Cramming 'Papers, Please' Onto Phones

Papers Please is one of my favorite games of all time. Fascinating, intricate, and deeply humbling, it is a great example of video game specific storytelling.


I created Papers, Please in 2013 specifically for desktop computers with mouse control. Now, here, in 2022, desktop computers no longer exist and all computing is done via handheld mobile telephone. Time to update this dinosaur.

I love stories of hard design choices… and Mr. Pope talking about deconstructing his lovely game to fit it on a phone is a great read. Some high points:

  • I admire how he relies on minimum viable prototyping to unblock decisions.
  • I like how he enjoys the whimsical details like the chain. It's important to leave yourself some fun in a hard task like this.
  • He wrote a full test suite! Hard to do in a game.

The original game is played by manipulating a large virtual desk. In order to make the small screen transition Mr. Pope had to refocus on the Outcomes Over Outputs, remembering the goal of the game mechanic to reinterpret it into the new screen resolution and input.

Mine is downloading now, can't wait to share the ponderous intro music with more people… download your copy!

Cramming 'Papers, Please' Onto Phones | Development Logs by Lucas Pope -