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  Downtime Warning! 08:58 AM -- Wed December 30, 2009  

Hello all. It seems we are ending the year with a bang, and hopefully not a bad one, as the server undergoes an OS upgrade tomorrow (December 31st) at 9AM PST. That's 12PM EST, and whatever it is wherever else. This procedure should only take 1-2 hours of downtime, but the reason I chose to have it right in the middle of the day rather than an off-time is that it could also really badly break a lot of things. I want to be available and ready to fix them all (or tell the smart people to fix them). This is a really major procedure that is very scary, so let's hope the site survives it! No, it's not adding anything new or interesting that you will notice. It'd be nice if it sped the site up a bit or something, but I wouldn't expect that either. It's just a necessary thing to keep up with the times. And then it's a new year full of new surprises and an actual newsletter every month and actual games being released and actual t-shirts.

Hamumu.com will be down for up to 2 hours at 9AM PST on December 31st for an upgrade!
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  Dude, Seriously 11:37 AM -- Sun December 20, 2009  

I know, it's been very very quiet 'round here. Go play Robot Wants Kitty for a quick holiday distraction. That was my entry for the Ludum Dare 16 contest (theme: Exploration). I think it's fun! I'll be spicing it up with a few little improvements and a website integration (get a trophy for getting the kitty) before the new year rolls around.

But that's what I'm trying to say: it's the holidays and nothing is happening around here except slacking and tons of non-business things that keep me very busy, so don't expect anything much going on for the next week or two!

In fact, dude, I will be at a dude ranch for the next few days. Seriously. I don't know how that will be, but dude.
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  T-Shirt Time! 01:57 PM -- Fri December 4, 2009  

It's priced as low as Cafepress will let you price stuff ($18.99 for this color), so I ain't making no money bucks. I'm just hoping some people will enjoy dressing up as Bouapha. It has no words, no ads, no accoutrements, just a straight-up Bouapha shirt, as accurate as you can be with the color options at Cafepress. If you wear this, pumpkins will fear, and people will wonder what your problem is. There are several other interesting shirts, clocks, and more up there too, if you haven't seen those.

I was thinking about this design way back, I believe I even had a journal up about it somewhere back there, but I just decided to, as Wil Wheaton says, Get Excited And Make Stuff. I'm thinking of doing a T-shirt a month, so get your Bouapha Pumpkin shirt now, because it may disappear on January 1st (not the actual shirt, just the ability to purchase it)! I thought it'd be fun to just have whatever fun little Hamumu shirt idea up there, and if you want to grab it, go ahead. They're not hard to make, and there's no risk since it's print-on-demand. I would commit to a T-shirt a week, but I know I wouldn't keep up, so that's a bad plan.

Also of no interest, I was going to try doing a shirt at Zazzle instead, but the only green they had was wayyyy off! Cafepress seems to be doing the job nicely.
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  It's Been A Long December... 01:15 PM -- Thu December 3, 2009  

Okay, it's only the 3rd of December, but the Counting Crows know what's up because it's already been long! I got home from a Minnesota trip for Thanksgiving to find myself ill with, I am pretty sure, H1N1 (the symptoms match, and really if you get sick nowadays, and have those symptoms, the huge pandemic is probably the most likely bet). Today I am feeling cured, but that's a good 3 days of my life shot, and shot very very slowly... lots of sitting and staring at the wall. And today I don't intend to do much either, it's recovery time. But hey, it's time after that big break to figure out where we are and what's to come! I feel at a loss for what I should be doing at the moment.

In the grand scheme of things, I think December will be spent primarily getting the website to something more like 100%. There are quite a few things I need to upload too (worlds, fan art, etc). There is also a Ludum Dare 48-hour game development contest coming up next weekend, December 11th. I really want to participate in that one hardcore-style... it'd be nice to make something new just for fun! So that's December.

Then the new year means back to Loonyland Tactics, and Behind The Dumb, right? I'm not that excited about either one. It's mainly the need to comb my hair that makes me hesitant to do Behind The Dumb. Tactics is suffering from "really old code I forgot about that's overly complex and ugly" syndrome, as well as "how did I make that art?" and "I was excited about turn-based strategy at one point...". Feels like hard work. I think I am going to try to scale back Behind The Dumb into more of a 'video log' than an entire television show (of sorts), so it's a bit less overwhelming. Actually, much like LL:T, I can't remember how I made Behind The Dumb either!

Beyond that, what's to come? I'm so confused by all the new ways to make games (for me, mainly Flash and Unity), all of which feel more awkward to work with than C++. But they open up new opportunities that make it seem ridiculous to keep making Windows-only, downloadable games. Seems like some soul-searching is in order! After the Great Pumpkin's Field adventure, I'm deeply intrigued by the idea of MMO gameplay and how it doesn't seem that hard to achieve. So who knows... a small project would sure be nice to stick in between, though. I really think there will need to be an extended period of just plain learning some stuff first. Maybe mini-games made to learn with.

In addition to that though, the site itself is a key part of the Hamumu world now. I have several features I want to add, to keep it exciting and more involving, fun stuff to do. I'm kind of hoping to add 'something of interest' each month, but how you define 'something of interest' is up in the air. Doesn't seem too crazy to think that I would add the first one this month. Though I suppose that would entail actually creating it.

So that's what should go on, sometime... maybe. Or not. It's all potential.
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  Clones Are Fun 04:59 PM -- Thu November 19, 2009  

To wit: Torchlight (PC game) is quite enjoyable! But that's not what I'm blogging about! First off, look over there on the left - the clone of my twitter posts has returned! And speaking of returning, let me return to what I haven't gotten to yet, which is what I'm really here to blog about, and that is...

The new Costume Party tile "Cloning Tank" (which incidentally is, as of this writing, mentioned in the Twitter feed)! It's pretty nifty. It's actually invisible right now, but here's a screenshot of the effect it has:

When you step on the Cloning Tank, it begins recording your movement for 8 seconds, with a visual effect I have not created yet, some kind of laser scanning you as you go. Once the 8 seconds is up, a clone pops out of the tank, exactly duplicating what you did over those 8 seconds. Interestingly, it can even do impossible things, like walk right through a wall if that wall was not there when you recorded. At the end of 8 seconds, the clone vanishes, and a new one starts from the tank again. Any time you step on the tank again, the clone vanishes and you begin recording fresh. There can be any number of Cloning Tanks in a level, and any of them can be recording or playing back at any given time.

It's actually really cool and it's something I just had to create because it got stuck in my head while I listened to a podcast review the newest Ratchet & Clank game (there is something like this in the Clank levels). The same concept is taken more extreme by Chronotron, which I played last year when I went to PAX.

This thing has a million uses, in part because the clones are invulnerable, but absorb bullets, so you can use them to provide covering fire, or just hit buttons like shown in the picture. Originally the tile was a Holodeck (and you can see the clone is transparent like a hologram... but we'll just say he's made of clone goo), but I decided Cloning Tank made more sense because they were solid, and making them not solid would've been more complex while making them less useful.

It's just tons of fun to implement crazy little new things in Costume Party. They always work really quickly and easily. This thing took maybe 2 hours total to get fully tested and working (well, I'm sure it has some horrendous bug hidden in it, but it's tested to beta level anyway).

So when can you experience the madness yourself? Data not available. The Sci-Fi Pack to which this item belongs is not something I'm developing, I was just madly driven to create this particular tile. Still, I have a ton of ideas for that pack, and maybe it will continue to burst forth tile by tile when I can't stop it. I really do want to get that Portal costume done...

And yes, the weird fruit calzone made from leftover pie crust was a really tasty breakfast.
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  Two Kinds Of Work 06:47 PM -- Wed November 18, 2009  

I am sitting here trying to get organized and figure out where my time goes and where it ought to go, and I have hit upon an interesting phenomenon. I am definitely not the first, but since I'm thinking about it, I'm gonna think about it at you right now.

When people make charts or lists of stuff they need to do, they invariably do it one of two ways: either a grid of how they are going to spend their time each day (3 hours working on Loonyland, lunch break, do the dishes...), or they make a list of projects that should get worked on (Loonyland, Website updates, Super Pizza Dancer 3000). Neither approach is sufficient on its own, and combining them is pretty much just an ugly tangle.

You see, there are two kinds of work you need to do: Creative work and process work. Those are just terms I came up with, so let me explain. Creative work is the act of making something new. Once it's done, you have something new, and that project is complete. You have created it. Good job!

Process work, on the other hand, involves taking things which already exist and doing things to them (maintenance, cleaning, answering emails, working on an assembly line - notice the last two are actually acts of creation, but they go in this category for a reason). Once it's done, some time later, you have to do it again! It's an ongoing process. Maybe you don't have to answer that same exact email again, but you have new emails to answer.

Many things blur the line between these two. A journalist creatively writes an article, but he has to keep cranking out articles every week for his newspaper so even though each article is a creative event, writing is an ongoing process.

So the issue becomes: how do you make a comprehensive schedule of tasks for your life? Some things can go in slots - every day, spend an hour cleaning the house. It's always going to need more cleaning, and you can always work on that. Other things can't - work on Loonyland until it's done, and then that slot is empty. Now that slot could be "work on current game", but it's just not that simple with creative work. One problem is that you can't just schedule it. Creativity has mystical powers and cannot be constrained. And different stages of the process will demand different timeframes. I can sit and hammer out levels and monsters for hours, but don't expect me to bang my head against a horrible bug for 4 hours straight. It just won't happen. If I go to bed thinking about it though, chances are I'll wake up with the answer (at a ridiculously early hour like what happened to me the other day... thinking is not conducive to sleep).

A lot of writers set a schedule like "spend 4 hours writing at this time", while other writers find they can't organize it like that, the words don't come at a set time. I have read that Stephen King doesn't do that, he sets a word goal for the day (you know, 100,000 or so for him) and won't quit writing until he gets there. But even this does nothing to alleviate the original issue! You still have two different things you are trying to track: projects you want to accomplish, and hours during the day to fill.

So what do you do? Two separate charts seems to be the answer, but I'm not happy with it. One, a schedule that breaks down what you do each hour of your weekday, and two, a list of projects you want to accomplish that breaks down in tree form to the elements that need doing in them. Then there could be the issue of deadlines... but I ignore those. Those are for people who have some concept of what can and will happen in a given timeframe.

I don't know, man, have you got something better?
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  Hamumu Journal?! 08:00 PM -- Wed November 11, 2009  

Really, I'm trying! Look at me, blogging! I know it's been remarkably quiet here in the Journal Zone, but I'm trying to get back to where it should be once again. After the new site was released, and The Fantasy Pack, I was ready for relaxation! But instead what I got was frantic hammering away at the massive number of rather serious problems with the site.

So I have spent the past couple weeks simultaneously relaxing with my usual video games and TV, and desperately trying to plug the gaping holes in the website. Not really relaxing or productive. But not too bad either way. So I guess I'm done vacationing, since I can't afford to be doing that, and here I am!

There are still many major issues with the website, but each day I knock a few down, and it gets a little bit cleaner. As far as actually ever making a game again... I hope that's coming soon! Surely one day I won't have to spend all day every day hacking at the site anymore, right?

The question I get more than any other these days is "When's the next Behind The Dumb?" And the answer is, "As soon as I get back to working on Loonyland Tactics, because that's what that show covers!" Of course, I hope my camera still works... So let's hope that's soon, but the website is definitely still the priority, until it's in such a state that I can actually justify advertising it to the public at large instead of just running it in secret. Businesses work so much better when the public knows they exist, don't you think?
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  Save The Pumpkin! 01:40 PM -- Thu October 29, 2009  

The Great Pumpkin still needs your help! As is his way, he'll be going away after Halloween is over, so I suggest you get in there and do some damage. The Happy Pony has been greatly weakened from the constant struggle for the past month (not that he'd ever complain - he's always happy!), so now is your best shot! The Pony will also now return hourly, and you can get new items as much as every 5 minutes!.

So don't miss out on the most exciting Halloween event this side of a haunted hayride! He won't be around forever, so SAVE THE PUMPKIN!
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  Costume and Not-So-Costume! 07:41 PM -- Sat October 24, 2009  

Hey, everybody, check out some really amusing pictures, and vote for your favorites!

Costume Contest entries here

Not-So-Costume Contest entries here

(Links take you to the entries. To place your vote, scroll the page to the top)

Best Halloween Ever is underway... and by the way, if you haven't sent in your Halloween Horror world yet, get on that, because they're due today! Just seven days until it all blows up!
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  Losing Your Mind 11:05 AM -- Thu October 8, 2009  

There's a scene - It might be in Alice In Wonderland, but somebody can surely say in comments - where a character meets a centipede (a talking one, of course) and says "Wow, how do you coordinate all those legs to walk?" The centipede thinks about it a minute, says "Well gee, I don't know!" and thereafter, can't walk again, since he's now thinking about it instead of just doing it.

Another reference is the book Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson, which centers around a 'virus', which consists of basically a snowy video screen. The particular pattern in the snow sends a message into the brain of anyone watching it, basically disabling their mind.

Sometimes, I think about how I'm breathing, and I have to try to distract myself, so I'm not doing that anymore! Once you start thinking about it, you have to actually manually control it until you can stop thinking about it. I don't think there's actually any danger there, but it's sort of annoying when you get too focused on it.

Other times, I get lost in thought, and my mind starts wheeling down strange lines, into thinking about thinking, and I get to a point where I'm wondering how I'm thinking. I know the mind is effectively a computer - in fact, I've actually experienced a real live reboot once after I fainted (my life literally flashed before my eyes, random memories one scene after another, faster and faster, until the real world faded back in). A strange experience, but a real awakening one! So this computer, like any, can get caught in loops and can crash from bad data. Luckily, as a biological computer, it's extremely parallel, offering lots of backup and circumventing of problems. But still, sometimes I'll sit and think about something and wonder if there are actually some thoughts you can't have, because if you do, they'd shut your brain down, or trap it in a loop. Maybe some people are crazy because of a thought they had. Wouldn't it be interesting if somebody discovered the great secret of the universe, only thinking about that breaks your brain?

An interesting example of this kind of thing is in this Mind Hacks article. A guy looks at staircases and has strange specific seizures. That's some funny wiring. And certain types of thinking can cause some kinds of seizures. Brain=computer. I find neuroscience very fascinating. But I do worry that one day, I'm going to have the one wrong thought, and I'm just going to be gone. Scary notion? HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
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