I wanted to let everyone know how Wintertree Software is being affected.

Mostly, not very much, because I’m your typical indie: I work from a home office, I go days on end without leaving the house, and the current recommendations for “social distancing” are, basically, how I live my life.

The one exception is conventions. All convention attendance has been cancelled for the foreseeable future. (as have most of the conventions) Sorry about the chocolate chip cookies.

Beyond that, everything remains the same. The Web store and DriveThruRPG sales page are as they’ve always been.

Also, I just want to give a shoutout to lutejin, who gave me an idea that will allow easy localization of TableMaster for non-English-reading users. It’ll be in 1.6.


By the way, those cookies are just the standard Toll House recipe, but there are two secrets to how good they taste: 1) Use butter-flavored Crisco instead of butter or margarine. I learned this from a friend’s mother, and it makes a bigger difference than you might imagine. 2) Eat them at a convention when you’re otherwise eating convention center food, convenience store food, or really skeevy food from that one food truck. Under the circumstances, that part’s a lot harder.

Legends & Loot

People are no doubt wondering why Wintertree has gone dark for the past month. No, I haven’t been eaten by a grue, nor run over by a bus for that matter. I had an opportunity to purchase an indie game system at a reasonable price, and I’ve been working on it to prepare for a Kickstarter.

For those who remember, 20-ish years ago Wintertree produced a little pocket-sized RPG called Legends & Loot, centered around a plastic dice-shaking device. I’d like to post a picture of it, but I don’t have one anymore. Not a lot of people do, actually. It was never a very big deal as a game, but it had its points, and I’ve always been rather fond of a number of features of its admittedly very limited (fit on half a sheet of paper) rule system.

So, this summer, there will be once again a game called Legends & Loot. It’s a lot more elaborate than that little pocket-sized gamelet, but those things I’ve wanted to do for decades — including the ones that were in the original Legends & Loot — are in there.

Most of the writing is done; it’s about ready for early playtests. I’ve been sourcing cardboard boxes, finding a makerspace to laser engrave custom dice in, and all the other things that go along with producing (entirely to my own surprise) an actual physical game.

And yes, it’ll have a Table Pack! 🙂

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 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:

Continue reading “Further tinkering with 1.4.5 and Wintertree’s birthday”

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.

Continue reading “1.4.5 may be sooner than expected”

TableMaster 1.4.4 released!

It’s out! The upgrade is now at 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)

Continue reading “TableMaster 1.4.4 released!”

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.

Continue reading “Quick State of The Code update”

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!



Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Well, saying I’d take a little while and update the Arcane Alphabets fonts took … more than a while. I now have 24 font packages on DriveThruRPG — that’s more than 24 fonts, as most of them contain several. It’s the little update that grew. I’ll have to admit, I’ve been enjoying myself. There’s just something viscerally pleasing about creating a font and seeing it go from an outline in a font editor to one that’s right up there on your screen with Times New Roman.

That certainly doesn’t mean that I’ve been slacking off on the programming, though!

There’s another new TableMaster update coming soon. Just a few new commands (none of them exciting … but for table development, sometimes it really helps if you can use a .BEEP, for example) and some bug fixes. I still have three more open bugs in the bug tracker. That’s a bit of a joke: the “bug tracker” is really just a file I list them all in; given that the latest bug is #81 — on certain errors, table files get left open — it’s not really crying out for a fancier solution.

Work on the new Table Pack is proceeding apace. I’m expecting to be done by the end of the month, if I don’t get sidetracked by more programming. I’ll post some sample output from some of its tables soon. I’m particularly fond of the one that creates islands.

And speaking of other programming, many years ago I wrote a little utility program that did basic letter transposition ciphers, either using pre-written transposition keys or generating new ones. I haven’t seen the thing in over a decade; I probably never bothered to transfer it over to the new computer, several computers ago; it got lost in the clutter. So, a year or so back, I decided to reconstruct it. And as y’all have noticed, I can’t not tinker with things. So I added a feature. Then another one. And another. And, well, I realized this thing might sell.

The problem was, I’d written it for myself. My quick-and-dirty programs tend to be, well, very dirty. They have no error checking or input validation, for instance, because I know what the input needs to be, and I’m not going to put something totally ridiculous in there. The controls tend to be obscure in the extreme. I know what that button creatively labeled button_1 does … isn’t that enough? Of course, if it’s going to be a commercial product, that isn’t enough. So I’ve been adding all sorts of error checking, and making sure that certain controls are disabled when they shouldn’t be used, putting pop-up tooltips on the buttons (not to mention labels that make sense!) and all that sort of stuff. When it’s done, I’ll pack Crypter — that’s what I’m calling it — up with a PDF manual, a copy of the basic Pigpen cipher font, and transposition tables to use that to create some of the Pigpen variants (there are scads) and send it to DriveThruRPG with the fonts and all.

The convention schedule isn’t nailed down yet. But when you see my actual table at an actual convention, Crypter will be there in a nice CD case, along with TableMaster (regular and deluxe), 7 Table Packs (8 if you count the Fantasy 1-3 set), probably three separate font packages plus a complete compilation of them, and all the clutter and odds and ends, like the power failure emergency kits, that seem to follow it around.

And I ran a little amuck in the post-Christmas sales on projection lights and their relatives, plus just before Christmas I got one of these. (on sale at a discount store, of course, because I’m cheap) So the Wintertree booth is going to be the one that looks like Steven Spielberg is under the table somewhere. And also has scrolling messages on the back wall, or maybe the ceiling, depending on the configuration of the space. And a physical instance of the plugdie that lights up and changes colors. Because why not?

Oh, and in the personal news, I’m still having complications with The House In Maine, which will probably necessitate me spending a month up there in the spring. And I’ve been acquired by another cat. She showed up on the steps and informed me that she was our new cat. I said that I hadn’t put in for a new cat, but I was informed that was not a consideration. She was our new cat. So there’s now a calico cat named Cricket in the bathroom, upsetting Caesar, who’s rather distressed that there’s this … animal … in his house!