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  Cookie Party 10:09 PM -- Thu January 17, 2008  

A bunch of add-on worlds stacked up around here! I was busy doing stuff in town today, but tomorrow I'm gonna get this stuff up. There are a couple I'm not allowed to put up for reasons you will learn at a later date, but aside from them, we've got 3 Supreme worlds and an LL2 adventure, so it's rolling.

After yesterday's rant, it occurred to me that there's no particular reason to make this whole internet-focused gaming be in the future. So I'm thinking about how I could make AoB3 be internet-based. I haven't actually worked out what I would do there, just kind of bounced some ideas around while doing other stuff. It doesn't have a wide variety of items like an RPG does (like Loonyland 2), which kind of knocks out the most interesting and biggest purpose for connectivity - item trading. Still, there are a few different things, so I have to think about that stuff. I'm even considering adding an element of equipment (different shirts/pants/whatever that boost various stats) just so that there's a reason for it.

Anyway, that's just random brain blips, not serious design underway. Updates to come in the future if I do pursue that!
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  Piracy Thoughts 11:41 AM -- Wed January 16, 2008  

As someone who pays the mortgage by selling digital creations, piracy is something I need to think about at times. Mostly, I ignore it, as my philosophy is that it's more important to do good things to the people who pay me money than it is to do bad things to the ones who don't (as in, I don't use nasty copy-protection systems because they are a royal pain for the legitimate purchaser, and nothing more than a bit o' fun for the hacker). As the internet expands, and people become more computer-savvy, piracy is only getting worse. I'm in favor of more knowledge, I just wish it came with scruples. It makes me very angry how zero-priority this enormous, massively income-destroying, issue is with politicians and the media. If they talked about it, people might actually find out that it's illegal and immoral. I honestly believe that a very large percentage of the human race really thinks there's nothing wrong with it. They don't even know that it's illegal! And then we've got people like the RIAA on "our side", which just makes people want to pirate more (hard to blame them on that one).

So in general, these things kind of devolve into a big argument between two sides that will never agree on even the tiniest point. It's all totally pointless. So let me throw down something I came up with to continue the pointlessness. If you wish to argue this in the comments, enjoy, because I'm not going to argue back. I just want to put this theory out there because it occurred to me one day on the toilet, where many things occur to me, and I realized I'd never heard it expressed by anyone before. Here it goes:

One of the arguments that pirates use is that it's nothing like stealing. When you steal, you deprive someone of something in addition to enriching yourself. There's a victim, who either must replace the lost item, deal with insurance, or suffer whatever detriment they face by not having it. This, however, is not a valid argument. They don't agree that you are depriving the creator of profit, usually because "hey, I wasn't gonna buy it anyway!" I realize copyright infringement isn't theft under any legal system in the world, it's a different crime. But it is almost exactly the same as one type of theft, and I never hear this said.

Think of shoplifting. When you take an iPod from a store without paying for it, what has happened? The store did not lose the use of the iPod - they never used it in the first place. It was just one item sitting on the shelf among many other iPods. Does the store have to replace the missing iPod? Not really. There are dozens more on the shelf, and another hundred in the back room. When those run out, they call up Apple and order a hundred more, at wholesale prices. As far as anyone can reasonably consider it, there is an unlimited supply of iPods in the world. Yes, they do take resources to make, so there is a limit, but that limit is so astronomical that we could give iPods to everyone on Earth, and other than Apple suffering a massive monetary loss, there'd be virtually no impact to our planet at all. As far as the store is concerned, an iPod is just a line item on a database of what they sell. It's just a teeny tiny factor in their quarterly profit/loss statement.

So what did the store lose when you walked out with their iPod? Potential profit. All stores factor a certain amount of shoplifting into their prices, and they really are not fazed when it happens. You haven't taken anything from them but an infinitesimal bit of a percentage point off of their profits.

In fact, there's a very clear case for the fact that shoplifting something, even a huge-ticket item like a riding lawnmower (fit that under your sweater!), from Wal-Mart is going to impact them to a massively smaller degree than pirating one copy of my game from me. A quick Google shows me $11B in yearly profit at Wal-Mart. If you take an iPod that they could've made $100 profit on, you have dropped their income by ... well, the calculator is giving it to me in scientific notation, so I have to translate it... hmm. Math is hard. 0.000000009%, I think (9.09x10^-9). I may be off by a factor of ten, but obviously it doesn't matter. Steal a $29.95 game called Supreme With Cheese from me (how could you?!), and you would drop my income by around 0.001%. That sounds very low I imagine, but that's just one theft in an entire year, and obviously lots of people are doing it. Compare it to Wal-Mart and you find that it hurts me about 100,000 times more than your much bigger (and 'real') theft from Wal-Mart did.

So the thrust of the point I'm making is that shoplifting is effectively exactly the same as software piracy. You're not really depriving anyone of anything, you're just cutting into their profit. There is a tangible difference, but it's so minute as to be meaningless. The supply of goods to a retail store is effectively just as limitless as the supply of digital bits when you copy software. And since shoplifting is theft, it is fair to say the difference between software piracy and theft is so minute as to be meaningless.

Anyway, you'll definitely be seeing "internet-enabled" games from me in the eventual future. Not necessarily ones you play over the internet, but ones that hook into the internet for a lot of things - chatting, saving your character (that'll be nice - download the game and play it anywhere with your same character, never lose it), trading items with others, downloading new levels, and so on. When a game requires stuff from the internet to run, it can't be pirated in any reasonable fashion. And that's what the pirates have driven us all to. On the plus side, those are awesome and fun features. On the minus side, you won't be able to play the game when offline, and if the company that made it disappears, the game is dead. Kind of ironic, really - because the pirates insist that digital goods aren't real and tangible and can't be owned, they've forced developers to actually make them less tangible. Eventually, every game will be a service rather than a product. When the service goes down, the money you spent on the game is gone.

And just for the record, Hamumu Software will be around FOREVER!!!
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  Rise Up, Proletariat!! 06:39 PM -- Mon January 14, 2008  

I'm seeing Adventures Of Bouapha 3 more and more as a game that lets you roam around inside the collective imaginings of the always strange Hamumu fan club. It started with the Architecture Funtest, but more and more I see opportunities and am thinking of ideas that would let the game incorporate the creations of the peopleses.

Two come to mind that I have been thinking about. Before I mention them, I will have to boldly proclaim: I am not requesting these things! Do not create them, do not send them to me! I don't want people to waste a bunch of time making something that I don't actually decide to include. These are just possibilities, so if you are interesting in making them, keep an eye on the forum as usual for more Funtest announcements. Anyway, here are the ideas I've had:

* DUMB FM - Any time you hop into a car, you'd be listening the only radio station in this town, KDMB or Dumb FM. This is my favorite idea, because it would just be tons of fun for everyone - you guys would create anything you want in audio form, send it to me, and it would be added to the random rotation on that radio. Presumably, we'd end up with at least a couple of hours worth of radio, and the player would always be surprised by new things as it randomly shuffled through them. You could write songs, just hum something stupid, tell a joke, perform a radio play, make a spoof ad for a product... I don't know what else, anything that can be expressed via sound!

* The Bookstore - We've done an art gallery, in Supreme. That could also be included here, but the idea I had today that would be fun is a bookstore. You would write very very short stories (things that could fit on a single "Computer" mode Supreme screen, though I would present them on a more book-like display), and the player could buy these 'books' at the bookstore, then read them from the pause menu at their leisure. Just a huge collection of presumably silly fiction.

Dumb FM is something I'm pretty sure I will do, but I'm not worrying about it yet, and neither should you, as I boldly proclaimed above. The bookstore is a possibility, as an art gallery would be. What other kinds of things could people create for this world? There may be a house the player can buy, and I might let people create furniture for it that the player could buy to decorate with.

Basically, the whole game is one big playground, and I have hundreds of goofy ideas to include. They obviously can't all go in, especially if I intend to ever release it, but I'm having a lot of fun making up the different ideas.
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  T.A.G. Trophy 12:07 PM -- Sun January 13, 2008  

Yesterday, I saw the first T.A.G. entry that I not only liked, but which I was just plainly amazed by. So I just wanted to use this space to give big credit to Zelamonster, for "Rimmer: Incompetent, Ugly Hardlight Hologram." Granted, if you don't know Red Dwarf, it means nothing (which explains why it only got 3 votes), but if you do, it's just amazingly perfect. Go Zelamonster!

Also, in a related note, someone else put a very bad word into DumbWords yesterday, and so I have at last implemented the feature of not letting banned people play. He wasn't banned when he entered it, but he sure is now! Let's try to remember what "family friendly" means.
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  Cruisin' 08:06 PM -- Thu January 10, 2008  

Because cars are a huge component of this game, that's what I worked on today. I didn't get far with it, but you can now drive a test car (you can't get out of it, but who needs that?). Getting the driving to feel fun and comfortable and realistic is going to be a big job. Right now it's pretty bad. The current control scheme is that the car steers toward wherever the mouse cursor is, and the left mouse button is the gas pedal. It's very easy to go where you want, but it's a little too easy, and there's really no place for a brake pedal (the right mouse button is fire - not that you're allowed to fire while driving... usually). Plus, I still don't know how I will implement braking - it would be SO nice to have some kind of drifting, as opposed to just perfect speed-up/slow-down control.

I may have to look up the multitudes and millions of car simulation articles on the web and see what they say. I definitely don't want this to be anything like the You-go - you may end up spending half of your time in this game driving around, so it better feel fun!

Oh, one other thing I've done for it so far is make the camera look far ahead of you if you are driving. It's still the same as normal when on foot, but when driving, you see almost the full screen ahead of you. I may make that adjust based on speed - it would sure be nice if you could see behind you when going in reverse! Of course, first I need to find some way to let you go in reverse.

That's the sticking point right now - I think the best scheme would be "steers toward the cursor, up arrow=gas, down arrow=brakes". But by choosing that scheme, I'm throwing out my original plan, which was that it would be possible to play the game entirely with the mouse. If you ignore cars, you currently can - left click means "move here" and right click is fire. It plays much better if you move with the arrow keys and aim and shoot with the mouse, but it is playable (and not bad) with just the mouse.

On top of that, steering toward the cursor doesn't feel right either. It's just too easy. In a real car, you pull the wheel left until you're pointed where you want, then center it, and there's a skill to only turning it as much as needed. With "point n' drive", you just say "I wanna go that way!" and it works. That's why I have also considered left/right arrows=turn, up=gas, down=brake (no mouse involved!). I haven't actually tried that out, but I'm really afraid it will be hard to control and confusing when you are going any direction but up. If you are facing downward, pressing left would turn you to the right of the screen. How confusing is that? People have difficulty controlling radio-controlled cars that are heading towards them, and this is that same problem.

So this is a big issue, with a lot to work out. It would be nice if I could just make the screen turn, so you were always driving upwards (that would even make "point n' drive" require some skill, since where you were pointing to would be constantly changing!). But I can't do that, with the fake 3D nature of the buildings and all that. I have considered the prospect of getting really crazy with that and doing something real 3D, but I don't really want to spend the next year and a half just getting this game to the rough prototype stage.

Maybe I'll google up some top-down Flash driving games!
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  Technoguts 10:07 PM -- Wed January 9, 2008  

Well, I can't say a lot was accomplished today, but one major feat was. I decided step 1 of actual development (not counting all the steps I did before Christmas vacation) would be something new and exciting. I dug through the tangled web of code and found all the mentions of 640 - all of which should have been constants anyway - and changed them to the constant SCRWID. Similarly, 480 became SCRHEI. I also had a lot of 639s and 479s to deal with, and even a couple of 637s. But I think I found them all, because I then changed the value of SCRWID to 800 and SCRHEI to 600, and after a few minor mishaps, the game is up and running perfectly smoothly in 800x600 resolution.

I tried this experiment once before with Loonyland (when I made the big patch that added 10 new badges and Remix mode). I ended up undoing it just because the original game was designed to be 640x480, so raising the resolution just let you see too far in places where you weren't supposed to. And the little cabin levels which were 20x20 wouldn't even fill the whole screen! But this is a new game, so I am free to start it out how I like. And how I like is for everything to be smaller, and for you to see further! It's definitely going to be a distinct improvement. And it makes the graphics appear to be better, since the pixels are smaller.

It's especially going to help when you are driving all the different cars around.
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  WoW, indeed 09:13 PM -- Tue January 8, 2008  

Today is a landmark day! It's when all of my WoW characters were level 24 at the exact same time. But then I played one of them a bit more, and he's 25 now.

Why did this landmark happen today? Because of all the crazy ideas surrounding Adventures Of Bouapha 3. It's clear that this is going to be a Big Game. Not some quick thing of a couple months, but a serious project that spans hopefully less than a year, fingers crossed. I picture it being a great game and in the top of Hamumu fandom (below Supreme, as usual), but I dread the long road ahead. Maybe we can trim it down to a six-monther? I don't know what will happen. That's the magic of self-employment. Freedom and mayhem.

So back to the original question, why did that make the WoW landmark happen? Well, when a game is in the very first stages of development, it's all ideas floating around in the ether. Then, those ideas need to hit the metal and become actual content. That is the exact point I am at now. Figuring out what to do first, and what needs to be done before other things. That's a very complex job with no real answers, so I set it aside and play games. I just constantly think about it for a few days. I've already worked out a bunch of the details of how things will be, but I haven't quite hit the fulcrum point yet, the spot where it snaps into place and I know where to begin. It's not just gaming, though. I toss and turn in bed, have trouble falling asleep and wake up early. I zone out while I think I'm watching TV. I walk around the yard looking at nothing. All of it is a part of an intense process of deciding how to turn the ideas into reality - and of course how to compromise the ideas so they can fit into reality. I've also done a bunch of typing to get the ideas down so I have something concrete to work from. I've even been sketching out a map.

So that is why I played many hours of WoW today. Not because I'm lazy! I was thinking.

This is where my progress stands now: I have solved the problem of how to create a giant city. I'm just going to break it into Districts, which are each a level, connected to each other by roads. It's going to be a little more seamless than my usual games - I'm getting rid of the fade-in/fade-out, just having an instant cut. It'll still be a cut, not a smooth scroll, but that's the compromise. I certainly could do a big thing with maps loading on the fly and scrolling together, but that's just a lot more trouble than I need. So now I'm stuck at the point of what to do. There's miles of content I could be creating, but that involves turning on my other computer, and that's no fun at all. Man, I hate Vista.
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  Back To Work! 06:49 PM -- Mon January 7, 2008  

Well, the vacation's basically over. And as a result, you get a new Supreme add-on (okay, thank Hammer Up! and WTG for that, but I did upload it...), a Funtest, and a newsletter (finally, a mere week late). So there's a bunch going on! And through it all I've managed to avoid actually doing anything on my game. But that's life.

The vacation was good for my brain. I came up with a whole new concept for the Adventure Of Bouapha I'm working on. Not anything that changes what I have done, or even changes anything particular that I had planned. Just a fun overall framework sort of thing.

Well, let me just say it - our houseguest played Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for many many hours, and watching that was inspiring. No, beating people to death with a baseball bat and then running over the corpse will probably not be included (hmm, have to consider that), but the free-roaming city is what I'm thinking about, along with the hundreds of little challenges scattered around. More on that as it develops. I'm also playing Lego Star Wars 2, which has other aspects of inspiration. But both focus on one key thing: lots of hidden stuff to find! So it should be fun.

The Funtest we're having relates to this idea. To properly do this, I'll need a whole lot of city to roam, so I need help creating it. And I like the idea that you'll be able to go around and see everybody's house and creations. That in itself will be one of the hidden fun things, just exploring and seeing what kind of things everyone has done (and finding where your own house ended up!).
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  Ya Gotta Break Some Eggs 10:57 PM -- Sun January 6, 2008  

Well, I managed to destroy the Supreme score and time databases. I ended up crossing up some scores, so I had to just clear the entire database, since otherwise some unattainable scores would be locked in (I knew something was amiss when 1st place had 250,000 points, and second place had 1000). I'm asking the server guys to restore it from a backup now, something they've done for me before, so it should be no problemo!

The good side of this is that after extensive self-depilation and cranium-to-table interaction, I discovered what the most recent problem with the Supreme scores was, and fixed it. Or at least, I think I fixed it. We'll see! It was amazingly hard to discover. For some reason, the level names now contain a carriage return on the end, and you would be amazed how few methods of viewing data can actually show you a carriage return at the end of a data field. It actually ended up taking a CSV export of the data and then hex-editing the CSV file to see it (couldn't even see it reading the CSV!). And if you don't know what I mean, let's just say it was well hidden.

I'm not sure when that character appeared... it's a recent phenomenon though! Something to do with Vista? Something to do with upgrading my FTP program? Something on the server? Don't axe me, sir. The mysteries of technology.
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  Lazy Day 12:27 AM -- Sun January 6, 2008  

Well, it's a Saturday, and it was pouring rain all day. So my accomplishment list for the day includes: a couple hours of WoW, a little Half-Life 2 (I'm up to Episode 2, which is definitely the best, since it finally has achievements in it. I've been carefully hauling a garden gnome with me for the entire game just to earn one), a trip to the post office (after discovering my car battery had died), and a little Lego building, since the post office contained my new train! I believe I also did some eating and sitting. There were TV shows as well.

Oh, I did do some work-related items! When I went to the post office, I mailed CDs that had been ordered. Also, I did some testing of an absurdly horrifying world that WTG was afraid of (hint: jumping over water in a you-go... but not in the dark!). Not that it was a badly made world, just impossible. I think I came up with a very simple fix that will make this world quite playable. And I answered some emails, read the forum, and chatted in the chat room.

Hey, it's the weekend, that's what happens. I am off-duty on weekends. But it's not usually this ridiculous. We have a houseguest for the next week (and the past one, so be impressed with the things I've gotten done!), so nothing is very organized or professional around here until that's done. You know how that goes!
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