Monday, May 19, 2014

Realm Works: Interview with Liz Theis

My original intent was for this interview (and the interviews with the Realm Works users) to inform my review. However, Liz and the users that I interviewed were so thorough in their responses, I just couldn't let them invest all that time for nothing! So instead of incorporating their responses into my text, I decided to post their responses as separate posts so you can see all of their commentary rather than just the parts I thought were most important. Before I go on, I want to send out a big "thank you" to Liz for allowing me access to Realm Works for review purposes and both Liz and the Realm Works forum regulars for taking the time to answer all my questions!


Me: First of all, what is your role at Lone Wolf, and how involved are you with Realm Works?

Liz: I’m the Community Development Manager. That means I’m involved with marketing, our social media accounts, the forums, talking with lovely people like you, and other fun responsibilities. I also oversee the logistics for our convention attendance, like Paizo Con and Gen Con. I’m also an ad-hoc member of the Realm Works team. While I’m not a developer, I participate in their meetings so that I’m kept up to date on projects and plans.

As a gamer and a Game Master, I also use Realm Works in my games. I’m actually adding a custom game in right now for a Hollow Earth Expedition campaign. Stolen artifacts, dinosaurs, and car chases – what can be more fun! I’ve been a gamer my whole life, so it’s been incredibly fulfilling to be a part of the team that brought Realm Works to the hobby.

Me: Will there be any functionality for allowing players to edit their own character files?

Liz: I may need a little bit more clarification for this question. Are you talking about statblocks or Hero Lab files that GMs may have for PCs? In general, players will not be able to edit content entered into Realm Works by the GM. If you can clarify your question or tell me what you’d be trying to accomplish, I can probably better answer.

Me: I think "files" was the wrong word to use, and I apologize for any confusion that may have caused. What I'm most curious about is whether or not there will be an option to make a section editable by players. I would use this for an entry on a player character. There are options to make such an entry (the same way one might might an NPC entry), but it would be great if a player account could be given permissions to edit their own character - filling in the blanks or uploading a Hero Lab file, for instance. That way the player could be assigned the task of keeping it up to date, and maybe even control what other players see about his character. I'm still not sure if I'm being completely clear here. Does this make sense?

Liz: There are some features that will allow players to make contributions to the realms they are in. Eventually, they will be able to write notes and create journals for their characters. It’s possible we’ll move towards additional player contribution, but that would be down the line. We encourage our users to request features on our forums. That will give us idea of the support for a particular idea.

Me: Is there a pricing model ready for player accounts?

Liz: We don’t have an announced price yet for the Player Edition. Our goal is to have it be a low-cost option for players. We hope to announce the price in the next few weeks.

Me: Will there be a free or demo version of the player account with limited functionality - or maybe a discount for attaching a Hero Lab account to a Realm Works player account?

Liz: We won’t have a demo available upon release. Like all of our other products though, we have a 60-day satisfaction guarantee. Players will also be able to upgrade their Player Edition to the GM Edition if they decide to GM one day.

We may have some bundles available for Realm Works and Hero Lab in the future, but nothing’s planned right now. If we make bundles available, we’ll definitely announce it on our website and in our newsletter.

Me: I noticed plans for big companies like Paizo to sell content. Will there be a marketplace for small-time publishers to sell content? Or even for individual users to sell content?

Liz: We have 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. We don’t have an agreement with Paizo yet, but we’re talking with them and other additional publishers to include their material.

Users will also be able to share or sell their own, custom content through the Content Market. So if you want to break in and sell your creations, you’ll definitely be able to do that through the Content Market.

Me: In doing some initial Googling of your product, several of the reactions I have seen have included the line, "You could just use Scrivener instead!" What would you say to all those folks?

Liz: The nice thing about Realm Works is that it has all of your GM tools in one package! You can add information about your world just like you would in your favorite word processing application, but you can also add images, stat blocks, PDFs, Hero Lab portfolios, and even audio and video clips! For people that like wikis because you can link your content together, we went one step further. Realm Works is smart enough to automatically detect and create connections between your content. If you like relationship trees, you can create them in Realm Works and connect it to your content. The same goes for interactive maps and plot outlines. And at the end of the day, when you’re sitting at the game table, you can also use Realm Works to share the story with you players.

You may be able to find another product that does some of Realm Works does, but Realm Works gives you all of this in just one tool. I don’t know about you, but when I’m running the game I don’t want to be switching between a handful of different sources or applications to find information or to show something to my players. I’d rather have it all in one place, and I can have that with Realm Works.
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