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  Sneak Peek: Kid Mystic 12:23 AM -- Thu September 30, 2004  

Surprise! A whole new game mode has cropped up out of the blue. You have to earn Challenge Mode by finding all the secret items in the game, but once you do, frankly, it's a trainload of fun. I really enjoy it, so much that even working on it was fun (and that's something!). It's just a new way to access the levels - each one has 5 different goals ranging from completing it in a certain time limit to getting a high score to collecting the letters of the word MYSTIC in order before they disappear. You'll have to play each level several times to get all the goals done, and some of them won't be possible until you come back later with other Fairies and Spells available (or just being at a higher level, or having better equipment). This mode also includes some bonus levels which aren't included in the regular game for added fun. As you can see in the shot, higher levels are locked off until you spend the stars you earn by completing goals to open them. Some of the goals are really tricky and will require you to come up with the right mix of Fairies and Spells to pull them off, or just be really really good.

And if you look closely, or not closely at all, you can spot quite a few of the new shop items in this shot too.
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  My name is Shake-Zula 03:27 PM -- Tue September 28, 2004  

Last night we finished watching the DVD of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Vol. 1. You know what the best line was? Dr. Weird saying "That wasn't different at all! Was it, Steve?" Of course, you'd have to see it to appreciate it, but it helps that it comes right after him saying "This time, it will be different!" He's a liar! And the corn killed Steve! Twice! Or at least hurt him badly. I also love all aliens on that show, which would be the Mooninites and the Plutonians. Really, it's the delivery that makes everything so funny. Really great voices.

Another funny thing about the show, unintentionally so I imagine, was that it started out with a concept: each episode, Dr. Weird would make some evil creation, and the Hunger Force would assemble to battle it, with Shake going in completely the wrong direction, Meatwad being abused beyond measure, and Frylock always well aware what's going on and finding all the real clues which Shake ignores. And in the end, as they point out in the commentary, they just learn to live with the evil creation rather than getting rid of it. There was even continuity between episodes! Amazing. But by about the fourth episode, any semblance of even that logic was gone, and it was just down to them hanging out doing nothing, and something weird comes into their life for no reason, causing a completely random conflict. Honestly, I think they got tired of having to think so hard. But that's okay, because dumb is funny.
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  Sneak Peek: Kid Mystic 07:54 PM -- Wed September 22, 2004  

Remember the tale of the three billy goats Gruff? Well, now instead of fighting Mush, Kid Mystic has to face Rammy, Surefoot, and Disgruntled Gruff at the end of Chapter 2! The idea is that since you're heading through a mountain pass, they make sense. That probably doesn't come across much since all of Chapter 2 takes place in a forest, and Chapter 3 is in a castle, but it's the theory. Each one poses a unique threat, and it wasn't until after I made them that I realized they exactly parallel the 3 Ancients in Diablo 2 - one shoots at you, one hops up in the air trying to crash down on you, and the third charges at you at high speed (that one's the most different... at least I didn't make him do whirlwind attacks). It's a fun challenge trying to dodge Rammy while Surefoot is hopping on your head and Disgruntled's shots are bouncing all around. The best thing is that it adds some strategy - which one will you focus on to be rid of first?
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  International Day Of Peace 07:07 PM -- Tue September 21, 2004  

Today is the International Day Of Peace. So go out there and fail to hit people about the head and ears! And while you're at it, maybe you should think about and research what peace is really about, and how you can make a difference in the world (hint: voting is one good way to make a difference!). Why not? You got something better to do today? Listen to Hamumu and make the world a better place!

Really, peace is something to think about right now, while we're bogged down with the incredible mess in Iraq, and this very minute, people are being held hostage, some of which have been killed. Not to mention all the deaths of soldiers and civilians. The war in Iraq has cost over 14,000 people their lives, and injured tens of thousands more. The numbers are going up faster now than they ever have before. What does peace mean? And how can we bring it about? The world is a real mess right now. I don't care if you think invading was a good or bad idea, right or wrong. The fact remains that people right now are dying, and nobody thinks that's okay - pro-war people wanted it to get handled quickly and cleanly with a minimum of violence, and anti-war people never wanted it to happen in the first place. It's also not the only trouble in the world, by a long shot! There's terrorism around the world, genocidal dictators, gang violence, good old fashioned murder on the streets, bar brawls, playground bullying, domestic abuse, siblings picking on each other, and probably more than a few small tribal wars off in some jungles we never hear a thing about. Maybe there are small things you can do in your local area to make a safer, more peaceful world.

Want some ideas for Peace Day? Here are the charities that Working Assets (my long-distance company, and one I highly recommend you switch to - quite cheap, and 1% goes to charities, AND you get free Ben & Jerry's ice cream for your first 6 months or something! Plus if I refer you, I get $10! So if you do want to sign up, let me know) lists under their Peace & International Freedom category. You can decide which, if any, support something you like, and today would be an awesome day to make a donation to one or more of them!

Alliance for Responsible Trade
A network of labor, family-farm, religious and environmental groups that promotes equitable and sustainable trade.

Americans for Peace Now
Works with the Israeli peace movement Shalom Achshav to advance political solutions to the conflict between Israelis and Arabs.

Amnesty International
Campaigns to ensure fair trials, free prisoners of conscience, and stop torture and executions worldwide.

Center for Victims of Torture
Helps victims of government-sponsored torture recover physically and mentally and rebuild their lives.

Doctors Without Borders (France)
Delivers emergency aid to victims of armed conflict, epidemics, and natural disasters.

Global Fund for Women
Makes grants to women’s rights groups around the world that are committed to increasing women’s economic independence, access to education and stopping violence against women.

Grassroots International
Aids local groups working for political, economic and social rights in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Peace Action
Educates and organizes people at the grassroots level to campaign for peace and disarmament.

Physicians for Social Responsibility
Promotes public policies that protect human health against weapons of mass destruction, global environmental degradation and gun violence.

Places video cameras in the hands of local human rights defenders and trains them to use the technology, along with computers and editing software, in the fight for human rights.

So there you go... it's the day of peace, so peace out, homies.
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  Sneak Peek: Kid Mystic 12:10 AM -- Sat September 18, 2004  

Here's one of the new levels from Chapter 4. It includes Slimy Slugs, which leave a deadly trail of acid slime, and Sniper Snails, which as you can see in action here, spit a stream of acid with (not so) great precision from long range. If you get in close to a Sniper Snail, he'll hide in his shell, invincible, until you move further away. That makes them nice and annoying.

This level is actually called Gastro-Pods, because it contains those pods you see (the bluish walls) made of slug slime, which you pop open with switches. Yes, it is the last level I made, and that's the most creative thing I could come up with at that point. I'm just glad it's done! It's a pretty fun level regardless, and it takes some skill to stay out of the slug trails and dodge the sniper fire.

The snails and slugs are the two new enemies I'm really happy with - they both turned out exactly how I wanted, right off the bat, as soon as I finished the code. I hit compile, ran a test level, and was laughing and enjoying them right there. The best is the infuriating way the Sniper Snails hide from you. Oh, they'll make you mad.
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  Good News 11:55 PM -- Fri September 17, 2004  

Today I finished making the last new level for Kid Mystic! There's still some other things to do, besides fixing all the bugs that are being found, but it's certainly a milestone near the end. Today I also replaced the boss of the first chapter with a completely new one, because it was originally a Mama Spider, and I wanted something more interesting, tougher, and that makes the game more different from Dr. Lunatic. So yay, Kid Mystic! I'm gonna have to really push it to release it this month, but I hope it can be done. Now I need to get to work on a more secret bit of it. Guess I'll release a sneak peek of something first. Lemme go see what would make an interesting screenshot...
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  Sneak Peek: Kid Mystic 09:31 PM -- Thu September 9, 2004  

In honor of the upcoming beta test, here's a new peek! This is one of those wacky new levels that mix up the gameplay. This one is really silly - it's called Whack-A-Zoid, and I shall leave it in your capable hands to figure out why.
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  Testers Sign up! 05:10 PM -- Thu September 9, 2004  

I will be picking testers later tonight (around 5pm my time, that's Pacific time, GMT-7 these days I think), so if you want to do it, get your application in right now!
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  Mystical Beta 08:35 PM -- Wed September 8, 2004  

If you didn't see in the forums, there is now a Kid Mystic forum, and in it, a call for beta testers, so apply now if you would like to! I will be choosing the testers very soon. The state of Kid Mystic is this: all the fairies are done, all of the first two chapters are done, and the new enemies for the 3rd chapter are mostly ready to go, so I can get on making the 3rd chapter levels. I have 4 fairly decent ideas for those levels, and that's how many I need, so it works out. The beta testers will initially only have access to the first two chapters, since those are the only ones that are done. It's looking good overall, though.

My ears are still imperfect, but recovering. Today Bonsai is at the vet, undergoing something nobody should have to endure, but all pets do. The worst part isn't so much the surgery, but the fact that he wasn't allowed to eat or drink since midnight (which was fun to have him torturing us all night as we had him trapped in our bedroom with us), and then he has to spend all day (until 5pm!) at the vet. I hope they fed and watered him afterwards. He hates to be abandoned, so this is really hard. I feel terrible about it, but I know it has to be done. The other worst part? He has never minded going to the vet at all! Just ran around the room and explored. I think that period of his life is now over. It just really makes me sad. I don't like making people or animals unhappy. I can't wait until I can go pick him up!
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