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  Free Dumb Fours 09:51 PM -- Thu August 24, 2006  

As opposed to my usual whining, I'd just like to thumbs-up-ify a game I recently got. It's Freedom Force Vs. The Third Reich and it's cool! It's totally silly beyond measure - it's a superhero game, with totally intense comic book style to it, which means you get voice-overs (everything in the game is spoken, with really funny voice acting) that sound like Adam West and say things like "Could this be the end for our intrepid heroes?" The actual gameplay is sort of like an RTS game, although it's more like a turn-based tactical strategy thing... except it's real time. Makes sense? You just click where you want your heroes to go, click on badguys to kill, and pause the game really really often if you want to have any chance to survive. It's a really simple system to control, where you right click on enemies (or objects or whatever) and it pops up a menu listing the powers you can use on that target. The game pauses while the menu is up, then click one and boom! You can also pick up cars and throw them at people, or blow up buildings to collapse them on them. The story is very fun and ridiculous too, with interesting missions to undertake, instead of just "kill 'em all". Very nice.

You know what else is nice, and the reason I bought it? It cost $5.90. I got it at GoGamer, which offers many absurdly low prices (amid other ordinary ones) on PC games. Looking right now, I see No One Lives Forever and Ghost Master for $3.90. Freedom Force is still there at $5.90, you better go get it! If you order 3 games, they also give you a free game - Seven Kingdoms II. I tried it out, and it's way much for me to handle (especially with no manual...). Like an RTS, but with the complexity of hardcore strategy games at the same time. I got it because I also got Rage Of Mages (1 & 2 in a combo pack - I remember playing the demo years ago and think I liked it... it was cheap), and a couple Mac games for the spouse. When I see cheap prices, I buy! That's genetic, inherited from my mom. Whenever I go visit her, she gives me stuff, like Cap'n Crunch, fruit juice, and peanut butter - things she bought, but has no use for, nor even likes. She just bought them because they were really cheap. I'm not that bad yet, I at least only buy things I intend to use!
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  Scary stuff 11:07 AM -- Tue August 22, 2006  

A couple semi-interesting nature notes, starring no new animals (that we know of...):

1 - We had our first When Animals Attack moment! Solee was reading a book outside when a deadly ANT struck, impaling the tender flesh of her foot. The ensuing tremendous pain explained why our big dog Trooper always goes nuts when gets bit by an ant and spends hours limping and gnawing on his foot. The pain lasts a good long while, like most of a day! Researching this on the internet I learned several fun things: ants don't bite! They sting. They use their mandibles to grab on, then they jab with a stinger, and if you don't knock them away, they'll pivot around their jaw and continue stinging in a circle. Why sting? Because they are the same order of insects as bees and wasps, which makes sense if you think about how they look. I always thought ants bit, though. Recommended treatment: antihistamines, topical corticosteroids (like hydrocortisone, which we conveniently had), bee sting kits if you are allergic. The inflammation and pain can last up to 72 hours, and can cause the same anaphylactic shock that bee stings can cause (see, it's that family tree again!). It can be fatal if you are allergic! The most interesting thing was that 50% of people who live in the areas frequented by these beasts get bitten (and no place is more frequented than our yard). Good thing Solee got bit! I'm in the clear!

2 - Explain this one. We took a walk up our hill and on the rock at the top were a bunch of sticks. I found it odd. I was about to point it out to my wife when she said "the sticks? Yep! I wiped them off just yesterday too!" We proceeded to muse about how they got there, then wiped them off. The next day, more sticks. This is a creepy Blair Witch thing. There are nearby trees, but none actually overhanging the rock, and these are some solid sticks, not a bunch of leaves or something. The wind didn't drop them on this rock. If it was blowing that hard, it'd sweep them off the rock too! The only reasonable explanation is that a living being is placing them there. A large quantity of sticks, replenished daily. But what creature, and why? We have no answers, only greater mysteries. One day, science will conquer this, but until then, it is all superstition and fear. I would think it was teenagers, but we have an electric fence now. We'd hear them yelping.

So the discovery of #2 there led into a discussion of how The Blair Witch Project was a scary movie. In fact, it was the last scary movie (the only?). Japanese horror movies are fairly unsettling, but they're not scary. American horror movies are funny and stupid, but they're not scary. No, The Blair Witch was it. After seeing that movie, you just kinda walk around a little nervous. Not even sure what you're nervous about, since you're not in the woods. It's just a general disquiet. A fear that maybe the world isn't as straightforward as it appears, that just maybe people could get taken away by an unseen force, or sticks could get deposited on your rock. Then you get over it and have a Moolatte.

Of course there was a massive backlash against that movie, and tons of people just thought it was stupid, boring, annoying, motion-sicknessing, and so on. Not us though. We found it scary. And yes, we know it isn't real!
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  Sneak Peek: Loonyland II: Winter Woods 02:19 PM -- Fri August 18, 2006  

Pardon the JPEGginess of this picture, but with all that bumpy stuff on the ground, it was a huge file otherwise.

This is of course the Haunted Highway, where you are beseiged by Ghost Dogs and Ghost Monkeys. Interestingly, despite being ghosts, they can be hit by the steam-powered caravans driving through. It's fun to lure them into getting run over - that 28 damage is almost enough to finish them off in one hit. It's also enough to kill you in about 3 hits, so dodging traffic is a priority. Also in this shot we see a sock dropped by one of the monkeys (they're sock monkeys, or were before they became ghosts, I suppose), and that's about all that's new and exciting to tell you here.

I'm in the midst of writing the dramatic showdown for one of the two sides you can play. There's intrigue, conspiracy, secrets, and ancient prophecies! What more could you want? Crime? We've got that. Backstabbing? In. Highway robbery? That's even the name of a quest! Black market arms dealers? Done. Funny outfits? To a T! A surprise appearance? Check. An in-joke that only members of my immediate family will ever get? Complete. It's the best Hamumu plot ever. That's not saying much.

It'll be nice when the sides come together again and I don't have to do everything twice. I've also finished the last of the maps for the first part of the game. It's looking good! I've even made dozens of the million missing sound effects.
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  What Not To Do 08:08 PM -- Tue August 15, 2006  

Lessons I have learned from playing other peoples' games:

From Champions Of Norrath: You know, my stories aren't good. They're not even okay... they're stupid. They're just thrown in to give you a reason to play. But they are light years beyond the mumbo-jumbo, phlebotnum-riddled, utterly insipid trash that 'commercial' games are made of. I mean, they pay people to make quests like "I don't feel like going back to my daddy's house. Find my five lost kittens for me, and I will." Now, that's a quest I'd totally use in my games, but that's because my games are dumb! They're supposed to be! I recognize the dumbness of a quest like that! They're trying to make a serious heroic adventure! And the dialogue. Oh heavens...

From Guild Wars: Just throwing in another fine example of horrendously bad dialogue and voice acting that is so bad that I don't even understand what made them choose to put it in the game, as opposed to complete silence. Or just asking their little sister in kindergarten to read the words on the page, because you know she wouldn't be half as bad as Danika in this game. You know, they pay people to do this stuff. Okay, moving on.

From Anarchy Online: I was concerned about how many different controls there are in Loonyland 2, and all the different numbers you have to think about and can juggle around. Then I played this ridiculous game. I literally spent 2 minutes trying to figure out what it meant by "drag and drop" (hint: it's not "drag the icon over there and drop it"!), and you don't wanna know how hard it was to figure out how to exit the game (hint: clicking "exit to windows" has no effect). Then there are the things you do when you level up, scattering literally thousands of points across about 50 different attributes. Then there's the equipment - do I wear the armor that gives 1, 2, 1, 1, 3, 5 to electrical, physical, acid, chemical, energy, and ionic damage, or this other one with 2, 4, 2, 1, 1, 3 to a completely different set of damages? You know what, I have to stop. There's just no way I can explain how deeply wrong this game is. Much like the voice acting in guild wars, I'm just aghast that they shipped a game that plays like this. That they expect human beings to derive joy from it. That they didn't think "maybe the Exit To Windows button should exit the game!" or "it might be difficult to compare armors given that they have 20 different kinds of damage, maybe we should have it show little arrows whether the armor is better than what you are wearing"... or maybe "how about less types of damage!?" And oh the camera controls, and movement controls, and every other aspect of it. It's INSANE! No wonder WoW instantly rose to complete domination of the MMO market. These games are unplayable! All they had to do was make a game where the buttons do what they say they do, and they're #1.

From Every Round-Up Game I've Ever Reviewed: Man, games are horrible.

So overall, I'm just left feeling good about myself. I don't even have to do a good job, and it's still going to be one of the best things out there. Maybe it's me... I just see things differently. Well, according to my eyes, it's gonna be fun. And Anarchy Online ISN'T. Let's hope others share my unique vision of entertainment.
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  Preview! 11:25 AM -- Wed August 9, 2006  

Click here to read a preview of the much-ballyhooed upcoming smash hit from Hamumu Software, Loonyland II: Winter Woods. It won't tell you as much as you could learn from sneak peeks, really, but it's fun when there's press coverage.
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  Sneak Peek: Loonyland II: Winter Woods 04:12 PM -- Tue August 8, 2006  

Same pic!? It's not that I haven't done a lot of stuff. But at the point the game is at now, there's really nothing I can show you that won't be giving away things I want to keep secret.

The first portion of the game is almost done now, including the major chunk which has the unique element of allowing you to play it in 2 different ways, with unique quests for each side. Then there's a second portion, which is shorter than the first, then the finale portion, which is the shortest of course. Almost every talent and skill is completely in and attainable. I'm making sure you get all the talents in the first portion (except ones you fail to find, I suppose), and most of the skills, with a few more skills in the second part. Then you can spend the rest of the 2nd part and the whole third part leveling up and improving those abilities for your ultimate victory over whatever mysterious threat you face in this game. Hmmm, what ever could it be!? Who knows!

Have I mentioned yet that this is the most complex game I've ever made? Supreme was huge, but only because it had tons of monsters and levels. Those don't add complexity, they're just content. This one is a tangled mass of stuff. There's just so much in there! I know it's been taking forever, but really, it's time well spent. And needed!

I should confess now that there are in fact several people who have played an alpha version. Lucky them! No, you can't become one of them! They are an elite group of highly skilled shaolin warriors. Or actually, they are people who earned free copies in various ways (work they've done for me before, and of course people who bought in with Prize Points). So their input has helped find a lot of bugs. I'm still considering the whole beta/preorder concept, which is sounding pretty good, but the game is definitely not to that point yet.
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  Mumu 03:52 PM -- Tue August 8, 2006  

Haha! What you didn't realize is that I was on a trip for 4 days of the past week! I snuck it in. I was staying at an in-law house in Wisconsin. They have DSL, with wi-fi. It was so cool. Oh, how I've missed ye, broadband.

I know several neglected items... no monthly newsletter yet (nothing interesting to tell you in one!), and no sneak peeks in a long while. I'll go do a sneak peek now, but no pix for you!! Oh wow, it's been so long that the URL for it has fallen out of my browser's history bar. That's a first. Sorry!
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