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  Happy New Year! 11:27 PM -- Mon January 5, 2004  

Wow, it's been quite a holiday break. Officially, I suppose I didn't get a break (except those 4 days we actually closed the office), but when my wife is on vacation, I pretty much join her, and don't feel guilty about it. So many cool presents, so much awesome relaxation and accomplishing of nothing. I can't even guess how many movies we watched.

But now the new year has started, and we all know the rules for that: You make up a bunch of lofty goals and behavior mods. Then you ignore them. A new year always feels like a fresh start, and it's always exciting. In addition to the whole numerical newness, I think the fact that we have that huge wad of vacation and holiday time, and such great excess and indulgence, I think that's why it feels so much like starting over. You work all year to get to that sparkling blast of joy and fun, then when it's over, with the last champagne cork popped, reality sets in. It's time to work again. I think it's anthropologically significant that most of the biggest holidays are in the middle of winter, but that's a whole other story.

My goals? They are big as always. I'll share some. I intend to release something every single month of 2004. 'Something' can be as minimal as an add-on world, though. I qualify it as anything worthy of sending out the announcement newsletter. I've written up plans of just what I will be releasing for almost every month, and there's a lot in there that should be surprising and fun (obviously we couldn't release a whole new game every month...). On top of that, there will be one improvement to the website each month. They may be too small to notice sometimes. I'll think you'll notice when I get up the improvement I have in mind for this month. But the main thing is to get me focusing on making the website better and easier to use. Once it's up and working, I tend to just forget about it and dive into more game development. A website should always be an ongoing project.

There's lots of other stuff, of course, but those are the kickers, businesswise. I am hoping to really overcome my inertia problem, Hamumu has been feeling sluggish for a while. One part of work I always enjoy is planning (designing games of course being the ultimate! I do that purely for entertainment), so these first couple of days are great. Too bad they're under the looming pressure of getting my recordbooks up to par! I've got a lot to do...
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  Foxtrot Goes Dumb! 05:44 PM -- Sun December 21, 2003  

Check out the Foxtrot comic from Dec. 21st! Could it be a Hamumu reference, or a sign that great minds think alike? I don't know the answer to that one, but it's pretty cool! Thanks to asmussen for pointing it out.
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  Murray Crimmus 08:39 PM -- Sat December 20, 2003  

Well, it's been forever since I journaled anything! I've been heavily caught up in holiday mayhem. This is the season of crazy stuff going on all over, and I get so overwhelmed by it. I should just learn to admit it upfront and label December a month off from any kind of development. What IS going to be taken off is 4 days - we're closing from the 21st to the 25th, so feel free to order stuff and send us emails during that time, but we won't be responding or filling your orders until the 26th.

So, what have we been doing around here? Not much, I suppose... I have lots of new video games I have been playing. I'm quite far in the endlessly frustrating Simpsons Hit & Run. Note to self: do NOT force the player to exhibit perfection in order to proceed. Perfection is reserved for big bonuses and bragging rights. Basic game progression should only require mediocre skill. If you fail a Simpsons mission repeatedly (which you will!), you eventually are given the option to simply skip it, but then you don't find out what happens as a result of that mission, and you'd have to go back anyway and do it later to truly finish the game. It's just simple things they could've done better (REALLY simple!): like the race I'm stuck on, you're given 2:11 to finish 3 laps. I have some runs that I do good on, some I do bad on, but my best laps of all run about 40 seconds. That adds up to 120 seconds, so 2 minutes. So if I did my absolute best on all 3 of the laps I have to do consecutively, I'd squeeze by with 11 seconds to spare. That is not how it should be. If they added 20 seconds to the alloted time, almost anybody could complete it (frankly, it'd still be high pressure to me!), and skilled people could do really well on it. Add in rewards for doing exceedingly well, like bonus coins, and bam, it's fun for everyone. Rewards for the exceptional, progress for the competent, and only the incompetent need fear failure, as well they should (then leave in that Skip option for them too!).

Oops, I ranted. I got Fire Emblem for the GBA too, it's really cool. Yay! Happy holidays to all, and to all a good day.
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  A Grim Christmas 10:57 PM -- Wed December 3, 2003  

Been Christmas shopping lately, which is very fun. Well, it's fun shopping for my wife. I don't like shopping for other people. Of course, I just get her everything I want. In a nod to Homer Simpson, we deem any gift chosen for the purposes of gratifying the giver instead of the givee a "bowling ball". Don't get me wrong though, most of what I got her was on her (very extensive) wish list! And no, of course there are no bowling balls involved. At least not figuratively...

What's happening with Grimbelina? Isn't that the next Hamumu game!? Why yes, it is. But having been caught up in doing art for external projects, and dealing with family time (it's that time of year, friends!), nothing has gotten done on Grimbelina except some idea consolidating and planning. The end result is that I came up with a very wacky experiment to try. This is it, and it's just totally crazy: I will design the entire game in complete detail BEFORE I make it! Can you imagine such a thing!? I'm gonna try it and see what happens. The idea is to prevent the insane rampant feature creep one finds in Hamumu titles. I don't want to spend 6 months tacking on more and more little things - I'll have a fixed set of features, and my only task will be to implement them. The risk is that the ideas I have simply won't work, but that's why it's an experiment (and we all know it'll be a lot more flexible than I plan). The real question is, how long am I gonna spend planning? And will I learn how to make a detailed and coherent document that's easy to follow?

The overall design is becoming clearer all the time, like a ship coming out of the fog. An idea I had for Supreme With Cheese is going to be almost a central focus of this game. See, I had this notion, which is much too big to cover in detail here, but basically, you could play any level you've already beaten as a new character, Happy Stick Ninja. He levels up by beating badguys, and you can assign points he earns to different skills. Then here's the nifty bit: you take him online and you can watch him compete against other players' Happy Stick Ninjas, using the skills they've chosen (it's impossible to just max out all the skills - you pick and choose the style you want). You don't control it, it's all computerized, but it's a chance to see how your planning works out (since the same computer brain is controlling both sides). Grimbelina will feature something similar, with online rankings. You can get heavily into that and try to develop the greatest character ever to dominate the rankings, or you can ignore it entirely and just play the game single-player. I've got a good feeling about this...
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  Thanksgiving 03:24 AM -- Wed November 26, 2003  

Thanksgiving is coming. So I titled this entry "Thanksgiving". I've got that kind of complex pattern-matching ability in my mind. But I don't have anything special to say about Thanksgiving. What do I have to say? Let's see... I recently installed iRate, which is a nifty little music thing. It downloads music from a very wide variety of artists (mostly indie bands), and puts them in a playlist, then you rate them as they play. How you rate them determines how often they play (and you can click "This Sux" to permanently be rid of something horrid), and the way other people have rated things determines what new songs will be downloaded for you, based on your votes. Get it? So it's like a radio station that plays what you like! Once it learns what that is. The hard part is remembering to click a rating during each song. Normally I just let music play while I work. I've already discovered several bands I want to get CDs from.

I've also been playing a lot of Diablo 2. It's addictive, of course. Best money I've ever spent on a game... I would say I've played somewhere around 500 hours of it over the years I've owned it. That's probably way low, though.

I got to play even more the other day, to help me recuperate - I got sick. Bleh. It wasn't too bad for being sick. I hope that's the extent of the flu for flu season. Wasted two days of my life though!

I've been doing only design work on Grimbelina, but I think it's planned very tightly - it will be a good game! I'm off.
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  Yerfdog Fun 07:23 PM -- Mon November 17, 2003  

Just wanted to pop in and say yay, new Yerfdog! I'll try to keep up with the holidays up there. Sorry his drool doesn't animate, but only his top half is an animated GIF... no reason the bottom couldn't be, just that it hasn't been before. I also replaced the Dumb People counter at the bottom of the pages. That was gone when I put up the Halloween Yerfdog, just because I had copied up my 'test' version of the page generator which doesn't include that. Life is crazy during this season. And cold.
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  Revolutions 03:10 AM -- Thu November 13, 2003  

And lastly for today, I really liked Revolutions. I do see the things people complain about - it's weird how they almost dropped the main characters, and I didn't like how they dealt (or didn't at all) with Neo's powers (it frustrates me quite a bit when he's in "someone else's world", and yet he doesn't realize that he has the power to break rules imposed on him - that's his ONLY power... is it that hard to keep track of?). It was definitely not at all how I would've ended the trilogy. But that's part of what's good - it was a surprise, and it sparked a lot of discussion with my wife about what it all meant. I read some great interpretations on the internet too. Somebody on a website explained to me something about how the final fight ended (which was the thing I really didn't get, in all of it), and their explanation was really good. I like movies that can do things like that. There are a lot of interpretations of it all. Some of them are kinda dumb, but they're getting people thinking.

Of course, most people just say "that sucked", and go on home. I can't blame them, I think that's a fair response to art. I have that response to quite a bit of modern art, and to everything starring Ernest. I just really liked this trilogy. It makes Star Wars look really pathetic. And yes, I do agree that the first was the best, but I also really liked how the second one turned things on their head and changed it all around. Hooray for the Matrix!
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  Amazonia! 03:03 AM -- Thu November 13, 2003  

We got another Amazon.com gift certificate today (thanks to the Ikea spending spree). It's already all used up, and Solee hasn't even come home from work! Hope she doesn't mind what I got. I went overboard, and spent $50 (less the $25 certificate!). We're supposed to spend just exactly the certificate. But I like music. I got 4 CDs! Not bad for $25 really. One is used - Dragline, by Paw. I miss that CD, my roommate had it years ago. I can't wait! Oh Jessie, you're a good dog.

Most of the other CDs I got were apparently what is classified as "emo". I don't know what that is (I gather it has to do with 'emotion', but I'm not sure in what way). I've heard the term before, but never had it affect my life, so I never bothered to learn. Now I am wondering, since I am a victim of it (and apparently, have been for some time - they say Jimmy Eat World is emo, and heaven knows I gotta have my Jimmy Eat World!). I think I'll go google about it a little. I also got a band called "Finch" (which is one of the emo ones!). They sounded very cool, but more importantly, they're from Temecula! Hoorah!
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  Who watches the watchmen? 02:58 AM -- Thu November 13, 2003  

I got a call today from the Better Business Bureau. It was very similar to the call I got from them two years ago. At that time, I had just registered my business in this county (having just moved here from San Diego), and they called and said "wow, we've been getting tons of calls from people about your business, if you sign up, they'll be able to get a report on you when they call and know you're a good business". I told them what a surprise that was, gee, must be because I just registered, you know - B2B companies calling them to check me out for spamming me. I signed up, because I had been thinking that very week how I should be a BBB member. Thought it would be good for business. I believed them that there had been many calls, though I thought they were not customer calls, since I had been harassed tons of times in those weeks by various companies wanting to offer me some worthless service or another. So, a year of membership is the only term you can buy, and I bought it (Side note: the telemarketer seemed genuinely shocked at my cheerful interest in signing up!). For something like $350. For a YEAR. And a PLAQUE.

The story goes on predictably to include the fact that I am unaware of any person ever checking my BBB listing, even though I provided an actual direct link to it on my site. Of course, I didn't renew, and life went on unchanged except for the thinner wallet.

So now they call again, and you know what they said? They've gotten calls for fourteen people just recently about my business, so I should sign up again! Wow, 14 people you say!? Really!? I better rush right in and sign up!!!!!!! Weird how these people weren't calling them during the year I was signed up, but waited until the exact same time of year when they harassed me two years ago, almost as if it was the time of year in which the BBB does a signing-up drive of some sort. So weird!

The question is simple: Who do you call when the Better Business Bureau is trying to scam you? Sheesh.

I did not sign up. What a sad comment on society!
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  Scribbler! 10:05 PM -- Mon November 10, 2003  

I found this link on Blue's News, where I find everything interesting. It's a program called Scribbler, which takes your simple line drawing and sorta scribbles on it... check it out: Scribbler. Here's a picture I made with it. I probably spent like 3 hours trying out different things. This kind of thing is just plain addictive!


Not much else to tell you right now - I'm working hard on graphics for someone else's game, then I'll delve more seriously into the wonder and mystery of Grimbelina.
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