Interview: Liz Theis (Realm Works)

The following is an interview with Liz Theis, marketing manager at Lone Wolf Development, about their Realm Works product. You can get Realm Works at getrealmworks.com

Robert: Card Vault, Army Builder, Hero Lab, and now Realm Works – Are there any other big projects on the horizon that you can share with us or are you taking this time to relax and focus on current projects?

Liz: Right now our focus is on our current products. For Realm Works®, we’re currently working on releasing the Player Edition. The Realm Works Player Edition will allow players to access and review content revealed by the GM on their own computers outside of the game session. Players will be able to independently lookup information, review what they’ve learned, and even make notes with same powerful linking capabilities as the GM version for a small cost. We also have a lot of other plans for Realm Works in the future, which we’ve shared on our webpage.

Our main focus for Hero Lab® is on the next update for the iPad app. Right now our iPad app is a character sheet viewer for Pathfinder. The next update will allow users to create Pathfinder characters! We also plan to include support for GMs, NPCs, and kingdom creation down the road. You can learn more about our plans for the iPad in our latest newsletter.

Robert: Are there any plans to port Realm Works to a mobile platform like what was done with Hero Lab and what are some of the complications in doing so?

Liz: The plan is to move Realm Works to a web-based application. The move to the web will begin with a feature-limited version of the desktop client and then evolve it into the same full-featured product over time. There are certain limitations of web-based applications that will influence how we implement some of those features, so there will definitely be differences between the web-based client and the desktop client. However, the goal is to have the web-based version support everything we can that’s in the disconnected, desktop client.

Obviously, moving towards a web application with Realm Works is also quite different from our native app approach with Hero Lab. We chose a web app so that we can support everyone’s favorite device. Web applications do require the internet, but the internet is becoming progressively more ubiquitous every year, so a number of years from now it will be very uncommon for someone to not have an internet connection. At that point, the liability of requiring an internet connection will diminish to the point where the desktop client that can run offline isn’t all that important anymore.

getrealmworks

Robert: What are some of the updates we can look forward to from Realm Works?

Liz: We have many exciting plans for Realm Works. The Player Edition, which I mentioned before, is the next big update. We’ll also be adding Journals. Journals will allow GMs to create diaries and other similar items for PCs to discover during play. And farther down the line, we’ll have web-based player access. This browser access will allow players to view revealed content on any suitable device they own. As I mentioned earlier, we have our plans for the future of Realm Works on our webpage.

Robert: With dozens of different campaign managers currently available, what inspired Lone Wolf to tackle their own and how does Realm Works differ from other campaign managers?

Liz: Rob, our company founder and owner, had the idea for a tool like Realm Works a long time ago. However, technology needed time to catch up with his vision. During that time, he created Army Builder®, and oversaw the release of Hero Lab. Eventually, he realized it was time to start building the tool of everyone’s dreams. While there are tools out there, he felt like they were often not meeting the needs of gamers. So with a development team full of other Game Masters, they built Realm Works.

A lot of current campaign managers are wiki-style applications. There are a lot of disadvantages to have a wiki-application. If you’re running a game at a convention with a wiki-application, you need to pay for unstable, expensive convention internet. Because Realm Works can work offline, you aren’t tied to the internet.

Another annoyance with wiki applications is that you need to manually create the links in your content. That means selecting some text, creating a hyperlink to another article, and repeating the process for potentially dozens of links. Not only is this process time-consuming, but it’s prone to human error. Realm Works will automatically create links for you, and even provide you with a visual link web so you can see how all of your information is connected.

Finally, in the future, Realm Works will have a Content Market available for users to take advantage of. Many GMs use adventures, settings, rules, and other supplements from major publishers in the RPG industry. We already have agreements in place with a number of publishers to make their content available for sale for use in Realm Works. For instance, we will be providing “The Freeport Companion” from Green Ronin Publishing, “Razor Coast” from Frog God Games, “Blood Drive Trilogy” from Pinnacle Entertainment, and a number of other adventures and supplements. You can find the full list on our webpage. We’re also in discussions with additional publishers to provide more content.

Realm Works users will also be able to use the Content Market to share and sell their own custom content. GMs will be able to access user-created NPCs, cities, adventures, maps, character portraits, audio files, and more. And just like the published content, you can customize the content once you have it in Realm Works.

The Content Market should be available to users in late 2014.

Robert: With so many successful projects, what’s been one of the toughest things to focus on while working on a project and how did you overcome that obstacle?

Liz: While there are other campaign managers, there isn’t a tool out there as complex and thorough as Realm Works. It really is the first of its kind. While it’s exciting and fulfilling to bring this tool to gamers, being the groundbreaker has its struggles. There’s no model to base Realm Works off of. Everything the development team did was new, so feedback from our Beta team and Kickstarter users was crucial. There were a couple suggestions that our Beta users gave us that made the team go back and redesign things. That added extra time to the development, but it was going to make Realm Works better for users in the long run. It made it difficult to estimate a release, but we’re really proud of the product that’s available and we’re excited for what we have planned for the future.

 

Written by Robert Beasley

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