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Cheap games!09:02 AM -- Mon September 5, 2016

Hey, I just reduced the prices on all our games by a totally insane amount. The $20 games are now $5 games, Supreme is now $10, and others are even cheaper. Except for Mia's Happy Day, but that's a charity thing, come on dude. This is a permanent change. Enjoy cheap old games that have a hard time running on modern hardware!

And yes, the forum is still down, so you can't actually sign in to make purchases like this go into your Dumb Account if you're not logged in right now... sorry! One thing at a time I guess (and as usual, that one thing is more Growtopia updates).
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Yeah, still no forums, but virtual reality!09:38 AM -- Mon August 15, 2016

Haven't even started. It's been Player Appreciation Week in Growtopia which not only means the usual update launch, but actually significant time every day managing daily releases of the new stuff, and watching for all the potential blow-ups they cause (we did well this time, no major bugs!). On top of that, I am rushing big-time on certain future updates that are majorly complex and need to get done and tested. So I'm not really in a place where I can spend time on the site (surprise, surprise). It is yet another thing dragging on my mind constantly though, if that's any consolation.

In other news, I got the HTC Vive VR system about a month ago! VR gaming is ... hard to describe. It really is something new. I mean, on the one hand it's exactly what you think: you play a game, but the "screen" is all around you. But how that actually works out in practice is unlike anything I've ever experienced. Witness Solorien play Fruit Ninja VR:

Now, when I say it's so new and strange, I'm actually speaking specifically of the HTC Vive. I got one of the Oculus Rift development kits way back when and tried it out for about half an hour, and it was... okay. This is a whole different story. This is what's called "room scale" VR. That means you've got a lot more going for you than just a 360 degree view. There are sensors on the walls (you have to drill and install them! Or put them up on tripods), which track the position of the helmet and controllers, so you really are in a full 3D space. It's not a very big space, mind you (4m x 3m is about the biggest I could get going, and that's not too much smaller than what they claim is the biggest their sensors support), but it gives you enough room to sidestep, crouch, step around things and more. There's a system that shows you a holodeck-style grid when you get too close to the edge of your space, so you don't walk into any walls.

It's really amazing to actually be in that virtual space. It's completely convincing, whatever it may happen to be showing you. You are there. At least as long as you don't run into any glitchiness - sometimes the view will start to jitter, or much much worse, you can end up 'shifted' vertically so you can no longer touch the floor, or you're a little under it. That can make some games unplayable. But glitches have been rare. For the most part, it's just this immersive world.

As you can imagine, with such a small space, your game options are actually pretty limited though. There have been a variety of attempts to get around this limitation with varying success. First, I should note that almost every VR game you can get at this point isn't much of a game. They're all either "My First Unity Project", or if they are professional quality works, they're tiny little tech demos rather than full-blown games. So there's not that much going on, it's really just the experience that's so impressive, not the games themselves.

So with that said, some games get around the space limitations by offering a teleport ability - you can hold a button to aim a target somewhere in the world, and then you teleport to the spot you chose. This works pretty well, actually, but it's not really great for fast-paced action, and it doesn't make sense in most games. It also has a strange effect of almost making you feel like you can't walk - having two different methods of moving around, one of which is confined to a small space, makes your brain just stick to the teleporting one, even for tiny distances (If I could teleport in real life, I probably wouldn't walk much either!). It also requires a sort of arbitrarily amazing technology in the in-game world: "Oh, my character can teleport? Okay". One game, Unseen Diplomacy, has a whole different take that feels incredible (but requires a huge amount of space - more than I could fit in the room you see in the video. I had to put my sensors up in tripods in a bigger room to try it): you explore tiny little rooms, much smaller than your whole VR space, then go through a door into the next room. Then from there, into the next, to the next, to the next. You can explore an infinitely large complex with this system. How? Simple: each room's exit is 90 degrees turned from the last room's. You end up just walking in a circle around your VR space! But what was so great about this was that it really felt like I was traveling through a real world, even though topologically the new rooms were actually in places that previous rooms were earlier. Unseen Diplomacy is fun, but like most VR games, it's about 5 minutes long in total.

There are a million other things I could say about my VR experience, but here's the gist: VR games are in their absolute infancy. You're basically playing Pong (in fact, you can - there are at least 2 pong games I know of for the Vive). But the sensation of doing that in a virtual space is just amazing, not to mention way healthier than sitting at a desk. At this point, it's amazing enough to make it worth your time, if not your $800 (OUCH), but I do hope developers start producing more robust games. It can certainly be done, and I'd love to do it myself one day. Right now people are just beginning to figure out the basics, but as they get their footing, I think we'll see a whole new world of gaming. Not one that replaces traditional gaming, but an alternative that becomes popular in its own right.
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Whither yon forums?01:14 PM -- Tue July 19, 2016

Yeah, you may have noticed our forums have disappeared. It's a complicated story involving outdated technology, and the easiest solution was to put it out of its misery for now. I've had a new website basically finished for at least a year now, but no time to put it up and verify it all works and all that. I've had plans about that, but boy, when Growtopia is an endless stream of minor crises and a huge update every month, and then you have to also live life, which can be a tricky process on its own (I even had to vacuum today! Imagine!), it's hard to dig into something as complex as a database-driven website.

I guess this dead forum is the incentive I need to get to work on that... or at least I hope it is. No data is lost or anything, I'll just install a current version of VBulletin on the new site and migrate the data. Hamumu is heading into the mysterious future! Sometime in the mysterious future.
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Hamumu Revumu: The Warcraft Movie!02:36 PM -- Tue June 14, 2016

As a long long time Warcraft player (Warcraft 1 all the way through, Warcraft 2 probably twice through, Wacraft 3 and expansions at least twice through, and WoW for something like 8 years straight), I had been eagerly anticipating the Warcraft movie for quite some time and checking out all the little hints and teasers as they came up.

When it was near to release (or I think had already been released in China and other markets), reviews started to come in, calling it dull, confusing, and just plain bad. That was about what I had assumed would happen, but there was a surprise in store for me when I went to go see it yesterday!

It was good! I highly recommend it as a movie. I don't care if you are a Warcraft fan or not, I feel like that has virtually nothing to do with the experience. There are a few fun little references for WoW players in there*, but on the whole, Warcraft knowledge is really not a factor. There are a ton of names in the movie I recognized immediately, like Gul'dan, Lothar, and Khadgar, but that didn't really mean much other than that I knew how to spell the names I was hearing. I guess I did have a little bonus fun with things like seeing Stormwind in movie form, but there was nothing that you had to know the game to "get". My wife saw the movie with me and found it equally engaging without knowing anything about it. In fact, she went into it very reluctantly, thinking the idea of a movie from that stupid game I had always been playing sounded absolutely terrible. But she may have even enjoyed it more than I did.

It's not a deep movie, and it doesn't have shocking twists and amazing moments. It's not a cinematic masterpiece. It's just a fun, solid adventure. One of the things I liked best is that it's funny throughout, in a really good and subtle way. I haven't seen Lord of The Rings in many many years, but I feel pretty confident this movie was a lot more enjoyable than any of those were. I really don't understand where the reviews came from, especially calling it dull or slow. It's nothing but action.

I will say the one thing that really pulled me out of the movie every time was a surprise: the CGI orcs were great. Totally convincing (although the fights between them and real actors were pretty weak overall, I thought). All the other CGI was equally great. But for some insane reason, whenever the heroes would go for a journey through the woods, they'd walk through these hilariously bad sets instead of a real forest. Like a dirt floor with a bunch of plants just jammed into the ground every foot or two. I could not understand why they did that. You'd see this amazing CGI landscape behind them, but at their feet was approximately what you see in the average aquarium.

So all in all: it's not groundbreaking cinema (except maybe in terms of facial animation). It's not high art. But it is definitely fun all around. I saw the new X-Men movie 2 days earlier, and I can confidently say Warcraft is a far superior version of almost the exact same thing (a group of superheroes preventing the end of the world... never seen that in a movie before!). Now, it definitely wasn't better than Deadpool, though. If there aren't sequels to Warcraft, I will be deeply disappointed. I'm happy to catch every new one as soon as it comes out, just like the Marvel movies. I can't wait to watch The Lich King movie!

* Some references: a guy gets sheeped at one point, there's a murloc in the corner of one scene that goes "mrglrglrrglrl", and at the very end of the movie, a fishing bobber! Odd thing to be a fun reference, yet it was somehow. Plus all the places they go and most of the characters are straight out of the game.
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More Hamumu Revumus04:14 PM -- Wed May 18, 2016

Lemme just blast through a few games I've played in the last 6 months so that I have them reviewed and can stop trying to remember details (note: I already don't remember details or what exactly I liked and disliked, so deal with that!).

Mad Max
At first I loved this game. It felt like it was gonna be so awesome, and hearkened back to ye olde days of Autoduel on the Apple II (and also Interstate '76, more recently, which I loved the soundtrack to and lost). You younguns won't know about Autoduel, but it was great. You'd kill badguys to get money to upgrade your car and stick guns and flamethrowers out of every side in a top-down murderfest. Delightful.

Mad Max is the same concept, but in keeping with your usual AAA story-adventure-movie game, the RPG upgrades aren't very meaningful since you eventually get them all. The only question is which order you get them in. But it is fun to improve your car and decide how it functions. There's a lot I enjoyed, especially going into the bandit camps and conquering them, one by one. That's always satisfying.

What brings it down from greatness is a few things. The car physics are too real (though not very real at all, I admit) - it's just not that fun to drive, because the car feels heavy and hard to maneuver, and half the time you're skidding out of control. It gets better as you get upgrades (unless you upgrade your armor, which adds weight!), but even at the best it can be, it still isn't the responsive fun arcadey driving I would want to have. That completely put me off of the races you can enter in the game - they were horribly unfun, since the only joy in a race is the driving, which is not enjoyable here. I felt like a game focused around a car should have a fun car experience! I loved firing my harpoons at other cars, but not so much steering.

Also, the fighting suffers similarly - it just isn't as arcadey as it could be. It's the exact same fighting system as Batman Arkham games, only slower (you can't instantly switch from one move to another), which again brings that feeling of slogging through mud rather than dancing around free as a bird.

So all in all, it was close to greatness. I really tried to have a lot of fun (and I did keep playing all the way to the end), but it was just lacking that visceral control joy that you want from a game.

DmC: Devil May Cry
To clarify since it's poorly named, this is the reboot of Devil May Cry, where he's younger and has black hair. It's awesome. It definitely has joyful control funtimes. It suffers downsides in a lot of the same ways as other DmC games I've played - the upgrades are practically meaningless, doing the move you want is difficult and confusing, and the levels are pure railroading from one point to the next. But the actual murderin' is always fun, and I'm always a fun of games that focus on juggling hapless enemies with continuous attacks. Not my favorite game ever, but very enjoyable.

Saint's Row: Gat Out Of Hell
The BEST Saint's Row game ever. This is practically an expansion to Saint's Row IV, and thus is very short, but that's part of the charm. You're not dragging out an endless search for little powerups all over the place, or finding 400 unfun side-games to finish, or grinding out points for all your abilities. It's all completely focused - you get your upgrades, you kill everybody and blow up everything, and you rush to the finish in 4-8 hours. This game is the only one I can remember in the past 10 years where I stuck with it after winning to try to rack up every achievement just because I enjoyed what I was doing in the game. I am 2 achievements short: one for playing co-op, which I won't do, and the other for playing 20 hours. I have 19 hours played, but just leaving it on another hour seems dumb.

It's all about getting insane powers and annihilating everything with them. One of the weapons is the Ark of the Covenant. Another is a recliner with machine guns and missile launchers built in. The best gun is just a machine gun that shoots diamonds and makes everybody you kill explode into money you can collect. Plus you have wings, and one of the most fun flight systems in any game I can remember. It just feels good to run around and fight in this game. Two thumbs up.

Tomb Raider
Not the old one, the new one (not the newest one, but the first in the new series. Clear?). This is a really good game. It's fun to go around and collect all the secret things, and shooting guys with arrows is fun. Stealth is fun. But it suffers from AAA problems like Mad Max does, though not all the same ones: it has that same sort of "we want the animation to look good, so who cares how the gameplay feels" aspect, where you can't act at certain times just because it would mess up the animation (bad idea, developers: let me mess up the animation in order to have fun and feel in control!). It also has the usual problem of playing for 3 seconds and then sitting through a cutscene, again and again. The worst is when your character does things in cutscenes that you could've done in gameplay, like fighting someone or climbing a wall. Why am I watching something I could be playing? And it has the same thing as Mad Max, where the upgrades are meaningless since you eventually get them all - you only choose the order. Let me design a character! Play a role, perhaps even.

All in all, this is actually a really good game, way better than I had expected it to be before playing (I never liked Tomb Raider games in the old days). I would definitely recommend it.

Batman: Arkham Knight
If there is one series, besides Borderlands, that is my absolute addiction, it is the Arkham games. Okay, Diablo too. And Ratchet & Clank. Anyway, Arkham Knight is a clear-cut finale to the Arkham series, and it is a good one. At first, I didn't think so - unlike the previous games, this one really makes you work to get into it and understand how to play. I'm a veteran with probably a hundred or more hours between the previous games in the series and I was still mostly lost for the first couple of hours of this game. It does a terrible job of bringing you into things and teaching you and pointing you toward your objectives. Even by the time I finished the game, I never got used to the awful system they have for selecting which 'mission' you want to be working on.

So, once I did get used to how to play this game, it is what you'd expect: awesomesauce. Batman games are amazing. To be fair, this is probably the worst one, but that still makes it an awesome game. There is a fair amount of really annoying "car platforming" to be done, but the tank battles you do with your car are actually quite fun, for exactly the reason that Mad Max's fun is compromised: they don't care about realism at all, and your car can switch from normal driving mode into this pure arcade tank mode where you can strafe like you're playing Quake. It's instantly responsive, and really fun to control. It's not very "Batman", but I enjoyed it, which is more than I can say for most games when they switch from their normal gameplay to any sort of alternate mode.

There's also a bunch of great "detective work" to do (never enough - I really want a game like this that focuses in on crime investigation instead of fighting and shooting. The time manipulation you do to solve crimes is very cool), a megaton of hidden things to find (I found them all, because you're never done with Batman while the Riddler remains at large), and a lot of fun traditional Batman brawling with all the gadgets. I love the stealth parts as always. The story is also always good in these games, far more so than almost any other video game. That darn Joker, what a rascal! Anyway, it's a truly great Batman game, provided you can figure out how to play it. So that's it. A bunch of big games I played recently and thought you should know about.
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