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Sneak Peak of Realm Works on the Web!

Lone Wolf Development makes the popular Hero Lab character generation software, and is also the creator of Realm Works, a campaign management suite. They've sent along an update and preview of the latter in video format, which you can see below. "Brought to you by the creators of Hero Lab®, Realm Works is the tool every Game Master has dreamed about for managing campaigns. Spend less time preparing, more time creating, and focus on sharing the story with your players! Built by a team of experienced GMs, Realm Works can be used with any game system and allows you to create and manipulate your world like never before."

Here's the post from Lone Wolf's Liz:
As more roleplaying gamers discover and explore Realm Works, the positive reviews continue to pour in! But what does the future hold for Realm Works? Today, GMs and players can explore worlds and stories from their laptop or desktop PCs. Soon, worlds created and run within Realm Works will be available through the web!

Check out a behind-the-scenes look at the web version of Realm Works with Joe, one of the developers. He provides a peek at a few of the features we already have in place, including content reveal, basic navigation, user notes, and more! He’ll also show off how Realm Works will look on your tablet. Yes, your campaign will literally be at your fingertips!

[video=youtube;Vmfq8UR4WCI]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmfq8UR4WCI[/video]

 

hollowheel

First Post
I've owned Realmworks for awhile now and while I love many things about the program, I've stopped using it. My central concern is there is no easy way to get your content out of the program once it's in other than laboriously copying and pasting. You cannot print and you can not export.

If/when these features are added I'll likely go back. Right now I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who wants it for archival purposes in addition to in-play use.
 

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Alarian

First Post
I used The Keep for a while to run a campaign a few years back. If anyone is interested in seeing what I campaign might look like with it, you can check out my website and take a look at my old campaign. It's obviously a much stripped down version of Realm Works but at the time I considered it the best thing out there. It had a publish to web feature that allowed you to keep GM only stuff from being published. Here is the link to it:

http://portalkeepersofgrayrock.com/Tarantis/City-of-Tarantis.html

That said, I'm also a backer of the Realms Work Kickstarter and while I haven't had time to play around with it yet (darn real world obligations getting in the way of my gamin), I'm really excited to start playing with it. I've most likely wasted my free six months as last I heard they started everyone's time back in November.
 

LWDLiz

First Post
I've owned Realmworks for awhile now and while I love many things about the program, I've stopped using it. My central concern is there is no easy way to get your content out of the program once it's in other than laboriously copying and pasting. You cannot print and you can not export.


If/when these features are added I'll likely go back. Right now I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who wants it for archival purposes in addition to in-play use.


Printing is on our to-do list. We actually surveyed our users recently to better gauge what capabilities were most important to them, including printing. I would encourage you to take a look at all the results we shared, but I've quoted the specifics about printing below:

Realm Works Feature Survey said:
The desire for printing is a common request on our forums. However, survey results put printing squarely in the middle of the list. The reason for this is that the results for printing were even more widely split than for calendars, with users typically either feeling printing is critical or of negligible importance. The development team is currently looking for possible ways to offer a simpler, more lightweight printing capability that might be sufficient for most needs. We’re not sure if we can figure something out that will be workable, but we also understand that this capability is very important to a meaningful number of users, so we’re seeking a compromise.
 

hollowheel

First Post
Printing is on our to-do list. We actually surveyed our users recently to better gauge what capabilities were most important to them, including printing. I would encourage you to take a look at all the results we shared, but I've quoted the specifics about printing below:

Thanks for the reply, Liz. I actually took and followed the results of the survey. However, since print/export isn't one of the main priorities, and since the dev staff has commented several times that it isn't an easy fix, I'm not expecting it anytime soon. When/if it is implemented, I'll likely come back, and start recommending it to friends again. Good luck, and thanks for helping keep the community informed.
 

Feeroper

Explorer
Im extremely interested in this software for homebrew campaign archival and for tracking ongoing campaigns in said world. The catch for me is that I would have no use for the program in game while playing as we don't have computers at the table, and most of my players wouldn't be willing to pay for the player version or even use the free online access when it is going.

Is this program good for managing an ongoing campaign world, keeping track of big histories and setting info, and is it worth the price if you aren't going to use it during play, or is the program geared to be most useful during play?

Thanks.
 

hollowheel

First Post
Im extremely interested in this software for homebrew campaign archival and for tracking ongoing campaigns in said world. The catch for me is that I would have no use for the program in game while playing as we don't have computers at the table, and most of my players wouldn't be willing to pay for the player version or even use the free online access when it is going.

Is this program good for managing an ongoing campaign world, keeping track of big histories and setting info, and is it worth the price if you aren't going to use it during play, or is the program geared to be most useful during play?

Thanks.

I found it excellent for managing a campaign and my notes. I wouldn't say players need a computer at the table, but the gamemaster will if he wants access to his notes.
 
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LWDLiz

First Post
Im extremely interested in this software for homebrew campaign archival and for tracking ongoing campaigns in said world. The catch for me is that I would have no use for the program in game while playing as we don't have computers at the table, and most of my players wouldn't be willing to pay for the player version or even use the free online access when it is going.

Is this program good for managing an ongoing campaign world, keeping track of big histories and setting info, and is it worth the price if you aren't going to use it during play, or is the program geared to be most useful during play?

Thanks.

Ir's great for managing an ongoing campaign world, keeping track of big histories and setting info! Currently, if you want your notes at the table, you will need to have Realm Works (in the form of a computer), at the table.
 

I love HeroLab, and use it constantly.

Based on that and the tantalizing videos about RealmWorks, I bought it about a year ago. I was excited about it at first, but then made the decision to stop using it when I realized that there was no way for me to pull my data back out of the program. Without printing capability or the ability to run SQL queries on the database, I just can't justify the work and effort it will take to put a lot of content into it. I have been burned too many times by software companies going out of business or abandoning a product and having my data locked up.

Lone Wolf says that if they ever go out of business they will make sure to unlock the data for everyone, but I've been burned by promises like that, too. When companies go out of business - or abandon products - they rarely take the time to do a lot of work for their existing customers if they can't earn money on it. Talk is cheap.

With this particular product they have also made a lot of promises regarding features (starting with the Kickstarter) that still haven't been implemented, and probably won't be anytime in the near future. After their survey they indicated that printing was not going to be their priority, so when they say it's "on their list" there is a good chance that they mean "sometime in the next few years" (judging by the extreme slowness of their feature development in general).

I don't know the folks there, but as a former software developer I have a strong suspicion that they have bitten off more than they can chew. They have moved at a snail's pace when it comes to introducing features they promised long ago, which tells me they either don't have enough programmers working on the product, or those folks are splitting their time between RealmWorks and HeroLab. They keep promising that their new "market" will open up soon, and are now talking more about a website version, but they haven't even brought the existing paid version up to speed yet. I don't know if that reflects monetary desperation or a lack of business focus, but it's not a good sign.

Don't get me wrong - I like their idea for the software and a lot of the features in it, and would love to see the product get better. Right now, though, it's still like something that is in the beta phase of development, and I don't see the commitment of time being put into it to fix the existing issues and give it the basic functionality that has been promised all along. That's just not a professional way to do things. The money I spent on the product is essentially lost money (it's my biggest software purchase regret in at least a decade), so I'm sure not going to spend more to keep it connected to their servers on the off chance that it will be useful to me in a couple of years.

I wish them luck, and would return to using the product if they ever get it up to speed, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. They seem like a nice group of people with good ideas, but that doesn't mean they are good businesspeople.

I'm not posting this to be mean. I just think that potential customers need to be aware of what they are and aren't getting, and need to understand that "upcoming features" might mean "coming in a few years."
 
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Printing is on our to-do list.

Liz, let's be honest. Is it on your to-do list for this year? Next year? The year after that?

With your programmers working on the market and the web version, are they really going to have time to devote to enabling printing anytime soon?

How many programmers work on RealmWorks? Do they have to split their time between that and HeroLab? The features mentioned long ago are being released at a snail's pace. Why is that?
 

LWDLiz

First Post
<Text above>

Hi pickin_grinnin (and others). Rob, the Realm Works Lead Developer, asked me to post the response below, as he hasn’t had time to create an EN World account at this time. You make many assertions about Realm Works and Lone Wolf Development as a company, and I hope that you take the time to read through all of Rob’s post. While it’s unlikely that Rob will take the time to post again (as he’s working on Realm Works), I’ll try to answer any follow-up questions you may have. You’re also welcome to PM me directly.

-----
Rob:
I asked Liz to post this on my behalf, and hopefully she can fill in any cracks I may have overlooked. You’ve made a lot of claims and asked a few questions, so I’m going to take the time to respond to them as best I can. My priority is on product development, so I likely won’t be commenting further on this. I hope this proves sufficient.

You assert that you love Hero Lab. However, based on the rest of your assessment of Realm Works, I think it’s safe to say that you didn’t use Hero Lab in the early years. If you had, you almost certainly would have portrayed it the same way you now portray Realm Works. That’s because the two products have a very similar evolutionary path. And that evolution is the only reason that Hero Lab is as powerful and flexible as it is today. The resulting power and flexibility is the only way Hero Lab could possibly accommodate all the craziness of Pathfinder, Shadowrun, and a bunch of other incredibly complex game systems. Those same attributes are cornerstones of Realm Works.

Let’s first look at Hero Lab a bit further to help me explain. How would someone go about creating something like Hero Lab? They’d have to consider all the different ways in which RPGs are designed and how they operate. They’d have to distill out hundreds of different approaches to various aspects of games, then they’d have to figure out how to accommodate those different approaches in virtually any combination a game designer can think up. They’d also have to anticipate how to incorporate new approaches that nobody has thought up yet so that the product can be extended and they can be woven in. Once they worked through all that, they’d need to actually implement it all. That’s a huge undertaking.

The reality is that Hero Lab is essentially a mammoth iceberg. The part you see and interact with is the tiny portion above the surface. Beneath the surface, there is an incredibly complex and versatile body of code that makes it all possible. Yet nobody ever sees the part of the iceberg that’s under the waves. That’s why (a) numerous gamers naively proclaim “it should be easy” to write a decent character creation tool, (b) a long list of people have tried to develop character creation tools over the years, and (c) only a scant few have produced something even remotely worthwhile. The “Titanic” analogy applies perfectly here.

So let’s look at Realm Works now. It’s been architected and designed – and substantially written – by the same person who architected and designed Hero Lab (me). So the same approach has been taken. However, the complexity is at least another order of magnitude greater. We’re no longer looking simply at how game designers create RPGs. We’re now looking at how GMs prepare for games and gaming groups actually play games. There are as many different ways of doing that as there are gamers. Yet there are a vast number of common elements across large cross-sections of gamers, so we’ve distilled many of those out and modeled them effectively within Realm Works.

The gotcha is that the complexity is huge, and we’re building Realm Works for the long run. You can’t build a skyscraper on the foundation for a small house. As we extend the capabilities of Realm Works, we have to put extensive foundation work in place to support not just what we’re adding today, but everything we’re envisioning for the future. From the outside, it may look like we’re making slower progress than you think we should. The reality is that, in addition to the features you see within the product, we’re also building the iceberg beneath the surface – the part you don’t see. The further along we get, the more robust and extensive the iceberg beneath the waves becomes, and we begin to make faster headway on the pieces above the surface that users see. That’s what happened with Hero Lab and that’s starting to occur with Realm Works. Once the Content Market and web access both come online in the upcoming months, we’ll be in great shape and begin to see significantly faster progress on the pieces above the surface.

As for the development team and effort being put in, here are the basics. We have a dedicated team on Realm Works. The Hero Lab team is completely separate and even uses a completely different programming language. The problem is that our team on Realm Works is only a few strong. Why is that? Because we have to operate within our means, and developers are expensive. For some perspective, the recent Kickstarter attempt by Trapdoor Technologies sought a HALF-MILLION dollars for SIX MONTHS. If we had that level of funding for Realm Works, we would be making incredible progress. Alas, this is the tabletop gaming industry, and we’re entirely self-funded, so we make steady headway with the resources available. Are we going fast enough to satisfy everyone? Nope. But, at this point, I believe we’re far enough ahead of anyone else in terms of the technology we’ve developed that it will require someone investing significant resources to catch-up and overtake us.

You’ve made it clear that printing is a deal-breaker feature for you. You’ve been heard. In fact, all the clamor on our forums for various features was a key reason we undertook the user survey that we just completed. We wanted to know just how important each feature was to what portion of the user base. Unfortunately for your interests, our users collectively placed printing smack dab in the middle, with almost a dozen major capabilities being considered more important than printing. So we’re focusing on the things that our users want most. I’m sorry if you consider that poor business on our part, but I think anyone looking at this objectively would agree with our approach.

I understand that you won’t use Realm Works until printing is added because you don’t trust us. Lone Wolf Development has been in business for more than 20 years now, and we’ve been creating software tools for tabletop gamers for 17 of those years. We’ve fostered a great deal of trust with tens of thousands of gamers during that period. If you choose not to trust us due to your experience with other companies, you’re entitled to that approach. However, there are plenty of other gamers out there that don’t share that opinion.

Now, I need to respond to some of your assertions about Realm Works and the company, as you’ve cast many aspersions towards both throughout your post. Unfortunately, you make references without any details, so I’m unable to challenge any of them concretely. However, I will do my best to interpret your comments and respond accordingly…


  1. You said we “haven’t brought the existing paid version up to speed yet”. I don’t know what you mean by that without any details, so unfortunately, I cannot respond.
  2. Then you assert it’s due to either “monetary desperation” or “lack of business focus”. As I outlined above, we operate within our means and the just-completed user survey gives us absolute certainty where we should be focusing our priorities. I’m not sure how you’re reaching your conclusions.
  3. You then go on to say you “don't see the commitment of time being put into it to fix the existing issues”. We fix bugs on a steady basis – most recently last Friday – and the product is pretty darn stable and robust at this point. Are there existing issues that you’re still encountering? If so, we have a bug reporting system in place for users to report issues so that we can respond as quickly as possible.
  4. And then you say we don’t give Realm Works “the basic functionality that has been promised all along”. If you’re talking about the web-based access and the Content Market, I indicated above that it looks like those should be available in the months ahead. If you’re referring to printing, I believe I’ve addressed why it’s important to us to focus on the features that our users have collectively said are most important.
  5. And you finally call us “not professional” and “not good businesspeople”. I may be wrong here, but I believe there are numerous ENWorld users who would disagree with the former claim based on their dealings with us over the years. For the latter, I would argue that doing the survey and focusing on what users want the most is a core hallmark of “good businesspeople”.

As we demonstrated with Hero Lab, there’s a cohesive vision, and we’re staying the course to realize it. If some gamers want to wait until everything is perfect and continue using (in our and others’ opinions) less optimal approaches, they are welcome to do so. For those GMs who want to simplify a lot of their preparation efforts and streamline game play today, Realm Works is already a significant improvement over the alternatives – especially the traditional pen-and-paper or disjointed notes in assorted Word documents approaches. And Realm Works continues to get better with every new release. The only requirement is that users need an electronic device at the table, since we don’t yet support printing.

I hope this answers your questions and, for others reading, addresses the various assertions you’ve made about Realm Works and the company. Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read all the way through this.
 
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Alarian

First Post
Thanks for posting Robs response LWDLiz. He said a heck of a lot more eloquently what I was thinking. To me his post sounded like it came from a person that really doesn't have a clue about your company.
 

To put my comments in perspective:

I have been doing software development professionally since the early 90s. I have worked on software for small businesses, hobby markets, public libraries, corporations, major league sports teams, the entertainment industry, and more. For example, I was one of the developers on the Cartoon Network website. I have been coding since the first Apple II was released, and have extensive experience with extremely large database development and data mining. I have worked on software for the big telecoms. I have done individual development, team development (including being a project lead), and every other sort. I have done professional work in C, C, C++, C.NET, PERL, Python, Java, and many other languages. I understand the whole "iceberg under what you see" thing, intimately.

I have worked on complex software for small companies when I was the only developer, or only one of a handful. I know all the challenges that come with that. I have run my own companies, as well.

You're a small company with limited funds and a limited staff serving a hobby market. You can only get so much done at once. I get that. I have been there before, and it's rough. That's not the issue, though.

My issue is that your software is not as functional as it appears to be on your website and in your videos, but you are charging as if it has all the features in place. You charge prices that are appropriate for fully-developed software, but not for software that is slowly poking out the basic features you have been talking about since the Kickstarter. If that's the way Hero Lab was developed (as you indicated), I would have said the same thing about it at the time. When I bought Realm Works, there was no indication that I wouldn't be able to print things out (pretty basic functionality), or that my data would be locked up with no way to export it to another format (also pretty basic functionality). If that had been evident in the videos or other documentation, I wouldn't have bought it.

From what you have said, it sounds like your business model is to get some initial money, develop the product up to a certain point, start selling the product, and then roll out features over time. I don't consider that to be a professional business model. It's more akin to the open source method of doing things, without the benefits of open source. I don't release software - to a client or for independent sale - that doesn't have all the planned features in place. I may think of new features later and add them, but the ones that are part of the basic conception of the product have to be in place before I charge people money. If I were to do that, I would explicitly state what was missing and charge beta-level prices for the product.

I didn't buy Realm Works during the Kickstarter. I bought it afterwards, when you offered it for sale on your website. I specifically avoid software Kickstarters because I want to give the company time to really complete the product before I buy it. I'm not into the patronage model. If I buy software from a website, I don't expect it to still be missing a lot of features that were discussed in the Kickstarter, particularly if it's going to take years to get them.

>How would someone go about creating something like Hero Lab?

I could create something like Hero Lab. Most professional programmers/developers could do so. It would take a decent amount of work, but it's not that complex to write that type of software (for people who have a lot of experience), even if you take into account the need to have it be flexible enough to work with a wide variety of game systems. I have written extensive software that can work equally well in libraries, archives, and museums, and could even be used for warehouse tracking. It's not that unusual of a way to do development.

>For some perspective, the recent Kickstarter attempt by Trapdoor Technologies
>sought a HALF-MILLION dollars for SIX MONTHS.

It failed spectacularly because they were asking for far too much. There was never any chance for it to succeed. The problem is that they were trying to recover their sunk costs from the work they did when they were still tied to WotC. Asking people to help pay for failed past business deals is never a good strategy.

Getting back to Realm Works, the scope of it is huge. I can tell that the programming behind it is very time-consuming and more complex than that with Hero Lab. It would be a big undertaking even if you had a larger team. I can certainly understand the need to get something out there to bring in money as you expand the product. My issue, though, is that the way you represented the product after the Kickstarter gave the impression that it was significantly farther down the development line than it actually was. I don't get the impression that you meant to do this, but in the end it was a form of false advertising. It's one thing to ask people to be patrons and support your development of a product (via Kickstarter), but once it gets to the point that you are approaching them as regular customers (by selling on your website), you shouldn't expect them to be content to wait for years to get all the features.

One of my friends is still very upbeat about it, but only because you keep saying that the Content Market is only a few months away. I know that he's expecting the Content Market to have all the features in place that have been touted to this point, and that he can load and start selling content on the first day. I hope that's the case. I suspect that he will lose all interest in the product if it isn't.

In the end, I'm dissatisfied with the product. I wasted my money. When people ask about it (online or off), I give my opinion. I appreciate hearing other people's varying opinions online, and feel that it's important to get all perspectives. I know a lot of other people (online and in real life) who bought it and have never used it, generally because it's still missing features that they thought would be in place by now. You obviously have some satisfied customers. That's great. You have a lot of dissatisfied ones, too (as is evident from all the online discussions). I would pay attention to that feedback, too. I always do when I release software.
 

Feeroper

Explorer
So I see a little back and forth going on here. I am however still very tempted to purchase this software. I appreciate hearing both sides of it, the good and the bad. Based on what I've seen thus far it appears to me that this program can house all of my campaign info in one spot as opposed to spread over several programs. The features I see advertised are the story flow manager, npc manager, adding info on various places/locations, being able to incorporate it all together for use during play or archival purposes.

This all sounds good to me. Although as I understand there is no ability to export out the info, this doesn't bother me personally as I am looking for a permanent soloution to store my campaign stuff in one place. The ability to print would absoloutly be nice but is not a deal breaker for me personally.

However, pickin_grinin, you noted that you feel that the features advertised are not available. I'm curious what they are so I can make an informed decision. I'm already aware of the exporting and printing though I did not see that advertised. Would you please list out what is missing that was advertised as being included already?

Please note this is not a troll post. I genuinely would like to know if a any issues that might keep me away from the program before I plunk the money down.

I would also like to get opinions on the usefulness of this program if I won't have a computer at the table during play? Is it good for managing and organizing between games? A computer may be in the cards at a later time, but for now I'm happy bringing the notes I need in paper for a session. My main interest is in campaign setting and play organization. Will it be as useful as a service like Obsidian Portal for example?

Thanks all for your input!
 
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Alarian

First Post
I'll give you my thoughts on how I plan on using it. I did pledge in the Kickstarter and knew going in that it was going to be a work in progress. Are they as far along now as I thought they would be? Honestly no, but I'm also not that worried as I've watched Hero Lab develop and know they put out great (if not the best out there) digital rpg products. I think Realm Works is going to be in that same category. They best Campaign manager out there and probably is already.

For me, I don't envision using it at the table really at all. I see myself taking notes as the night goes on and then entering it in after the session is over. I don't feel players need to be looking stuff in real time while we're playing as they can simply ask me if they are trying to remember something or have another question. The value to me is that I have the database with my entire campaign and if we're away from the table and a player is trying to remember something then they could look it up online any time they want. Is there a value in being able to print stuff out? Most certainly. Mainly I could see creating your adventure for the night in Realm Work and then Printing it out and bringing it with you so you don't have to bring your computer/tablet with you. I do create my adventures on my computer (in Word) so in that respect there will be a bit of extra work as I will still have to create it in Word so I can bring it with me to the game, and then enter it in Realm Works if I want it in there as well, but at least at this point I don't really have plans to do that. I will enter in anything important that may have happened during the adventure, perhaps enter in any NPC's they encounter and things like that but I don't know how much beyond that.

As to features not yet implemented, other than the store, I'm probably not the best person to ask as I haven't really had a chance to start using Realm Works like I planned. After pledging for the program in KS we (my wife and I) had a 2 year old girl come to live with us unexpectedly (all our other kids are older) and as of a few months ago we adopted her, with me being the stay-at-home dad, all my expected free time disappeared. I do try and keep up with whats going on by reading the newsletters and checking out the forums periodically, but I haven't had the time yet to start entering in my campaign.

I will say in the places I've been, (which must be different than where pickin_grinnin hangs out) while I have definitely seen some disappointment in what's being developed coming up, (I was really hoping for weather and custom calendars) I certainly haven't seen the masses of dissatisfied customers he has. By far and large most of what I've seen is positive in pretty much all aspects.

I will also say if it's so easy to do it "right" perhaps you could corner the market pickin_grinnin and whip out this full featured program in a few months and show them how to do it. Perhaps you'll make a fortune.

PS. I apologise if I come across a bit negative at pickin_grinnin I just get annoyed sometimes when someone shows up and tells another successful company they don't know how to run a business (and basically calls them crooks).
 
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I will also say if it's so easy to do it "right" perhaps you could corner the market pickin_grinnin and whip out this full featured program in a few months and show them how to do it. Perhaps you'll make a fortune.

I specifically bought the program because I have no interest in coding one of my own, or becoming a software retailer in that market. I have a lot of projects on my plate already. If I didn't, I wouldn't have spent the money to purchase the product.

There's something disingenous about the "if you don't like it, do it yourself" argument when it comes to customers commenting on their opinion of a product and/or company. If I bought a microwave oven and found out that the timer couldn't run for more than 2 minutes, I would have a valid complaint. That doesn't mean I should have to build one myself.

I never said that something like that can be whipped out in a few months. My problem is with it being sold for full price (with additional charges for hosting) when it is still very much a work in progress. When I have worked on similarly complex software, I never took it to market until it was finished. In two cases, that meant I developed it on the side for a couple of years and put off releasing it until I had all the desired functionality in place. I understand that Kickstarter projects are often released when they are still works in progress. When you list it for sale on your website, though, you have officially gone to market, and other standards should apply.

PS. I apologise if I come across a bit negative at pickin_grinnin I just get annoyed sometimes when someone shows up and tells another successful company they don't know how to run a business (and basically calls them crooks).

I didn't call them crooks. I think they have good intentions. I just don't think they are following good business practices, at least with this product.

I am in the same industry as them (software development), have worked on products of a similar complexity in similar work conditions, etc. I have worked with a LOT of small businesses, and have run my own. I'm talking from the position of a peer, not someone who doesn't understand what it takes to run a company like that and put out that sort of product. Rob's response confirmed a lot of my suspicions (ex. that they only have a few people developing it). I understand why the features are rolling out slowly, and why they have taken this approach. I know they are happy with it. I don't see it as a very professional one. In the end, though, the big gist of all this is that I don't think their product is ready for prime time yet (though I'm sure it eventually will be), and isn't worth what they currently charge for it.
 

However, pickin_grinin, you noted that you feel that the features advertised are not available. I'm curious what they are so I can make an informed decision. I'm already aware of the exporting and printing though I did not see that advertised. Would you please list out what is missing that was advertised as being included already?

Printing and export are the deal-killers for me. A lot of other folks are frustrated about how long it is taking to get the content market, weather, calendars, and other features in place. They have been adding features all along, but it took them a LONG time to get to most of them.

The product as it is now may be perfect for you. It's not a bad product, by any means, and will probably be a great one within a few years. IMHO, though, it's just not there yet, at least when it comes to being a complete solution for campaign management.
 

LWDLiz

First Post
pickin_grinnin said:
(various posts above)

From Rob:
It’s become clear to me that you have an axe to grind, and I do not have the time it would take to wade into the mud with you. Whatever credentials or experience you may have, the reality is that you’re being nothing more than an armchair developer here. You’re entitled to your own opinions and assumptions, but they are not a substitute for the facts about our product, company, and development team. I won’t tolerate gross, willful misrepresentation of the facts on my watch.

Your primary complaint seems to be that you assumed the software you purchased would have features that were never advertised. All of our software has always come with a 60-day, risk free, money back guarantee. But instead of requesting a refund, you’ve chosen to act like a child with entitlement issues, spreading misinformation both on this forum and elsewhere under the guise of an authority figure in some sort of vendetta. This speaks volumes – not in the way that I think you intended – and that seems clear based on the reactions by others in this thread.

Everyone should be free to discuss what they like and dislike about any product, including recommendations for and against, and ours are no exception. But I draw the line at the kind of distorted smear campaign you’re waging. I will put up with a lot of personal abuse, but I won’t tolerate it being directed at my team and the products they’ve slaved to create.

I’ll leave it to Liz to debunk the misinformation you’re deliberately spreading here. And I’m asking you to stop this now. If you choose not to, we’ll be compelled to enlist the assistance of the moderators here to rein in your thinly veiled, misguided efforts to exact some sort of payback.

If you feel like you’ve wasted your money on Realm Works, that’s unfortunate. You had two months to assess the product and request a refund, but you decided not to do so. That was your choice. Please keep to the facts and stop with the hyperbole and blatant misrepresentation. At this point, everybody is painfully aware of your position, and it would seem they are also now ignoring your specious claims. All you’re doing now is further undermining the credibility you had when you started up-thread.

Thank you to everyone else reading here who’s soldiered through the misinformation to get accurate answers. Your interest in and support of our products is greatly appreciated. I’ll leave you to Liz to get all the straight facts.
 

LWDLiz

First Post
With this particular product they have also made a lot of promises regarding features (starting with the Kickstarter) that still haven't been implemented, and probably won't be anytime in the near future.
Promises left from the Kickstarter include three features: web-based player access, the Content Market, and Calendars. Web-access (the point of this thread), is in development and moving along nicely. The Content Market is also in development. Both will come online in the upcoming months.

The third item is calendars, and the basic functionality for this feature already exists within Realm Works. In fact, at the point of the Kickstarter, the foundational work for calendars was completed or near completion. After the Kickstarter, we were able to get feedback from the Beta team on what we had in place. Based on their feedback, and our own testing, we determined that the interface needed a lot of work. The current interface is crude and clunky. Unfortunately, that meant calendars was a lot less “done” than we initially thought we were.

The calendar interface needs to be completely reworked, and that will take a healthy amount of time. We used the survey to assess whether users valued us taking that additional time on calendars, as opposed to spending the time on one of the other features that may have taken a higher priority in their minds since the release. Our survey respondents spoke, and indicated that a few features were of a higher priority. It will move up the list as we knock other features off the top.

Liz, let's be honest. Is [printing] on your to-do list for this year? Next year? The year after that?
As alluded to above, the survey results are our compass beyond web-access and the Content Market. Full-blown printing support was in the middle of the list, so its priority will likely move up as we complete features. However, we’ll be continuing to solicit feedback from our users over time to see if desires have changed.

As we said in the survey results, the development team is currently looking for possible ways to offer a simpler, more lightweight printing capability that might be sufficient for most needs. The development team has been discussing this internally, and we have a plan that we’ll be announcing in the next few weeks.

My issue is that your software is not as functional as it appears to be on your website and in your videos, but you are charging as if it has all the features in place. ... My issue, though, is that the way you represented the product after the Kickstarter gave the impression that it was significantly farther down the development line than it actually was.
Everything we show on the website and in the videos is the working product that anyone can purchase (except, of course, the video of the web access, which we clearly indicate is a sneak peek). The Content Market section of our website is clearly marked as not yet available, and we have a whole page dedicated to future features (features we clearly marked as not yet available). We keep our users apprised of any more milestones in development, and if we give any release estimates we always emphasize that they're estimates and subject to change.

You charge prices that are appropriate for fully-developed software, but not for software that is slowly poking out the basic features you have been talking about since the Kickstarter. If that's the way Hero Lab was developed (as you indicated), I would have said the same thing about it at the time. When I bought Realm Works, there was no indication that I wouldn't be able to print things out (pretty basic functionality), or that my data would be locked up with no way to export it to another format (also pretty basic functionality). If that had been evident in the videos or other documentation, I wouldn't have bought it.
Based on this paragraph, it sounds like your frustration around the price comes back to Realm Works not having printing or exporting. We have never advertised Realm Works as having these features. As Rob mentioned, we also have always offered a 60-day money-back guarantee, and if you had requested one after seeing that printing/exporting was available, we would have obliged – no questions asked. That being said, we believe Realm Works as is available for sale now is worth $50. Anyone that disagrees with the valuation after purchase can take us up on our refund offer.

Specifically to the Hero Lab comment, Hero Lab was a fully-functioning program upon its release (as is Realm Works). It’s grown and evolved since its initial release, as has any software worth its salt, but it was fully-functioning software.

From what you have said, it sounds like your business model is to get some initial money, develop the product up to a certain point, start selling the product, and then roll out features over time. I don't consider that to be a professional business model.
My problem is with it being sold for full price (with additional charges for hosting) when it is still very much a work in progress.
Realm Works was a fully-functioning program in its 1.0 release, as many of our happy users will attest. Yes, there are other features we plan to implement, but that is the case with every piece of software or app, from Microsoft Word to Gmail. In fact, every piece of software is a work in progress, unless the developer has abandoned it.

I could create something like Hero Lab. Most professional programmers/developers could do so.
This is a surprisingly common misconception, but in fact, there have been many that have tried and failed. Rob has recounted to me on a few occasions the many programs that have cropped up and then faded into obscurity over the years. Actually, that could be an interesting list to compile.

----------
This should address the majority of the misinformation, and should provide anyone else reading this thread plenty of information to make their own informed assessment.

For those here who are intrigued by the possibilities that Realm Works offers, take a look at our website and the videos we have that show off the working product (www.wolflair.com). If you’re unsure, just buy it. You’ve got 60 days to play with Realm Works and see if you like it. If you decide it’s not going to enhance your game, we’ll give you a full refund. We’ve been providing quality software tools to tabletop gamers for almost two decades now, and we stand by our products. There’s zero risk and a huge potential to transform your gaming experience. It doesn’t get much better than that. :)
 

Feeroper

Explorer
Thank you for the replies everyone!

My concern was that there was missing features that were advertised as being already in place, as that appeared to me what was being opined in this thread. However, after looking further into it, and taking a good look through the Realm Works You Tube videos and website, I don't see any features that are being advertised that aren't actually in the product itself. It looks more like the displeasure indicated is in regards to upcoming features or the length of time it has taken to implement.

For me, this program seems to hit all the things I would want. Anticipated function like printing and the like would be nice but are by no means deal breakers for me personally. Although I am not a developer myself, I can still appreciate the amount of work that goes into a project like this, and it seems to really be a product that is created with a passion for our hobby behind it. Lone Wolf Development certainly have a solid reputation in our community as well, so at this time I do not see any reason to doubt their dedication to this product.

Again, this thread is not meant to be a troll post against any users in this thread, everyone is entitled to their opinions. After weighing the opinions of those expressed here and elsewhere as well as my own research, I have decided that this program suits my needs and would offer me value, so I have purchased it. Finding out that there is a 60-day money back guarantee is a just a bonus on top of that. Thank you again to everyone who offered their feedback.
 

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