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Dupre
October 15th, 2009, 05:57
SmiteWorks USA Inc. has today acquired SmiteWorks Ltd. This acquisition brings Fantasy Grounds closer to its largest group of customers and creates new opportunities for further growth. The new owners are committed to developing Fantasy Grounds even beyond while maintaining the high quality our customers have come to expect.

We as long time Fantasy Grounds developers are thankful for all the feedback we have received over the years and especially the community, which is a rare gem in itself.

Doug Davison, president of SmiteWorks USA Inc. will follow-up with his own comments.

Foen
October 15th, 2009, 06:14
Best wishes to you, Ville, and to Tero and Ville. Thanks for bringing us the best VTT bar none, and good luck for the future.

Stuart

Oberoten
October 15th, 2009, 06:16
So long and thanks for all the fish.

- Obe

ddavison
October 15th, 2009, 06:20
As the new President and majority owner of SmiteWorks, I would like to address the community directly and explain what initially drew me to Fantasy Grounds and where I see the product going forward. I am in my early 30s, but I have a long history of gaming going back as early as the mid-80s. Most of my gaming experience has resolved around Dungeons and Dragons ©, but I have taken several fun jaunts into other systems as well. I view roleplaying games as a fun and creative outlet and I have spent a lot of time on both sides of the Game Master screen.

As the complexity of running and playing in these systems has increased, I have often times relied upon software tools to help facilitate the planning and running of games. Fantasy Grounds was the most recent of these tools and by far the most impressive. With it, a gamer is able to beautifully recreate not just the rules of the game, but the experience and ambience as well. The community is alive and vibrant and there is a strong willingness within the community to help other gamers and promote gaming in every aspect. The combination of the user community and Fantasy Grounds, with its extensible framework, would be hard for anyone to compete with. That is why I decided to approach SmiteWorks directly for an acquisition.

Now that Iíve established my gaming background, what makes me think I can successfully run SmiteWorks as a business?
I have run and still do run a software consulting business, Luster Software Inc., since February, 2002. This will continue to be my full time job, but I frequently have periods of down time where I would be able to invest a large amount of time in the continued development of the Fantasy Grounds application and brand. I have a BS in Computer Science and I work with many software languages and applications in my daily activities. I have done some work on rulesets for Star Wars Saga Edition ģ, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game ģ (which has not been released yet) and some XML/XSL translation work that allows printing character sheets for Moon Wizardís 4E_JPG ruleset. You can look for my posts as a fellow member of the community under the alias MeepoSose.

What are my immediate plans for Fantasy Grounds?
1. Dig in and learn the existing source code
2. Finalize and release the floating licenses for FG
3. Fix existing bugs (this will be ongoing of course)
4. Secure more official product lines
5. Provide more tools and information to support community ruleset development

Will the former SmiteWorks developers still be available?
They have agreed to help ease the transition and consult with my developers. In addition, they are rightfully very proud of the work they have done on Fantasy Grounds and they have a strong desire to see it continue to grow.

Will the application remain basically the same?
Yes and no. From a business perspective, I would like to see the business grow steadily alongside the user base. I would like to reduce the cost for people getting into Fantasy Grounds but also provide some form of residual income from those members who do join. This may mean that I go to some lightweight form of annual subscription. Since the community is one of the strongest assets for Fantasy Grounds, I want to make sure this is done in a way that doesnít alienate the existing user base. This may only end up applying to the floating licenses. Look for future threads where I solicit user feedback on various proposals.

Are the plans for a Mac and Linux version still in the works?
I would like to say yes to this, but I also want to caution you that I donít have much familiarity in developing for those platforms. I have more experience with Linux than Mac. The former developers made a lot of progress in this area and hopefully I can take it from there and bring it the rest of the way to market.

How are the relationships with White Haired Man and Digital Adventures going to be impacted?
I will be meeting with them soon to discuss the details, but I anticipate that we will continue the relationship. I believe that the more rulesets and add-ons that are available for FG, the better the product will be overall.

How long has this acquisition been in the works?
The process began nearly five months ago.

Who else is part of the new ownership?
There is one other member who I will introduce to the community shortly. He is a fellow gamer but is new to Fantasy Grounds.

Sincerely,

Doug Davison

Oberoten
October 15th, 2009, 06:20
On a more serious note, with this moving FG in under American copyright laws and all, how will this affect fan-sites (primarily thinking the Wiki here of course) ?

- Obe

Spyke
October 15th, 2009, 18:06
Will the former SmiteWorks developers still be available?
They have agreed to help ease the transition and consult with my developers. In addition, they are rightfully very proud of the work they have done on Fantasy Grounds and they have a strong desire to see it continue to grow.
Doug, while I wish you all the very best for this new venture, your comments above regarding the transition from the current developers do worry me.

The strength of Fantasy Grounds lies not just in its code but in the extraordinary artistic sensibility that has gone into the look and feel. If the code is being handed over to new programmers, how will you safeguard the artistic sense and skill behind the application?

Do you have a detailed style guide?

Spyke

ddavison
October 15th, 2009, 18:26
The current style greatly appeals to me and I agree is one of the most important things that sets Fantasy Grounds apart from the competition. There is no denying that the three former owners of FG were very talented individuals. I bring a slightly different skillset that I believe will be stronger in some areas and probably weaker in others. Those areas where I merely dabble, such as in the graphic design realm will be outsourced to other artists, with a strict requirement to maintain or improve on the current high level of artistry.

From the development side, I will be the primary developer and I have plans to accomplish a great number of things with the core application, add-ons, support tools and for the web-front and user community. There will be some ramp-up time in the beginning but you will start seeing some of my work before too long. It is up to me to prove myself to the community and ease any fears that might naturally occur during any change of ownership. Rest assured, that I have no intention of letting things sit idly.

ddavison
October 15th, 2009, 18:28
On a more serious note, with this moving FG in under American copyright laws and all, how will this affect fan-sites (primarily thinking the Wiki here of course) ?

- Obe

Our official stance is not changing. We have no intention of infringing upon any active copyrights. We will rely upon open gaming licenses and fair use of products to the full extent allowed by law and we will actively seek to secure agreements with publishers to release officially licensed material whenever possible.

Sigurd
October 15th, 2009, 18:54
The strength of Fantasy Grounds lies not just in its code but in the extraordinary artistic sensibility that has gone into the look and feel. If the code is being handed over to new programmers, how will you safeguard the artistic sense and skill behind the application?
While I share your concern for the program, this is inherently an unfair question. Change is part of life - there's nothing to say the current\former developers wouldn't have made drastic changes either. Presumably, we the users say how much we love the look and feel of the program and hang our heads\complain if that ever changes badly. A little faith on all sides is a good thing.

I will say that if the game ever loses its structure as a potentially independent server\client system I will not stay.

I appreciate Smiteworks USA for buying the program if the UK people wanted to sell it. It's always better to have people at the head that want to be there.

If we can help out, answer questions, or give feedback you will find the forums verbose but helpful.

Sigurd



The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little, and it will fail to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while the Company is true.

This has always been true.

I nominate Doug and his unnamed friend as our honorary "Frodo and Sam"! :)

Griogre
October 15th, 2009, 18:57
Best wishes to Smiteworks - to the former owners for bringing what I believe is the best VTT on the market; and to the new owner I look forward to seeing what you have in store for us.

ddavison
October 15th, 2009, 19:03
Thanks everyone. I can understand that there will be some concerns. I plan on listening to the community and using that to shape the future of Fantasy Grounds, much like it has in the past.

Spyke
October 16th, 2009, 09:41
While I share your concern for the program, this is inherently an unfair question.
It's a tough question, I agree, but I don't think it's inherently unfair. Over the years the original developers have shown a consistent ability to add features that fit 'organically' with the feel of the program. Consequently, I've developed a trust in them that they will continue to do this.

In Doug's announcement he spoke about the structure of the company and the code, but didn't mention graphics. Since these are a major part of what sets FG apart from its competition, as Doug agrees above in his reply, it was reasonable to probe further. If my question makes Doug think more deeply about this side, then I think it was worth asking.

Doug, your answer is welcome but doesn't set my mind completely at rest. The look and feel is not just about booking graphic artists for piece work that can deliver the same quality, but about having a vision of what will fit when drawing up plans for new features and coding them. While it's true that feedback from the community in response to new features can guide development, that's not much use to you if you've paid an external artist to produce the thing that's raising objections.

Anyway, time will tell, and as I think you said elsewhere, it takes time to build that trust up after a change like this.

I do wish you well, and I also want to add my thanks to the original team for the amazing work they've done over the years.

Spyke

ddavison
October 16th, 2009, 15:22
No words will be able to truly ease your concerns. It is going to require actions on my part to demonstrate that my vision is going to be good for the program. I think there are some things which will be released very shortly that should set you mind at ease. One set of items will be easy for others to integrate into their own rulesets and that will be a good example of how I prefer to combine form and function into a seamless experience.

demonsbane
October 19th, 2009, 04:21
While I share your concern for the program, this is inherently an unfair question.

Well, I share Spyke's concerns (and yours, regarding the maintaining of the independent server\client system structure). The original developers displayed a really unusual talent for assembling the application, both in code and in aesthetics. As an artist, I understand unusual and rare talent can't be really replicated. (In some degree, but not exactly in the same proportion, this is aplicable to coding, too.)

Confidence in the new adquisitors & developers needs to be based in the upcoming changes. Meanwhile I wish too to applaud original Smiteworks' developers for achieving this magnificent and sleek online roleplaying application. They made a revolutionary change regarding old & ugly & unispiring database interfaces as OpenRPG and achieved an improvement comparable to the emergence of the Commodore Amiga when almost everything else were plain DOS interfaces.

-

On the other hand I was seeing Fantasy Ground 2 development a bit stalled since the release of the current version in 2006, I believe (the version 2+). Maybe this adquisition, if Doug keeps the good things in some way faithful to the original product ("an excellent beer with its own special recipe") puts more things in movement: there are many feautures waiting for incorporation to Fantasy Grounds.

So, be welcome, Doug. We will be waiting for the results of your work.

Regards

nezzir
October 21st, 2009, 20:21
My only concern is pricing. If FG were to move to any type of subscription service to play, I'd have to find another virtual table. Optional floating licenses would be fine, but any compulsory fees would kill it for me.

Beyond that though, I'm excited to see some fresh code! Good luck and just buzz in if you need any help from the community ('cause we're awesome like that!).

SirJoe
November 5th, 2009, 03:49
Hi David!
I've like to open up a discussion re providing adventures and content for FG. Last year we here in discussions with Kevin Melka re content for DA and had started writting & producing artwork for him. However, delays got in the way and we had to pull the project into our own publishing house. We are just about to release our first adventure, token and map set which is fully licensed for the Savage Worlds ruleset. More are set to follow. Kevin suggested I contact you through these forums. Please contact me via our web site: www.storyweaver.com or email me at joe [email protected] the-sweeneys.com.
Cheers and congratulations on the aquistion,
Joe Sweeney