Source:Eamon Adventurer's Log, 1988
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The Eamon Adventurer's Log interim letter.
John Nelson (editor)
The use of this item is permitted and constitutes fair use on the grounds that it's free or in the public domain.
According to the mail I've been getting lately, many of you are wondering what's happening with the club, so I am writing this personal message to all our members, both current and expired.
This summer celebrated the end of our second year of operation of the club. That means that a majority of our membership was up for renewal. The latest renewals have not been too encouraging. Out of an original 180 some odd members, only about 23 re-subscribed. I'm sure there are many reasons for this, several of which are entirely my fault. I have not been able to spend as much time on Eamon as I used to – I used to spend 20 to 30 hours a week on it. With my current obligations, I can no longer afford to spend that much time. Also, with my interest leaning more and more towards the IBM side, it has left me even less time for the Apple version.
I have therefore made an important and difficult decision. I have given up the task of producing a newsletter. I have turned over the production of the newsletter to Tom Zuchowski. Tom has been an extremely active member, tester and debugger for the club in the past and has more time and interest in the Apple version of Eamon than I do.
Tom intends to operate the newsletter subscriptions differently than I did. The differences are probably best left for Tom to describe, so I leave that to him in his newsletter.
However, some members are confused as to the current status of the National Eamon User's Club. I can understand that, since I am confused sometimes myself as to what our current status is. I will explain as best as I can on what the current activities, functions and status are.
- Tom Zuchowski will publish the newsletter, but is not connected in any way with the club except that I turned over to him all the finances necessary to continue all the active members' newsletters. The National Eamon User's Club will not publish an Apple oriented newsletter anymore. I plan to start publishing a smaller IBM oriented newsletter soon, to keep the IBM fanatics out there informed on the progress of the IBM Eamon system.
- Diskettes will continue to be sold by the club at the old address, with the exception that now that I have more time to get organized, order processing will be much faster than before. If you wish to order diskettes or documentation, you may do so by sending your order to the old address (PO Box 30087, Des Moines, Iowa 50310).
- The newsletter will be produced by the Eamon Adventurer's Guild. The Guild and the Club should not be confused with each other. Guild duties will mainly consist of the newsletter, reviews of adventures and play testing and debugging of adventures. Tom will send debugged adventures to me and I will keep the club library up-to-date.
All current members in good standing are being transferred and will continue to receive newsletters for dues already paid through an agreement reached between myself and Tom. You therefore don't have to worry about losing the money you already paid to the club. Tom has received a complete list of members, a complete library of the Eamon adventures and all back issues of the newsletter.
I will continue to write articles, review adventures, and continue to work on Eamon, mostly centered on the IBM version of Eamon, and will keep the club running as an IBM club. I will be available to advise and assist Tom in the event that he needs it.
Once I have the IBM version of Eamon well into production, I will be printing my own small newsletter for IBM Eamonites. If any of you out there are interested in the IBM version, please let me know, so I can send you information when I get some stuff developed.
I hope the transition of operations will go smoothly. If any of you experience any problems with your memberships, please advise Tom or myself and we will try to get the matter resolved as soon as possible.
I had started distributing Eamon for the IBM when I found a bunch of bugs in it. Apparently somewhere along the way, the current version got overlaid by an older version. Anyway, I tried to find the current version that had been debugged and was unable to find it, so I had to do some more debugging. As I was getting the bugs worked out, I noticed that the IBM version was running slower than it should. Why should a machine that has a clock speed of 4.77 milliseconds run at the same speed as the Apple at 1.0 millisecond? I found it was because of the loops for capitalization, truncation of strings, etc. that the IBM had to do that the Apple version didn't have to.
In the meantime, Microsoft came out with a new Basic complier QuickBasic 4.0. This BASIC had the functions I needed to truncate strings and handle upper and lower case more efficiently.
I have now converted all the Eamon programs to QuickBasic. While I was at it, I converted some additional adventures. The adventures that have been converted so far are:
|1||Master / Beginners Cave 2.0|
|2||Lair of the Minotaur|
|3||Cave of the Mind|
|5||Castle of Doom|
|11||Tomb of Molinar|
|12||Quest for Trezore|
|16||Caves of Mondamen|
|20||The Black Death|
|21||Quest for Marron|
|**||26||Assault on the Mole Man|
|**||27||Revenge of the Mole Man|
|33||Orb of Polaris|
|77||Temple of the Trolls|
|120||Orb of My Life|
|U-1||Utilities - conversion tools|
All of the adventures listed above without any "*" have been tested fairly thoroughly. The ones with a single "*" are still in final testing stage. The ones with "**" have had the files converted and the programs updated, but are not yet tested, and are not yet ready for release, but are expected to be ready in the next few months.
I would like to recruit some testers, and start selling these to bring the club back into the black again (since I sent all of the current club funds to Zuchowski). It you would like to test, please let me know. Those adventures listed with a single "*" are ready for testing by play testers. Those with double "**" are still being tested by me and I would like to get them closer before sending them out.
I am sending out only QuickBasic versions of the system, not interpreter versions anymore. If you purchased the old interpreter versions of the master and the adventures, please return them for a free replacement with the QuickBasic versions. The old interpreter versions will not work with the new QuickBasic adventures.
New adventures available for the IBM-PC include the following that were transferred and converted from the Apple.
Designer's Assistance for IBM-PC Eamon designers.
The new dungeon designer diskette now available for the IBM-PC is quite a remarkable piece of programming, even if I do say so myself. I worked on it very hard when converting adventures to the IBM and came up with a tool far superior to the old Apple editor.
This article will present an overview of the tools available on that diskette and some of the features found in the programs.
First a word is in order for the methods used in designing an adventure for the IBM. It is different from the Apple in that the programs are written in code designed for a compiler not distributed with your computer. That means you'll have to buy a copy of the compiler before you can write adventures for the IBM (if you want to make modifications to the base program). This should not be a major problem, however, since QuickBasic is very economical. You should be able to pick up a copy for less than $70.00 (I have seen it as cheap as $57.00) through a mail-order house.
If you want to create a quickie adventure with no special programming, you may use the MAINPGM.EXE program by itself and not bother with the source code MAINPGM.BAS or the compiler. The compiler that I used is Microsoft's QuickBASIC version 4.0. It must be version 4.0 because it takes advantage of some of the compiler's new features that were unavailable in earlier releases.
The programs on the Dungeon Designer diskette include:
A second diskette provided with the designer programs is the source code diskette. It contains the source code for the MAINPGM and LEADIN programs, as well as the 10 routines EAMSAVE, EAMREST and CHARIO. If you do not have the QuickBasic compiler, you won't need the source diskette, except to see how the code works.
The DUNGINIT program is executed when you are ready to create the tiles for an adventure. It will prompt you for the adventure name, adventure number, authors name, etc. and will initialize the files for you.
The DUNGEDIT program has some great enhancements compared to the old Apple version. Some of these enhancements are listed below:
- Improved text editing routine with these neat little features:
- Find a character in a text string
- Supports up and down arrow keys
- Alter the case of characters individually
- Change all characters to upper case
- Change all characters to lower case
- Insert and delete
- Home key
- End key
- Return key accepts all characters (rather than use the ESC key for this)
- CTRL-End key erases to the end of text
- Esc allows you to escape the current edit.
- Individual fields in the artifact, monster or room records may be backed out of to proceed to a previous field.
- List functions make a list program almost obsolete, since you can view all of a room, artifact, effect or monster, or select just a list of names. Once you are in a list or view function, you may page up or down or escape the list entirely, jump to a particular number or enter update routine on the currently displayed item.
- You may sequentially view any data on any of the files and when you find something that needs to be changed, enter update mode immediately by pressing U.
- You may edit multiple adventures without leaving the editor program by selecting edit new adventure.
- Room codes are encoded for you for special options. You don't have to remember to add 100 or 200 or whatever to cause unusual rooms or connections.
- Prompts are a bit friendlier. Function keys are used to indicate hidden, embedded or buried artifacts.
- A convert to upper/lower case option allows you to more easily convert an entire file. This is especially handy when you are converting Apple adventures to the PC.
- Inserting artifacts is an option on the menu, so you don't have problems adding artifacts after your bodies are loaded to the file, as you did with the Apple.
- Control fields are available to allow you to customize your adventures more severely without programming changes to the dungeon editor program. For example, you are allowed to have more than 100 rooms, artifacts, effects or monsters. You can change the room file length, the length of the monster file records, etc to make the most efficient use of your disk space.
Note: You should establish your control information before doing any editing, and do not change it once records have been added to the files. Doing so could lose your data or result in the need to do a file conversion or repair. The CVTCTRLEXE program is available it you decide you need to change one of these important control fields after the files have had data added to them.
Well, I think you get the idea, and why I say the IBM is a more powerful, capable machine. Doing some of these tricks on the Apple would quickly run you out of memory, if not totally insane.
Notices and Junk
The club is still selling adventures at the same price as always ($5.00 for IBM adventures and $3.00 for Apple adventures). The club will continue to maintain the library as it has before. You should be assured of a complete line of adventures. Some Public Domain outfits are selling only a few of the series, but we continue to carry them all (unless there's something wrong with them!).
Decisions / Decisions
When I start to convert an adventure from the Apple to the IBM, I have to decide which ones shall I do. I choose them according to their playability and enjoyment value coupled with the complexity of the conversion. I am first trying to get the good adventures converted that don't have extremely complicated custom programming routines.
Some of the adventures have such extensive programming (such as Thror's Ring) that it may take a long time to convert it. I am saving these for when I have the easier, but still interesting ones converted. I have no plans to convert the lousy adventures to the IBM.
Also, there are countless others that probably will never be converted because they are not worth the trouble to convert. I do not have the time to convert them all and do not even want to attempt it. If there are any of you out there that would like to convert the adventures, but don't have the machine power or conversion programming tools to do it, drop me a line. I'm sure we can work out a deal. I will convert the files and programs and transfer them in a "raw" state, ready for you to edit on a PC compatible machine for $5.00 per diskette. You will have to edit the files, convert the programming and test. (I have to put a limit of 5 disks per customer, however, since I do not have time to perform these operations on massive quantities of diskettes.)
I have been developing a system for converting the adventures and I am trying to improve my methods continuously. (If I have over 150 disks to convert, I have to try to maximize efficiency!) I have purchased a new machine that helps with a portion of the conversion. My method consists of the following steps:
- Convert to Apple files from random to sequential files. This is necessary because I can only transfer sequential files.
- Locate the lines custom programming in the base program and record the lines that are needed.
- Write the lines of special code into a sequential text file to be transferred to the IBM. This is done by opening a text file and listing the lines into it.
- Transfer the files from the Apple to the IBM. This is done on the new computer that can read and write both formats of diskettes. One reason I have to make a profit on this project is to justify this machine and to pay for it.
- Edit the files on the IBM side. This is necessary because the transfer process places some characters in the text files that aren't wanted.
- Convert the sequential files back into random files. I have written a pretty slick little program that does this painlessly.
- Install the changed lines of code transferred from the Apple into the PC base program, converting the instructions while I'm at it. It is easier to convert only the changed lines and add them into a standard base program that already runs on the PC than it is to convert the entire program from the Apple to the IBM. The mission statement program also needs to be converted.
- Re-align the spacing of the descriptions.
- Test the adventure.
Steps 1 through 6 are fairly fast. I have access to 4 machines at the same time (2 IBMs and 2 Apples), but I don't have access to four operators that can handle the commands needed to perform all of the steps, I therefore have to run back and forth, running all four at the same time. (I should have it videotaped sometime, it is probably most entertaining!)
The areas that really slow me down are steps 7, 8 and 9. If I could get volunteers (hint, hint) I could get a whole lot more done! 'Nuff said.