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  Sad Growtopia 11:59 AM -- Sun September 21, 2014  

Well, as I write this, Growtopia is currently dead! We've had to take the server down due to a hardware issue. We don't know when it will be repaired, but hopefully within 24 hours. We regret this inconvenience a lot more than you do! You can keep an eye on Growtopiagame.com for updates on the issue.

So that's the news on that. I mainly am posting to push the previous post down - I am no longer hiring! I found somebody to do the website job, somebody to do NPC Quest 2, and somebody else for a secret project as well. That's probably more than I can manage at once, so this will all be interesting. But all of those projects are underway and I'll try to throw in some updates on rare occasions when there's something interesting to see.

In other news, I am sick.
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  Hamumu Games is hiring contractors! 04:53 PM -- Wed September 3, 2014  

Hello! I have two jobs I need people to do, starting as soon as possible. If you're a programmer or a web developer, I need you! If you're not, find your friends who are. For both jobs, I am interested in finding someone who can work full-time on them if possible. I'll consider people who can't put as many hours in, but I'd really like these things to get done quickly. I'm offering hourly pay at a rate we agree on, or we can consider other forms of compensation if you would like. Here are the jobs:

NPC Quest 2
My previous programmer had to leave this project, so I am looking for a programmer to code this game. Not much has been done, so you can really start from scratch if need be in the language/tools of your choice. This is a top-down isometric 2D action-RPG, designed for as many platforms as possible, in this order of preference: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Everything Else On Earth. So the more of those you can cover with one codebase, the better. It's not a very big game - it's what I would call a "3 month project" (which means it'll take about 9 months if we really rush). You can see a few more vague details in the previous Journal entry.

The existing code is in Haxe, and I have an earlier prototype in Actionscript, but like I said, there isn't much written, so I am open to any tool that can develop for those platforms. I'm the designer on the project (my dream job!), and I have an artist who is dying to get back to doing more art once we have some more code available.

For this job, I need to see evidence of your ability to create mobile games, preferably in the form of a finished and released game. If you don't have that, I'm willing to talk, but hopefully you've got something else very impressive to prove you can do it! I know that even long-time professionals fail to complete projects at least half the time, so proof of the ability to see something through to completion is my #1 priority.

Hamumu Website
I'm looking for a web developer to completely redo the Hamumu website, top to bottom. This is a huge job, and I'm looking for somebody who can handle all the aspects - not just a CSS makeover, but diving into the PHP and MySQL monstrosity that lies beneath, so what we end up with is a website that works cleanly on mobile devices and PCs, meets modern standards, runs smoothly and bug-free, includes nearly all the existing social features I've built like Dumb Pages and Trophies, looks mighty pretty, and includes tools for me to update easily like a CMS. I recognize that this is no small feat, but I'm very ready to get it done!

The site is currently hand-carved from antique PHP and MySQL running on an Apache server. But like the other project, I don't care if you want to switch this over to a completely different technology (as long as it runs in web browsers...), just so long as you can import the existing data to it. All I'm looking for is an awesome website that does more than just advertise my games - it's a (simplified) social site.

So, if either job sounds like something you can do, please email jamul@hamumu.com with your resume and whatever questions you have and we'll get to talking!

If it sounds nothing like what you can do, then email your friends who do this stuff, and tell them to email me, because I want to get this stuff done this year!
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  NPC Quest 2 it is! 09:35 AM -- Wed July 16, 2014  

Thanks a lot, Blue Dwarf, for ruining my game by correctly guessing what we are developing. We chose this game because it's something I really want to play on my phone when I'm traveling or just sitting in front of the TV. It seems a shame that mobile devices have had no NPC Questing for all this time. I've also had this idea for expanding NPC Quest almost since the original was made, just gnawing at my brain. So it's time.

All the information below is subject to change since the game is not even in a tech demo state yet.

Yes, the greatest game in Hamumu history is seeing a sequel! NPC Quest 2 is the story of a village full of standard RPG NPCs who are troubled by the sudden disappearance of Baldric The Max-Level, who should've conquered the final boss by now and saved the world. So, with heavy hearts they set out to do what no NPC should ever have to do - stop standing in one spot and adventure.

NPC Quest 2 is being developed for mobile devices primarily, but will almost certainly also have a PC (maybe Mac too? Linux?) release. It's a whole lot more game than NPC Quest was, but the idea is the same: you are playing as an NPC, so you can't actually control your character (NPC means "Non Player Character", you know). There's much more interaction than in the original game though, with a couple of special abilities you can fire off when needed, potions you can use, 4 "moods" you can switch your NPC between (like the "run away" button in NPC Quest, you can choose which priority your NPC has), and interactive objects in the environment you might want to tap on to help out. There's also a little tiny skill tree, all sorts of loot, a village to upgrade, a bunch of classic NPC character classes, a story of sorts, and a unique world exploration mechanic.

NPC Quest 2 - coming someday from Hamumu & friends.
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  A NEW GAME!! ... is barely started 01:45 PM -- Tue July 15, 2014  

I suppose I should blog once in a while. I've been not mentioning this new project for some time, though it's been underway for months, because we haven't really gotten anywhere! There have been a lot of big delays, the latest of which we're still in the middle of, so what we have isn't even a tech demo yet. But an exciting new project is underway, even though I am spending almost all of my own time working on Growtopia as always. I've hired a programmer and an artist to work on this one while all I have to do is sit back and make up ideas. It's my dream job!

Anywhooooo... were you wondering what amazing new game we are making? Why of course it's a Hamumu sequel. Ah heck, let's make a game out of this blog post! Post your thoughts on what this might be a sequel to. One guess per person, until I give out a hint. Don't get it right though, I want to be able to give out a few hints.
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  Would you believe new add-ons? 12:32 PM -- Wed April 2, 2014  

A Quick Adventure by Jordo, and Summer Silliness 8 - RP by Pewskeepski, are here for your gaming pleasure at long last!

Now to go finish filing my taxes, for my own gaming pleasure.
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  Back from GDC! 04:05 PM -- Sun March 23, 2014  

Hey, I'm blogging a bit. Just a little bit. I spent the last week at the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco, and it was a massive whirlwind of crazy. Of course, everybody else was crazier than me - I'd be in bed at 10 while they were all out at super-loud horrible parties I was happy to avoid. It does keep me a bit isolated, but man, the full day of STUFF is enough. I am drained completely. Possibly ill, possibly not, that's still up in the air.

This post should include cool pictures like the first ever handshake of Seth and Hamumu, but I am too tired to do all the complicated uploading and whatnots.

I'm inspired though! Things to come for me: working on my Blender and Unity skills, competing in the next Ludum Dare (first time in years...), continuing to update Growtopia of course, and eventually getting down to work on my dream game I've been designing for 10 years or so. But before that I'm gonna see if I can crank out some mini-games (not #1GAM, 1 game a month, but one or two this year maybe?). I want to be creating stuff instead of spending all my time working for a living.

But right now I am resting.
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  Games of 2013: Rogue Legacy 09:38 PM -- Tue January 21, 2014  

Rogue Legacy

Oops, I was so busying playing Marvel Heroes, I forgot to tell you about the other games I played last year. Rogue Legacy is a Castlevania-like. It's a side-scrolling action platformer where you level up and kill stuff and try to find the bosses and slay them. The big twist this time around is reflected in the game's name: Rogue is trying to tell you that when you die, it's permanent (also that the game world is randomly generated), while Legacy is there to tell you that it's okay that you are dead - your children will carry on in your name!

The legacy feature is actually fairly dumb to me - theoretically, the 3 characters you get to choose from each time are the 3 children of the last character you played, but first of all, why does every person in this family always have exactly 3 children, and second of all, why are they completely random instead of related in some way to their parent? What's fun is that they have random traits, including things like Near-Sighted (the edges of the screen are blurred, only the center is clear) or Insane (occasionally you'll encounter enemies that you are imagining!), so it's fun stuff, and often a very interesting choice to be making, but I'm just not sure how "legacy" it is.

But there is one big thing that is very legacy about it, and it's the way you progress in the game: your family owns a giant castle, and you use the gold you manage to get out (not sure how your people who die in the middle of the dungeon get their cash out, but they seem to send it by Western Union in their death throes) to upgrade the castle, which upgrades all your guys in various ways, or unlocks new character classes or special abilities. It's pretty enjoyable to upgrade this, knowing that even though you begin each run from scratch, you're a little more powerful each time anyway. It's also fun to find blueprints for new gear and runes in the dungeon which you can apply to your descendants.

The progress is very well balanced here, where I can push forward a little bit more each time, and gradually upgrade. Eventually you beat a boss, and that boss remains dead for good, which is a pretty big let-down actually, since the bosses give huge piles of money when killed, and it'd be quite satisfying to re-slay them with your more powerful descendants.

But this game is very hard. You die a lot. It always feels pretty well-earned, and even if it doesn't, no big deal - you get to go again, and probably buy an upgrade first! It doesn't feel frustrating despite the challenge.

So I highly recommend Rogue Legacy. Just a great game for people like me who love Castlevania (Symphony of the Night, that is)! Which by the way this game is full of homages to - from the skeletons that toss bones in an arc to the really annoying wolves.
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  Games of 2013: Marvel Heroes 02:22 PM -- Wed January 15, 2014  

Marvel Heroes

Yo! Let me start right out saying that Marvel Heroes is free-to-play (and quite playable for free), and so everybody should play it. It is a Diablo clone, only instead of Warriors and Wizards, you play as Wolverines, Captains America, Squirrel Girls, and Spidermen. It's got all the Diablo stuff, with the random loot (why superheroes collect random gear and wear it is not important, because it is fun), the skill trees and leveling up, and even a story you are supposed to repeat 3 times on your way to maximum level. It's actually made by the guys who made Diablo 2, and it shows. It really is more like Diablo 2 than Diablo 3 is (I won't complain about Diablo 3 too much, I like it quite a bit, and I have high hopes for the big flaws it has to be resolved with the expansion... most of them). Technically, it's an MMO rather than just an ARPG, but it's not super MMOey, you mostly just Diablo along smashing things by yourself or in small groups (they do say raids are coming soon, though).

Like any "Free to play" game such as the awe-inspiringly great Growtopia, you can play this game for free, but you can also dump endless hundreds of dollars into it to buy your way into everything. Unlike Growtopia, there are some things in this game that can only be obtained by paying real money. I have spent $10 total on this game, buying 2 extra pages of stash for all my hoarded items. I felt like that was worthwhile, given the 158 hours of play I've put into the game. You can also of course buy heroes, special costumes, experience boosts, rare-item-finding boosts, cosmetic pets, and so on.

Some of those things can be obtained for free as well. There's a system in the game where you find Eternity Splinters as you play (they drop randomly with incredible rarity, but a hidden timer guarantees at least one every 8 minutes or so), and you can spend those on getting heroes (and a couple other things). The cheapest option is to buy a Random Hero Box (poor guys, there aren't even air holes), but all heroes are equally likely in the box, including ones you already have. My very first random box, when I owned 2 of the 25 or so heroes available at the time, gave me one of the two I already had. It was quite demoralizing, but I'm now about 5 random boxes past that with no more repeats and lots of cool people I was excited to get. A repeat is not technically wasted, it gives you +1 rank to your "Ultimate Power", but that is pretty close to worthless. It's a gamble for sure! You can also just buy the hero you want, for many more Splinters, but I honestly prefer the random box, despite the horrible risk of failure. I don't even know which one I'd buy if I had to choose. If they offered random boxes for real money, I'd be awfully tempted to buy some!

This is the most updated game I've ever played. Every week there's a big update for it, which often includes a new hero (about one of those a month), a complete revamp of an existing hero (they're going through every character one by one, updating their skills and adding new ones to make them more fun), a new section to the story, a new gameplay mode like one week they added PvP battles (bleh), or just a total overhaul to a game system. If you tried this game when it first came out, I highly recommend you check it out again, because it literally doesn't even look like the same game anymore. The interface has been all redone, and they just constantly polish and refine. Now, to be fair, this is happening because the game was released in a very broken beta-like state, but I enjoyed it then, and I enjoy it a lot more now. They really do keep improving it dramatically, and that's a really nice thing to see instead of the usual fire-and-forget that most games have.

If you like Diabloey stuff, this is a great game for you. It's ridiculous how packed with enemies the areas are, and almost every ability of almost every hero is some kind of big AOE explosion, so you can easily be mowing down 50 guys in the space of 5 seconds. This is not a complex strategic battle simulation, it's just an endless slaughter of poor innocent mafia guys. That's a lot of fun, and has yet to get old for me (though it's the kind of mindless thing I listen to podcasts while doing, of course). I am just really addicted to slowly building up my team of heroes in this game. It's truly a game for altoholics and I am the most anonymous of altoholics. I gotta catch em all.

So, highly recommended, totally free, so come hang out with me, "Hamumu", in the game! It is only on PC right now (through Steam or on their website), though they say a Mac version is coming around March or so.
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  Games of 2013: Just Cause 2 07:24 PM -- Thu January 9, 2014  

Just Cause 2

Now here's a game that's not very current! But this year is when I got it (for $2.99 in a Steam sale) and played it. Too be honest, I haven't played it a lot. Wow, well actually, Steam says I've played 6 hours which was kind of a surprise to me! I thought I had barely touched it, and that may be true, but I guess I touched for a while.

Just Cause is a "GTA-Like" - a game that takes place in an open world where you can steal cars and cause trouble in a 3rd-person perspective with a lot of guns and explosives. It bears many of the trademark elements of these games, but it has a sheen of respectability since in this game, the authorities are actually a totalitarian regime of some sort, so when you are breaking laws and killing cops, you're doing... good? Well, not as bad. You're supposedly fighting for the people.

I gave Just Cause 1 a try (also on PC - except for Borderlands 2, all of my Games of 2013 were played on PC. Borderlands 2 was on PS3), but it is a terrible PC port of a console game. It's virtually unplayable, and I quit very quickly. Just Cause 2 on the other hand is a blast. The big 'hook' to Just Cause is in fact a grappling hook, combined with a parachute. Using those two tools, which you have from the very first instant of the game, you can do an amazing array of ridiculous physics-defying things. I rarely steal cars because it's usually faster to just grapple the ground in front of me, pop the parachute open and launch myself skyward with that (if that doesn't make sense to you, that's because it's not possible but you can do it!). Then you can re-grapple the ground over and over to sort of sky-crawl along. You can even climb mountains that way.

If you want to be more violent about it, you can grapple enemies to pull them off of towers, grapple helicopters to jump aboard and throw the pilot out of them, or least plausible of all, grapple a helicopter and then disconnect the grapple from yourself (yet somehow keep it for future use anyway) and grapple the other end of your rope to a tank, either airlifting the tank or crashing the helicopter. Or possibly both.

I can't really tell you much about this game, despite 6 hours of experience. It feels like I hardly have any idea how it works. It seems like a really hard game, with guys gunning you down left and right, but you have a lot of tricks you can employ to escape and beat them... if you're good enough to pull them off. The game world is utterly enormous (it's famous for it: See?), and it's pretty daunting to even think about that. I don't know if I will play more of this game in the future. In my old age, such a huge game is just more than I have time to deal with. I've been playing Batman: Arkham Origins and the city feels small, and I actually really like it. Nothing is really too far away, and everything is always interesting. I don't know that a giant world is all that great a feature!

Anyway, the final conclusion on this one is that it's a real fun experience - the ridiculous things you can do make you laugh, and it's just fun run n' gun. Not a lot of variety though - this island of hundreds of little villages is kind of all the same. I mean, some of them are mud huts while others are big cities of glass and steel, but either way, you're just running around shooting the same people over and over and yanking them off of walls. Which is fun but not enough to fill hundreds of hours, which is probably what it takes to 'complete' all the cities on the map.

For $2.99 though? Pick it up!
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  Games of 2013: Symphony 05:32 PM -- Wed January 8, 2014  


Symphony is one of those "play the music you own" games. In this case, it generates a Space Invaders type of experience, with spaceships coming at you on the beat, and you gunning them down mercilessly, because that's what music is all about.

I've put some time into this game this year, though I wouldn't say it's really a great game by any means. What it is is zen. After a day of really working out my brain with code, and draining my creativity with art, and then exhausting my braincupines (spiny things that live inside your head) with more significant video games, my wife will finally text me to say she's coming home. She works until fairly late, and it takes about an hour for her to get home. So I'm sitting there, all drained out, with nothing but time to kill until she comes home. I could watch TV, but I can't watch anything good, because then she won't have seen it, so why bother? So for a while during the middle of the year, I had an unplanned nightly ritual of blasting through a few songs on Symphony.

The game is not hard at all - the challenge is in getting a perfect run and picking up combo bonuses before the combo expires. There's no challenge to getting through the song successfully, even on really high difficulties (at least the highest I've unlocked anyway). I'm not even sure if it's possible to "die" in the game, other than brief explosions that just cost you some points. It also of course is set to the backdrop of whatever music you want to be listening to (loudly), and perhaps singing along to, but nobody needs to know about that. And you can even rig up your spaceship to autofire, so all you do is slide the mouse around to aim at enemies and pick up bonuses. My eyes just glaze over as the colors slip and slide, and I find myself in a flow state, set free to think about life and game ideas and whatever else as my musicotonal cortexuli (something made of braincupines) processes the onscreen action for me.

One thing I like about rhythm games in general is that they give you a new way to appreciate music. Rock Band (drumming) taught me to really notice the drumbeats in music and appreciate interesting rhythms. This game doesn't tie to the music that strongly, but it gives you the mindspace to just appreciate it as it plays. Usually when I listen to music, I'm doing ten other things, so this game forces me to focus in on the music.

So yeah, there's nothing fantastic about this game, if I must be honest. The menus and such are really bad with some really awkward ways of interacting with your collected weapons, and finding the song you want is a trial. You upgrade your ship with various weapons (each different song earns you a new weapon, Monster Rancher style!), but there are very few different weapons (that I've found. Maybe I just need different music?), so that ends up not being very interesting at all. I found the 2 I like, loaded up, and just blast away. It's mainly just a vehicle for zoning out and appreciating some music while you wait for your TV-watching partner to come home. And at that, it excels. Pure mindless psychedelia. Almost like watching the WinAmp visualizer, just slightly more interactive.
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