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We're back!09:17 PM -- Mon September 11, 2017

I fixed the site! SO QUICKLY! I bet you didn't even notice it was down. We're now hosted at a new place, with a lot of fancy new server power under the hood (not that we needed it, but it's good to be up-to-date). Enjoy the forums once again, and let me know if you see things broken on the site. I'm not sure what all broke during the transition process.
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Assembly Programming For Fun!02:42 AM -- Sun May 28, 2017

Yeah, I'm still alive! For a minute there last month it looked like I was going to get somewhere with the website. I had somebody all set up to help me do it, but when he looked through it, we discovered all manner of complex issues as to what exactly we wanted to do and how we wanted it to end up (the site as-is does not function anymore, so changes need to be made...). So we're kinda back to square one, and I've been super busy transitioning Growtopia to Ubisoft. But we're getting somewhere. It'll happen, someday.

Anyway, I wanted to chat a bit about the idea of programming games (not the act of programming games, but rather playing games that are about programming). That's a genre that is very niche, and there aren't a ton of games in it, but nevertheless I intend to go deeper yet and specifically focus on games about assembly-language programming! There are even fewer of them, but they're the ones that are really fun!

You see, assembly language itself is basically a logic puzzle. It's the most straightforward and simple type of programming, in that there are just a few different possible instructions (sometimes very few), and each instruction is incredibly simple - it can have one, or in some languages/situations, two values attached to it, and that's it. For example "MOV AX,7" (I don't even remember if that's accurate 6502 assembly, but it's something like that) is an assembly instruction. It means "put a 7 into the register AX". Of course in a game, it might be more verbose but it comes down to the same thing. Super simple individual lines, able to access only a select few registers (data storage spots), and yet Turing complete. So it's very easy to grasp, yet very very complicated to get it do something worthwhile, and it's that process of building up from simple blocks into vast structures that makes it so compelling. If you can make the little parts work, then put them together logically, you'll have a bigger working unit. Simple concepts combining into great complexity.

So I thought I had played a few of these games lately, but it turns out it was just two. I just finished Human Resource Machine today (though I cheated on the last puzzle, which was like an order of magnitude bigger and more complex than all the ones before it!), and other games I've played along these lines are TIS-100 (I failed to finish, it gets hard!), and Carnage Heart (but that's going waaayyy back to the 90's). I know there's also Shenzhen IO, which I haven't played. SpaceChem actually shares many traits though it'd be hard to call it assembly language programming. It's no coincidence that three of the five games I just named are all made by Zachtronics. I guess there aren't a lot of people in the assembly game arena! It's too bad, because it really is fun, and makes programming accessible to anyone who likes logic puzzles. A great learning tool as well as a fun puzzle.

Anyway, if you like puzzles, you might want to try this kind because it'll really worm into your brain, and as a bonus it'll teach you a lot about programming! Human Resource Machine is a really nice simple example. The early puzzles are fun and easy, though you'll really need some chops to get all the way to the end. TIS-100 is way more hardcore. I would not recommend starting there if you aren't a programmer yourself.

I would love to hear about any others you know of in the comments, but yeah... the site isn't working too hot right now, speaking of programming. It'll be back soonish(tm)!
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Checking in!03:14 PM -- Thu March 30, 2017

It has only been a few months since my last entry here. It's still true that I beat Bloodborne though. Still pretty amazing, I hope you're impressed. On that note, I just started playing Dark Souls 3 yesterday, so yeah.

Anyway, lots of big stuff going on. The good news from a Hamumu.com perspective is that I am talking to somebody about working on getting the site back up and running, because I still don't have time to do so myself. Hopefully that will work. And by the way, I have had a new site design in hand for several years now, with no time to set it up, so hopefully we won't just be restoring the missing functionality - we'll have a full overhaul, totally new look!

In mildly interesting other news, we have sold Growtopia to Ubisoft! Yeah, that's kind of a big deal. Seth and I will still be working on it for a while, helping them learn how to run the game and what the secrets of our awesomeness are. I'm really looking forward to this... freedom and free time to create the things I want to make again, instead of being chained to Growtopia 24/7. My life has been very different for the last four years, and while I have had an outlet for creativity - the updates I've been doing for Growtopia are often as complex as entire games - I haven't been free to just do what I want, it's all been inside the framework of that game. So I am really looking forward to that freedom, especially just inside my head. My brain will be set free by not being tied to those little block-headed creatures all day. It's been very draining. And there's so much more to it than simply making the updates. Nobody who isn't involved in the process can understand what it takes out of you to be facing the onslaught of millions of players, all wanting their personal issue fixed (or sometimes just want to shout profanities at me), every day. Our tech support staff are truly amazing for fighting that tide.

So once everything is handled, and I can step back out of the limelight, I am going to take a BREAK. I've said I was going to take a year off, but those in the know have said I wouldn't be able to handle that. I don't really know what the future holds, I'm just glad to be free to find out. It's gonna be a break whether I take a break or not. Yay!
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I BEAT BLOODBORNE!04:12 PM -- Sat December 3, 2016

That's an all-caps title! So this is a Hamumu Revumu. Bloodborne is a truly amazing game. It's by From Software, the infamous Dark Souls guys, and this is every bit a Dark Souls game except in a different universe. And that's part of what's so great - it's an infinitely better universe! While the lore/story/world of Dark Souls is all knights in heavy armor (even the weird mutant bosses are generally either dragons or giant knights in armor) and other boring medieval stuff, the world of Bloodborne is this amazing gothic steampunk Lovecraftian insanity. I can't remember the last time I was so deeply invested in a game's looks. Just wandering this realistic (well, hyper-real? All kinds of impossibly vast architecture going on) run-down 1800's city is a treat. The artwork is incredible. The views of cathedrals and spires, the gloomy atmosphere, every part of the style is just perfectly tuned to my brainwaves.

Inside that grim world are the most hideous and disturbing creatures of any game I've ever played. I love them and want to snuggle them. There's so many I could point out, but lemme just hit on two: First of all, the fat crows. Yep, fat crows. In a game filled with twisted demonic beings, these fat crows sitting on the ground should be perfectly fine. But they are actually the only enemy to cause a physical revulsion reaction in me. See, they're just crows, but they look like they're dead laying on the ground. If you get close, they come towards you, but not in a squawky fast way (not yet!), oh no, they sloooowly lurch along the ground like slugs. The model is nothing but a realistic crow, but with the animation and sound they managed to make it absolutely horrifying. And of course when it gets close, it does leap at your face.

Secondly, there are these massive creatures that cling to the sides of buildings, generally posing you no harm at all. They are definitely very disturbing in appearance, with insanely long limbs and a face full of tentacles. But the real trick is, you can't see them at all. As far as you know for about the first half of the game, they don't exist. You think you're just in a city full of werewolves, madmen, and ogres. But once you raise your Insight stat enough (it seems to represent your knowledge of the occult, and your ability to perceive it), suddenly they're just there. And you realize that this whole time you've been walking around beneath these towering monsters that could've squashed you at any moment. That's a nasty sight. There is at least one that can grab you before you're able to see them too, which is just a random death out of the blue if you lack the Insight to understand it. Here's a video, which also shows you the amazing style of the architecture and visuals a bit:

Come on, that's creepy. So I've written all these paragraphs, about a video game, and it's me writing it, and I haven't even mentioned the gameplay yet! Gameplay is officially all I care about in games! But this game, I'm telling you: the world, the story, the visuals, the sound (oh man, the sound is CRUNCHY and LOUD and upsetting all on its own), it all builds a masterpiece. I should also give a shout-out to the story: It's a good story, to the extent I understand it. Which is the point: the story is delivered in tiny cryptic tidbits you pick up as you play, rather than expository cutscenes. Everything is a clue, right down to "why does that type of monster or item show up in this area?" which would be throwaway in any other game. I don't entirely know what happened in the story, but I have my ideas, and from reading online, so does everybody else. It makes you think, and that's a good thing. There are a ton of elements I would've never even known about if it weren't for my massive FAQ-cheating at the game - entire sidequests that aren't explained, you just have to think for yourself "maybe that guy would like to come to the church instead of being eaten by monsters". You can miss so much of it all, but the clues are there to find.

So gameplay. It's super fun. In short, it's your typical action-RPG: you level up, you slash monsters with sharp things (cool sharp things that can transform between two modes), and you complete 'quests' (though there is no quest log and you may not even realize you're on a quest). Before this, I played Dark Souls (years after everyone else did). I didn't get super far in it. Steam says I've played 12 hours, most of which was probably grinding to get strong enough to beat the first 2 or 3 bosses. I was surprised how much I liked that game. I recommend it as well, and I feel like I should go back to it. Bloodborne is remarkably similar in almost every way. You can see all the same game systems in action, just slightly tweaked, and I don't doubt this is built from the same codebase. Bloodborne is better though. It's much more fast-paced. One nice trick is that when you get injured, most of the health you lose can be gained back by simply hitting enemies, but it becomes permanently lost after a few seconds. This means that when some enormous monstrosity pounds you into the ground, instead of going to hide behind a pillar, you are almost forced to charge back at it and start wailing away to recover what you lost. It's really satisfying to end up beating a guy with full health even though he hit you several times. There's also a huge emphasis on rolling around to dodge attacks. You don't get a shield in this game (well, there is one you can find at some point, but I never tried it, and I've heard it said that it was included as a joke), so it's either dodge or be hit.

And the badguys hit hard. Being from the makers of Dark Souls, this game is near-impossible in terms of difficulty. You can literally die in a single combo from an ordinary enemy even when you are fairly over-leveled for the area you're in. But you know, people talk about the infamous difficulty of these games a lot, and it really isn't that bad. Don't get me wrong, it's among the hardest games I've played, but there's a real difference in a game like this, where I can learn better strategies (or just level up), and something hard like VVVVVV or Super Meat Boy or Super Hexagon... those games I find so much harder because it's just brutal failure constantly and insane reflex testing. You can't really get that much better at them. In Bloodborne, nearly every boss killed me a few times, but even when they did, I always was left feeling like there was plenty of spare time and visible warnings of the danger, it's just that each mistake is punished severely. This is so much more forgiving in terms of timing than a game like Super Hexagon, where you have to be perfect every second. Here you can roll away, drink a potion, and try again. I am avoiding the age-old adage of "it's hard, but when you die it feels like your fault" - that's (usually) true, but it's more than that. It's that it's actually not that hard. It just requires you to learn through dying a few times (which is not penalized harshly at all).

A large part of the difficulty is like that - memorization can get you very far in this game. Once you've been through an area a few times, what felt like an insurmountable challenge is nearly child's play... as long as you don't make any mistakes. It's strange to praise this, but it's very fun that the world never changes. You can memorize every enemy's placement, and know exactly what to do. There's a real shift in the gameplay resulting from the lack of shift in the enemies: you start out exploring slowly and stealthily, and testing each enemy's reactions and abilities, then after a few deaths (or many), you're running through full-tilt chopping off heads as you go. Then you reach a new area and start all over. It's actually more dynamic than it would be if it were randomized - that'd just be repetitive. This way changes over time (not that every game should be so static, it just really works here). There are fairly long stretches of the game with no enemies at all, but you don't know that the first time through the area, so you inch along waiting for death to pop out around a corner...

I certainly wouldn't recommend this game to non-gamers in any way. It's the hardest of hardcore gaming. But it feels fair. Except maybe that stupid forest full of snakes... but even that I got through on my 3rd or 4th try. And each time I made good progress, I'd unlock a shortcut. The shortcuts are amazing. You'll make your way through a big convoluted area only to find you're right back where you started, and can open a door connecting it to where you began. Again, hard, but fair. You get through the hard part and then you don't have to do it again, the shortcut is there. I was stopped cold a few times with the game, saying to myself "Okay, guess I've gotten all I can out of this game, it's too hard for me." and set it aside for a week or two, but inevitably I was drawn back to give it another shot, until finally yesterday I actually won the game, months after I started. It was an immensely satisfying experience. I keep thinking about firing it up again to either work on a different character build or continue in New Game+ mode. I'm not sure why I would do that, but I certainly feel the call of the Great Ones in my corrupted blood.

Have I said enough? I've said too much. Bloodborne is great and comes highly recommended, as long as you are a hardcore gamer who likes scary stuff. There are things I would change for sure, but they're not even worth mentioning.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The 2016 Wrap-Up Part 303:59 PM -- Thu November 3, 2016

And welcome to the final part of our wrap up! If you haven’t read them yet, you should start with Part 1 and Part 2.

TWISTS

Mikey: So in addition to a lack of teenagers chopped to bits, another big thing we missed this month was twists! I tagged two of our movies with the “Twist” tag: The Canal and The Uninvited (and I thought I was being generous with The Canal). My favorite thing in all of movie-dom is a huge plot twist that completely redefines everything you’ve seen beforehand. Did M. Night Shyamalan spoil me for twists just like I am spoiled for scares, or did we really see a lot of straightforward narratives? (Honorable mention: there were some twists in Holidays between all the various stories)

Solee: I feel like we saw a lot of very uninspiring plots this month. There were very few surprises and I pretty much knew how things would turn out based on the IMDB description most of the time.

Mikey: We did have that group of movies that were very surprising we mentioned before, but they weren’t “twists” where everything changes, just unexpected events along the way to an expected conclusion. I really appreciated those, but I do miss having my mind blown apart.

Solee: I think we’re more likely to get that mind-blowing twist from movies that are labeled “thriller” than from “horror” these days, especially since anything that strays from the standard “horror” fare gets panned by the critics.

Mikey: You’re right about that. Psychological Thriller November? Maybe later when we’ve had time to recover from this month of not getting anything real done.

Just to wrap up with a few random notes from the tags I made:
  • We saw 5 movies that took place during Christmas time. Popular for horror, I guess!
  • No fewer than 11 movies earned my “Driven” tag, which means they featured people being driven insane by ghosts. Very common idea.
  • We saw 7 movies which earned the Cheese tag.
  • Only 5 of our movies got a Gore tag, but I was pretty picky about that - they had to really focus on gore, not just have one really bloody thing.
  • 5 serial killers, 7 demons, 12 ghosts, 3 cults, 2 “monsters” (the Behemoth and the Shadow Puppets monster), only 2 zombies, and just one witch.
  • Only 4 found footage movies! Sad.
  • Four comedies (or attempted comedies).
  • Four Sci-Fi movies.
  • Surprisingly only 3 movies which featured a pregnant woman. Seems like I flipped past a hundred of those while searching for movies.
  • Even more surprising that we got two first-person view movies! The first two I’ve ever seen.
  • Four foreign movies: Irish, Spanish, Israeli, and British.
  • Only 3 movies earned the coveted Insane tag for being totally insane.
  • Unsurprisingly, only one courtroom drama!
Solee: To be accurate, there were only three movies with pregnant women, but one of those movies was Holidays, which had several different pregnancy related stories.

Mikey: Yes, well we also had a lot more than 2 zombies, but I’m just counting up how many movies featured them!

Solee: I have two questions before we bring this monster discussion to a close. First, do you think you chose different movies because I was participating with you?

Mikey: I think there was an influence. One thing I didn’t do was spend the entire afternoon flipping through movies to find just the perfect one, because that drives you insane!

Solee: Wait. You DIDN’T do that???

Mikey: It’s so much worse when you’re not looking. I think I also semi-consciously tried to find “good” movies (which worked!). On my own, I would plow through a lot more found footage garbage.

Solee: And weird mutant creature combinations?

Mikey: Nah, I don’t really go for those in the marathon (at least not in large numbers). That’s more for watching with my sister! Oh, I also avoided foreign movies more because subtitles can be difficult when somebody is half-blind from laser beams.

Solee: I am honestly disappointed by how much this stupid eye thing affected our movie watching. I would have enjoyed more foreign films. Next year!

Mikey: The gears are already turning...

ARTWORK

Solee: And my last question: What did you think of my drawings? Favorite? Least favorite?

Mikey: Oh the drawings!! My favorite thing about this month was having somebody else be the one spending all this time on arts and crafts instead of me! The drawings were awesome. Let’s see…
  • Best Picture 2016: Kill List, i-Lived, and The Pact

  • Oh there’s so many others… Amityville, Sympathy (yes, the doodle), The Invitation

  • Anyway, on to my least favorite even though I surely loved them all with all my heart: I think The Final Girls. It’s an ugly house regardless of how you draw it. It even looked weird in the movie!

Solee: Yes. I think that Final Girls was one of the first ones post-surgery. My heart definitely wasn’t in it. Ouija and Beacon 77 are pretty bad. And The Witch was a total cop-out. I’m disappointed that I went that the tracing route, even once.


Mikey: The Witch would be super impressive if I didn’t know you cheated. It’s a good way to learn, though!

Solee: I was quite proud of the wine glass from The Invitation because I traced it first and then drew it all over again on my own. Learning!

Mikey: Honorable mentions to [REC*] because of how fun it is and how much you hate it.


Solee: I do hate those stick figures. I think my overall favorite was the shotgun from i-LIVED. That turned out WAY better than I expected.

Mikey: That’s why it won Best Picture! So… anything else we need to know about this awesome month of awesome movies? And terrible ones?

Solee: I think that pretty much wraps it up. And it only took us… 2.5 hours and 11 pages! Special props to anyone who managed to read to this point.

Mikey: I don’t even care if anybody reads it, this was just all fun for me. I had the best time.

Solee: Ditto. Now… let’s have lunch. And maybe watch Cabin in the Woods because it’s the BEST Halloween movie ever! (Yes, it’s actually Oct 31 as we’re writing this…)

Mikey: It is Halloween tradition! I hope no kids show up so I can eat all the candy we got.

Solee: Except the mini Butterfingers. Those are mine.

Mikey: All the time (see I rhymed, right?).

Solee: Better than a leprechaun!
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