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  What's New 06:33 PM -- Mon July 18, 2005  

So I liked PSP9, and I bought it, and voila, my first ever delivery to the new house has occurred! PSP is great. I hope 9 turns out as great as before, but I really liked the improvements to the vector tools (and yes, the interface is notably worse than it was - simple is good, people!). Here's something else new: a new Nature Note!

Last night, Zazzy kept poking away and playing with the edge of a pillow, and I thought it was funny - it looked like she was just reacting to seeing her own foot underneath the pillow moving it around. Then a little while later, she went chasing off a little ways, and suddenly I saw it. A centipede about 4 inches long, squirming at light speed across the carpet. Yeek. It was scary! We stopped her from eating it and got set up to capture it, but it dove into the wall, squeezing in between the baseboards. It's amazing how much it could compress itself. A very creepy monster.

So I of course googled info on California centipedes, and learned that we have a house centipede. There was also a handy chart on the differences between millipedes and centipedes. It went something like this (paraphrasing slightly):
Legs per segmentTwo to threeOne
Moves faster than a greased-up polecatNoOh yes
Enjoys consuming human fleshNoThoroughly
Is utterly harmless and good fun at partiesYesNot in the least
Stays outsideCertainlyWill burrow through your skull

I think that's not precisely what was on the chart, but that's the gist of it - for every question (other than leg count), it came down to "Millipede: harmless, Centipede: whirling death machine". But in the end, in truth, I actually felt better after my googling - another rather harmless beast, but really the creepiest of the lot. And far and away the biggest! I had a very hard time sleeping, knowing he was lurking in the wall a couple feet away. But at least if one of the kitties munches on him, they won't die or anything.

PS - We just bought a thermometer. It's 104 degrees and 25% humidity. No wonder the bugs are all coming inside!
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  How May I Help You? 05:45 PM -- Fri July 15, 2005  

I hope you guys appreciate Hamumu customer support. In case you don't, here is an example of customer support from a... less than helpful company.

First, I tried to send an email. See, I got an invoice from them that said:

Questions about this invoice?
  • http://www.earthlink.net/support/invoicefaq/ for common billing questions
  • http://support.earthlink.net/chat/ to trade secure, instant messages with a friendly Live Chat agent
  • Send email to invoice.inquiry@earthlink.net or mail to above address

So I emailed! The reply?

We received your email on 7/15/05, however in order to better serve you EarthLink only accepts new messages created by completing our online email form. To ensure that your inquiry is handled by an EarthLink representative we ask that you resubmit your request using our online email form which you can access using the "support by email" link on your personal start page, or, by inserting the following URL in your web browser:...

So... I went to their website to do their online email form. After parading through a series of questions about my problem, I reached "Sorry, we don't handle that by email. Click here to do a live chat with a representative". And silly me, I did it.

Welcome to Earthlink LiveChat. Your chat session will begin shortly. Not at home and you want to read your email? With EarthLink Web Mail you can check your email from any computer with an internet connection!

'Sam G.' says: Thank you for contacting EarthLink LiveChat, how may I help you today?
jamul: I was told a couple weeks ago that a charge for signing up satellite service would be refunded, and it has not been
Sam G.: Do you also have a dial up connection, now?
jamul: yes, I cancelled satellite before they even made an appointment to come out, I am on dialup
Sam G.: To best assist you, you need to speak with a Customer Service Representative. Please standby while I transfer you. Please wait while I transfer the chat to the best suited site operator.

'Shaun S' says: Thank you for contacting EarthLink LiveChat, how may I help you today?
jamul: I was told a couple weeks ago that a charge for signing up satellite service would be refunded, and it has not been
Shaun S: Hello, I see you've already been chatting. Please give me a moment so I can read the previous chat and pick up where you left off.
Shaun S: To best assist you, you need to speak with a Satellite Customer Service Representative. Please standby while I transfer you. Please wait while I transfer the chat to the best suited site operator.

'Dylan D' says: Thank you for contacting EarthLink LiveChat, how may I help you today?
jamul: I was told a couple weeks ago that a charge for signing up satellite service would be refunded, and it has not been
Dylan D: I see that you've already been chatting. Please give me a moment so I can read the previous chat and pick up where you left off.
Dylan D: I understand that you want to have refund for the Satellite charges billed on the account.
Dylan D: As your issue is Satellite services related, I need to transfer you to our Satellite Customer Support department. Do you want me to transfer you?
jamul: sure, that'd be fun
Dylan D: Please be online while I transfer you. Please wait while I transfer the chat to the best suited site operator.

'Vic V' says: Thank you for contacting EarthLink LiveChat, how may I help you today?
jamul: I was told a couple weeks ago that a charge for signing up satellite service would be refunded, and it has not been
Vic V: Hello, I see you've already been chatting. Please give me a moment so I can read the previous chat and pick up where you left off.
Vic V: Thanks for holding.
Vic V: In order to assist you better in this regard, please contact the Satellite customer service at 800-635-0373.
jamul: yeah

Yeah. Earthlink is not Hamumu recommended. (PS - there was a 2-3 minute delay between each of the chat messages I received from these guys)
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  I Like Pie 07:19 PM -- Tue July 12, 2005  

I baked an apple pie! It looks good, let's hope it is. Whenever a recipe calls for something like "6 cups of chopped apples", I'm at a loss. How can I tell from looking at whole apples (with their cores in the middle too!) how many cups of chopped apple I'll end up with? Well, turns out I can't. I always end up with lots of extras. So I also made a mini-pie, since I also had leftover crust (I guess that means I rolled the crust too thin? I don't know, I'm no chef). I like mini-pies. Every time I make something like this, there's always leftover stuff, and I can't bear to throw it away, so I invent some kind of weird little concoction that sounds about right and throw it in the oven with the main dish. I have made little pieces of cinnamon pie "toast" before. Not terribly good, really. Pie crust is not very sweet. But this mini-pie is looking good.

Inspired by all this vector art (and how awkward PSP7 is about doing vector art), I am downloading the PSP9 demo. I didn't even know they were UP to 9 yet! I hope it's good, because at 20% done, it's telling me there's still five and a half hours to go. Super happy go go dialup!!
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  Sneak Peek: Super Happy Go Go Ninja Time 07:11 PM -- Tue July 12, 2005  

Another sneak peek so soon! Because I'm still pounding away at these tiles. Here you see two things: firstly, the bamboo stuff I was talking about. I really like how it looks except when it's exposed on the bottom. I think I need to come up with some kind of special bottom piece for it (hard to figure out what to do - how often are bamboo stakes suspended floating in midair in the real world?).

Secondly, since I got so many brutally painful complaints about the "cinnamon roll logs", that totally crushed my ego and made me cry and cry and cry, here are the new square logs (both with and without metal bands). They kind of look like some kind of fancy japanese carpentry instead of naturally occurring log grain, but I decided that fit the other tiles at least as well! Now, who dares be the first to complain about the bamboo being in squares? I love that roof on the bamboo building. Can't take credit for it. But who knows what else in this shot is or isn't my work?! I do! There's some other cool stuff too, but you'll just have to wait to see it in the game.
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  Taking My Ball And Going Home 07:06 PM -- Mon July 11, 2005  

Working with other humans is very very difficult. With the artist I just worked with to get these tiles, things went great - we worked out what he would do (whittled it way way down to meet my budget), then he showed me samples that were really cool, and turned out really great work in just a few days. Unfortunately, none of it is usable in the game. So I spent the past 7 hours or so working with it to try to squeeze something out of it. I think I'm getting somewhere, but it's an uphill battle, and it really makes me feel like I just wasted a lot of money.

On the upside, seeing his work helped me with developing a style to the game, and got me into doing art myself. In today's sneak peek, I actually made a bunch of the tiles in there myself, in addition to massive touchups all around. I won't say which ones I made, in the hopes that they look as good as his and you can't tell! But it inspired me to work more with vector graphics in Paintshop Pro, which is a really cool way to do art, and one that I can almost do right!

Doing my own art is a great feeling. I think I enjoy it more than the other aspects of development (except for design, which is just plain playing around). The only reason I went to an artist is that I know my work isn't up to current standards, especially my tile work. Looks like I'm going to have to deal with that for yet another game anyway, though. Especially since I could only afford to have a small bit of the graphics done by him anyway, it would still have looked very Hamumu all around. And you know, I don't mind. It's a ton more work, and it's very hard to do right, but I like having my games be "me". I just wish I had the musical skill to do that part too, and then the credits to my games could just say "Everything By Mike". Well, except for all the testing and free content I always squeeze out of you guys. I'm pretty smart like that.

Nature note: we saw a group of coyotes crossing the road. They're so cute and fuzzy! I think I will invite them inside to play with the kitties.
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  Sneak Peek: Super Happy Go Go Ninja Time 06:52 PM -- Mon July 11, 2005  

The artist's tiles came in! His work is really awesome looking... unfortunately you can't see that here, because he created it at a huge resolution and it doesn't translate well down to small size. I've just spent the entire day today working with those tiles myself (and creating a bunch of my own!) to get them to work in the context of the game. It's a massive amount of work. So far, this here is the best I've come up with. I kinda like it, but it is quite busy. The ninja himself will be undergoing an overhaul in the future which will make him much easier to spot on a background like this. I'm having a really hard time figuring out how and where to tone down the detail and noise to keep all the pretty stuff I like, yet still make it playable instead of a screen full of wild colors. The worst part is how the roofs look so much like you should be running on them, but they're just background. Due to the nature of the game, they'd have to jut out as blocks to be solid, but doing that would make them hideous.

This is actually only half of the tileset, and not my favorite half. The other half is a nifty bamboo fortress kind of thing (just like this stone building, but made of bamboo). I'm looking forward to spending another day trying to hammer that into some semblance of usefulness too...

PS - this is a temporary background that I scribbled in paintshop. That part at least will definitely look much better!

PPS - The thing about the Incomprehensible Line means that I've added some stuff to one of the scripts, but I have yet to actually implement the game's ability to read that new stuff.
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  Chillin 10:46 AM -- Fri July 8, 2005  

In Ninja News, not much yesterday. Got some preliminary designs of tiles from the artist that looked cool. Reminds me of the game I-Ninja immediately. Sadly, I am poor, so I can only afford to have the artist do the tiles. EVERYTHING else is going to be homegrown, which is a shame because his art is really great, and I know I won't be able to pull it off nearly as well. But on the flipside, I like doing my own art. It's a lot of work, which I don't like, but the satisfaction of people buying something that's all Hamumu is very nice. I have some interesting stylistic thoughts on this game, there will be some changes to the Time Ninja himself as well.

I also sent out some discussion to a certain musical maestro about the music. If we can pull it off, there will be something TRULY amazing going on there (and here you're thinking "what could be truly amazing about the music? Did you get the rights to use Elvis?"). Don't hold your breath on that though, it will probably just end up being good old Hamumu music (from the same musician who brought the amazing Dr. Lunatic soundtrack).

Monthly Merge time is half up and I have already received many. This was a much more popular merge than last month!

No good Nature Notes today. We have seen more of the gigantic black bugs, that look like stinkbugs kinda, but I don't think they are. They walk real slowly. And we put out a solar water fountain for our baby quail to visit, but so far it's not solaring. We've had it a long time, it could well be dead. See you tomorrow.
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  Sneak Peek: Super Happy Go Go Ninja Time 06:51 PM -- Wed July 6, 2005  

The level editor is now nearly complete. Only the fancy hard bits remain, like a file menu, and a "Are You Sure?" for exiting (I just hate writing those!). In this shot you can also see the symbols for the four teams - everybody in this shot belongs to Team Evil (computer controlled team that is opposed to all other teams), except those 4 lanterns with symbols above them. Each of them belongs to one of the player teams. The editor should be quite easy to use. The only cryptic thing in this shot is the "S>" on the screen. That's a Start Point, which is where players come into the game. You don't put players into the level yourself. Anybody you put into a level is computer controlled. Players get added when the level begins, at Start Points, and if you're in a multiplayer mode where guys can respawn, they'll respawn at Start Points (randomly choosing any of the ones belonging to their team). In certain modes, even Team Evil uses Start Points. I should probably add some nice little icon for the start point instead of having it use plain text.
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  The Similarities Between Deep Fryers and MMORPGs 10:16 PM -- Tue July 5, 2005  

Latest Nature Notes:

We stood in our yard to watch fireworks that are very close by, hooray! A bat zoomed around us in circles maybe 2 feet away, and also cavorted about, hopefully eating those horrible copper beetles. I hate those things. Another bat flew overhead, maybe 20 feet above us, and when it was 50 feet or more away, you could clearly hear its wings flapping, sounded like a dog panting. It was huge. The opposite of huge were what we discovered today! The pair of quails who live in our yard were out front and we were watching them when all of a sudden a herd of baby quail came out of the bushes and ran, following them like ducklings. They were teensy! There were probably a dozen of them! In opposite of teeny news, there's a track in our yard that I'm hoping is manmade, something getting dragged along the ground. Because if it's not, we have a snake that is upwards of 3 inches in diameter.

Latest Ninja Notes:

Getting into the swing of things for sure. If you didn't know already (don't know if I mentioned it before), there are these poles that stick out of the wall which you can leap up and grab onto. You spin around them like a gymnast, and can tap the button to release in either direction. They just add to the flippy fun. I've also now added the markers for multiplayer - I decided it was too much trouble to do different colored guys for the teams, so there will be markers floating above your head indicating your team. And lastly, besides some fun design work, I've put together a lot of the official editor stuff. It's now much snazzier than it was. It's a WAY simpler editor than Dr. L, because as yet at least there is nothing like Specials in this game. There may end up being a basic version of them, but nothing fancy. This is an arcade game, not an adventure. I hope to have the editor pretty much done tomorrow, though there will surely be room for more stuff in it. In this game, you do a lot of your editing in text files, not in the game editor. You get to script your own bullets, enemies, and items. What's kind of fun is that the enemies all use one button just like you. In theory, any enemy can be controlled by the player, if there's a level set up for the player to control them (of course, the more stationary enemies would be a little boring). I'm adding one level to each Era where you do actually play as one of the enemies from the world. A dynamic and interesting one, not a stationary one.

I've created all the AI code, it should be working (it's not too bright, I'm sure, but it'll give the illusion of some kind of life), but I've been sidestepping into all this editor and multiplayer stuff to get to the point where I can test it. I could've hacked something together, but hey, this stuff needs to get done anyway, right?

Still sticking to the horrible slavedriver schedule. How long will it last? It's hard. I miss having fun. But getting things done is starting to have its own sneaky appeal. Maybe this is how people who aren't lazy feel.

Oh, PS, the title of this entry (if it doesn't get cut short in the database) is a reference to the fact that once you pour oil into a deep fryer, you're kind of committed to frying repeatedly, because otherwise you're just wasting the oil, and it'll go bad. In much the same way, if you buy an MMORPG, you have to keep on playing it all the time, because you're paying that monthly fee anyway. We made fried wontons for dinner. Yum.
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