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  Bits And Bobs 09:17 PM -- Tue April 19, 2011  

Item The Onemost: I've revived an ancient productivity method of mine! As you know if you read this space often, I am always switching to new methods because each one fails after a week or two when I have a day I spend not able to do it, and the streak is broken. This one is a classic: Action Tiles! I have a set of Scrabble-like tiles (but big and plastic) for game prototyping, and I assigned meaning to various letters (e.g. "M" is work on MHD, "B" is learn Blender), stick them all in a bag (with multiples of ones I should spend more time doing), then draw a set of 8 of them. Those are my 8 hours of work for the day. Or less, should I happen to draw "P" which is to play games for research (no WoW allowed though!), or "S" for Stand Up At The Computer - that saves me an hour of worktime, but wears me down physically instead. Humans were not meant to sit, get up and move around, people. It's a fun system. I drew a "J" today, so here I am.

Item Most Secondward: I don't believe I've stated this here, and if I have, here it is again: I have a lifelong goal of becoming a published author of fiction. I'm a published game developer, but that doesn't quite do it. And self-publishing doesn't either. Neither does non-fiction. I want the Powers That Be to say "That fiction is far enough from complete tripe that we'll place it up on these shelves, right next to complete tripe like James Patterson!" Maybe it's a need for acceptance, maybe it's a desperate cry for fame, maybe it's the desire to connect with humanity, maybe it's some visceral ancient human desire to contribute to the canon of literature (like cavemen did). I'm not aiming for a bestseller here, just a published book. Well, I'll start hopefully with a published story in some other book or magazine, but I suspect that won't be sufficient to count. I can't say exactly what it is, I can only say that it's really the only actual Life Dream I've ever had, so I gotta do it. That's why there are "T" tiles in my bag. T is for Typing, because M and W are the same tile in this particular tileset. I'm practicing, starting many stories, seeing what sticks in my craw. My writing craw. I have many many starts, not so many finishes. But I'm probably getting better at it as I go. My wife is an amazing writer and maybe I can put the pressure on her to finish her own Great American Novel by getting something of my own done. And she brings up my game when we write "competitively", using the ever-popular Writing Prompts 3.

3: The Action Tiles are working well so far (everything does in its first couple weeks! It's like dieting in that respect). M.H.D. is getting polished up nicely! The editor is really easy to use and nice, and as of today, you can finally test your creations from it. I'm not sure it's the kind of game greatly suited to an editor - no big adventures to be had. But this is definitely the groundwork for some future good stuff. And I am investigating Playtomic for both high scores and level sharing. That way it'll be huge - the millions of players worldwide will all be sharing stuff together. Which is a recipe for extremely inappropriate levels, but hey, there'll be a lot of them at least!

Item The Conclusive: Riddle me these things in the comments section: Is Portal 2 great and as good or better than Portal? The hype has killed my interest but now people sound like they're having fun with it. I won't be buying for many months anyway, but I like to know. Also, what are your Life Dreams? You gotta have something or it's all just gummi bears and netflix! Wait, that might be my second Life Dream. And finally, since I'm trying to blog close to daily, what question do you have for me? I'd be happy to answer or dodge it as appropriate, in a future Hamumu Journal.
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  Blending A Barrel 05:34 PM -- Mon April 18, 2011  

I made a barrel! I was following a tutorial (I love when they're videos!), which was mainly about texturing, but I didn't make it as far as the texturing. A general rule when doing a Blender tutorial is that you eventually reach the point where you got lost 5 steps behind and what you're doing no longer works, and there's no way back to where you took a wrong turn, so that's where you end up. I learned some things about making a barrel, and discovered my own things about lighting to actually get bright colors to happen. So it's sort of a barrel!

I'm not saying it's art, but hey, using this software is like pulling teeth. And, indeed, takes as much dedication as dental school. I've so far spent a whole 2 hours back at it, and I have a mushroom (not pictured) and a barrel to show for it. But is our self learning? Perhaps so.
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  Transfer Ahoy 11:04 AM -- Sun April 17, 2011  

Just a head's-up: I am transferring all the domains I own to a new registrar (one with less than infinity ads between you and each attempted purchase), so sometime in the next three or four days, there could be downtime or weirdness if my DNS stuff isn't going the way I would like. I think it'll be smooth because I use my own DNS, but we'll see! It's certainly an elaborate process. If you can't access Hamumu during that time, it's probably an issue of things propagating.
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  Games Recently Gazed Upon 09:15 PM -- Sat April 16, 2011  

Various games I have checked out lately whether in real or demo form...

Battle Slots - It's Puzzle Quest (almost exactly), except instead of playing Bejeweled, you spin a slot machine! I wouldn't say it's good as a game, but it's really addictive, much like a slot machine. Unlike a real slot machine though, there's never any really *huge* payout to look forward to. It seems like that should exist - some very rare chance to do a hundred damage at once or get 1000 gold or something. But the top possible payout is maybe like 10x the smallest payout, so you never get that "WHOOHOO!" moment that gambling should be about. Since winning battles basically consists of hoping you get a good spin, the gameplay isn't very compelling, but the metagame is. All kinds of things to upgrade and level up, and I like to level up.

Din's Curse - I mentioned this sale the other day, and I took advantage and bought it! The demo vresion of the game includes stuff from the Demon War expansion, and playing the real game without it, I definitely miss it. It adds a few classes and a whole bunch of little touches. See, the game is totally randomized, and without the expansion there are only like half as many possible quests and in-town events, and the ones the expansion adds are the more interesting ones. It's kind of fun to be running through a dungeon and (somehow) learning that somebody in town is starving. Then you head up there the next chance you get, and hand them a bagel or a couple bucks (either food or money solves the quest, which is a nice touch). And then sometimes people really like you for the nice things you do, and they give you presents! So I really like the overall game system here, with a random town and its random problems to be solved by chewing through random hordes of random enemies in a randomly laid out dungeon. It does suffer from the typical RPG problem of throwing a bunch of boring samey skills at you - do you want Power Strike, Death Strike, or Frenzied Assault (not actual names)? There are only a few interesting skills in each skill tree, so you end up saving skill points most of the time for the few more-expensive skills that matter (even if the one you like is cheap, it costs more each time you get it). Also on the downside is a lot of tweaky unpolished elements, just things that feel clunky or look like programmer art. But look who's talking... It's fun and I keep going back!

Kivi's Underworld - This is a super-casualized version of Din's Curse. It includes a lot of the same skills and enemies, but each character you can play only has one active skill and one passive skill (no choices). It boils down to left clicking on a whole lot of enemies one at a time. That got old for me. Din's Curse is much more my speed.

Spirit Of Wandering - This was the Game Giveaway Of The Day sometime last week, and I thought I'd try it, because it's a hidden object game. While the genre name seems pretty self-explanatory, I still have never played one of these despite their apparent massive popularity, so I thought I should try. Unfortunately, the game won't work at all, presenting a completely black screen after the main menu. So that's my opinion of hidden object games: Too well hidden.

Forsaken World - This is a really standard MMO game. This company alone makes several exactly like it. Such games are hard to tell apart. But they are free to play! I had a little fun trying this out, and it's nice to know it's sitting there free, waiting for me to return someday and not paying for it in the meantime. It's definitely not the polished wondrousness of WoW.

Kid Mystic - Highly recommended!! I played this recently... did all of normal mode, all of Challenge Mode (can't believe I just kept on trucking until I had every single star!), and I'm on Chapter 4 of Madcap mode. Madcap gets rather madcap. I feel like I am doing pretty well except for the fact that one teeny hit makes me drop dead. I spent quite a while farming cash in the Ballroom of Chapter 3! Sadly I decided to finally move ahead to Chapter 4, and it has no similar source of cash in it. Now it's tough going.

Them's the games!
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  Build Your Own Anza 08:21 PM -- Thu April 14, 2011  

I started implementing a nice user-friendly simple level editor for this game! I still don't know how you'll be able to trade levels with it, or play custom levels in-game, but it's nice to have, even if only for me to make the official levels. Easier than what I was using. I stole some ideas from the Robot Wants Kitty iPhone level editor. It's really nice how it automatically expands and contracts the level as you add stuff. There's a tool bar on the side of the screen, but for extra-special reasons it couldn't be shown in this shot.
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  What's this deliciousness coming out of my keyboard? 04:43 PM -- Tue April 12, 2011  

It's Open Sauce! I have to work out the details, but here is my awesome win-win-win-win (-win?) plan. There are people here who will definitely be excited about this. First, I'll need to work out some details that are tricky and annoying and I am no good at, then when I have, I'll make the source code to Dr. Lunatic (original) available to the public! Bolded for our ADD readers.

The win for me in doing this is multifold, but the biggest is that I hope and suspect that people will very quickly re-compile the game to use SDL or something like that and run in normal color modes, so that it works right on modern machines every time instead of just for lucky people. Once somebody does that, I will steal their work and hopefully be able to trivially update all those Dr. L engine games to do the same, without any of that pesky "work" on my part. The other major win for me is shared by the community: that of people hopefully gathering around to chat about and get involved in projects using the code, and playing weird new mods and such. I know there are a lot of serious and new game coders on the site, who would probably find this interesting.

I've been thinking about doing this for quite some time, but the challenge of actually getting it out there in a safe way is tricky. I'm not at all concerned about somebody stealing the code, because it's garbage, but I don't relish the endless issues with the non-open-source art, sound, and music (especially music... it's not mine, and it's not yours!).

Anyway, I still don't know the process by which the code will become available... it could be just a download you can get if you own Dr. L on your account, or it could be the more proper open source of making it available to all for free (and making the game free at that point? I don't know). Whatever it is, and however it's licensed (another issue I don't look forward to dealing with! I don't even understand code licenses when I read them, much less try to implement them), you'll be free to use the code in whatever way you see fit, provided you can survive the damage it does to your brain. As always, Hamumu Software warns you that our code becomes progressively more Cthulian the further back in time you go. And Dr. L is a long way back in time.

I can't say when this will happen, but it is the plan, and it'll come around when I get the details worked out and learn how to license code. And comb through the code looking for profane comments and variable names. Exciting?
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  Game Tidbits 10:04 PM -- Sat April 9, 2011  

Kivi's Underworld and Din's Curse are both on sale 50% off today, and I am quite tempted to get Din's Curse. I tried the Kivi demo just today, and it's a little too simple for me, nothing but left-clicking monsters all day. Still rather addictive accumulating awards and characters. But Din's Curse is a great Diablo clone with some really interesting features (or so I say from the demo, but I really churned through that demo!). It's very programmer-arty, but who am I to judge? I really like how Din's Curse simplifies down Depths Of Peril, which felt overwhelming to me and like too much work (Depths is also 50% off). Kivi simplifies it further, too much. Din's Curse is just right.

Demos, by the way, are to be found at Soldak.com. Why am I advertising them? Because it is what interests me! Action-RPGs all the way! I really want to be doing that again myself. Soon.
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  Well, it's Screenshot Saturday... 09:17 PM -- Fri April 8, 2011  

Yeah, I'm totally making a game that takes place in Anza! If only Anza wasn't covered in sleet and hail today (and snow last night - and 80 degrees the day before that. Truly, these are the end times). This picture is what Anza is supposed to look like in Spring, maybe with less pixels though.
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  Watchin' Videos 11:33 PM -- Thu April 7, 2011  

Whoo, somebody linked a kitten video on Youtube, and blammo. I was just stuck flipping to different kittens until I could finally tear myself away. Kitten videos are a bottomless pit. There was one that liked to sit in water! How can you miss that?

But earlier in the day, some people were mentioning Behind The Dumb, which made me open that up and I ended up watching about 5 episodes. Interesting. Let me say this: on the plus side, I have definitely lost weight since then! I'd love to make more of those, or other videos, but man, what do you do? It's rough. Very. And I can't help but notice that while I was making those I never actually finished any games, which had some degree of correlation. It really was a pretty consuming task. At the time, I had the notion that recording my progress in front of people would force me to actually make said progress in order to record it, but I sidestepped that pretty handily when I actually made the shows. Was there more than one episode that actually included me accomplishing something? Well, besides the 2-parter about a Ludum Dare contest. Maybe what I should do is just record a full-on documentary on my next game, after I release M.H.D. I can just film every time I do some work, then after it's all done, I'll put it together! What a treat for one and all! Well, it's an idea anyway.

And if you haven't ever watched videos of Maru and the too-small box, you're missing out. My cat Ollie looks just like him, only to him, every box is too-small.
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  Are you ready for THE DUMBSTORM? 03:41 PM -- Wed April 6, 2011  

Actually, I'm not posting to announce a Dumbstorm, but rather to suggest it and see if there's interest!

Here's the idea in brief: People post their game ideas, simple ones or fully detailed, on the forum in a special thread for a week or two or three. Then people vote on said game ideas (by email, so nobody knows what's winning) for another week or so. Then the DUMBSTORM strikes! I spend one week developing a game a day. Yep, that's like maybe 8-12 hours development time per game. They won't be good games, but they will definitely be silly games. I will make the 7 top-voted game ideas from the thread. Or I'll try anyway, given the time constraints.

What makes this the most fun is that I will have uStream up and streaming my screen for the entire week, so you can hang out in the uStream chat and shout out dumb ideas to make the games even dumber. I presume nobody would sit around and watch the entire time, but it would be a fun thing to pop in and out of during the week, don't you think?

Basically, that's a total waste of a week for me. But a fun waste, and hopefully not just fun for me. What do you think? Would you like to see my day-long interpretation of your ultimate game concept? Or just see what I do when you tell me to make a game "with a pig that's good at math"? I don't know when this event could happen, I'd need to really set up the time in advance so I know I don't have to do anything else that week.
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