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DataBiotics game manuals

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As noted earlier, Spot Shot came first, @INVISIBLE, so the price went down, not up. Also, manuals were a bit hit-or-miss with them too. Sometimes, they were nicely printed on card stock, but I also received some of them (new when I purchased them BITD) with poorly photocopied instructions (and that in the case of my original Black Hole cartridge, completely failed to include the actual instructions--it was just a cover picture and blank inside). I later purchased another one on eBay, just to get a good manual.

Edited by Ksarul

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Wonder if this is pretty close to yours Adamantyr...

 

Dragonflyer-vectorized.pdf

 

The title's still in Cooper Black, but it's higher on the cover. And of course I've just replaced references to Spot Shot with the new title (only 2 of them).

 

Also guys, the copy I found used that green paper, but looking at these photos it's clear that they'd mail them out with various colors (probably whatever was available at the time). Do you have any preferences for what background-color I should use? Should it just be black text on white background?

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@Redb3ard I would say on white background, which would allow us to print on any color paper.

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30 minutes ago, Redb3ard said:

Wonder if this is pretty close to yours Adamantyr...

 

Dragonflyer-vectorized.pdf 180.51 kB · 4 downloads

 

The title's still in Cooper Black, but it's higher on the cover. And of course I've just replaced references to Spot Shot with the new title (only 2 of them).

 

Also guys, the copy I found used that green paper, but looking at these photos it's clear that they'd mail them out with various colors (probably whatever was available at the time). Do you have any preferences for what background-color I should use? Should it just be black text on white background?

It's actually picture perfect to mine! Well done!

 

I agree with OLD SCI, white background is best so people can print their own.

 

Most of these are definitely cheap photocopy/print. Any card stock heavier than 110 pounds won't run through printers or photocopiers, and printing press prices were too high for such a low volume market.

 

It's one of the reasons the Rainbow software manuals for Wizard's Lair and Revenge stand out; somebody actually contracted a printing company to make them. They printed the covers on 9x12 stock and then trimmed them down, allowing them to run ink all the way to the edges. The tapes and disks also had fancy foiled labels.

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SpotShot-white.pdf

 

Dragonflyer-white.pdf

 

Please keep in mind that with Dragonflyer, I'm working off of Adamantyr's photo, and assuming the contents are identical except for the two references to "Spot Shot". Until someone provides a scan, that's just a guess.

 

Let me know how these print up... I prefer digital for my stuff, and like the 1 page per pdf-page, but that might complicate things if you're trying to print all 4 on a single sheet.

 

Think I'll work on Star Runner next, trying to get the artwork down under 300kb, but it's a tough one. Also, is it the only one that was printed with blue ink?

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3 hours ago, Redb3ard said:

Let me know how these print up... I prefer digital for my stuff, and like the 1 page per pdf-page, but that might complicate things if you're trying to print all 4 on a single sheet.

I printed up Dragonflyer, four pages on a single sheet in booklet form and it looks great to me!

 

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I had some yellow card stock laying around.  Looks brilliant.  @Redb3ard You seem to be an old hand at this.  I would love to know your secret as I have apparently been doing it the hard way.

 

 

DSC00030.JPG

DSC00029.JPG

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This is my secret weapon. You're seeing the orange "overlay" on the left (original page) so that I can precisely align stuff. The right-hand side is rendered in the app as html. Of course, that's just for the text... I've been using Inkscape to trace out the graphics. I'm shooting for about 4000 bezier nodes (comes out as less than 200kb), but that's tough when it's both line and filled shape. For Spot Shot I just ran two passes for each, and deleted the bad tracing from each and combined them, but for Star Runner it's way worse... I can't get it under about 10,000 nodes. Will balloon the size of that pdf probably.

 

Also, Electron/Chrome (what the app is written with) seems to be screwing up the pdf generation *bad*. When I copy and paste from the pdf, it's somehow reversing the order of all the strings. That may not be an issue for some of you, but if I get that fixed I'll post some links to the better versions here once I get it figured out.

 

Give me a couple of months, and I should have the full Databiotics catalog ready, and I can get to work on the other manuals.

Screen Shot 2020-05-25 at 4.59.10 PM.png

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I have been taking scans and loading them into Inkscape to vectorize.  Takes me forever to remove and fix the imperfections.  I have some DBT manuals, but I think they are all accounted for.

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I think the correct way to release these is with a variant for each of "printable" and "digital". Some people (myself included) don't need physical booklets printed out. I haven't had an actual TI-99 since I was in 5th grade after all... I don't even know what happened to it.

 

My son's been playing Alpiner and a few others on Retropie, and it feels weird to not have the manuals (on some of these I honestly can't remember how to play!).

 

Anyway, the printables will be all-white background. For the digitals, I'll use the colored background. It'd be great if you guys could vote on which color to use for each, I can make it anything (it's not really like there was an official color, they used whatever color was cheapest, I guess).

 

I'll also release nice front-cover images too, in case anyone wants just those (on some emulation it gives you a pretty poster in the games menu). Though if someone's offering to do full-color recreations, that'd be great, I can't do anything like that myself.

 

Also, for the title-variants, I think I'll be releasing both of those, and people can choose which they want (or both). I will probably still need help tracking down photographs of those and the like (in the cases where I have a scan of one, a photo of the other might suffice).

 

If anyone has any favorites, just ask, I'm not doing these in any particular order. I had planned on finishing Star Runner tonight, but the first letters of those are using a "swash" variant of Bookman ITC, and I'm having a heck of a time figuring out how to enable those correctly. (Not much of a graphics/typography guy, truth told).

 

I'll be able to lift the warranty from the first manual (no retyping!) but strangely the justification is off just a bit as if DataBiotics re-typed it themselves (word for word). I figured they just photocopier-composited that page in on all of them.

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Star Runner is really challenging me. The body text isn't a standard typewriter.

 

If Databiotics was desktop publishing these manuals is it possible that they were actually using a TI-99? What printers were available for this machine in 1987? Were there any high-quality daisy wheel printers (not dot matrix, not thermal, etc)? Does anyone know if they had any Mac Pluses in their shop, or even some 68020 Mac? The clip art was coming from somewhere, Mancala is clearly not a hand-sketch (well, half of it's clearly not that) even if a few others might have been some local or semi-amateur artist.

 

 

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I have finished the primary typesetting for Star Runner:

 

star-runner-printable-black.pdf

star-runner-printable-blue.pdf

 

These are the printables, on white/empty backgrounds. The blue one may consume quite a bit of expensive ink, please proof it before deciding you need a paper copy. It's as close to the blue ink in JB's scna (Thanks JB!) as I could get.

 

These may not be the final version, if anyone points out any flaw or typo I'll present newer versions correcting those.

 

I'll also provide a digital copy, but you guys should decide what bacjground color to use. Some pastel like the other Databiotics manuals maybe. I might even do both a black-ink and a blue-ink digital version for this one.

 

Please let me know what you think, I'm not averse to criticism.

 

Some curiosities I've noticed myself: the black is significantly smaller than the blue, despite being essentially identical. The only real difference is that instead of #000000 for the SVG's color, I've switched it out for #4f5095. I suppose that unlike Chronoscope's html source file where it only has to have that color once, Adobe pdf format is explicitly setting that color (that isn't black/#000000) for every little path stroke/fill in the image. That may not be correctable (thankfully, this stuff's pretty much all black line art).

 

On Preview.app in MacOS, the pdf file is still showing weird stuff when I select/highlight text. Worse, when copy-pasted, the text is always reversed. If someone could open these and copy-paste into notepad.exe or whatever and check that out, I'd love to know if I've borked the pdf files somehow, or just my own computer's copy'n'paste.

 

If no one nominates another, I'll probably work next on EB Software's TI Runner as that scan appeared in another thread even though it's not technically Databiotics'. I'll probably do that with the rest, doing both versions of each game manual before moving on.

 

Off-topic: What's up with 80s video games naming their heroes "Dirk"? (It's Clyde in TI Runner, so Databiotics renamed him.) Is there a more 80ish first name out there?

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Awesome job on the Star Runner manual! 👍

It prints up fantastic!

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Here are some of the oddball manuals I have:

 

  1. Computer War - Micropal
  2. Munchman II
  3. 4A Flyer
  4. Great Word Race
  5. Arcturus
  6. Junkman JR
  7. Black Hole
  8. Face Chase
  9. TRIS 2
  10. PDM-99
  11. Boxer
  12. Beyond Parsec
  13. DStation 1
  14. DStation 2
  15. Spy's Demise
  16. Jumpy
  17. Burger Builder
  18. Red Baron - Not Polyoptics
  19. Sorgan II
  20. DragonFlyer
  21. Beyond Wordwriter
  22. Space Patrol
  23. Barrage
  24. BreakThrough!
  25. Mancala
  26. Escape
  27. TI-Toad
  28. Q*Bert
  29. Popeye
  30. Miner 2049er
  31. Espial

Just let me know which ones you need and how you want me to scan them.  I also have a lot of Scott Foresman and Atari, Funware, etc.

 

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3 hours ago, acadiel said:

Here are some of the oddball manuals I have:

 

  1. Computer War - Micropal
  2. Munchman II
  3. 4A Flyer
  4. Great Word Race
  5. Arcturus
  6. Junkman JR
  7. Black Hole
  8. Face Chase
  9. TRIS 2
  10. PDM-99
  11. Boxer
  12. Beyond Parsec
  13. DStation 1
  14. DStation 2
  15. Spy's Demise
  16. Jumpy
  17. Burger Builder
  18. Red Baron - Not Polyoptics
  19. Sorgan II
  20. DragonFlyer
  21. Beyond Wordwriter
  22. Space Patrol
  23. Barrage
  24. BreakThrough!
  25. Mancala
  26. Escape
  27. TI-Toad
  28. Q*Bert
  29. Popeye
  30. Miner 2049er
  31. Espial

Just let me know which ones you need and how you want me to scan them.  I also have a lot of Scott Foresman and Atari, Funware, etc.

 

I'd personally take them in what ever format is easiest for you.

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Does anyone have any strong opinions on whether the front cover image for TI Runner's manual should use a vector image (I've used those so far, but the lineart/clipart for those justified it, and the filesize reduction made it really awesome) or a monochrome bitmap image? It will be roughly the same amount of work to clean it up to my standards either way.

 

As a bitmap, I worry that it won't look correct even though PDF supports raster embedded images. The size of the image requires each "pixel" to use several literal pixels, but as those can only be in 2x2 or 3x3 blocks (etc), the size this needs to be has those being fractional. Even if I manage to get it sized correctly, I worry that some pdf viewing software will blur or do interpolation when you're zoomed in, you won't see the crisp pixel lines.

 

Vector will almost certainly be larger (in monochrome raster, you get 8 pixels per byte, even more with run length encoding). It may print better (unsure of that), but if anyone ever wants to extract it from the pdf to use in some other material, I've sort of made that more difficult.

 

In any event, about 50% done with it, but having a hell of a time matching fonts. If anyone can speculate on what EB Software was using for their manual design, I'd love to hear it.

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Vector will scale more cleanly, but I wonder how authentic it is. I think I've figured out a way to do both at the same time, so will run tests and see which one looks right, works, etc.

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Preliminary graphic for TI Runner... not perfectly happy with it, but if it was square pixels then this is the best I can manage. All of the bricks line up relatively, but the middle ladder has to be wider than the rest. The source svg is 96k (plenty small for our purposes), but the monochrome.png is only 1k. Pretty tiny.

 

path3782.thumb.png.cd6c2831c909c40cbbcf04fbb7415b05.png

 

If anyone has *any* clue on the font on the front cover (honestly wonder if it might not be TI software that did it), please respond. It may be impossible to match otherwise.

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For those who think I've dropped dead on this topic. I've fallen into some rabbit hole of identifying the fonts for this, but not without progress.

 

The main body text on the cover is MacWrite 1.0 (for the Mac Plus), Geneva 12 point bold. It's a bitmap font, and it does not exist in that form anymore (Modern Geneva is a vector font). Each point size has a different shape, and the styles (bold, italic, others) is created algorithmically. This means that the few reproductions others have made won't work... they reproduced the regular/plain version of Geneva, which does not have the correct shape.

 

I've been working on a system to screen capture each of the 220 characters, I've got a script that can take bdf fonts and turn them into Truetype. The only missing piece is something that takes the bitmap and turns into bdf (which is a bitmap-ish format).

 

With 7 typefaces, 5 styles, and 5 sizes, that's 1120 font files if I do them all (which, once I get it automated, will be easy enough).

 

I have yet to identify the headline fonts in that cover, but I'm assuming it's still MacWrite, possibly with third-party fonts.

 

Might be a few more weeks, but I'll finish this one and get back to the DataBiotics manuals that are relatively easy.

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Thanks for persevering with this! Digital archaeology can be seriously difficult at times--but the end result is definitely worth it.

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