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  Whither The Dumb? 01:33 AM -- Sun March 29, 2009  

Let me just say, life has rudely intruded. I have literally had not one day fully available to work on the show/game in the past two weeks. I snuck in the word search during snippets of time while 'entertaining' a houseguest (I'm not really very entertaining, as you see). It's definitely coming sometime next week (the show, not the game!), unless more surprises lie in wait. This is actually Spring Break right now, and normally I take that kind of time off, since I can spend time with my wife. But I haven't had time to do that either! Oh, routine, how I miss ye.
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  Stop Cheating! 04:25 PM -- Mon March 23, 2009  

Don't cheat. Not ever, at anything. I suppose that's obvious, but apparently not obvious enough, judging by what I've been dealing with here at Hamumu lately. Let me explain some of the many many downsides of cheating. No wait, let me list the upsides:

1. You get to be in the lead without having the necessary skill or luck.

Now downsides:

1. Shortly after you get that lead, it's stripped from you, along with whatever legitimate gains you had in the first place, because you get caught. In other words, the very reason you did it is gone, so you gained absolutely nothing, and actually ended up losing stuff.

2. You're embarrassed and feel horrible.

3. All the other players are annoyed that you messed up the game for them.

4. People stop playing the game, feeling that they have no chance, and so the game becomes less fun for you as it loses players.

5. You get punished in addition to the loss of gains. Most likely, you get kicked out of the game you cheated in, so you can't even play it legitimately anymore.

6. The person running the game stops trusting you, and looks at you in a bad light from then on. There's no recovering from the stigma of "cheater". And you won't be getting the benefit of the doubt again!

7. Now here's something you probably never even considered... I just spent an hour this morning, that I intended to spend messing around with my flash word search game, modifying my website and hacking various databases to undo the latest cheating, punish the cheater, and prevent future outbreaks of same (I could've spent easily another 40 hours if I were really trying to robustly lock it down from future cheating, which is what I would have to do if it were happening a lot). Short version: Cheating takes time away from game development!

If we lived in a world where we knew nobody would ever cheat at anything... games would take about half as long to develop (forget DRM and piracy protections too! That's also cheating, so in our perfect world, no problem!), "demos" would be full versions that say "Hey, pay me $20 when you're ready to!", and every game would have online score systems and there would be 10x as many online games. It's cheat prevention that makes online gaming tough (well, it's one of the major challenges anyway - definitely one of the biggest I'm facing in designing this turn-based game, where lag is not an issue), and cheating has literally destroyed more than one online game completely.

Here's your takeaway from this: Cheating won't benefit you in the short or long term. You will get caught, and when you do, the penalties will be severe enough to completely outweigh any potential gain you might have had. Cheating also hurts the company whose game you cheated on, making it harder for them to make games, and making them take time out of it to battle you. That hurts you, in case you didn't notice! There is no positive here, only pain and misery spread to all around.

And hey, I get that there's a thrill from 'beating the system'. You're just going to have to live without that thrill, because getting it will, shortly after, deprive you of all the other thrills the game has to offer. And replace the first thrill with shame and guilt.

Man, just do a little cost-benefit analysis... you really need 10YB (that's equal to TEN CENTS. A DIME!) so badly that you want to cheat and risk losing all your Yerfbucks, and the ability to play the game, and possibly your ability to even be a part of the Hamumu community, on the slim chance that you'll get away with your cheating? Odds are extremely high that you'll be caught, so even a large potential upside (cheating at $1000/hand poker) would not be a smart choice (5% chance of getting away with $100,000 versus 95% chance of being beaten to death by bouncers... hmmm). And you're doing it for 10 cents? Math:

2% chance of 10 cent gain < 98% chance of being banned from the game and losing all yerfbucks

You make the call.
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  Behind The Dumb: Episode NONE 02:54 PM -- Thu March 19, 2009  

There won't be a BTD this week... but I am filming stuff for a juicy episode next week! Monday and Tuesday I was on a trip, and Friday I'm off again until Saturday, and we have a houseguest from then until... Tuesday or Wednesday I think. So between these two weeks, I have MAYBE almost 5 days to work on stuff. And really, I can tell you from yesterday's experience that coming back after a break, not a lot gets done at first either!

But I got my flash game book, and I think I am going to make the Word Search game that's in it (it basically takes you through step by step 12 different games). Good practice, and something sorta fun to have on the site. I could just dive in and reference it as I try to make LLTT, but this'll be fun and I'll be slightly more skilled when I actually do start on the real deal.
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  Behind The Dumb Episode 3 03:14 PM -- Sat March 14, 2009  

Show Notes (watch the show first!):
  • The first segment, talking about using Flash for the first time, I don't think it hits the point hard enough. I'm going to not just be making a technically complex game, unlike any I've ever done... I'm gonna be writing it in a new language! But the upside is that when I'm finally done, in however many years it takes, I'll be a master of flash! With some effort, I may become Grandmaster Flash. Either way, I'll be able to make games that run on every platform, in your browser, and roxor any undergarments you may be wearing.

  • "When Changes Attack" is probably very unclear, because I'm trying to drill down on a really complex issue that I spent about 2 weeks muddling over in my head every day. Basically, the problem is that in a turn-based game, where people can be in multiple games at once and games can last weeks, you can't just say "everybody off, I need to make changes". If I have to change something (or if a player levels up, thus improving his units), then suddenly, the player who already took his turn has already seen things happen with the old values, whereas his opponent logs on to watch things play out with the new values. They now have two totally different game states, and the game is broken (maybe in one, a guy's soldier died because he took 6 damage, but to the other player, it wasn't enough damage to kill him). So to avoid that, I'm going to have each new game make a copy of all the relevant units and abilities and player skill trees before the game begins. Then, when that game looks up "how much damage does a knight do?", it looks at its unchanging copy instead of at the possibly-changing original value. Maybe that's more clear. Maybe it's not. I told you, it's a complicated issue! (And I know, some people would solve this by including how much damage an attack does in the record of the attack, but I felt this was a much cleaner solution this way because of all the things that can potentially change, not just damage).

  • The Blair Witch moment is, for some reason, Sol Hunt's favorite moment in the entire series (and also, yay, she gives Episode 3 the coveted "Best one yet!" award, which is faint praise, but praise enough).

  • I also had an email handy from Moltanem2000 which I had to cut out for time. This episode is still a full minute longer than the last two! I was going to cut more, but the boss said it was much more engaging than the previous ones even though it was longer, so it was worth it. And I didn't know what to cut.

  • I'm gonna do more detail on the Snuggly Bunny units in this journal in the upcoming week. Not much detail, since it's only very loosely designed anyway, but some!

  • Another cliffhanger! Will you ever know the truth!? Yes, in episode 4!
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  Stationary Blog 08:41 PM -- Wed March 11, 2009  

Between Twitter and Behind The Dumb, I struggle to find a place for blogging... but here's something too long for Twitter and too inane to squeeze into Behind The Dumb (imagine that)!

I'm reading the new Stephen King short story collection Just After Sunset, and there's a story in there called Stationary Bike. It's about a guy who learns his cholesterol is too high, so he gets a stationary bike and rides every day. Obviously, that gets weird and I would be a spoiltron if I told you how (a pretty dumb story, to be honest). But what interests me is what he did with his bike. I immediately latched onto this idea. He gets a road map and marks the road from one place to another, and each day as he bikes, he marks off the distance he went, creating a virtual bike trip of sorts.

Okay, maybe that's only nifty to me, but I've always had this fantasy of walking or riding a bike right up the entire California coast. It's not something I'll ever do, and I know that, but the idea of it is very compelling. We don't have a stationary bike, but we do have one of those elliptical thingies (sort of equivalent to cross-country skiing, I guess). I'm checking out Google Maps and seeing about building an incentive map. It'd be fun to know where I had gotten to. It's sort of like Wii Fit - a little something to give you a goal, and push you onward a little bit.

And might I add, it's really hard to get Google Maps to take the route you want. I want to go up the coast, not just along freeways! There was one road it just really didn't like, and the points I set would make it head miles up the road, then backtrack and go around before heading miles back down the road again to get to my next point. And then if you mess around with your points too much, it forgets what all the points mean, and completely freaks out. But it's hard to complain... it truly is an utterly mind-boggling piece of software, especially for free!
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  Behind The Dumb Episode 2! 12:47 AM -- Mon March 9, 2009  

This weekend has been a nightmare... I finished editing on Friday afternoon, and then spent the next two days trying to get it uploaded! So, here it finally is. I couldn't get it on Youtube at all, which is maddening, since I really want it there. I will try again in the future for that. For now, enjoy and comment!
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  Behind The Dumb, Paginated 07:03 PM -- Tue March 3, 2009  

For your convenience and because I thought it would be better to newsletter about, you can now visit the

page by clicking the very words you are reading right now. The page collects all the episodes and links to their Journal comment threads. Nothing mindblowing, but a handy reference point.
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  Behind The Dumb Episode 1! 12:04 AM -- Sun March 1, 2009  

(and notice I finally learned how to make it use the high-quality version!) Please don't mind the odd double moment after the credits... that's just weird. It sure wasn't that way in the editing program. I'm learning... each week will be better! And more ridiculous instead of so ruthlessly informative.
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