It’s a wonderful feeling to look at TableMaster running for the first time since I upgraded from Win98. The output is stuffed with diagnostics, of course, but it’s TableMaster output, just like it should be.
TableMaster II has run its first table!
Naturally, the output was “Hello world!” Along with a page full of diagnostics and assorted clutter, there it was: TableMaster II’s sign-on as a running (or at least crawling) program.
All it can do so far is print things (and not even randomly selected things) — but it can print things. It can read a table and print out what it finds there. In a very real sense, the hard part is over; all the rest is elaboration.
I’ve been working on TableMaster all day, so I took a quick break to play around with one of the old fonts for a bit. I decided to do a quickie conversion of it (given that I’m not sure if I ever even rebuilt it for Win95!) and put it up on the Wintertree Redux website free, as a little teaser for what the new font package will have some day.
The font in question is one I called InstaHex, for making your own hex paper of any size you want. It is, perhaps, not as useful as it once was — but then again, hex paper isn’t as common as it once was, either, so perhaps the ability to turn it out by the ream from your printer may be worthwhile after all.
Many B&W photocopiers won’t pick up pale blue (hence non-photo blue pencils). If you have a color printer, you could print out hex paper in a suitably pale shade of blue, draw your maps on it, and then run them through a copier to get just the map without the hex background.
It’s here, with some very basic usage instructions: InstaHex download & info page
Just to keep y’all updated on the status of TableMaster II: As of this morning, it now recognizes the .table directive and allocates table headers accordingly. While that doesn’t sound like much (what, the program is only just now dealing with the first bit of its data structures?) it’s a bigger deal than it might look, because that means I must — and I do — have all of that structure established and the whole framework laid out. A lot of the real skull sweat is done, and as soon as I get table lines being similarly stored, it’s much more straightforward from here on in. Not quite just turning the grind crank, but more of a matter of filling in the blanks than what it has been, which is deciding what and where the blanks should be.
It’s been a really weird feeling, doing all of this. Sometimes it’s almost like the past 16 years didn’t even exist. It’s weird, but it sure is fun.
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One of the more popular Wintertree products, back in the good old days, was a package of fonts called Arcane Alphabets. It was a collection of interesting fonts for gamers — mostly interesting alphabets like Ugaritic cunieform, hieroglyphs, and FUTHARK runes, plus really odd stuff like the secret script of the Vehmgericht. People did some fun things with them; I remember one convention where the organizers used the Ogham font as an “alien” sort of font along the bottom edges of the badges, which looked really cool. (that was a college convention unfortunately scheduled the same weekend as the school’s Homecoming … mostly, we vendors sold stuff to each other) I did some other fonts, too — a pack called Mapographer that would let you draw adventure maps in your word processor (how dated is that?) and the only licensed product I ever did, the dwarf fonts from Games Workshop’s Warhammer books. That one never sold very well; I remember writing out a royalty check to send to GW and it was like $5.
So what do fonts have to do with Wintertree Redux?
There are a lot of things about TableMaster that are dated, some of them painfully so. Some are things that I have to deal with as a programmer, such as the fact that TableMaster used to be two programs, not one, and there are some housekeeping issues raised as a result. (I was just dealing with one involving closing all open table files for .INCLUDE this morning) Some are matters of style and appearance; I’ve kept many of those for the sake of continuity and tradition, though the UI does look less Win3.1-ish than it used to. Some are simple practicality, such as my decision to continue using an .INI file (just like in the old days) instead of the Registry, so that TableMaster will be fully portable. But there is one that seems both quaint and, well, weird.
I’m looking at the source code for the original GENERATE. The file of subroutines was, according to my comments, originally written for Turbo Pascal 6.0. Talk about a blast from the past! (for those of y’all who are staring blankly at your screens right now, I’m talking about this) I looked it up, and got a real burst of nostalgia from the picture of the box. I think it’s the kind of nostalgia we have for all the things we did the hard way decades ago, though — nice to reminisce about, but not fun to do that way ever again.
I upgraded to Borland Pascal 7.0 before the first release version. I just looked that one up, too. I remember that box very well. That big, cubic, shelf-eating box, stuffed to the top with manuals. According to the site I just looked it up on, there were 11 of them. Sounds right. I probably still have them in a box somewhere; I firmly believe that everything is in a box somewhere, probably in my attic. The scary thing, if you’re trying to find anything in my attic, is that I’m most likely right.
Aaah, nostalgia. Memory allocation on the heap. The whole table structure hanging from one variable, just waiting to become the memory leak from hell. Yeah, I don’t miss it one bit.
My old code has one very important thing, though: the listing of all the TBL keywords and their synonyms. That’s going to save me some typing. And, in between the moments where I wonder “what was I thinking?” (or even worse, just “was I thinking?”) as I look at my old code, I find a few clever bits. Ima steal those from myself. 🙂
Also, looking at that old code reminded me of how much tidier it was back in the day when one’s compiler didn’t go sticking the event handler for a UI button click or something right in the middle of the lot. Also how much easier it was to find what I was working on. There are now include files. 🙂
Also, I’ve figured out what the first new table pack is going to be. I’d better get TableMaster running so I can start writing tables! 🙂
Here’s another scan from the box:
It’s the outsides of the packaging for TableMaster Deluxe — the pack that had TM/Win and all four table packs on a CD in it (the regular versions were on floppies). The cover was a color copy, so some of it has suffered a bit over the years for the same reason the catalog did — copier toner just doesn’t do well in 140-degree attics — but back in the day, it was pretty cool.
There’s a bigger picture after the jump.
I have a box in my lap full of old TableMaster stuff! I’ve got the manuals from versions 2 and 3, one of the TM Deluxe packages, and various other things. The TM Deluxe package contains, among other things, my Winter 1998 catalog. It’s half a page, admittedly, more like a price list (all of 11 items if you’re being generous and counting the DOS, Win3.1, and Win95 versions of TM separately). It’s been in a hot attic and it was originally photocopied, so the toner stuck to other pages, and they stuck to it, over the past 18 years. Thankfully the manuals and quickref card were offset printed, so they’ve endured intact.
I’ll put in a break here and put the scan after the break, so it doesn’t fill up the whole first page.