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  Sneak Peek: Loonyland II: Winter Woods 05:24 PM -- Tue June 20, 2006  

Here's a new region... take a wild guess as to what it's called. There's also a new enemy visible, and the green thing up in the air is a bomb launched by said enemy.

The cliffs operate much more nicely than the ones in the original Loonyland, but it's still rather funky, trying to map 3D behavior onto a 2D view. You can now slide down the cliffsides, which works nicely. Where it gets a little weird is when you slide down the sky. It all makes some sense, but it might take a little getting used to, mentally. I've even done some tricks where your shadow is down on the ground if you're up in the sky, and you stay in a jumping animation as long as you are on sky. That helps make it seem more real, but it's still quite a bit off from what makes sense. To understand that, you'll just have to play! Items currently sit happily on the sky (or in water for that matter). I should probably make them sink in water and slide down the sky and cliffs just like you do. That would probably be a nice touch... until you saw a Golden Axe go flying into the water and sent me hate mail.

Things are now pretty thoroughly implemented right up to a pivotal moment that divides the game in two. Probably something like the first half is done. The second half will go more quickly, since a lot of stuff done for the first half will be useful to it. I will begin some manner of beta stuff when the first half is more completely solid. That way I'll be trudging along on the latter half while testers (preorderers? Maybe) are playing the first half. I imagine you guys will be a bit faster than me, since you just get to ride the train, while I have to actually lay in the tracks, but that's the magic of playing a beta! Unfinished entertainment.
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  Born yesterday? 06:41 PM -- Thu June 15, 2006  

Not to harp on the nature notes thing, but right at this moment, I am looking out the window to see a rabbit drinking from a little bowl we have out there, a big lizard doing pushups on a rock, and - this is the key and the reason I had been staring long enough for the other stuff to show up - two quail and their new family of baby quail! And by new, I mean that these guys couldn't use the phrase "I wasn't born yesterday" with any veracity. They are walking through our chickenwire fence! They're like an inch tall! The mama or papa is sitting up on our garden fence, keeping an eye out. Of course, the other parent is just lounging around picking food off the ground. But it's cute how the horde of quailitos skitter around that one. I'm a bit concerned about how much time they're spending wandering into the garden itself, but it's alright. I don't mind feeding them. I'm pretty sure these are the 3rd generation in our yard. Last year, their grandparents wandered around our yard with their parents in tow as little babies themselves, though we sure never saw them this little. Maybe we'll get their kids next year too. Of course, once the dogs are finally free to roam the yard again, that may not be so likely.

So, nobody has commented on my proposed Loonyland 2 pre-order idea. What do you think? The proposition is that once it's ready for testing, I would open it up to pre-orders. If you preorder, you get to play the beta version until the final is released, at which point of course you get that instead. Benefits to you: play the game early, you're gonna be buying it anyway (you know you are!) so it's not like you're wasting any money, and have some impact on the final product with your suggestions. Benefits to me: I don't have to try to police testers to make sure they do their job and all that junk, and I get lots of testers for free (not very dedicated testers, probably, but it's an experiment). It seems pretty good all around, although there's a certain lameness to all the surprises getting spoiled before the official release. What do you think?
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  Nature Notes 10:08 PM -- Thu June 8, 2006  

#1 - A roadrunner in our yard. You know, except for a week or two ago when I saw one on the road, that's the first time I've seen a roadrunner (outside of cartoons) since I was about 12 (when I saw exactly one as well, and never before or since). They are just really rare. I guess they're not all that interesting, just lanky birds, but it's exciting to see them just because you don't!

#2 - Very cool. A California King Snake hung around wandering right in front of our house for about an hour (I was a bit concerned for his health). I saw this a week ago or something, but the camera is all set up to put its pictures on the Mac, and the Mac user is so busy with school that she never even turns it on, so getting the pictures is a pain. I give up - I'm just gonna tell you, and I'll show pictures if I ever get the chance. It's black & white striped, very distinct, like a zebra. A two foot long, pencil-thick, zebra. Very small snake. I read about them, and not only are they not poisonous, they actually eat rattlesnakes! I'm glad he's around. Too bad he's half the size of the rattlesnake I saw last year.

#3 - The extremely rare California Leaping Canine. We had to install chickenwire over the top of our dog kennel, and we only let our dogs into the yard when they are on leashes now (which is horrible for everyone). Why? Because they can jump a six foot fence from standing. We've discovered they don't even need corners to do it from, or any special gear like we thought (the corner of our yard they used to jump had some crossbeams we thought they needed). They just whoosh right over the whole thing. So not even the kennel was containing them. It's a mess. We're working on getting electrical wire for the fencing, which will be a huge pain, since plants grow all around our yard right at the fence. We're also trying to get them halfway trained, which is an uphill battle.

#4 - We have a lovely garden (it's controlled nature, it counts) that is struggling to survive the intense heat and sandy soil. The strawberries are all defeated already, but the corn is coming up well, the cantaloupes, squash, and watermelons are going crazy with flowers and the beginnings of fruit, and the tomatoes and cucumbers are doing quite well. There are assorted seeds we also planted, like an herb section, which are doing little, but something. Actually, the cucumbers and corn were seeds too, they're doing amazing. Our fruit trees are doing nicely too, except the almond. There's a lesson for you: if you buy bare root trees, do like they tell you: do not water them until they are clearly leafing out!! We pretty clearly killed the almond, and the mulberry is mostly dead. It's growing some lovely leaves right at the base by the ground, but everything further up is just a dead stick - all 6 feet or so of it. The other trees all have done very nicely, except for some massive holes chewed into their leaves by an apparent plague of locusts.

That's nature for you. She gives and she takes away.
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  Sneak Peek: Loonyland II: Winter Woods 05:25 PM -- Thu June 8, 2006  

Same pic, too bad for you! Things are really getting into gear here. I've added a whole stack of new people to talk to since the last sneak peek (all important - I'm still not making bystanders), and two new kinds of enemies, and a slew of new area, progressing the gameplay along. Actually, with the addition of some quests and stuff, it's actually going in a different direction than it was - literally. The gameplay was supposed to proceed left/west from the Terrible Tundra, but it turns out there's a rather large detour to the right/east first, where you get your first bits of actual plot.

That's something I'm happy with - the plot is no more intelligent than the one in the first Loonyland, but this time it's at least there. You get bits of it as you go along, through quests, and it culminates in a finale that ties it all up - while of course leaving some loose ends for sequels. Seems like in Loonyland, you got "Save us please, but from we don't know what" at the first moment, then nothing until the very very end when you meet Bonkula and discover he had an evil plan. Not much of a villain I suppose. In this one, there are several villains of varying degrees, and though you don't meet the ultimate one until you face it (with good reason!), you'll get to know the others a bit and it will tie together well. Much more of a dramatic arc. But still senseless, which is fine. I play RPGs for the gameplay and exploration, not the story.

So it's really getting in a groove, a nice fast-moving one. The big job I'm not looking forward to is making the tiles for the cliffs area. That's gonna be a big ugly job. I just hate making tiles, and that's all there is to it.

In the areas I have been making, there's ice (it's centered around a frozen lake). The ice works differently from Supreme and such - when you step on it, you slide straight until you either bounce off something and slide back, or hit land again. So it's a lot like Rafts in Supreme. There are only a couple 'puzzles' for this, and they are extremely short and simple. This is not a puzzle game - the whole thing is just an excuse to level up and blow up monsters! Incidentally, jumping onto the ice (you can't jump when already on it) has just the effect it should - the ice breaks, you fall through.

That reminds me, water is different here too. Since you can jump, I couldn't just bop you back and hurt you like in Loonyland, and I didn't want it to just be fatal, because that would be annoying. It's kind of annoying in Supreme, but it's suited to that game. In this game, it just wouldn't be fair. So how it works (as I type this, I realize it's a mind-numbing tiny detail that nobody cares about, but I've already typed this much, so let's proceed) is that if you fall in, you get hurt and teleported back to the last spot where you were on solid ground. Same goes for crashing through the ice (which, oddly, doesn't leave a hole in the ice!). It may not make sense, but it's good clean fun.
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  And the winner is... 09:18 AM -- Mon June 5, 2006  

Not me! The results are in at long last for the most recent LD48 contest. I did very well, but I didn't win anything. I got 2nd in Fun and Production, 24th in Innovation, 9th in Graphics, and 4th in Sound. I'm quite pleased with the results... well, Innovation's really bad (and my favorite category after Fun), but I think it's entirely fair for what I submitted. It's good to be back in the game. The last few contests, I've just failed miserably when I did enter.

The clear and thorough stomping winner was Philhassey, who made a game called Galcon. He got 1st in everything, except 2nd in Innovation. That's quite a result! And it was deserved (I don't know if it was really tops in each category, but you know, when a game is really good, it boosts its scores across the board, voters can't help it). After the competition, he actually even added internet play to it, which was a lot of fun. I don't know if the release on the linked page includes that, but you can try. It's a very cool game. Like Risk, except you get to watch the ships swarm across the galaxy to each planet.

There are a bunch of interesting entries, some very good (Lexaloffle's Swarm Racer, DrPetter's Swarming Of The Machines, Sol_HSA's 'And The Sky Full Of Stars', Jolle's Hat Attack which is not supposed to be his official entry is very amusing). But I don't think there's a public page to check them out. I'm pretty sure you can create an account to log in and see them though, if you are interested, at Ludum Dare.
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  Sneak Peek: Loonyland II: Winter Woods 08:10 PM -- Mon May 29, 2006  

I woke up this weekend with a thought... I had just the day before come up with the main thrust of how you'd get through Loonyland 2 - how the plot would proceed from the beginning to what I knew the ending was going to be - and it includes some new characters with some backstory to them. I tossed and turned on those ideas, and started thinking about Valentine Valley and Easter Island (other provinces of Loonyland that have had very brief mentions in the original game). I realized that this place is a really cool and totally original setting. I want to set more games in the world of Loonyland! So in pondering this stuff, I began to draw out a map. It's very crappy, and extra hard to see after being photographed and reduced, but there it is. That is the Kingdom Of Loonyland (subject to future alteration, mind you - and some of the places don't actually have names yet, like how it says "P Peninsula" at the bottom, because "Passover Peninsula" doesn't sound right to me).

Yes, it means all that stuff about how this is Bulgaria in the 1800s magically vanishes, but I don't care. I really like this world. I like Swampdogs, I love the mystery of Happy Stick (and oh, you have no idea where that is going!), and I really like the Order Of The Snuggly Bunny, which you will meet (and have the option of joining) in Loonyland 2, along with a classic Hamumu character who is going to appear out of the blue. It's never been in any Hamumu game before, but you'll recognize it right away anyway.

There may be more games set in this world. Not just Loonyland sequels, but imagine a strategy game where you march troops from one province to another, or a pure action game that takes place in the Northland (maybe that Viking game on the Dumb Idea page). Why not an MMORPG? Okay, that one I can tell you why not - because that it'd be an impossible task for one person. But who knows. It's inspiring! There's nothing quite like drawing a map. See over there by Friendship Fields, there's a crack across the entire continent which the ocean flows through, kind of a wet Grand Canyon. It's called The Break (that's the illegible text at the top of it), and no, I don't know what caused it, but I'm sure there's some good mythology lying in wait to belong there. Well, technically it's caused because I drew the continent ending at Summer Springs and then realized that Groundhog's Gulf wasn't much of a gulf unless I enclose it a little, but that's not very good mythology.

I love making things that tie together. I get a real kick in the brain when something fits neatly into an evolving storyline. This Loonyland thing, it appeals to me. But don't expect there to ever be an explanation to why almost everything is named after a season or holiday (and is alliterative). It's just their style. And in honor of today, I will point out that the mountains to the east of Valentine Valley are the Memorial Mountains (if you aren't American, today is Memorial Day - it also is, perhaps even more so, if you are American).

It's great - a big epic world (call it the Loonyverse if you so desire, I can't stop you), but one based entirely in silliness.
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  Sneak Peek: Loonyland II: Winter Woods 01:59 PM -- Thu May 25, 2006  

This area is kind of a centerpiece to the Loonyland 2 experience. Well, actually, it's completely unrelated to the experience. It has nothing to do with the plot, and is completely unnecessary to win the game. But it's a place that most people will probably come back to again and again as they level up. It is surprisingly a battle arena. You can pay money to enter different matches, which all have different enemies and fighting conditions and rules, in the hopes of winning more money. As you win matches, your Gladiator Rank goes up, which allows you to enter tougher matches. You earn XP as normal when fighting in the Arena, but the enemies don't drop any items (still unsure about money), so it's no substitute for adventuring. It's sort of the equivalent of Survival Mode in the original Loonyland, only it's built into the main game, and it isn't just one continuous run.

That's Tina in the middle, surprisingly enough. On the right is Taylor, who you might guess is the guy who sells you Parkas. He's a bit blind. Loony is standing by Tina, and there is nobody else in this picture at all. Or if there is, it's someone hidden extremely cleverly, so you'll never spot them. How could you possibly??

Areas like this in LL2 are kind of empty... the only people around are ones that are of interest to interact with. I could add Generic Villager Male and Generic Villager Female to wander around these places and spice them up, but I sort of feel like that would just make the game harder to play for the sake of looks. Do you really want to push your way through crowds to try to find the people who have quests and items? And the other issue is that if there are only 2 such villagers, it's a weird cloneworld look (a lot like the original Loonyland!), but I sure wouldn't want to put in the effort to make a bunch of different useless people! I could color swap them, but that's not too impressive either. My gut is to leave things sparse. That's how I like it. You know anybody who is there is definitely important.
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  Sale! 03:57 PM -- Tue May 23, 2006  

I just got another order at my Cafepress store! Did you even know I had one? Probably not. Most of the time, I don't realize it myself. I've had a grand total of 3 orders there, two of them in the past couple months, I think. Thanks, Cafepress visitors! Obviously, if you look at the options there, I haven't done a whole lot of updating. In fact, it's almost all Sol Hunt stuff. But that is a pretty cool mousepad, and I'm quite fond of the bumper sticker. Anyway, maybe someday I'll really add stuff on there. Seems like people do actually visit it sometimes, without me even mentioning it!

How about you? Would you buy a Hamumu T-shirt, bumper sticker, clock, mug, boxers, tote bag, thong, button, teddy bear, magnet? Should I bother filling it with dramatically exciting products? The prices are a bit high, and I get no profit whatsoever*, but the pleasure of people wandering around emblazoned with Hamumu imagery is reward enough for me. Wear it all around, evangelize!

I think I'll go add a couple new items right now for fun.

* They let you mark it up from the base price as much as you want, but the base prices are so high, nobody would buy if I added on any profit!
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  Sneak Peek: Loonyland II: Winter Woods 04:09 PM -- Fri May 19, 2006  

I won't bother explaining what this location is. That is left as an exercise for the reader. But what on earth are those flames around Loony?? Could they be Toasties? Toasties are the result of a fun spell. They hover in a circle around you, lobbing fireballs at any enemies they see. If you get hit by anything, one will explode. This is sad, because it leaves you with one less Toasty, but it's good, because it means anybody near you just got blown up. Balance is still very unknown in these early areas... I'm afraid the Toasties may be too mighty.

And in case I haven't shown this before, the white glowy circle is the 'exit' thing. Wherever you see one of those (they do kind of a black-hole-imploding animation), that's an exit to another area.

I've finally implemented the official shop functionality. Shops now gradually refresh their inventory as you play. This has two effects: first, if you wanted to buy something and can't afford it just yet, there's a good chance it'll still be there when you return. Second, it means you can't just keep entering the shop over and over hoping for the right stuff to show up. And hey, for third, it's kinda realistic. What doesn't currently happen that might be fun is if items you sold to the shop showed up in the shop's list, if there was room. That would give you a sort of 'undo' for accidentally selling stuff, although you'd lose a lot of money buying it back.

Here's another new tidbit: now that there are Talents, and enough game that I've actually done some serious playing, I have added a penalty for dying. It's pretty minor, but it'll hopefully encourage you to avoid dying. Previously, I'd sometimes just go ahead and walk into some badguys, just to get back to town more quickly. The penalty is that you lose 10% of the progress you've made upgrading all your Talents to their next level. You can't ever lose Talent levels, but if you keep on dying, you sure won't ever gain any! I like this penalty because it has the desired effect - discouraging suicide - but it doesn't ever put you in a situation where you're stuck (a gold or experience penalty could do that - if you can't afford better gear or gain any levels, you may never be able to survive where you are). It took a bunch of brainy thought to put that all together.

There's also a handy tip system now that guides you through the game initially, and I think it's pretty good at telling you what you need to know without overwhelming you. Eventually I'll have to see how it works for real humans. But first, I need to implement Alchemy, because I just put in the Guru that gives it to you!
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  The Myth Of Time Management 11:00 AM -- Fri May 19, 2006  

First, nature note: saw a big, 3-foot, stripey snake riding a 4-wheel ATV. Seriously. It was being held by the (human) driver, though. Still don't know if he was taking a pet out for a drive, or if he caught it for some freakish reason. He did have a glove on, which supports both theories (although it does mean that if he caught it, he was out looking for a snake! Maybe it ran away. Looked pretty exotic).

Yesterday, I spent about 2 hours handling garbage. It's a big job. Went around the house collecting the interior bins, gathering all that up. Then untarped the trailer and hitched it to the car and pulled around. Loaded up the trailer, and drove down to the dump (20 minutes each way, if you're wondering how this could add up to two hours!). Came back and unhitched and put the trailer away and re-tarped. Man, was I sweaty.

You, on the other hand, spend 15 minutes a week doing your garbage. You gather it up, toss it in the bin, and pull it outside for the trashman to come get. Then you come out later and haul it in again.

What's the myth? Well, people would look at what I do and say "well, you only have to do that every month or 6 weeks, so in a way you're better off. Not getting interrupted all the time to have to do it." We'll assume for the moment that the time spent adds up to be equal or even less for me. The problem is that in fact, what I do is much more of a pain than a quickie job every week.

This is because I have several hours a day that I'm not doing anything important. Back when I hauled weekly garbage, I would be watching TV and go "Oh no, tomorrow is trash day!" and rush out and do it and go back to TV. It didn't interfere with anything. It was effectively as if I didn't do anything at all - all I lost was 15 minutes of TV-sitting-in-front-of. But with this huge big-time chore that involves driving across town, I have to set aside time, it's got to be done. It's an event. And of course, it has to be done during the dump's business hours, which is when I'm doing stuff. I lost pretty much half my work day yesterday!

Sure, I don't lose that time often, but I just wanted to share that idea. That time lost from sitting around and doing nothing is really not lost. In fact, you're turning it from a waste of time into productive time. Maybe this concept only applies to someone like me who always spends the latter half of his day sitting around. Maybe I need to learn to be productive in the first place! I don't know if I like the direction this is turning...
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