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  Coonskin Cat 10:27 AM -- Fri October 24, 2003  

There was a raccoon in our yard last night! Huzzah was very puffy looking out the window, so I looked with him and there was this huge raccoon, about twice his size (and he's a BIG kitty!). It was cute. We went from window to window, got the flashlight, and generally enjoyed a half hour of National Geographic: Temeculan Safari. He rattled our trash cans a bunch, then sat in our backyard cleaning himself and scratching for a long time. He better not have brought fleas into our yard - that's my biggest fear when we occasionally let the cats out. I've been in a house truly infested with fleas before!

So that's the story of our first raccoon. He looked awfully comfortable here, so he'll probably be back. We get tons of neighbor cats in our yard, that really upsets Huzzah. Sometimes I have to chase them away because he gets so upset. He was less upset with the raccoon, maybe because it kinda looked like him. Either that or he was just struck speechless with terror.

I also sold my first order to someone who lives in Temecula the other day! She lives on a street inches from my house, so I was going to deliver it by hand, but then I looked it up on Mapquest, and discovered that the specific part of that street she lives on is about 4 miles away. And I'm lazy (and shy), so in the mail it went.

Okay, I've done a million point combo. But just once. My record for a run is up to about 1.4mil... my average is staying around the 500k range. I think I'm improving though. Sure wish I knew the rules!
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  Tony Hawk! 10:24 AM -- Thu October 23, 2003  

Everybody knows Tony Hawk is the greatest game of all time. Well, we got a Gamecrazy flyer in the mail with an ad for a Tony Hawk 4 contest at our local store! I signed up! The sign up list had ages on it... there are like 20 people on it (so far... and the contest isn't until the 25th, gulp), and ALL of them were between 11 and 14 years of age, except one 25 year old. At least I'm not going to be the only one embarrassed to be there. Although, I have a feeling my embarrassment will be larger than his, because I was practicing, and I'm seeing some problems with my ability to dominate this stuff. See, I did research online about what big combos are and all, and I'm quite worried. So far, my best practice run has been just over 1mil points. That's my best, and second best was more like 700k, and average is more like 4-500k. These videos of big combos you can find online are 6mil to 300mil, for one combo, not an entire 2 minute run of separate combos. Oh well, wish me luck, and let's just hope these local yokels aren't such pros... maybe today's kids' brains are rotted by RPGs, so they aren't good at Tony Hawk!

If you care, you can check out some really amazing combo videos online, look for them! Even if you know nothing about Tony Hawk, pick one with a big score on it and check it out (if you have broadband - they're not small videos). It's just amazing to witness, even if you think there's only one button press involved in each move they do (which is definitely not the case), it's a constant stream of insane madness, and remarkable long-range jumping aim. I wonder how often they have to buy new controllers.
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  Life in the big city 09:39 PM -- Thu October 16, 2003  

I got rear-ended today. Blech. It was minimal speed, no damage except the bumper got crushed in (it's plastic). But you know, I wanted to NEVER HAVE TO DEAL WITH THAT! I hate it! Now I have to go get it fixed, and talk to the person who hit it to tell them what it costs, and all that fun, and they get to try to argue with the estimate as if they have any say. It suxorz.

We got a new couch after suffering through the eternal torment of Ikea (as the wife says, "NEVER AGAIN!!!!"), and the cats love it. They are very happy! They don't like getting sprayed with water constantly for trying to scratch it, but when they're not scratching it, they sit around it or on it very happily. I don't mind it myself. You can look it up in the Ikea catalog, it's the Fagelbo (should be an umlaut over the a or something, but I'm no HTML superstar). We got it in Boeryd (again, pardon the missing umlaut). That's a color. Isn't Ikea amusing?

I also got Dungeon Siege (PC game) today! It's because we had a huge Staples gift certificate due to my wife's Teacher Rewards card there, and if you don't use it all it once, what's left vanishes. We had to get the game, I'm afraid, or it simply would've been wasted. So sad. We did good though - by adding the game on, we came within 90 cents of the total amount, without going over. If I had realized that before we were completely rung up, I would've added a candy bar. I do love candy. We also used up an Amazon gift certificate just yesterday, something else I enjoy doing. I am way overstuffed from dinner, but I promised to make Krispie Treats, so awaaaaay I go.
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  Embarrassment 04:32 PM -- Tue October 14, 2003  

You know, it's just gotten embarrassing. Seems like every day, a new little hitch is found in Supreme. This actually wouldn't be nearly as bad if I waited to fix them all in one big chunk, but then it would be kinda bad for you customers. But I release a fix, and bam, it's broken again. Almost all of these fixes are nearly trivial - the latest was that a certain movie isn't played in one of my worlds where it's supposed to (and I have no idea how it got removed! I'm stumped). But they're still problems in the game, and they're seemingly endless. I always think it's over, and it never is. The real truth is, I didn't test this game nearly enough. All this could've been caught by just having a second team of completely fresh testers come in at the end, when it was supposedly "done", and see what they see with new eyes. There was a ton of pressure to just finally release this thing after the years of waiting, and I fell for it. It was a big mistake!

It's almost gone beyond embarrassment now though... to "whatever". Oh, there's another bug? Whatever. It's depressing. I really don't like those companies that release half-finished products and rely on the paying public to test them for them, and I almost feel that way. I don't quite, since I did think this was fully working when I released it, but I totally dropped the ball - I knew more testing was necessary (is that contradictory? Only kinda). It's stupid. But it's done. I have two major goals for future development: The first is obviously very thorough testing. The second is much shorter development time. That'll be better for everyone concerned!

I'm still proud of Supreme, and I am cutting myself slack on the whole mess, because it is truly far too big of a game for such a small company to completely test through. What we did accomplish is pretty darn good, and I'm happy with the results, even if it did take an extra month of tweaking. Oh well... each project is a learning experience, and consider this lesson hard-earned.

No sympathy requested! I'm still having a grand time working on... something. Hmm.
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  Day Off 06:44 PM -- Fri October 10, 2003  

It feels good to finally have all the Supreme bits feeling definitely done. Of course I'm sure more things will crop up, but I hope not. Anyway, for the moment at least, I feel free and joyous! I'm trying to get myself to do something for Halloween Horror, but it's a daunting prospect, because I really put my heart and soul into those things... you've seen how funky my former worlds were! Like I said in an earlier post, I just can't get by with making a normal level, good or not - it's got to have things you've never seen before, or at least not often... weird ideas and all. Especially when it's Halloween Horror, because the whole point of that is to do something which reflects the theme, so no ordinary level could do it. Hmm... I have a sort of idea, at least to get me started... I'll go see...
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  Supreme Demo 08:45 PM -- Thu October 2, 2003  

I got lots done on the Supreme Demo today. Lisa Keck of world-building fame is assisting in the creation of the demo, so in keeping with the Supreme theme, this demo is pretty Supreme - it includes THREE worlds, and the tutorial. The worlds aren't as big as usual, but they have about 10 levels each, so it ain't nothing to sneeze at. Anyway, it's almost done, so pretty soon I'll see if anybody is interested in testing it out (I guess that's about the same as releasing it, since it's a demo... only difference is, I won't put a link to it right on the Supreme information page until it's been tested). I think it's a really good demo though, it's got 10 things you can buy in the store (including the worlds in question), 10 lockers you can open (choose wisely - there are only 4 Loonykeys available!), and 10 Gallery Goals you can complete (the pictures you earn are shameless ads for the full game, of course). The other nice thing is this demo will also be a demo of the new easier difficulty. I'm really enjoying it myself, it's so relaxing! Also, the demo levels themselves are rather easy (everybody always seems to say you sell more that way, so let's hope so! I also hope the non-demo levels don't come as a horrifying shock to people who enjoy the demo!), so it's a double whammy of easy, fun gameplay.

Of course, when the demo is done, I'll also put up the demo worlds as an add-on for Supreme, so you can download them if you already have the full version. Anyway, off to do a little more work then go have some dinner! Hooray for the universe.
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  I am lame 11:58 AM -- Mon September 29, 2003  

I had a major experience last night. I watched Sol play some levels I was making for the demo, which I had made intending to be super easy, and she got very frustrated. Those levels were very hard. I learned this:

I am out of touch with what a newbie Dr. Lunatic player is like.

That's not a surprise, since I've been playing it for 5 years, and I know every conceivable little trick, since I put them in there. All my games have always been much too hard. They're always way harder than I intend to make them. I'm terrible at this!

In the next patch for Supreme (no more bugs found! Whoo!), I'm going to make Wimpy mode a whole lot wimpier - like twice as easy as it is now, at least. Probably much easier still. I'm also going to make it the default difficulty! I'm going to rename it "Normal", and the other two difficulties will be "Hard" and "Lunatic". I'm also going to make "Lunatic" a lot harder than it currently is - no sense having two difficulties that are very similar. So you can play on "Hard" difficulty to get the standard Dr. L experience, or play on Lunatic for an insane experience that is hopelessly difficult, or play on Normal to get a game that's vastly easier than what you've seen so far. I can't change the levels, there's one or two too many, but I can sure tone down the power of monsters (and crank up the player!). This is something I really owe everyone, just because I want my games to be played everybody!

It blows my mind to think about the fact that grandmas play my games, and apparently do okay at them... When I step back and really objectively give it a look (as objective as you can be about subjective difficulty), I see how it's an outrageously hard game! I can sort of step out of my head and watch myself play and see how my fingers have to fly all over the place while I scan the entire screen and formulate strategies and perform actions on an instantaneous reflex (like those last-second Rage lifesavers!). My hat is off (seriously, it is, I am hatless) to all those old fogeys who can keep up with the demands of Dr. L! It's amazing!

I was given a sign yesterday: I rented two PS2 games, Alter Echo and Sly Cooper. They're both very cool! Alter Echo, I have pretty much given up on. I'm on like the second level that isn't blatantly a tutorial, and I've died so many times, it's ridiculous. This game is INSANE! But you know, if I think about it, it's really not as hard as Dr. L. It doles out health items at a regular pace, the enemies only attack once every few seconds, you never face more than about 4 at a time, it lets you stop time to insta-kill all the enemies around you at once (in a careful-timing minigame which I am terrible at) and you have big combos that can hit a bunch of them at once, and pop them into the air to render them helpless. If I feel this way about a game that's so much easier than mine, how do people who DON'T know all the tricks and haven't mastered all the intricacies and reflexes feel about my game? Sly Cooper is an awesome game, super duper awesome. But the bosses are repetitive, annoying, trial and error, really hard, and stupid. Kind of like a lot of the levels I make (but not my bosses! In my opinion). I must learn from my research. I MUST LEARN FROM MY RESEARCH!

The other thing that occurred to me (hey, I haven't journaled in a while, let me spew), is that in Supreme's instructions (this all applies to the original Dr. L as well), it says something like "the goal is simple: in each level, collect all the brains and get to the exit". Only, in my hyperactive desire to make interesting challenges, approximately 0% of the levels I've made fit that description. I always make all kinds of weird twists and stuff. I like my levels, they're inventive and interesting, but you know, I set up this game to work a certain way. When every level is an exception to the rule, you really don't have a rule anymore!

I was thinking years back about the X-Files. They had really funny episodes, once or twice a season. Those episodes were great, they were my absolute favorite, and after a few seasons, they were the only good episodes (as it became clear that the creator of the series DIDN'T even come close to having an actual overall conspiracy planned and was just trying to string together stuff that didn't mesh, and it was all a mess and it was stupid - see Babylon V for how to plan out a massive arc properly! Or for the notion that you SHOULD plan out a massive arc). But the funny episodes wouldn't have worked, or been very funny, if they weren't exceptions to the normally serious, dark tone of the series. If the series was just the funny episodes, it would be a really strange comedy, and it would lack a lot of the humor, because most of it comes from seeing these people you know from great experience to be serious, being dopey. It's the change that's good.

And that's what's wrong with my level design. It's all funny X-Files episodes. It would have been so much easier as well as better to crank out lots of 'formula' levels (and they would've been very fun levels... Dr. L is fun to play in a general sense, smashing monsters, grabbing keys, finding secrets, it's all fun), and inject just a couple 'trick' levels in each world. I think people don't really mind the wild variety in Dr. L, but they'd appreciate it more if it wasn't constant, and they'd be able to get some kind of a handle on what basic Dr. L really means to begin with. Most of the fan-made worlds are like that. A world full of normal Dr. L action (and that is NO insult!), with just a couple big surprises and special things, and it really makes you grin when you come across them.

Something like that. It's never a good idea to get me thinking, I guess!

Lastly, I saw the trailer for Matrix: Revolutions. The Matrix is the new Star Wars. And it makes the old Star Wars look like a piece of rotting garbage left out in the sun too long. Not too hard thanks to the new prequel movies for Star Wars, but I'm talking about the good Star Wars movies! The Matrix is that overwhelming, culture-defining, hypermarketed, buy-the-action-figures, ubertrilogy that Star Wars was in the 70's. But unlike Star Wars, the third one is gonna be some GOOD STUFF. Actually, I liked Return Of The Jedi, but everybody says it was so lame because of the whole Ewok business. Aw, maybe it was, it's been forever since I saw it. The Matrix is awesome. YAY MATRIX!!! (As you can see, I'm not one of those Reloaded-haters)
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  Busy Day 04:59 PM -- Tue September 23, 2003  

Well, I can't say I've really accomplished a lot, but it's been a really busy day. I packed up the very last CDs we had available of Supreme, and was about to write an email to people awaiting shipment to let them know they'd have to wait longer, when the UPS guy showed up with the billions of new CDs, mailers, and cases I ordered! That was some nice timing. It's funny that all 3 orders arrived at once, since they were from three different stores. Obviously all quality outfits, getting the products out quick! Which is exactly what I was trying to be all day - so I had to make new CDs with the blanks that arrived, put em all together, and pack em up and ship em out.

I also got a new PO box, much closer to home, so I can bike there instead of driving 3 miles. That should help speed up our response to check orders! I haven't put up the new address on the site yet, though.

Further, I've put up a patch for Supreme. I just hate putting out patches. Makes me feel really stupid. I know we should've caught this stuff before we shipped... but you know, we just don't have the kind of testing muscle that hundreds of customers do! You guys find stuff we never expected. So hopefully this will be the only patch needed. There's only one crash bug that's been found, which is nice, although it was a pretty obvious one... you'll need the patch if you want to use the Playlist feature safely!

I also played a bunch of Supreme, still #1 in Skill! Beat that! My trick is to play worlds you can buy in the Kids 'We' Be store. Those are the worlds made by kids (and TDM's Small World, which is designed FOR kids), and they tend to be heavy on the mayhem. So I've racked up huge body counts and coins beyond imagining. I got 467 coins from one level alone!

So that's all I've done so far. Okay, I guess I did accomplish some stuff! Now I better accomplish some more... need to get this patch to the IGF people, get a new full version up for future downloaders, get the new full version set up to go on the new CDs, and make some graphics for another game I'm contracting on. Will that make it a full day? I could also put together the bookshelves that just arrived, that would be fun. Wouldn't be too bad if I got around to paying the bills either. Or putting some more time into making the Supreme demo! That's a daunting task. Okay, obviously I have a lot more to do, so I'll go do it.
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  OOPS 08:16 PM -- Sat September 20, 2003  

D'oh. So it took all of 48 hours for the first bug report in Supreme. Not that it's something serious... But if you own Supreme and haven't checked on the forum, note that there is a patch you need to download, on our Patches page. The only thing affected is quite literally ONE TILE in one level of the Spooky Forest world. You need the patch to make it possible to pass the level "Fumigation". I'm sorry about that... I know just how it happened too - if you care, read the next paragraph.

There's a special in that level that opens a wall up when you beat certain monsters. Initially, it had converted wrong from the original Dr. Lunatic, so it worked fine, but it made a patch of grass show up instead of nice wooden floor, which looked a little odd in this lovely bug-infested house. So a tester noticed that and pointed it out to me, so I fixed it, simple enough! Well, I didn't bother testing my fix, since all I did was click on the new tile to use, and it was so simple. So let this be a lesson to all game developers, especially me: ALWAYS ALWAYS test your changes!! The tile I picked WAS the right one (wooden floor)... only it was one of two copies of that tile. I had a special copy of that tile made which was impassable to use somewhere, I don't even remember where. And somehow I managed to click on the impassable version instead of the normal one. So there's a lesson learned. I hope!

But that's the only downer! I'm BLOWN AWAY!! by the response to Supreme! I don't usually sell this many games in a month! And the orders are still coming in! It's slowed down a little, but since thursday night, I've done nothing except make CDs and package them and mail them. Well, with a stop at Staples today to pick up more supplies! On top of that, when we were at Staples, some other customer gave us these coupons she had, but couldn't use, which were expiring that day - $10 off on one, and $30 off on the other, and we used both of em. I tell you, when you release Supreme, good things happen! To celebrate, we also stopped at the grocery store and picked up any snack and treat items we wanted. We ended up spending $100. But don't freak out - they were having one of those "bag full of frozen items, 10% off" sales, so we couldn't resist stocking up on WAY TOO MUCH frozen food. We got hummus & pitas, I need to go eat those.

Truly, this is my first break since thursday... and here I am spending it typing in my journal! Time to kick back with a movie - there's no way to ship games on Sunday!
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  YAY! 09:06 PM -- Fri September 19, 2003  

I'm having a really great day. Really tiring too. This launch has been beyond anything I could've imagined... this is already my best month for sales ever, and it's only the 19th! In fact, by the end of the month, sales will probably be much more than double the previous record.

But this is Hamumu... we're not all about the money! No, there's so much else I'm happy about here. The thrill of seeing people besides me on the high score chart was cool (but the rest of you who are playing, submit your scores and profile NOW!!!! You should be doing so every session you play, or otherwise, what good are you to me!?), but it's the comments I'm getting in the comment box on orders, and in the emails from people requesting the discount. That's the kicker! You guys are great! I wish I could share some of the comments, but I suppose I should ask for permission if I want to do that.

I'm looking forward to this Halloween Horror too... finally, I have the time to participate again, and I get to do it with Supreme, which will be a blast. And I see a lot of interest in it this time too - it'd be great to get 10 entries or more! I think the previous record is 4 (maybe 5 with Zook or POP showing up after the fact one of the times?). There's a kazillion names to choose from - 267 so far. Picking them will be a challenge, but I've built a special webpage and database backend and all kinds of goodies to handle it. Still isn't easy - you have to scroll through a page packed with 267 different names. But I tried to make it as easy as I could.

So the page isn't up yet of course, since I can't officially declare the end of name submission time until tomorrow, but come tomorrow, everybody come on out and vote for your favorite names! Even if you have no interest in participating in the contest, vote for names. It's easy as pie, and the more participation, the more fun for all. Especially me, and I wanna have me some FUN!

What a freaking great day. Whee.
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