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  Burned out still 06:21 PM -- Fri November 20, 2020  

The following is me engaging in public therapy. Engage at your own risk!

Long-term readers will be familiar with the fact that I got WAY burned out running Growtopia, and after we sold it, I spent a year wandering the wilderness in aught but a loincloth, howling at the moon and foraging from the land.

Eventually I made Robot Wants It All, but it was really too soon when I did, and it was a real drag that probably drained me even more. Since then, I've been crunching away at random mini-projects, just trying to recapture the creative spark and have some desire to produce work instead of playing video games and eating cheez-its.

At this point, I've been officially burnt out for about 4 years. That's much too long, and it doesn't make sense. Surely not working for that long would be plenty to recover my energy. Unless you think about the world in which I have been living. Then you start to think that maybe it's not so much burnout as it is depression. Right at the same time I began to work on recovering from 4 years of Growtopia development, the world fell off a pit into a shark-infested volcano. So I was trying to recuperate while simultaneously being bombarded by horror at every turn.

This theory was proven out on November 7th, when I was out running errands and got a text from my wife that the election had finally been called. Immediately, a massive weight leaped off of my shoulders. I drove around with the music cranked and my mind instantly was jumping to all the things I could do. Nothing I was actually prevented from doing before, but suddenly I wanted to - I considered practicing my ukulele, writing a short story, making several different game ideas, cooking things. Creativity run rampant. I was fired up and ready to DO. Just as simply as hearing that things might return to normal in the real world. Even knowing that there were still a thousand massive battles to be fought, I suddenly had this feeling that it was no longer all on me. Obviously it never was, but the oppressive feeling that everyone above me is against me is a huge psychic weight. And with that one call, that was flipped - suddenly the top of the chain was on my side, so I felt like I wasn't fighting alone.

Since then, things have changed for the worse. Obviously, my country is currently in the middle of a coup attempt, and the outgoing administration is trying to do as much damage as humanly possible, and things are uglier than ever. So it doesn't feel good anymore. I'm back to the depression I was in. But I remember that spark I felt when there was a brief moment of hope. So maybe... on January 20th, if we're not actively fighting a civil war, maybe that will be the day that my energy floods back and all of these things seem easy, or at least possible. It felt amazing on November 7th. I want to feel that again.

For now, I'm poking away at a couple small projects, still trying to find my footing after all these years. I'll tell you more about what those projects are in the next update! But don't hold your breath waiting for anything to come of them.
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  Weighty Bat 04:56 PM -- Thu August 27, 2020  

Progress on Lost In The Woods remains pretty nice actually, but I have stepped aside this week to try to shore up some Blender skills. I tried modeling some characters, which I think I have pretty well figured out, but then dove into rigging and animating which is a real pain (especially to make them work properly inside Unreal). I started with the creature I could think of that would produce the simplest possible animation rig (well, not a snake, but close): A Shroom/Mushie!

Just two feet and a couple bones for tilting. Also, I eyedropped the colors straight from a screenshot of Dr. Lunatic. The rigging I was able to do without doing any weight painting because it was so simple. So I moved on to something that I thought would be a little trickier, but instead feels like it may have been my final exam in rigging: a bat.

This chubby fellow, of which I am quite proud and happy to see the Hamumuism of it all, took several days to reach this point. I thought he'd be easy - just two wings and a spine to animate, but that's not how it turned out. Modeling was pretty easy, building the skeleton was no big deal, but weight painting, oh boy. I got to watch several youtube videos to guide me through all the tricks and techniques of masking parts off and adjusting the pose mid-paint. Otherwise I wouldn't have ever been able to paint his whole tongue (which IS fully animatable, thank you). He can open and shut his mouth, put his tongue in and out, fly, tilt his ears, wiggle his toes (sort of), anything you'd want a fat bat to do. The only thing he can't do is what the original Scary Bats did - bug his eyes out. At least not in a way that would work out well.

So anyway, I am really liking this bat and now I am sharing him with you! He does not belong in any particular game at this time, but he sure does make me think.
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  Still Pretty Lost 04:58 PM -- Thu August 6, 2020  

Lost In The Woods slowly inches along!

(Work in progress, all art will change)

Many features are fully implemented, but plenty of rough edges remain among them. It's interesting the changes I have to make to make implementing this as a PC game more reasonable. A simple example: in the board game, if an enemy has 2 equally good paths to reach the players, the players decide which way it goes. In the PC version, this is just random instead - I could spend a long time implementing the choice and it would make the game a little easier/fairer, but also more annoying to play. It's resulted in a fair number of changes to the actual game design, for the better.

One of the clunkier rules in my prototype was that when you draw a new tile while exploring, you have to see if it fits (rivers can't dead-end into land), and if you can't make it fit, then your character 'got lost' and you don't get to move. This would've been a pain to implement in the PC version, and so after a lot of thought, I took a move out of Carcassone's playbook and had the river get placed out randomly when the game first begins (as you see in the picture). River tiles are the only ones that can ever be unplaceable, so this completely solves the issue and removes an awkward exception to the otherwise simple movement rules. I'm definitely porting that over to the board game too. Having the river out when the game starts improves some other elements as well.

One of these days I'd like to make a video showing what the prototype looks like and actually go into how the game plays a little bit, but for now this is what you get! Oh, and I suppose I can mention those big old cubes... the screenshot is showing a battle in action: Krista is trying to murder a badger (which she will handily do, since the blue dice are hers, and the black dice are the badger's).
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  I am making a game! 03:14 PM -- Wed June 24, 2020  

I've been meaning to start sharing some info about my latest project, but it's just so easy to not do it and keep toiling in obscurity... nonetheless, here it is! Not the game you're expecting from me, but something I've been wanting to do for years. It's a digital board game called Lost In The Woods, and it is indeed literally about exactly what it says.

(Work in progress, all art will change)

It's a cooperative game for 1-4 players, although at present my implementation plans to just make it a solo experience (you can play with 4 just like you would at a table - swap out the mouse for each character, or just play them all yourself). I know online play would be wonderful and all, but I want to get a game done, not spend 6 years lost in the woods for real.

I designed this actual board game a couple years ago, and got through some playtests but not enough. I'll have to share some pictures of the real prototype sometime in the future. Frustrated with that, because I do really like the design and it's a unique experience, I figured why not make it digital where it can get unlimited testing even though I'm stuck in a quarantine? The original design is inspired by video games in that it actually has a metagame and feature/character unlocks like a video game would, which I haven't really seen done in board games (outside of legacy games, which are a little bit of a different take - mine is more like secret expansions hidden in the box, which you COULD just open up at anytime, but you would feel so guilty if you didn't earn them! Legacy games are about an ever-changing game, this is more of an ever-expanding one).

So a rough overview of the game is that you have those four characters (they wouldn't all be the same character, of course...), and each one has four stats: Hunger, Thirst, Exposure, and Exhaustion. Your goal is simply to find your way out of the woods before anybody maxes out on any of those stats and dies. At first, it's fairly straightforward resource management, but as you draw an Event Card each turn, sometimes it's a Threat Card. Threat Cards don't really do anything, but you stack them up... and once you have 3 of the same kind, something happens. The entire game will change. This element is inspired by a game I kind of hate but admire, Betrayal At House On The Hill, the biggest difference being that nobody becomes a traitor (usually...). But you always face a new threat, ranging from forest fires to murderers to wild animals to mythical creatures. Anything you can imagine stumbling across in the woods is probably in there. And the rules change in various small ways. However it goes down, you are crafting a unique story depending on your mix of characters, the threat, and your 'origin story' (a die roll at game start determines how exactly you got lost in the first place, and there are different endings accordingly).

And in our playtesting experience, I'll just be honest, that story has never once ended well. But we've gotten close!

This game is very slow going, but it's been accelerating lately as I figure out my dev tools a little more (Unreal Engine 4) and get more interested as it starts to turn vaguely into a game. I make no guesses at any kind of completion date though (or even whether it will be finished, to be honest). Current state of development: Not Even A Game Yet But You Can Click On Stuff. More info to come.
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  A game to play over teleconference! 08:39 PM -- Mon April 6, 2020  

Hey folks! I have been sitting in quarantine for 3 weeks now (mostly), doing much of nothing (mostly), but I did make this game for you (mostly)! Looking for a way to entertain yourself via Zoom, Skype, or whatever you use to pretend you're still a member of society? Grab a pile of dice and print this roll and write game out to enjoy! You are also allowed to play it in person. You can even play it solo (I haven't tried that yet, to be honest)!

Players: 1-4
Time: 15-20 minutes

The rules are pretty simple, and are printed on the paper. Each player will need 5 dice (unless they're in the same physical location). I mean, you could have one person do all the rolling if you're desperate, but it's weird to not roll your own dice. You'll also need a print-out of the image below for each person, and a pen or pencil for each person.
I think there are probably some nuances I was not able to squeeze into the paper, and I made sure to label the page "v1.0" so I can improve it later. Here are the answers to some questions my players had in the one and only group test I played:
  • Diagonals are not okay. Just take the word diagonal out of your head right now. It has no use in this game, ever.

  • The numbers in the houses are just how many points they're worth.

  • You don't have to use consecutive numbers to make a valid path - "1, 3, 4" is just fine.

  • X's reset the count as if you are starting over. You could (theoretically) have a path like "1, 2, 5, X, X, 5, X, 1, 3, X, 2, 3" (that is considered to be all ascending, because each X is resetting it).

  • X's do the same in Downtown, like "4, 2, X, 5, 4, 3"

  • You connect to a house by putting a number or X in a space adjacent to the house. It doesn't matter which side of the house it's on (though the chain of numbers from the Power Plant has to follow the rules in order to actually get power there).

  • A space can be carrying power to more than one house. Each house just needs a line of ascending numbers leading to it, it doesn't matter what else those numbers are doing, or what other numbers are around.

  • Equal numbers don't count - e.g. a path of "1, 2, 2, 3" is not carrying any electricity. The number must go up each space (or down, if you are in Downtown).

  • Any number or X can be put in any reachable space. You never have to create a valid path, you just won't score points for a house that isn't reached by one. The only time it would be impossible to place a number is if your board is actually full.

  • X's are worth no points in Beantown or Shantytown.

  • The number of rounds includes all shown - for 4 players, it's 8 rounds, 3 players is 9 rounds, and 1-2 players is 12 rounds (you can also just play until someone fills their board, it is approximately the same number of turns, depending on how you use Camptown).
  • Yes, you can fill in a square in Camptown if you wish when you put a number/X in Camptown. Any open square is okay.

  • The blocks you place due to using Camptown cannot be used as an adjacent object for placing new numbers. New numbers can only be placed adjacent to either the Power Plant or an existing number/X.
  • The 'lore' behind Camptown is that it's a national park, and people camp there, hence the name. Each time you build a power line there, you need to chop down a tree to do it, so you need to put that tree somewhere, hence the blacked out space. It's an uncanny simulation of reality.

  • Also Beantown is so named because of bean counters. Become one as you add up points.

  • And Shantytown, well that's just a dumpy place, so it's negative points.

  • And Downtown, come on, do I really need to explain that one?
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  2020 Biz! 02:51 PM -- Tue January 14, 2020  

Yeah, I'm still alive! As far as you know. I'm kinda-sorta getting in some sort of swing of things this year, working on a new game. I mentioned this previously (whoa, it was way back in August??), but I'm working on an action-RPG wizard game in Unreal Engine. I still have no idea if it will go anywhere (and if I showed screenshots from then to now, you'd probably wonder what I have actually done in between... at best it looks like it's gone way way backwards, which is fairly true), but the ideas have finally coalesced in my mind into something I'm really excited about, so maybe that will help it get somewhere.

For a little teaser, the idea is this: it's kind of a rogue-lite, I suppose the kids call it today. You choose one of 8 schools of magic, and hop in blasting guys away. There is one 'world' pertaining to each school of magic, which you earn by completing that world. So whichever magic type you choose, you don't actually get to play that world since you've already 'won' it. So you play through 7 worlds (in any order you like), expanding your magic capabilities as you go. The first world you do only has one level and then the boss, the second has 2 levels then boss, etc. And of course the levels get harder as you go. You actually can build your own spells in a simplified sort of way. The whole game revolves around putting those 8 different elements into different slots. And when you die (or win I SUPPOSE), you can start over with a different build, and some permanent upgrades.

It's a top-downish view for now, though that might change. I do prefer an over-the-shoulder view, but the main thing I like about the top-down style is not having to figure out how to build ceilings... I spent hours looking at how different games do the ceilings in cave areas and never found anything I was really happy with!

I'm still poking away at a few board games I'm really focused on, but I'm kind of stuck. I suppose at some point I need to just try submitting them to publishers and see what they say. I'd always like more testing, but you can't do that forever. I certainly don't have any interest in trying to get them out into the world myself, and I'd love to see them looking all professional and fancy!
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  Halloween Horror returns... 08:41 AM -- Thu September 26, 2019  

Halloween is coming... and it's worth noting, in case we get more than 2 listeners this year, that the Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown podcast is returning!

All our video and audio reviews on YouTube Subscribe to the 2018 Podcast on iTunes
Subscribe to the 2018 Podcast on Google Play Direct RSS Feed for the 2018 Podcast

I haven't actually set it up yet, but I believe that subscribing to the podcasts via those methods above will get you the new episodes when they come. And as a special bonus for being one of the 3 people who visits this webpage, let me give you a preview of what the first 10 movies we review will be, so that you can prepare yourself:
  1. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019)
  2. The Grudge (US, 2004)
  3. Ready Or Not (2019)
  4. The Autopsy Of Jane Doe (2016)
  5. Frogs (1972)
  6. It: Chapter 2 (2019)
  7. Escape Room (2019)
  8. 30 Miles From Nowhere (2018)
  9. April Fool's Day (1986)
  10. The Hole In The Ground (2019)
Yeah that's a lot of 2019! And a lot of in-theater viewings! We have some things to say about these movies for sure. It's an action-packed year for Halloween movie reviews, so strap in, strap on your straitjacket, and grab your machete. And popcorn too, why not.
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  Letting you all know I'm alive! 12:58 PM -- Mon August 12, 2019  

I don't feel like uploading screenshots or doing anything crazy like that, but I thought it's been almost two months since I blogged on here, so I should share the fact that I am not dead.

I started out hacking away at Unreal Engine, building a little action-RPG deal, which now has working randomly generated items, and stats, and you can pick up and equip the items, and there's a skill tree. Also one enemy, which is an angry Unreal Mannequin that simply runs from one place to another until you hit it enough times to make it collapse into ragdoll physics. That's kinda fun. And it all takes place in the default 3rd person test level.

So that work inspired me to get deep into Blender, because there's not much point to any of that without actual content. So I've been doing Blender tutorials (and I'm a little afraid I've spent so long doing them away from the game coding part that I will forget how any of my code works). A lot of really fun stuff out there, especially now that Blender 2.8 has arrived with its much-more-like-human-beings-use interface. I've been learning a lot.

But mostly I've been playing games, of course. Still obsessively playing Overwatch, and a whole bunch of action-RPGs like Pagan Online, Killsquad (seems absolutely terrible as far as I can tell... great gameplay mechanics/feel but absolutely no game at all), Hero Siege, Quest Hunter, Victor Vran, Inquisitor: Martyr, Chaosbane, Wolcen, Chasm, and just about anything else I can find. It's "research"!

Aside from that, I've also been getting deep into developing some board games, and that's pretty much my day to day right there. Happy summer to you, and I will catch you later - especially in October as we begin another round of fabulous Halloween Movie Reviews!
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  The Hamumu Update For June 12:13 PM -- Thu June 27, 2019  

First of all, Robot Wants It All is currently 25% off on and Itch.io, for both of those Summer Sales! So grab it if you don't have it! Trust me, you need it. You know, to live.

As for me, I have been very quiet. What I've actually been doing is puttering away in Unreal Engine, using only Blueprints. I have an idea of what game I'm making (an action-RPG where you play a wizard) but the gist of it is that I'm trying to follow tutorials and learn how to implement all the various features I really want to have in games. So far the game consists of running around a default map, and there's an item on the ground (random item, Diablo style) which you can pick up and equip to adjust your stats in a pretty thorough inventory system. That's the whole game. But it's feeling really solid though! I don't intend this to be any kind of big fancy game, I'm just doing it to learn. It may never even be completed.

Working in Blueprints is really interesting and cool. It's kind of limiting and clunky, but there's just something really fun about linking up nodes with wires to create functional code. I wouldn't do it if I were going for an efficient way to get my ideas onto the screen, but sometimes it IS a lot more efficient. For instance, if you want to make an enemy that runs at the player, navigating around obstacles, that's literally one node with a couple of inputs, while it would be several files full of hundreds of lines of code and data in C++ (granted that's just because the Unreal Engine guys have already implemented this algorithm for you - if you use their C++ system, you could also probably do it in one line of code, since you're just calling the function they wrote).

But the whole thing is a whole new paradigm that I'm really enjoying as a hobby. And I think I can make something real and playable doing it, I just have to let go of my need for full control, because sometimes you try to do something and you find it's basically impossible. But the things you can do are plenty impressive enough, you just have to adjust your expectations to what it can do rather than what you imagined doing. Anyway, I think it's a cool way to learn fancy game making, and there are thousands of tutorial videos on Youtube that can guide you through it, if you're interested in a fun version of game programming that isn't too serious.
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  Source code! 05:38 PM -- Mon May 20, 2019  

I let people in the Discord chat know about this a little while ago, but it's probably worth sharing here where more people might see it... I have released the source code to a bunch of Hamumu games! You can visit this folder to grab them, but actually your better bet at this point would be to visit SpaceManiac's HamSandwich Github where SpaceManiac has set up a repository where a bunch of people are working on updates and weirdness for these games.

And don't forget to stop in the Discord chat where you can hear a lot more about it from the people who are actually doing stuff with the games. Where this will lead, I do not know, but that's where you can find out as it happens!
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