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  Back To First Principles 01:44 PM -- Mon January 30, 2023  

I have an iterative approach to game development. I begin with an image in my head of what the final game should be, and then I go somewhere completely different. But it's not a bad thing. It can be surprising though! And this game began from day 1 as "the most meta game I could imagine". Exactly what that means and where it comes out is a larger question, and one that I spent some time thinking about recently.

Another fun fact is that I like to design games from the beginning to the end - making the intro experience first before moving on to the later levels. That is generally considered wrong, because the introduction is the first thing the player will encounter, so it should be very well made to draw them in. However, it's also true that the introduction is the simplest part of the game, and later parts will always build on it with more mechanics and characters and whatnot. So that's how I defend my thoughts!

I actually began this game somewhere in the middle, working on the 20 Minutes Till Lunch game mode (and the Bug Queen, who has nothing to do with it!), but after working on the shop, I want to go back and start on the first stuff you'll be doing before you can buy anything. What will that look like?

Well, it's a game mode called To Tory L., and it's focused around a letter to somebody named Tory L., asking for help, and written by none other than this guy:

Who, in case the picture didn't give it away, is trapped inside the Broken Build Simulator! In developing this narrative I'm actually going weirdly deep into my own psyche and getting into the ideas of how I get so obsessed with making games (and moreso making jokes/puns/wordplay. I'm obsessed with how words work). See? META. So right off the bat, your first goal will be to rescue Hamumu from inside his own creation. It's not a parody of anything, just a basic Roguelite. You need to fight a wave of enemies in each little room to open up the doors to any neighboring rooms, and try to find the right room that contains your final boss (but once you do find it, you might want to backtrack and do some extra rooms to level up). It looks something like this:

That's Hamumu, and the dots on his face are supposed to be my tendency to not shave, but they look like acne. I wear glasses now, by the way. Have for a few years (you can just barely tell in the picture of me above). He is playing Marvel Snap on his phone the entire time you're playing this game. Why you play as Hamumu when trying to rescue Hamumu is a bit of a mystery, but it makes sense if you think about it - he's trapped inside the game, therefore he's a character in the game. The gun I'm using in this shot is called "Gun!", and it is my attempt at the most generic possible gun without it being uninteresting. And all those 0's and 1's are Hamumu's special character feature, called Movement Glitch, where enemies that get close to him sometimes get teleported away. His skill tree is themed around bugs in the game and balance updates. So I have to make sure not to have any actual bugs in them, or people will point out the irony and hurt my feelings.

And by the way, I am wearing a Bouapha shirt in that pixel art, and I do still own that shirt for real. Working on this and thinking about it has really broadened my thoughts on what this game is and how it should work. It's going to be ridiculous as you might expect. I can also feel some bigger and stranger ideas just flickering into view in my peripherals, so I'm not sure where this is going, only that it will indeed be ridiculous. And of course, because I'm making it, it's going to be 10x bigger than it should be and take 30x longer.
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  Shopping Y'all 03:39 PM -- Tue January 17, 2023  

Today and yesterday has been some serious shop work in Broken Build Simulator! It looks much nicer in motion than it does here - all those weirdly shaped and broken lines between things (and the gaps where there are no lines between things!) are actually animating in a cool way.

So, as mentioned before, the game is divided up into 'packages' for want of a better term, based around parodying a specific other game. This is the 'lunch' package (a parody of 20 Minutes Till Dawn, highly recommended!). Once you buy the base game mode, you can buy 2 other modified versions of it (10 Minutes Till Lunch, which just a quicker game option; and Endless Hunger which is the traditional endless survival mode), a hero related to the mode, an ability that belongs to the hero (Shell is shown here, just because I haven't made Condiment's ability yet!), and two weapons that are also themed accordingly. In this case, that's the Globlobber (which lobs globs), and the Baguette (which wallops guys, like a real baguette). Then for each weapon, there are 2 of the weapon's upgrades which need to be unlocked (like making the globlobber's globs lob gobs). These are the generally the more exotic things, and often they come with other upgrades as well (for example, increasing how many gobs get lobbed by globs you lob, so that you are lobbing gobs of gobs). And lastly for now, we have those Level+ options. There are 5 for each weapon, and they simply start you with a higher level weapon. This is the compromise - it lets you start your weapons with all 8 upgrade slots, and any further level-ups go directly to more damage.

I'm trying to keep the metaprogress away from direct power increases, so that the game is winnable without them, but that's kind of half-and-half. It is direct power, but a little indirectly? I'm trying to lean away from power, but not avoid it entirely because I enjoy grinding it up! Anyway, we're also going to have difficulty tiers you can buy which will amp up the challenge and you're gonna need those semi-power upgrades to win them!

I'm also thinking of adding alternate skins for each hero (shouldn't Condiment be able to be Mustard or Ketchup?), which wouldn't be a ton of work, but we'll see once I have more important stuff done.

I'm also unsure what exactly you should start the game with... I think I may have to pick one of the parodies to be the one you start with, and that sounds painful. I'm considering just using a tutorial which gives you enough cash to buy your first game mode, but then that brings other questions - what kind of boring hero should you play in a tutorial before you unlock anything fun and flavorful? A Toot Oriole? Kingdom of Loathing invented it first, I'm afraid. And then am I going to have 5 boring themeless weapons available before any modes? You do kind of need some extra weapons to fill out your roster, but I'd like them to be fun... all these early game questions trouble my mind.
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  Skills = Thrills 09:34 AM -- Tue January 10, 2023  

(For me anyway!) The 3rd in-game progression system in Broken Build Simulator is a classic, but not generally present in Roguelite games: a skill tree!

You will select your Hero and Ability before you begin the game (or choose Random for a good time!), and your Hero provides you with the 15 skills in blue here, while your Ability gives you the 5 green skills on the right. I've been showing you The Bug Queen for months now, and it's time we spiced that up, so here is the first new hero (and the one that belongs to 20 Minutes 'Til Lunch, which I am trying to properly fill out), Condiment!

This is actually a character from what I sort of consider to be my first real game, Mucho Kombat, which I made in high school. In case you can't tell, that was a fighting game, and Condiment was just a big green blob with Hamumu eyes. Back in those days, I could create a game and eventually break it in such a way that it was just gone. I couldn't make it work anymore and the game no longer existed, except for any earlier executables I had. Such was the case for Mucho Kombat, which had a roster of probably around 10 characters, with a huge assortment of moves, and massive sprays of blood all across the screen (one of the key selling points to differentiate from Mortal Kombat was that the blood in my game didn't disappear, it stayed for the entire fight!). Also the characters were around 20 pixels tall. It was a tiny game.

But enough nostalgia, Condiment is being reborn in Broken Build Simulator (and he is even less than 20 pixels tall this time...)! Each Hero begins with a unique feature, before you even get to the skill tree. Condiment's feature is that every enemy he kills drops a Pepper on the ground. When you press a certain button, all the Peppers explode at once, so it's like mines you can decide when to detonate.

Heroes effectively have 3 'skill lines', which you can mix and match as you wish. Condiment's 3 lines are Melty Cheese, Nutrients, and Peppers. Like probably every hero, that last skill line is all upgrades to his unique feature. In this case, the peppers can do more damage, ripen over time for increased damage and radius, get picked up by your bullets and carried to detonate on impact, heal you when you touch them, and deal increased damage when you explode more at once. The Nutrients line is a little strange, in that it makes the game harder in some ways. It makes enemies that hit you ("eat you") become Champion enemies, which we haven't discussed, but you've played Diablo, you know how it works! Then it gives you a lot of bonuses when fighting Champions and rewards for beating Champions. The Melty Cheese line is all about a timed buff - every so often, nacho cheese will fall from the sky at a random location and you need to get under it before it hits the ground so it lands on you and makes you stronger for a while. Like real life.

Then of course there is the 4th skill line, which is brought in by whichever ability you equip. I haven't made Condiment his own ability yet, so right now he has Shell equipped, which is The Bug Queen's. It simply makes you invulnerable for a little while, which is always nice. The upgrades for it make it last longer, be usable more often, reflect bullets that hit you, heal you when used, and most fun of all, run over enemies for massive damage while it's active.

So all in all, skill trees are good fun, but you'll certainly explore all they have to offer fairly quickly, unlike the more randomized elements. But you'll still have different options to focus on - do you want to make a cheesy Condiment, or ramp your Peppers up to maximum power? So even once the tree doesn't feel new anymore, it still has a nice purpose - it takes the selection of heroes and multiplies it because you can make variations on the hero.
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  New Year 2023! What's up? 03:07 PM -- Mon January 2, 2023  

It's a new year, and that means the world feels alight with possibility and magic, when actually I'm the same fat lazy clod as always, but I can dream that that will change! Here's the big Hamumu plans for the year, deeply, immensely, inevitably, absolutely subject to change, guaranteed:
  • I will be finishing Broken Build Simulator of course. When exactly is a mystery to all of us. Also, I am thinking I want to try doing Early Access, so it might be soon, but it might also be lame at that time!

  • I just did this one: I swept the Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown under the rug like the squirmy tentacled beast that it is! Horror movie blog entries now only show up on the Halloween page, so you can pick your poison, and it's much easier to find what you want in the blog.

  • I want to continue making these Yerfbox low-res video games. Every week or two I have a new idea, but since this is a list of hopes and dreams, let me tell you what I want to release this year, but probably won't (and will likely latch onto a more exciting thought before I even get started). Because there are 3 ideas listed here, I will pre-emptively inform you that there's no chance I'll be releasing all 3 this year, but these are the ones I'm currently thinking about:

    • Bag O' Monsters: An idea I've had since... 2006 or so? I'm sure it's in the Dumb Idea Repository somewhere. It's a deckbuilder of sorts (bagbuilder, actually). You have a bag full of monsters of your choice, and as they come out of the bag, you'll have to decide whether to deploy them on the battlefield, sacrifice them for a spell effect, or set them free to gain more energy. I'm obsessed with card games (currently Tower Tactics: Liberation, and Marvel Snap when watching TV, previously Monster Train and Slay the Spire, and of course physical games too), I just love to have that card in hand which changes the rules in some way and when I put it out, everything changes. That's the idea here, combined with that tactile fun of "these aren't cards, they're actually little monsters" (or little plastic toys, I'm not sure which). After all, in a PC game, there's no reason the card text has to be on the card, you can just pop it onscreen when you click the monster!

    • Another Witch Game: I'm always wanting to make a witch game! This one is a side-scroller with an open world and very little combat. At its core is a factory-style game. I was inspired by the thought that all the factory type games (Shapes, Factorio, Satisfactory, etc) have the same sort of high-tech theme, logically, but what if you went with a magical theme? Instead of conveyor belts, you have mesmerized bats flying in loops. So anyway, you go out in the world to get ingredients and things, bring them back, and make potions for money. I was also inspired by wanting for many years to make an economic game, basically a lemonade stand type of thing. And lastly, I was inspired by Kena: Bridge of Spirits (outside of the rather hardcore soulsy combat) to make a game that's just friendly and cozy, not about murdering everyone you disagree with.

    • A Necromancer Game For Which I Had An Awesome Title But It's Apparently Being Used By Pornography: Story of my life. This is fueled by my personal desire to avoid making another giant system, but rather a straightforward adventure that people can play through and have fun without devoting their life to it. It's a Metroidvania based on traditional necromancer abilities (so of course you can raise an army of skeletons, duh, but also shoot spirits and bone spears - remember that witch prototype I made where you'd throw your broom to use as a platform? That!). I've long had the idea of making an action-RPG type game, that delves specifically into one single traditional character class, giving you vast abilities to diversify within that class instead of having 4 or 5 different classes to choose from, and it could have a more focused narrative because the kind of story a necromancer gets involved in is likely to be very different from what a druid is up to, you know? But this isn't that game, it won't have any real diversity of builds, because it's a metroidvania! You just get your powers and use them to get places and solve puzzles. You know you're gonna make skeletons stand on pressure pads a lot.

  • Of course I intend to keep the Horror podcast rolling! I don't know for how long, but it's going pretty strong and what's weird is it now seems like there are some people who listen to it (upwards of 3, which was our ceiling for many years). I really love to see discussion of that on the discord, so please do so!

So that's the upcoming plans. I wish I could share some timelines, but if I did, they'd all be lies. As with 2022, my time is chewed up pretty thoroughly with the Rock Rose Foundation, and I also seem to have lost about 80% of the speed I used to have at making games. I don't know how I did it back then. Stay young! I'm gonna keep trying to make games because I love it, but I do get slower and slower at it.
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  It's lunch time! 01:51 PM -- Mon January 2, 2023  

Well, that was a relaxing and distracting holiday break around here. I was given dozens of new Steam games, and I enjoyed them a lot! I still am, in fact. But it did slow down development around here, as December always does. Nonetheless, things have happened!

The excitement continues as lunch approaches! The second boss has been added, the mighty centipede(?) Loafy skidding to a stop from his deadly dash attack, pictured here along with an army of Club Sandwiches and the occasional Pickle. Also visible is the new foliage - sorry Eyeball Tree fans, it's lunchtime, not creepy death forest time.

But lest we get too distracted, I did say I was going to tell you about the other progression systems in the game. So here's #2 - This is the most random one, and you should be familiar with it if you've playing Roguelites for the past few years, since they all do pretty much the same thing! When you kill enemies, you occasionally find Lootboxes. You can open those for a selection of random prizes. Currently the options in them include new weapons (you can carry up to 5), upgrades for those weapons, and level-ups for those weapons. The upgrades grant power or new features to your weapons (for instance, the Infestor shoots bugs, and one upgrade causes enemies infested by those bugs to drop eggs when they die, which hatch into more bugs). But as you can see on the Needler in the picture, there's only room for 3 upgrades. You'll have to use Level-Ups to make room for more, up to 8 maximum. Further level-ups just increase the weapon's damage, so while there aren't fun choices after those 8, you can keep getting stronger to push onward. I may change it so you don't have to get level-ups to get your upgrade slots though, as they feel pretty disappointing when you spend an entire lootbox just to get an empty slot.

So like in other roguelite arenas, you're going to want to find the weapons that synergize with each other and with your skill tree and gems, and then give them the upgrades that suit your style. The upgrades can make a big difference. One example is the Needler (which fires a burst of needles that do low damage and inflict a very long-lasting, but weak, poison): it has upgrades that drastically reduce its poison effect in exchange for much higher direct damage. But if you're playing the Bug Queen, you might want to go the other way, because her skill tree has many upgrades to damage-over-time which will make the poison very nice. She also benefits a lot from crit chance, so you might focus on that.
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