The virtual game console Pico8

Tool to make html5 games

Welcome! Today I’m going to talk to you about this new software that made me have fun the entire year.

’m talking about the famous PICO-8. For those that never heard about it, PICO-8 is a virtual game console, with a 128x128 screen in 16 colors, which let you code browser games in Lua.

pico-8

Pico-8 has many limitations:
- the cart size is 32kb
- it has only 4 sound channels
- allows up to 6 buttons
- game sprites are in pixels

Why is it so good?

Many times, when we start a project or decide to make a new game, we set our goals to high, so high that we never reach them and the game ends being incomplete and abandoned. With PICO-8 this is not a problem, its limitations make us build simple, fast and great quality games.

point and click

Another advantage is that it includes everything you will need during the developing phase, without needing external applications. It includes:

  • Lua code editor
  • Sprites editor
  • Map editor
  • Sound editor
  • Music editor

Lua programming language is easy to learn and doesn’t require any big knowledge. We will make some tutorials in the near future.
On the other hand, my biggest challenge was music, but with some tips and practice you can make something pretty “decent”.

PICO-8 is one of the favorites when talking about game jams. When time is short and competition is high, PICO-8 is a great choice. With just a command you can export your game to HTML5 (browser game), making it pretty easy to distribute. It’s great community es really friendly with those that are giving their first steps into the game world.

Where can I play some games?

If you want to test some of the best games made with PICO-8, you should visit their website. Between their best games you can find:

  • Celeste (made in 4 days)

Celeste

  • Dusk Child

Dusk Child

Conclusion

In short, this software allow you to make fast and simple games without the risk of failing trying.

Unfortunatly, PiCO-8 is not free, so not everybody can enjoy it. But dont wrry! we will soon talk about several free alterntives that let you create games in HTML5 in a similar way as you do with PiCO-8.

In future posts we will talk about free alternatives to Pico-8 and we will build a simple Pong game


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