Cody Shepp

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Monument Valley - a short review

Published on 6/28/2014

When I downloaded Monument Valley, I knew I was in for a treat.

Sometimes when you just look at screenshots of a game, you can tell that the developers and designers put a lot of thought and hard work into their creation - and that's definitely the case with MV. It's so very true that every level in the game is a work of art. In fact, you can easily purchase prints of any screenshots you take in-game. The low-poly, geometric, brightly colored architecture that's the focal point of MV is a breath of fresh air, coming from the all-too-common pixel art style that many games are adopting, especially in the mobile market. On top of that, you get the intricately layered, often mind-boggling level design, which really makes for some unique perpective shifts throughout the game.

Last week, I finally had a chance to download the game, brew a cup of coffee, and sit down on the couch with my iPad to dive into this beautiful world.

Stranger in a strange land

My first interaction with MV was beautifully orchestrated by the developers. My objective was clearly marked on the screen as a target-like set of concentric squares on the ground, a visual queue that was obvious but didn't seem out of place. Of course, the path to my objective was blocked, so I reached for the clearly defined interaction point - a knob - and with one small motion, the perspective shift clicked into place for the first time...and I was hooked.

As the game progressed, the puzzles were layered with additional mechanics - moving obstructions, buttons that open new paths, a general disregard for gravity, and even a companion. The different mechanics always kept me thinking, and they interacted in interesting ways. Can't get past that enemy? You have to flip the platform upside-down to get around - that sort of thing.

Jolly cooperation

I have to admit, the main storyline in MV was lost on me. I get the gist - I'm a princess, I took some geometric stuff, I had to give it back, there were some graves, we're all pretty birds now - but it just didn't do anything for me. Maybe my expectations were unrealstic, or maybe the story was just shallow, it's hard to say, but either way I was disappointed.

That said, I still really enjoyed playing MV. And I love that Totem to death! Who knew that a pillar with an eye could be so adorable?

If you've got an extra $3.99 and an iPad, I would definitely recommend that you pick up MV - not sure how it looks on a smaller iPhone screen, but on the iPad it's a work of art!

Migrating to a static blogging platform

Published on 6/27/2014

It's been about 2 years since I first started this blog, and I've made < 10 total posts. It's time for something new.

Originally I built this blog using WordPress because it was easy to install, easy to customize, and easy to update. While CMS platforms can be a really great tool for those that are not tech-savvy, I always found WordPress to be clunky and annoying. I've been wanting to experiment with a static site generator for quite some time now, and this seems like the perfect opportunity. I looked in Jekyll and Ghost, but I ended up taking ~2 hours to just roll my own static site generator using Node.js....and it was super easy to do.

The whole idea behind a static site generator is that you don't have to worry about a database (or any of the associated attack vectors), but you don't have to maintain the entire codebase by hand - the generator will take care of paging, links, etc.

I've decided not to publish my site generator through an official repo, but you can grab the main script here. It should help you understand my thought process and will point you in the right direction if you're itching to make your own static site generator. I'm just happy to be rid of WordPress!