Realm Works Players Edition – A Review

As a big supporter of Realm Works I was offered the chance to review a players edition of the device recently and given a few licenses to do so.  For me to review it I would have had to of removed my full version and reinstalled it to be the players version as the full version and the player version cannot co-exist on the same machine (the full version has all the functionality).  So I did what I thought was the most intelligent thing.  I created a Super Squadron realm and got a group together.  I then offered them all the players version licenses to comment and review it from their perspectives!

As it turns out we got some initial reviews before any of them loaded it up as one of my players is Mac based and she was crushed to find out that Realm Works – Players Edition does not go on a Mac.  She thought she would not be able to play – but of course she could.  Two of the other players took the licenses and one of the other players already had a license, they had just never installed it.

One of the players wrote me a nice full review of the software after he started to play with it prior to the first game.  Below are the pertinent excerpts and some screen shots that he supplied to me.  His name is James Wallace and he plays Jet Boost, a self developed super whose main claim to fame is his jet assisted flight capabilities.

I am a big fan of hero lab and have been toying with the idea of purchasing Realm Works to assist me in compiling the ever growing pile a scrap paper that houses my many musings on the World that exists, to date, solely between my ears. So when the opportunity came up through Mark Knights and the generosity of Lone Wolf Development to have a look at a players edition with a view to playing in Mark’s Super Squadron game how could I pass it up[?]

… I sort of knew what I was about to see and I had the secondary interest in learning a little about Mark’s Campaign world before jumping in capes and all to my first ever Supers RPG experience. On loading up then realm I was met with

realm works players edition
The welcome screen to my super hero campaign

It doesn’t seem much and I suppose I thought nice information block, links are obvious and easy to recognise but I was not astounded. It is a straight forward page, buttons with sensible headings, pages that can be displayed in different tabs, back and forward, search bar and content lists like bookmarks. On reflection I consider this a plus. There is such a “web browser” familiarity with this interface that you feel immediately able to explore further.

Explore I did. I absorbed information as a player and enjoyed the knowledge that I was only learning things my character knew. From a roleplaying perspective something I really enjoy because that balance between character knowledge and Player knowledge is such a fine line to tread. It was apparent that there was so much more my character would need to learn to open up further links. For example, I will meet NPC’s who for now I know only by name and occupation but in future will gather additional information.

My first wow moment however came when I clicked on Titan City’s map.

Titan City Map
The map for my Titan City Campaign

This was the first picture I had come across and I immediately was drawn to the markers which in turn took me back to the information screen about the place and then to a street view

I was starting to be impressed. But this is where I was grabbed.

As a player of RPG’s I am a fanatical note taker. My notes are barely decipherable scrawl but I pride myself on being the player who remembers the name of the town or the NPC, the wording of the riddle or clue and the nature of the enemy. So I click on the User Note button I make a little note to myself and voila, Automatic link detection throws up references points for any key phrases in my note.

As a result my player note now has a direct interaction with the rest of the GM created realm. I find this extra dimension to my note taking to be a very exciting prospect. It appears that the user note is visible only to me but I wonder if there was scope for some GM involvement with the notes so that realms became dynamic. For example My user note “Super James has moved into apartment 17 in Singing Towers with Wonder Wendy” could be approved by the GM and incorporated as a link at Singing Towers Residents page and links to Super James and Wonder Wendy and their relationship. Suddenly the world is that much more detailed.

So now that I am thoroughly hooked by what in essence is an easy to navigate database and had a brief look at the remaining buttons.

There is easy access to some detailed manuals, video tutorials and the community forums.

There is access to a timeline and history so that recently available or added player information is easily located. There is the link web which shows clearly the interconnectedness of all things

On the whole I am looking forward to exploring the world of Titan City further and Realm works provides the opportunity for me explore and record information as I game but also to re explore or gather information between gaming sessions.

Titan City Police Station
The police station of Titan City

So James was pretty taken with the whole set up initially.  The other player that had it set up at this stage was a little non-committal at this stage because he could not see a huge amount of the material that I had hidden away in the background.  His main concern was if he would be able to see the information off-line or if he always needed an active connection, so between games he could review the data.  I asked Liz Theis of Lone Wolf this and she shot back this reply:

“Mark, the players need to sync down the realm (using the internet) before they can view it offline. Syncing is the means by which the GM’s content (and future updates) gets to their computer.‏
Just like the GM edition, once it’s synced they should be able to view offline.”
So that is great news.  But of course, I could not leave the review there.  We had our first game around a fortnight ago and so I used Realm Works for the first time in an active game and the two players with it also had it running.  As I revealed information on my version, it opened up to them at the same time.  It was magical!  The bonus here is the opening of data really excited James some more and got the other player (Kevin) into the tool too.  Suddenly I was fielding comments and questions from the pair and the third player sent me their email and the campaign started to get really fired up.
James sent me a couple of screen shots of Realm Works straight after the game he was that excited.  He had been taking notes as he went and the links were all auto updating for him and the notes that he made allowed for a network of connected links to be shown which impressed him thoroughly as it allowed him to weave his character into the campaign.
James' Titan City Notes
The notes that James Made on the night with the links auto setting in it once he saved them
James ' note web
The note that James added appears inter-related with the other topics in his version of the tool

This note ability and the opening of details really has my players liking the tool.  It is so easy for me to create this material too.  James said how hard it must have been to set up the map and the links, but in all honesty, one of the easiest interfaces I have ever dealt with.  The map and related links so far has probably taken up less than ten minutes set up, and there are a lot more links than James can see waiting on it.

Then the inevitable question has come through from the players and myself.  Can the players’ notes be incorporated back into the main version (or the GM version) of the campaign?  I have hunted around the GM tool for this information and also through a few of the manuals and I can not find something that directly references this question.  I have asked Lone Wolf about this through Liz Theis and am waiting on an answer at the moment.  It would be brilliant for the player to be able to have their notes integrated in the whole so their perspective could be shared by the GM, maybe even allow them to reveal snippets of that information to other players like the GM does for the players.  As a GM I would love to see it so I could add my own notes off their notes and integrate it into the whole as well.  As soon as I have an answer on this I will let you all know!

There you have it.  Realm Works Players Edition is just as brilliant for players as the full program is for GM’s.  I can not express how much I love this program in words.  I now probably have about 7 campaigns sitting on my Realms and am totally addicted.  As a GM, I strongly recommend you use this, for in person and online as it allows the players to think about the game not only while they are at the table, but when it strikes them to do so.  Keep rolling!

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