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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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  Lego My Legos 08:20 PM -- Fri January 4, 2008  

The "big present" I got this Christmas (I got lots of great stuff, by the way, mostly DVDs) was something perhaps a bit embarrassing for an elderly gent such as myself, but I announce it anyway! It was a Lego train set and a bunch of extra tracks for it, and a train station.

I was supposed to also get Rock Band as my other really big present, but it is unfindable for PS2 these days (except for the version that comes with no instruments, and that doesn't do me much good!). So I spent the relative money involved, and maybe a bit of Christmas money, on more Lego trains! Those are awaiting me in my PO box at this very moment. Too bad it's too late to pick them up.

I've got it all set up in our 'retreat' (a small room that has no real purpose, off of our bedroom). I had tons of legos in my youth, so I am using those to build stuff - houses, stores, cars, etc. It's going to be a whole little tiny wonderland. I've taken pictures of it so far, and I'll get more as it builds up. I want to capture the process as the city slowly expands. I want to get set up to build a nifty timelapse video of it going up.

That's the first shot! It's actually got a building added on to that now, but I haven't taken a picture yet. As you can see, it is constructed on delightful foam jigsaw pieces. We got those years ago, and they are a nice surface for exercising, or as we see here, legos. My second train will add a bunch more tracks, so I'll have to find a way to work those in. Wish I had more space! Also, you can see assorted ground plates scattered around. I just dug them out for future use.

See, I've always wanted lego trains, since I was maybe 12 and they were only available in Europe. I always thought train sets were really cool, something about all the miniature stuff. A Lego train set is ten times as good, because you can rearrange it freely and don't need all kinds of expensive paint and bits from the hobby shop. On top of that life-long interest, I also wanted something simple, creative, yet brainless, so I could just zone out when I am totally tired of work for the day, but my wife still isn't home to entertain me. So this is my new hobby! I'm pretty excited about it, however dorky you want to call me. It really fills a specific need I've had that to date has left me sitting there browsing around the web for hours at a time, not actually doing anything of interest, and ruining my eyes and spine.

I don't expect to be cranking out the city rapidly, but it's nice to have it sitting around whenever I feel like messing with it.
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  Jack's Shack 12:29 AM -- Fri January 4, 2008  

I went to see the setting of Short Fuse live and in person today! A bit late for background research, I suppose. We took a hike way up into the hills with a friend of ours who knew where we were going, and checked out an abandoned mine shaft and a shack that belonged to... well, somebody at some point. A miner? It didn't look that old! It did have creepy clown paintings in it, though. Anyway, we didn't get to go in the mine, given that it was a 20 foot drop straight down with a rickety ladder built a hundred years ago, but we looked in. It was a good hike. There was also a spot we saw, quite a ways away from the mine entrance, where a cave-in had obviously happened. That was kind of cool, just to imagine how much of the area under there was lined with tunnels. It's like ants.

I still need to put out a newsletter, but I did get the latest Supreme Add-on up, unannounced. WW6-LM, feel free to grab it. Newsletter tomorrow though. Hiking is very tiring. Good night!
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  Short Fuse Enhanced Edition! 06:46 PM -- Wed January 2, 2008  

I've finally finished the upgraded version of Short Fuse. It's not a huge overhaul, but the editor is dramatically improved. In addition, there are a bunch of new game elements, and 5 new levels to use those elements:
  • Keys & Doors - As you can imagine, you need the keys to open the doors.
  • Heartbreakers - Don't touch them! If you get one, your multiplier drops to zero, meaning no more points for you for the rest of the level.
  • Rockets & Targets - My personal favorite. When you light them, they launch off and hit the nearest Target, exploding.
  • Teleporters - A little more interesting than in most games, simply due to the rules of this game. See the new level Resumption to understand why it's interesting.
So that's what I spent my day doing! I also have finished testing a late WW6 world at last, and should have that and a newsletter for you tomorrow! Enjoy! And make me some new levels!

P.S. I resubscribed to WoW on New Year's Eve. Goodbye cruel world!
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  2008 Hamumu Planumu 11:56 AM -- Tue January 1, 2008  

Well, looking ahead to the future, things are always a bit hazy. It's all guesswork and hopes. But the very act of writing this will have some hand in determining that future. I'll be sure to bookmark this entry so I can refer to it and see what I was supposed to have accomplished when I'm wandering around doing nothing.

Major Releases
  • Adventures Of Bouapha 3: ??? - Coming soonish.
  • Loonyland: Titan Tunnels - I still want to do this, but we'll really have to see. I left the code in complete disarray when I turned to other, more urgent, projects, so I may be stuck when I go back to it. When something is completely torn to shreds like that, I'm mentally holding up the various pieces in my mind, and taking on other projects lets them drop back into a jumbled mess. I think it's not as bad all that, though. I'll have to see.
  • Another Smallish Game - Like Sleepless Hollow. I don't know what, I don't know when, I just think there really ought to be one! I had huge fun making that, and it only took a couple of months, and it's provided a lot of joy (and frustration) and proved very popular. Maybe this could be a Sol Hunt game. Those always get finished, right?
Minor Releases
  • Another 48-Hour Game in April - The next Ludum Dare contest is in April, so I should hopefully have another little mini game for you then!
  • Another one! - There will likely be another Ludum Dare contest later in the year too, like this one we just had in December, so that makes 2 such gamelets.
  • 3 More Webgames - I like having the webgames. They keep people coming back and provide an automated way for people to have fun and accumulate Yerfbucks. I know exactly what I want to do for the next one (you might be able to guess what it is if you own a Wii), and then there should be 2 more in this coming year. I don't know what they'll be about, but surely they will entertain!
  • Avatar Bits! - Hundreds of them!
  • Custom Title Changes - As was written in the scrolls of eld, someday you'll finally be able to buy title changes in the Yerfshop.
  • Something Else In The Yerfshop - Something other than avatar bits and custom titles should be buyable in the Yerfshop. More stuff to spend your Yerfbucks on is a good thing.
  • T-Shirts - It's really way past about time for there to be Hamumu t-shirts. This is something that just keeps hopping onto that back burner and getting burned up. But in 2008? Maybe! Sorta maybe. Honestly, I'd just like to have some for myself!
Other Stuff To Do
  • Daily Journal - I need to get down to putting something in this Journal every day. We can call that one a New Year's Resolution, but that just makes it sound scary. It won't be too boring, there really is new stuff worth mentioning almost every day. I am just a lazy old man.
  • Finish This Stupid Site! - There are still things on the site that just aren't done. Fan Art page needs integration into Dumb Accounts (and lots of fan art is unposted still), My Downloads is still not running (that's 99% done, I really just have to test it and upload it), and other little issues.
  • Integration - Working on code to allow future games to really tightly integrate with Dumb Accounts. That in-game chat I've talked about, progress stored on the server, achievements on the Dumb Page, and so on. Not much retroactive, though. The older games will just suffer.
Pipe Dreams
  • A Musical - It's still my dream to release a game that's a musical. It's just got to happen someday!
  • The Loonyland Series and Adventures Of Bouapha - The entire mythology of Loonyland is written. It's all worked out, it's got more twists than your large intestine, and it's awesome. Now all I have to do is make the 4 or 5 games that make it happen. Huge games. Sigh. But I mentioned the other one because I have figured out what the last Adventure Of Bouapha will be (the name, by the way, is "Final Exam", so don't say I never tell you anything), and it's going to also fit into the Loonyland series, tying the two together. It should come out just before the last Loonyland game. The last Loonyland game (which also has a title, and I'm not telling you!) will completely wrap up the entire saga of Bouapha, Dr. Lunatic, and Happy Stick in a perfect bow. When you finish that game, you'll be able to look back and see how everything fits together from the very beginning. It will be my crowning achievement!! You will weep! So that'll be coming out in 2044.
  • Ichabod Steamshovel: Mythchaser - Writing comics for this guy got me very interested in his character and what he does. I want to someday make him a series of games. They'd be very different - all about going around and finding clues and taking pictures to, of course, chase myths! There's no fighting, just a lot of photography, sneaking, and using various high-tech devices. The idea is quite compelling, though it is nothing more than an idea at this time.
  • An MMORPG - Hey, who doesn't want to make one of those?
So there you have it. Everything I plan to do, everything I hope to do, and a bunch of things I have no intention of doing this year, but like to think about. We'll see what actually happens, won't we?
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