignore this plea for usability enhancement by loyal, albeit legacy, customers. I consider this the most likely option. I get it. Any of the other options require investment of time and money, and Lone Wolf isnít a giant studio with millions or billions to throw away on low-probability ventures. We saw that with Realm Works nearly killing Rob and no one wants that to happen again. However, if I canít get a usable app for Pathfinder 1E, Iíll probably just move on to D&D 5E full time, and that means D&D Beyond instead of Hero Lab of any flavor.
Thanks for taking the time to read through all this, and I hope youíll seriously consider at least one of these options for when the pandemic is under control and we can get back to playing around a real table with our friends.
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Ryan F
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Old July 31st, 2020, 12:32 PM
Hey Thor,

You might be pleased to hear this but of the options you listed, we actually already have a long term plan to have something like the Option-A which you listed implemented in a manner VERY close to what you're describing! There isn't any type of ETA we can discuss regarding when we have conversions and migration availible for our Classic Users so they can access things through Hero Lab Online but I did want to stop by to mention this is already one of our planned goals for the service.

Regarding the iPad App updates, tweaks, and changes: There currently is something of a block in place by Apple on us issuing updates to that platform due to how we sell Hero Lab Classic, specifically the sales are never channeled through their App Store which is something of a newer enforced requirement for products they support there. We have been trying to appeal for the ability to continue operating the License as we have in previous years and continuing to update the App but we've not have any meaningful progress on that front thus far. Before we could even consider devoting work on updates for the iPad at this point we need concrete assurances that we are able to actually deliver those Updates to the users, otherwise we would be wasting our precious development time and squandering our staff resources.

I hope this helps address your concerns, I know that being told to wait is usually not the best response one would hope to get but I wanted to poke my head up to say we have these things very much in mind already.
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Thorkull
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Join Date: Sep 2011
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Old August 7th, 2020, 09:26 AM
Ryan,

Thanks for taking the time to address my concerns and I'm happy to hear you're working on a way forward for those of us who have become dependent on having software support for our games. I'm sorry to hear about the app store challenges, and if Apple is going to be that difficult about it, then I think you're on the right path with migrating PF1 into HLO. I hope to hear more in the not-too-distant future!
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Azhrei
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Join Date: Sep 2015
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Old August 8th, 2020, 07:43 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan F View Post
Regarding the iPad App updates, tweaks, and changes: There currently is something of a block in place by Apple on us issuing updates to that platform due to how we sell Hero Lab Classic, specifically the sales are never channeled through their App Store which is something of a newer enforced requirement for products they support there.
You might do better with Apple if you got your user base involved. Maybe, maybe not, but I don't see how it could hurt at this point.

Regardless, I have multiple "remote mouse" apps for the iPad/iPhone that require a separate network agent installed on my Mac. There is a charge for the Mac app, but the iPad companion app is free. This sounds very similar to the situation with HL, except...

The remote mouse apps on the mobile device don't require a license key. It's the Mac app that has the license key. Apparently, the iPad app connects to the Mac app and the Mac app, at that time, verifies it's own key. Perhaps looking at some of these types of apps would help? At a minimum, a phone call to the vendors putting out those apps might yield some information regarding details of how they've had to proceed.

If you'd like to PM me, I'd be happy to provide a list of those apps. I believe I have two or three that I've tried over the years...
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Farling
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Greater London, UK
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Old August 9th, 2020, 06:50 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azhrei View Post
You might do better with Apple if you got your user base involved. Maybe, maybe not, but I don't see how it could hurt at this point.

Regardless, I have multiple "remote mouse" apps for the iPad/iPhone that require a separate network agent installed on my Mac. There is a charge for the Mac app, but the iPad companion app is free. This sounds very similar to the situation with HL, except...

The remote mouse apps on the mobile device don't require a license key. It's the Mac app that has the license key. Apparently, the iPad app connects to the Mac app and the Mac app, at that time, verifies it's own key. Perhaps looking at some of these types of apps would help? At a minimum, a phone call to the vendors putting out those apps might yield some information regarding details of how they've had to proceed.

If you'd like to PM me, I'd be happy to provide a list of those apps. I believe I have two or three that I've tried over the years...
The situation with the iPad app has been going on for a year or two.

Many suggestions have been put forward.

Apple are well aware of all the "tricks" that companies use to avoid paying what Apple think they deserve. Once you get on their radar I suspect it is very difficult to ever have your app avoid their 30% surcharge for "in-app" purchases.

There are various legal challenges against anti-competitive behaviour from various countries, but that doesn't stop Apple going after the small fry who can't afford the legal bills that Apple can pay.

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)
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Azhrei
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Old August 9th, 2020, 08:23 AM
Yep, I'm aware of all that (including the recent testimony to Congress regarding their anticompetitive practices).

Regardless, when there are multiple tools in the toolbox, it makes sense to try each tool in turn. I am pointing out that not all tools have been used yet, and getting one's user base involved is an almost free venture. ("Almost", because commonly there needs to be someone to spur the crowd forward and that takes a few minutes each day to keep going. But then that's kind of the job of marketing and social media directors, right?)
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Farling
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Old August 9th, 2020, 11:59 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azhrei View Post
Yep, I'm aware of all that (including the recent testimony to Congress regarding their anticompetitive practices).

Regardless, when there are multiple tools in the toolbox, it makes sense to try each tool in turn. I am pointing out that not all tools have been used yet, and getting one's user base involved is an almost free venture. ("Almost", because commonly there needs to be someone to spur the crowd forward and that takes a few minutes each day to keep going. But then that's kind of the job of marketing and social media directors, right?)
It all comes down to when the company has spent enough money and time fighting, and just can't afford or be bothered to keep slamming their heads against a brick wall.

Also, your mouse cursor app is a single one-off purchase, rather than HL which has a host of different packages available to be purchased.

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)
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Azhrei
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Old August 10th, 2020, 01:10 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Farling View Post
It all comes down to when the company has spent enough money and time fighting, and just can't afford or be bothered to keep slamming their heads against a brick wall.
Well, if what you mean is that the company doesn't consider the customer base important enough to "be bothered", then I agree.

Perhaps it's time to take out the license requirement and force people to unlock the data files on their desktop and copy them over to the iPad. Then, the app can be distributed free (just like it is anyway), but without a license requirement there's nothing for Apple to complain about.

License files are so 1980's mentality anyway; anyone with a decent debugger and some basic logic can patch a binary to disable them. (It's more work on today's platforms that have so much cpu to spare that they can do cryptographic checks on the binary before execution, but it's still doable.)

Quote:
Also, your mouse cursor app is a single one-off purchase, rather than HL which has a host of different packages available to be purchased.
I don't see how that has any bearing on whether users could be employed to help persuade App Store management to change their tune.

Users stirring up social media is just the kind of thing that Apple doesn't like.

Anyway, as I said: it doesn't hurt to try, does it? Giving up before all tools have been brought to bear seems... defeatist.
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Duggan
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Old August 10th, 2020, 01:16 PM
I kind of get where you're coming from, but when your suggestion is "give us the product free", that feels a bit one-sided. �� Especially since one of the reasons they have licenses, and so few employees, is because people don't want to pay.
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Azhrei
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Old August 11th, 2020, 03:31 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duggan View Post
I kind of get where you're coming from, but when your suggestion is "give us the product free", that feels a bit one-sided. �� Especially since one of the reasons they have licenses, and so few employees, is because people don't want to pay.
Huh? They already provide the product for free. Anyone can go to the App Store and download it, no cost whatsoever.

That's kind of the problem ó LW wants everyone to be able to download it free and then use the license key to make them pay, and Apple wants a cut. Which I don't agree with, but that's not the point.

My suggestion was to remove the license key requirement from the app and move it to the desktop program instead. So the user must install the desktop version and "unlock" the files there, then copy them to the iPad. If the only way to get the files onto the iPad is via the desktop program, then LW still has control, but there's no license key and thus nothing for Apple to complain about.

The point in posting here, though, is that without stirring up some controversy over Apple's approach, there won't be any pressure on the App Store to change. Apple thinks that their services segment is "the mother of all opportunities" (quoted straight from "Tim Apple", y'know?! ), so making their services segment look bad is the only leverage an app developer can possibly have. Granted, the LW base probably isn't large enough to apply significant pressure by itself, but if the user base for one app makes a stink and adds the voices of users of other apps, then maybe there's a chance...? I just think it's silly to not even try. "Giving up is the only sure way to fail."
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