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  Life = Crazy 09:58 PM -- Thu March 11, 2010  

Where to begin on this great journey...

I was peacefully moving along on Daibaka Max when we discovered that our dog Mia had some kind of problem. She was slow and stiff. We took her into a vet and he said she probably had Lyme disease, and got her going with antibiotics while tests were done. The tests confirmed that she had Lyme, so we were doing the right thing. After about a week of this, though, she wasn't getting better. This past Sunday, she was just so bad, unable to even stand up most of the time, and stumbling and falling over, that we took her to the emergency vet.

They told us that it wasn't Lyme disease. While she presumably does have that based on the blood tests, it's not causing her problems. It was a spinal problem with neurological consequences. If not treated, it would lead to paralysis (and until treated, would be constant pain). Now, most of a week later, she's been living in a box at the animal hospital all alone, and yesterday finally got the surgery she needed to correct that. We don't get to pick her up until Monday (that gives her over a week in a box alone! This is upsetting to me and to her), but we're at least going to visit her soon.

Now I'm not saying dog surgery is expensive, but I spent quite a while thinking about the concept of Daibaka Dog, let me tell you.

So in the midst of this, and constantly worrying both about the dog and about how we were going to stay alive with no money in the world, Robot Wants Kitty was finally released by the sponsor. I say "finally", but they weren't slow about it. It's just that the bidding process was incredibly long before that. So that became the side adventure - I got to work rereleasing Robot on Hamumu, and putting it up on flash sites.

Side side adventure, when looking to put it up on Kongregate, I discovered that someone had stolen it off of the MaxGames website and put it up themselves! Ordinarily, this would be cool, because the idea is to spread the game as far and wide as possible, but on Kongregate, you earn a portion of the ad revenue the game earns, so this guy was flat out robbing me! So there was the battle against him, clicking every contact and report button on Kongregate. I think the winning stroke was when the community here got involved and clicked those things too. Within about 10 minutes of that, the guy was banned and the game was gone! I put up my own copy, and we return to the side adventure:

Because Robot Wants Kitty got popular! For some reason, people like my game! I got really great comments, and kept updating the game to address the myriad of psychotic complaints (so not all great comments), resulting of course in new complaints about the updates. Then I noticed the monthly and weekly contests on Kongregate... which Robot Wants Kitty was on top on! If it's the #1 game at the end of this week, I get big bucks! If it's still #1 at the end of the month (a lot less likely), I get crazy bucks bazoom! I still get some good cash if I'm as low as even 9th place for the month, which I think is a good shot. Between those contests, and the ad revenue, and the sponsorship money in the first place, it doesn't feel so much like being broke anymore. It doesn't cover the expenses, but it sure looks like a great way to make some much-needed money.

In the meantime, I was also on jury duty this week. They just make you call in each night to see if you have to come in the following day. My previous bouts of jury duty were just a week of calls like that, and then I was free. This time, of course, that only lasted a couple of days and then I was in fact called in. So I spent today doing civic duty, which was interesting. I got put on a case, but wriggled out of it with the old "I'm self-employed, so nobody is going to pay for me to miss work" bit. I've always been afraid of the idea of jury duty, but actually being in the courtroom got me really interested. If the judge hadn't said it was going to take until the end of March to finish the case, I would've stuck around.

Yeah, so all that happened. The crazy fun success of Robokitty has me completely revved up to do Robot Wants Puppy (and who knows what else Robot Wants?), and get Space Cruise out there too. I always thought this flash biz was not a good direction, but I'm sure seeing the merits now!

PS - go give me 5 stars on Kongregate! I need to keep my rating up!
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  Daily? Sketch #18: More Thorns 07:08 PM -- Fri March 5, 2010  

Just another Thorny Ruins scene. I thought to give the ruins something more to them, there could be the skeletons of giant beasts, leaving us to wonder if the city was destroyed by these creatures or what. Nobody knows! I don't actually know if we'll add the skeletons in the end, but it's what I drew while watching Lost last week.
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  Behind The Dumb Episode 10 08:27 PM -- Thu March 4, 2010  

Show Notes (Watch it first!)

- To prepare for this role of a lifetime, I studied under the greats. I watched David Cross's impression of James Lipton on Youtube (seeing the original himself would just be too raw, too fresh).

- The second letter to be read has a really ugly block of grey on it that doesn't integrate well... that was an unfortunate necessity to cover up some private information in the letter. I wish I had thought about it earlier in the process and just done it with tape in reality instead of having to blot it out in editing.

- The weird blorping of the tiles in Daibaka is an artifact of the video recording, not how the game works. The tiles are quite stationary in the actual game.

- As always, I am distressed by my camera glitching out on occasion. Maybe I need to make Daibaka Camera to earn money for a new camera (with a microphone input so I don't have to rely on the bad on-camera mic too!).

- Speaking of that glitching, check out the end when I say thank you for joining us. There's a very weird and specific glitch (may not be visible at Youtube resolution...) where just my eyes suddenly flip out. It's weird.
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  Daily? Sketch #17: Robot Arm Thingy 09:26 PM -- Tue March 2, 2010  

This has nothing to do with concept art at all, and is obviously futuristic, not fantastical. It's just a random roboticization. I do that when I don't have a planned object to draw. I make a triangle (the middle one of the bottom thing - actually a quadrilateral, but usually I do a triangle), then start expanding out on it without any plan. I think that might be the next Daily? Sketch that you can vaguely see through the paper here.
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  Weekend Code Warrior 09:38 PM -- Sun February 28, 2010  

As advertised, I spent the weekend working on Space Cruise! Well, I spent saturday dealing with a dog that was sick-as-a, and generally moping about, but then today I worked on it! Not hard, because hey, it's the weekend. But it's getting there now. I would share a screenshot, but it looks about the same as before with a couple tiny tidbits different.

The engineering section is completely done now, sounds and all (which is quite a feat for me, since I usually blow that off for a long time), and sickbay is about half done. It's fun because now you can use the mending laser to zap broken bones into health. Eventually you will also need to, and be able to, space-band-aid the injuries once you fix them. Maybe next weekend I can finish it? I dunno! It's a fun little side project.
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  Daily! Sketch #16: Buzzkill 12:38 PM -- Fri February 26, 2010  

This is another scavenger that lurks within the Thorny Ruin. It's called a Buzzkill for obvious reasons. The only real thing of note here is that I drew the bottom one first, and then sometimes a good trick for working out how something should look is to just make as many opposite choices as you can. So I drew the one above it next, trying to do everything the opposite way stylistically (I can't avoid sticking one big feather out of the top of any bird's head, though). Okay, it's not all that opposite, but you can find the points where I tried new things. Then ideally, you'd make a 3rd sketch combining the elements you like from each. I didn't exactly do that, but I did make a horrible attempt at drawing one in-flight (which is probably how you would mostly see them). That didn't go so well. Some things I just have a real hard time with.
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  Answers To Daibaka Model Questions 12:27 PM -- Tue February 23, 2010  

Those weren't 3 different ideas, they're ways the game addresses three different reasons people might give money. They're all part of the game. The purpose of the game is to obtain the money needed to buy 3DS Max, which does indeed cost that much. Once I've got it, I can pay a mere $500/year to keep it updated (my problem is that I didn't do that - I have a 7 year old version that just doesn't work anymore, and is way outside the realm of 'upgrade pricing' now).

It's not intended to be a 'good deal' to pay $30 to create something (although it's way cheaper than the same reward in any of the other few instances where you can do so! Normally such things are either rare contest prizes or cost hundreds of dollars). This is a donation, not a payment for an item. I wouldn't expect anybody to do anything beyond the $10 level (since that level is just plain buying a game). Anything more is a true donation to support Hamumu development. I will also set it up to accept below $10, which would also just be a pure donation, since there's no reward. I do want to include a donors list in the game though, so a little recognition can be your reward.

Also, I'll have to make it not accept Yerfbucks, because of course getting those doesn't get me any closer to my goal, as Autodesk doesn't accept Yerfbucks. It's the same problem as offering T-shirt rewards. I actually need the total amount of money, not the symbolic equivalent.

A lot of peoples' responses seemed to be things like "I don't think I'd pay much more than $10", and I want you to know that that's more than fine. Just because there's a $30 level in there (again, not a real number, just off the top of my head) or a $500 level, or Redbone's $3500 level which sounds very nice, doesn't mean I expect people to give me that or am asking you to. It's just an opportunity to support if you want to. If you paid $1 more than $10, you're just plain giving me money and supporting the cause of Dumb games! That's fantastic. Anything beyond $10 is extremely supportive of you. Even $10 is supportive, though you may just be doing that for your own selfish reasons. But I'll take it either way!

You have to understand, there are people who donate money to me (by buying multiple copies of games they already own) right now on occasion. Some people just like to have an opportunity to support a company they like. I'm like you - I have to hang on to every penny and I only spend money on things I can afford and need. But some people will purchase the fancy expensive levels because they have the money, and they want to support what I do! I definitely want to give people the option just in case they'll take it. It would be the wrong kind of dumb to not offer it.
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  The Daibaka Model 08:53 PM -- Mon February 22, 2010  

Still hacking away at the level editor in Daibaka (maybe someday I'll be able to make a level! That would be a treat). So lemme tell you the key to how the whole game works, because it's pretty unique.

Daibaka is unabashedly an embodiment of me begging for money. It's basically telling you "If you like classic Hamumu games with their 3D-rendered guys, then give me a pile of money so I can keep making them!" It is a game that asks for donations. Now how does it do that? Well, I came up with three reasons why somebody would give me money, and I wanted to hit all 3 of those cases with the game:

1. Extraneous: You're just being nice (or you really want me to be able to make these games for you)

2. Selfish: You want to get something for yourself (you wish to exchange money for goods, rather traditional of you)

3. Altruistic: You want to help out other people (me included)

So, for reason #1, I don't have to do anything. You can just go ahead and hand me money right now. I'm waiting. Go ahead. Dum di dum...

For reason #2, I have a very simple concept: if you donate $10 or more, you get access to the level editor in the game, and the ability to play levels by other people. In this way, it's exactly like Costume Party (but this has no expansions). So you are paying for a game, simple as that.

Reason #3 is the interesting one. The game will only have 1 built-in level available at launch (the built-in levels are free to play for anyone). The remaining 349 levels will have a tag over them - the second level is "$10!", then "$20!", and so on, up to "$3490!" (I should probably add an extra level, since I actually need $3500, but I have them neatly arranged in sets of 5!). Everytime the total sum of donations reaches that amount, that level unlocks! So you are in essence buying the game for everybody. If you donate $5, and your friend donates $5, both of you (and everyone else on Earth) can now play one more level. If you find 20 strangers that all are willing to hand over a mere dollar, you all get 2 more levels!

Also, every set of 5 levels, in various ways you will discover, gives you an opportunity to obtain one each of the weapons, devices, and superbombs. So there's that to look forward to in the levels being added. The levels are a set of 4 regular levels in which your goal is to collect Evidence, and then the lair of the Villain you just collected Evidence to find. You don't have to play levels in order, but you do have to beat all 4 of a Villain's sub-levels before you can take him on.

Of course, the levels can't actually unlock until I make them (and their associated villains, weapons, etc), so I will try to keep up (fingers are crossed that keeping up will be very difficult!). It would be unfair for people to pay up and then not be able to get anything for it in a reasonable time.

And then there's one more thing that makes it all the more exciting... I haven't worked out exact amounts here, so you can't hold me to this, but I am picturing that if you donate $30 or more, you get to invent a weapon, device, superbomb, or one of the villains themselves. How you invent that is up to you - if you want to provide the artwork, I'll stick it in (within reason), and of course you get to come up with how it works and what it's called and all that stuff (again, within reason! And limited by how capable I am at implementing your idea - we can discuss the possibilities beforehand). You could also donate more to be able to invent more, maybe every $10 beyond that lets you add one more design to the pile, but I will probably limit you to one of each thing - I don't want one person to design the whole game. Unless that person is me, of course.

And before somebody says this, because somebody will, this isn't me rubbing my hands together and cackling that I've got people paying me to make my game/whitewash my fence. I'm the one who has to do the work. Implementing the code and drawing all the needed frames and elements is hard work. Coming up with ideas is absolutely fun, and I would not have any problem throwing down 70 ideas for each thing myself. I look forward to it, and I'm always bubbling over with ideas (bubble gun! BAM, there I go!). If you think coming up with the ideas isn't fun, well, you can still donate $30+, you aren't required to invent anything when you do!

I thought ideas like giving a t-shirt with a certain donation level would be cool, but then I realized that defeated the purpose of the entire exercise. If I have to spend $10 sending you a T-shirt, now I need $10 more to buy 3DS Max! So while I want to come up with more interesting donation awards, I have to come up with ones that don't cost me money. Or I have to subtract what they cost from their effective value, and that's just tacky. I wonder if I could offer some kind of Behind The Dumb appearance or something...
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  Space Cruise: The First Generation 07:38 PM -- Sun February 21, 2010  

So I am giving up for this weekend... I bit off a pretty big concept (well, four really small concepts, but even one reasonably big concept is easier than a bunch of different games), and it ain't getting done in a weekend. I need to get back to priority projects, but I'm gonna try to come back to it next weekend and any weekend until it's done. It really should be easily doable in two weekends, but I wouldn't count on me to put in the time to pull that off. I need a break sometime!

So the game is this: it's an arcade game and your goal is to bravely travel where no person has previously been (translated: get a high score measured mostly in distance traveled). There are 4 stations on the spaceship - the bridge, sickbay, engineering, and tactical. Each station should be pretty easy to do, just simple reflex arcade stuff, but the fact that new troubles keep stacking up and you have to jump back and forth and try to handle them all at once will eventually overwhelm you. The controls are (as in the Mini-LD rules) keys 1-4 do something, depending on which station you're at, and keys 7-0 jump you to the different stations.

Sickbay is about half done, engineering about a quarter done, the bridge is just a background picture (see yesterday!), and tactical is untouched. I don't know if this will be a fun game (I kind of worry about the "it just gets harder until you lose" kind of thing - that can be fun, or it can just be frustrating), but it's definitely unlike any game I've played, and I want to get it done and see what it's like. Plus I think the sickbay at least will be fun.
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  Now you know THAT's exciting... 11:05 PM -- Sat February 20, 2010  

Working on my game for this weekend's Mini-LD contest.
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