Source:Eamon Adventurer's Log, April 1989
|This page is a verbatim reproduction of original source material and should not be edited except for maintenance.|
The Eamon Adventurer's Log newsletter, volume 3 number 1.
John Nelson (editor)
I have gotten some letters from some of my old members saying I have sold out to Big Blue because I am no longer active in the Apple Eamon arena and am working in the IBM arena. I don't really look at it that way.
I had always been a loyal Apple fan until they started repeatedly designing machines that I thought were bad judgments. To me it seems Apple has a death-wish and has had ever since they came out with the Lisa. To me, the first Macintosh computers were the world's most powerful doorstop. A computer you couldn't program! They have since remedied the problem, but Apple's continued progress towards the artsy side of computers has turned me off. I like a computer that you can get into and tinker with. Program it to do exactly what you want, not have it tell me what I can do next. The Apple II plus and IIe running under DOS 3.3 were great because they came up with a prompt and let you type in the next command. I don't like a computer coming up with a menu that tells me what I can do now. What if I don't want to do any of the things listed?
Anyway, the IBM seemed to me the way to go because it was more powerful than the Apple II series (except arguably the GS, but again – too artsy for me. GS for graphics and sound are the two features you could completely leave out of a computer and I wouldn't care!).
One of the big problems I was having on the Apple was I kept running into memory limits or speed limitation. I have not had a serious problem with that since I switched to the PC.
Eamon-QB is far superior to the older Apple version of Eamon. It is faster, more sophisticated, and capable of being expanded far beyond its current abilities. Eamon on the Apple side has about reached its limits unless so converts it to the GS or Macintosh.
The adventures to be converted to the IBM are chosen 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 some of the 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 are impatient and 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 a few dollars 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 per month, however, since I do not have time to perform these operations on massive quantities of diskettes. Also if I get a lot of requests for this, I may have to limit it further or discontinue it.)
I had started distributing Eamon for the IBM as an interpreter version 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 millisecond (I have an original IBM) 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. I thought maybe I could compile it.
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 the Eamon-PC 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|
|33||Orb of Polaris|
|120||Orb of My Life|
|U-1||Utilities - conversion tools|
All of the adventures listed above have been tested fairly thoroughly.
I am sending out only QuickBASlC 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.
The adventures listed below are additional adventures that the conversion process has been started on, but the adventures are not yet ready to go. Those with a "*" are in the final testing stage and may be ready soon.
|26||Assault on the Mole Man|
|27||Revenge of the Mole Man|
|35||Lair of the Mutants|
|37||Quest for the Holy Grail|
|48||Picnic in Paradise|
|*||70||Tomb of Y'Golonac|
|76||Search for Yourself|
|*||77||Temple of the Trolls|
|*||87||Caves of Hollow Mountain|
|99||In the Clutches of Torrik|
|107||The Last Dragon|
|108||Mines of Moria|
|121||Wrenhold's Secret Vigil|
|128||Quest of Erebor|
|129||Return to Moria|
I have been developing a system for converting the adventures and I am trying to improve my methods continuously. (If I have almost 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 of 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 recover the cost.
- 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 and case 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!
Since this is supposed to be a newsletter and not a gossip column or the National Enquirer, there will not be a column called "Terminological Inexactitudes" in this paper anymore. According to the most recent polls (and we think Gallup will back us up on this) too many lies are the root of 95% of the crime in this country. It causes violence, drug smuggling, mosquito bites, long hours in front of the TV and headaches.
Since there won't be column by this name in this newsletter, you won't be reading this, but since this column lies, will there be a column or not? Now I'm confused.
Bob Davis, long thought to be lost and on his way to Moscow to sell the secrets of Eamon to the Soviets, has been rumored to be in Kansas City. We haven't heard from Bob for a long time now. If anyone knows his whereabouts, please drop us a line. (We're serious now, you guys!) Hey, come on – cut it out – We would really like to know where the guy is. Maybe I can offer him a job in the staff again – at double his previous salary. No triple!! No ten times!!! Okay, so he wasn't a paid employee – that's no reason for him to run off and disappear!
Don Brown, whom we haven't heard from for years, is still around. No we still haven't heard from him, but we thought you'd like to know.
This column will be used for reviews of adventures. The Eamon QB system promises to be a more powerful version of Eamon that will allow anyone to create great adventures if they are willing to invest some money in a QuickBASIC compiler and some time to design an adventure.
The adventures I have been converting to the IBM so far have been adventures that I wrote or adventures that I enjoyed playing well enough to spend the time to convert.
Some of the adventures that I really enjoyed playing, I have not yet started converting because some of them will require a lot of time to convert. Adventures with a lot of custom programming are more difficult to convert and I am saving them for after I get the bulk of the easier, yet still enjoyable ones converted.
I have first started converting my own adventures to the PC. This doesn't mean I think mine are the best, it simply means I know my own adventures better, which makes them easier to convert.
Reviewing the adventures at this point would not be a big benefit, because I haven't been converting any bad adventures and no one has written any original ones yet. As we get more adventures, I will start rating the adventures and reviewing them. Right now I think they're all pretty good, or I wouldn't waste my time converting them.
Since the IBM versions of Eamon are all compiled, there is no way for user's to correct adventures they receive from the library unless they have the source code.
If you find errors in the adventures that prevent them from being completed or some other kind of serious problem, please notify the club via a bug report. The adventure will be corrected and you will get a new copy free of charge.
In order to fix these, I need for anyone who finds a bug to send me a bug report explaining what kind of problem you had with it. I am sending one bug report form to everyone.
A directory list will be kept up to date, showing all the latest versions of all important files on a disk. The first edition of this list is produced below. When revisions are made to adventures, I will print in this column the programs and revisions that were made.
Volume numbers: I have started using unique volume identifiers for all of the adventures, masters and utility diskettes. The volume numbers are used for disk identification when printing revision dates and may be used when ordering diskettes to avoid confusion. The volume numbers are derived from the following standards:
P X EQB ADV nnn
P for Production (or
X for Executable (or
S for Source)
EQB for Eamon QuickBASIC
ADV for adventures
MAS for Master)
DDD for Dungeon Designer)
UTL for Utility Diskettes)
Nnn = identifying number
Please check your copies of the adventures before you send in a bug report to see what the latest revised date is. If it does not match what I print here, then you have an older version. Send in bug reports only if you want to report a problem with the latest version.
At times I may print bugs that need to be corrected in the source code for the base program on the DDD. These kinds of fixes can be made by you without having to get a new copy.
The directory listing for the adventures:
(Omitted from internet version)
I hope by not distributing the source code for the master diskette or the finished adventures that we can keep the numbers of bugs to a minimum.
Source code for the adventures is kept in the central library at the club. Source code for individual adventures is not available. If you want the source code for adventures (usable only if you have the QuickBASIC compiler), you must order the source code separately. Source code diskettes are $20.00 each and include the source for five adventures or so. If you want a list of the available volumes, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope and request the Source code library listing.
Notices and Junk
Many of you have been wondering what's happening with the club, so I am will explain.
Last 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. Renewals were not 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 were my fault.
Since I was already up to my eyeballs in work converting Eamon to the IBM, I gave up the task of supporting the Apple version of Eamon. I have turned over the production of the Apple newsletter to Tom Zuchowski. Tom has been a very active member, tester and debugger for the club in the past.
Some members are confused as to the current status of the National Eamon User's Club. I will explain as best as I can on what the current activities, functions and status are.
- Tom Zuchowski will publish the Apple version of the newsletter, but is not connected in any way with the National Eamon User's 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. We will publish an IBM oriented newsletter. This will keep the IBM fanatics out there informed on the progress of the IBM Eamon system.
- Diskettes for both the Apple and IBM will continue to be sold by The National Eamon User's Club at the old address. 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 Apple oriented Eamon 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 have been, 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.
- This newsletter will be published for the IBM Eamonites on a quarterly basis. Subscription prices are $6.00 per year. This issue is being sent to all members who were current when the newsletter change took place.
Even if you do not want to subscribe, you will receive this newsletter for awhile because I will be absorbing the cost until we can get rolling. If you are interested in the IBM version, please let me know, so I can send you information as I get stuff developed. 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!).
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 files 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 CVTCTRL.EXE program is available if 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.