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  Karma Failure 03:30 AM -- Sun July 13, 2008  

Okay, what on Earth did we do? This has been a murderous couple of weeks. I mean, okay, let me preface with nobody has gotten cancer, nobody died, our house didn't burn down... but man, how many minor (and expensive) inconveniences did we deserve? What did we do to deserve them?

You heard about the airport fiasco, and the fridge failure. That was preceded by $2500 in repairs to one of our cars. That car's battery failed today, stranding us in town, and boy oh boy, did AAA do a horrendous job of not helping us at all. Really bad experience with them, considering what you expect from them. We got by with a little help from our friends, though!

Besides the car, we've been investigating getting solar panels for our house. It's a really exciting prospect we've always wanted to do. And best of all, California gives you this awesome rebate, paying back about 30% of what the panels cost (that could be up to $10,000 worth of rebate for us, if we decided to go all out). Oh, but wait, what's this? Oh yes. We live in the teeny tiny zipcode of one of the TWO utility companies in all of California that won't do the rebate. And let me clarify here: this is a rebate from the STATE OF CALIFORNIA. The power company doesn't have to do a thing but process it. However, they do have to process it (never let it be said that government is wise or efficient), so we are flat out stuck. We could get solar, but we'd be paying 30% more than anybody else is! And it's not cheap even with the rebate.

Oh, and hey! You know how people use air conditioners to avoid dying to death? Ours wasn't working when we tried it this week for the first time this summer. We got a guy to come out and fix that up pretty quickly though. And if that isn't painful enough, it was followed by bitter vicious irony: once we got it fixed, that very night it rained. RAINED. And then it's been actually literally really seriously no kidding cold since then. It's never been cold in summer here, not once. Not ever. Not until this. Also it doesn't rain in the summer here.

Okay, this one is a nitpick. People are now moving into what was a nice forested empty lot just up the hill from us. They plowed all the trees down, and we hear them chattering away up there as they build (at six in the morning...), and it sounds like they are in our yard. And of course, their dog runs up and down the fence going nuts and upsetting our dogs. And doubly of course, once they build and move in, our backyard is a whole lot less private. They'll have a big broad view of the whole thing. No more turning on the sprinklers in my underwear...

And Sol's back has broken for no reason (broken=is sore all the time) for a couple weeks now. On the plus side, my usually horrible back has been perfectly fine!

So that's what happened. Now I am familiar with how karma works. I watch Earl. So what on Earth did we do!? And now I just dropped my sandwich on the floor. Yeah, I'm whining.
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  Adventures In Living 02:58 AM -- Wed July 9, 2008  

Life lately has been crazy. Our fridge failed this weekend. So today we did some fridge shopping (we have wanted a new one for a long time, so this seems better than getting it fixed - man, our old one was loud!)... and it won't be delivered for 2 weeks! So we are experimenting in life without refrigeration for a while. Buying the fridge was a challenge, since we live out in nowhere. One place was perfectly able to deliver to us (but only on wednesdays, and they had to worst choices in fridges), another would deliver to us but not into the actual house (because we are very capable of lifting a refrigerator up the stairs into our house?), and the third would do it all any day of the week (provided we wait 2 weeks for the fridge to be ordered first). We did the 3rd, simply because it was the best fridge. After we did that shopping, we went grocery shopping, and it was interesting trying to pick things that would keep us fed for a while, but didn't require refrigeration. We got a lot of thai noodle box things. It was hard to remember that we can still cook via our many modern devices. We just can't refrigerate. You know what I miss the most? Ice cold water. And now we can't have leftovers when we cook things! At least not much - we did fill a cooler with ice for some temporary semi-storage of things. And since our freezer was full of various frozen items, it's still pretty good for now. It's basically a cooler itself. Not much of an actual freezer anymore though.

That happened during the weekend, while Sol Hunt was away on a trip. So she was coming back monday night, and that too was an adventure. Her flight was set to get in at 9:30pm, and through more than one delay of various sorts, she ended up coming in at 1:30am instead. It was a very long night, since we live 2 hours from the airport. There's a whole adventure there in the fact that I went into town about 8 hours early (so I could eat lunch, since our fridgelessness really impaired the food options here) before discovering that it was actually 12 hours early, and I couldn't just hang out in town at midnight. And thus adventure ensued as I worked that out and broke into my parents' house (not really, exactly), and eventually did the job without falling entirely asleep on the road.

I guess that's only two major stories of woe, but man, it's just been nuts and weirdness. I want life to be normal living again. I can't settle down and do anything because we're constantly in the middle of stuff like that. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit more relaxed. We don't have any catastrophes scheduled for then, but walk-ins are possible.
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  In A World... 08:12 PM -- Sat July 5, 2008  

In a world on the edge of destruction...

Where donuts are illegal...

ONE prisoner...

And a long-dead stockbroker...

Must discover the most incredible invention from before time.

Coming Summer 2089 to RIAAnet (don't forget valid documentation of legal viewing status! 5 notarized copies required).

I gave up on the Mini-LD contest, not having any ideas that I really wanted to do, and just did something that was fun for me, and tangentially related. Check it out on The Random Fun Page!
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  Random Fun 11:25 PM -- Fri July 4, 2008  

Random Fun now available. Don't miss it!

In other news, I have spent the entire week on business issues (and driving to the airport, and other nonsense). Not touched Happyponygate since the weekend!

In other other news, this weekend is Mini-LD #2! 48 hours of madness as usual. The theme was just announced, and it is "The game of the movie" - as in, pick a movie, and make a game based on it. No ideas yet, time to go to the post office for thinking purposes. And maybe mailing things.
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  Yo Mama 03:56 AM -- Thu July 3, 2008  

Seriously. Your mama's so mathematical, she squeezes every shirt for nothing!

Try it and see! Sometimes, one does silly things while chatting.
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  Ooh, Goodies! 07:27 PM -- Fri June 27, 2008  

Today, I was working on a major system of the game: Goodies. I had to come up with a name to differentiate them from items like trees and trash cans - Goodies are items that you pick up and carry. There are a few main types of Goodies:

- Junk items. They may have a use in making other things, or they may not. They're just stuff you carry around.
- Jellybeans. They can be slotted into your weapons to boost those weapons. Weapons begin with 1 Jellybean slot, and get up to 5 as they level up.
- Equipment. Like in any good ol' RPG, there's gear you can wear. As an oddity, in this game, you don't care what kind of gear it is. You could wear 3 hats at once, if you want. You just get 3 gear slots, and equip any 3 equippable items you like.
- Food. You make this at restaurants that you buy, from various items you find. It sits in your inventory, where you can click it to eat it. When eaten, food gives you a long-lasting boost of some kind, but you can only be digesting 2 foods at once. No eating more until one of them is fully digested! Or maybe it replaces the older of the two you already have, which makes more sense (in a gaming way, less sense in a reality way).

There won't be randomly generated items, just handcrafted bits of wonderment. But there will be an awful lot of those, with more added every so often, because the online system makes it easy to do so! Then hopefully people will want to auction these off and get the right gear to suit your particular skills and style. I often think of all this stuff in terms of how Kingdom Of Loathing works. Imagine this game as that game, except that instead of just clicking "Fight", you run around shooting like crazy in fantastical action craziness. Of course, it's also equally inspired by 12 other games, so don't imagine too hard.

And no, it won't show what you are wearing on your character. Many reasons against that! I know it would be cool, and I'd like it myself, but there are a lot of reasons why it's entirely unfeasible.

One of the things I like in WoW are the items that have random chance effects ("Procs"). Like I just got a trinket that has a 3% chance when I get hurt to give me 500 armor for 15 seconds. So that's something I'm focusing on here. It's a lot more fun to decide between an item that can give a damage boost when you get hurt and an item that can speed you up each time you beat an enemy,* than it is to decide between one that gives you +2 damage and one that gives +2 armor. It's also much less precise, and nobody can really say exactly what the one best path is. Just like the food buffs, you might have several of those effects on you at any time, if your Jellybeans or Equipment caused them. You can have 5 buffs total on you at any time, and the 2 foods are included in those 5. That only applies to time-limited buffs. You can have any number of permanent effects on you at once (like the armor your hat provides, the accuracy you gain from some eyeglasses, or whatever).

*I know that sentence shouldn't have a comma there, but it was just much too long and messy. I'm sure there's a better way to write it overall. Perhaps you can have a grammar contest in the comments!
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  Free Bees 01:53 AM -- Fri June 27, 2008  

Something I have been considering is an interesting change in business model (just for the new game, not changing my actual business!). I know it's something that has worked for others, and probably failed for other others. The idea is to make Happyponygate free. Instead of having a demo where you can play the first little bit of the game for free, you'd get to play the whole thing free. Then, of course, you can still buy the game and get more than "the whole thing". I haven't really worked out details, but things like making your own levels, and playing others' levels, would be in the "Premium Pack". But without buying, you could still play the story from beginning to end, and get all the normal weapons, and that kind of thing. There would definitely be limitations and things only a paying customer could do, but what you would have would indeed be a legitimately complete game.

The benefits I see here, speaking in business terms, lie in the fact that the game requires a Dumb Account to play. Free games spread like wildfire (quite unlike non-free games!), and so I would presumably gain tons of new members to the site as a result. Some percentage of those people would go on to buy other games, participate in the forum and chat, and generally make the place better. I think overall, I'd probably get as many or more sales this way (especially if you count other games that those new people buy). It's also easier to implement, given the whole online thing, than a standard demo vs. full. And it's less pirateable, though I think the online thing alone almost kills that possibility entirely.

So I like the idea. I don't have any real objections to this plan or thoughts on how it could be less effective than the traditional demo/full model. I think we'd end up with three (or maybe more at some point...) levels of ownership:

- Free: a complete game
- Paid: adds a lot of the user interaction stuff like level-making and playing, shops for buying and selling items. Stuff that's well worth paying for.
- Deluxe: the "collector's edition" equivalent, with some kind of bonus stuff.

And yes, one thing ruled out is paying monthly. Won't be doing that. Maybe someday with some game, but not this one for sure.
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  Sneak Peek: Happyponygate 06:55 PM -- Wed June 25, 2008  



[jamul] You can guess what this is a screenshot of!
[jamul] it really pretty much explains itself... The green line is an in-game notification of something happening. In this case, gaining a level of the H.R. Puffencrush (I'll have a less incomprehensible message someday for that).
/me points out that there's still one thing missing - no buttons to scroll back and see older messages.
[jamul] There is a backlog, you just can't get to it yet.
[SERVER] Messages from this person (which are always red), have been typed directly into the server. This will also be handy for the server to say "Shutting down in 5 minutes for urgent maintenance!" or "Alert! Angry Teddy Bears are overrunning Westbrook Hills!"
/me notices that he still hasn't moved the text in the typing box down a couple pixels like he kept meaning to...
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  Profile Of A Madman 09:09 PM -- Tue June 24, 2008  

Okay! Now I've sort of gotten somewhere in a way. This was some of the more seriously crunchy code I've had to do yet. It now saves and loads your game. That entails taking your profile data, making it into a packet to send over the internet, then at the other end, making it back into a data block, then finding a way to stuff that into the database. Good thing that only makes for a whole lot of places for mistakes to be made (in two separate programs, as well)! It's tricky to deal with binary data in a database. I got around that by not doing it. I'm storing the numbers as strings, which is ever so slightly less efficient (100% more space used, to be exact).

But anyway, now you log into the game, it loads all your profiles from the server, you choose one to play or create a new one (you can have 12 of them), and then the game begins! So it's all pretty good. Now I need to spend the rest of the day figuring out exactly what the next step is, because I'm really not sure.

That, and lighting Midsummer fires in WoW, because the clock's a-ticking on that!
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  Nothin' 09:05 PM -- Fri June 20, 2008  

That's what I've been doing this week. We had a guest for several days, loads of fun to be had (several hundred rounds of Mortal Kombat 2 in there), and now I'm still not doing anything. Things will be done soon. But not today. Today is for chillin'. A lot like yesterday. Things will happen again soon. Especially on Tuesday and Wednesday when the wife is off to her tutoring. So... nothin'.
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