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Blast from the Past (or: "Zamro have become a train") - Newton's Theories [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
David Newton

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Blast from the Past (or: "Zamro have become a train") [Sep. 2nd, 2006|06:00 pm]
David Newton
To be honest, my laptop was getting old when it was handed down to me in 2001. Now it's positively ancient, and even though the dodgy monitor can easily be fixed by holding the computer six inches above a hard surface and letting it drop, it's beginning to exhibit some more serious issues as well.

Yesterday, when in the DOS prompt, it decided that the "C drive file allocation table is bad" and kept on repeating it until Ctrl+C'd into submission. Looking at a directory listing yielded gibberish files that were all 16MB large. Trying to navigate away then gave "Overlay not found", which is a new high for error messages - I have no idea what an overlay is in terms of disk management, or why it would be looking for one.

Still, I love it even though it's clearly rubbish, and it's still good for two main things - Civ, and as I've rediscovered recently, ZZT. My recent declared plan to create a new ZZT game after five years away from it hadn't changed, because it is similar to Civ for time-eating and it's something creative I can do while waiting for a return to a more capable computer.

The first step was to get myself up to speed with half a decade of ZZT editing evolution - not trying to understand the matching changes in the community, because that's impossible. I did try to get some sort of idea of what was happening by looking at ZUltimate, the ZZT wiki, but that ultimately proved futile apart from explaining the meaning of a few of the catchphrases that had built up over fifteen years. I was quite proud that I had my own entry, brief though it is.

Still. It looked like my old favourite editor, ZZTAE, hadn't been updated since I last looked at it, so even though I felt slightly traitorous, KevEdit it was. I installed it and ZZT Under Windows, and was vastly amused to discover that ZZTUW came with a small .com file that I'd put together before university, for correcting the ASCII font on newer computers.

The new game is going to be another classic-style ZZT world in the same vein as Tower and Great Pyramid (if you're not dr_dos, madtom or zephyr_pie this will all be completely meaningless, by the way), but will hopefully improve on my old pillow-shading graphical method and be a fair bit longer than those two. I'm already discovering just how good KevEdit can make ASCII look.

I've already sketched out quite a bit of it on bits of paper, and I'm surprised to notice just how much easier the process is while working from a design document of sorts. Software Engineering might have been good for something after all.