KansasFest 2019: 
11 New Books & Lordlings of Yore Box

Much like my experience at KansasFest every year, the people who attend are one of the best reasons for going beyond the fun and informative sessions. Before I share some fun photos highlighting a few people in “KansasFest 2019: Special Moments,” I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the hard work and new products that led to my annual KansasFest attendance and presentation. This encompasses five new books, six manuals, and a limited edition box for the game Lordlings of Yore.

I’m often asked what I do, as I’ve done many different things over the years such as making movies and events with VIPs, supporting Apple products, and public speaking. The thing that has dominated most of my time since I joined A.P.P.L.E.’s board in 2013 has been designing, editing and laying out over 30 books and other media published by A.P.P.L.E., starting with The WOZPAK: Special Edition. This is no small endeavor, and on average takes about five solid months of work to produce them at eight to twelve hours a day, not counting the collaboration I do with Bill.

While I sometimes question the logic in spending so much time producing books for a small but loyal Apple II community, I can’t help but be proud of the results. I go to great lengths for perfection in layout, readability and fun art. Of course, the hope that Bill and I share is that more people will discover these books and find value in them. Please visit: www.callapple.org/books for more details on each book.

Five New Books

The most noteworthy book I designed and edited this year was “Graphically Speaking: Enhanced Edition” by Mark Pelczarski produced over a few months. Please see my article “The Secret Life of Penguins” for details and fun stories about the design, development, and working with Mark. The book teaches graphics programming on the Apple II, compiling his “Graphically Speaking” tutorial columns that appeared in Softalk magazine. This new 220+ page “Enhanced Edition” includes a new preface from the author, remastered legacy art, unseen Penguin art, Penguin trivia, and a redesigned interior.

Bill and I spent many months in 2018 refining the content for our “All About DOS: Enhanced Edition” guide to DOS 3.3. I chose to reorganize some of the original chapters for more logical grouping. We also added chapters such as the new DOS 4.1. What was originally 288 pages in 1982 grew to over 560 pages with the new layout, new content, and our standard, larger fonts for improved readability. This was a labor of love, I guess, as I spent about 12 stressful 18-hour days just doing the layout after several more weeks of editing for release at KansasFest 2019. This new “Enhanced Edition” is improved with a new design, art, glossary, and technical appendices. It includes a wide variety of references and how-to’s, making it a great reference for Apple II programmers.

We’ve had a lot of demand to reproduce or our 1982 Pascal book for the Apple II, “All About Pascal: Enhanced Edition.” In an effort to simply the workload, I enhanced scans of the original almost unreadable brown pages, rather than redo all of the text and spend months proofreading. While scans were used, the chapter headings and page numbers were completely redone. This new Enhanced Edition, encompassing over 180 pages, is improved with new art, a glossary, and maintains most of the original layout with enhanced scans. It features many example programs, references, and how-to’s – making it a great reference for Apple II programmers.

The “DOS 4.1 Manual: Disk Operating System for the Apple II” in print for the first time, features a newly-designed cover, and is over 240 pages. I’m quite proud of this cover design, being inspired by different Apple manual designs. I imported the author’s layout to simplify production, but I did change the headings to be more readable among other tweaks. DOS 4.1 is a reimagined Disk Operating System for the Apple II computer, released in 2018. Programmed by Walland Philip Vrbancic, Jr., a professional programmer since 1983. It contains the power and the flexibility that he always thought DOS should have, while remaining compatible with DOS 3.3.

The Etch-a-Sketch and Other Fun Programs” is a collection of my Apple II software programmed as a student. This book is obviously very important to me as an archive of my programming roots, but I wanted to make it fun for others too. I’ve included several pictures I took at the time of my teacher and the fun friends I shared these experiences with, along with amusing stories that give them meaning. BASIC and machine language programming were once taught in schools, and here you’ll find a variety of useful graphics, education, utility, and game software.

Six New Manuals

Bill worked out the licensing with Quality Computers president Joe Gleason to produce some of their software, and wanted “Signature GS” by Duilio Proni to be the first recreated product. I had the fun task of recreating the cover from scratch and designing a new back, along with a new interior. This started with creating a vector art version of the Quality Computers logo, which took several days by itself. All in all, about a two week project. Signature GS is a collection of Control Panels (CDEVs) that make your Apple IIGS easier and more fun to use by adding a Screen Blanker, a Desktop Pattern Editor, a Sound Selector, and a Boot Setup Utility.

Six Pack: A Refreshing Collection of Utilities for Apple IIGS System 6” by Bill Tudor is the second Quality Computers reproduced product. As with Signature GS, I spent about two weeks recreating everything from scratch and redesigning the cover. Six Pack, the first collection of Apple IIGS Finder Extensions, adds 13 new features to System 6. Just click the icons you want to work with, then select the functions you want to perform from the Extras menu.

Applesoft Carpenter II” is a collection of seven utility programs for Applesoft programmers that enhance programming productivity. For the cover, I had fun modifying the original ASCII hammer, as seen when running the software, resulting in the first physical manual. The tools were written for the Apple II by three well-known programmers: Wayne Eastwood, Glen Bredon, and Val J. Golding.

Appilot/W1” is a complete and interactive Pilot Programming Environment for the Apple II, programmed by Bill Martens. A simple plane on a blue sky background seemed the simplest and most logical design for Pilot software. Appilot/W1 allows users to create and execute full-fledged Pilot programs in a single lightweight environment without sacrificing time or effort. Comes complete with built-in DOS, editor, and interpreter.

Apple Tic-Tac-Toe” is an age-old game which is great fun for kids of all ages – and programmed by a kid – Ken Nozaki! I had fun designing this cover too by integrating the title into the game board. This version is a completely designed and programmed version of the game intended to make the computer one of the toughest opponents possible.

“DOS Disk Analyzer” by Ronald A. Thisted views and prints the raw contents of an Apple II DOS 3.3 disk. It features a specially-formatted printout of the VTOC, Catalog, and Track/Sector list. Once this information is read from the disk, sectors can be viewed for any file.

Lordlings of Yore – Limited Edition Box

The last thing I spent an insane amount of time designing was the game box for the forthcoming limited edition of “Lordlings of Yore: The Game of Knights, Knaves and Necromancers,” originally published in 1983. The 56-page manual, released November 2018, was no small amount of work by itself. What should logically have taken a week took well over a solid month to perfect. The newly-designed manual includes remastered art for the cover and interior, and additional art used in an early advertisement. The cover even showcases more art than the original game box, as an early production print was located and remastered over many days.  Author Jon F. Baxley also wrote a new preface and historical perspective. Jon also shared “Notes For Programming Wizards,” which is original technical documentation from the programmer.

Since the front and back of the manual were already done, I thought maybe I could pop the art on a box template and be done in a few hours, right? Wrong. Not surprisingly, things always take a lot longer than the best estimate. The first thing was to design a full-length disk label to allow for more space. Beyond perfecting spacing issues with the box, I wanted something special for the sides and added some fun icons to each side – verifying with Jon that they were appropriate for the time period in his game. Lastly was the spine, which needed a nice gold shield to display “Apple II 48K” along with Jon’s name. Unlike the original that didn’t mention Jon at all on the outside, the new box and manual have his name on the back and side.

But wait, there’s more – color vibrancy. Having spent too much time working in and managing print shops, I’ve always found that printing a document as RGB produces far more accurate and vibrant color than CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black). Yes, this is even true when printing to both inexpensive color laser printers and half-million dollar digital presses. All of the book covers I’ve designed are RGB and Lulu accommodates that. Unfortunately, our box printer only supports CMYK, so while the beta test version looked very nice and respectable, it did not have vibrancy I prefer. By the time the box is released, the box color will be fine-tuned.

I hope you enjoy this limited edition – it’s my first game box design. Will there be other remastered game manuals and boxes? It all depends on the level of interest expressed by fans. Life is short, and I’m spending far too much time designing things, but I’m happy to continue if the response level warrants it.

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About the Author

Brian Wiser

Brian is an A.P.P.L.E. Board member and Managing Editor of Call-A.P.P.L.E.. He is a producer of books, films, games, and events, as well as an Apple consultant, historian and archivist. Brian designed, edited, and co-produced dozens of books including:  "Nibble Viewpoints: Business Insights From The Computing Revolution," "Cyber Jack: The Adventures of Robert Clardy and Synergistic Software," "Synergistic Software: The Early Games," "Graphically Speaking: Enhanced Edition," "What’s Where in the Apple: Enhanced Edition," and "The WOZPAK Special Edition: Steve Wozniak’s Apple-1 & Apple II Computers."  Brian also co-produced the retro iOS game "Structris." Brian was an extra in Joss Whedon’s movie “Serenity,” leading him to being a producer/director for the documentary film “Done The Impossible: The Fans’ Tale of Firefly & Serenity.” He brought some of the Firefly cast aboard his Browncoat Cruise convention and recruited several of the Firefly cast to appear in a film for charity. Brian speaks about his adventures at conventions around the country.