ASCII Mapper on the desktop

2019-08-18

ASCII Mapper was never supposed to be a web app. That was just an expedient, driven by two factors:

  1. At the time, I was a lot more confident coding for HTML5 than any other platform, and keeping momentum was important.
  2. Since using a square grid was the whole point, a fat "extended" font to go with it also seemed to be needed.

In the intervening 20 months, I made no less than 6 games with Python and Tkinter specifically. That's a lot more than the one desktop app I had under my belt previously, and also proved that an ordinary monospaced font can look good enough when used for map symbols, even if you don't obey its metrics. Go figure.

There's more to it however. Web apps can do all kinds of things nowadays that bring them closer in capabilities to their desktop equivalents, but only at the cost of ugly hacks, or else absurd resource usage. I don't know how Piskel and the like make it work so well. Even when they do, they're still clumsy to use compared to desktop apps, never mind the accessibility issues.

So it was that after a failed attempt to continue developing the original ASCII Mapper, when at long last I got around to it again, the decision to use Python and Tkinter soon became obvious. Five days and five hundred lines of code later, the result is a 15K script that uses at most 25M of RAM, yet does more than the old prototype, and offers a clear way forward.

Oh, I plan to keep the web edition around too. Doesn't exactly take up much space, and has some unique advantages. Might even try to backport certain later additions. Those won't happen for a while though; got a rather different kind of engine and editor to work on for now.

Meanwhile, feel free to chat me up, and why not, even hack on ASCII Mapper yourself. Would love to see what comes out. To more, better games!

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