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Mini-LD!02:12 PM -- Fri May 30, 2008

Next weekend (June 6th), I am hosting a Mini-LD contest! It's a new thing over at Ludum Dare (lots of new things there lately). It's just like a normal 48-hour contest, except the host gets to dictate what the theme is, can tweak the rules, and set the time. It is scheduled to happen every month except the months where a real LD48 contest is happening. So a little taste of LD48 is always available, none of that crazy 6-month waiting. There's a host list to sign up to host it, just like our own Mafia games.

I haven't figured out what theme/challenge I'm going to use just yet. I have one idea that's pretty interesting, but might be too hard to use. But one thing I have done (see link above) is announce the rule modifications I'll be using. And this might be a good chance for people who feel afraid of real LD48s to get started and give it a try! For this contest, the rules are relaxed and you can use absolutely anything you want (that's legal), instead of having to start from scratch. Heck, you could modify one of my own old LD48 games, since the source is available here. So I'm encouraging anyone with some hope of creating something to give it a shot. It's a good way to get started in the world of 48-hour development. And by the way, it is not judged, so you are your only critic.

You don't need to do any signing up to participate, other than to create an account at the Ludum Dare site. Come on by, it's next weekend.
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A Series Of Tubes02:31 PM -- Thu May 29, 2008

I'm currently in a very unproductive phase of the Happy Pony Project, but not because I'm not doing work. On the contrary, I'm working like crazy, it's just not yielding results. Not visible ones, anyway. I have been hacking away at internet stuff, and it is pretty fun to do, although usually very exasperating and confusing.

What I have achieved at long last is a miracle of modern technology: a server that doesn't recognize when people connect to it, but a client that does connect to the server! Or it connects to something anyway. If random characters start spilling out of your fax machine, that's me. But, on the positive side, the server can interact with my MySQL database, which is both awesome and a big deal. Equally big is the fact that I managed to create this server and get it running (with a lot of help) on unix. And best of all, it's cross-platform code - I first was testing it on my PC, connecting to myself, which does work. So I can test locally and run across the internet... eventually, once the internet part works.

There's also something else I did recently. I'm not going to link to it, but many people have heard about this stuff in the past - there are people who have developed homemade WoW servers, which is a pretty mind-boggling achievement. They of course made them in order to save $15 a month by pirating this stuff and hack the game up with all kinds of cheats, but that's not why I got it - I'm still paying my money, and I have my server set up for local play only, nobody can log onto it (and I didn't hack it much, I kept things fair! But I did do some tweaking... after all, I'm alone in the world, I can't make money auctioning things to suckers!). I'm sure even this use is probably also illegal, but only under the absolutely ludicrous and inhumane DMCA, so I don't care - it's definitely not any more immoral than taking apart your radio to see how it works.

So playing that offline (and tweaking it) is cool in itself, despite a large number of weird glitchy behaviors (hey, it's homemade), but the real cool part is that I get to see how these people did this. I am looking at the database structure and stuff, and seeing just how sort of semi-simple it really all is. Maybe there really could be a Loonyland MMO... this simple online stuff I'm doing for Happy Pony Fun Time is the first step, anyway!

The stuff I want to have for HPG is all possible just doing HTTP connections, but I wanted to delve deeper than that. It's about time I got a chat system in-game like I've always talked about doing, and I'm going to go from there. I want to do what I can to make this game a community experience instead of a loner adventure. Of course, it will always be a single-player game - nobody will ever be joining you on the battlefield. But wouldn't it be cool if you could buy and build a freakish monster, and then choose another player to unleash it on as a surprise, with a note attached? I also want auto-updating, because I hope to add more stuff to the game over time. No reason London can't magically expand over time!

Ah, but it all starts with getting this little text client to actually transmit "hi" from the computer to the server. Let's hope that can be achieved... someday.
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Election Results01:03 PM -- Tue May 27, 2008

It's heartening to know that in our official and scientific poll (note: that will only contain the poll results today, but you're welcome to keep on playing it for other things!), all the most important candidates for President were well represented:

OBAMA19
JAMUL11
CLINTON4*
ME3
HARISONFORD1
STUPID1
GORE1
OPRAH1
NOBODY1
MADONNA1
LINCOLN1
COLBERT1
MCCAIN1
CHTULHU1
HOBOMA1**
SCHWARZENEGGER1
NORRIS1
JONSTEWART1
BOUAPHA1

(* I lumped in a vote for "Hillary" with the Clinton votes - assuming that the vote for Hillary was not for Hillary Duff, and that the Clinton votes were not for Bill)
(** Hoboma is obviously his own separate entity, riding the rails and making inspirational speeches from boxcars across the country, and not a misspelling of Obama)

I find it somewhat disappointing that the obvious best candidates, Stewart and Colbert, each only received 1 vote, but at least they tied with Cthulhu. Still, to be fair - Dumbwords players know that the goal is to come up with what other people will come up with, not to state your own preference. So I'm sure at least 85% choose Stewart for themselves, but they figured Obama was a more likely guess. It's nice to know I came in second, too. I'm not announcing my intention run just yet, though. Anyway, this poll was a lot of fun... I wish I could come up with more similar questions to put on Dumbwords.

Things look a little iffy for McCain, being tied with both Stupid and Nobody (the anarchist vote?). Not to mention Lincoln, who is, by most common measures, deceased. And of course Cthulhu and Chuck Norris, both of whom would crush us all beneath their heel/tentacle if elected.

The weirdest part is how this extremely scientific internet poll managed to avoid being overwhelmed by Ron Paul supporters! Actually, scratch that, the real question is why is no one voting for Kodos?
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Imaginary Estate12:09 PM -- Fri May 23, 2008

I'm feeling like I'm at kind of a stuck point in Happyponygate. It's a point where some design is needed. There are still a lot of things I could be doing - dozens more enemies to make, bosses, tiles, objects, tutorial system, talking to people, even just plain coins you can pick up! Tons. But there's just an overarching element absent, so I've been moving into a design phase to get it cleared up a little.

What I focused on today so far is what you do with money. Since you will be collecting coins all over the place, you need a reason. And it needs to be compelling and last for at least most of the game. In addition to that, there's an issue that you have an inventory which holds something like 200 items... so what on earth will those items be? It's an awfully big spot just to hold different colors of jellybeans. So I'm working on that.

On the issue of items, I've done a pretty bad job so far. But as for things to spend your money on, I've got a huge thing going. However, it's a lot of work. This is something I intended from the beginning, but while some of it is simple, some very isn't. Anyway, it's buying buildings. There will* be some buildings/houses with For Sale signs. Bump those to buy them if you have the huge amount of coins needed.

The simplest building is one submitted to the Funtest - The Maple Syrup Factory. Once you buy it, it generates money (no need to explain exactly how the syrup is getting shipped, or who is watching over the factory as it runs). Come back to it any time to collect your earnings. Then there are more complex ones. I'm gonna tell you about the most complex one, that probably just about doubles the development time. But it's something I've wanted to have in there since the beginning in some form: Houses.

Buying a house involves the internet. Only one person can own each house (caveat to come), and when you buy it, it enables the editor. You can use the editor to build a level, in standard Supreme style, though with a different set of limitations (for one, I think you'll need to 'capture' all the enemies you want to use before you can use them, so it doesn't spoil the game for you). Then other players walk over and bump into your house and they can enter it (it downloads from the internet when they do). So a chance to make your own stuff, though only one level instead of as many worlds as you like. You just keep expanding and refining your level. You could divide it up into a bunch of mini-levels with teleporters to let the player choose.

The ownership caveat is this: there are only so many houses to buy, so once all are owned, you can buy one someone else owns and be Roomies with them. That just means that when someone visits that house, it asks them which 'room' to visit, instead of knowing automatically. Then once every house has 2 Roomies, a 3rd can join, and so on. So no limit on how many 'rooms' there can be, but it is one per person.

It would save your work on your computer, then when you decide you like it, you hit "Upload" and it replaces the one online. I guess there would be some kind of rating system and stuff too (for both difficulty and quality), to make it fun. And heck, why not, in the process of adding a comment system to those ratings, make each person's house sort of like a bulletin board for that person, like the shoutboxes people have on web pages. You could comment on what the level's like, or just say hi.

That's an incredibly huge concept. I like it a lot, though. And if we had that level of internet connectivity, might as well add a trading post where people can list items for sale (or can you buy stores around town and use them for that purpose, much like the house system?). Of course, in order to justify that, there need to be a variety of interesting items in the game, which is the other thing I have to be figuring out! When I think about the trading concept, I think the game would be too small to warrant it. It's not an MMO where you'd keep on going forever... but then, with the house-building, maybe it is. You'll always need more ingredients to cook things that buff you up if you are trying out everybody's different and ever-changing levels. I don't know. Just stuff to be thunk upon, and lots of it.

An idea I had way back when was that you could buy a house and lay it out, but it would just be a small room, one screen big or so. And what you'd do is buy various furniture and stuff. It'd just be about decorating (like Animal Crossing), not about making a level. I like this level-building idea much better, but maybe the furniture thing could still be part of it - why not? You could still buy special furniture and things (special enemies, too), and you might be special as the only person who got the purple couch, because it's a rare drop from Super Choco Beast. Interesting prospect. And supports the trading idea. I really could go on about this for hours. I am not easy to shut up.

* If this actually gets implemented. It's just ideas.
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Sneak Peek: Happyponygate11:57 AM -- Wed May 21, 2008



A few bits of interest. The mission system is now complete and fully functional (well, the one existing mission works - I'll need new capabilities to handle other types of missions...). As you can see in the shot by the handy checkmark (which obnoxiously overlaps the sword on the icon), I have completed the one mission! It's not a very hard one. The big inset shot shows the mission bouncing up and down in the world. You just grab that and it tells you what the mission is and starts the timer counting down.

The other inset shot just shows two things: first, I finally made some icons for the skills! They're very simple, but I like them. A lot more than I like the cheesy pixel-art icons the missions have. And secondly, it now counts your points in skills by those little spots running up the side of the icons.

Oh, and there's the new crosshair, better than a cookie! "Green Computer" is sort of the stylistic theme of this game. Kind of a weird conflict with the whole happy pony thing, but hey, that's their style, not Bouapha's.
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Happyponygoals04:22 PM -- Tue May 20, 2008

Too late to get a picture today, but there's a major new system in Happyponygate. It doesn't look like much, but still a lot of work was involved. It's not done yet by any means, either, but as the name of this post implies, it is the Goal/Mission system. I think I'm calling them missions, although at this point the pause menu calls them Goals.

You obtain missions in one of two ways: you get the story missions automatically as you go along. As soon as you complete one, the next one is assigned. It's just a linear series of a few missions. There's also another type of mission you get automatically, as you will see in a moment. All the rest of the missions, the vast majority, are obtained by finding the mission icon in the world. They sit there bouncing up and down, as mission icons tend to, so exploring around and finding them all is part of the game. I think that makes for a much more interesting 'hidden goodie' than just coins or packages.

Missions come in 3 types:

Timed Missions - Anytime you pick up a timed mission, all the other mission icons in the world turn transparent and you can't pick them up until you fail or succeed at your timed mission. These are things like "Beat 20 Marshmallow Men in 30 seconds" and other things.

Normal Missions - Well, they're normal. You can have tons of these at a time, and be working towards them all. All of the story missions are normal, as are lots of the non-story missions. A simple example would be "Beat 500 enemies" - you're always making progress toward that.

Mini-Missions - Unlike the other two types, these are repeatable all you like, and automatically start up when you enter a vehicle that is appropriate to them (maybe there will be other mini-missions, but right now it's just car-based ones). There are some wacky ideas I have for these, but they are obviously inspired by Grand Theft Auto, and often are just what you'd think: Get in a taxicab, and you can deliver Gumdrop Guys around town for money (same rules as Crazy Taxi, pretty much). Get in a police car and you get a combat mission, made tricky by the fact that you lose if you get out of the car or it gets destroyed. These missions will be randomly generated, and just something you can do any time for fun and money. Failing these missions is totally harmless, so you can always use these special vehicles just like normal vehicles if you want.

All the missions belong in one of 5 categories: Hero, Vandal, Racer, Warrior, and Helper (I hate that last name, but I can't think of a better way of describing it). So if you get a mission to go smash a bunch of mailboxes, that's a Vandal mission. Completing missions of a given type gives you points of that type. I don't yet have a particular reason why you want these points yet, except that 5 of the missions are "Get 10,000 points of this type". I'll come up with something a little more substantial eventually, but mainly they're just there to accumulate as you play. I also may give out points of the different types as you play - 1 Vandal Point for every object you smash, 1 Warrior point for every enemy beaten, 1 Racer Point for every few seconds spent driving faster than a certain speed, and I don't know what for the other two.

So that's a very major part of the game. It's also very incomplete and just barely begun (similar to all the other parts). I hope to have literally hundreds of missions, but it'll probably be a bit of work to come up with them, so I have no idea how many will make it in. But hey, I managed to finally make a crosshair today!

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Your Real Face09:53 AM -- Mon May 19, 2008

Everybody knows when a telemarketer calls you, that they are bothering you. They know it as well as you do. You don't want to talk to them. I don't even know why companies use telemarketing, I guess there must be some sales made that way, and probably a lot to justify that kind of expense and ill will. But anyway, they call up and act totally obnoxious. They talk right over you, and when you very clearly say you don't want what they offer, they explain why you are wrong. For a loong time, even though at the end of their repetitive spiel, you're obviously just going to say "still no".

But when they call, I'm totally polite to them. I don't interrupt their spiel or anything, I just wait for them to actually stop, minutes later, and then say "No thanks, I'm not interested." And this just happened, but it's happened before more than once too - they hang up on me (of course, this is the second run of their spiel - their flowchart tells them to give it twice and then hang up if they are still not making headway). Once they know they aren't going to get the sale, their time is valuable. They want their commissions, so they drop you like a bad habit and go. Because saying "Alright, have a great day, goodbye!" would be too much work. No, they show their real face. They are people who hate the people they call, because day after day, they make these calls and whether the person they call shows it openly or not, the victim hates them. Everybody hates telemarketers, it's not a tricky thing to figure out. So every day they call people who hate them and harass those people. I imagine that's very unpleasant for them. I wish they'd stop for everyone's sake.

So anyway, my point is this: It's bad! I stayed polite the whole time, acting completely kind, because to me it matters what people think of me (to an unhealthy point, but that's a separate issue). These people are willfully destroying their potential customer base. Nobody who's been hung up on by a company is going to go back later and say "Hey, what was that company again? I think I'll check them out." Maybe they could change their flowchart - "End every call with 'Okay, but if you ever need X in the future, think of Teletronic Industries!'" Not that I'd deal with a company that telemarketed me in the first place, but the odds are better at least. The irony is that it didn't matter what he thought of me. He wasn't going to buy games from me, and I would never interact with him on the street. I just personally didn't want to be thought of as a jerk. He had no such qualms. It's a nasty world.

One last more specific note: When I said "No, I don't want a new merchant account, thanks" (nevermind that it would take weeks to change over!), he explained to me that he wasn't offering me that. He was trying to give me a free service of comparing how much money I pay now with what I'd pay on his service. Think that one through a minute - I rejected his product without even knowing how much or little it was and yet somehow I would be interested in spending my time discussing what the differences were. Now obviously, what he really means is "let me convince you by showing you how much better ours is", but that's not what he said. He said no, here's a free service, don't you want the free service? Which is moronatronic! That's like sitting around discussing whether Superman or Batman would win in a fight (Superman - he's literally invincible. Unless Batman gets a piece of kryptonite, in which case Superman is absolutely helpless. Not a very interesting fight either way) - it just doesn't matter and it's a waste of time! And it's not even fun like discussing superhero matchups might be.
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Sneak Peek: Happyponygate10:09 AM -- Thu May 15, 2008

Well, I guess I did make that WoW-style talent system, after all! I call it Skills though, to fool people into thinking it's different. I just had so much fun building up the ideas for the different skills, I went with it.

This shot shows the Pause screen, if you flip it to the Skills tab (see tabs at the bottom). Obviously, the skills don't have icons yet - those boxes won't be blank! The headers will also be nicer looking than that plain green font. I'm also going to have little dots running up the sides of the icons to show how many points you've put in, instead of the numbers they currently have.

So, how it works is simple. If you played WoW, you already know all of this, but basically, there are 4 Skill sets - Choco, Cute, Snuggle, and Sweet (okay, that part's not in WoW). As you can see, the skills are greyed out below the top row, until you spend some points. You need to spend 5 points in a given skill set to unlock the 2nd row, 10 points for the 3rd row, and so on. That encourages you to pick one set and focus on it, so you can get to the good stuff at the bottom. Unlike WoW, every skill can have 5 points in it. You hover the mouse over a skill to see the details.

You gain 1 Skill Point per level, so it's possible to get 98 Skill Points (maybe a few more from missions, I am not sure), and there are currently 52 skills (2 of which are not yet invented...), so that means you could put about 2 points in every single skill, if you wanted to be extremely widespread. You definitely wouldn't do that, I hope, and so if you max out one set, that's 65 points spent, leaving you enough for a smallish investment in one other set (enough points to get all the way to the bottom of it, though, should you choose!). I like that, very much a choice to be made. And you needn't worry about making bad choices and ruining your game - this is no RPG. You could probably win it without ever spending a single skill point. Not that it would be easy! But I will probably add a Skill Reset you can buy for lots of Canadian moolah. I always hate to do that, because it discourages you from playing the game over - why do that when you can just reset and try out a new build right away?

Anyway, here's a little inside stuff about the four skill sets:

CHOCO - Obviously chocolate-based (chocolate, caramel, nougat, nuts). Critical Hits with Choco attacks cause Stickiness, which slows the victim for a while.

SWEET - Sugary stuff that isn't chocolate (lollipops, cotton candy,... I can't think of any offhand, but there's a million things!). Critical Hits with Sweet attacks cause Tooth Decay, which is exactly the same as poison in other games (you turn green and take damage for a while).

SNUGGLE - Love stuff (hugs, hearts, cupid arrows, gifts). Critical Hits with Snuggle attacks cause Heartwarming, where the victim leaves flames everywhere they go for a while (which in turn hurt others that step on them, as well as the victim itself).

CUTE - Cute stuff, surprisingly (bunnies, kitties, puppies, rainbows). Critical Hits with Cute attacks cause Awww, which temporarily swaps the team of the victim, so they help you out for a short time (AKA mind control).

Each of the four skill sets has a certain emphasis (besides generally working to improve the attacks and critical effects of its type, and defense against those things), although it's a little bit muddled:

CHOCO - defensive things, like more life and taking less damage, and getting healed.
SWEET - raw damage, and enhanced speed for obvious reasons (you know, sugar?).
SNUGGLE - also damage, but a bit of a focus on super powers (see below).
CUTE - focused on making the Awww effect powered up to the point where you are sort of having an army fight for you.

Each set has 2 Super Powers in it. Those are special abilities you can click on to activate (all other skills are automatic effects, not something you use), that do something super like raining hearts down all over the screen. They also work with the set theme, like Choco has healing and invincibility for powers, Cute has a summon power and one that Awwws everybody around. Super Powers are only limited by a timer - Each one needs a long while to recharge after use.

There you go, a pretty technical design-based sneak peek. Now, if you are intrigued by these skills, how about making up your own? It's the latest Happyponygate Contest! Enter now!

Don't forget also that the Happyponygate Boss Contest is still going on too.
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Sneak Peek: Happyponygate12:11 PM -- Tue May 13, 2008



If you are PurpleKoopa, you know what I accomplished today. If you're not, you may not realize. This shot actually depicts PurpleKoopa's house, in the game! So I've implemented the utility to import peoples' buildings. And I have to say, putting this one in was an ugly pain, because it actually resides right on the dividing line between two sectors. The top row of the roof there is on one map, and the rest of the house is on another. There was a lot of guesswork and moving around of pieces. I'm sad that there's an entire row of houses in that position. I need to work on my placement better.

The cookie, by the way, is what I'm using temporarily as a crosshair. I need to get some graphics for that... Also, you can see that the guns now shoot marshmallows as advertised, and what you can't see is that the marshmallows come out of the right place. I devised a system of 'firing points' for the 16 facings of your character, and so while I'm testing the game, I can press some keys to adjust the current firing point, and it saves that out. It now looks a lot better than it did when I calculated the firing point automatically.

One stupid little thing I've done is vaguely detectable at the bottom. Since the enemies fire the same bullets you do, I wanted to differentiate them a little, so you know what to dodge. So the enemy bullets flicker dark and bright (you can see one really dark marshmallow, and two really bright ones). This has the added advantage of making them stand out visually.
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Tids & Bits05:24 PM -- Mon May 12, 2008

Firstly, this weekend marks the sad day when I got 100% complete on Ratchet 4 (for the second time), so I am now officially out of Ratchet games unless I get Size Matters (which I hear is unwise), or a PS3. Or I re-get #1, but to be honest, the thought of all the mini-games makes me loathe to do it.

Guess that just leaves WoW to entertain me! I've really really been enjoying that of late, teaming up with a friend of mine across the country on the rare occasions when our schedules match, and getting my guys up to level 40 where new and exciting things happen (horseys, and usually some other good stuff, depending on your class). Really, I have gotten almost nowhere in months, but I am enjoying it. I'm changing my strategy from moving all 10 characters up 2 levels at a time, keeping them in sync, over to picking 2 guys and just focusing on them until some unknown future point. That will be nice, because I won't be doing the exact same quest five times right in a row, it'll be spread out. I also read a lot of exciting news this weekend about Wrath Of The Lich King which makes me quite excited about that. I may end up sacrificing poor Dedmanwalkin to make room for a Death Knight when the time comes. We'll see.

Today in Happyponygate news, it's starting to feel like a game. Don't get the wrong impression, as it isn't even in anything close to the realm of alpha, and won't be for a very long time, but it feels more functional now. I have most of the first sector map done, and I can wander around that blowing up streetlights and gunning down poor Marshmallow Soldiers, and both my gun and I gain experience. Originally, you had to feed your gun jellybeans to level it up, but that was extremely awkward and annoying, since you had to go into your inventory and drag them to the gun one at a time. Now they gain XP as they inflict damage, and that is a lot more fun.

I spent a couple hours today also drawing up a talent system exactly like WoW's (with 4 talent trees, one for each element). There's still a ton of holes in the game design and I've toyed with a million different things to do in terms of how you improve and advance. This is just the latest. I have no idea what the final outcome will be, all I've done so far is write down the talents in a lovely color-coded spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are my favorite toy.

Originally, I really intended this game to be an outright parody of the game it is similarly named to, and so I had based a lot of things around that, but one by one, those things are melting away. Then it started turning into GTA, and now I'm debating whether you will be able to drive cars! I do want there to be, but even if they control well, they really require a hugely expansive world to make driving worthwhile, which is a massive commitment in map-making.

It also creates an issue - if you can just run down the monsters, using your guns is foolish. Running them over is a lot safer and you can just buzz through the whole game. On the flipside, if you can't run them over, cars are useless, as you smash into a monster every 3 feet. I actually do intend to upgrade you from no-roadkills to roadkills (remember, conventional weapons - cars included - have no effect on Happy Ponies!) during the game, but I wonder how well it can work out on either side of that exchange. It really messes with the Crimsonland/Alien Shooter vibe that is the one focus I have never lost from the beginning. You need hundreds of guys pouring at you from every direction to make that exciting, and whether you can run them down in a car or not, that is a conflict with the idea of cars. Either the car can't ever get anywhere, or it's far and away the best option at all times (of course, you won't be able to run down every monster, bigger ones will be more like a head-on collision, so there will be excitement in terms of trying to avoid hitting those). I don't know, I think it may work out... your car can take damage as you hit guys and you eventually need to get out. But there will always be so many cars around... Well, we'll see how it goes!

Oh, and of course, on the other side of that issue, I've made a huge list of different cars and missions involving certain cars. If you read that document, you'd think that's what the entire game is about! I love the idea of those missions, so it seems cars are important. But if they are remotely well-balanced, will driving missions be possible at all, given the endless hordes of badguys? Probably not. Quite a tangle, this is.
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Splosions11:21 AM -- Thu May 8, 2008

Semi-productive day in the other-computer mines. Now blowing up trash cans and dumpsters yields nice little explosions. But better than that, when ponies and their minions die, they fall over as usual, but then they vaporize in a puff of blue stuff. It's just a nice little effect, I like it a lot better than the previous "blink to death because apparently this is Double Dragon." Besides those various explosions, weapons actually have the right graphics now! Well, some do. The only one I am actually testing, the H.R. Puffencrush, certainly does. It fires big chunky marshmallows which are much more fun to see than the old red dots.

In addition to visual splendor, damage is now inflicted properly - the game actually knows at long long last that the marshmallows are Sweet Damage, and thus they have a 1% chance to cause Tooth Decay (and 150% damage) on impact. That was a major overhaul of half the files in the game, since damage used to simply be a number.

And if that weren't enough for you, along with some bug fixes, there's now an infinitely long highway leading out of town. Feel free to walk down it for all eternity. You will not reach America (and it's not some Escheresque trick where heading back up will send you right back to town - you really are however many miles away you walked!). But I am somewhat tempted to have it end in a border station at some point. Guess you'll never know unless you walk down it! For a long time. I'm debating how you'll appear in the game. Remember Rocket Keychains? Those are based on the model of Bouapha's rocket ship as seen (pretty much only by me) in SpisHulk. Maybe his rocket should be landed on the road there, indicating that that's how he arrived. Either that or he should have a car, but then there are issues of what kind of car he would drive, and you'd be able to drive it down the infinitely long road. Maybe if you drive far enough the game ends with you giving up and leaving London to its fate. Kind of like the beginning of Karateka. You can sure lose that game quickly, especially if your joystick isn't calibrated right.
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Sneak Peek: Happyponygate11:37 AM -- Wed May 7, 2008

Today's sneak peek demonstrates the user interface of Happyponygate, as well as what was going to be a very secret enemy. I've decided to display this enemy today in honor of the holiday we are celebrating today. If you don't know what I mean, then you surely don't know what this enemy is, either! You'll just have to find out. The monster's still going to be secret in game - you may have seen it now, but you don't know how to encounter it in the game!


Obviously the monster is just pasted over the screen, not actually in the game at the moment. But I think it turned out great - it's remarkably close to the concept art I used, right down to the oddly tentacular roots! Anyway, this is the on-screen interface as well. The big block at top is the life meter, and all the white bars are meters for different things (all full at the moment for testing purposes). Weapons go in the slots down the side, click on them to select. You can also select with the number keys on the keyboard (and - and = for weapons 11 and 12). Click Menu to visit the menu (same as pressing ESC), and the intentionally blank spot is for something else you will find out about someday.

That's it! Nice and simple and easy to use.

I got much done today already, as you see in the picture. How did such a miracle occur? Quite simply, and I don't know how I didn't come up with this plan before. I realized that since most of my development tools only work on my old computer (non-Vista), it was ridiculous that I tried so hard to work on the new computer. It's always cramped my style dramatically, and I would procrastinate doing any art or sound for weeks and weeks just because I knew I'd have to go over, turn on that computer, fire up the needed programs, do the work, transfer the results over, and so on. So today I decided to move the code over there, and just do all the work there! The difference is splendiferous. That computer is also not connected to the internet, making it even more ideal for not slacking off. That is probably the reason I avoided being there before. I like to slack off.

Sol Hunt has given me a deadline on this game - it's supposed to be in a playable complete-ish state (not necessarily even beta, just something worth playing) by the time her school gets out. I have 5.5 weeks. I have a lot of work to do.
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Perdon!09:26 AM -- Tue May 6, 2008

Ay! No he blogado mucho! I don't even know if that's conjugated right. But I do know blogar is not an actual Spanish verb. It means "to blog" in Jamulish.

So, results are in for LD48 #11! I did well. I got 1st place in Humor, 2nd place in Theme, 3rd place Overall, 5th place in Polish, 5th place in Audio, 6th place in Graphics, and far too low to bother even calculating in Technical, Innovation, and sadly Fun. I also got insanely low ranks in Food, Journal, and Timelapse, but I didn't try to compete in those.

I got a lot of comments that my game was really nifty but not fun. Oh well, I am happy with it! And the first place in humor is a triumph (note: huge success!), because it really was intended to be a joke in video game form. Looks like it worked! I thought it was fun to play too (though I can really understand not thinking that... all it was was trying to click objects quickly). Many people lamented the fact that you start over when you die, but my defense is twofold. First fold: the whole game can be completed in under a minute (and by "can be", I mean "must be", because you'd lose if you took longer!), so really how bad is restarting? And second fold: I made it work that way (and with a simple fade out rather than any kind of "GAME OVER") intentionally, so that it would seem at first glance that all you do is watch a leaf fall and then it returns to the title screen. The actual game is supposed to be sort of a secret... a really really obvious one, but nonetheless, a bit of a surprise. It's supposed to appear to be some kind of snooty art garbage, but then you subvert that by blowing it apart. I was going to have big gunshot noises too (I also considered having your clicks be used to target nuclear homing missiles), but that would ruin the surprise at the 4th level, since you'd already be in ridiculousness at that point.

So no, commenters! I do not regret the restart on death! I shan't repent! It's funny because I am a stickler for playability and ease of use, and I would never make a restart-from-the-top game normally, but this joke game truly calls for it. Although one commenter did mention limited lives, that would be nice (but again, they'd have to kick in on level 4 or something, or they'd ruin the joke).

By the way, the words that many people can't understand in the game are: "THE K IS SILENT!" (bad Sean Connery impression), "WHAT A DRAMATIC CONCLUSION!" (bad Strongbad impression), and at the end is an outtake from when I was recording rhino noises, where I am laughing and saying "Rhinos don't sound like that!". That's because I was actually making cooing noises, something I probably should've included in that sound clip. Come to think of it, that final rhino should've cooed as it fell.

So that's that game. Another game just finished was our first try at Heroes Mafia. It was so awesome! My wife thought I was crazy because I'd run around the house shouting out strategies and plans, and how things were working. I was a bit excited about it. I am dying for the next game of Heroes!
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Sneak Peek: Happyponygate10:41 AM -- Fri May 2, 2008


As promised, it's a Chocolate Moose! Two, because I wanted to get a shot of him facing you. Surprisingly enough he has big googly eyes. This is also the lovely alleyway you begin the game in (it won't be full of monsters like this, though). You can see some debug text in there too, ignore that. I always feel a little guilty making the monsters just a bunch of spheres stuck together like this because it's so easy, but honestly it's exactly the result I want. That is my style, and it's just a coincidence that it's really easy to build. I love super round, super simple, characters.
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Playtime's Over, Punk!01:23 PM -- Thu May 1, 2008

I feel like I've been spending far too much time playing instead of working lately, so I'm kicking my point system back into gear! It didn't last long because of some interruption or the other... I think it was when I got sick. But anyway, it was a good system that worked well for me, and I'm bringing it back! Today was my first day back on it, after yesterday indulging in too much Ratchet in the morning, and too much WoW all evening.

Today is the first of the month, so I've earned my points on maintenance type things - the newsletter is written, three addons are (almost) ready to go, new fan art is up, the monster contest is judged and done, and a new microntest is up. Oh, and I've finally finished judging LD48 entries. Right now I am working on the bills and writing a journal entry in which I am writing "writing a journal entry in which I am writing "writing a journal entry in wh... okay. Hey, and I did the dishes too!

So, I'm holding off on sending out the newsletter until I have the addons up, and I'm holding off on the addons until I get some files I am missing for one of them, but aside from that, it feels pretty productive. Tomorrow, maybe I can be productive on an actual project.
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