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November Ends05:49 PM -- Tue November 29, 2005

I'm proud! I printed out the certificate and pinned it to the wall already. I normally eschew such sillyality, but you know, I wrote 50,000 words in one month that all connect into a coherent tale (a crappy one, but each word does relate to the others!). I feel like I really accomplished something! Of course, on the other hand, the story isn't actually done. It's really close... I'm right in the middle of the climax, but it could be another 10,000 words before it's completely rounded up. And then it needs decades of editing before it's readable. But I did it!! I'm a nano winner!

I'll slow that down now... one hour a day should be good. Then when I finally finish I can set it aside for a couple months and pretend it doesn't exist, which would be for the best.

I got an early birthday present! It's a keyboard (the musical kind)! It's super cool and I am trying to be musical on it. I'm trying to learn some music theory, though I have no actual resources for doing so.

Spent all day today doing non-work things, but they were good. Christmas shopping! I love that I can do that while sitting here at my computer. Yesterday was Ninja work, got some stuff done there on the Ninja Skill system, which is how you earn belts. Belts serve no purpose other than to allow you to access harder levels (and that's only the first few, then the rest are just for fun). Ninja Skills are kind of like Gallery Goals, there are 99 of them, although many repeats like "Earn 100,000 total points" and "Earn 200,000 total points".

Wow, I feel like something is done. It's a weird feeling.
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Thanks be to new news06:32 PM -- Wed November 23, 2005

Nanonews: I am at 46,600 words, writing the climactic showdown. It'll come in very close to just the right length, and I'll easily finish in time. Then, over the next 20 years or so, I'll rewrite and scribble out all over the thing, until at last it is somewhat legible. Should be exciting! Today Sol and I discussed some changes that would need to happen, and they were depressingly exhaustive. Rewrite may well be the right word, and I fear I won't ever have the energy for such an endeavor, which is a sad thought, because I like the story, even though I think I'll never have the writing skills to do it justice. We'll see!

Hey, don't forget to vote in the Monthly Merge! Time is running out for that. I've got plenty enough votes for WW, seems people much prefer voting on that than on the actual contest where they could win fabulous prizes! What's the deal there?

I want a desktop publishing program. I am thinking of getting PagePlus. I messed around with MS Publisher, which came with my computer, and did some extra fancy cards for Dueling Doodles, a card/drawing game of mine (formerly Art Attack for those in the know). They look cool. I can only imagine how much cooler they'd look if I had a decent publishing program! And then I could make catalogs, nicely written rules, and who can even guess what else. The wonders of DTP are limitless! We had a little talk about the prospects of self-publishing my card/board games and selling them here. Would be nice.

I finished playing Land Of Legends today. Fun! There's a "Legendary Campaign" it asked me to embark on next (the normal campaign again, only way harder). No thanks. I loved it, but I loved it being easy. I don't want torture.

Not a lot of work getting done this week, caught up in holidays and Sol being on vacation. I got a trailer hitch put on my car, that was fun. Now all I need is a trailer...
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Dumb, Dumb, Dumb08:26 AM -- Thu November 17, 2005

I drew a "D" today, so work on Dumb: The Game I shall! The returns on that effort have so far been what might be called abysmal, especially for the hours I spend cranking out puzzles (I spent more than 3 hours making the one called "On The House"... oh, that was a tricky one). Unfortunately, after 8 (9?) years in this business, I have absolutely ZERO skill in marketing, so I don't even know how to go about making it popular and known.

I'm really happy with it in terms of actual results - it's a cool site that's a lot of fun, and I can't believe I'm still able to make puzzles for it and haven't completely run dry (and not a repeat of puzzle type yet! That'll be coming soon though, I'm quite sure). I just wish it was paying off. It just needs to get the exposure somehow. Presumably advertising it would be good (as opposed to just creating it and leaving it sitting there, which is what I've done so far!). Wish I knew a good place or way to do that. It's definitely the kind of thing, though, where once it gets over a certain point, it'll grow on its own, as people introduce it to others.

And for that, it shall need more puzzles! Which is what today is about. I consider 100 puzzles my "done" point, where I won't stop making puzzles, but I'll stop worrying about the need to crank them out. I'm quite a ways from 100, and I don't know if I'll ever get there... feel free to submit your own ideas! It helps.

Nanonote: I'm just under 35,000 words. Still way ahead of schedule! Whoopee!!
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NanoThoughtMo06:41 PM -- Mon November 14, 2005

This weekend, we had no Netflix handy, so we dipped into our lineup of movies we own for something to watch (we have no cable/satellite/whatever, but we still have the addiction toward sitting in front of a glowing box mindlessly). We watched 3 movies: Dogma, Unbreakable, and The Matrix. They were all highly inspirational towards my nanowrimo writing. I think in part a lot of the ideas I had actually were originally inspired by those movies.

Like Unbreakable, my story is about a superhero kind of thing, but trying to deal with how it would be in the real world (not that I will admit to any knowledge of the real world, or ability to describe such), although mine is a lot less in the standard superhero mold.

There isn't a lot directly related to Dogma in my story, but somehow it fits. Mainly just to be inspired by the writing of Kevin Smith.

From The Matrix, well, I pretty much rip it off relentlessly. Like the Matrix, my story is (intended to be) somewhat philosophical, dealing with what reality is, though really I only use that as a kind of setting for the action to place in. But like The Matrix, it's about people being able to 'break the rules' of reality (but like in the movie, there's a reason why they can, and that is the mythology of the story, but that mythology only exists to give me a reason for the storyline). I was always really moved by the end of The Matrix, and that's probably the core of the inspiration to my whole story, although it burbled in my head for many years, so it's a real mishmash, not just a rip-off. All about finding inner strength to overcome obstacles. I'm afraid my ending might come out pretty similar, although I was always disappointed that Neo died (I'm not even gonna put *SPOILER* because, come on people, it's THE MATRIX). To me it would've been much more powerful, and more importantly, logical and realistic, if he had refused to die in the first place, if he just decided that that rule couldn't apply to him. But I guess they couldn't be all up in the Christian mythos if that had been the way. And they had to have the whole romance/wake-with-a-kiss crap. I have no such hangups! In my story, if someone dies, it's over. Luckily you won't care, since they're not well-written enough to be appealing!

Two other Nanothoughtmos. First, I never understood when writers would say things like "my character did something I never expected!" Steven King discusses that stuff a lot in On Writing. But I always thought it was wacky hippy nonsense. No more! I've never written anything nearly as long as what I'm writing now (30,000 words so far!), and I've seen that happen time and again in this story. It twists in ways I never thought up, and characters go places I didn't expect (and new characters appear). I don't have the willful vapidity needed to claim that the characters are writing themselves, though. I know I'm writing this, and it's all coming out of my brain. It's just that over the course of such a long project, things end up working out to be easier, or cooler, or just a better fit, when done a new way. Or I find I need to bring in a new character for reasons I hadn't considered. But it's cool, and it is kind of magical seeming. Like I wrote stuff way at the beginning that I thought was a throwaway, and since then it's percolated in my mind while I wrote other parts, and suddenly there's a spot where I can tie it into the main story in a way that makes the whole thing better. It's really amazing, especially just the sheer number of things that are coming together in ways I never expected. This isn't anything like the story I originally had (although to be fair, it was a lot more like a premise than an actual story). It's really amazing!

Okay, this is almost as long as the novel itself. But here's the final Nanothoughtmo. Picture a novel you think is really crappy. I can't think of any good generic examples offhand. But when you picture the author of this book, I'm sure you think like I do: he's some hack who is just cranking out words soullessly to try to make a quick buck. Or so I always thought before. But here I am now, and I am the hack! I mean, when you think of a book that has no real depth or message, just shlocky romance, or murder mystery, or fantasy junk that's just about beefy guys slaying dragons, you don't think of it meaning something to anyone. But that's what I'm writing. It's totally just an action sci-fi horror fantasy urban thing, it has no deeper meaning, I'm not trying to put forth a metaphor for the Israel-Palestine conflict, I'm just writing an adventure that sounds interesting and exciting to me. So it is exactly that shlock you think of as churned out for a quick buck. I mean, there is sort of a "meaning of the universe" thing going on in it, but it's purely invented - just stuff that's there to drive the action, not like some kind of attempt to explain how the real universe works. It's definitely not my philosophy on reality. It's more like just a different kind of fantasy shlock.
But what makes this an interesting thought is that though the story would be, if you read it, just a throwaway bit of fluff for you, it's a life-changing experience for me, the writer! I don't know how to explain it, but to me, it's not a bunch of words I'm rushing out to make a buck (especially since I don't think I'll be able to sell it), it's a powerful experience of delving into my mind and seeing what's in there. What's in there is ridiculous over-the-top action and bad dialogue that doesn't make a lot of sense, but that's only a problem for you, the reader. For me, there's a lot to the experience. It's powerful. Does that make sense? It sounded so much better when I was doing the dishes earlier. I'll never look at crappy books the same way again. I now understand that even though it's throwaway junk from my perspective, for the writer, it's a grand experience.

But I could be wrong, those guys may just be hacks, and this is only special for me because it's my first time writing one continuous thing that's so long.
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Sneak Peek: Super Happy Go Go Ninja Time01:48 PM -- Mon November 14, 2005

It's a new feature I added today! The Time Ninja now has two supermoves he can call upon once he charges up a meter by scoring points. One is Zen, activated by simply holding the button down for an exorbitantly long time (demonstrating your inner calm) - it simply slows the game down by a factor of 4 for a while, making you much more able to perform your amazing stunts. The other, pictured above, is Ninja Loco, activated by pounding on the button as fast as you can in a very short time. It should be no surprise that this makes you move at double speed, making it much harder to perform your amazing stunts. On the other hand, it gives you quite a leg up on your adversaries. Especially since, though this isn't in yet, I'm planning to have it also make you invincible, inflict double damage, and make everything you do while it's active count as one big combo. Both of them run down the meter while they're active. Loco lasts about 8 seconds, Zen lasts much longer, but then again the game's running much slower.

Really about all you can do while Loco is to flail on the button, but it's really effective if there are many enemies. Currently both supermoves have that same visual effect of the trails, but I'm going to add some sort of particles flying around for Loco mode, make it look like you're on fire or something. The effect is perfect as it is for Zen.

The other big news is bad, I suppose. I also decided today to remove the multiplayer from the game. It's one of the big things making it much more complicated to develop, and I don't think many people play same-computer multiplayer games these days, so I'd be expending all this enormous effort to make something nobody would even play anyway. I think it's a good decision, because I feel like now I can really pull it together. I don't have that massive problem looming over my head anymore. And hey, the "P1" can finally go away (even though it's not gone yet, as you can see)! This game was always about the single-player, big combo, Tony Hawk kind of play, so it's good to focus on that. I think. It's a good justification for wimping out, anyway. I'm adding some cool stuff along those lines (actually inspired by a combination of Tony Hawk and Burnout! Playing games is good for your brain!) to make the single player more involved, as well. You'll be earning new Belts! No, they won't show on the character.
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Strategery on the Internets08:20 AM -- Thu November 10, 2005

Well, yesterday I finally drew the mysterious "O" tile from my bag! That means Other, so I could do anything I wanted, as long as it wasn't one of my real projects. So I spent maybe 45 minutes looking through my game ideas to see what struck me, and I ended up working on something I had actually come up with last week (the freshest stuff is always the most interesting, of course - after all, I was in the mood to invent it recently, so it must be what appeals to me right now!). It's a turn-based strategy game (inspired, of course, by my recent playing of Land Of Legends, though my idea plays totally differently), and all I've done so far is create tiles for it. I liked the Pumpkin Pop 2 tiles so much that that was also part of the inspiration. So I made smaller versions of tiles like that, with the cute bubble gum trees. That's all I had time to do, but I made a lot, and it was fun, and I have good ideas of how the game will be. I'm trying to keep it very simple - the best board games are ones with a few simple rules that interact well, and a board game is pretty much what a turn-based game is.

Today I drew a "C" so I need to work on card games. The main thing I have been doing there lately is actually also programming. I'm making a program to generate cards from a template and data, so I can have nice looking prototype cards without having to hand-place all the text and images on each card. I want to make a much nicer version of Dueling Doodles (formerly Art Attack) with that. In truth, I really would like to offer that game for sale. Everybody who plays it just loves it. The problem is that unlike a computer game, a board/card game requires huge upfront investment/risk in making copies before you sell them. Some companies actually get around that with a weird system where they collect preorders (as I understand it, no money exchanges hands, people just "promise" they'll order one when it comes out), and once they get enough, they actually produce the games. That works for them, but something totally unknown like this, I'd really need to put it out there, I think. I should still try to look for publishers for it. Maybe I'll do some of that today, it is after all C day!
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Crazy or No Crazy?06:55 PM -- Mon November 7, 2005

It seems like things are really crazy right now, but there's no reason for it to. Well, I guess there is, but no crazier than it's been for a good while. Working on so many projects can feel frantic, but it's kind of cool because I'm actually getting to relax plenty. I have my work time, during which I pound away knowing that quitting time is coming soon, then I quit as advertised.

And what do I do when I quit? These days, I play Tony Hawk's Underground 2, and Burnout 3! I just got them (and Spiderman 2, which I tried out the beginning of and put away to concentrate on the others). I bring them up so I can tell you that while THUG2 is more of the same, better than THUG1, but not as good as the earlier Tonys (and most importantly, it's more goals for me to complete! Yay!), Burnout 3 is freakin' awesome (as Carl would say - and really, he would say that about this game, it's right up his alley). I never really like racing games, because blah, all you do is drive along the road and try to do it fast. But I wanted to try this anyway, because I knew there was a mode where all you do is try to cause the biggest crash possible. Well, it rules. The crash mode is really good, although we've gotten far enough it that it's now kind of tedious because it requires you to do it just right instead of flinging yourself out there. But the racing is really something special. No other game has the sense of speed that this does, with cool blurring effects, and you get rewarded for taking out the other cars. Very cleverly, this game actually takes the worst part of a racing game, crashing ("oh no, now I know I've lost. I'll just hit Restart"), and makes it seriously fun. When you crash, you can hold down a button to go into slow motion and semi-steer your wreck, to try and smash into the other cars and earn Aftertouch Takedowns. If you succeed, you actually end up losing almost nothing for crashing, and you gain "Boost", which is exactly what it sounds like (you also earn Boost for other things that make the game exciting, like driving on the wrong side of the road and swiping too close by other cars). Anyway, it's so fun that even Sol Hunt is hooked, and that's quite a feat.

So those are my fun games of late. Oh, another one that I got for reviewing purposes that is pretty great too is Land Of Legends by Tiny Hero Studios. It's a turn-based strategy game a lot like Advance Wars or Fire Emblem, but not as complicated.

There was some other stuff I was to tell you about, but I can't remember, other than to say that something else that is trés bien is Primal Strips soy jerky, Texas BBQ flavor. Yowza. If only it were cheap, I could make a sandwich out of it!

Oh, hey I remember 2 things: First, this month is Nanowrimo and I am winning!! Check out my progress at my profile and see how I am zooming ahead with incredible speed. I can't believe how well I'm doing. Of course, as my excerpts on that page indicate, it's not good writing. It's total crap, and that's just fine. My goal is to get done. To make an entire novel. Then I'm gonna throw it away, because it won't even be salvageable by editing. Then next November, I'll write it again! Faster and better! Then some year, it'll be good. It's a story idea I've had brewing and growing out of control in my mind like Mucho Moss for maybe 3 or 4 years. I think it's a great idea, but I am really ruining it with this horrible writing. But that's okay, because this doesn't have to be the final draft. I'm succeeding! It's so cool! It's a great feeling when I see that you need to write 1,667 words a day to finish on time (you need to have 50,000 words by the end of the month), and every day I write well over 2,000 (except I skipped writing yesterday).

So thing #2 is that since I'm doing Nanowrimo, I created a new schedule for this month. I've got 4 hours of work each day, 2 hours of writing, and then 2 other hours which have assorted things in them (play games for research, do chores at home, biz stuff). And what I have cleverly done with my 5 project schedule is put a bunch of tiles in a bag, and I draw one at random every day to see what I work on that day (and keep it out, so I do everything once before I start over). Tremendously exciting. You know, I always make everything a game. Don't worry, I put in 3 each of Pumpkin Pop 2 and Ninja, so I do them 3 times as often as the other projects. I added a project called "Other" to the pile, and I haven't drawn it yet. I don't even know what it is. It's just a day to work on something new. I have quite a few ideas of things I'd like to do.

Okay, that's about enough! I have to journal more often so I don't ramble on for pages.
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Sneak Peek: Super Happy Go Go Ninja Time02:03 PM -- Thu November 3, 2005

A title screen! What's nice about those is that they're highly cosmetic with very little functionality, so it's so much easier than real work, and yet it looks like I accomplished something. I had a lot of help from Mike K in making this look nice, and he's the one who made the cute happy/drunk icons. The background, I am told by the other one who provided the kanji (Seth R), says "Go go!" I hope that's true.

No, Ninjanet is not internet play. It's just the usual internet goodies - high scores and replays of cool runs, and downloading add-ons. The replays are pretty cool: you can save a run you like and upload it and people can watch it in the game. I'd like to have voting on those so you can "score" in that way (by having a replay that people are really impressed with), but we shall see.
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