the art, design, and assorted garbage of


GameMaker Tutorials: Using JSON Data

While working on a trading card game one day, I realized that I was going to need a system that would allow me to dynamically create cards from a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are great for balancing and sorting large amounts of data, such as a deck of cards, but getting them into something more usable is a bit of a challenge. Originally I was going to build a system to pull in XML files, but I discovered that GameMaker is able to encode/decode JSON files which is a really good alternative and has the benefit of being built of arrays (specifically lists and maps). If you are reading this, I am going to assume that, like me, you have struggled to figure out how JSON files actually work and make them useful. Well, now that I have done all the hard work, let us walk through the process of creating cards dynamically through JSON file data! (more…)

Glory to Papers Please: A Critical Analysis


Papers Please is a critically acclaimed game set in a border checkpoint in the fictional totalitarian country of Arstotzka in 1982. The player takes the role of an immigration officer who has to inspect documents and interrogate people attempting to enter the country. Progress is achieved through efficiently processing immigrants each day in order to earn enough money to keep your family alive and well. The game has been described as having multiple genres: a paperwork simulator, an emotionally compelling puzzle game, or, as the creator Lucas Pope calls it, a dystopian document thriller. However, if one removes the theme and examines the mechanics, it is clear that this titles bears all the hallmarks of a well-executed time management game. The fact that this isn’t obvious is what makes the title such a success. (more…)

2014: Year in Review

What a strange, topsy turvy year it was. Last year I had plans to “finish things” and I had a bunch of unfinished projects waiting to be wrapped up. I started off well and completed a few tutorials, but then I had a major course correction in my life: I decided to go back to school and pursue a Masters degree in Digital Media.

Improv Class

What this meant was that I had to stop what I was doing and build a portfolio and all the other documentation in very short order. I used this opportunity to build out my ludography which I had been meaning to do for years, but never got around to. I also had a bunch of academic type documents which took my much longer than I expected. I was quite nervous about whether I would be accepted as I don’t have a Bachelor degree, but I do have close to 20 years of experience. Well, as you can tell, I was accepted and have been doing very well. The biggest challenge I have had has been teaching full time while also attending school full time (oh and a 3 years old at home). It meant that I had to really become ultra-organized as I had no spare time at all to waste.

The whole year wasn’t all about school though. I did work on a game for my daughter, a simple spelling game, doing all the art, design and coding. I was able to complete the initial planned release, or at least everything aside from the audio. I has hoping to get it out on the market before the end of the year, but decided to hold off until sometime in the near future.

That’s about it. Honestly it was all a blur and I know I likely did a lot more than I can remember. As for 2015, it’s going to be one crazy ride. My Masters program goes into high gear, with a lot more focus on my own objectives (I plan on building a company coming out of it). I still hope to get a few more tutorials out, but we will have to see what I actually have time for. Either way, it’s going to be a blast!