the art, design, and assorted garbage of


2015: Year in Review


It’s hard to believe that another year has gone by already. My memories of the past year are a bit fuzzy as it was an incredibly intense 12 months with very little downtime. But that’s what I get for taking a Masters program while continuing to teach, both full-time. Let’s see what I do remember…


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…)