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  AoB3 Progress 04:42 PM -- Thu January 24, 2008  

Obviously, that's shrunken down! But there you have it, the very beginning of the game. It's not all that playable at the moment, mainly I just got the graphics in. You can go and steal the RCMP car, but you can't get out of it if you get into it, and it still steers quite goofily. The mountie looks around, but doesn't interact in any way. As you can see, the Supreme life meter and enemy life meter are onscreen, and the enemy meter is in an odd place, since I upped the resolution to 800x600. There will be new interface elements for this game, those will be replaced. Still not sure actually how life will be - a meter or the ever-popular hearts!
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  Bouapha Update 10:36 AM -- Wed January 23, 2008  

Nothing much has happened since the last update. That's because of planning and considering the prospects of online connectivity. I came up with some awesome ideas that would be really fun and well worth being connected. But they're huge. So it was pretty paralyzing to consider those things. So I've finally made the decision to just go ahead and get something done with the regular offline thing, because the nature of the online stuff I have in mind won't require redoing much of this, it'll just be added on. So I can work on stuff I know how to do now, make good progress, and worry about that stuff later without worrying that it's going to entail undoing all the stuff I've got done.

So my goal is simple: By Feb 1st, I want to have a playable first district. Not full of interesting stuff, but a place you can run around with some monsters and a little bit of the initial stuff. Actually... I probably ought to clarify that goal more. Oh well, point is, I am off to render out the RCMP car and the mountie, and some traffic barriers and trees, and make some road tiles. Because of course, it all begins right there!
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  T.A.G., You're NOT it 10:28 AM -- Tue January 22, 2008  

After having a month or so of seeing the frowning system of T.A.G. in action, I have decided to drop it to only 5 frowns to kick an entry out. No legitimate entry has ever come close to 5 frowns (2 is about the highest), and in fact most egregiously bad entries only get around 4, so it will still not drop a lot. But getting 10 was almost impossible. It only ever happened with ones where the person just typed a single random word, or retyped the acronym itself. So I think 5 will do better, and you might occasionally see an entry kicked out now. This should not have any retroactive effect on the scores.

On another note, saw Cloverfield last night. Don't see it. It's not terrible, it's kinda sorta good (but really pretty stupid). But, 50% of all viewers (out of our sample of 2) literally kept their eyes closed for 95% of the movie to avoid throwing up. It's all shot on handheld camera, and it's way way worse than The Blair Witch Project. It made me feel pretty dizzy and uncomfortable, and it made her totally unable to watch. The theater put up warning signs at the ticket booth, and we really didn't believe it could be that bad, but it was. It's really, really hard to watch. I truly can't understand how this got past test audiences without some kind of digital filtering or something to smooth it out. And it's really not interesting enough to warrant suffering through that.

Here's a tip to future directors: having the cameraman wear a steadicam rig may not be "realistic", but you won't hear complaints about it. As opposed to using real handheld cameras, which will cause vomiting in the aisles. It's not as if the guy always hanging onto his camera through every horrible event is realistic either. We know it's fake, it'd just be nice to be able to see it.

If you need to see it, wait for the DVD - it'll be a lot less sickening on a small screen.
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  La Oficina 09:14 PM -- Sun January 20, 2008  

The Office is very funny!! It doesn't matter how you interpret that sentence, provided you interpret it as the name of a TV show, because it will be true either way.

Warning: It turns out I wrote a million pages of stuff about WoW below. If you don't care, stop reading now. Nothing from here down will be of any interest to you!

It's time for another WoW landmark! Now my Hordies are all level 26, though the Allies remain 24 (I've got 5 of each). It's their turn now. If you search this journal to see when my last WoW landmark occurred, you will discover that I don't waste all that much time on WoW! Well, relatively speaking. I mean, people talk about hitting 60 in a few weeks. It took me a few weeks just to gain 10 levels (2 each for 5 characters), and these levels are a whole lot quicker than the ones at the high end. Then again, maybe I am wasting a lot of time, I'm just really bad at it...

Which brings me to the issue of the classes in WoW. I will tell you that at this point, playing every class to 24/26, I have the following opinions (opinions subject to change pending higher levels):

* Classes I love are Warlock and Hunter. Even on my 3-second delay connection, they are very playable thanks to their handy pets keeping monsters off of them. The Warlock also has the added advantage of relying on damage-over-time spells, rather than having to constantly cast more spells, so that too is easier on my connection. These two classes easily level three times as fast as any other for me, and with virtually no risk of failure (Hunter the fastest and easiest). I can take on 3 guys a couple levels above me without fear, and not even worry much when new things show up in mid-fight with them.
* Classes I also like a lot are Rogue, Druid, and Shaman. They are not as powerful or easy to play as the above, but they do fun things (Rogue: stealth, lockpicking, making poisons, doing massive damage; Druid: shapeshifting, clawing things to bits; Shaman: totems, easy combo of magic and smacking), and have good abilities to save themselves if needed.
* Also pretty fun classes are Warrior and Priest. Warrior is not amazing, but despite what you'd expect, a pretty big variety of different abilities to mix up. And awfully hard to kill. Priest is pretty good... sometimes. Slow to kill things (unlike real life, of course), and a little easier to get killed than it should be, since the whole class is based around healing.
* The classes I don't like are Paladin and Mage. Mage is absolutely impossible to play on my connection. They need a fast connection to get the spells out quickly enough. Of all the classes, Mage is far and away the slowest to level, and I die constantly. It actually has some pretty fun options, but dying nonstop and having to constantly rest and restore mana and life is very tiring. My problems with it have more to do with my connection than the class itself. It's a lot better when I play at the library. On the other hand, Paladin is just boring. Toss out a couple of skills, then wait while you auto-attack for a while. Doesn't die much, just isn't very exciting.

Do you play WoW? What do you think of the classes?
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  P.U., K., 3 S.F.S. 10:10 PM -- Sat January 19, 2008  

purple umbrella, kumquat, 3 small finger sandwiches

We are sitting here watching TV (Netflix) for the evening, as is very very often the case, and I asked my wife what I should blog about today. She said to write a story about the items listed above. Here goes.

One fine August afternoon, I was supping on my favorite lunch - a small selection of finger sandwiches. Today, I had a spicy peppercorn cheese one, a kumquat-butternut squash pate, and a salmon rutabaga melt on rye. But alas, when I was down to my last sandwich (the pate!), the clouds conspired against me. The sky grew dark and in moments drizzle became downpour. I rushed under the shelter of our gazebo, but for shame, the sandwich had been besogged. It was then that I remembered the saying of my dear mother: "Always keep a teensy tiny purple umbrella in your right shoe, snug against your toes!" But not just the saying, no sir! I remembered that I had followed this ever-sage advice each day of my life. I disenshoed my right foot and withdrew the umbrella from its repose. I pushed it to its widest extreme, and beheld its majesty overhead.

Being teensy tiny, it offered too diminutive an arc to ensure my own aridity. But yet, the day could be salvaged! I placed the umbrella into the last remaining finger sandwich's airspace, and thusly could it avoid being further hydrated. With it so covered, I proudly strode forth into the splatter and partook of the slightly damp treat which remained.

Mmmm, Kumquat-butternut squash.

The end. That's what you get. And that's what she gets for suggest such a combination of items.
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  Use The Force-Shaped Parts, Luke! 06:48 PM -- Fri January 18, 2008  

Lego Star Wars II

I've been playing this pretty obsessively for about the past two weeks. I give it Two Dumbs Up. It's a very easy platformer (in fact, you have unlimited lives, and reappear right where you died, so it's impossible to lose!), with a ton of secret stuff to find and collect, and a ton of really funny stuff. It wouldn't have been nearly as entertaining if it wasn't playing off of something that the player is already sure to be extremely familiar with (Star Wars), but since it is, it's just hilarious to see the Lego versions of all the big scenes from the movies. They're not just Lego versions, they make a mockery of every scene with stupid little jokes. For example, when Luke gets his robotic hand installed, it gets loose and runs around clamping on to things.

A couple things to note about the game, from my perspective as a game idea thief:
  • Just like with Ratchet & Clank, blowing things up (and tons of things can be blown up!) results in a huge shower of money items you get to wade through and watch them add up. Very satisfying.
  • Reuse of levels - There are 18 levels that take you through the story of the 3 movies (the 3 that came out first, not the 3 that ruined the very concept of moving pictures). To fit the story, each one makes you play as certain characters. But then you can Free Play each level also, which lets you use anybody you want, and you can get to many places you couldn't in Story mode. It's fun (and economical for the developer!) to see the same place again and get to know it, while expanding on it and finding new facets like the Stormtrooper bathing area. Then they get reused again for special Bounty Hunter missions where you just need to find where someone is hiding. The fact that you have gotten to know the layout is very helpful at this point!
  • It really goes without saying that having hundreds of things to unlock and buy makes me happy. One of the most fun ones here is that you can buy cheats, and when you finally get to afford the useful ones (my favorites are the ones that multiply the money you make...), you are much more powerful, so it's a sideways version of leveling up. And everybody knows I love to level up! The basic game here is trivially easy (like I said above, you literally can't lose), but the goals are set up such that actually earning things isn't. To earn the secret stuff, you need to finish each level with a certain amount of money (among about 12 other sources of secret stuff), and you lose money when you die.
  • Huge variety of characters is fun. A lot of them share abilities, and probably 2/3 of them are plain old "blaster people". But there's a lot of fun to it anyway, and plenty of unique stuff to be found in between, from lightsabers to jetpacks and bombs, to the Imperial Spy that has no attacks and can only chirp into a walkie talkie. You can also build your own character, and which parts you make it out of determines which of the abilities it has.
  • Not something I could steal, but it's really cool that the Lego things the characters build are completely real. You can actually watch every single piece go into place, and if you own the right pieces, you could duplicate them exactly.
Oh, and remember that scene in Empire Strikes Back when Yoda rides around on a tractor, and then they stuff a motorcycle into a washing machine and make it explode, entirely with their minds? I don't either, but it must have been in there, because it's in the game.
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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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