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  Pedro's Archive 08:45 PM -- Tue January 11, 2011  

The third Pedro game for Boys' Life is underway! This one promises to be dramatically different from the previous ones. Here's about the sum total of what I've accomplished so far:

That's in the corner of the screen (yeah, the background is still Mad Planet). You might recognize that gear! What happens in this game is that Pedro runs around collecting handy tools he needs to do the jobs his boss is giving him, but he can only hold two at a time. One is used by pressing Z, the other by pressing X. You can push Down+Z or Down+X to drop an item so you can pick up a different one. This is 'inspired' by a... ZX Spectrum perhaps? game with the same concept. Something about a mansion? I don't remember. Maybe somebody out there knows what I'm talking about.

It makes for a unique sort of puzzle. How do I get the key up to that ledge? I need to swap to this tool here, use it, run back and get the other, and so on. What I'm thinking right now is actually having a hard time limit on the game (you are supposed to be preparing for a party, so you have until it starts!), and your score is what percentage of all the tasks you got done in that time, so a perfect score is possible, but you'll have to practice and learn the routes to get it. And then I suppose for high-score challenges, you could show how much time you had left when you got 100%, so people could perfect further. Getting hit will of course cost you time.

Anyway, since that bit of hud (and the ability to pick up and drop a gear) is all I have done, I'm still in a very experimental stage. I don't have a lot of time to experiment, because this game has to be done by the middle of next month. So I reserve the right to toss the craziness aside and just make it a plain old blast-everything hop-around-in-the-basement kind of game. I'm hoping I won't have to, though. I think this idea has real potential to be new (well, new to the modern era) and interesting.
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  WoWeeWoW! 04:10 PM -- Mon January 10, 2011  

A monumental achievement! Don't you want to join The Hamumu Clan now? You'll get 5% more XP because we are level 2. Come on down to the Caelestrasz server (US, Oceanic) and contact Cheezypoof! We would be leveling up much faster if we had more than 4 people...

Yeah, I did some work or something too, but this is my main accomplishment (this and getting Cheezypoof to level 85). Really, it's been so much fun. I mean, I like the game a lot, but the main thrill is hanging out with the few people who are actually in the guild, and chatting as we do stuff, and running dungeons together. It's a great way to Hamumu-hang-out! If I could, I would replace the HamChat with a little WoW window, then you'd all have to join. A guildie suggested that I give a trophy and yerfbucks for joining the guild, but since that would get me tarred and feathered rather than celebrated, I'll pass. For now.
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  Learning To Blend: Week 1 06:04 PM -- Sat January 8, 2011  

My week 1 goal in learning to use Blender was very modest: make a box. So I installed Blender (I'm using the 2.5something beta, because I heard 2.5 was a major interface upgrade from 2.4, which was scary to me, and why learn two different things once 2.5 comes out officially?), and ran it. It looks like this on startup:


Yes, it loads up displaying a box. Which I knew from the past, but it had slipped by me in my plan-making. So, never one to be daunted by immediate and total success, I decided to mess around with the box and see what I could figure out. I should've dived into a tutorial, but I just wanted to mess around this time. So I subdivided edges, extruded things, and moved vertices around - all of which seemed a lot easier to figure out than I remembered! It's entirely possible that that's because I already learned this stuff a couple years ago, but we'll say it's because they made the interface easier. There were definitely still weird confusing things, for sure. Anyway, after a bunch of extruding and adding a plane, and even sort of figuring out how to apply some textures (well, colors), I created the following masterpiece!

The Church of Blender

It really wasn't bad! There were several things I tried to do that just didn't work, but I'll figure it out. Just 51 weeks until I am a Blender Master!
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  Data Input 07:16 PM -- Tue January 4, 2011  

Here's the data I am feeding into my brain this week (I'm no bibliographer, so I will just italicize the titles of every form of media):

  • Button, Button - Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson. These are some very odd stories. Really.

  • Just finished that today and started Anathem by Neal Stephenson. His Cryptonomicon is one of the best books in the universe, and is enormously massive, just like this book. I don't think I'll be done with this book very soon.
  • There are a whole bunch of different TV series we flip through lazily whenever we have time (on Netflix streaming, and occasionally on disc). I guess of recent differentness, we fairly recently started Parks and Recreation which is very funny, and got a whole lot better in season 2.

  • We also tried the first couple episodes of Terminator, which seems... questionable and depressing.

  • On a similarly maudlin note, we occasionally advance through Stargate Universe (having seen every episode of all previous Stargates). It's not amazing, but I remain interested to see what will happen.
  • WoW always.

  • Lego Indiana Jones has been about 80% done for a very long time and I want to finish it, but I got a new TV as an amazing Christmas surprise, so now I don't really want to play PS3 games until the HDMI cables I ordered finally show up. I always crank through and collect everything in Lego games, so I have the first 2 movies 100% collected, and I'm about halfway through the 3rd movie.

  • NyxQuest I got in the big Steam sale that is destroying my industry. It's got cool inventive puzzle stuff, but it feels kind of boring/awkward to actually play. Boring because of the style, which is very bland, and awkward because it's very zoomed in - you have the ability to cover incredible distances with your wings, but you can't see very far at all. But it's not bad... just not sure yet.

  • Super Meat Boy, the game that I finally got to run after many days of fiddling and updates and help forum ideas. Well, I think so... I recently tried to play again and it just sat there on the loading screen for 5 minutes before I gave up. When it did work, load times were horrific. As many have said, the fact that you respawn instantly and the levels are short makes up for the difficulty a lot and keeps it fun. Or it does until you sit there for a minute loading! The loads are awful! The most frustrating part was a bonus level where you had 3 lives (a series of bonus levels, each with 3 lives), and if you ran out, it loaded the menu screen (30 seconds or so), then you clicked it again to retry (1 minute or so). Absolutely maddening. Also, I've beaten the first boss, and that was not fun at all, nor was it short. Replaying that boss level 150 times was really unpleasant, and to cap it all off, the very reason I kept replaying it - the fact that when you win you get to see all your failed runs repeat simultaneously - doesn't actually happen on a boss level. I kept thinking "Well, it'll sure look cool when I finally make it!" And nope, it didn't. That load time combined with the technical problems just makes it a little too aggravating to really want to play, even though I do want to do the actual hopping around that the game contains. Not that it matters, I don't think it runs anymore anyway. I play NyxQuest simply because I know it works (and loads super fast!), even though I'd rather be engaged in the gameplay of Super Meat Boy. Really lame.

  • Rock Band 3 is so far a massive disappointment. I'm excited about the new instruments (except I don't own them), and I like the tons of new songs. But they totally destroyed all the great quality of Rock Band 2. The new character builder is not even a spit in the eye of the previous one, the menus are absolutely incomprehensible, the 'tour' mode isn't even a mode, it's ... nothing, really. You just play songs and then it says "You earned spiked bracelets!" It's so frustrating that they had a great system and decided new was better than good. I would absolutely rather play Rock Band 2 at this point, except for the new songs and the fact that it converted all my downloaded songs, so I'd have to redownload them. I have a MIDI keyboard (and a MIDI->USB adapter!) that I was excited to use on it, and that too was a letdown - turns out you need to buy a special $40 adapter to use your own keyboard, not just a regular MIDI->USB. Still, beats an $80 official Rock Band keytar! Not that I'll be getting either anytime soon. Ah, but I rant. I am trying to give it a try and learn the weirdness of it. It is fun to have a reason to rock again, and at its core, it is Rock Band - you hit the drums when the notes come down, and you enjoy the music. And the concept of the pro modes is amazing, I would love to be getting a little real with it. I hope someday I can try.
  • I couldn't really give specifics, I just listen to all my CDs on random play (well, ripped onto the computer - who listens to physical media!?). I don't do internet radio or anything, so I never learn about new music. It's rather sad.

  • But what I listen to much more is podcasts! I don't have any recent new ones, but of the ones I always am listening to, the ones I am willing to recommend publicly include The Skeptic's Guide To The Universe, Stuff You Should Know, Film Sack, The Naked Scientists, Skeptoid, This American Life, and Hypothetical Help. That's a nice collection of funny and informative. I love listening to podcasts. I usually fail to pay attention, but every so often I accidentally do, and I learn things on accident! They're great when driving, since then I do pay attention, because who wants to pay attention to a boring old road anyway? They're kinda nice when running too, but I tend to run more effectively with music. I also can't code with podcasts on. Left brain/right brain, you know. They're great when drawing, useless when coding.
And there you have it, the data being fed into my CPU this week. Don't worry, I won't tell you weekly. Most of it will be the same next week, anyway.
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  2011 Activate! 09:53 AM -- Sat January 1, 2011  

So, it is the year we expected it would be after 2010. I've been working on some goals/plans/whatever for the coming year, and it's tricky.

This past year, to postmortem it a bit, has been the year I really neglected the site. I was very busy, moreso than ever before, cranking out games (gotta update the History page!), but only loosely keeping in touch with the actual goings-on here at the site itself. It was definitely the most important thing for me to do - I had a massive outgo I needed to plug with some income. But I think we are stabilizing in that regard, and the future looks bright. Part of my plans in the new year involve updating the site and getting involved in what's happening here.

The hard part with plans is crafting something that lasts! Whenever I make some kind of schedule, I stick to it for anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks, and then it falls apart. So I don't want to actually build myself a strict schedule to adhere to. It just doesn't work. Unfortunately, I've never found anything that works long-term! Human nature is to regress to the mean, aka slobbitude. So rather than a schedule, I'm coming up with things I want to get done each day, each week, and each month. The problem with that kind of planning is that all the day stuff gets put off to day's end, the week stuff gets put off to Saturday, and the month stuff gets done (or tries to) on the 30th (extra troublesome in February)! Procrastination, another key aspect of human nature. Still, I don't have a better idea, and there's no magic trick that will just make it happen.

One thing I have put down for monthly is that I'd like to put out videos. Behind The Dumb is too hard to create, but I happened to log into Youtube the other day to check on something else, and noticed I've got a bunch of "fans" on there, who would probably like to see something come out. And it would make good content for the journal or wherever. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what all I could do. What ideas do you have for things that I could create quickly that would be interesting to you? One obvious and really easy one will be footage from whatever I'm currently developing. A lot of developers are always putting out clips of stuff in development, and that keeps people informed and interested.

Other things I thought I'd like to do include: learning to use Blender (I'm setting up really simple goals each week so I can move ahead in small bits), actually doing website updates like perhaps fixing the chat, reviewing games I play on the journal (maybe books, movies?), and... though it may test my very inner strength, I will struggle to play one hour of a non-WoW game each day! I know, I know! It seems like too much for one man to handle, but I think I can manage to play a game that isn't WoW each day. I just have to focus.

I also want to add tags and/or categories to the journal so you can find specific types of things like Sneak Peeks, Biz Chat, Game Reviews, Announcements, whatever. But that's in the site updates category.

And yes, make games. As usual, there are a few things in the fire: the poem game is just about done (it was resting while Mad Planet was finished and then I took a winter vacation!), should be in the next week or so. The last of the four "games at the same time", my personal project, is pretty far along, but will continue to be pushed around by deadline-related projects. I really want to finish that up though, as it is personal, it means a lot to me to have it out there! Then there's another game for Boy's Life due in February, and I have one major fun-time game concept I hope to be able to create this year, but it's just an idea in my head, nothing at all concrete. There are also a few other projects that aren't solely my own - ports to other platforms, non-games, and other things. Those will be arriving variously throughout the year as well, and should be pretty cool, especially this upcoming port (hopefully in February?), which is a whole lot more than just a port.

And that's a teensy little snippet of news for you! We'll see how the year actually pans out as it gets moving.
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