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  Forum downtime 01:02 PM -- Mon September 25, 2006  

In about an hour from this post, or maybe a bit sooner, I'll be locking the forum to do some testing/upgrade stuff. Sorry! It'll be back... when that stuff is working. It might also be gone forever and exploded and destroying the entire internet. I'm not sure. Further, it may no longer be a PHPBB when it comes back. We'll see! It will probably be back in some form within 8 hours.
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  Sneak Peek: Loonyland II: Winter Woods 05:59 PM -- Tue September 19, 2006  

Another place underground, another psychedelic picture! And just like crystals, mushrooms glow! Lots of things glow in the underworld. My favorite thing in the whole underworld are those twisty purple rock spires that stick up out of the pits. They serve no purpose, they just look nicely 3D.

So I have been going through mapping the underworld and putting in all the various goodies that you can collect in the parts I've already got mapped (skills, presents, treasure chests). This is of course the Sacred Forest (but sacred to whom? And why? Hmmm...), which you will at one point be tasked with undefiling (Dedefiling? Refiling? Filing?), in the traditional videogame way: kill stuff.

But the big new things are Artifacts! I felt all along that the 'item game' in the game needed another edge, because there just wasn't enough exciting stuff going on in the gear you could find. So now there are artifact items. They have unique magic powers that regular items can never have, and they are hand-designed instead of random. They are also very rare! Some are wacky joke items, and others are very nice. Still others are suited to specific character schemes, and rather useless for everyone else. Gotta catch 'em all! There's one I can't tell you about because it is insidiously clever and it will make me laugh when people discover both the up side and down side to it, which are both stupid in different ways.

As a taste of the magic of artifacts, I will let you know that yes, two of them are indeed The Nebro-Gubular Axe and The Regeneratorizer Amulet. Now don't you wish you hung out in the chat room? You'd hear about all this stuff in advance, and get to suggest artifacts yourself!
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  I invented that! 09:32 AM -- Sun September 17, 2006  

"The Biostep, designed by a team of Pratt students, is "a pressure-sensitive floor tile that can convert footsteps into energy stored in a high-capacity battery cell." It's a rubbery tile designed for use in areas with high foot traffic. The product emerges from research at MIT Media Lab; and of course, the idea of capturing kinetic energy is becoming quite a trendy idea in renewable, green energy." - from Worldchanging.com.

But I invented that! Years ago, I had this wondrous idea: a theme park, powered entirely by the patrons who visit it. As the hordes of people walk around the park, their footsteps provide energy for all the lights and rides. Presumably backed up by solar and wind. And best of all, the nature of a such a power system requires that the floor be (and I knew this when I invented it!) soft and comfortable (so it can absorb the energy of the footstep, just as they describe it as 'rubbery' above), which is ideal for tired theme park visitors. Another part of the idea was to let some of the energy be wasted on LEDs built into the tiles, so that as you walked, colorful glows would come from under your feet and dissipate outward in interesting patterns. I think that would be a really nice touch, especially at night. I always wanted to have a theme park. I think they're relatively expensive, though. Much like flying swimming pools.

I (and probably you too) have invented hundreds of amazing inventions. I just never implemented or patented them. So lazy, and so poor... oh well! I'm glad these exist now. I'll just have to buy them to implement my theme park. I'm sure the engineers who created them did a much better job than my complete lack of electrical knowhow could do, anyway. And what a perfect concept it is for our increasingly obese society! Although I suppose part of the reason for that is that nobody walks anywhere anymore... kind of a catch-22.

What did you invent that was stolen from you? Or share your unimplemented ideas now, so we know when you get robbed! Of course, that's encouraging them to be stolen, but with an idea like this one, I really don't mind. I was sure never going to be able to create it with my skills.
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  Sneak Peek: Loonyland II: Winter Woods 06:55 PM -- Wed September 13, 2006  

At last, a pic! This is, as indicated, the Crystal Caverns. Like all of the underworld, it's totally psychedelic. It's more exciting in motion, because the crystals flicker and pulse. There's also a monster in this scene, which looks awfully similar to the crystals, but he's actually made of ice. I know there should be more enemies, stomping me all over the place, but I haven't actually set up the enemy counts for this area yet. There are also lovely glowing mushrooms and gaping chasms and spikey rocks in the underworld, but you don't get to see those right now. Now that I look at this, I realize it's not a very exciting scene... but I was excited about the crystals, so too bad.

Today I finished all of the graphics needed to build the underworld, including the monsters and everything, so it should be a fairly rapid process to put it all together. Graphics are always the biggest task.
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  Toe The Line 12:12 PM -- Thu September 7, 2006  

*Warning: graphic toe mutilation details to follow* I went to the doctor yesterday! A couple weeks ago, I tore the skin of my left big toe (not all of it... just a little patch!). The day after that, we went into The Big City and did all kinds of errands (including Talladega Nights, recommended), with my foot jammed into a sock and shoe. Thusly, upon arriving home I found it infected. That began two weeks of constant hydrogen peroxide and neosporin application to no avail. Finally, I had to get doctored before I developed gangrene. Don't get me wrong, it never actually looked particularly bad at all, but it just wouldn't get better. The doctor cut off part of the toenail and the extraneous new skin that was trying to grow up over the toenail. It hurt a whole unimaginable lot, especially since just touching that part of the toe had been excruciating. There was no anesthetic. He claimed that it would hurt more to get the anesthetic than to do the cutting, which I think was a trick so he wouldn't have to wait for it to kick in. He also gave me a tetanus shot, presumably for fun as rusty metal had no part in any of this. So now I get to pop antibiotics and soak my foot three times a day in salt water before, and this is the best part, jamming a piece of cotton under the nail to force the skin to grow in the right direction and the nail to not cut into it. Oh, it's pleasant indeed.

The moral is simple: properly bandage and neosporin (betadine, bacitracin, hydrogen peroxide, whatever antiseptic you use) any injury you get! Especially toes. The doctor said he had seen a lot of toes that week. They're notoriously difficult to manage. Adhering to this moral would've saved me money, a long drive to the big city doctor, enormous pain, and a tiresome routine I have to do for a week or two. It also would have saved me from both lunch and dinner out, so it may all be a wash.

Too bad about that chatroom we had for a little while... Thank you for ruining it, spammers! I'm very busy with LL2, so I don't have much time to spare in search of replacement chat (or making one, which I think is the best plan). So it'll be gone for a while.
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  Sanity-Free!! 09:25 PM -- Sun September 3, 2006  

Hey, welcome to SANITY-FREE SEPTEMBER!! I've already blorted out the used-car salesman stuff about it in ten different places, so I think I'll calmly discuss it here.

SFS actually was a completely spur-of-the-moment thing, spawned by the new chat we're trying out. I was lamenting in there that there hadn't been any add-on worlds in a long time (one in the past two months, that is). So I said I'd give out Prize Points to anybody sending in a world. Then I said "hey, I ought to mention this on the forum so people know!" And the rest is history. I have no other ideas for clever SFS promotions right now, but feel free to suggest them. I'm looking for things that are super easy to do and won't cost me much money. Duh!

I just now installed a mod on our forums that I'm crossing my fingers will cut down on the incredible flood of spam registrations (there are hardly any spam posts - the spammers just create accounts to get their website listed in the memberlist). Lots of people have recommended to switch to VBulletin forum software, as it doesn't seem to get so attacked. I'm hesitant for a variety of reasons - I'd have to install it and not break anything, I'd have to transfer the data, it costs $150 plus $30 every year after that, and PHPBB3 is coming out hopefully soon. I'd be really mad if I spent $150 on a forum only to find that my favorite free forum was offering everything I ever dreamed and more a month later. So hopefully this mod will give me the time to see if PHPBB3 is good. I do like VBulletin, actually, but I'd rather stick with what I know and love.

Stay sanity-free, kool kats! Don't forget there's 10% off everything in our game store, plus you get 100 Prize Points with every game you order! Click on the SANITY-FREE SEPTEMBER!! logo at the top of any page to be whisked off to see what all the features of this fabulous month are. New ones may or may not be added, depending on my complete INSANITY!!!!
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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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