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  Clones Are Fun 10:59 PM -- Thu November 19, 2009  

To wit: Torchlight (PC game) is quite enjoyable! But that's not what I'm blogging about! First off, look over there on the left - the clone of my twitter posts has returned! And speaking of returning, let me return to what I haven't gotten to yet, which is what I'm really here to blog about, and that is...

The new Costume Party tile "Cloning Tank" (which incidentally is, as of this writing, mentioned in the Twitter feed)! It's pretty nifty. It's actually invisible right now, but here's a screenshot of the effect it has:

When you step on the Cloning Tank, it begins recording your movement for 8 seconds, with a visual effect I have not created yet, some kind of laser scanning you as you go. Once the 8 seconds is up, a clone pops out of the tank, exactly duplicating what you did over those 8 seconds. Interestingly, it can even do impossible things, like walk right through a wall if that wall was not there when you recorded. At the end of 8 seconds, the clone vanishes, and a new one starts from the tank again. Any time you step on the tank again, the clone vanishes and you begin recording fresh. There can be any number of Cloning Tanks in a level, and any of them can be recording or playing back at any given time.

It's actually really cool and it's something I just had to create because it got stuck in my head while I listened to a podcast review the newest Ratchet & Clank game (there is something like this in the Clank levels). The same concept is taken more extreme by Chronotron, which I played last year when I went to PAX.

This thing has a million uses, in part because the clones are invulnerable, but absorb bullets, so you can use them to provide covering fire, or just hit buttons like shown in the picture. Originally the tile was a Holodeck (and you can see the clone is transparent like a hologram... but we'll just say he's made of clone goo), but I decided Cloning Tank made more sense because they were solid, and making them not solid would've been more complex while making them less useful.

It's just tons of fun to implement crazy little new things in Costume Party. They always work really quickly and easily. This thing took maybe 2 hours total to get fully tested and working (well, I'm sure it has some horrendous bug hidden in it, but it's tested to beta level anyway).

So when can you experience the madness yourself? Data not available. The Sci-Fi Pack to which this item belongs is not something I'm developing, I was just madly driven to create this particular tile. Still, I have a ton of ideas for that pack, and maybe it will continue to burst forth tile by tile when I can't stop it. I really do want to get that Portal costume done...

And yes, the weird fruit calzone made from leftover pie crust was a really tasty breakfast.
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  Two Kinds Of Work 12:47 AM -- Thu November 19, 2009  

I am sitting here trying to get organized and figure out where my time goes and where it ought to go, and I have hit upon an interesting phenomenon. I am definitely not the first, but since I'm thinking about it, I'm gonna think about it at you right now.

When people make charts or lists of stuff they need to do, they invariably do it one of two ways: either a grid of how they are going to spend their time each day (3 hours working on Loonyland, lunch break, do the dishes...), or they make a list of projects that should get worked on (Loonyland, Website updates, Super Pizza Dancer 3000). Neither approach is sufficient on its own, and combining them is pretty much just an ugly tangle.

You see, there are two kinds of work you need to do: Creative work and process work. Those are just terms I came up with, so let me explain. Creative work is the act of making something new. Once it's done, you have something new, and that project is complete. You have created it. Good job!

Process work, on the other hand, involves taking things which already exist and doing things to them (maintenance, cleaning, answering emails, working on an assembly line - notice the last two are actually acts of creation, but they go in this category for a reason). Once it's done, some time later, you have to do it again! It's an ongoing process. Maybe you don't have to answer that same exact email again, but you have new emails to answer.

Many things blur the line between these two. A journalist creatively writes an article, but he has to keep cranking out articles every week for his newspaper so even though each article is a creative event, writing is an ongoing process.

So the issue becomes: how do you make a comprehensive schedule of tasks for your life? Some things can go in slots - every day, spend an hour cleaning the house. It's always going to need more cleaning, and you can always work on that. Other things can't - work on Loonyland until it's done, and then that slot is empty. Now that slot could be "work on current game", but it's just not that simple with creative work. One problem is that you can't just schedule it. Creativity has mystical powers and cannot be constrained. And different stages of the process will demand different timeframes. I can sit and hammer out levels and monsters for hours, but don't expect me to bang my head against a horrible bug for 4 hours straight. It just won't happen. If I go to bed thinking about it though, chances are I'll wake up with the answer (at a ridiculously early hour like what happened to me the other day... thinking is not conducive to sleep).

A lot of writers set a schedule like "spend 4 hours writing at this time", while other writers find they can't organize it like that, the words don't come at a set time. I have read that Stephen King doesn't do that, he sets a word goal for the day (you know, 100,000 or so for him) and won't quit writing until he gets there. But even this does nothing to alleviate the original issue! You still have two different things you are trying to track: projects you want to accomplish, and hours during the day to fill.

So what do you do? Two separate charts seems to be the answer, but I'm not happy with it. One, a schedule that breaks down what you do each hour of your weekday, and two, a list of projects you want to accomplish that breaks down in tree form to the elements that need doing in them. Then there could be the issue of deadlines... but I ignore those. Those are for people who have some concept of what can and will happen in a given timeframe.

I don't know, man, have you got something better?
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  Hamumu Journal?! 02:00 AM -- Thu November 12, 2009  

Really, I'm trying! Look at me, blogging! I know it's been remarkably quiet here in the Journal Zone, but I'm trying to get back to where it should be once again. After the new site was released, and The Fantasy Pack, I was ready for relaxation! But instead what I got was frantic hammering away at the massive number of rather serious problems with the site.

So I have spent the past couple weeks simultaneously relaxing with my usual video games and TV, and desperately trying to plug the gaping holes in the website. Not really relaxing or productive. But not too bad either way. So I guess I'm done vacationing, since I can't afford to be doing that, and here I am!

There are still many major issues with the website, but each day I knock a few down, and it gets a little bit cleaner. As far as actually ever making a game again... I hope that's coming soon! Surely one day I won't have to spend all day every day hacking at the site anymore, right?

The question I get more than any other these days is "When's the next Behind The Dumb?" And the answer is, "As soon as I get back to working on Loonyland Tactics, because that's what that show covers!" Of course, I hope my camera still works... So let's hope that's soon, but the website is definitely still the priority, until it's in such a state that I can actually justify advertising it to the public at large instead of just running it in secret. Businesses work so much better when the public knows they exist, don't you think?
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