Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 7, NO. 9 / JANUARY 1989


Talking Math Wizard

Software that speaks–no extra equipment needed!

By Matthew Ratcliff

Talking Math Wizard - screen image #1Talking Math Wizard - screen image #2

Math Wizard, my arcade-style arithmetic practice program for school-children, was published in the April, 1984 issue of Antic. This month's Super Disk Bonus is the Covox-enhanced sequel – Talking Math Wizard.

When you zap a correct answer, Talkimg Math Wizard speaks the complete equation. For example, if a 27 is at the top of the screen and you zap "11+16," the program would say: "Eleven plus sixteen equals twenty-seven."

Helping me program this magic was the $39.95 Covox Voice Master Junior. However, you do not need a Covox or any other special equipment to play Talking Math Wizard – only the MATHWIZ.BAS, MATH.SYS and WIZTALK.SPK files from this month's Antic Disk. But if you do own a Covox Voice Master or Voice MasterJunior, you can can get rid of my voice from the file and put in your own voice – or any other sound you choose.

When you RUN Talking Math Wizard from the Side B main menu of the Antic Disk, you'll see a game options menu. By fine-tuning these options, you can change the type and difficulty of the problems. Plug a joystick into port 1. Move the stick up and down to put the flashing cursor next to the item you want to change. Push the stick left or right to change the value of that option. Options include:

  1. Minimum starting number (MIN): The smallest value used in the math problems.
  2. Maximum starting number (MAX): The largest value used in the problems. This value must exceed MIN by at least five.
  3. Percent Correct to Advance: Each round has six problems. To go to the next round, in which both MIN and MAX increase, your score must match or beat this value.
  4. Difficulty Increment: The number by which MAX will increase after each round.
  5. Rounds per game.6. Problem type: Select addition, subtraction or multiplication.
The high score, most recent score and type of math problem for the high-score game are displayed near the top of the menu screen.

Press the joystick button to begin the game. The number of the current round, the problem number and your percentage of correct answers appear at the far right. The current problem type appears at the top of the screen. The answer box is below.

As the round begins, six problems scroll toward the bottom of the screen, where you are stationed with a number blaster (flashing cursor). An answer to one of the problems is selected at random, spoken and displayed at the top of the screen. Move the cursor under the problem whose answer corresponds to the one displayed above. Press the joystick button to select the matching problem. If more than one problem has the indicated solution, choose the one nearest the cursor to save time and earn more bonus points at the end of the round.

If your answer is correct, the problem is blasted back to the top of the screen. The correct answer is displayed beneath it, and then the entire problem is spoken. Then the next answer is displayed and spoken, and the scrolling continues. If you blast an incorrect answer, it is ignored except for a lowering of your success percentage.

If a problem reaches the bottom of the screen before you can answer it, it will scroll back to the top of the screen. There, the correct answer will be displayed and the entire problem will be spoken.

If your percentage of correct answers is below the minimum, you must repeat the round. If your percentage is high enough, you will receive a bonus for speed and accuracy.

When all rounds are complete, the main menu comes up again and the high score is displayed. At this point you may press [ESCAPE] to exit to BASIC, or select new options and play another game.

For Covox owners who want to insert new speech data, here's how to do it. First load the Voice Master software, version VM800 for the Atari 800. The XL/XE versions will not work properly with Talking Math Wizard II.

Note the USR calls in lines 50,110, 190 and 210. With VM800 loaded, simply enter what you see in the REM portion of each line. The VM800 "wedge" software automatically translates those commands into the proper USR calls for you. Note that you may get an error with the SSAVE command. My version of VM800 has trouble parsing it, but the syntax is easily corrected.

RUN WIZTALK.BAS from this month's Antic Disk. Put a joystick in port 1 and the Voice Master microphone into port 2. WIZTALK will prompt you for each word it needs to learn. Speak the word distinctly and quickly. After the program learns the word, it is played back for you immediately. If the word sounds all right to you, press the trigger to move on to the next word. Otherwise, pull back on the joystick to say that word again.

After each word is learned, total size of the current speech data is displayed. Keep a close eye on this: It must not exceed 12,000 bytes or it will be too large to fit in Talking Math Wizard. You may need to run WIZTALK a few times before you get a feel for how fast to talk.

Once you're done, copy MATHWIZ.BAS (the main program), MATH.SYS (which contains data for three assembly language routines) and WIZTALK.SPK to another disk and RUN "D:MATHWIZ.BAS".




ON DISK   MATHWIZ.DOC Download / View