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  Hamumu 2009+ 04:22 PM -- Mon November 3, 2008  

So the Dr. Lunatic engine is retired now. That puts me in the position of having to create something new from scratch. I did that with Costume Party. These are my goals going forward:
  • No game over 6 months in total development time, with the average more like 2 or 3 (I know that will change someday, but for now...)

  • Community!! Like Costume Party, I want every game to be tied directly into the Hamumu community and feature extensive user creations. Every game should be a platform for your creativity in some way. Hopefully in many ways.

  • Trying different business models. Costume Party is unique in that it is truly a free game. You just pay money for an added element - you can still play every level for free. We'll see how that goes! Maybe it's the way I'll go, or maybe I'll try some others (I'm intrigued by the whole "buy in-game items" kind of thing, but it seems like that would require a pretty massive game to justify). As long as I can keep funding my lavish yakisoba-instead-of-ramen-sometimes lifestyle, I'd love to be giving away more free.

  • Community input. Like with Happyponygate, only less doomed. Except in the necessary case of surprises (I do love to make surprises), I'd like to get fan input on everything. I don't want to be forced to obey the fans, as I am in this line of work entirely because I want to make what I want to make, but it's fun to steal listen to your ideas.

  • Tons of time spent on marketing and getting Hamumu known and out there. I still don't know anything about doing this, but I guess I'd better learn.
I also want to someday develop a toolchain for making 3D games. Truecolor doesn't work well for games like Dr. Lunatic, due to massive video memory requirements. It'll be a lot more possible in 3D, but that's a really big task I'm going to not think about at the moment. I fully intend to finish the Adventures Of Bouapha and Loonyland series, but I probably won't do another game in either series (except maybe a weird offshoot or two) until I find a great system for making 3D games in a simple way.

A Game A Week? I'm still thinking about that. Seems like January 1st would be the ideal time to start it, so that gives me two months to consider it. I can't express just how fun the idea sounds to me, but yes, it's very scary.

But until that happens or doesn't, let me tell you what I will be doing: Expansions! I've already got the first Costume Party expansion about half done. And in keeping with my formerly expressed Community Input goal, let me avoid keeping it a secret. It's the Winter Pack. But it'll have to stay sort of a secret until tomorrow, when I give you a bunch of details on what is in it!
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  Why Happyponygate Is Canceled 03:26 PM -- Sun November 2, 2008  

Sorry folks. And I really mean it... I am very sorry that I am canceling this game. But canceled it is. There are several reasons why this is necessary, and I'm just going to lay them out there:

- Way too ambitious. This was a game that completely overreached. Not a first for me! But this was just going too far. If I'm going to make an online game, I need to start simpler. To complete this project would've taken 2 years, IF I actually worked really hard nonstop from the beginning. Given my usual work ethic and other necessary tasks, we'd be looking at more like 3 or 4 years (and don't forget to calculate in the engineer's fudge: multiply by 3 and move it up one order of magnitude, for a total of 9 decades). Just too big. Bigger than Supreme in every way except for number of levels, and of course I didn't make all those levels!

- Money. I can't make games that take 2 or 3 years. Much more important than the direct income is the notion of being 'off the radar' for years at a time. That costs me in terms of publicity, since people forget I exist, and in terms of actual fans, since people get bored with no new game and wander off, forgetting to return and keep track. And of course there is the direct income - a game that takes me 2 years to make doesn't make me 12x as much money as a 2 month game! Not even 2x as much, most of the time.

- Technology. The Dr. Lunatic 'engine' is incredibly outdated at this point. It was behind the times when I was first using it in the late 90's, and it's completely archaic now. What does that matter? Well, two problems. The lesser problem is that it's not updated for current operating systems and uses a resolution that some video cards actually don't even support anymore! Or at least for a while there was one NVidia driver that didn't. The greater problem is that it looks like crap. I really like the characters and style I made in Loonyland 2, but they came out looking blocky, rough-edged, and discolored because of the limited resolution and palette and lack of blending. To put it bluntly: I can't release another 256 color game again. Ever. This isn't the kind of thing that was costing me the actual hardcore fans - you guys have liked the stuff I made all along, you'd be happy with more of it! But new people coming by and seeing that stuff are immediately turned off. They just won't give the game a chance if it looks so old and crummy. Unfortunately, presentation is necessary to pull in new people.

- Hard! It got unwieldy and ugly to the point where I was not enjoying working on it anymore. And when I reach that state, I have a real problem. A real problem that usually results in "just one more quick WoW session". It's not a matter of saying "I don't like this anymore" and throwing it aside, but a recognition that because I don't like doing it anymore, I won't be able to force myself to get it done. It's just going to get slower and more unproductive until it eventually fails at some point. Recognizing that early and quitting is a trick I'm still trying to learn, but this is better than some of my past attempts! Some people will see this as a cop-out, but it's not. I've learned through decades and dozens of failures to spot when things just aren't viable anymore. There comes a point when I know a project can't ever reach completion, and I have to drop it. I'm getting better at spotting that sooner, I hope.

I really liked Happyponygate. The storyline is a load of fun, the gameplay that I had was great (I never did get cars remotely enjoyable, but running and gunning was extremely fun), and it really worked online, chatting and all! Well, not necessarily online - it worked over a loopback connecting my computer to itself. But in theory it would've worked online. And before you ask, no, I can't let you play what I did get done, because it requires the server program to run and a connection to a MySQL database and all kinds of things. Just not something shareable without the server having been setup (and I can't set up the server - only early versions were ever compiled on Linux, and so I shudder to think at all the new incompatibilities that crept in during the year or so I developed it on windows).

I also loved how it was made out of the ideas of forum people! And that's a large part of what I'm really sorry about. I feel like I owe the winners a chance to have their stuff in the game, but then, I still owe Hammered the presence of the Hammer Family in Super Happy Go Go Ninja Time too! I'm going to try to figure out a way to get those things into other games in the future to fulfill that. You did get Yerfbucks out of it though, it's not so bad. And we all had fun coming up with the ideas (that's my favorite part of the job!).

In the end, I realized that the only thing keeping me from saying it was done and throwing it away was the guilt and abuse I would take from the Hamumu fans for doing so. That's no reason to keep pushing myself on an impossible task. I have to just take the abuse and go on! I need to keep the company going, keep income coming in, keep Hamumu in the 'news' such as it is, and keep myself busy on work that interests me. It's as simple as that.

So I am again very sorry for the loss of something that was highly anticipated, but I can assure you, it was never going to happen. The only result if I kept working on it would've been to waste time on a dead end rather than moving on to greener pastures. Both you and I are far better served by new games coming out instead!

And tomorrow, I'll discuss what interesting work I could be doing.
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  Best Halloween Ever Surprises 06:11 PM -- Sat November 1, 2008  

I have finally tallied up and dished out the points and trophies for BHE2008. For your edification, here's the thread where almost everybody posted links to their surprises: BHE Surprises!

I was going to go through and talk about them all, but then I realized how that would be way too much work when I have serious stuff that needs doing! So let me just say big thanks to Sillyman, Mr. Onion, Revolution, Kerma, Hammered, Crabwarrior, Hyperme, TyTBone, Cheeselord, Qwertybub3, Spiderpumpkin, Redbone, Knittel, Moltanem2000, SpaceManiac, Coolguy, and Blackduck for helping to make this the Best Halloween Ever! You see why it would've taken a while?

This morning there was a nice post-Halloween surprise for me in that the auto-updater was badly broken! I awoke to having to spend an hour hacking PHP and even doing some manual changes in the database to get everybody properly awarded for TAG, DumbWords, and Costume Party! But it always feels good when you know you've fixed something, so maybe I should break it more often.

Speaking of broken, there are a bunch of little issues I need to work out with the online connecting in Costume Party. Unfortunately, some of them are quite a mystery to me. You'd think if everybody was connecting to the same server, they'd be communicating in the same way, but such is not life. There's an amazing variety of different responses, depending on the victim's computer, apparently. And it seems my code doesn't handle all of them just yet. Still working on that.
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  Best Halloween Ever! 01:57 AM -- Sat November 1, 2008  

Here it is! There have been tons of surprises this year, I think lots more than last year! Here's a link where a lot of them are listed, but you might have to explore around the forum to find yet more: BHE Surprises. More are still to come as far as I know!

We've only had a few entries posted in the Costume Party Contest! I know of at least one more that should be there, don't know why it hasn't been posted. But hey, if you want to win 995 Yerfbucks, get in there! There's still time if you are a pro costume-builder.

And of course, I should inform you that Costume Party, the game, is here! Now you know the secret behind the 995 Yerfbuck prize in the costume contest... it's exactly enough to buy a Creator's Pass for Costume Party! There are also a ton of new avatar bits from that game, and a bunch of new trophies you can earn related to it as well!

If that weren't enough, Halloween Horror 9 is here, with 5 exciting Supreme worlds, and we also have two other Supreme Add-Ons, LOST Island and Cheeseworld. Gotta catch 'em all!

I'll have more news about the BHE2008 tomorrow, once it's officially closed. Then I'll have to tally up all the winners and figure out how many Yerfbucks they get, and set up the voting for the Costume Contest. It's a busy time of year, and I have to go eat some Pumpkin Roll.
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