This interview is part of a series focusing on candidates in the running for the 2014 ENnie Awards. The Gen Con EN World RPG Awards (the “ENnies”) are an annual fan-based celebration of excellence in tabletop role-playing gaming, with voting beginning 7 a.m. Central on Sunday, July 20 through 7 p.m. Central on Wednesday, July 30. The winners will be announced at Gen Con, the Grand Hall at the Historic Union Station on Friday, August 15. To vote, see http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/. In this installment I interview Liz Theis, Community Development Manager, Lone Wolf Development.
Michael Tresca (MT): Tell us about your company.
Liz Theis (LT): Lone Wolf Development was founded in 1994 by Rob Bowes, our company President. An avid gamer, he saw an opportunity for software to complement the tabletop gaming experience. Early on, he had an idea for a tool that allowed GMs to spend less time preparing, more time creating, and focus on sharing the story with the players. However, technology needed time to catch up with his vision, so he focused on other tools first.
During that time, Rob created Army Builder®, the preeminent roster construction tool for use with the most popular tabletop miniatures games, and then Hero Lab®, the go-to character creation software for players and GMs. Eventually, he realized it was time to build the tool of every GM’s dreams, and began work on Realm Works!
Over the past 20 years, Lone Wolf has grown from a one-man operation to a company with 15 full-time employees! We’re still a small team by software company standards, and we’re proud to continue creating products that enhance the gaming experience for our users.
MT: Has your company been nominated for any ENnies in the past?
LT: Yes, our products have been nominated a handful of times, and won twice! Specifically, Hero Lab won a silver ENnie in 2008 and gold in 2011.
MT: Tell us about your nominated products/site.
LT: Realm Works is the Game Master’s answer for managing tabletop RPG campaigns. You can bring your world to life with maps, pictures, statblocks, and even audio and video files. Storyboards enable you to design the plots that drive the game. Every detail of your campaign can be automatically linked together, allowing you to visualize your world’s relationships and connections. You can even share your story with players by incrementally revealing your world using Realm Works’ patent-pending Fog of World™ technology. This ground-breaking technology can be used to share every aspect of your story with your players – maps, portraits, NPCs, locations, relationships, plots, and a whole lot more, both during play and even outside the game session.
MT: What distinguishes your entries from your competitors?
LT: Realm Works is a one-of-a-kind product. GMs have used digital tools before, like wiki-applications, family trees, and storyboards, but Realm Works weaves those capabilities together, adds innovative new features, and takes it all to the next level. For example, unlike the manual process of a wiki, Realm Works automatically detects when links can be created between your content and offers to do it for you. Place pins on maps and tie them to descriptions of locations and encounters, then use them to navigate quickly through your content. Incrementally reveal portions of maps and even individual pieces of information as the PCs explore your world. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Realm Works truly is a groundbreaking product that goes far beyond anything that has come before.
MT: What products will you be producing for the remainder of this year?
LT: Right now, our focus is on evolving our current products. For Realm Works, we’re Beta testing the upcoming Player Edition. Realm Works Player Edition allows players to access and review content revealed by the GM on their own computers outside of the game session. Players can independently lookup information, review what they’ve learned, and even make notes with same powerful linking capabilities as the GM version. Once Player Edition is released, we’ll focus on web-based access, a content market, and many additional features. We have a whole page on our website devoted to our future plans for Realm Works.
Our main focus for Hero Lab has been support for full character creation within our iPad app. The app currently provides a character sheet viewer for Pathfinder, but the imminent update allows users to create and level up Pathfinder characters right from their iPad! We plan to add support for GMs running games, NPCs, and kingdom creation down the road.
MT: Have you participated in any recent Kickstarters? Are there any upcoming Kickstarters on the horizon?
LT: Our Realm Works Kickstarter last year has been our only one thus far, and it was extremely successful. However, we don’t have any new Kickstarters on the horizon right now. Crowdfunding has been an incredible boon for the industry, and running one well is a lot of work! If we pursue another Kickstarter, we’ll be sure to do so with a lot of careful consideration and planning.
MT: What do you think of the new edition of D&D?
LT: Personally, I’m looking forward to the new edition. I’m even playing in a game this weekend, and I’m planning to roll up a character after this.
MT: Will you be at Gen Con? Where? Will any new products debut at Gen Con?
LT: The Lone Wolf staff and I will be at Booth #617! We’ll be demoing Realm Works, the new Player Edition, and the latest Hero Lab iPad app. We’ll also have our Character Creation Station in the Pathfinder Society room, where attendees can create and update characters using Hero Lab for free!
MT: Where can we find out more about your company online?
MT: Anything else you'd like to share?
LT: We’re incredibly honored to be nominated for Realm Works, and we’re looking forward to another successful Gen Con. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me!