By John Race
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Extra info for The Alien, Numbereater and other Programs for Personal Computers
L~oreover, even when working properly, it would condense itself so that the BASIC interpreter was trying to deal with a program that was shrinking under it, and would thus lose track of where it was in the statement. So I had to write the program ( Figure 39 ) in a condensed form so that its operations on itself would be ineffective. But this of course made it hard to read, and naturally it was not now tested except in the weak sense that one showed it did no harm to the program, but not that it did any good!
Note how a different style of indexing is used here - the value obtained is directly from TABLE, not from some other byte pointed to by a value in TABLE: however, it may be the first, second, •• ,fifteenth byte of TABLE depending on whether X is 0 or 1 or ••• 15. If all tests fail there is a byte in the screen which is not a blank and not one of the 'little squares' symbols, in which case X, which shows the point in the loop when a match was found between the accumulator A and a TABLE hyte, is reset to zero so that the rogue byte is treated as if it was the first TABLE entry - a blank/space.
Before we leave this subroutine, note that the BUILD LISTS procedure is used once again to set up the neighbours. Actually, it is misplaced here, although it works perfectly well, and should really be invoked by the simple amendment of altering line 60 to GOTO 35 tihat is left to cover? The only procedure not described is COUNT NEIGHBOURS, at 900, and the loading system at 1530 - Figures 28, 31. When this version of Conway's Life was first 'lllritten it ran horribly slowly. Analysis showed that the counting of neighbours wan a simple and frequently performed task, and was therefore a good candidate for being recoded in machine language instead of BASIC.
The Alien, Numbereater and other Programs for Personal Computers by John Race