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VARITALE is a "branching authoring system" designed to run either locally on your computer screen, or as a "door" on BBS systems such as PCBoard, RBBS, NoChange, Fido, ROS, Sapphire, and so on. You will be able to write stories (known in VARITALE as "books") that have alternate chapters. At any point, there is always an alternative. In VARITALE, each step (known in VARITALE as "chapters") can be up to 50 lines long. After each step, there can be up to 5 alternative chapters. This allows you and other people to create "story-rounds," in which everybody contributes chapters to the tale. Story-rounds are quite popular on BBS systems, but there is a problem: somebody will take the story in the wrong direction, and the other writers get annoyed. And that is the end of that story. With VARITALE, the writers can propose alternate chapters, either in response to an inappropriate effort by another writer, or simply to explore a different facet of the story. This version is limited to three books.
Disk No: 1794 Disk Title: Vari-Tale PC-SIG Version: S1 Program Title: Vari-Tale Author Version: C1.01 Author Registration: $10.00 Special Requirements: None. VARITALE is a "branching authoring system", designed to run either locally on your computer screen, or as a "Door" on BBS systems such as PCBoard, RBBS, NoChange, Fido, ROS, Sapphire and so on. You will be able to write stories (known in VARITALE as "books") that have alternate chapters. At any point, there is always an alternative. In VARITALE, each step (known in VARITALE as "chapters") can be up to 50 lines long. After each step, there can be up to 5 alternatives. This allows you and other people to create "story-rounds", in which everybody contributes chapters to the tale. Story-rounds are quite popular on BBS systems, but there is a problem: somebody will take the story in the wrong direction, and the other writers get annoyed. And that is the end of that story. With VARITALE, the writers can propose alternate chapters, either in response to an inappropriate effort by another writer, or simply to explore a different facet of the story. This version is limited to three books. PC-SIG 1030D East Duane Avenue Sunnyvale Ca. 94086 (408) 730-9291 (c) Copyright 1989 PC-SIG, Inc.
╔═════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════╗ ║ <<<< Disk #1794 VARI-TALE >>>> ║ ╠═════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════╣ ║ To start program, type: VARITALE ║ ║ ║ ║ To print documentation, type: COPY MANUAL.DOC PRN ║ ╚═════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════════╝
THE VARITALE AUTHORING SYSTEM Release: C1.01 Operator's Manual Autumn 1989 Edition P I N N A C L E S O F T W A R E P.O. Box 386, Town of Mount Royal Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3P 3C6 (514) 345-9578 NOTICES This publication could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically made to the information herein; these changes will be incorporated in new editions of this publication. Requests for copies of this product and for technical information about the system should be made to your authorized VariTale dealer or to the address indicated in the licensing agreement. The VariTale product is Copyright (C) 1987 by Pinnacle Software. Upgrades and Support Registered users of this product are entitled to call us for support, and will receive news of updates, bug reports, and special discounts for Pinnacle Software products. This support arrangement will remain in effect for one year, and may be renewed each year for $10. Private Information The information contained in this manual is intended only for operators of VariTale installations. You are requested to keep it private. Under no circumstances may this manual be copied in any way. Dedication (From Timothy Campbell, creator of VariTale) The inspiration for VariTale came from many sources, but one significant influence was the HyperText system proposed by computer guru Ted Nelson in his book "Computer Lib/Dream Machines". If you haven't read it, you owe it to yourself to get your hands on a copy. Whence the sequel, Ted? Note, though, that VariTale is not HyperText and makes no claim to be. Everything is deeply intertwingled, but some things more so than others. ii NOTICES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ii Upgrades and Support Private Information Dedication WHAT IS VARITALE? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 INSTALLING VARITALE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 What You Need Installation Steps Getting Things Rolling DOOR OPERATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 MULTI-USER OPERATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 File Locking The Unique File-locking Tag Single-Processor Operation LAN Operation MAINTENANCE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Backups Librarian Commands BURN CLOSE RENAME Why Show the Commands? iii WHAT IS VARITALE? VariTale is a "branching authoring system", designed to run either locally on your computer screen, or as a "Door" on BBS systems such as PCBoard, RBBS, NoChange, Fido, ROS, Sapphire and so on. You will be able to write stories (known in VariTale as "books") that have alternate chapters. Here is an example of a branching tale: .---------------- I woke up -----------------. : : .------ I went back to sleep ----. .--- I made breakfast ---. : : : : I dreamed up a new program I had no dreams It was bad It was good At any point, there is always an alternative. In VariTale, each step (known in VariTale as "chapters") can be up to 50 lines long. After each step, there can be up to 5 alternatives. This allows you and other people to create "story-rounds", in which everybody contributes chapters to the tale. Story-rounds are quite popular on BBS systems, but there is a problem: somebody will take the story in the wrong direction, and the other writers get annoyed. And that is the end of that story. With VariTale, the writers can propose alternate chapters, either in response to an inappropriate effort by another writer, or simply to explore a dif- ferent facet of the story. 1 INSTALLING VARITALE What You Need VariTale is very easy to install. It will run under MS- or PC-DOS Version 2.00 and higher, on any 128K IBM-PC or compatible. VariTale should be run on a hard disk if you expect any kind of serious traffic on the program. Its file-handling is quite efficient, but the chapters can stack up quite quickly. Apart from that, though, there is no reason why it cannot be run on floppies. Installation Steps To get VariTale running on your system, follow these steps: 1. Make a backup copy of the original diskette. 2. Prepare a destination for the VariTale files. A. If using a hard disk, this means creating a directory, usually named VARITALE. B. If using floppies, this means formatting a diskette. 3. Copy the necessary files from the original diskette to their proper place (on a hard disk or a floppy). Use the DOS COPY command to do this. 4. Configure VariTale to work according to your wants and needs. The CONFIG program will take you through the necessary steps. 5. Run a local test. The VARITALE command will do this. This runs the program locally, with absolutely no reference to the modem. You can run VariTale in this manner at any time. 6. If you wish to run VariTale as a Door, refer to the "Door Opera- tion" section of this manual. Getting Things Rolling On some BBS's, VariTale needs a little push to establish it as a regularly used feature of the system. People are not encouraged to start a story-round if they feel they're alone. You should get a few budding writers together, have them work out a rough plot, then start at the same time. 2 DOOR OPERATION This manual is not intended to be a tutorial for door operations. Please consult your host BBS's documentation for full details. In general, you will create a batch (.BAT) file which will call up VariTale, using a special start-up command that will be explained shortly. VariTale handles problems such as lost carriers, so there is no need for watchdog timers and suchlike things. To start up VariTale, place the following command in your door batch file: VARITALE /DOOR/user-name/time-left/port user-name ....... If omitted, none assumed This is optional. It is used only in the activity report generated by the CLOSE command if you are running a multi-user system. time-left ....... If omitted, assumes 60 minutes maximum visit time port ............ Current port address, in decimal If omitted, assumes default port from CONFIG.DAT If 0, no modem reference (i.e. console) If D, door is forced opened (use after system crash ONLY) Here are some examples... VARITALE /DOOR///1016 No name assumed, 60 minutes, on COM1 VARITALE /DOOR//15/0 No name assumed, 15 minutes, console VARITALE /DOOR/JOE SMITH/60 For Joe Smith, 1 hour on default port VARITALE /DOOR///1016 No name, 60 minutes, on COM1 (decimal 1016) VARITALE /DOOR///A1016 With system ID for LAN use (explained later) Information such as real-name, time-left and port can be determined by a program you write to build a command line. On a multi-port system, such a program is not optional; you must pass information to be used for file locking purposes. If are running a LAN, you may have to pass a system identifier letter. See "Multi-User Operation" for details. We will be collecting appropriate command-line builder programs for various BBS systems. See the "Upgrades and Support" section for more information. 3 MULTI-USER OPERATION This section is directed towards users of multi-port systems. You can skip it if you configured VariTale for a single-user system. File Locking "Locking" means claiming exclusive use of a resource. In the case of Vari- Tale, for instance, it means that a book can be used only by one person at a time. VariTale does its own file locking. It does not use the file locking pro- vided with DOS 3 and higher, nor does it use locking techniques such as the one provided by MultiLink. VariTale's locking technique is slower than that provided by the aforementioned products. On the other hand, it does allow you to run VariTale under a wide range of environments. It's slower because all locking information is recorded in the .LOK file, using a "collision detection" scheme. This obviously has lower performance than a RAM-based locking table, but it minimizes interaction with other products, thereby maximizing compatibility. If you are running a LAN (Local Area Network), be careful of disk-caching software because this might prevent locking information from reaching the locking file properly. VariTale synchronizes locking file updates by per- forming a dummy write before checking for collision, but a cache would make this approach useless if it withholds disk writes. There is one major problem with a disk-based locking table: if your system crashes, it will faithfully remember the locking data! This data will "time-out" after an hour (the maximum time allowed in VariTale), so the problem isn't deadly. You can clear the locking data by using the "clear door" command: VARITALE /DOOR///D/ Not only does this open the door (if closed previously with the CLOSE com- mand), but it will also reset all locking data. This version of the command can be executed only at the console or a local workstation. You can skip this step, but your users will have to wait a while for any locks to time out. We regret any inconvenience that may be caused by our locking scheme. It's a compromise which ensures that VariTale will run on almost any computer, network, DOS or multi-tasker. 4 The Unique File-locking Tag VariTale performs a lock by writing a locking record, performing a dummy write to de-synchronize itself in certain environments, then re-reading the record to see if it has been altered. If it has, it means somebody is competing for the same resource. In such a case, the lock is not acquired. In order to determine if a "collision" has taken place (i.e. more than one user is competing for the same resource), VariTale must have a unique item of data associated with each user. This is absolutely essential. VariTale compares port, user-name and system identification data. Single-Processor Operation If you are running a single-processor system (using a multi-tasker such as Multi-Link, Desqview, etc.) each of your users will have a different COM port. In this case, you need only pass the port address to VariTale on the start-up line (e.g. VARITALE /DOOR/name/time/port). This information is used both for file locking and setting up communications. LAN Operation If you are using a LAN, all of your users may have the same port address. In this case, the "port" parameter should include an arbitrary system identifi- cation to permit file locking. Prefix the port address with a letter (any- thing from ASCII decimal 65 to ASCII decimal 122 -- that is, A to Z upper- case, some intervening special characters, and a to z lowercase) to provide a system identification to provide a unique locking tag. Here's an example: VARITALE /DOOR/JOE SMITH/45/X1016 <-- System "X", on COM1 Alternately, you may rely on the user-name as the unique tag if (and only if) you are certain that there will never be two people with the same name using VariTale. (That includes "System Operator", of course.) 5 MAINTENANCE Backups Under normal circumstances, VariTale should be totally self-maintaining. However, it is possible that a system crash could cause the index file (.TOC) to be corrupted. To deal with this possibility, VariTale comes with a batch program named BACK. This copies the data files to a sub-directory of your VARITALE direc- tory, named BACK. To make your first backup, enter these commands: CD VARITALE <-- Change to your VariTale directory MD BACK <-- Create the safe-keeping directory BACK <-- Make a backup Should your files get messed up somehow, you can restore the last backup with the RESTORE command. This technique is by no means as good as performing regular full-disk back- ups, but it is quick. Please run BACK at least every few days. Your users will be heart-broken if their masterpieces suddenly disappear because you didn't have a recent backup. NOTE: We have been told by a few VariTale installations that the TOC files are, in fact, quite vulnerable to damage if they are being written to when a system failure occurs. To deal with this prob- lem, we strongly recommend that you always have a backup of the .TOC files that is around 5 days old. On an active VariTale, this should give you sufficient protection. Librarian Commands The librarian commands are enabled with the ENABLE command. This will ask for a password. This is initially set to "bookworm", but this can (and should) be changed with the CONFIG program. There are three special commands for the librarian: BURN, CLOSE and RENAME. BURN This command removes a book from the list. This also deletes the files associated with the book. If you want to preserve them for posterity, you should first copy them to a floppy disk. Each book has two files (.TOC and .VTB). Thus, to preserve book #1, you'd copy VARIA.TOC and also VARIA.VTB. Book #2 uses VARIB.TOC and VARIB.VTB, and so on. 6 VariTale comes with two dreadful sample stories named "The Secret of the Broken Sword" and "Space Terror!". Feel free to use them to test the BURN command. CLOSE This command prevents further users from entering VariTale unless they have the librarian's password. If they type it in correctly, the library is re- opened. It can also be re-opened by using the "D" option explained in the "Multi-User Operation" section. This command is only useful on a multi-user system, of course. It allows you to keep people out of the program while you are performing maintenance, such as the RESTORE described in the "Maintenance" section. PRUNE This command is used to delete a chapter. You might do this if the chapter is offensive either to your morals or literary taste. PRUNE deletes only a single chapter and the pointer from a previous chapter. It does not delete all the branches emanating from the chapter. You may have to PRUNE many times if you're doing a major clean-up. PRUNE does not compress the book file, either; it simply removes the pointers associated with the chapter and blanks out its title so it won't show up. You will gain no additional disk space by PRUNEing. RENAME This command lets you rename a book. You may wish to do this if the story branches away from the premise implied by the original title. It can not be used to rename a chapter. Why Show the Commands? You may be curious why the HELP command shows the librarian's commands in addition to the usual commands. No doubt, some system operators will feel that this is private information and that it's none of the users' business what he can do. On the other hand, if the users know what commands you have available, they might not bother you with requests that you can't deal with, such as "Can I move a chapter after another one?" No, you can't, and any observant person will probably figure this out -- which will save time for both of you. 7
47 A fool and his money are soon befriended. Dieting is a time of waist. Deafness is a state of mime. Any milk can be made into cheese. Here, have some gerbil cheese. To be or not to be. Ever think about that? The moving hand writes, and having written, smears the ink. Topic of the day: Death, are you for it or against it? Topic of the day: Name alternatives to eternal nothingness. Explain. I'm not lost. I don't even know where I'm going. The best defense is a good offense. Cringing is right out. Let's get crazy and split some infinitives. Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity. Mariners' wives' shower-privilege rule: I before 'e except after sea. Learn a bit of Latin! It's a great way to make nonsense sound profound! Topic of the day: Study the linguistic impact of pigs having wings. Roses are red, violets are blue. Don't these dumb poems aggravate you? Roses are red, violets are blue. Dum dee dee dum, scooby-dooby doo. Your idea is flummery, lies and fakery. It's unfinished! Pure half-bakery. Do unto others. Often. Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. Unless you're BIG. 'If it ain't fixed, don't broke it' -- words of an inside trader. When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout. Life is two chests locked for eternity; each one holding the other one's key. 'Roses are red, violets smell nice' -- a poet who has missed the point. Whistle a happy tune! If you don't know one, a semi-morose one will do. Here I sit, broken-hearted. Can't think of a theme for this poem I started. Topic of the day: Life is beautiful if you're very, very happy. Refute. 'Martyrdom is the only way a person can become famous.' -- G.B. Shaw 'College isn't the place to go for ideas.' -- Helen Keller 'A physicist is an atom's way of knowing about atoms.' -- George Wald '1st rule of intelligent tinkering: save all the parts.' -- Paul Erlich 'A man without religion is like a fish without a bicycle.' -- Vique Famous graffitti: 'Please don't write on the -- oops!' Famous graffitti: 'Schroedinger may have been here.' Famous graffitti: 'I used to be indecisive; now I'm not sure.' I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous. Bureaucrats cut red tape -- lengthwise. A closed mouth gathers no feet. There is no substitute for good manners except fast reflexes. Those who dance are thought mad by those who hear not the music. Try to be the best of what you are, even if what you are is no good. If you can't learn to do it well, learn to enjoy doing it badly. I don't have any solution, but I certainly admire the problem. You can never get lost, because wherever you go ... there you are! Time is an illusion perpetrated by the manufacturers of space. A chicken is an egg's way of reproducing. Guns don't kill people! BULLETS kill people! Outlaw bullets!
Volume in drive A has no label Directory of A:\ BACK BAT 385 5-22-87 9:03a CONFIG COM 22486 5-26-87 8:55a CONFIG DAT 54 8-29-89 10:46a FILE1794 TXT 2517 12-20-89 4:05p GO BAT 38 1-01-80 1:37a GO TXT 540 1-01-80 7:15a HELP EXE 59408 8-06-89 9:55p HELPCCF PDC 1467 8-23-89 2:56p HELPEXIT PDC 343 8-23-89 1:33p HELPINTR PDC 1033 8-23-89 1:30p MANUAL DOC 17583 8-22-89 8:40a QUERY COM 128 1-27-86 5:35a QUIPS TXT 2884 6-03-87 1:07p REGISTER PDC 2562 8-23-89 2:16p RESTORE BAT 520 5-25-87 6:36a VARIA TOC 5076 6-10-87 10:51p VARIA VTB 17664 6-10-87 10:51p VARIB TOC 846 5-27-87 11:00a VARIB VTB 2816 5-27-87 11:00a VARITALE COM 52291 8-29-89 10:46a VARITALE HLP 1043 8-23-89 2:11p VARITALE HP1 1648 5-21-87 4:56p VARITALE HP2 2759 12-29-87 5:32p VARITALE LST 1305 12-29-87 6:04p 24 file(s) 197396 bytes 110592 bytes free