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Trains By Request10:59 AM -- Fri February 29, 2008

Someone asked yesterday for me to report on my train layout construction. Well, I hadn't actually DONE anything with it since pretty much the last report. But the request inspired me! So I got onto it and did some things, and it's sort of underway. Here's the overview currently:



I'm trying to show a huge area in a small picture, so it's hard to see what's going on. First of all, there are my two trains - lower down you see the santa claus train which is hauling Christmas trees and toys (really, I want to seriously edit that train... bleh. But I love the actual style of it, very old-fashioned locomotive). On the right side is the big cargo train, with a crane, a box car, a ... buckety car, and an actual automotive car on a car. That train is motorized. It has a hard time with slopes, however. It can only haul two cars up the slope, and it struggles to do that.

That slope is in fact the big issue. See at the top of the picture, a series of increasing trestles raising the track. You probably can't tell, but over in the top left of the picture, the track is greatly elevated (the track where the santa train is headed), held up by a random assortment of ugly legos. The flat track behind that is actually supposed to be attached to it, but without support, it falls. So building that series of trestles is my current issue. I'm making the track go up so it can go under itself, which is something I truly demand in any train set. See the pile of black legos in the middle of the picture, next to the yellow train station? Those are pretty much all the black legos I own. And they are not remotely enough to make my trestles! I did a bunch of research, played around with Lego Designer (really cool software!), and designed a super cool trestle:

Lego Designer actually creates an instruction set for it, too, which you can watch animated as it builds your model. That thing is so cool. Anyway, this was my trestle design (the tallest size, what is needed at the peak of the hill). But Lego Designer also has another handy feature, where it shows you what the price would be to buy those pieces individually from Lego Shop-At-Home... and it was $4.30. That's not a lot of money, until you think about how many trestles I need (around 40, though admittedly, they get smaller and smaller, so maybe multiply that price by around 20 "only"). That's crazy talk.

So I hit Ebay, and discovered a great place selling big lots of pieces, and have just now ordered a few hundred black pieces of various shapes, at massively cheaper prices than what Lego charges. Sadly, I couldn't get the big slope pieces I have in that design, but I got stuff that will make some good ones. I have literally thousands more Legos to use... too bad I have extremely few of any given specific shape and size! It's kind of frustrating.

In other news, I also need some more track, as you can see. Just one more box of track should do the trick - right under the caboose of the santa train is a cross track, so I just need enough to cover from the end of that switching piece to the cross. The layout is kind of a big figure-8, and the part with the cross-piece is sort of a shortcut.

And here is the one building I have made for my town. You can't really tell how dumpy it is in this picture, but I took advantage of the fact that my Legos are very old and dirty to build slum housing. After all, housing right next to train tracks is not typically upscale. In the upstairs apartment, a woman is beating her husband with a wrench (see, he's got his arms up to protect his face), and their downstairs neighbor is pounding on the ceiling with a broom, telling them to shut up. It's the kind of adorable slice of life you find at Legoland! Well, sorta. Later, I will make a bunch of police cars that have been called to the scene.

Also, speaking of slum housing, look at the stuffing coming out of that couch! That's what happens when you live with cats. That's our old couch by the way, we have taken much better care of our current one.
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Mmmm10:49 AM -- Thu February 28, 2008

Mmm, Primal Strips. Thai peanut flavor.

Yesterday, I played WoW for wayyyy long, because I was just having a blast! Wait, this is going somewhere with merit. But first, let me say that I take back my displeasure with the Paladin class. I'm having more fun on my Paladin than anyone else except the Hunter. I think it's mainly because of the quests she's been on, very epic things. Which leads me to the meritorious portion of today's commentary:

Quelastima, my mighty Paladin, got a quest a looong time ago, which I finally accomplished. It's a great quest - you need to go around the world to four very different areas to collect the components that a smith needs to craft you a special weapon. The downside is that the places you need to go are inside "instances", which are areas where you need to go with a group to stay alive. I don't do groups, so instead I just ignored the quest until I got powerful enough to do by myself (and consequently, it was worth almost no XP). So this was really my first in-depth experience with instances. Well, previously I had done Ragefire Chasm (with an actual group!), but that one is lame - it's basically just a regular area filled with monsters that are tougher than normal.

And it was fun! The fun I had going into these places and seeing the simple story-tellish nature of them got me thinking about the random nature of Titan Tunnels. You can definitely have fun in a random dungeon. You sort of make your own stories - you come around a corner and Gorthagg The Unpleasant is there, and you engage in this long fight, hiding around corners and plinking away and just barely surviving his Death Noodles and healing up just in time. That's what you get in a random game. But in a hand-made adventure, you can still have that same thing - the designer places Gorthagg somewhere, and you have that same encounter. Repeated visits are diminished, since you know exactly where he is and the environment you'll face him in, but your first meeting is just the same as in the random scenario. Then the other fun you get in a hand-made adventure is that these "story events" will happen, at cleverly paced and plotted moments. In a random scenario, you may hack away at Zorp Worms for an hour before anything of any interest happens. A hand-made adventure is always interesting, assuming competent design.

What does that all mean? Well, what I'm considering, as a possibility anyway, is to make Titan Tunnels not a random game, but give it a series of Quests. A Quest, in this case, is like a Supreme level - you lay out the walls and monsters, and throw in special events where you need. The player would choose which quest to tackle from their town, depending on which ones were available to them, and what level they were at. I would want people to be able to make their own Quests, so the options for a player are always growing. There are some serious issues with that that would need working out, though. That's a whole separate issue from the editability that allows you to make your own entire world (classes, items, monsters, bullets). That's easier, but it fragments the game - I'd want you to be able to make quests that go in the original 'world', rather than having to make a new world of your own to hold your quests. It's hard to explain. But the presence of an unending collection of user-made quests would be a fitting substitute for random generation, in terms of keeping the game always new. And it would of course have the benefit I talked about above, of offering a sense of story and interesting events. Lastly, of course, I'm always very aware that Supreme is what keeps this site alive - I'm always feeling the need to offer more editing opportunities. It's user creation that drives community.

Anyway, it's something I'm considering. I have hundreds of hours worth of stuff to do before I even have to worry about what format the maps will be in, and how they'll be generated. Everything about that game (and Happyponygate) is feeling very far away right now though... so much to be done. It makes me tired enough to play WoW (or avoid work by writing a huge journal entry).
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Summer!02:23 PM -- Wed February 27, 2008

It's summer today. Awesome. All the windows are open, and the fresh air's rolling on in.

There are currently 250 rooms in the Maze Of Ludicrosity, so you better get exploring! I doubt you've seen them all.

I can't say I'm too productive today... I drove the Happyponygate car around in a few circles without touching a line of code, and filled in a bunch of the spreadsheet for Warrior skills in Titan Tunnels. That's about that. I spend half my time approving rooms for the Maze... I don't know why I keep creating things that add to my general workload.
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The Maze Of Ludicrosity02:50 PM -- Sun February 24, 2008

Play The Maze Of Ludicrosity

Well, this weekend's contest was to follow the theme Weird/Unexpected/Surprise. I was not into that theme, but I finally came up with this game! And there is no doubt that you will encounter an endless array of weird, unexpected surprises when playing it. Give it a go, and add some rooms of your own! It's already got over 40 rooms, and it's growing fast.

Speaking of surprises, we had an adventure today. We went out for lunch, and the dirt road is super muddy (it's raining), so we were slip-sliding all the way down until we got to the good road. On the way home, however, it was a little more serious - it's fairly steeply uphill, and we just couldn't make it! We ended up, after several exciting slides up and down the hill, parking at a house down the hill and walking the rest of the way. Good thing we don't live too far up the hill!
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A Weird Unexpected Surprise!08:10 PM -- Fri February 22, 2008

This weekend is a 48-hour warmup contest! The theme is, unfortunately, Weird/Unexpected/Surprise. So I am off to watch TV and consider what I could do with that.
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The Center Cannot Hold11:16 AM -- Thu February 21, 2008

Well, I didn't delve into ripping out the skills yet as described previously, but I might as well. I removed the talents, and achievements and modifiers, and right now things are a huge mess! There are still hundreds and hundreds of lines I need to edit or remove as a result of that. Really, it's hardly even worth working from an existing game, given the sheer amount of eradication occurring here. But I think it's going to work out... eventually.

Another thing I'm going to do is up it to 800x600 resolution like Happyponygate. I like that so much better. That again will involve tons of hacking and damage. It's really a lot like surgery. You have to cut it open to get at the innards, then chop them up and tie them together in new ways, then seal it up again and there it is! Weak and barely functional, but slowly recuperating. The actual act of surgery is physically hurting the person, doing enormous damage, but as long as the doctor knows what he is doing, he can put it back together in such a way that you'll be better off for having done it. This has been a long series of reconstructive surgeries so far. Just when it was recovering from the massive changes to items (it could compile and run, or at least hobble), I started the next round by yanking out the talents.

Aren't you glad I'm not a doctor?
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Grinding Away06:01 PM -- Tue February 19, 2008

I spent most of the day in a tizzy trying to work out some attribute stuff in the game and not really accomplishing anything. So at the end of the day, I just dropped that and decided to get something done, so now the game can read in the text file that describes character classes! Well, I don't know that it can, but the code compiled at any rate.

The first character class, the one I'm doing to get things started, is to be expected: the Warrior. Oh, another new thing today is that each class has potentially a different set of 5 item types they can equip. Warriors equip Axes, Shields, Armor, Helmets, and Boots. They have a Stamina meter only. Their three skill sets are Offense, Defense, and Tactics. I have only actually thought up the skills that go in Tactics, but Offense will be pretty much a copy of the Attack skill page in Loonyland 2. Defense will be, surprisingly, defensive skills. A lot of the passive stuff will be there, like increased life and armor, along with some active abilities. I suppose Parry will probably go in there. Tactics includes things like a shout to boost your stats temporarily, another shout to stun enemies, a passive ability to make all your shouts hurt badguys, and the always handy Retreat skill (double speed and increased armor, but it cancels if you attack!).

I kind of mentioned before that each class would give you something in your town. Today I am modifying that - each class gives you the potential for something in your town! The Warrior's "building" is a Training Dummy. You'll need to collect a bunch of logs, maybe some rope, and of course some money in order to build it. Once it's built, it grants a permanent 5% bonus to how much experience all your characters gain. So a lot of the buildings work like that - they just make your whole team more powerful rather than actually being used for anything. Then as you collect more logs and money, you can bump into the Training Dummy again to upgrade it, increasing the XP bonus.

So you can kind of see how the game will push you to play with all the different classes and accomplish things, gradually making everybody more powerful. It's sort of like quests to accomplish, but nobody tells you "Bring me 10 logs and $50" - you decide for yourself that you should do that, since the Training Dummy requires that for an upgrade. In addition to those self-imposed quests, each class has a set of achievements to complete. Completing those earns you Stars (or maybe something else, but you know, a token of completion) which are the things you spend to buy new classes. The class achievements include one or two that are unique to the class, and then some obvious generic ones like "Beat the final boss" and "Reach level 50". There will be enough low-level goals that you will be able to add on character classes pretty quickly at first, but there will also be special high-end classes that cost a whole lot of stars. They won't necessarily be more powerful, just more complex to play, I think. You may also get a Gold Star (or whatever) for completing all the achievements of one class, and the high-end classes are priced in Gold Stars rather than regular.

This is a game that's really in its infancy still, though. Almost none of what I said above exists anywhere except on paper and in my head. I'm really scared for the moment when I tear out the skills to put in the ability to enter skills through a text file. That's going to involve ripping apart almost every file in the game, and not leaving much at all behind.
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Long Weekend02:24 PM -- Mon February 18, 2008

Ah, today is President's Day, so this is a long weekend here at Hamumu. I could have theoretically worked today, but I've had my computer set up in the living room all weekend, so I'm just hanging here while the lady plays Harvest Moon. Obviously there was also WoW earlier, and will be more later.

I am still doing lots of thinking about Titan Tunnels all the time. I know Happyponygate is where I really am expected to be laboring, but since that is actually labor, and TT is fun, I'll stick with it. I will put some time into the Gate this week at some point, though.

Here's another Titan Tidbit: One of the long-held RPG ideas I've had for many years (and way before WoW stole it from me!) was to have different classes use different forms of power. So that's something I'm looking to do in this one. Each class will have either one or two meters. A Necromancer would of course just have a Magic meter that works the usual way, while a Berserker might use both Stamina and Rage. Here's the different meter concepts I have so far:

Stamina - Just like in Loonyland 2, it's a meter that builds up very quickly over time. Unlike LL2, attacking will be free normally, and Stamina is spent only on special attacks. However, some skills will add Stamina cost to the attack itself, but again unlike LL2, running out of Stamina won't actually stop your attack. It just stops the extra features that those skills gave you. A basic attack is always available.

Magic - The classic. Refills slowly over time, spend it to cast spells.

Rage - Not a meter at all, but rather a row of skulls that you collect. Each time you kill an enemy, there's a chance of getting a skull (and of course skills that increase the odds). It's not an item you carry or anything, just a symbol that goes in the meter (it's not meant to actually be a skull, sicko). You spend skulls to use your abilities.

Resolve - This one is specifically for a highly defensive class. It builds up when you get hit, faster with more damaging attacks. It drains over time. So the more you get beaten on, the more Resolve you have to strike back with.

Wealth - This one's a little goofy, but I like it conceptually for certain classes (thief and merchant mainly). It increases by 1 for every coin you pick up, and you spend it to use your abilities - things like summoning mercenaries and planting traps (stuff that seems like it should cost money!). But the important thing to note is that you aren't spending money. It's just your Wealth meter you are using up. It goes up as you get coins, it's not actually the coins themselves. I think that concept might be tough for players, but I don't think it's fair for a class to literally rely on money as their weapon. They'd either be wasting money they need for important upgrades, and in a constant downward spiral, or they'd be using millions of dollars accumulated by your other characters and never have to worry about limitations on their power at all.

Them's the meters. There may be more, there may be less. Just ideas!
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It's ALIIIIVE!03:24 PM -- Fri February 15, 2008

I just compiled Titan Tunnels successfully, and ran it! Now, it doesn't particularly work as a game, but it does run and function in a general sense. Pretty amazing, and much sooner than I expected. There's still miles of guts that need to be pulled out and new miles that need to be grafted in, but it's a start.

This trip back into the Tunnels all began last week, when I was playing my Warlock in WoW. I was having a moment of particularly relishing dishing out DoTs. DoT stands for Damage Over Time - it refers to spells/attacks that work like poison. They gradually inflict damage over time, rather than a big hit. The Warlock has a bunch of them, so a fight as a Warlock generally consists of throwing a bunch of DoTs on your victim, and then waiting as he inevitably dies (and your demon smacks him around). It's pretty satisfying.

I was thinking how I'd like to be doing that in my game, but that it's not really available in LL2. There are certainly some DoTs there (poison, mainly, but also Ignite and Drain, and you could consider the Cryozoid to be one in a way), but I just had this image in my head of a class I would call a Corruptor, built entirely around rotting his enemies away before his eyes (not the most heroic of classes). But there are already 100 skills in Titan Tunnels, I can't add more without making the skill list even more ridiculously annoying to page through. And anyway, the classes only had a few skills (you could obtain all 100 skills, but you only got 3 "Primary Skills" that define your class).

So that led me down a whole new mental path, and here is my new Titan Tunnels vision, which is quite different. Now, you do not get 100 skills at all. You pick your class, and you get 30 skills broken into 3 pages. Talents are removed from the game - skills can pick up the slack. If you want to do 30% more fire damage, you'll put points into a skill that does that. So now there will be a lot more than 100 different skills, but each character will only have 30 to deal with.

The game is not about Loony - these are some other random heroes that you name, and there will be a variety of different looks for the different classes. The game is now about obtaining the different classes (by completing goals) and building up a little encampment/town where they all live. Things like alchemy and junksmithing are no longer talents you have, they are something your town has. Each character you get adds something new to the town, like the alchemy cauldron for example. You can then use that thing with any character, and level it up gradually as you do. You of course also have a shared stash between the characters. So while there's a goal to go kill the big boss monster at the bottom of the random dungeon, the real overarching goal is to accomplish everything with each character, working together as a team. A team of people who never speak to each other or interact in any way other than trading items.

It's kind of a combination of a bunch of different RPG ideas I've had, including some elements I haven't mentioned here, but will someday tell you about. It's basically taking the metagame that I personally play with RPGs (make one of every class, and share their gear so that when my warrior finds a magic wand, it's not disappointing - I've got a wizard who can use it!), and making that the official game. It may not be how you like to play games, but that's why I'm the one making it!

And by the way, the Corruptor will have a pet called a Rotweiler (spelled that way). Get it? That's entertaining!
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Hack n' Slash07:33 PM -- Thu February 14, 2008

In more ways than one. Today, I was whacking away at the Titan Tunnels code (but I'm pretty sure the finished product won't be called that now), really changing stuff around internally. It still doesn't compile, but some nifty new elements are coming together. Nothing that is interesting to a player, but fun and worth doing to me.

I'm completely changing how skills work, and it's rather possible that a bunch of the existing LL2 skills won't be possible under the new system. The upside is that hundreds of new skills will be possible and present. I'm moving skills out of the code and into a text file. Now I'm not really sure that this file will be editable by humans after release, because I want to avoid a situation where everybody just modifies Axe Mastery to grant +100 damage per level. If I can find a way to lock down the official game, but then you can edit all you want to create your own unofficial "worlds", that's what I want to do. The only real problem I see with that is that I'd need to provide the original text files as a base. That would be fine, the only problem is that it would mean spoiling every surprise that is to come. I don't like that too much, but it'd probably be worth it.

Here's a weird and unprecedented idea - the text file could be encrypted, and winning the game gives you the prize of decrypting it. Kinda strange, and not something the casual user would even care about, or understand.

Anyway, here's a totally separate thing that also fits the title. When you play LL2, do you rely on holding down the fire button to continuously attack, or do you often find that you are tapping it? I'm considering the bold move of removing autofire. It would give me a new thing I could use for skills - holding down the button to charge up. There are a lot of good uses for that, but it does mean you wouldn't be able to chop away without pounding on the key. I think that might be too much of a sacrifice.
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Strawberry Flavored Crunchlets07:39 PM -- Wed February 13, 2008

That title is the 3rd ingredient in the cereal I was just snacking on. That's the record for oddest thing in an ingredients list that I have witnessed. Seems like that must violate some labeling law. Maybe the fact that they followed it with parentheses containing all the actual ingredients of said crunchlets made it legal.

This is my jury duty week. It's working out well so far - Called on the weekend and they said to call Monday. Called on Monday and they said to call Wednesday (woo, skipped a day!). Called tonight and they said to call Thursday. So it has been quite easy service so far. That's how CA jury duty works (or at least in San Diego and Riverside counties, but I think it's statewide). You call in and they tell you if you have to come in. I and my wife have each had this twice now, and it's been all calls and no go every time. So I'm hoping for that this time, but since I was able to get them to move it to a much closer court, I'm not concerned either way. Could be a fun and unique experience! Still, my vote goes to "sit at home and play WoW".

I mean work.
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Hamumu News02:15 PM -- Tue February 12, 2008

Things are slow of late. If you're wondering how pathetic I am, this is a reliable measure: yesterday, I activated the Parental Controls on my WoW account, to prevent me from playing before 3pm on weekdays (that might also answer the question as to why I am writing this right now - waiting...). It has truly become that horrible addiction you hear about. But with those controls set up, and the willpower not to go in and adjust them, I've got most of the day clear for work.

So that means I worked today, but not a lot. I'm really hung up on the driving controls in Happyponygate. I haven't actually put a lot of real time into them, but I keep tweaking and not being happy with them, and I've probably spent 10 hours in the past week just thinking about them, as I was driving places or laying in bed. I'm so much not happy with them that I dropped it for a long while today and spent a couple hours back working on Titan Tunnels! That is much more fun. I think I will alternate between them, because forcing myself to do this Happyponygate stuff just burns me out.

So that's what's going on. The WoW addiction is extreme and troublesome, but it has been chained up to an extent. It's odd because I don't want to be addicted to it, but I definitely don't want to stop playing it. It's really quite entertaining, and I have no desire to have the desire not to play it, if you see what I mean. I just want to be able to be productive despite playing it. I suppose that's the point of it being addictive. If it wasn't fun, I really wouldn't be interested in playing. Hmm, indeed.
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Heroes Mafia, Pt. 405:26 PM -- Sat February 9, 2008

These are the leftovers - minor characters and season 2 characters. There are still very powerful roles here, but there are a couple fairly dull repeats (not my fault - Heroes season 2 had some new Heroes with the same powers!), and honestly from this point on, I just haven't put as much thought into them.

MOLLY WALKER
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Your special power is the ability to know where any person is, just by thinking about them. Each night, you may PM me the name of a player you want to locate.
NOTE: This is a tracking ability - it will tell you if they stayed home, or if they were in someone else's house for whatever reason - but there are a lot of possible reasons!
SYLAR: unchanged.

MEREDITH GORDON
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Your special power is pyrokinesis. Every other night, you can PM the name of a player whose house you wish to burn down. Anyone in that house that night gets crispy.
SYLAR: unchanged.

SANJOG IYER
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Your power is the ability to appear in other peoples' dreams. Each night, PM me someone you wish to say something to, and you will appear in their dreams telling them that. They don't know which player it came from.
SYLAR: unchanged... which means the recipient sees the message as coming from Sanjog! It is a dream after all, you don't have to look like yourself.

ELLE BISHOP
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Your power is electricity. Each night, you can PM me to electrocute any player in the morning, disabling any day ability they may have, and preventing them from voting that day. They may still talk, and they know they've been electrocuted, but not by whom. This has no effect on night powers.
SYLAR: unchanged

HANA GITELMAN
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Your power is to intercept and generate wireless electronic signals... somehow. PM me each day with someone whose vote you wish to intercept. Their vote will be counted as a vote for whoever you vote for, though nobody will know this.
SYLAR: unchanged.

MAURY PARKMAN
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Your power is telepathy, just like your son Matt Parkman. But you have twisted it to evil ends! Twice during the game at night, you may PM me with the name of someone you would like to put into a living nightmare for the evening. They will be unable to do anything that night.
SYLAR: unchanged, still grants two uses.

WEST ROSEN
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
You have the power of flight! You may choose to fly away any time during the day by PMing me. Doing this makes you too tired to do it again the next day, and everybody sees you do it, so they know you have the power. But it prevents you from being lynched that day, or affected by any night powers that night. You can only choose to do this during the day, before the last vote is cast, so be prepared!
SYLAR: unchanged.

ALEJANDRO HERRERA (Only in the game if Maya is)
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Your power is simply to stop the deadly virus your sister Maya creates when she gets upset. You can also PM with Maya any time you wish during the game.
SYLAR: no effect.

MAYA HERRERA (Only in the game if Alejandro is)
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Your power is a deadly virus that you emit when you get upset. There's only one thing that will make you so upset - your brother Alejandro's death! Coincidentally, his only power is to cure your virus. If Alejandro is killed or sent to Primatech Paper, you must choose 2 players to accidently fatally infect. Both of them will sadly die after a day and night pass. Their disease will be publicly announced.
You can PM anytime with Alejandro during the game.
If you are killed or sent away, no harm is done.
SYLAR: a one-time use, immediately upon killing Maya, to infect any one other player (and not take their power).

ADAM MONROE (Only in the game if either Lindermann or Maury is)
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You have a unique goal - you want to dispose of Lindermann or Maury Parkman. You win only if either is sent to Primatech Paper.
Your power is regeneration. If you are killed by Sylar or sent away to Primatech, you will return to the game after another day and night have passed.
SYLAR: Since he can't permanently kill him, he can't take his power.

And that's the end! Now you know Heroes Mafia. Maya may seem excessively unfortunate for the Heroes, but it's not likely to have a hugely big impact actually, just because of how short the game is anyway. Still, it is pretty scary! Meredith also seems pretty scary, but since the odds are that she will hurt rather than help the goodguys, I'm not sure it's too bad. And limiting it to every other night is probably more limiting than saying you can do it twice, since any given person isn't all that likely to be around more than the first two nights. As for Adam, I pretty much just don't like him, and besides, I don't want to have 2 regeneratorizers. I might even strike him from the potential list before playing.

I don't know, it's all down to playtesting, but I sure get really excited thinking about how it would go. Anybody hosting Mafia is very welcome to use this game. It is what I'm going to try when my turn finally comes around, anyway.

Oh, I also have a list of 8 more roles, but none of their powers made for good gameplay (or any gameplay at all, usually), so they'd effectively be vanilla townies. There's no reason to include vanilla townies in a game like this, so it'd be silly to use them. It also would water down the benefit of knowing the list of possible roles if there were another 8 roles to consider. Like there aren't enough already!

I considered the idea of a scoring system too. Isaac obviously has his set up already. The Heroes in general would score 1 point for each one of them Still Alive when Sylar was defeated (regardless of whether they are personally alive - it's a team effort, people!). Sylar would be 1 point for each person he kills, plus maybe 3 points if he actually wins (because 4 kills is likely the maximum, and actually winning it is really hard for him!). This system would allow the 'half-credit' concept of Nathan and Lindermann to actually mean something, too (and some bunch of points for those two if they actually reach their special goal). Then a character with the power to make gold (one of the rejected roles) could be fun - he could PM the host to offer gold (points) to other players if they do what he wants. An interesting twist!

That's it! Good to get it off my chest at last. We now return to your normal journal, already in progress.
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Heroes Mafia, Pt. 308:53 AM -- Fri February 8, 2008

Still more roles! This isn't the last batch either, but some of the more interesting ones are here, so read on.

EDEN MCCAIN
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Your power is the ability to "push" people. This lets you command them to do things. Once each day, you may control one player's vote. Just PM me anytime during the day (or the night before if you wish), and I will contact that player, telling them they are required to vote that way. If they've already voted differently, they have to change their vote. They may say anything they want, including "I didn't want to vote this way!", but they must place the vote as told. You can't change your choice for the day, so choose wisely the first time.
SYLAR POWER: unchanged.

PETER PETRELLI
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
You have a very unique power - you are an Empath. This means that if you come into contact with another Hero, you copy their power, permanently. Each day, you may choose one person to hang out with. At nightfall, you will gain that person's power. You can only use one of your borrowed powers each night, if you have multiple night powers. Be warned that hanging out with Sylar is fatal.
If you obtain day powers from someone, you can also use one of your acquired day powers each day.
The person you hang out with doesn't know that you hung out with them. I don't know how that's possible, but it is.
NOTE: Peter can't take the Haitian's power, of course, since he nullifies powers.
SYLAR: Sylar just takes all the powers Peter took. He does not get the Empath ability.

NATHAN PETRELLI
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You have a different goal than the other players. You must survive the game to win, and either Peter or Sylar must explode (not be defeated by other means). This is not an easy goal at all, so you get half-credit if the Heroes win.
You are in communication with Lindermann, and may PM him all you like during the game to discuss achieving your mutual goal. He is the only other player who shares your goal.
You have the power of flight! You may choose to fly away any time during the day by PMing me. Doing this makes you too tired to do it again the next day, and everybody sees you do it, so they know you have the power. But it prevents you from being lynched that day, or affected by any night powers that night. You can only choose to do this during the day, before the last vote is cast, so be prepared!
NOTE: If Ted is not in the game, Nathan has the normal Hero goal.
SYLAR: unchanged.

LINDERMANN
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You have a different goal than the other players. You must survive the game to win, and either Peter or Sylar must explode (not be defeated by any other means). This is not an easy goal at all, so you get half-credit if the Heroes win.
You are in communication with Nathan Petrelli, and may PM him all you like during the game to discuss achieving your mutual goal. He is the only other player who shares your goal.
You have the power of healing. You may PM me each night with a player you wish to protect (other than yourself). If they are killed during the night or the following day (being sent to Primatech Paper is not being killed), you will prevent it. Sylar will still get their power if he attacks them, though!
NOTE: If Ted is not in the game, Lindermann has the normal Hero goal.
SYLAR: If something would kill Sylar (not turning him over to Primatech Paper), it fails as he heals himself. This is handled invisibly, so if he places the last vote on Ted for example, nobody ever knows that Ted was explosive, since nobody dies. Sylar is PMed to be told of this when it happens.

INVISIBLE BRITISH GUY ("Claude Rains")
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
You have the ability to become invisible! To do so, simply do not post anything for the entire day. As long as you do this, you will be invisible and no powers may target you (that day or the following night). When invisible, you can still be voted out, but it takes 75% of the players voting against you to detect you, 50% is not enough (rounded down, so you can never be 100% safe).
SYLAR: unchanged.

MOHINDER SURESH
You are a geneticist, studying the Hero phenomenon. You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Each night, you may study one player's DNA. PM me the player's name you wish to investigate. This will tell you what power they have. If they have more than one power for some reason, you will only learn of one. This is not some strange power you have, it's simple scientific ability. Sylar cannot take it from you.
NOTE: Studying Sylar makes me PM Sylar to ask him which of his powers he wishes to demonstrate. That's the only power that Mohinder will see.
SYLAR: Sylar can't take this power - it's not a power!

ISAAC MENDEZ
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You have your own unique goal.
Your power is to paint images of the future. PM me each night telling me who you think Sylar will attack that night (he need not succeed), and who you think will be lynched the next day. For each one you get right, you gain a point.
You win the game if you get 5 points or more. You do not have to survive to win, but the longer you survive, the more painting you get to do, so the more chances to get your points!
SYLAR POWER: This is not of any use to Sylar.

I think Isaac is my favorite role. Playing as him would be almost as fun as being Sylar.
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Heroes Mafia, Pt. 212:32 PM -- Thu February 7, 2008

More roles...

NIKI/JESSICA SANDERS
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
You have a split personality, which is unfortunate, since your evil side (Jessica) has superhuman strength. Initially, you are Niki. Each night, if you wish to change, you may PM me. You can change every night, but you remain in the chosen personality until the next night.
When you are Niki, you are a normal Hero.
When you are Jessica, your vote counts as 3 votes, but your posts may not contain anything except a screaming rant against the person you are voting for (which also means you can't post without voting). You will be modkilled if you post anything that doesn't fit!
Whichever form you are in, if you are voted out, you will flip out and become Jessica, murdering the person who placed the last vote against you! Primatech Paper still manages to subdue you in the end, though.
SYLAR: Sylar does not have split personality, just super strength. So his vote ups to count as 2 once he steals her power, permanently.

MICAH SANDERS
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Your special power is command over technology. Once in the game, you can PM me during the day to rig the election. This lets you decide who will be sent to Primatech Paper all by yourself!
SYLAR: unchanged. Even if Micah has used the power, Sylar may still use it once.

D.L. HAWKINS
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Your power is to walk through walls. This means that any attempt to turn you over Primatech Paper will fail miserably, as you walk right back out. It does not help you against Sylar, however.
SYLAR: With this power, Sylar can dodge one lynch, but the next attempt will succeed.

CANDICE WILMER
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Your power is shapeshifting. Each night, you may choose someone to assume the form of. PM me with your choice. If any action is performed on the person you choose, it affects you both. If an action is performed on you, it misses, since you can't be found. You don't have to shapeshift if you wish to remain yourself.
NOTE: Inspecting a shifted Candice or her duplicate gives the result of just the duplicate's power, since Candice's is hidden.
SYLAR: unchanged.

THE HAITIAN
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Your power is immunity. No powers work against you at all.
NOTE: Sylar can't kill the Haitian, since without his powers, he's a dork. Sylar wins when he and the Haitian are the only remaining players. The Haitian can be disposed of by Primatech Paper.

TED SPRAGUE
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
You have radioactive powers, but they are highly unstable and hard to control. If you are voted to be sent to Primatech Paper, you will get so upset that you lose control and explode, destroying yourself and the last person who voted for you.
While you have very little control over your power, other people who obtain your power would have NO control, due to the lack of experience with it. This means that if someone gets your power, a countdown will begin. The game will continue for 2 more days and 2 more nights. After that, the person with your power will explode, killing all the players at once. Sylar wins if this happens. This can only be prevented by defeating Sylar before the explosion.
NOTE/SYLAR: If Peter is the one ticking, sending him to Primatech will also defuse the problem. If he is killed by Sylar, the countdown continues as Sylar takes the power from him. The Ted effect of blowing up the last voter remains for Peter and Sylar.

Sorry the formatting isn't so nice - all the lovely tabs from my paragraphs are lost to HTML and replicating them is a pain.
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Heroes Mafia, Pt. 106:19 PM -- Wed February 6, 2008

Blah, I am sick. Somehow I find it more restful to play WoW than to work, even though the two are identical physically. Well, mental strain or something, how about? Today is level 28 day on WoW! All 10 characters are level 28 at last.

So, I am going to share with you, for your critique and interest, Heroes Mafia. I'm really excited about it, so this is fun for me! I think it should work as written now, but it's never been played, and the balance will really have to be seen through playtesting. I consider it a different game than Mafia, though it's obviously very much based on Mafia. Unlike most Mafia games, all the roles are clearly stated and people can see exactly what they do, so presenting them here won't be ruining anything. There are a TON of roles in it, so I am going to roll them out a few at a time. Since this is the first day, let's introduce the basic rules and the most important role as well as a couple others:

THE RULES

Each day, the Heroes vote a person to turn over to Primatech Paper, where they will be dealt with in some unknown way, definitely putting them out of commission. Each night, Sylar kills one of them. The Heroes win by turning Sylar over to Primatech, Sylar wins by killing them all (except The Haitian, if he is playing). There are NO LAST GASPS. There are a variety of powers that affect how many votes it takes to send someone away, so while players will be notified how many players are alive and thus how many votes would be 50%, they are advised to realize that 50% might not be the required vote count, it may be more or less for various reasons. The host doesn't reveal how many actual votes there are, to protect the anonymity of people with multi-vote powers.

The game begins with a full night, kill included. There are 8-10 players, with roles that are randomly chosen from the list below (the host may decide which roles will be used in the game). Players know what the possible roles are, but not which ones are in the game. Choosing a good set of roles is very important. Sylar needs to get very powerful very quickly, and the players need to not have good defenses against him. He is all alone, after all. No Lynch is an allowed vote.

Anyone sent to Primatech Paper or killed by Sylar will NOT have their role stated publicly. If you want people to know what you can do, you need to tell them when you are alive.

THE ROLES

SYLAR
You are a serial killer with the power to steal the powers of anyone you kill. For some reason, you are restraining yourself to a single kill each night. PM me with your choice of victim each night. When you kill someone, the next morning when the kill is posted, you'll be PMed about your new power. Your ability to use it may differ slightly from the original owner's ability, but usually it will be the same. You may always use all of your powers (subject to their particular limitations).
You are the only killer in this game, and it is your goal to wipe out all of the Heroes. This will be very hard, since they vastly outnumber you and have powers they can rely on. Because of this, you will need to plan extremely carefully and always keep all of your abilities in mind. They will help you enormously to overcome the odds, but only if you remember to use them, and use them well.
Your one other ability is not a magical one - it is sociopathic criminal intellect. With this ability, you can evade being captured the first day. If you are voted out, it will simply fail. This will of course still leave you looking pretty suspicious, but there is one other role that has this ability, and it still beats losing right away.

CLAIRE BENNET
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Your power is regeneration. If you are killed by Sylar or sent away to Primatech, you will return to the game after another day and night have passed.
SYLAR: Since he can't permanently kill her, he can't take her power. (ed. note: the "SYLAR:" section under each character describes how his version of their power differs from the original)

MATT PARKMAN
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
You have the power to read minds. PM me during the night with someone's mind you want to read. You will hopefully learn something useful from this!
NOTE: Host makes up thoughts for him to hear, something that gives a clue regarding the victim's power. The Haitian of course is not readable, and if Peter has Parkman's power, they just get feedback. Reading Sylar's mind is not very helpful, but gives some vague clue.
SYLAR: unchanged

HIRO NAKAMURA
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
Your power is control over the space-time continuum. This means that once in the game, you may go back in time to prevent one of Sylar's killings. This will bring that player back and take their power away from Sylar. Due to the limitations of reality, we can't actually undo everything that happened as a result of the killing, so that's all that it does. PM me at any time when you wish to use this power, night or day. Remember it only works once!
Besides traveling back in time, you can also stop time. You can also only do this once. When you stop time, you end day with the current most-voted being disposed of. You can't do this if the votes are currently a tie, but you can of course place your own vote right before doing it. To do this, just PM me during the day when you want to do it. I will check the time on your PM and lynch according to what the votes were at that moment, even if they have changed since then.
In addition to all that, you can also communicate privately with Ando, your best friend. PM him anytime.
SYLAR: He can use the stop time power once (whether or not Hiro has done so). He can use the time travel power as well, but instead of preventing a killing, he can change one of his previous kills to a new victim of his choice (losing the first power and resurrecting the victim).

ANDO
You can place a vote each day to choose someone to turn over to Primatech Paper, ensuring their doom. You win if Sylar is defeated.
You have no special powers, except that you are Hiro's closest friend! You can PM with him all you like during the game to communicate privately.
If you are killed, Hiro will be so upset that he will make a reckless attempt to kill Sylar, resulting in his own death, and Sylar gaining his powers. Don't get killed. This does not happen if you are turned over to Primatech Paper.
*SYLAR POWER: Doesn't have one.

That's the first few roles. As you can see, everybody (except Ando) is quite powerful, though some much more than others. But most of all, they insidiously tend to be more helpful to Sylar (once taken) than to themselves. Except for Claire - she is one of a couple of really dangerous roles for Sylar to face (The Haitian is worse). Then there's Ando, a huge liability to the team (and if he tries to do the "hey, we're masons so we're good" thing, Sylar knows exactly who to target, and is guaranteed to claim Hiro's extremely strong power, and maybe get 2 kills in one).

There's a large element of randomness to this game, despite the absence of actual randomness. The people Sylar chooses to kill and the targets people choose for their various powers all mix it up to a great degree. It's not meant to be the highly structured, totally fair, game that Mafia is (supposed to be...). It's a quick bit of fun that may totally blow up in your face at times! In fact, when you see some of the later roles, you'll learn that it can do that literally. Even if it lasts the maximum time, it's still a shorter game than most Mafia. The best thing is that it creates 'stories'. You'll remember the time you happened to get that great power and fooled them all (okay, so mainly it's fun for Sylar). More to come tomorrow...
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Ich Bin Ein Voter08:00 AM -- Tue February 5, 2008

As I write this, my cat is eating my "I Voted" sticker. Now that's democracy. And now he's eating the stub of my vote that I got to keep. Truly, it is a super tuesday.

Today: newsletter at long last, Sleepless Hollow patch at longer last (nothing exciting in it, unless you like bugs to be fixed!), and a new add-on pack of 3 worlds that actually came out yesterday, but I'm going to announce them today. So let this be a reminder that if you aren't signed up for the newsletter, you need to be!
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No Shadows Here11:30 AM -- Mon February 4, 2008

This past Saturday (conveniently, February 2nd), my wife threw a Groundhog's Day party. It's a yearly tradition, which is mostly about chatting (chatting about teaching... zzzzz), but the purported focus is a hunt for groundhog shadows. That's little groundhogs cut out of black paper that we hide around the yard. The kids are supposed to find as many as they can, much like Easter Eggs. This year, though, only one set of kids showed up, and they had actually made the groundhogs themselves. Then they hid them. Then they found them. I guess that's not that exciting. I'm not sure why adults didn't do the hiding.

I know of at least one Hamumian that collects My Coke Rewards codes, so I am going to boldly post right here all the codes I got from the 12-packs we bought for the party. First-come, first-served. If you try a code and it doesn't work, someone else got it first (or I mistyped it, but we'll try to minimize that). So, enjoy los codigos:

PHRHBB 0H6PJ5
T5M59R PP6VWT
A7LKXR NKV965
BHH74 MVVNT HWWNB
(why is this one a different size? Same product as one of the other codes!)
5M4TVM XVL5TA
6MNH5X T0HHR5


Post in the comments if you're the one who grabbed these!
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