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Summertime01:54 PM -- Thu June 28, 2007

The livin's not that easy, actually. As of yesterday, we kind of got into a real summer routine here, but prior to that it was truly a madhouse. Still, we have so much to do that it's not all that much less mad now. My wife is working on starting up her own business, and that's an enormous project I am helping a lot with. She is also studying Spanish and getting set up for the next school year and working on a Master's degree (she's definitely got me outdone in the busy department, but I do have to help with a lot of it!). I am working on the new website, and getting the necessary paperwork to have a merchant account to run it with, and working on Titan Tunnels (again at last!), learning the piano, and I suppose playing a wee bit of WoW. Between those things, we are dealing with a massive leak in our water system, the dogs that can no longer be trusted without leashes (we're waiting for electronic collars to arrive in the mail as our next attempt), fighting off the ants, and generally trying to keep life in order as usual with housecleaning, making meals, occasional sleep and Netflix, and that sort of thing that everybody does.

You don't get a sneak peek anytime soon. Titan Tunnels is still in the not-able-to-compile phase, where it will remain for a long time. But it's a really nice break from the pain and agony of the website work to switch over to it every so often. I'm glad I did, because when I first went back to it, I was really lost. It's been too long since I've worked on that code! The website is developing many interesting features that are remarkably hard to get set up and test. I have a really good idea for a game to be played to risk your precious Yerfbucks (the new name for Prize Points), but it will probably not be around initially at least. I'd like to get the core functionality going before I start throwing in crazy funtimes.

Anyway, I am so tired that I am now done writing this. Thus you are also done reading it, or will be at the end of the sentence following this one. Bye.
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The Core10:15 PM -- Tue June 19, 2007

WORST science I've ever seen in a movie. And I've seen almost every episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. On a separate note, the formularity of movies has reached its breaking point. I could just feel the marketing department breathing down my neck as each cliched bit of overscored prechewed high emotion blared out at me. I think that's one thing I really like about comedy. Since it's a major part of comedy to subvert expectations, it is less likely to hit all the formula points. Unless of course it's a romantic comedy, in which case I can tell you the plot as soon as I know the names of the stars.
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LL2 Propaganda Boogaloo10:15 AM -- Fri June 15, 2007

Another LL2 review?

It is! Quite positive as always, because everybody knows you gots to respect the Toonyland, yo.

By the way, I had the bestest idea strike like lightning the other day, with regard to a future Loonyland game. I'd really like to do this one before Diwali Desert, just because my ideas for that game are very large, and this game could be much smaller and more do-able. Wanna hear about it?

First, I should confess something nobody seems to have suspected, despite the fact that Loony is clearly going to Easter Island at the end of LL2, and yet it says in the credits that LL3 is in Diwali Desert. That's because until the final chapter of Loonyland (You guessed it: Easter Island), we are done with Loony! There are other characters to introduce which will each have their own game, and then it will all come together in the final chapter. So, with that said...

Remember the big map of Loonyland I showed, and how The Northland was an island off the northern coast? Well, here's some history of the Northland. Northlanders are much like norse people of legend (and history too I guess), lots of oddly placed J's in their names for example (Mjolnir? Bjorn? Bjork?). But one key difference is that they love technology. Their entire lives have always been wrapped up in the technology they develop. Of course, you've seen the level of technology in Loonyland - it's not exactly the computer age. So they build steam-powered and clockwork robots (the LL2 clockwork robot is of course an example of Northland technology), and other crazy devices and contraptions. Everything they do is 'helped' along by this unstable and highly error-prone technology. When they go fishing, it's in a motorized boat with some sort of auto-net deployment system. When they cook, it's using a weird mini-factory machine that cranks out their food. Everybody in their society is involved in this. Fishermen work on the fishing boat machines, cooks work on the cooking machines. There isn't just some engineer group who does that stuff for others, it's a part of how everyone does everything they do. Some have even tried to develop mechanical boots to walk for them.

Unfortunately, technology can be dangerous. About a hundred years ago, someone developed a new model of clockwork robot that was self-replicating (reasoning, as Northlanders tend to, that if you can build a robot to build your robots, then you can finally sit back and truly do nothing at all!). We all know where that kind of thing ends, and so it did. The self-replicating machines developed new and deadlier models, spread all over the Northland, and eventually wiped out all animal life on the Northland. Now, only humans and robots remain. The humans are huddled into small villages desperately fighting to survive against the endless hordes. Many have of course run south for safety, but several groups remain, declaring that they will not cede the Northland!

That's the backstory. The nowstory is that you are Lars, a boy raised by one of the holdout clans. You are now old enough to attempt the trial of manhood. The trial is simple: go out into the wilderness, and don't come back until you've built yourself a robot from parts scavenged off of enemy robots. This demonstrates your might, in being able to beat them, and your technical aptitude (the most highly prized thing in Northland society!) in being able to construct a robot of your own.

And of course it goes from there, with the game revolving around building up your own little army of robots and kind of RTS (but sorta different) battling your way through the Northland. There's this really nifty system of components and robot building that gives you lots of creative freedom, and you sort of level up by studying the parts you scavenge, which helps you learn what other parts you can combine them with to make other things. Sounds like fun to me! Kinda iffy to go next in the series though - do you really want to go straight from Winter Woods to the Northland? People will think the whole game is on ice. Maybe it's time to hit Summer Springs or Forbidden Forest first. I do know exactly who all the other characters will be, and I think one of them probably belongs in one of those places. That plus Diwali and Northland should complete the set, except of course for Easter Island. I guess that makes Easter Island Loonyland 6. I hope I can pull it all off. If I can do it, it'll be the greatest thing I've ever done, a true epic of ridiculousness!
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Auntie, I am anti-ant03:39 PM -- Thu June 14, 2007

Augh, the invasion has begun! We've had great luck with ants in previous years here, which is a miracle because our yard is one giant anthill. But they found us yesterday. Actually, they found the cat food. It was horrifying, bowls completely covered with ants. They had kind of settled down after some serious being-dealt-with yesterday, but this morning they were back, apparently with a keen interest in our sink (and here I thought we kept it clean!). I have thinned them considerably, almost entirely through my favorite technique, which I shall teach you. Please feel free to teach me other techniques in the comments (I really try to be non-lethal - I don't like to hurt anything).

My amazing technique is two-fold. The simple version of it is called pathbreaking. All you do is get some soap on your finger and rub it across the path the ants are following. Ants use chemical markers to make their trails, and the soap completely destroys that (or just blocks it, either way it works!). They really don't like walking on the soap either, so it works like a wall. But, like any wall, you need to expand it or they'll just walk around. I try to do things like make a ring around a hole they're using, so the path is completely broken. But when you can't do that (which is usually - and if you can do that, you could just plug the hole with some glue or something anyway!), a really wide wall of soap is quite effective. They can't retrack that well.

The more advanced form of this technique is called sealing up your house. Go outside, see where they are coming in, and caulk that thing shut! Much like with pathbreaking, you'll find they go around and find other ways (in our case, there's a wood beam that runs all the way around the house with a small gap in it the whole way!). So you'll need to make sure you cover a wide distance to the point where they lose track. The nice thing is, you're outside, so you can pretty much go nuts. Not like inside where you need to be careful.

So I've been going outside and upgrading my barrier throughout the day as they get through. Since the gap in our wall is on the underside of something low to the ground, it's really tough to actually seal it. Most of the time it turns out it was just the toxic stench keeping them away, and when it dried, they'd just walk on through a hole in it. But I think I've got them now. Maybe. Then the next invasion will begin...

This is all part of the seven plagues of Anza, by the way:

Plague Of Vermin: First, we found ticks on our dogs, something we have never seen out here before.

Plague Of Serpents: Then, we found snakes (possibly just one snake in two different places) in our yard. That was actually a really nice plague, because the snake seemed to be completely harmless and it's always fun to see snakes. The only challenge was keeping the dogs from noticing it.

Plague Of Wild Dogs: The dogs in question are our own. That means our dogs are now digging under our fence all over the place, and it's an absolute nightmare. We can't have them off leashes in the yard anymore. We literally can't lose sight of them for more than one minute without them escaping. This morning, they actually pulled aside a rock I had used to block one of their digging spots and got out. Tomorrow I'm going to buy one of those wireless fence things and we'll see how that goes. This electric fence just can't be moved low enough to affect the digging.

Plague Of Fire: A sudden jump yesterday to 90+ degrees out of the blue, when it had been a very nice windows-open 80 for weeks. Now I'm indoors with all the windows closed, blinds down, and a ceiling fan going. I tell you, it's like living in the desert. Let's just hope we don't see the Plague Of Actual Fire, which is not very rare around here. This plague inevitably begat...

Plague Of Ants: When it gets hot, they come in. That's how they are. Fingers are crossed for a short-lived plague.

Unfortunately, that only makes 5 plagues. I am huddled in my darkened office contemplating what further horrors await...
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More LL2 Propaganda!07:22 AM -- Sat June 2, 2007

GameTunnel reviews Loonyland 2

There's one mistake in the review that I am asking them to correct. It also happens to be the only negative remark in the entire thing, so that's quite an endorsement! If you don't have Winter Woods yet, GameTunnel has one word for you:
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