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  Demo's up! 10:35 PM -- Tue October 26, 2004  

Hey, the Kid Mystic demo is now available, enjoy the first chapter of the game! I've also been playing some of the HH worlds, and they're really good. There are SIXTEEN this year! That's not just a record, it's a blowout. WTG sent me all the worlds, so I just need to pack them up for the webpage. Normally I play worlds all the way through before putting them up, so I can doublecheck they're okay (and be the first to get the high scores...), but this is an awful lot of worlds. I've played a few, and I'll probably have to put them up without playing all.

So with all that junk out of the way, what's left on the Hamumu agenda? First thing is to ship out HH prizes. Lots of people are getting those! You know if you are, since WTG collected the addresses. I'll get that done tomorrow (which may also be when I put up the worlds). Then it's a more relaxing time. I like to take it a little easy after the mad rush that comes at the end of making a game. But in the near future, there's a Supreme patch coming with some new triggers and effects that should further expand your arsenal of wacky level-making, and I'll be getting to work on a new game, very slowly at first, since I'm taking things easy. A new game??

Yeah, a new one. See, here's the thing... every Halloween, I like to make a surprise for you guys, like Pumpkin Pop one year, and um, that's about it. I always try to. Loonyland was supposed to be a Halloween surprise, but it got too big. This year, I got cut off by the trip we had to take to Minnesota, and the intense work of finishing Kid Mystic. I came up with an idea I liked, but it just would've taken too much time. But then I also came up with another crazy idea, and after talking with Sol Hunt herself, she feels that this can take precedence. She demands that someday there must be a Sol Hunt game, but as long as I never say I won't do one, she's fine with it being put off. And she really likes this new idea.

This new game is tentatively titled "Bad Graphics", and is a super original idea. That's one reason I'm so excited about it - this is something people will notice just because it's so unique (and next year, I can enter it in the IGF and maybe get past the preliminaries!). It is also an online game, so I'm very excited about that. You guys will be playing against and with each other and me in this grand adventure (it's an RPG of sorts). It's not coming soon, it's not even really started yet, but it's what I will be putting my effort into once I begin putting effort into things again.

No, Grimbelina will probably never come out.
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  Let the Mystical floodgates swing wide! 11:56 PM -- Thu October 21, 2004  

Okay people, I expect no less than 87,000 Kid Mystic orders in the next two days! Get to it! Please?

ANyway, as you can see, Kid Mystic is available now. There's no demo yet, I'll be working on that when I'm done with this, and maybe after I've had a little break! And have printed up some CDs, since I haven't printed any yet, and with luck, there will be a ton of orders to fill momentarily! But most of you diehard Hamheads know if you need Kid Mystic - if you own the old version of it (and like it, of course), you definitely need the new one. If you like Loonyland, you need it. If neither of those apply, maybe you need to wait for the demo! It should only be a few days.

I'm also back from my attempted trip. As far as running the business goes, it was something of a low-key fiasco. It turns out that a 56k modem does not have the necessary bandwidth to deal with 2500 spams a day. After a couple days, I developed a technique that worked - I logged directly into the server and used a webmail program to go through and manually delete all the spams, 100 at a time. It actually didn't take all that long to do, it was just a pain (and I had ample time to play solitaire while I did it, since each page of 100 emails took about 2 minutes to load). I ended up shipping several orders. No complaints about those yet, but we'll see what happens! I don't know any reason they wouldn't get to their destinations just as well as the orders I ship from here. So I don't know. It wasn't a raving success, but I was able to answer a few customer emails and ship a few orders. It was also frustrating that I only had a short time to do emails in the morning or the evening, so I couldn't reply to anything in a timely fashion like I usually do.

In the meantime, Halloween is fast approaching, and Halloween Horror 5 is on the chopping block, getting tested and ready to go. WTG mentioned 15 entries or so! That's crazy. Sounds like the biggest Halloween Horror yet! Well, I better go start printing out Kid Mystics for the evening rush. There will be an evening rush, right?? Start ordering!
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  Trippin' 10:47 PM -- Fri October 15, 2004  

So first of all, a public service announcement: if you're planning to get a "NO SOLICITING" sign, even a bright red one, for the front of your house, don't bother. You'll probably have better luck with the shotgun + rocking chair combo. We got a No Soliciting sign recently and have had 2 solicitors since. It's not a large number, but it's no reduction from our usual. One a week minimum. Sigh. The funny thing is, we know they see the sign, because every single legitimate visitor we have always comments on it! It's pretty hard to miss.

Second of all, Kid Mystic will be released next Thursday, or possibly Friday if there's too much trouble on Thursday. This is because...

Third of all, we will be taking yet another trip (not really a vacation, this is personal business), from Saturday until Wednesday. The difference is, we got a new laptop much better than the old one, some prepaid internet time, and I will bring along a bunch of CDs and halloween goodies and stamps and mailers, and I will be trying to keep the business up to speed while I'm gone! I think I can pull it off, though it will be awkward and painful. Hopefully you will all order way too many games and I won't be able to keep up (that's actually my general dream, not just for this trip). If I'm a little slow on the response time this weekend, that's why. But it will be an interesting experiment! And our new laptop does wi-fi stuff, so I can't wait to pull up to a Starbuck's or the airport and see if it works. That could be fun. Much better than the regular phone modem it also has. This is gonna be a wacky trip.

And lastly, Jon Stewart was on Crossfire today. He is my hero. If you didn't see it, you missed the greatest television moment of the decade. He absolutely tore apart the media establishment and chewed on its innards, all by being calm, clear, and polite. Well, mostly polite. "Real" news people WISH they had a tenth of his integrity. They also wish he'd just shut up and do comedy, leaving the real news for them to distort, which they actually told him to do. His response? "I'm not gonna be your monkey."
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  Home stretch 09:55 PM -- Thu October 7, 2004  

Looks like this Kid Mystic thing is one of my patented tiny projects that blew up big. But it's almost over now. Right now I'm just putting the finishing touches on the final bonus feature, then as long as there are no more bugs to fix, it's done. I won't be done with this feature until tomorrow at least, and then there's some testing to make sure it's all right, and then making the packaging and printing them up! I can't wait to be done!

Also, there are two new Supreme add-ons and a Derelict update available since yesterday. I haven't done an announcement on them yet, because I have to put up a pair of Stockboy level sets I have too, and I figure it's better to combine these things. So grab what you like! The Derelict update adds some great new stuff to the game - besides adding a new powerup and an extra hard difficulty, it adds Exploration Mode. That takes away the time limits, but makes the enemies twice as tough. It's really a lot more fun to me, and quite a bit different, playing it that way. Some levels are much harder. The author of Derelict promises more updates fairly often, including new levels, monsters, and maybe even playable characters (okay, he kind of has to rely on me for those last two), so check it out. You should get it this month while it's 10% off. Hey, order it along with Kid Mystic and get another 20% off the total! And order all of our other games too! Why not?
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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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