Switching over to Windows 10's Mail app unearthed that there have been some posts made after our last one here. Sorry if we didn't weigh in on those, most of it is beyond us anyway. But by coincidence, and an unhappy one at that, the last post got our attention, and we just had to step in and clarify.
mote is basically heading down fantasy grounds route of requiring people to pay, which makes little sense from a platform perspective, though they might learn their lesson before they set a toll booth down at the door before players.
With all due respect, anyone who has truly followed our development would know that this is not true
. While we are
building an online service that helps GMs and players connect with each other, it is not in any way something people are required
to use, nor is there a charge of any sort meted to keep Mote running. Please get the facts straight.
If one is savvy enough, like most long-time users of MapTool are, then one can just opt to use the direct connection methods + UPnP to get a session started. Last time we used Mote, there wasn't popup screen in the process asking for a credit card, nor does it make any sense for us to put one in there. Mote is meant to be free, since it did come from a free project, that's what makes sense to us as a "platform".
If we stopped writing for Mote today, users would have access to a free VTT that does more than MapTool, in its current iteration. By the evaluations of our users, it is already about 95% to 100% compatible to what they've built with MapTool. We've promised to eliminate the inconveniences, and we're already 2/3 the way there. All that's left is to provide a means to conveniently connect with others, which is what we're doing with Sandstorm, our optional
service. We'd appreciate it if people stick to this simple, and uncomplicated, truth.
Speaking in general (and not at the author of the previous post), there are those who can't get over the idea that we might charge something in relation to Mote, and I think that's an unfair stance to take, given all the factors involved. How different is charging a small fee ($2 monthly? $1?) for connection assistance, and other services, compared with an artist who has drawn maps and token sets for VTT use, or an author who has written a digital adventure module for tabletop gaming?
These are all complementary products and services that benefit from the existence of a VTT, and which, benefits the VTT in return. If a user doesn't like a product, much less, want to use it, then they could just ignore it, correct? Especially if it doesn't in any way hamper the functionality of the application. I don't know about everyone else's opinion, but to me, that seems like a choice, not a requirement.
Sandstorm is not for users who've been using MapTool/Mote for a long time. They're for people who've dropped MapTool because they couldn't get it to work, much less get it to connect with their groups, and jumped onto the Roll20 bandwagon. They're for people who haven't even heard of MapTool. The last time we've checked, Roll20's users outnumber MapTool users at least a thousand to one, a lot of which happily pay for a lot less than what MapTool can do, all in the name of convenience. That's what we consider "not right", so we're doing something about it, like everything we've done so far to this date.
These people who never considered (or dropped) MapTool as an option, are our target audience for conversion, though MapTool users will certainly find a lot of things to be happy about with Mote, if they give it an open-minded try, without fearing we'll attach a price tag to it somewhere down the line, or for whatever unfounded reasons that prevail.
The people who are in opposition to Mote, are probably not aware of other more commercially-bent forks of MapTool that exist out there, ones who've baked new features into their app, features that won't function, much less thrive, outside their service. Google it, there are at least a couple out there, trying their best to grow and make a buck. By comparison, Mote is truer to MapTool's "spiritual" purpose, even with Sandstorm taken into consideration.
While this wasn't brought up, we want to clear up some more misconceptions. Sift is our very own VTT, with nothing
taken from the MapTool source. Of course, by design, Mote-specific features like IRC, SQL, etc. made their way into Sift.
The technical, even technological, difference between MapTool and Sift, is complete. From the UI, to the networking components, to the rendering canvas, down to the very models at its foundation, everything was written from scratch, to take advantage of what is available today, not what was available a decade ago. Case in point, try taking MapTool into mobile, and you'll quickly meet a brick wall. Not impossible, but would it be worthwhile?
The MapTool source holds very little that can actually make it into what can be considered as a "next-gen" VTT, though it can certainly hold its own for many more years to come. But if people have been paying attention to the niche lately, "next-gen" is definitely in the target sights of at least 2 of the top 3 players in the field. If you can't take my word for it, it's easy enough to lookup.
Sift is to be positioned against other, larger, commercial projects such as Fantasy Grounds, who've recently acquired Tabletop Connect, and d20Pro, who've recently burned their KS supporters with what's looking more like a bait and switch by the day. There are also a couple of other new VTT projects jumping in, one noteworthy, and another that's not so much. All in all, competing with these is our team's focus, and it does not negatively affect, in any way, users who love free stuff like Mote. In any case, when the dust settles, it will be plain to see who's done best by the end-user. Till that time comes, we'll just do our best to get to the finish line.
In fact, of all the players in the field, we're likely to be the strongest proponents of the cause to bring quality apps to both the free and premium user bases. If we thrive, Mote thrives, and the user base who doesn't care about Sift or Sandstorm, will have something that is actively improved. As a bonus, we get to write a VTT that's truly special. If a person can name one next-gen VTT in development, we can give at least 2 advantages Sift will have over it.
Personally, I don't see any other player in the niche going after the very same things, much less doing one better. For the cynical who'll be saying "If you're not paying for a product, then you are the product.", well we'll just have to see if our deal is fairest for all in the end, agree?
Since we are a company that wants to make a name for itself in the tabletop niche, it should be common sense that we build a business model to sustain us toward our goals, but somehow, some can't seem to understand this, and think we (should) sustain ourselves through vestigial fat, goodwill and/or photosynthesis. Fortunately, the artists, authors, and composers, not to mention the early adopters who've already signed up with us, agree with we're hoping to achieve, and see that there are benefits for everyone, to be had.
We hope things are a little clearer now. Beyond Sandstorm and Sift, we have several other projects that need the environment of an actual running company, in order to make it into production. As always, while the going has been slow, we're committed to see it through, so don't expect us to disappear anytime soon.
So, if our work were to be evaluated objectively and fairly, what we're trying to do is actually a good thing, and people should be told about it more, to be honest. The users who regularly visit our community have proven that one can support both Mote and MapTool, without conflict of interest, once they're aware of how things are, and have the capacity to give us a fair shake.
Anyway, my apologies for the lengthiness of this post, and for "disturbing" the people of these forums. We've tried explaining it many times before, and even repeatedly to some of the same people. We felt we had to correct some false assumptions here, else others will take these up, and make it their own.
If possible, we'd like to ask if moderators can lock this thread once and for all. You can even delete it, if that is what's preferred. Any productive discussion people would like to have about our work are free to take it to our own portals, or start a new thread here, if this is where you like to be, just don't expect our input right away, for obvious reasons.
The Mote Kickstarter has ended, and we're actively delivering on it, and will continue to deliver on it, for the foreseeable future. People unhappy with us should just accept this fact, and move on.
Thank you, and best regards to all. We hope to never bother you again.