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  Estoy en siesta! 11:58 AM -- Sun March 27, 2005  

See you next week, suckers!
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  HaX0rZ 05:54 PM -- Wed March 23, 2005  

Yeah, so our website got hacked last week. Just a warning to people who run a website: if you're using AWStats, upgrade to the latest version ASAP! It had a big security hole. The hackers didn't do anything to the site, they just used it to spam all of Brazil with a whole lot of garbage (viruses, I believe). The extremely helpful guys at ServInt (my hosts) helped me clean it all up, and I didn't lose a single thing! Except of course my patience waiting for TEN THOUSAND bounce emails to arrive yesterday morning alone. People are sure lame.

Today I put up the warning about CDs not getting shipped until April 5th (you can't see it, it just pops up if you try to order a CD). If you do not know, we will be taking a trip to La Paz, Mexico on Sunday and staying there until April 4th. Why did I cut off the CD shipping so soon? Tons of stuff to do with family and Easter and getting ready for the trip, and because I'm trying to move to the new CD shipping system, but this trip is getting in the way! So I have very few CDs on hand. It's an awful feeling, but I actually keep hoping people don't order CDs from me right now. I love getting download orders, but I dread each CD order. Which isn't a good mindset for success. That will all be fixed when the new stuff is set up - then I will be super happy with CD orders, because I won't have to lift a finger at all!

Nothing's going to get done on Sol Hunt this week. In fact, tomorrow is my last day I can really do anything on anything. But here's a teaser... since I am only doing 2 hours of Sol Hunt a day, I need something else to fill my time. Feel free to speculate on just what else may be getting worked on! Not that I don't have enough non-development tasks, but I've got a block of time set aside that I've labeled "Alternagame" as in, an alternative game to Sol Hunt.

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  Manic Monday 05:30 PM -- Mon March 21, 2005  

Wow, trying to plow through bills and get ready for taxes! It's a monday! Released 5 new Supreme add-ons too. Yesterday was very productive - we planted our garden, built a grape arbor, planted a grape tree (we already had one, but we wanted to give it a friend on the other side of the arbor), planted flowers in our previously barren front walk, got me a haircut, watched a movie, and assorted household chores. Beat that!

The Sol Hunt Super Alpha Sillyfest went well! Still I know nothing about the mysterious "stuck in a wall" bug, and several of the people playing experienced horrendous lag, but then again, I was hosting the game on my wireless laptop. I would hope it would improve running on a real server. But still, we only had about 9 players at the maximum (and that only briefly, sadly), so I'm disappointed to see it break down so quickly. Still, it was absolutely smooth as silk from my end, and never had any problems outside of the wall bug. It was awesome! Lots of fun mayhem. Makes me think I really do have a chance of creating an online game.

Now I'm kind of stuck again - where to go next? I think it's time to get to work on the editor. I have some good ideas for the tile system and stuff that should make it more flexible than Dr. Lunatic. I also have this interesting idea for the scripting system (for monsters, and "specials", and even tile effects). If you've ever played Carnage Heart, you know what the idea is! I think it will be fun and something that anybody can do.
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  Sneak Peek: Sol Hunt 07:56 PM -- Sat March 19, 2005  

Whee! I should've taken this shot earlier when I was thinking of it. We had as many as 9 players on at once, I think. It was by no means perfect, but then again, I was running the server on my wireless laptop. Anyway, this is a shot of the current state of Sol Hunt - an online battle of stick figures armed with little yellow dots. It's got some nasty bugs, but it's fun! More to come in time.
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  SHOTGUN'D! 06:27 PM -- Fri March 18, 2005  

I just had a nice round of Sol Hunt multiplayer with some other indies! Well, kind of a lame round. The game's pretty lame right now. But you can see the potential, provided I can fix the agonizing bug that I spent all day messing with. Hopefully I can have it fixed in time to try it out with you all. Thusly I announce:

Tomorrow, March 19th, at 4:00 PM PST, visit the Sol Hunt forum for the link to download the current work in progress, and come join us in an all-out Sol bash!

It'll be super fun, if we can get more than 5 or 6 people to join. Hopefully I'll have this bug fixed by then, but if not, all you need to know is that if you join the game and find yourself stuck in the wall, just exit and rejoin a bunch of times until you're not stuck! It's the most ridiculous bug ever.
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  Guitars Are Tricky 05:48 PM -- Thu March 17, 2005  

Man, I don't know how people play these things. You gotta contort your hand all over, and the strings still buzz anyway! It's maddening! But I'm doing my ten minute exercises, maybe I'm even developing some skills. On the other hand, without a teacher, it's more likely I'm just developing really bad habits.

Got a calendar program today with an alarm feature, so I rigged up my daily schedule as a series of alarms. Should be fun to experience.

I will posit here what I said on the forums, see what you think:

I have signed up to have discs printed by www.discmakers.com (self-service option, it's pretty cool if you have some CDs you want to make yourself!), which will then be shipped out by Plimus (my new order processing company). Here are the options I have, and what they cost me:
  • DVD case $7.44+shipping - Just like before (but with nicer printing quality! They look good), but with no manual inside. The big problem I have with this is that the sample I got has an extremely weak center stud holding the CD in. The CD arrived loose in the case (with lots of little scratches on it, though it worked fine), and I quickly discovered why - I could put it back on the stud and shake it quickly once, and it would pop right off. I was not happy and told them so, we'll see if they have a reply to that. It wasn't broken or anything, just a really bad design.
  • Jewel Case $8.24+shipping - Like the old hamumu days (with nicer printing, again!). Manual, tray card, color CD, the works. Very pretty, and very pricey. I have not seen a sample, but I can't imagine it has the looseness problem the DVD case does. I've never seen anything like that before!
  • Flexi-plastic $6.69+shipping - The cheapest option, and I think maybe kinda cool. Just a "semi-clear flexible plastic case" with the color CD inside. No cover art, no manual, just the disc looking pretty.
  • Paper sleeve $6.49+shipping - Only 20 cents cheaper than the flexiplastic. It does have one advantage though, see below. Oh, and I'm sure it would have the lowest shipping cost.
All those costs are based on getting batches of 100 done at Discmakers and stored at Plimus (which adds $4 packaging+handling to ship each one). In addition, if I store more than a 3-month supply at Plimus, they will charge me $1 per cubic foot per month to store the excess. So the larger size options will end up costing me money in that way, but probably not much. Even DVD cases, you can fit about 30 in a cubic foot, so even if I sold zero of them, it'd cost about $3 a month to store 100 (of course, that's 100 PER game... but on the other hand, if I was gonna sell zero, I wouldn't bother with the whole thing!).

So I will of course charge for them based on the cost... I want to make roughly the same profit on a CD sale as on a download, so that it's all your business whether you want one or the other. So it'd cost maybe $8-$10 total (I think Plimus automatically adds the true shipping cost, so I'd charge just the rest of the cost).
You can look at the various container options here if you're interested.

I just don't know!
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  2 Hours Is All It Takes 08:19 PM -- Wed March 16, 2005  

I did it! I worked on Sol Hunt! For a little over 2 hours. What I ended up with was a little shooter game where the players, as purple cubes, shoot yellow dots at each other trying to kill each other. All online! So it works. It's nice. I think I'll post up a little test game on the forum and we can all shoot at each other, maybe this weekend, once I've gotten it a little tighter (right now, when you get killed you have to exit the game and re-enter it!) and added scoring and some obstacles to hide behind or something. We'll see though, because I really should be working on different aspects, like the tilemap (right now you play on a completely black screen).

I also read Following Through, stem to stern, all yesterday.

I did so to avoid doing work.
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  Random(MAX_INT); 01:10 PM -- Tue March 15, 2005  

So many random thoughts swirling about...

I have so very not worked in Sol Hunt in like a week and a half. To be fair, I have been super busy with other things (setting up our new order system and CD stuff - which is still not done, but I have to wait for the sample CD to arrive to see if it's okay), but I've also been avoiding it. It's hard! And I'm stuck-ish! I'm thinking about forgetting the internet stuff at least temporarily, and just get the basic gameplay running, hopefully architected somewhat towards potentially being internetable, but mainly just WORKING, so there's something to play, and something to get me interested in working on it again. Heaven help me, yesterday I thought up an alternate version of Sol Hunt I could be doing!

I'm trying to learn guitar. Well, as of yesterday. I've certainly fiddled with them enough. My wife has a guitar, and this "learn to play" book which involves doing 10 minutes of exercises a day, over a very long period of time. I hope I will stick with it enough to get some measure of control. It's cool. I want to learn music theory in general, as I do love music very much.

I'm a vegetarian. I have been for probably 2 years now, maybe just 1.5 years, I don't know. And you know, I'm really glad I'm a vegetarian. There's so many upsides. There's one big downside: no yummy ham. But that is actually also an insidious upside - I'm a suburban white male American from an upper-middle-class family. It improves my brain to actually experience "doing without". It still hasn't managed to put a dent in my extreme laziness (ooh, something for the next paragraph!), but there's just something to it. To be deprived... it's character-building. You know, it's like taking away your security blanket and realizing you can live without it. I really like meat, but I sure don't need it. And deciding for myself that I won't eat it is empowering. It also means never worrying about what might be lurking in the scratches on our cutting boards!

Laziness comment: I have a book called "Following Through" sitting on a bookshelf with a bookmark in it at about the halfway point. That bookmark hasn't moved in years. That's a funny anecdote if you think about it (and possibly one I've put on this Journal before, sorry if I did). I'm thinking about picking it up again though, because I could sure use some kind of instruction on how not to be lazy. It's a real problem for me, because I've only ever held one real job in my life, and that was only for about 9 months... and it was NOT a demanding job. But here I am, an indie, and I live or die by my own work now. So being unlazy would be of great benefit to me. The problem is, books that tell you how not to be lazy tend to be new-agey claptrap that I just laugh at (they may be super useful, but the message is lost on me when I giggle and point). I don't want to invigorate my transfiguration potentiality... I just want to get things done! Come to think of it, there's a book called Getting Things Done. Maybe I should look at it. How do you make yourself do things?

*Note: I wrote this nice long entry to avoid doing work!
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  In The Biz 08:07 PM -- Mon March 7, 2005  

So I spent all day today working on the new ordering page! That is so not exciting for you! As part of all this simplifying of my life (like dropping out of CD making), I'm switching to a payment processor that does all the work for you (which is what I used to have a couple years ago before I went to a merchant account). That means giving up a lot of the profit, but while I was kind of shaky on whether it was really worth doing initially, as I set about setting up all the little parts I actually saw more and more reasons why it was a good idea. Not that I can name any particularly, but it's just going to completely erase all the recordkeeping tasks I had to do, not to mention handle paying affiliates and contractors automatically. I'm very quickly running out of things other than game development to do! That's good. Oh, and the new ordering page isn't up yet, so no need to look for it (plus it's not going to look much different!).

I know I haven't done the monthly newsletter yet, but I'd like to get out the three (or 4?) add-ons WTG has sent to me, and hopefully the new Supreme patch first, so the newsletter sounds more exciting.

Hey, I don't know if this has been announced yet, but at the very end of this month, we are off to Baja California for a bonafide vacation! About a week. Everything will still run peachy, especially if I manage to offload the CDs before then - if that happens, it'll all run completely without me! But our hotel will have wireless access anyway, so I'll be online all the time as usual for tech support or whatever.

This life-simplifying stuff runs deeper than just freeing me up to focus on the core of my business. We're also trying to simplify our real lives. Getting rid of lots of stuff we never use and general clutter. We've cleaned out a few rooms and it's amazing how much stuff you don't need. That's why I am amused by the whole Total Mayhem situation happening now. It's good to just let things go - nobody's ever going to go back and read those old Total Mayhem posts (and why would they?!). The beauty of mayhem is that it never ends, there's always more. We can start fresh and continue to rampage madly. I threw out lots of magazines with notably useful information as opposed to mindless spam, just because I knew that, useful or not, I wasn't going to go digging through them if I ever did think of a question and actually somehow realized the answer lurked in the magazine heap somewhere. I'm a bit of a natural packrat, so simplifying is both a difficult job and yet very liberating. It helps that I also have a highly organized side which can appreciate the beauty of empty spaces.
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  Update 04:07 PM -- Thu March 3, 2005  

Here's the Sol Hunt progress: Very very bad. I'm pounding my head against the wall constantly trying to piece together this network stuff. Currently what works is that you can move your purple square (with your name under it!) around the screen... in single player mode. Multiplayer is currently dead, though I think it's not far from working. I reached the point last night where I finally declared that I would devote only 2 hours a day to serious work on Sol Hunt and not a moment longer. Why is that more productive? Becuase as it stood, I spent the entire day studiously avoiding working on it, and studiously feeling guilty and frustrated that I was making no progress. So now I only have to dedicate myself to it for a little while, and it's not hard to do that. Hopefully the rest of the day, I can relax. It's not really working too well, but I was more productive today for 2 hours than the entire past week!

I am certainly hoping that this is just a hump I have to get over. I think it is. One would imagine that once I have a basic networked blip moving around I may be able to begin making an actual game around it. I don't know. It's just very overwhelming.

So with so little time being spent on the proper project, what to do? I have some alternate easy projects I could be bumbling on, but I think the priority right now is working out the CD situation. I think I may have found a solution to keep the discs almost as fancy (just no manual) and almost as cheap. We shall see! Just feeling very drained these days.
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