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  LL2 Propaganda Boogaloo 05:15 PM -- Fri June 15, 2007  

Another LL2 review?

It is! Quite positive as always, because everybody knows you gots to respect the Toonyland, yo.

By the way, I had the bestest idea strike like lightning the other day, with regard to a future Loonyland game. I'd really like to do this one before Diwali Desert, just because my ideas for that game are very large, and this game could be much smaller and more do-able. Wanna hear about it?

First, I should confess something nobody seems to have suspected, despite the fact that Loony is clearly going to Easter Island at the end of LL2, and yet it says in the credits that LL3 is in Diwali Desert. That's because until the final chapter of Loonyland (You guessed it: Easter Island), we are done with Loony! There are other characters to introduce which will each have their own game, and then it will all come together in the final chapter. So, with that said...

Remember the big map of Loonyland I showed, and how The Northland was an island off the northern coast? Well, here's some history of the Northland. Northlanders are much like norse people of legend (and history too I guess), lots of oddly placed J's in their names for example (Mjolnir? Bjorn? Bjork?). But one key difference is that they love technology. Their entire lives have always been wrapped up in the technology they develop. Of course, you've seen the level of technology in Loonyland - it's not exactly the computer age. So they build steam-powered and clockwork robots (the LL2 clockwork robot is of course an example of Northland technology), and other crazy devices and contraptions. Everything they do is 'helped' along by this unstable and highly error-prone technology. When they go fishing, it's in a motorized boat with some sort of auto-net deployment system. When they cook, it's using a weird mini-factory machine that cranks out their food. Everybody in their society is involved in this. Fishermen work on the fishing boat machines, cooks work on the cooking machines. There isn't just some engineer group who does that stuff for others, it's a part of how everyone does everything they do. Some have even tried to develop mechanical boots to walk for them.

Unfortunately, technology can be dangerous. About a hundred years ago, someone developed a new model of clockwork robot that was self-replicating (reasoning, as Northlanders tend to, that if you can build a robot to build your robots, then you can finally sit back and truly do nothing at all!). We all know where that kind of thing ends, and so it did. The self-replicating machines developed new and deadlier models, spread all over the Northland, and eventually wiped out all animal life on the Northland. Now, only humans and robots remain. The humans are huddled into small villages desperately fighting to survive against the endless hordes. Many have of course run south for safety, but several groups remain, declaring that they will not cede the Northland!

That's the backstory. The nowstory is that you are Lars, a boy raised by one of the holdout clans. You are now old enough to attempt the trial of manhood. The trial is simple: go out into the wilderness, and don't come back until you've built yourself a robot from parts scavenged off of enemy robots. This demonstrates your might, in being able to beat them, and your technical aptitude (the most highly prized thing in Northland society!) in being able to construct a robot of your own.

And of course it goes from there, with the game revolving around building up your own little army of robots and kind of RTS (but sorta different) battling your way through the Northland. There's this really nifty system of components and robot building that gives you lots of creative freedom, and you sort of level up by studying the parts you scavenge, which helps you learn what other parts you can combine them with to make other things. Sounds like fun to me! Kinda iffy to go next in the series though - do you really want to go straight from Winter Woods to the Northland? People will think the whole game is on ice. Maybe it's time to hit Summer Springs or Forbidden Forest first. I do know exactly who all the other characters will be, and I think one of them probably belongs in one of those places. That plus Diwali and Northland should complete the set, except of course for Easter Island. I guess that makes Easter Island Loonyland 6. I hope I can pull it all off. If I can do it, it'll be the greatest thing I've ever done, a true epic of ridiculousness!
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  Auntie, I am anti-ant 10:39 PM -- Thu June 14, 2007  

Augh, the invasion has begun! We've had great luck with ants in previous years here, which is a miracle because our yard is one giant anthill. But they found us yesterday. Actually, they found the cat food. It was horrifying, bowls completely covered with ants. They had kind of settled down after some serious being-dealt-with yesterday, but this morning they were back, apparently with a keen interest in our sink (and here I thought we kept it clean!). I have thinned them considerably, almost entirely through my favorite technique, which I shall teach you. Please feel free to teach me other techniques in the comments (I really try to be non-lethal - I don't like to hurt anything).

My amazing technique is two-fold. The simple version of it is called pathbreaking. All you do is get some soap on your finger and rub it across the path the ants are following. Ants use chemical markers to make their trails, and the soap completely destroys that (or just blocks it, either way it works!). They really don't like walking on the soap either, so it works like a wall. But, like any wall, you need to expand it or they'll just walk around. I try to do things like make a ring around a hole they're using, so the path is completely broken. But when you can't do that (which is usually - and if you can do that, you could just plug the hole with some glue or something anyway!), a really wide wall of soap is quite effective. They can't retrack that well.

The more advanced form of this technique is called sealing up your house. Go outside, see where they are coming in, and caulk that thing shut! Much like with pathbreaking, you'll find they go around and find other ways (in our case, there's a wood beam that runs all the way around the house with a small gap in it the whole way!). So you'll need to make sure you cover a wide distance to the point where they lose track. The nice thing is, you're outside, so you can pretty much go nuts. Not like inside where you need to be careful.

So I've been going outside and upgrading my barrier throughout the day as they get through. Since the gap in our wall is on the underside of something low to the ground, it's really tough to actually seal it. Most of the time it turns out it was just the toxic stench keeping them away, and when it dried, they'd just walk on through a hole in it. But I think I've got them now. Maybe. Then the next invasion will begin...

This is all part of the seven plagues of Anza, by the way:

Plague Of Vermin: First, we found ticks on our dogs, something we have never seen out here before.

Plague Of Serpents: Then, we found snakes (possibly just one snake in two different places) in our yard. That was actually a really nice plague, because the snake seemed to be completely harmless and it's always fun to see snakes. The only challenge was keeping the dogs from noticing it.

Plague Of Wild Dogs: The dogs in question are our own. That means our dogs are now digging under our fence all over the place, and it's an absolute nightmare. We can't have them off leashes in the yard anymore. We literally can't lose sight of them for more than one minute without them escaping. This morning, they actually pulled aside a rock I had used to block one of their digging spots and got out. Tomorrow I'm going to buy one of those wireless fence things and we'll see how that goes. This electric fence just can't be moved low enough to affect the digging.

Plague Of Fire: A sudden jump yesterday to 90+ degrees out of the blue, when it had been a very nice windows-open 80 for weeks. Now I'm indoors with all the windows closed, blinds down, and a ceiling fan going. I tell you, it's like living in the desert. Let's just hope we don't see the Plague Of Actual Fire, which is not very rare around here. This plague inevitably begat...

Plague Of Ants: When it gets hot, they come in. That's how they are. Fingers are crossed for a short-lived plague.

Unfortunately, that only makes 5 plagues. I am huddled in my darkened office contemplating what further horrors await...
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  More LL2 Propaganda! 02:22 PM -- Sat June 2, 2007  

GameTunnel reviews Loonyland 2

There's one mistake in the review that I am asking them to correct. It also happens to be the only negative remark in the entire thing, so that's quite an endorsement! If you don't have Winter Woods yet, GameTunnel has one word for you:
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  Update On Life 03:48 AM -- Thu May 31, 2007  

I guess I haven't journaled in a while, so here is an assorted stack of lots of stuff about my life. To give you a chance to avoid reading it since it is boring and extremely long, here's a summary - playing WoW a lot, working on new website stuff, Linkin Park is great, Jonathan Coulton is great, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists are maybe good, not sure. Okay, read on or stop!

Of course I have been playing WoW relentlessly! I have 10 characters that I am simultaneously leveling up, because I like variety and I can exploit the rest system to constantly earn double XP. I am covering every possible class, race, and profession, except for Troll and Gnome. If you are into WoW, you can see how my guys are doing any time with these handy links (incidentally, stuff like this is one of the things I want Dumb Accounts to do someday!):
But you will be shocked to learn that I am not only playing WoW! I am filling out paperwork for a merchant account to solve all the ordering woes we have. And boy oh boy, those have gotten intense. I will have a big expose' on those issues much later. I've gotten a good start on the new layout of the site. Because of the Dumb Accounts and new ordering system, I'm revamping the entire thing. You will be shocked and amazed! I think it's cuter. I'm consolidating tons of things so that it's just a smaller site all around, and I'll be getting rid of extraneous stuff. The focus will be on community stuff, and buying games. Everything else is off to the side or gone. Hamumu shall become the destination for Dumb people worldwide to hang out and do dumb things! I have huge ideas for stuff to do with it, but I'm keeping it under my hat a bit just because I don't know yet of my ability to deliver on this stuff. I'll be working on it though, and I plan to keep adding new features to the site all the time. Things that'll make it worth coming back and doing stuff here even if there aren't any recent games out. The site itself will be your entertainment!

In other news, we recently obtained a bunch of new music, and I was listening to it today. The new Linkin Park is awesome. It's not much at all like the earlier ones, and that is sad, but it is great in its own new ways. The big surprise I find is that they get very political! Really not something I ever expected from them. I mean, there are 12 songs on the CD, one of which is instrumental, so 11 that have lyrical content. Three of those are blatantly political (27% that is)! One's about Katrina (in a really cool way - not ripping on the government for doing a bad job, but more like shame on society itself, in a sense), one is of course about Iraq (best song on the CD, maybe best song ever by anyone ever in all of everdom), and one, well, it doesn't come right out and say what it's about, but "Your campaign's a disguise, replaced freedom with fear, you trade money for lives" and "Your time has come to be replaced" and "I see liars and thieves abuse power with greed".

I love political/protest music. And I love Linkin Park. Not just the music, but the way they go about everything. They're just great. Like each song in the CD booklet has a little snippet about how it was made and some of the musical ideas in it. Their second album (first?) included a big movie about creating the CD artwork, because they're all really into art and they all had a hand in it. People really bash on Linkin Park, because they're so earnest and "think they're so deep", or whatever. But the funny thing is that they are, and it's just lame frat boy stuff to rag on them for it. It's the same kind of thing that says you're not cool if you like X, or if you don't like Y. They're the geeks creating something special and being called losers for it while the real losers are wasting away accomplishing nothing. I wouldn't call it jealousy, but it almost comes from the same place. The middle school nonsense of insulting people for doing well on tests. Not that I'm saying it's required to like this band, you can think they sound horrible if you want - it is just music, and entirely subject to taste. It's the people who disrespect them on entirely different grounds that are weaksauce mcnuggets. Linkin Park is a bunch of geeks, but geeks are good. And besides that, I like how they share a little behind the scenes stuff. I inevitably like a song more when I know something about what it means to the artist, or stories about how it was made.

Another huge pile of CDs we got was everything Jonathan Coulton has ever done. He's also awesome, in quite a different way. "I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you. But I get the feeling that you don't like it...what's with all the screaming? You like monkeys. You like ponies. Maybe you don't like monsters too much. Maybe I used too many monkeys. Isn't it enough that I ruined a pony making a gift for you?" He did a really cool project where he created a new song every week for a year. Four of his CDs are those 52 songs. Some of them are awful, especially on the first CD, but some of them are amazingly awesome, like Code Monkey, the ever-popular Re: Your Brains, Tom Cruise Crazy, and just a whole lot more. Like Linkin Park, only moreso, he offers detailed notes on how every song came to be, some of which is quite interesting. And some of the songs, I listen to them and it makes me want to go read those notes and see what's up.

The other bunch of CDs was Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. Them, I'm not as sure about. They've got some really really great songs, but most of it is heavily distorted and overdriven guitar, and it's just tiring to listen to. I'm just not sure yet. Ted also gets political, but I think he's kind of known for it (by those that know him... I only found out recently myself!). The oddest thing is that, as far as I can tell, they mention ghosts in like half of their songs (3 or 4 of the songs have it in the title). Ted has some weird obsession. Ectophilia?

Oh, and by the way, after that last journal entry I should mention - our satellite connection came back a day later, in really bad shape. Then after another day, it started working for real. So hooray, internets all around!
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  Internets, We Hardly Knew Ye 07:46 PM -- Wed May 16, 2007  

Well, here I am at the library once again. Not by choice this time! Our satellite seems to have blown a gasket. So at home, we are without internets until next wednesday at least (when they will come check it out). There's always a chance it will spontaneously work again, since it spontaneously stopped, but it's not looking too promising at this point. It is hard to run an internet business without 50% of the term "internet business". I think I'll be visiting the library quite a lot in the near future.

If you are confused about the mysterious surprise on every page of the site, cease your confusion, because it is gone now! It was just a test thing that I left up for fun, but I've removed it now as I continue to work on the new stuff. Speaking of things that are hard to do without the internet, working on a website is one such thing. So I suspect I'll be getting in some good Titan Tunnels work this week. I can't even play WoW! GASP!
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  Dumb Accounts 03:52 PM -- Tue May 8, 2007  

If you peruse this website (while logged into the forum), you may notice a tiny little surprise. It's on every single page.

Did you find it? Good! Well, that is obviously nothing useful or interesting, but it was a simple test as the first step toward Dumb Accounts. See, here's the story:

Plimus, the company that currently handles our orders, is failing us. Not to say anything is broken, or your orders are in any danger - on the contrary, everything is exactly as it has always been. It's perfectly secure, and works just fine. The problem is that it IS how it's always been. I've been asking them to fix this one minor problem for over a year now (I think for two years, but I'm not sure). I get answers anywhere from a big run-around where they need to ask other people (other people who I have since asked myself, to discover that they are not involved at all) to no reply at all. The problem is simple enough: the default shipping option on CD orders for international customers is this insane $65+ fee. I don't even need them to remove that option, just make it not be the default! It's been used several times, always on accident (who would intentionally use that?!). So then we always have to go through this process with an upset customer, and refunding money and all this stuff. It's utterly ridiculous and it's a five second fix for them to do.

So I told them I'm done if they don't fix it. Well, I got no reply to that, so I am done. How does this all lead to Dumb Accounts? Well, I am going to switch to Paypal for order processing. I think that's a good thing - everybody knows Paypal, so it will be well trusted. And it's not just Paypal payments, they handle credit cards and all just like Plimus. The other great thing about them is that their rates are very low, so I'll make quite a bit more per sale (well, actually about $1 on an average sale, but that adds up!). The downside is that it functions in a completely different way, so I need to do major backend changes to the website. This is also a sort of upside, however! That's because the way Paypal functions gives me more flexibility and power here on the site, much like when I had my own merchant account, way back when.

And that, in part, is where Dumb Accounts come in. A Dumb Account is your forum account, simple as that. But as you can see by the little surprise on every page, it will be linked to the entire site, not just the forum. And it will contain a lot more than just forum stuff. Here are some ideas I have had for what it could be used for:
  • Store your shipping and billing addresses (not shown publicly!), to make ordering easier.
  • Track what products you own from us, and you can get new download links automatically - but I get notified when you do, so I can stop abuse of this feature.
  • Track your prize points!
  • Maybe someday, spend your prize points directly through a web interface (and apply them to game orders sort of like a gift certificate).
  • Definitely lots more ways to GET prize points and spend them.
  • Future games can have an online score system tied to Dumb Accounts. Your scores go up under your Dumb Account, instead of under some random name.
  • At last, a hand-made, trustworthy chatroom, where you are who you are and it can be verified! And you won't have to login - you're already logged in as long as your Dumb Account is. Incidentally, I'm also hoping to implement this chatroom into future games, so you can chat with people playing games and on the site while you are playing. Need help? Just ask right in-game!
  • An automatic sig generator that displays your achievements in our games, or which games you have? Maybe somehow. You could use it anywhere, it'd just be an image generated here. Spread the word of Hamumu! This is inspired by the Xbox Gamerscore thing you see people posting on their blogs and such. Same idea, but for your Hamumu games.
  • Integration with Dumb: The Game, so your DQ is under your Dumb Account too (and can go in that sig! Or you can hide it in shame).
  • User ratings and reviews of our games? Doesn't really require Dumb Accounts to do, but something that could be done with them.
  • Not that we have so many products, but it might be fun to do the statistics across accounts and do the "If you liked Supreme, you need to try Kid Mystic!" recommendation system (based on which games tend to be owned by owners of the game you're looking at).
Do you have any ideas of stuff that Dumb Accounts could do for us?

By the way, this is not coming soon. Well, fairly soon - it's my top priority project, and LL:TT is now on the back burner until this gets handled. But it'll take quite a while to get working, I fear. Web programming is hard!
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  Interview 06:54 PM -- Fri May 4, 2007  

Yet again, I am the subject of intense scrutiny, via this interview at Joystiq.com. No new surprises in there, but it's general interest Hamumu stuff, right?

In other news, I now have WoW. I played WoW all morning and don't know where the time went. Maybe some work is in order.
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  Victory! 08:25 PM -- Sun April 29, 2007  

Medusa's Lament is complete. I'll upload a more downloader-friendly version to the Gamelets page in time, but for now if you want, you can get the contest entry version right here (2ish MB). It's got a weird creepy song, horrible sound effects (neither my microphone nor my sound editing software work on my new computer!), and, um, instructions. Unzip and play! I am off to relax after a hard-working weekend.
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  Way new looks! 03:46 AM -- Sun April 29, 2007  

Look at all that! As you can see, the crows have gotten fat on Medusa's garden. The game is essentially done now, minus dozens of hours worth of polish. Like for example, the ability to get hurt (frankly, I think it will become nearly impossible once I add that, but then I'll just need to tweak speeds and such), and some sort of score. The background there has 7 layers which scroll independently, so as you climb up, you sort of reveal more. It would've been fun to have surprises to reveal as little rewards for getting far, but it's just a plain old landscape. Maybe I'll add a goat on the mountain if I get time. Looks pretty good in action though.

I'm done for the night... I could sure use a break. Then I have tons of time tomorrow to hit the finish line. One thing that really needs work is the collision detection. Right now you can only gaze at the birds' feet properly. The rest of their body is made of reflective feathers.
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  Better 09:28 PM -- Sat April 28, 2007  

Well, she's still spitting rather than gazing, but look at how her head is attached to her body! Thanks DrPetter, for helping me figure out the conundrum of cosines. And the only real major technical feat in the game is done as you can see - the crows stack! Actually, it's pretty morbid, like I'm standing on a heap of dead bodies. But they're not. They're statues. Remember that! Statues that were living creatures moments before, but hey, I'm Medusa. Now I'm off to do major artwork. The artwork is going to have a big impact on gameplay at this point, since the first thing I'll be doing is making those crows be fat crows, about 3x the size. That will get you climbing much more quickly. It took about 5 minutes of play just to get as high as I am in this shot, and I'd like to be scrolling the screen up ever skyward. I'm gonna have a bunch of layers of parallax scrolling in the background to make it interesting, so I better get on that.
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