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  PAX Day 0 03:20 AM -- Tue September 2, 2008  

It's going to take quite some length to recount all the intricacies of PAX, so prepare for it over multiple days. Right now, I'm just going to give you the basics of how PAX works (it's pretty awesome!), and tomorrow I'll cover Day 1, then 2, then 3.

There are, to my mind, five main elements to PAX:

The Exhibits
This is your standard expo-type area, where different vendors have booths set up and give out swag and want you to check out their products. You could go in there whenever and just see what was around. There was also a spot in front of the exhibit hall where the performing bands would sign things, and Wil Wheaton too, despite him not being a band.
The Panels
There were a whole bunch of different panels, talks, and events scheduled at certain times, and you could go to those. You mostly didn't have to wait in line for these, you just show up a little bit before they start and have a seat. These ranged from technical talks about advertising and politics (as they apply to games), to fun stuff like watching people compete in Jenga.
The Big Events
These are really the same as the panels, but they are monster events in the main theater, and you definitely do need to line up for them in advance. These include the Penny Arcade Q&As, and a couple other big things, like the Family Feud game which was quite entertaining.
There were game tournaments of many different popular things. We completely ignored this element, although one time we saw a massive line that stretched all the way through the building, probably 500 people, and were afraid it was for whatever panel we were going to. It turned out to be for the Smash Brothers Brawl tournament, which is just weird to me. These people were missing the entire day (or more?) of PAX just to play a little Brawl! I suppose there were probably prizes involved. But crazy.
On Friday and Saturday night, there were a series of concerts by geeky bands. You definitely needed to do serious lining up for these if you didn't have a wristband. I almost lumped them into The Big Events, but I couldn't do it. They are separate.

We had made up a chart of the things we wanted to attend (which always overlapped other things we wanted), and had it mapped out to where there was literally a half hour of free time on Friday, another half hour on Saturday, and one hour on Sunday. The rest was booked solid. As you will see, we were not remotely able to stick to this schedule, and in fact went to very few things at all. We just didn't count on needing to be at things half an hour early, and some things just having huge lines and all of that. Next year, we will be a lot less ambitious in our planning.

Whenever we did have to line up, it was pretty nice. The lines were about 10 feet wide, roped off, so there was lots of room to sit down, or sometimes lay down, and just hang out. And there were always interesting things to look at. One constant throughout the weekend is that about 80% of the attendees have Nintendo DSes, and so there is tons of Pictochat going (a built-in chatting/drawing program on the DS, which connects wirelessly to all nearby DSes). It couldn't handle the huge numbers of people, though, and it would lag and have all kinds of weird problems. But it was fun to see. And by the way - PAX is not remotely family-friendly. It's extremely friendly, I should point out, extremely, but about as vulgar as a drunken sailor who hammered his thumb on accident. Pictochat was the epitome of that vulgarity, and that's about all the details I'll give on that. I enjoy vulgarity, so it was fun. Anyway, I was talking about lines, and we'd often have to be in line for an hour or more for various things, but it was not bad. It still felt pretty fun even then.

And by the way, you all lose the betting pool. Except for important occasions like not blocking people behind us at panels (and sleeping), the hats stayed on the whole weekend!
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  PAX Over 03:47 AM -- Mon September 1, 2008  

Actual discussion of how it went down to come soon. For now, it was pretty awesome! Also, I am a rock star.
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  Busy Week 02:22 AM -- Wed August 27, 2008  

Well, it's all about preparing for the monolithic event that is PAX! I have finally developed the free games disc. Check out the menu it pops up when you put it in:

Let your eyes adjust to that mess! It really struck me that I have made a whole lot of games. And quite a variety too. Of course, two of those I didn't make, but it's still a lot. I go for quantity, not quality. It also makes me want to be full of yet more variety. I need to make more games that are really different from my existing ones. I don't know why, I just think that would be cool.

I'm working on the face of the CD right now, printed a sample but it has some issues I need to fix, then tomorrow I can produce, produce, produce. And that's my last day. Thursday is travel day! Gulp.
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  Square Planet 11:42 PM -- Sat August 23, 2008  

Today in IRC, people were discussing what a game might be like if you ran around a small square planet (Mario Galaxy in 2D was the concept, I think). So I whipped up a thing to try it out.
Click in the window, then use left & right to move left and right, and up to jump. It's very wacky and very buggy, it's about an hour's work in a language I am very unfamiliar with. But it was a great exercise in learning flash! I picked up a bunch of new tricks. Interesting things to note include that you can fly and orbit the planet (in a wacky looping sort of orbit) very easily, and that the view rotating doesn't always work right (sometimes the planet gets scared), and that's generally it's very buggy. But it's interesting to check out. Enjoy some square gravity.
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  Ow my knees! 04:59 AM -- Sat August 23, 2008  

Wii Fit arrived today! We tried it out just for 10 minutes each, and my knees are shot. I so need knee exercise. Wow. I'm really looking forward to the changing of my life that wii fit is required to provide. I might be wobbly tomorrow, though.
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  Laid Back Gaming 12:49 AM -- Fri August 22, 2008  

WoW is a really laid-back game (most of the time). It doesn't demand a lot of mental effort, so I sit back on cruise control, clawing elementals in the face, and think about other things. I used to do the same thing while walking laps in elementary school. That was a much healthier way to get my think on.

So today, when I should've been working on Happyponygate, I played some WoW, clawed some elementals (which refuse to drop a dew gland!), and thought about Rise Of Owls. I have to be quite honest and confess that working on HPG is very difficult of late. I'm at a spot where I need to be working on how the monsters function, and it's just one of those things that I'll have to eventually settle down and just try something, but for now I mostly stare at the screen and hope it will write itself. Owls is fun to work on, though, I'm learning a lot and struggling to deal with classes and objects.

So here are the heroes I came up with today. Understand that most of the heroes (at least 2/3 of them) will just be ordinary - they do damage in some way, at some pace, and cost some money. But that's boring to think about. So I'm thinking about the more interesting ones! Here are some ideas (may or may not ever be in the game, but probably, why not?):

- An archer who fires golden arrows. He's way cheaper than he should be, considering how much damage he does (quite high, but not crazy), and his fire rate is rather slow, like 2 seconds. The problem is, golden arrows are expensive! It costs $1 every time he fires. So you don't pay much up front, but you keep on paying as long as he's around.

- An alchemist. He turns owls to gold. That's both good and bad news. He has a very low rate of fire, so he won't get every owl, in fact only a few in each level. Once an owl is gold, it is worth triple money (or more?). The problem is, it takes half damage per hit. So putting one of these guys in makes the game harder in exchange for raising your income.

- a knight on horseback. When he sees an enemy in his range (about half the screen), he charges at it, running right through it to the other end of the screen, hurting all the owls along the way. Then his new position is that end of the screen, where he sits for a few seconds before being able to charge again.

- a wizard with relatively short range. As long as he's not shooting, his power builds up. Then when he shoots, it drains away and does that much damage. So you'd probably put this guy up high in your tower, so the enemies gradually inch along and when they finally get up that high, he's had a long time to charge. Of course, only his first shot is any good (but it's a whopper!) - the ones he fires after that are all 1 damage until he's had some time to charge up again. I'm not sure of the real merit of a guy like this, but that's for the players to decide. I just want to give you a huge toolbox of random things (that eventually end up balanced to some degree), and then you play with the tools.

Them's some random thoughts.
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  Say Cheese! 03:11 AM -- Thu August 21, 2008  

I posted in the forum a request for pictures. I am linking to it here, so nobody misses it! Click here to learn about how you can be immortalized in Hamumudom. It's all part of this big drive towards making the site famous! The more people who send in pictures, the better, and I'm accepting them anytime, now or later.
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  Struck A Nerve! 09:27 PM -- Tue August 19, 2008  

Well, I just sort of threw in an off-hand remark about marketing (and making you people do it), and I can't believe the response! I didn't intend for that post to be a discussion of marketing at all, but it seems to have exploded. I've got people asking what they can do for me, and suggesting things, in my email, my PMs, and on the forums. Maybe some in chat, too, I don't recall! So there is definitely a market for marketing for me.

I definitely appreciate any (legal) efforts made to get the word out. That is awesome. The tricky thing is I want to develop a program by which you could be rewarded for such efforts. I can't come up with anything which really encompasses all the elements such a thing would need, though. Here are 2 ideas I have:

1. Allow people to type a username into the coupon field when ordering. Then I can reward anybody who gets such a referral (say 30% of the purchase price, in yerfbucks). I've already got a program rewarding you for bringing new people to Dumb Accounts, but it's the sales that matter - if you got me a sale, I have a tangible result, and I'm more than happy to pay back.

2. Develop a mini-game that is not for sale. Nobody gets a copy but me. You can see screenshots, maybe video. You want a copy? All you have to do is email me a true story of how you spread the word of Hamumu. The game's page on the site could contain summaries of each story, too. As long as your action is remotely worthwhile (and not illegal or harmful), you get the game! It's up to you whether you want to do something fairly significant like spray painting the moon to look like Yerfdog, or a smaller thing like getting five friends together for a Hamumu party to show them the games. The only rejections would be lies and things like "I invited my friend Bob over to play Kid Mystic." Of course, if you really did that, you could still parlay it into something worthwhile by getting Bob to make a Dumb Account, thus earning you a trophy!

Both of these plans are probably good ideas (though #2 will require developing the game first!), and address different needs. But neither really goes anywhere near far enough. Ideally, it would be great to provide a way for people to get very real benefits by promoting Hamumu - AKA cash moneyz! That's much trickier to do, what with tax implications and all. Affiliate programs do that sort of thing (and have the same problem, tax implications), but in the end, I would like people to be promoting my site, not their site that sells my games. It's sad because I'd have no problem giving up 30 or 40% of every sale that someone brings in. The problems are the tax forms and properly crediting the salesperson.

So what I'd like to do is get you people all as one giant international Street Team, spreading the word everywhere. The tricky bit is I don't know how to provide rewards on a level that would inspire that kind of behavior. It would be great if I had something in place significant enough that people would actually go out and spend money, in the hopes of getting a real return.

Feel free to keep the ideas and suggestions coming, whether they are for ways I can market things, or ways I can get you to market things. It's all good food for thought at any rate!

And in the meantime, just put it all out there - let people know what Hamumu games you like, tell them to just compare the clocks, tell people to have a Dumb afternoon, everything. If you cast a wide enough net, you're bound to catch something.
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  Progress, Releases, And Nike 04:39 PM -- Mon August 18, 2008  

Well, the plan was to spend the last week learning flash and seeing what position Rise 2 was in to decide what I should be spending my time on. Of course, the reality was that for the last week I've been doing all kinds of other things, because it was Summer. School starts this week, so that's in for a change! At least until next week, when I lose the end of the week to PAX.

So, decisions must me made, and success must be had. The issue is this: I can't succeed, and in fact am gradually losing ground and income, by releasing huge games once a year (or slower!). I need to be on the radar more often. Of course, a much bigger improvement would be had simply by doing marketing, but since I don't know how to do that, I'll settle for an increased rate of releases. So the gist is that I need to get a game out soon, which Happyponygate cannot achieve.

On the flipside, I can't let that game molder and fade away, or I will lose track and never be able to finish it. This puts me in a pickle. A sour green pickle of pain. The answer that I see, at least the best one I can come up with, is to work on both at different times. And when Rise 2 is done (let's hope that's soon), replacing its timeslots with another mini-project. Hopefully a faster one as I become more skilled. So I have a reasonably fast flow of lesser games while we await the big hits. Of course, it makes the big hits slower, and for the matter, the lesser games slower as well! But there's just one me, and time is fixed, so something's gotta give.

I don't know, I need to figure out how to do some marketing... you guys do that. Go tell everyone to come to Hamumu!
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  Blog!? 04:11 AM -- Mon August 18, 2008  

So I accomplished the below feat of wonder! It has no loading thing, so the actual graphics take a minute to show up. Hopefully they will load before the owl escapes the screen.
That's obviously at half size, don't fear that it's just a teeny tiny game. Flash is pretty nifty. And the black circle is a thing from testing, not an evil moon.

Anyway, boy have I seriously ruined my blog-a-day plan. Let me try to get back on that. See you tomorrow!
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