Well, it seems like we brought back an unexpected souvenir from Game-O-Rama: a rhinovirus. Or maybe a coronavirus. (hmmm, do I need a random virus generation table?) At last I’m only sniffling. Apparently hammering your immune system flat by sitting in an arctic blast for a day, combined with hundreds of people from all over getting together to share germs, can do bad things. Who knew?
We’re back from Game-O-Rama. It was a fun weekend, even though I was a bit off on the focus of the convention and in fact the boardgamers outweighed the roleplayers dozens to one. I got in some gaming (played Dungeon Crawl Classics for the first time and I’m in love), did things I shouldn’t have done in the flea market (the problem with Euro-style boardgames: they come in big boxes!), and met a couple of my original TableMaster users from 20 years ago. I also got a somewhat deeper knowledge of the term “polar vortex” than I really wanted; I’ve decided I need to put the logo on a sweatshirt or something just in case I wind up set up at a table under an air conditioning vent putting out howling arctic blasts again.
They had a wall decoration that I kept going past because it was between the convention area and where we were parked. It looks like something straight out of H. P. Lovecraft:
It’s almost time for the road trip: Wintertree’s first convention in 16 years. And it’s as crazy as it ever was, with a light-up tree getting in the way besides. Mostly, this update is just to say there won’t be an update for a while, because I’m going to be on the road, in the convention, or totally passed out in my hotel room. Hopefully not more than one of those at a time.
Before I sign off for a few days, remember: Back the Kickstarter! Show up at the Wintertree demo at Game-O-Rama with a receipt to prove it and I’ll give you swag. And cookies. Swag and cookies, how good can it get?
The Kickstarter is live. I say again: The Kickstarter is live.
Back it here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/931097983/tablemaster-ii-gamemasters-aid-software
Get in on the testing (real beta testing, not a hokey pre-release promo!), get early access to TableMaster (at least a week before it’s available to the public), get a discount, and get swag! Plus your name in the manual, of course.
Wintertree Redux is now on Twitter, just in time for Game-O-Rama in Atlanta this weekend. Major content will of course still go on this blog, but the Twitter will be handy for quickie updates.
Given that I’m going to be showing it to the world at a convention on Friday, I certainly couldn’t leave the TableMaster user interface in the state it was in. You know how your car looks when you’ve got half the engine apart all over the yard? Yeah, like that.
So today was spent getting the UI laid out properly and making everything work right. I added a bit for touch screen users too, since Windows tablets are a thing. And while I was at it I took a screenshot to show y’all:
As I said, I don’t have a lot of really interesting things to report at this point. I came to the conclusion that I was right the first time, and I really shouldn’t try to re-use old code. I’ve spent the past few days completely rewriting the expression evaluator and dice parser from scratch. On the plus side, they’re much more flexible (and more programmatically elegant) than the old version. On the minus side, this just killed the better part of four days.
But development is coming along nicely nonetheless. I’m going to have some awesome demos at Game-O-Rama this coming weekend (May 27-29). No pretty screenshots today because I’ve got the whole user interface torn apart and the buttons are all over the place. Using it on the touch-screen Windows tablet has made me quite aware of some issues with button sizes (or maybe it’s just fat fingers?), especially the one to transfer dice rolls to the table run count, and the fact that at the default font size, I had to squint to see the tables in the listbox. So, I’m rearranging everything when I take a break from debugging the main code. I’ve developed great sympathy for people who play Cathedral.
And, having a mostly-complete running TableMaster now, I’ve been having fun with tables…
The FedEx truck brought me a new toy this morning. It’s a Nextbook Flexx10, a 2-in-1 laptop/tablet hybrid, notable for being about the cheapest one I’ve ever seen — $130 from Sam’s Club. (they were actually out of them in the store, hence the need for the FedEx man). I’ve been running TableMaster on it. There is something way cool about seeing TableMaster running on a tablet.
Development-wise, TableMaster is well into the stage of unexciting stuff going on. Now that most of it’s up and running, things have shifted from heady, exciting work to long, slow, uninteresting, but utterly essential work. It’s a matter of testing things, fixing things, putting in all the little refinements, adding all the necessary error trapping, and so on. That doesn’t make for very interesting things to blog about, but it matters just as much as the flashier things that are easier to explain. “Added .LOCKOUT and .IFYES/.IFNO” is just a lot more exciting than “fixed bug 0017 on the bug tracker.”
So, instead, I’m going to talk about the first convention for Wintertree redux will be attending. It’s been a few months short of 16 years since Wintertree had a presence at a con. In a few weeks, we’ll be doing demos at Game-O-Rama in Atlanta, GA on May 27-29. I’ll have a pre-release version of TableMaster II there — both in their Demo Alley when available and wherever someone can buttonhole me the rest of the time — and I’ll be delighted to talk with anyone about it; actually, trying to shut me up about it may be the hard part. While TableMaster itself won’t be available yet, I’ll be directing people to the TableMaster Kickstarter project.
.LOCKOUT is in!
That’s the last major feature of TableMaster II. There are still a few minor commands missing, and a few aspects of some of the existing commands, and strange things happening with the expression evaluator, and of course the whole program is buggy as hell and there’s virtually no error handling … but .LOCKOUT is in. The framework is done. After 16 years, TableMaster is a thing again. And what a long, strange trip it’s been.