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Jamul's Lament07:06 PM -- Mon January 31, 2011

Yeah, I've been sick for the past week (or 9 months, however you want to count it), and so far the cure is significantly less pleasant than the illness (a sinus infection). I'm hoping it will get easier to handle as it goes, but man, I'm exhausted and yet completely incapable of sleeping. I am also not getting much done, as you might have guessed. I have gotten a bunch of Pedro done, but sharing screens is too much work. And it's not nearly enough, so I need to keep on trucking when I have the energy. I seem to be solar powered now. And it's night time, so adios.
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Another Release!?11:55 AM -- Tue January 25, 2011

Yes! Hamumu now releases a new project every couple of days, apparently! Well, much like the last game, this isn't something I'm actually releasing, and this time it's not a game, either. It's Writing Prompts 3 for The Journal.

The Journal is software I use, I have it startup with Windows (fun fact: I know my Windows is loaded up and ready to use when The Journal pops up. Prior to that, it'll sit there showing the desktop for minutes on end, but not actually be usable. Really, super lame, Windows!). It's what the name implies - a journal in which to write things down. But it's also tons more than that. Basically, it's a complete writing desk, I guess. You create folders and categories, you can have things where it gives you a new 'page' each day (for a daily journal type of thing) or just manually create named pages. You can have it automatically apply templates, or create your own, etc. It's really powerful. I use it as an address book, daily journal, scratchpad, writing practice, and record keeping.

The writing practice is where my add-on Writing Prompts 3 comes in. As does my previous creation, Writing Prompts 2! Writing Prompts 3 is really simple, it just randomly generates a first sentence of a story for you, then you're supposed to spend the next 20 minutes finishing that story! It's just a nice tool for practicing fiction writing. Or I suppose you could do non-fiction, but it'll only work if the starting sentence happens to be true. Here's an example, the first sentence it just showed me now:

Write for 20 minutes (without editing). Your story begins with this sentence:

The manager showed me into his office, and hissed, "We found something."

(Wow, that was fun, I never did a dashed-border before!) So there you go! What did the manager find? Why is he being secretive about it? Why am I someone he is confiding this in? Or is it that he found something in my desk, and I'm in trouble? It's all a very exciting beginning that could go a million directions.

Also, if you're curious about Writing Prompts 2, it does something quite different, but also a set-up for writing practice (it has a variety of different kinds of prompts you can choose from, I just clicked Surprise Me to get this one at random):

For 20 minutes, write following these ridiculous rules:

#1 - A huge cast of characters (relative to your writing time available). They are teenagers. They all serve (or used to serve) in the military. Focus as much as possible on the characters' mental state and feelings instead of actions.
#2 - Perspective - First Person. Find a way to incorporate your own life experience.
#3 - No sentences under 8 words.
#4 - Very terse dialogue, preferably one word at a time.
#5 - Use a number in every sentence (written out or numerical).

"Crazy" (seen above) is just one of the prompt types, others are a lot simpler like "Basic Challenge" or "Setting And Mood". As you can imagine, that many rules at once is tricky. If it's not enough though, it always has an "Add A Rule" button you can repeat as much as you like. It's all about getting you to think and broaden your skills.

Anyway, if you're interested in writing, I would recommend The Journal to you (give it a 45-day trial!), and of course, my fun and wacky prompts. I actually recommend The Journal regardless - it's a perfect tool for me, just jotting down notes and bug reports, looking up addresses, recording things I need to get done, marking down appointments (it does reminders!). I really want to work on writing myself... if I ever find any more time.
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Eddie's Lament!11:51 AM -- Sun January 23, 2011

Hamumu has just released a game! But you won't find it on this site, because it's not really something that belongs here. It's not that it's inappropriate, it's more like one of those things that if someone posted it on the forum, I wouldn't delete it, but I'd consider it on the edge. There's a tiny bit of blood, and it has slightly graphic descriptions of violence. Overall, it's just more "adult" than what we have here, being a dark comedy about grief and loss (or something like that).

And so, without further ado, I link you to it, and remember the warning: it's a little bit adult, and fairly dark! Play Eddie's Lament!

And hey, I get a bonus if it gets to be featured on Kongregate or on another site I definitely can't mention here but that 2/3 of you frequent daily (separate bonus for each site!), so please rate it highly on both of those sites! Don't you want to help me rock?
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Learning To Blend: Week 308:03 AM -- Sun January 23, 2011

A Drab Penguin

This week's project was to make a humanoid figure. But when I sat down to do it, I really wasn't sure what humanoid meant. My 'human' characters are not particularly humanoid. So I stopped and thought about it, and decided to make the kind of character I might use in a game, whatever that might be. The first thing that came to mind was a penguin.

The thing that I am finding odd and difficult is that I can't seem to make anything look vibrant at all in Blender. It's all blah and washed out. The yellow on this penguin is maxed out 255,255,0 pure yellow, but it looks like that. Maybe I just need to figure out how to boost the ambient light. I hope so. It's obviously very low considering the pitch black shadows on this. Anyway, building-wise (which is all I'm supposed to be doing at this point), this was a lot harder than it should've been. Mirroring is very funky and hard to figure out. I guess I'm learning something... we'll see! At some point I might actually consider touching a tutorial instead of fumbling blindly in the lack of ambient light.
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Pedro's Ignominious Entrance10:28 AM -- Thu January 20, 2011

There's 1000 words on how Pedro's day starts. Much more fun in action. Also, witness the normal-sized dustbunny!
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Pedro's Archive Gears Up11:39 AM -- Tue January 18, 2011

I haven't progressed in terms of the map and tiles and things in this game, but what I have done is implement a variety of Pedro's tools! Not pictured here is the key, but I think you know how that works (if not, try Time Pygmy - it will explain it very clearly... provided you can figure out how to get the key). So, so far Pedro has a stepladder to reach higher places (no double jump for you!), a broom with which to beat Dustbunnies into dust, and a vacuum. The vacuum's official purpose is to catch ghosts (not implemented), but its secondary purpose is that it sucks in enemies and other objects from a distance, which is bound to be full of puzzly goodness! I'm really happy with how it works.

Also pictured is a giant Dustbunny. They are normally smaller, that's sort of a 'miniboss' one. This is in place of the idea of actually sweeping the floor. Maybe it will be more exciting to pummel living dirt than sweep up the dead kind?
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Learning To Blend: Week 207:26 AM -- Sun January 16, 2011

This week may actually seem a step back, and I actually did spend less time on it. But last week was theoretically just to make a box, so I'm still following what I'm supposed to do! This week's goal was a pine tree, and not some real-life pine tree, but the classic Hamumu type. So there it is:

Loonyland 2 in The Matrix

It was really easy, I doubt I spent more than half an hour total messing around with Blender at all this week, but I am staying on schedule and maybe learning things. I did switch it to left-select and turntable rotation as was suggested last week. I'm still not entirely sure what turntable did, but left-select is nice.

You should learn along with me! Download the latest Blender beta from www.blender.org, and make a pine tree! You can skip the church-making, since that week was supposed to be a box, and you have to have some background in 3D modeling to very quickly get into all the vertex-scooting that it took. But this week's project was very basic: All I had to do was add primitives to the screen and scale and translate them. Then I got them textured in a sense, but that's not actually scheduled for many weeks, which is good because it's utterly confusing how that works so far. Don't forget there's always an undo button!
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Pedro's Archive More06:14 PM -- Thu January 13, 2011

Now I've started the process of making tiles! Pedro spends this game in a basement of sorts, so yeah, pretty much bricks and more bricks. At least so far. Also, you can see that gettable items have a white outline around them to make them obvious. It looks like it's in a bubble. Pedro will not have a monkey on his head at release... that's Mad Planet leftovers.
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Pedro's Archive06:45 PM -- Tue January 11, 2011

The third Pedro game for Boys' Life is underway! This one promises to be dramatically different from the previous ones. Here's about the sum total of what I've accomplished so far:

That's in the corner of the screen (yeah, the background is still Mad Planet). You might recognize that gear! What happens in this game is that Pedro runs around collecting handy tools he needs to do the jobs his boss is giving him, but he can only hold two at a time. One is used by pressing Z, the other by pressing X. You can push Down+Z or Down+X to drop an item so you can pick up a different one. This is 'inspired' by a... ZX Spectrum perhaps? game with the same concept. Something about a mansion? I don't remember. Maybe somebody out there knows what I'm talking about.

It makes for a unique sort of puzzle. How do I get the key up to that ledge? I need to swap to this tool here, use it, run back and get the other, and so on. What I'm thinking right now is actually having a hard time limit on the game (you are supposed to be preparing for a party, so you have until it starts!), and your score is what percentage of all the tasks you got done in that time, so a perfect score is possible, but you'll have to practice and learn the routes to get it. And then I suppose for high-score challenges, you could show how much time you had left when you got 100%, so people could perfect further. Getting hit will of course cost you time.

Anyway, since that bit of hud (and the ability to pick up and drop a gear) is all I have done, I'm still in a very experimental stage. I don't have a lot of time to experiment, because this game has to be done by the middle of next month. So I reserve the right to toss the craziness aside and just make it a plain old blast-everything hop-around-in-the-basement kind of game. I'm hoping I won't have to, though. I think this idea has real potential to be new (well, new to the modern era) and interesting.
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WoWeeWoW!02:10 PM -- Mon January 10, 2011

A monumental achievement! Don't you want to join The Hamumu Clan now? You'll get 5% more XP because we are level 2. Come on down to the Caelestrasz server (US, Oceanic) and contact Cheezypoof! We would be leveling up much faster if we had more than 4 people...

Yeah, I did some work or something too, but this is my main accomplishment (this and getting Cheezypoof to level 85). Really, it's been so much fun. I mean, I like the game a lot, but the main thrill is hanging out with the few people who are actually in the guild, and chatting as we do stuff, and running dungeons together. It's a great way to Hamumu-hang-out! If I could, I would replace the HamChat with a little WoW window, then you'd all have to join. A guildie suggested that I give a trophy and yerfbucks for joining the guild, but since that would get me tarred and feathered rather than celebrated, I'll pass. For now.
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Learning To Blend: Week 104:04 PM -- Sat January 8, 2011

My week 1 goal in learning to use Blender was very modest: make a box. So I installed Blender (I'm using the 2.5something beta, because I heard 2.5 was a major interface upgrade from 2.4, which was scary to me, and why learn two different things once 2.5 comes out officially?), and ran it. It looks like this on startup:


Yes, it loads up displaying a box. Which I knew from the past, but it had slipped by me in my plan-making. So, never one to be daunted by immediate and total success, I decided to mess around with the box and see what I could figure out. I should've dived into a tutorial, but I just wanted to mess around this time. So I subdivided edges, extruded things, and moved vertices around - all of which seemed a lot easier to figure out than I remembered! It's entirely possible that that's because I already learned this stuff a couple years ago, but we'll say it's because they made the interface easier. There were definitely still weird confusing things, for sure. Anyway, after a bunch of extruding and adding a plane, and even sort of figuring out how to apply some textures (well, colors), I created the following masterpiece!

The Church of Blender

It really wasn't bad! There were several things I tried to do that just didn't work, but I'll figure it out. Just 51 weeks until I am a Blender Master!
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Data Input05:16 PM -- Tue January 4, 2011

Here's the data I am feeding into my brain this week (I'm no bibliographer, so I will just italicize the titles of every form of media):

  • Button, Button - Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson. These are some very odd stories. Really.

  • Just finished that today and started Anathem by Neal Stephenson. His Cryptonomicon is one of the best books in the universe, and is enormously massive, just like this book. I don't think I'll be done with this book very soon.
  • There are a whole bunch of different TV series we flip through lazily whenever we have time (on Netflix streaming, and occasionally on disc). I guess of recent differentness, we fairly recently started Parks and Recreation which is very funny, and got a whole lot better in season 2.

  • We also tried the first couple episodes of Terminator, which seems... questionable and depressing.

  • On a similarly maudlin note, we occasionally advance through Stargate Universe (having seen every episode of all previous Stargates). It's not amazing, but I remain interested to see what will happen.
  • WoW always.

  • Lego Indiana Jones has been about 80% done for a very long time and I want to finish it, but I got a new TV as an amazing Christmas surprise, so now I don't really want to play PS3 games until the HDMI cables I ordered finally show up. I always crank through and collect everything in Lego games, so I have the first 2 movies 100% collected, and I'm about halfway through the 3rd movie.

  • NyxQuest I got in the big Steam sale that is destroying my industry. It's got cool inventive puzzle stuff, but it feels kind of boring/awkward to actually play. Boring because of the style, which is very bland, and awkward because it's very zoomed in - you have the ability to cover incredible distances with your wings, but you can't see very far at all. But it's not bad... just not sure yet.

  • Super Meat Boy, the game that I finally got to run after many days of fiddling and updates and help forum ideas. Well, I think so... I recently tried to play again and it just sat there on the loading screen for 5 minutes before I gave up. When it did work, load times were horrific. As many have said, the fact that you respawn instantly and the levels are short makes up for the difficulty a lot and keeps it fun. Or it does until you sit there for a minute loading! The loads are awful! The most frustrating part was a bonus level where you had 3 lives (a series of bonus levels, each with 3 lives), and if you ran out, it loaded the menu screen (30 seconds or so), then you clicked it again to retry (1 minute or so). Absolutely maddening. Also, I've beaten the first boss, and that was not fun at all, nor was it short. Replaying that boss level 150 times was really unpleasant, and to cap it all off, the very reason I kept replaying it - the fact that when you win you get to see all your failed runs repeat simultaneously - doesn't actually happen on a boss level. I kept thinking "Well, it'll sure look cool when I finally make it!" And nope, it didn't. That load time combined with the technical problems just makes it a little too aggravating to really want to play, even though I do want to do the actual hopping around that the game contains. Not that it matters, I don't think it runs anymore anyway. I play NyxQuest simply because I know it works (and loads super fast!), even though I'd rather be engaged in the gameplay of Super Meat Boy. Really lame.

  • Rock Band 3 is so far a massive disappointment. I'm excited about the new instruments (except I don't own them), and I like the tons of new songs. But they totally destroyed all the great quality of Rock Band 2. The new character builder is not even a spit in the eye of the previous one, the menus are absolutely incomprehensible, the 'tour' mode isn't even a mode, it's ... nothing, really. You just play songs and then it says "You earned spiked bracelets!" It's so frustrating that they had a great system and decided new was better than good. I would absolutely rather play Rock Band 2 at this point, except for the new songs and the fact that it converted all my downloaded songs, so I'd have to redownload them. I have a MIDI keyboard (and a MIDI->USB adapter!) that I was excited to use on it, and that too was a letdown - turns out you need to buy a special $40 adapter to use your own keyboard, not just a regular MIDI->USB. Still, beats an $80 official Rock Band keytar! Not that I'll be getting either anytime soon. Ah, but I rant. I am trying to give it a try and learn the weirdness of it. It is fun to have a reason to rock again, and at its core, it is Rock Band - you hit the drums when the notes come down, and you enjoy the music. And the concept of the pro modes is amazing, I would love to be getting a little real with it. I hope someday I can try.
  • I couldn't really give specifics, I just listen to all my CDs on random play (well, ripped onto the computer - who listens to physical media!?). I don't do internet radio or anything, so I never learn about new music. It's rather sad.

  • But what I listen to much more is podcasts! I don't have any recent new ones, but of the ones I always am listening to, the ones I am willing to recommend publicly include The Skeptic's Guide To The Universe, Stuff You Should Know, Film Sack, The Naked Scientists, Skeptoid, This American Life, and Hypothetical Help. That's a nice collection of funny and informative. I love listening to podcasts. I usually fail to pay attention, but every so often I accidentally do, and I learn things on accident! They're great when driving, since then I do pay attention, because who wants to pay attention to a boring old road anyway? They're kinda nice when running too, but I tend to run more effectively with music. I also can't code with podcasts on. Left brain/right brain, you know. They're great when drawing, useless when coding.
And there you have it, the data being fed into my CPU this week. Don't worry, I won't tell you weekly. Most of it will be the same next week, anyway.
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2011 Activate!07:53 AM -- Sat January 1, 2011

So, it is the year we expected it would be after 2010. I've been working on some goals/plans/whatever for the coming year, and it's tricky.

This past year, to postmortem it a bit, has been the year I really neglected the site. I was very busy, moreso than ever before, cranking out games (gotta update the History page!), but only loosely keeping in touch with the actual goings-on here at the site itself. It was definitely the most important thing for me to do - I had a massive outgo I needed to plug with some income. But I think we are stabilizing in that regard, and the future looks bright. Part of my plans in the new year involve updating the site and getting involved in what's happening here.

The hard part with plans is crafting something that lasts! Whenever I make some kind of schedule, I stick to it for anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks, and then it falls apart. So I don't want to actually build myself a strict schedule to adhere to. It just doesn't work. Unfortunately, I've never found anything that works long-term! Human nature is to regress to the mean, aka slobbitude. So rather than a schedule, I'm coming up with things I want to get done each day, each week, and each month. The problem with that kind of planning is that all the day stuff gets put off to day's end, the week stuff gets put off to Saturday, and the month stuff gets done (or tries to) on the 30th (extra troublesome in February)! Procrastination, another key aspect of human nature. Still, I don't have a better idea, and there's no magic trick that will just make it happen.

One thing I have put down for monthly is that I'd like to put out videos. Behind The Dumb is too hard to create, but I happened to log into Youtube the other day to check on something else, and noticed I've got a bunch of "fans" on there, who would probably like to see something come out. And it would make good content for the journal or wherever. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what all I could do. What ideas do you have for things that I could create quickly that would be interesting to you? One obvious and really easy one will be footage from whatever I'm currently developing. A lot of developers are always putting out clips of stuff in development, and that keeps people informed and interested.

Other things I thought I'd like to do include: learning to use Blender (I'm setting up really simple goals each week so I can move ahead in small bits), actually doing website updates like perhaps fixing the chat, reviewing games I play on the journal (maybe books, movies?), and... though it may test my very inner strength, I will struggle to play one hour of a non-WoW game each day! I know, I know! It seems like too much for one man to handle, but I think I can manage to play a game that isn't WoW each day. I just have to focus.

I also want to add tags and/or categories to the journal so you can find specific types of things like Sneak Peeks, Biz Chat, Game Reviews, Announcements, whatever. But that's in the site updates category.

And yes, make games. As usual, there are a few things in the fire: the poem game is just about done (it was resting while Mad Planet was finished and then I took a winter vacation!), should be in the next week or so. The last of the four "games at the same time", my personal project, is pretty far along, but will continue to be pushed around by deadline-related projects. I really want to finish that up though, as it is personal, it means a lot to me to have it out there! Then there's another game for Boy's Life due in February, and I have one major fun-time game concept I hope to be able to create this year, but it's just an idea in my head, nothing at all concrete. There are also a few other projects that aren't solely my own - ports to other platforms, non-games, and other things. Those will be arriving variously throughout the year as well, and should be pretty cool, especially this upcoming port (hopefully in February?), which is a whole lot more than just a port.

And that's a teensy little snippet of news for you! We'll see how the year actually pans out as it gets moving.
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