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  Sneak Peek: Happyponygate 06:22 PM -- Wed April 9, 2008  

Well, I did artwork today, and that's the first thing I did. I don't know that it's the most productive thing to work on, but it was a lot of fun. I used a CD case I have for reference. The viewer can try to figure out exactly what case that is. The actual title screen will have those "runes" orbiting the pony head, not just sitting there. It'd be fun if the menu options did that too, but they'll probably just pop in from the side or something.

In terms of useful artwork, I didn't actually get a lot done. It turns out that creating fancy high-tech weapons takes a while. I wasn't working slowly or anything, it's just a lot to do. So I got 3 of the weapons modeled, and the 'ammunition' for one of them (because that weapon has its ammunition sticking halfway out of the barrel, so I needed to do that to make sure it matched). It's the most interesting and detailed ammunition in the game, it took longer to make than any of the guns I made. That should make you curious!

I've been having fun with making the weapons physically different. The 3 I made today, one is held like a normal gun (though a second hand is definitely needed to steady it, as it's enormous), one is upside-down like the Heavy Weapons Guy gun in Team Fortress (the handle is on top, as is a second handle for your other hand), and the third is shoulder-mounted. Of course, I think that covers all of the possible ways to hold a gun, so unless I decide one of them will be strapped to your head, they'll all be rehashes from here on out. Maybe I should do one that mounts across your waist like a steadicam. Or a backpack with two barrels coming out over your shoulders. We'll just have to see, because I've only done concept art on one of the other weapons.

I'm definitely trying to make them all enormous and look ridiculous. It's a little tricky because you run into trouble trying to get Bouapha to hold them. His first hand going on the trigger is fine, but when the gun is really big, getting his other arm somewhere to support tends to involve stretching that arm in a bad way. That's why the Puffencrush that's in the game now isn't nearly as big as I would like. I had to shrink it down so he could reach the second grip.
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  Smashy Smashy 07:14 PM -- Tue April 8, 2008  

Today, I will admit to being unproductive, so in an effort to find some way to be productive, I came up with an interesting twist. I went out to the living room, dug through my PS2 games, and found every one that works as motivation/inspiration/research/rip-off material for Happyponygate, and I fired them up and played a bit. Here's what I played:
  • Simpsons: Hit & Run - I was looking at how driving went, but the general notion of driving around and then hopping out to do missions was appropriate. I think it helped me a little thinking about the driving, even though they obviously have a fully implemented physics simulation for their driving (and let me tell you, there is not a lot of stuff on the web - or at least not easy to find - about coding car physics). I'm definitely going to take a simpler road on that, but little concepts like "you turn faster while braking" are certainly the kind of general rule you can take from a complex physics simulation and turn into a very simple arcade rule.

  • Ratchet & Clank 2 - In this game, it turns out, your weapons only level up once! Well, I remember buying golden weapons or something later on back when I played it, but leveling them up doesn't go through a bunch of ranks. It just goes up to full, and it's done. Which is crazy, because I played for about 15 minutes and managed to level up 2 of the 3 weapons I had!

  • Ratchet & Clank 3 - This game, on the other hand, has (I think) 99 levels per weapon. Or maybe you only get up to V9 in the normal game, then go up to 99 in the second run-through. Ratchet games do a great job of making a second play worthwhile, let me tell you. Anyway, it is much more appropriate with its leveling. But the real thing I got out of both Ratchet games I played was something I hadn't even thought about, but is so obvious in retrospect! You can smash objects all over the place in these games, and it's just fun! So here's a whole new angle to Happyponygate, officially. Almost every item around is going to be destroyable, and destroying them will make Loonies (that's money, not Dr. Lunatic) go flying everywhere to pick up. It's two great tastes that taste great together - wholesale destruction, and collecting shiny objects.
I had Midway Arcade Treasures handy too, for checking out Super Sprint, but I didn't actually try it yet. Seems an appropriate choice - top down 2D driving!

So right now what I am doing is formulating a depressingly large art asset list, so I know what I need to create for this game. It's nothing like Sleepless Hollow, unfortunately. Everything in this game is new (well, maybe I can borrow LL2's teddy bears...), and an entire game's worth of art from scratch is an insane amount of work. One of the things of course is to come up with lots of random objects that can be scattered around town to smash - I've already got trash cans, dumpsters, mailboxes (official ones - haven't made normal house ones yet), streetlights and phone booths. I'll need other things... newspaper racks, benches, bus stops, bushes, fire hydrants. I don't know what else, but lots of assorted town things you can smash for spare change.
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  Vacation Shutdown 08:10 PM -- Sun April 6, 2008  

Well, it's been a 2-week vacation, somewhat unintended and somewhat intended, and today is the last day. It started out as a short break for Easter, a couple days of fun and lowered work, but then the illness struck. That knocked out pretty much a whole week of the two weeks. I didn't even play WoW for most of that! That's a pretty serious malady. Then I got mostly better (still coughing, though), but it remained seriously vacationistic here. But Spring Break ends today, with Sol returning to her jobs tomorrow, and I doing the same.

So, the upside of it is that I am raring to go. I think the sum total of work I did over this break was to make this decision: I am going to crank out Happyponygate like a man possessed (by a Happy Pony), and get that out of the way so I can make LL3. So it's Happy Pony time around here and I am going to knock that thing down fast. I must!!
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  April Fool's 09:44 AM -- Tue April 1, 2008  

Ha!! I was just kidding when... I mean, what you all thought was... um... no. I'm still recuperating. I don't have that kind of energy. But I thought I'd post something anyway, just to remind you - it is April Fool's Day. Please, think carefully about what you read today (not a bad move every other day, too, but today, even people outside of the news media are trying to trick you!). Jokes are fun unless you're the guy who falls for it and thinks something horrible is happening (but when you do, that sure is fun for everyone else!).

But if you'd like to see a great joke: The Food Court Musical

I like to think of today as Critical Thinking Practice Day. And that's something we could all use!
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