Thursday 6 October 2011

Who Mourns for HyperCard?

I thought I'd contribute my own gaming-and-Macintosh reminiscence on this sad occasion.

In my early years of graduate school, though I had no regular gaming group, I was still coming up with all sorts of things for gaming. One of those - lost, alas, in the mists of floppy disk breakdown and software obsolescence - was a random dungeon level generator using HyperCard.

If you never had the chance to use it, HyperCard was an incredible application for the Mac, with aspirations to be a kind of object-oriented operating system within an operating system. It let you program hypertext, create databases, and much more, using a very simple, intuitive language. HyperCard was quickly picked up to create such point-and-click adventure games as Cosmic Osmo (pictured), by the Miller brothers, who would go on to create Myst. I used HyperCard to create an academic article database and keep addresses in, but also screwed around with creating games (where the "pieces" were buttons that moved around and could be clicked on) and the dungeon generator.

HyperCard had an easy, snap-to-grid function  that let you draw rooms and corridors with ease, and I eventually figured out how to randomize the size, shape and position of generated room objects. Over on the side, the program spit out a key with features, monsters, treasures, tricks and traps for each room.

All this, of course, was before the Internet as we know it existed. If I'd been able to post the stack up and share it with the kind of community that visits this blog, it wouldn't have died an obscure death, and I would have had the motivation to make it a lot better than it ended up being.

Look to the right, and see my downloads: "PowerPoint Mapping," "Old School Dungeon Encounters," "Endless Bag of Tricks," "Bag of Problems." Those are just the fragmented and worked-over pieces of that lost HyperCard stack. Where now, indeed, are the bytes of yesteryear? Who will put HyperDumpty together again?


  1. Thanks for your post; I had completely forgotten about HyperCard. I used it back in the day finishing up my minor in college to prepare a program for teaching propert stroke patterns for writing Chinese Characters. I only made a dent in the work, but it got me my Minor....
    Wow...the memories....

  2. I had SOOOO MANY stacks that I built in HyperCard for gaming purposes. I actually dragged my Mac to the table when I would DM. At a click, it would track initiative and sort the cards into init order. It would track treasure and expenditures. Each magic item had a card. Charged items would decrement their charges with a click... etc.

    I also had a stack that generated random NPCs with detailed backgrounds... Oh I miss it so...

  3. I miss Hypercard it was really cool, I could whip up an App in virtually moments....sniff sniff.