Magic Window


Issue 5

Sep/Oct 83

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Would you buy an Atari program from a company whose main products are for the ZX81 and the Spectrum? No, neither would I, but in the case of Magic Window from Quicksilva, both you and I would be missing out on a really excellent program.

Magic Window is a Character Generator controlled entirely by the joystick which enables you to create any number of character sets and save them to tape to be merged into your own programs. The program creates a routine which occupies lines 0 to 11 of a program and you need to only make sure that

you don't use these lines in your program. Ready the cassette with you character set on and type "ENTER"C:". That's it. Nothing more to do. When you run your program, the character set will be automatically changed, there is nothing for you to work out.

The screen display gives you a large 8 x 8 grid on the upper left in which you plot or unplot points by pressing the joystick fire button, and a range of menu options to enable you to edit characters from the existing set. You choose an option by moving the cursor over the item and pressing the trigger. Two characters sets are shown on the screen, the standard Atari character set and the new set you have created. You can place images you have created anywhere in the new set. In the centre top is a small grid which holds 16 characters altogether so that you can see how your redefined characters will look when printed next to or above each other. This is particularly useful if you need to create an image which is too big for a single character. You can mix characters quite freely in this grid.

One of the real joys of this program is that it supports the Antic modes 4 and 5 which give you the equivalent of five colours on a Graphics 0 screen. There are limitations though and characters are very difficult to design in these modes as you are effectively limited to 4 pixels width in each character. Using Magic Window however takes away all the problems although you still need some imagination to produce good images. One of the menu options gives you Data for the image and this is particularly useful in Antic modes 4 and 5 where you will probably need only a few characters redefined to include in your own program. You don't have to use Magic Window's save and load facilities if you know the data make-up of your new character.

I find that using character editors still leaves problems in design. For example, just where do you put all those tails and squiggles to get script writing? It is not easy if you are not artistically inclined. No problem with Magic Window, there are three character sets already defined on the tape, just load one in and take a look. The character sets are script, a demonstration of artifacting in Graphics 0 and a full-blown demonstration of combining characters in Antic 4 or 5 to produce space invaders, animals or little men. Even if you never design a character set of your own, Magic Window is worth the money just to be able to include one of its ready defined sets in your own program.

I picked this up out of curiosity and have ended up writing games which I would not have attempted before. It really is that easy to use that anyone who can write simple programs can have a whole new programming world opened up to them. Another one highly recommended at a very reasonable price.