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Unraveling the Indie - Loonyland 2: Winter Woods


Every other week on Unraveling the Indie we sit down with an independent developer to unearth the dark secrets of indie game creation:

Don't let its colorful, cartoon-like appearance and cheeky humor fool you: Loonyland 2: Winter Woods is a whole lot of game. This massive action RPG from indie developer Hamumu Software features over 50 unique quests, 100 hidden achievements, and dozens of skills and talents you can use to customize your character. It's a deep and rewarding RPG that will satisfy most hardcore fans without alienating casual players.

We sat down with Mike Hommel from Hamumu Software to get some inside information on Loonyland 2, Egyptian laborers, and the history of Hamumu. As an extra special bonus, he wrote us a haiku!

To kick things off, tell the world the dramatic tale of how you got started in game design.

Well, it's all I've ever done. When I was a kid and playing arcade games and Atari, I invented my own game ideas and had no outlet for them except sketching and long walks around the yard imagining them. So I started making them for real (in a very sad way) when I got an Apple IIe, and just kept learning more and whatnot.

After college, I worked for a year at a commercial game company, and that was enough (also, it was going under, as they are wont to do). So I started on my own stuff, and lived on savings until I got somewhere. I did make one true 'shareware' (i.e. pay if you like it, no limitations) game before that, in college. SPISPOPD. Some people still "fondly" remember it!

Smashing pumpkins into small piles of putrid debris?!
You can see why it's abbreviated.

What was your first game that put you on the radar?
Well, I haven't actually been recorded on any known radar at this point, but my first 3 games were sold by eGames in assorted stores everywhere - Kid Mystic, Eddie Galaxy, and a sort of excerpted version of Dr. Lunatic, called Spooky Castle. Dr. Lunatic was my first real Hamumu Software release, and the upgraded version of it, Dr. Lunatic Supreme With Cheese, is our most well known bit of wonderment. Generally, it's the best seller, but Loonyland 2 is taking over at the moment. We'll see what happens when the newness dies down.

That's where you hooked us, Supreme with Cheese.
People got hooked for sure! The level editor was the key element there.

Exactly. Even our non-gaming friends were addicted to that editor.
Cool! I didn't know it was widespread like that ... I thought the stuff that got sent in to be put on the site was the gist of it. I once made my house in the Doom editor. It was fun putting a demonic altar in my parents' closet. And now I hear a kid in Texas got suspended for making a Counter-Strike map of his school. What has the world come to?

Haven't you heard? Games are dangerous now. Maps in today's world are evil, but maps back then were ok.
Games teach you to throw hammers at pumpkins.

For Loonyland, you went on a more RPG-type path than the arcadey Dr. Lunatic. Why the shift?
That started out as making a quickie little game based off of the Dr. Lunatic code. I love RPG elements, and want them in everything. So I figured that would be the good way to differentiate it. But of course it ended up huge and taking a year and a half or something. I fully plan to make lots more RPGs. Not only do I love playing them, but development-wise, they're the most fun. You get to set up all the values and how things interrelate, without a ton of code.

Was it just you working on the game?
Just about ... it's the first game I ever did my own music for (which is why it only has music at the title and end credits), but a big Dr. Lunatic fan actually made a good proportion of the tiles for it.

That was the key to Supreme With Cheese, which included thousands of levels of fan labor, and a team of three fans who worked for months 'supremizing' all the old add-ons for the original Dr. Lunatic. I could've never even come close to finishing that game myself.

Fan labor. We like it!
It worked for the Egyptians.

And Stonehenge, we've heard.
That was aliens.

It's great the players are so devoted. What do you think draws them to your games?
I am not entirely sure. But the common thing among them is that they don't just like one of the games. They like them all as a whole (with favorites, of course). So it's the style, which is gratifying. It's like a bunch of people saying "Hey, you're cool!", because my games are me.

Your games do radiate personality. Even the free online riddle game Dumb: The Game.
Pretty tough to get much of a feel in there, but maybe a little bit!

So what are you working on right now? Secret project?
I am doing my most unsecret project ever - Loonyland: Titan Tunnels (working title). It's a spin-off/side story to the whole Loonyland saga. I say it's unsecret because I'm detailing the development in excruciating detail on my Sneak Peek page. Sharing way more than I ever do, no secrets on this one. I can do that, because it's a plotless game -- a good old fashioned dungeon crawl, very very much in the style of Rogue and Nethack, but of course with the action gameplay of LL2.

Wow, you're really detailing the heck out of that game ...
Yeah, I just ramble on, both because it's my way, and because I get excited about all the formulas and whatnot.

And about your fans: who are they? Astronauts? Grandmothers? Sentient bacteria?
I don't know about the bacteria, because they can't communicate in our language, but lots of grandmothers. I have a weird mix with a lot of teen and preteen boys, and grandmas. I'm sure there's plenty in between, but those two demographics really stand out in my forums and email chats. I have not had any customers identify themselves as astronauts, but I'm sure at least 30% of the customers are.

In 15 words or less, tell us why everyone in the world should own Loonyland 2.
Sounds like a call for Haiku ... let me think.

RPGs are fun.
This one has Sock Monkeys too.
Don't you like monkeys?

Wait, I had two words to spare!


Sales +10!
I just released the Collector's Edition a couple days ago too -- director's commentary, level editor, bonus adventure.

Collect it!

I heard if you get 10 or more of the collector's edition CDs and stack them together, something mysterious happens ...
I can't confirm or deny, but feel free to test the theory!

Download Loonyland 2: Winter Woods

Also released ...

Hard Time
The critics are saying everything from "unplayable" to "impressive" about this new release. Hard Time is a 3D game set in a tough prison where violence is the only form of rehabilitation. With freeform gameplay you can carve out a path as you please, be it the way of the lead pipe or serving food in the cafeteria. You'll interact with hundreds of unique NPCs and learn their individual behaviors as you settle into your niche. Download Hard Time (demo, Win)

Gallery: Loonyland 2 and Hard Time gallery | 7 Photos

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