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  Owls Arisen 04:27 PM -- Wed August 13, 2008  

Here's some of the stuff I'm thinking of to keep Rise 2 a smaller project, but still make it involving and interesting:

  • Obviously, a whole lot more heroes. If I can get 200 in there, so much the better! But the goal is a minimum of 100. They're fairly easy to make, but I want them to be unique too, which complicates it. It'd be boring if 10 of them were Archie at 10 levels of power.
  • The original vision of the game doesn't involve all this wacky cloning. Rather, you can have one of every hero. Once you've bought one, he won't show up in the inn anymore. After all, these people are unique individuals! That of course is what necessitates such a huge number of heroes.
  • On the other hand, I also want to include a second game mode, Clone Mode or something. In this mode, you hand-pick 8 heroes from the entire collection, and your inn is permanently stocked with those 8 heroes all the time. You can of course buy more than one of the same in this mode! So this mode is like a collectible card game - build a deck and see how well it works.
  • Haven't decided exactly how this should be, but I originally wanted a skill tree of sorts. So you might lay down lots of archers, planning to invest points into skills that improve arrows. That sort of thing. The skills would be general upgrades to all your units, or certain types of units. Something that would be fun, but probably wouldn't make it in, would be to add special powers in there. So for example once every 60 seconds you could click on an icon to make it snow, keeping all enemies frozen for 10 seconds.
  • Lots of little achievements to complete, to give you more of a goal than just finishing the game.
As for game modes, I thought there'd be a few different 'quests', which would be sets of levels. Some real easy short ones, some long and crazy ones, and then of course, you can't leave out Survival mode that never ends.

Here's a really fun idea I had that definitely isn't going in, but would be an awesome sequel (Rise 3: The Leavening). You pick 3 heroes, and they go on an adventure. They function exactly as they do in the game normally (same ranges and all that), except that they move to wherever you click, in a sidescrolling world. They kind of run in a line, one following the other. That just sounds pretty awesome to me. You'd have to decide if you want a Jessie in the middle to make your other guys powerful, or if you are better off with a 3rd person dishing out damage. Oh, and of course, you just start with Archie, and you get money by killing monsters which you use to buy better heroes and add to your party until it's 3 people, then swap guys out until it's the mighty force you've always dreamed of.

So, guess I better learn actionscript!
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  The Owls Have Risen 12:34 PM -- Tue August 12, 2008  

Rise Of The Owls is here! It's a freebie, and it's short, sweet, simple, and strategic! It actually is, I swear. You may find that it's easy to win, but can you get the top score? My record is only 570,000, but there are isolated reports of over two meeellion points!

As you may know, I on occasion take 48 hour games and make them into something more. Such is my plan for Rise Of The Owls. However, I'm releasing it as is - that's Rise Of The Owls. Rise Of The Owls 2 (The Risening? Owlectric Boogaloo?) is a whole different story.

This is the plan I am thinking of right now.
  • Step 1: Learn to program Actionscript (flash).
  • During Step 1: Make Rise Of The Owls 2 in flash.
  • Step 2: ??????
  • Step 3: Profit!
Perhaps I should add some details to step 2 to help clarify it. I want to make Rise 2 a flash game, which you need to be logged into your Dumb Account to play. You'll earn and unlock new heroes by getting trophies! And other hidden ways. It'll truly be integrated right into the site in that way.

Don't want to get your heroes the hard way? Lucky for you! There is also a downloadable Rise 2 which either gives you all the heroes right away, or maybe has you unlock them in simple in-game ways, like accomplishing simple goals like "Get 10 kills with Archie". That costs money.

So if you like free stuff, you can play the free version (good news from my end: to get all the heroes, you'll have to buy my other games! Can't earn all the trophies without owning some of the games, right?). If you like easy stuff, you can buy the pay version.

Such is my plan for Rise 2. I think it's good to be learning worthwhile skills like flash development instead of endlessly iterating over that same dead old codebase. I think I'm going to spend this week on some of that learning mumbo-jumbo and see at the end of the week if I think I'm better off continuing that full time until it's done, or getting back to HPG and considering flash something for my spare time. Tomorrow I'll blog about some of the features of Rise 2. It will be at heart the same thing you see here, same type of game for sure, but major key upgrades that make it all worthwhile.
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  Welcome To The Journal 04:51 PM -- Fri August 8, 2008  

We've got fun and games! Actually we don't at the moment. I have not blogged in quite some time. Next week, I will endeavor to fix that, but for now, I will just tell you that another fine LD48 contest is coming up this weekend, and I shall rip it to shreds with great panache by making something that makes WoW look like Atari 2600 Adventure. Or, I'll make Guess The Number. We'll see on Sunday.

The monster maker is done now, except for loading, saving, and testing (in any form). Loading & saving is nothing, I just haven't bothered since there's nothing worth loading or saving yet. That's because the testing is held up by the same thing everything else is - I need to make monsters actually function! Right now the guy in the tank can only walk in circles, no matter what kind of moves you give him. I need to implement the whole concept of the creature choosing and executing the various attacks. It's actually going to only take a couple of hours, but nonetheless it is what remains between me and functional adversaries.

As always with summer, it's been pushed around by other things, like helping the lady get her classroom set up, the occasional minute or two spent on WoW, preparations to embarrass myself at PAX, family, and general summeryness. It's pretty frustrating to have things moving along so slowly, but at least it feels like it is getting made. Someday it will be done, we just don't know when!
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  Sneak Peek: Happyponygate 03:37 PM -- Wed July 30, 2008  

That's actually a condensed shot - the real editor has even more dead space in the middle, which I just cropped out (and more dead space below as well, though that's just buttons I haven't made yet). I don't know if that space will someday serve a purpose, or if it will always be delightfully blank. It ain't pretty, friends, but it is certainly functional, and that's my goal. Making a complex menu with lots of buttons also pretty is far beyond my desired amount of time spent messing with stupid things nobody cares about.

The entire top section is done, though I think some more things will end up needed eventually (especially more monster flags). The attack definition is far from done. So how it all works is you make your changes, and you watch the little guy in your 'monster tank' in the lower right to see what your changes are doing to him. He sorta wanders around randomly in there. You'll also be able to click a Test button to make him fire off the currently selected attack when you want to see it in action.

The monster's level is automatically calculated based on the damage his attacks do and how much life he has. I am fairly sure there will be quite a few ways to exploit that, but I'm trying to err on the side of low level to prevent people from making cakewalk levels that power them up quickly and give them great items (actually, I think items won't drop in user-made levels, but that's something to consider later). When you let people make their own levels and the monsters that populate them, that's pretty much unavoidable, but I'm at least going to try to make it a little difficult. Of course, I could also make players gain no XP in user-made levels, but let's hope I don't have to be so drastic!

Speaking of drastic, check out my new hat:

Custom-made by Sol Hunt, this is an unfinished shot, though the hat is done now. The black part on the bottom is a baseball cap, which the yerfdog on top is sewn onto. The only thing you're missing in this shot is his legs, which sort of dangle next to the hat part. You also can't see his tail, but that's on the back, oddly enough. The ears and tail have pipe cleaners inside them, making them totally adjustable. You can perk his ears up to scan the crowd as needed. I fully intend to wear this hat to PAX, and look very stupid. I'm fully embarrassed to be seen in it, but that's the price I will have to pay for publicity. I've also designed a shirt that says

I will give you
Just ask me

So combining these two things should be instant win. You are welcome to start a betting pool on how long until I take it all off and go incognito in normal clothes. I still need to create the demo CD I want to have, and get the shirts ordered, and then I'm ready for the big event!
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  Bored? Games! 06:46 PM -- Tue July 29, 2008  

I'm gonna do a sneak peek tomorrow, as I am close to a good spot for one today, but will hold off until it's more complete. As always, I'm working on the monster editor. It's fun to use, tweaking the numbers and watching the guy zoom around accordingly (and you can make him do some serious zooming if you crank up the speeds).

Hamumu Software is going truly green! We are going to be so indie that we even generate our own electricity with which to make games. Solar panels are coming! Well, in the long view sense. We had a consultation last week with a guy who gave us the low down and an enormous amount of technical info. Just today I took some steps towards getting the necessary financing. It'll be probably a few months before construction begins, but it's definitely gonna happen, barring insane things like earthquakes. And we all know earthquakes don't happen!

Which reminds me, there was an earthquake today! It was maybe 80 miles away, and a magnitude 5.8. I felt it quite distinctly, though it felt more like I was just lightheaded and dizzy than actually quaked. My wife in town felt it a lot more severely. But even at the epicenter, a 5.8 is really not a big deal at all. Still, first one I've felt in a long while.

This weekend, my family held its official Summer BBQ, and we got to play a round of Arthouse. If you don't know, Arthouse is a party game I invented. Once again, it proved to be a huge blast of sheer joyous funpower. It always goes so incredibly well, and every time I play it (which is like once a year...), I think about how I really need to get it made into something I can sell. You guys would definitely want it, because it is the bestest ever. It's a game about drawing, only it requires no drawing skill of any kind - victory has more to do with how well you know the other players and how good you are at winning auctions (or making other players waste money in them). Anyway, I'm more serious than ever about getting some kind of sellable version of that in existence. It's just got to happen. It's very frustrating to have a completely finished, well-tested, universally beloved game and not be able to share it with anyone (or make a quick buck off of it, for that matter). Unfortunately, it's about 759x more difficult to sell a board/party/family game than it is a computer game. Can't just burn a CD for this thing!

And things are going well with hundredpushups, with Happyponygate, with our new fridge (yesterday was a massive shopping trip, that's for sure), and with WoW. Hooray for everything! Oh, and happy anniversary to Sol Hunt, I love you.
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  Summertime Notes 07:13 PM -- Wed July 23, 2008  

As usual during the summer, life chews right into game development (it's kind of like WoW in that way), and not a whole lot has happened since I journaled twelve years ago or whenever it was. I am still working on the monster maker for Happyponygate. It's pretty cool being able to tweak the values and see the monster change before your eyes. I think I'm going to like using it myself. So far you can pick which sprite to use, and change its color and brightness. Massive options, indeed.

I wrote a short story this weekend! That's something I'm trying to take up in my spare weekend time, and a weekend is just about the right amount of time to create a first draft for a short story. I had been talking about doing that, and when I went out to the post office, I came back to find that Sol had created a challenge for me. That made it both easier and more fun. She listed a few conditions for the story to employ (In a junky old spaceship, 3 grizzled miner-types, and a mysterious glowing blue jar), and then a bunch of questions to spur thought of where the story could go (Where did they get the jar? What's in it?). That did inspire me, and I churned out something I like. I don't think it's well written (and accordingly, you don't get to read it! Besides, it's not Hamumu-appropriate anyway), but I do like the actual tale being told. Hopefully, I can edit it into something readable one day. But not now! The one piece of advice I remember from writing books is to set aside your first draft for a few months before you go back to it. And that means I get to write other first drafts. That should be fun, or at least more fun than editing would be.

For some reason, even though I'm a published game developer (if you didn't know, I'm not just a self-published one, I have games that are, or at least were, available in stores from a real publishing house), I've always had a dream to be a published writer. Not a professional writer - I really just want to get one book published and be done. Something about having a book (or I guess a story would do... for a start) published seems more significant to me than a game. So that's something I'm always going for. I've tried Nanowrimo, even succeeded, at least in the sense of getting 50,000 words of a novel written. I didn't actually write the ending to that, though... Anyway, I think getting some short stories done, and published, will move me closer toward that goal. Or maybe qualify as meeting the goal, in my head. Because you know how to get to Carnegie Hall? Yeah, you take a left on fifth, head down by the hot dog vendor, and you'll see a Macy's. Then you make another right, head 3 blocks, and... well anyway, another way you could get there is practice. So I'm doing that, though I have no interest in Carnegie Hall whatsoever.

Done with my first day of Hundred Pushups, by the way. It went well. Let's see how day 2 goes on Friday (I forgot about it on Monday and Tuesday, so I started today). Doing exercise makes me feel more awake and energetic. It's good all around. Everybody should do pushups. Get to it!

We still have no fridge. Maybe on Friday, kinda doubt it. We do, however, have something that makes the first sentence of this paragraph a lie. Friends of ours let us borrow their mini-fridge, so we have a little space to keep some things cool! It's been quite nice. That's pretty much our summertime experience. That, and a lot of Netflix and expensive repairs to our Jetta (do not buy a Volkswagen. Ever).

Oh, and one other thing, I think I may not have mentioned that Hamumu Software, the entire company (not counting dogs and cats, if you thought those counted as part of the company), will be attending PAX (The Penny Arcade Expo) in August. As hoped, Jonathan Coulton will be appearing! It should be a delight all around. I'm going to be bringing copies of games to give away, or maybe making a demo disc to give out instead (but the games are already made, it's so much easier...). I won't have a booth, so I am trying to develop some sort of t-shirt/hat combo that will make me look sufficiently like a human booth that people will talk to me and be interested in Hamumu, without actually making me super sweaty and uncomfortable. It's a delicate balance, and all I know for sure is that I need to buy a white baseball cap to convert into a Yerfcap ASAP. I had an idea of making huge WoW-style shoulderpads, with giant foam HAMUMU sticking up from them, but I think that has a good chance of violating my comfort rules. And I don't think I could make elegant foam lettering. It would look bad. Too bad, because I think it's a cool idea.
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  Wee Mana 12:55 PM -- Thu July 17, 2008  

In a random IRC chat, I encountered what is the coolest drink ever: Mana Energy Potion. I wouldn't actually drink it, since it's incredibly expensive, inconceivably tiny, and absolutely jampacked with caffeine. But boy, isn't it cool!?

And you know that you can't visit ThinkGeek without wandering around marveling at all the overpriced but wacky things. Which is how I stumbled across something we can only presume is Hamumu-themed: Wee Ninjas! They're cute too. Let me take this moment to plug the ever-exciting and totally-free crowdsmashing game Wee Ninja upon which these must surely be based.

In other news, you are looking a little out of shape. Try A Hundred Pushups. I'm gonna see how I do myself. I really really really need to do something.
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  A Game A Week 04:24 PM -- Tue July 15, 2008  

I was driving to the post office today, and since the tape deck in my car spits out any tape I insert, I had to listen to CDs (normally I do satellite radio, but that plays through a fake tape you stick in the tape deck). Luckily, the Jonathan Coulton collection was in my car! And thus, I was inspired during my drive by his Thing-A-Week collection. Think about this idea:

I make a game every week (a small one, obviously). Of course, I couldn't start that until the Gate was done, what with both being fairly all-consuming tasks. Anyway, you pay $52 for the privilege of access to the Game-A-Week library. That's $1 a game! Oh, I should've mentioned, I do this for 1 year (hence 52 weeks). You could sign up to the library any time you want - have faith in me and order before the first week is up, or be a cynical stickler and wait until all 52 games already are done. Membership is permanent, you just pay once and you have access to all the games for all eternity.

There would be no demo for this, just tantalizing screenshots that non-members could see and drool over (week-long games are often quite droolworthy, you know). And what kind of games would you see? Well, you've seen my 48 hour games. They'd be 120 hours better than that. I get more time to make them, and I don't have to start from scratch! I think that's worth a buck.

I love making quickie games. As my wife pointed out, I work much better under pressure than during my aimless meandering normal life. That would be a really fun year for me, full of creativity and random weirdness.

Of course, other ideas might include things like buying the games individually or various sub-packs, or whatever. Lots tougher for me than just having the one simple package, though. But it would be fun to (eventually) offer different things, like the Professor Flounder series (a bunch of games made at various points during the year which star a highly educated flatfish), or the Strategy Pack, or whatever.

Anyway, what do you think of that? Would you pay $52 for the greatest entertainment experience of your life?
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  False Alarm 02:47 PM -- Mon July 14, 2008  

After experimenting on the now holy shirt, it has been determined that Kool-Aid is not at fault for the dissolving fibers... which leads us to a deeper mystery: how did I get sprayed with deadly acid while I was sitting at my computer? I suppose I may have gotten up to use the bathroom at some point in there, and probably gone to the kitchen too. But I don't remember being blasted with bleach or battery acid at any point. And it definitely happened that morning, since I saw the spots go from simple pink dots to gaping holes. By the way, I found several more holes elsewhere in pink spots. Very strange. And perhaps eternally a mystery.

Anyway, feel free to drink Kool-Aid. I still won't recommend it though, it's pretty nasty.

I'm neck-deep in extreme code chopping, which is why I'm writing this journal. I'm just really stuck where I am. I'm going to have to completely remove the existing monster system to put in the new one, and that's just a whole lot of work, and I'm not sure what all the problems are going to be. It's an ugly situation.

The new monster system is to implement monster editing, which will be tremendously delightful. You choose any of the existing sprites, colorize it like in Supreme, set the name, life, etc. But then it goes much further. You design up to 4 attacks for it to have, decide when it should use them (things like "happens when you get hit" or "use any time you have less than 25% life" or the most common "use randomly"), choose which animation they use, pick the bullets to fire, damage done, and so on.

So, I'm working on that. Or I was until I came here to type this to avoid working on that. This could be stuck for weeks with all the huge entanglements that need untangling. It wouldn't be bad at all if this were a new game from scratch, it's the act of trying to gut the heart of this living beast without actually killing it that causes traumedy. Well, without killing it beyond the possibility of casting Resurrect on it. I don't want to just raise a mindless zombie, though. I need a fully working Level 50 Dumb Game. So fingers are crossed on this epic journey I am undertaking. Let me continue to make metaphors so as to avoid actually working on it. It's a robot bear wearing a tutu. Okay, I better go pack up some CDs I need to ship, that also works for procrastination.
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  The Last Straw 10:15 AM -- Mon July 14, 2008  

And just as a grand finale (let's assume that's what it is... this has to end!), I MELTED MY SHIRT WITH KOOL-AID! I spilled a couple drops of Kool-Aid on my shirt (juice pouches are hard to operate!), and it has eaten two holes in it. Kool-Aid scares me now. I was drinking that! I actually watched it happen. I noticed pink spots on my shirt, then a little hole in the big spot, then gradually over the next hour or so, the hole grew (and a little one formed in the little spot), until the pink spots were gone... they were holes. It's really quite disturbing all around.

Fingers shown for scale, and notice slight pink edges to the holes. You can't tell, but the small one is actually a hole as well, and two full threads wide! I don't know why it's not visible in the picture.

As an aside, the responses to my last entry seem to demand this bit of info: I am a rational adult, so I don't believe in karma, of course! I also don't believe I am cursed. It's just human nature to find patterns in things. It's what we do. I was just messing around.

And so is Joss Whedon! Don't miss Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog which begins tomorrow and will vanish for eternity on Sunday.
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