Further tinkering with 1.4.5 and Wintertree’s birthday

I fixed a couple more bugs that snuck in to bite me. (yes, I know “snuck” isn’t supposed to be a word; I like it, and my spell checker can bite me, too) I’m not sure how long the one with .SPACE has been around … I’m guessing a bit under 2 years, because that’s an old part of the code. And in all that time, nobody reported a major bug in it. I have to figure that’s not one of the more commonly-used commands in TBL. Like, apparently, at all.

On a related note, Saturday is officially the 2nd birthday of Wintertree Mk.2 — I count from the day I registered wintertreeredux.com. Two years of this … it didn’t seem this hectic the first time around! Of course, at that point I was selling TableMaster, a couple of Table Packs, and I think the earliest version of Arcane Alphabets. As of today, I’ve got 49 line items over on DriveThruRPG — two were special holiday bundles, but the other 47 are actual things I’m selling. Fonts. Software. 1001 Things. Eeep. No wonder it seems hectic! Two years of turning the grind crank. Y’know, I love it!

I particularly love when I talk to someone — in person or online — and they tell me they’re an old TableMaster user from the old days. Though I think the part I love the most is when someone tells me what they’re doing with TableMaster, and they’re doing something cool that I never thought of doing myself. (I’m just not that imaginative a person) Or when people show me tables they’ve written, and they’re making TBL do things I didn’t realize it could do, and I’m the one who wrote it!

On to the latest crop of technical issues:

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Another 1.4.5 note

1.4.5 will definitely have a version-checking feature. Click the “check version” menu option, it’ll go to my new version-checking web page and tell it what version it is, and the web page will tell you if it’s the latest or not.

Not exactly high tech, but both extremely non-intrusive and quick & dirty, which is a win all around. (assuming y’all want me working on more tables, the endlessly-delayed Mac version, and other things that are not figuring out how to make TableMaster check for updates)

On a related note, just as sort of an Easter egg, if you click on the TableMaster II logotype in the “about” screen in 1.4.5, it will take you to the Wintertree website.

1.4.5 may be sooner than expected

Just a quick update here, as I’m surfacing for a while from the code:

First, yes, there is a bug in .JOIN/.ATTACH (and a typo in the manual). I just fixed that, but clearly it’s worth a maintenance release, at least.

Second, a new command. Of course there’s a new command, right? This one is actually a significant one: .CAPTURE.

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TableMaster 1.4.4 released!

It’s out! The upgrade is now at http://www.wintertreeredux.com/product/ for all TableMaster owners.

There are a lot of new features, as I have discussed in previous blog posts. I’ll post the changenotes after the break.

New features: 7.5 new commands. A new output formatting code. Extensions, using the new ! modifier, to four output formatting codes. The first meta-command. A bunch of GUI tweaks. A whole lot of bug fixes.

7.5? Well, yes, the .5 of a command is .RESET ALL. That actually translates to a different opcode in TableMaster’s innards (creatively called resetall instead of the normal resettable). So it doesn’t look like a new command, just a parameter, on the surface, but it really is one underneath. Hence 7.5.

There are also updates to the TBL language reference manual, of course. (the Tutorial needs an extensive overhaul, since TBL has had so much added since that was last updated; I’ll announce here when it’s also been updated)

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Printing on Papyrus

Out of all my fonts, Medu — the authentic hieroglyphic one — is probably my favorite. (it’s for sale on DriveThruRPG if you’re interested) And, probably unlike the average person (but then again, are any of us gamers average people?) I have played around with real papyrus a time or two. Naturally, these things converged.

papyrus detail
Detail of Medu printed on papyrus

Specifically, they converged in that this morning, I successfully printed some text (the Negative Confessions) in Medu on a piece of real papyrus!

The example to the right is a detail from the printout. A picture of the full page, and more information about how I printed it, is after the break.

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Persistent Capitalization: another extended output formatting code

This isn’t the biggest change of all time, but it’s a darned useful one.  Once again, it’s using ! to extend an output formatting code.

Almost long as there has been a TableMaster, there have been the \C and \c output formatting codes. They arrived with embedded subtable calls, back in 1994 I think. And since 1994, it’s been bothering me that if that embedded call returns more than one word, only the first word will be capitalized. Most of the time, that’s what you want. But sometimes, you need a 2-word (or more) result, and you can’t just capitalize it in the table because that table is also being called elsewhere and shouldn’t be capitalized there. So for 24 years it’s been bothering me.

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TGR and Other Stats

A year ago, I wrote up a very rough, basic game framework  called TGR — The Generic Rules — not a playable game, but something I could base TableMaster tables on, so there would be some degree of consistency in their references to various stats, monsters, etc. You can find them here: Stats, Races & ClassesMonstersSpells & Effects.

TGR has a basic set of character stats that cover most uses, but there are some interesting exceptions. Those generally apply to settings other than the classic “knights and monsters” fantasy setting.

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Quick State of The Code update

1.4.4 was just about ready … then I found a bug in the release candidate build. You know what they say, there’s always one more bug. This one’s insidious — it lurks somewhere in the output formatting, and inserts a space between “a” and “n” in a\n under conditions I haven’t quite pinned down yet. So there’s a delay while I’m bughunting.

Which, of course, pushes the new Table Pack back some. I’ve got about 20 tables for it finished, and now I’m chasing a bug in TM instead of writing tables. And working on fonts. And a few other things. They’ve just cloned monkeys … I wonder how soon they can clone me?

The current change notes for 1.4.4 and some comments on them are after the break.

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Sex added to TableMaster!

I couldn’t resist that headline. And after all, they say sex sells.

But really, what I added was a new command .SEX which sets the value of the {$Sex} system variable according to the arguments presented. The options are:

N – neuter
M – male
F – female
P – plural

.SEX MF randomly sets either male or female (he or she)
.SEX NP randomly sets either neuter or plural (it or they)
etc. The four can be used in any combination, so long as at least one is present. (and you can type out the words if you want, with the exception that since “female” includes “male”, you can’t use it unless you either want “male” as an option too, or you spell it fexale or something)

I’ve been adding commands today. I also added .UP and .DOWN, basically Inc and Dec from Pascal, and .PRINTCODE to print out any ASCII value from 0 to 255.  (handy for printing high ASCII to get, say, £ or whatever you need).

Yesterday, I was tinkering with the output formatting codes. I added another numeric one, \$, which works like \# and \@ except it outputs “once”, “twice”, “thrice”, “four times”, etc. Then Joel suggested “why not have it do a dozen too?” Well, that was problematic; I don’t have a lot of unused characters left, and I’d need three — one as a modified version of each of the numeric codes. Then I had an idea: it’s a modifier … so put a modifier in the code. You can now do \@!, \#!, and \$! to get a dozen, score, hundred, gross, and a few other terms. I’ll probably add a few more before it’s released.

I’ve wanted a way to capitalize every letter in the results of an embedded subtable call rather than just the first one with \C. When I can figure out how to do it without having it go and capitalize the whole output or something, \C! will eventually do that.

Still two bugs to go before 1.4.4 is available. Well, one is less of a bug than an oversight — .RESET doesn’t check to see if a table exists before it tries to reset it, so it will cheerfully reset absolutely nothing if you’ve got a typo in that. I had a typo in there. :p And the one with the files being stuck open is still there because it’s in hiding; I can’t fix what I can’t make happen! So until I can reliably surface that bug, it’ll be there. (if it happens to you, the only thing you can do is restart TableMaster)

So 1.4.4 will have six new commands (seven if I find the time to squeeze one last one in), a new output formatting code, and a modifier to several output formatting codes.

Y’know, back about 1998, someone was pushing me to add something or other to TableMaster — I forget what it was, I just remember it was a really bad idea. I said that TBL was complete, and there was no need for any more commands.

…maybe now?

And in personal matters, the cats have discovered that if one cat can take up most of a bed so a human can’t get comfortable in there, two can totally block that bed and make the human have to either sleep sitting up, or commit the terrible offense of moving a cat!

A Little Freebie

cipher disc image
printable WTS-01 Cipher Disc

I’ve been up to my eyeballs in work and life. Particularly, a program named Crypter which will do cipher-related things, kind of handy with some of the fonts I have on DriveThruRPG now.

I’m almost done with the Crypter manual, and while I was working on it, I whipped up something to use as a promo handout at conventions: a do-it-yourself cipher disc, so you can do Caesar and Vigenere ciphers manually. Your very own Wintertree Software Secret Decoder Ring! (secret decoder “rings” were often badges, etc.) And you don’t even have to save up boxtops!

Print it out on the heaviest cardstock your printer can handle, then follow the assembly instructions on the page.

In TableMaster-related news, the new version isn’t up for download yet because I’m chasing a bug I can’t force to appear when I want to. I’m starting to think it’s a figment of my imagination. Or perhaps, if I imagined it because I was hungry, a Fig Newton of my imagination. It would be embarrassing to put out a bug fix patch that had its own bug, though!