Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Mode 7
Jul 28, 2007





The PICO-8 is a fantasy console by New Zealand developer Joseph "zep" White. A fantasy console is a virtual environment emulating hardware that never existed, trying to capture the feeling of classic home computers like the Apple IIe, C64 and the BBC Micro while being it's own, unique thing. As it's FAQ states, it has everything that makes a console a console - machine specifications and display format, development tools, design culture, a distribution platform, a community and a playerbase!

You can play PICO-8 games in your browser, but purchasing PICO-8 yourself lets you download and play carts, freely tweak, edit or study them, or write your own games to share with others. It's USD$14.99 and can be purchased here:
https://www.lexaloffle.com/pico-8.php

PICO-8 features a built in code editor, sprite editor, map editor, sound effect editor and music tracker.



They're all pretty straightforward to get to grips with thanks to some great tutorials that have been made by various community members.
Games made with PICO-8 - or "carts" - are super easy to distribute. They're tiny enough that you can share them easily over the web. You can also publish them to the PICO-8 forum which means anyone can play it directly in their web browser if they just want to play it without buying the software - publishing it to the forum also makes it available in PICO-8's built-in app called Splore.

The greatest thing though is that carts, well.... here's an example. Let's take PICO-8s most famous game - the 2016 game jam version of Celeste by Maddy Thorson and Noel Berry that would eventually be expanded into their 2018 hit.



That's not just a cute cartridge picture for Celeste, that's the actual game - exporting a PICO-8 cart encodes it as a .png with a screenshot that you can take for box art. How adorable is that?

That said, PICO-8 has some pretty heavy constraints as to what can be done with it. Games are written in Lua only, limited to a 16 colour palette (though 32 colours are available total if you do some digging) and a 128x128 resolution, you've only got 32kb of memory to work with and a hard set token (code element) limit that sets a firm ceiling on the complexity of games you can write. Seeing the stuff that people can do within those limits though is frankly incredible.

Come share cool stuff you find and enjoy and above all if any of this inspires you to create your own stuff I know I for one would love to see it.

Development Resources/Tutorials
PICO-8 Wiki [Written]
Game Development With Pico-8 Zine by Dylan Bennett [Written]
PICO-8 Fanzine #1-#4 [Written]
Nerdy Teachers (various tutorials) [Written / Video]
Lazy Devs (tutorials for a Breakout game and Roguelike) [Video]
PICO-8 Top-Down Adventure Game Tutorial by Dylan Bennett [Video]
Gruber's PICO-8 Music Tutorials [Video]

Cool Stuff To Check Out

Celeste: The obvious choice. 30 levels of precision platforming joy. It has its own speedrunning community and also a sequel called Lani's Trek that has a soundtrack by Lena Raine!


Flip Knight: VVVVVV-esque platformer where you manipulate gravity in a metroidvania style dungeon.


Cab Ride: A little like a PICO-8 version of Densha de Go. Drive your train from station to station enjoying the chill music and watching the world go by. Time your stops well and try for a good score. Or don't and just enjoy the atmosphere. I find this super relaxing!


Poom: Does it run a cut down but incredibly impressive for the hardware version of Doom? You bet your rear end it does. (I believe they get around a lot of limitations by stitching carts together).


PICO Night Punkin': Rhythm games more your thing? How about a demake of Friday Night Funkin?


PICO Racer: Cute little Pole Position style racing game!


Ad Astra: PICO-8 has a pretty cool demo scene, this is one of my favourites! No screenshot for this one - I couldn't seem to capture a good still moment in it that looked good and also I'm tired and give up. There's also a fun demoscene subset called tweetcarts - PICO-8 carts where the code is short enough to be contained in a single tweet. Here's a fun example!

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Tombot
Oct 21, 2008


One PICO-8 thing I tried was picoCAD: https://johanpeitz.itch.io/picocad
An amusing and easy to use 3D modeling software that stores the models you make into a text file (including the textures). I don't know if this counts, but it seems to operate with the same kind of limitations.

People have apparently made a functioning PICO-8 devices using Raspberry Pi, but nobody has made an entirely unique device for one yet.

bovis
Jan 30, 2007






Only just recently got into Pico-8 and have just followed some stuff in the zines they've released to make a basic shmup and a snake game but drat it's fun!
The limitations have really brought back to me what I love about programming.

Thanks for making the thread Mode 7! :D

Mode 7
Jul 28, 2007



Tombot posted:

One PICO-8 thing I tried was picoCAD: https://johanpeitz.itch.io/picocad
An amusing and easy to use 3D modeling software that stores the models you make into a text file (including the textures). I don't know if this counts, but it seems to operate with the same kind of limitations.

People have apparently made a functioning PICO-8 devices using Raspberry Pi, but nobody has made an entirely unique device for one yet.

Totally counts and looks awesome, thanks!

Similar to the Pi there's been a lot of buzz recently about installing PICO-8 on various models of Chinese produced handhelds of the kind discussed in the Third Party Retro Consoles thread. I think it's probably a fine addition to whatever else you wanted to do with one of those handhelds but it's never quite interested me - both because while the creator calls PICO-8 a fantasy "console" it very much feels like a computer to me rather than a handheld, and because a lot of the fun for me would be being able to make little things on the go which you'd need a decent keyboard for. If the PICO-8 actually existed, in my head at least it would have looked something like a ZX Spectrum :D

The closest thing to a unique device was probably the Pocket C.H.I.P, a handheld console add on kit to the C.H.I.P computer board. It came with a specialised version of PICO-8 installed by default. The company went bust though and from memory people who did manage to get their hands on one weren't super impressed with the quality of the thing.



bovis posted:

Only just recently got into Pico-8 and have just followed some stuff in the zines they've released to make a basic shmup and a snake game but drat it's fun!
The limitations have really brought back to me what I love about programming.

Thanks for making the thread Mode 7! :D

You're welcome! More people need to know this thing exists. As someone who has wanted to do some gamedev stuff for ages but never seems to quite make it off the launch pad, having some enforced restrictions on complexity has been great for making me firmly ground the scope of my game in reality and push to actually finish something. I haven't made anything outside of some little tutorial games so far but I at least feel like I've got a strong starting place to go off. One of the reasons I wrote up this thread was to encourage myself to keep playing around and actually making things with it.

Looper
Mar 1, 2012



pico-8 ftw

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



Browsing splore is fun, especially when you're not all that good at programming. :v:

Mode 7
Jul 28, 2007



Decided that I want to build a little shmup, wasn't sure where to start. Found some tutorials on YouTube (here if anyone is curious) for coding a little shmup in PICO-8. Fantastic!

Unfortunately they're in French and I don't speak a word of French :v: But! From other little tutorials I've done, the code is still very easy to follow along with even completely divorced from the explanation.

Got my little self-drawn ship, some self-drawn bullets and a scrolling star background.



Going to keep this tutorial going to it's conclusion, play around with expanding on some of it a little to get familiar with concepts, then try and build and finish a complete little shmup game. I'll keep posting progress in the thread as I go.

bovis
Jan 30, 2007






You inspired me and I spent a couple hours this morning creating something super similar! (Don't have a gif right now since I'm not at my computer)

Even made some basic enemies which come down and can be destroyed and blow up into particles (one of the zines explains how a simple particle engine works and it's so simple yet looks great).

The in built sprite and sound making tools I think really put pico-8 up an extra level eh. The most annoying part about messing around with making games in other engines is assets and the ease of just being able to draw a sprite in engine and see how it looks straight away just makes it so much fun :D

LeFishy
Jul 21, 2010


I love pico-8!

I have a million and one abandoned prototypes made in this lovely thing and precisely zero finished projects :D Iíll grab some gifs when Iím not phone posting.

Iím a professional (non game) dev by trade but I still highly recommend the lazy devs tutorials. Krystian is a good egg who really wants people to learn and has a way of teaching that gels well with me at least.

Here's my colony builder game, I got pretty deep into this one but early decisions lead to much debt that I could not pay off. One day I'll come back and start from scratch though.

https://twitter.com/lefishy/status/1364178793695481856

A prototype of a very very bad micro roguelike idea that I will also revisit one day:

https://twitter.com/lefishy/status/1370017969783398402

I thought I had a lot more of these on my twitter... I don't have many on my laptop either. I'll check my desktop in the morning too.

LeFishy fucked around with this message at 18:52 on Sep 19, 2021

woke kaczynski
Jan 23, 2015

How do you do, fellow antifa?





Fun Shoe

Oh drat, I forgot about lexaloffle but I think I have this for buying voxatron...most of a decade ago. I forgot about that and I'm kinda bummed it's never gonna be more of a thing, but this looks neat too.

LeFishy
Jul 21, 2010


woke kaczynski posted:

Oh drat, I forgot about lexaloffle but I think I have this for buying voxatron...most of a decade ago. I forgot about that and I'm kinda bummed it's never gonna be more of a thing, but this looks neat too.

Heís still working on voxatron and apparently has plans for a third fantasy console next year ish so I wouldnít give up on it yet. I wouldnít expect either voxatron orÖ picotron to have the mass appeal (lol) of pico 8 though.

BONESAWWWWWW
Dec 23, 2009




Great topic. Like many people I have a million tech demos and no complete games, but I loved the simplicity when I was trying to grasp concepts like A* and autotiling.

And I'd be lying if I said I didn't look into getting a Pocket C.H.I.P. just for PICO-8. I would love a dedicated handheld.

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



Pocket C.H.I.P clones are available in Aliexpress, but I don't know about their performance.

Your Computer
Oct 3, 2008






Grimey Drawer

I absolutely love the idea but I really wish PICO-8 didn't limit itself to 128x128. It's just.... too small. Even the Game Boy had a resolution of 160x144 which is quite a bit more. :sigh:

Tombot
Oct 21, 2008


When I saw this topic again, I thought of Fallout 4 and the computer and Pip boy interactions. Pico-8 might make for an excellent in-universe computer system for an open-world rpg of some kind, perhaps with Quadrilateral Cowboy style interactions.

Lutha Mahtin
Oct 10, 2010

Your brokebrain sin is absolved...go and shitpost no more!


Yeah, both Voxatron and Pico8 still get updates. It can be slow sometimes between updates but zep seems to just keep plugging away on them.

Daedalus1134
Sep 14, 2005

They see me rollin'



Pico-8 is great.

Seeing what people have done within the limitations of the engine is crazy, between PicoCAD, the various 3d racing games, and full on raytracing engines.

I played through all of Out Of This World on it.

Your Computer posted:

I absolutely love the idea but I really wish PICO-8 didn't limit itself to 128x128. It's just.... too small. Even the Game Boy had a resolution of 160x144 which is quite a bit more. :sigh:

Picotron is a 3rd "console" being made that will have a 480x270 display with a 64 color palette.
https://www.lexaloffle.com/picotron.php

organburner
Apr 10, 2011

This avatar helped buy Lowtax a new skeleton.



Your Computer posted:

I absolutely love the idea but I really wish PICO-8 didn't limit itself to 128x128. It's just.... too small. Even the Game Boy had a resolution of 160x144 which is quite a bit more. :sigh:

You could take a look at games from the low-rez jam on itch if you need some ideas, those are limited to 64x64 (which I found quite difficult to work with, but now I'm also gonna be participating in a jam with even worse restrictions... )

Marx Headroom
May 10, 2007

AT LAST! A show with nonono commercials!



Fallen Rib

BONESAWWWWWW posted:

And I'd be lying if I said I didn't look into getting a Pocket C.H.I.P. just for PICO-8. I would love a dedicated handheld.

Never thought I'd see people discussing the PocketCHIP these days! I have one and wouldn't recommend it. The buttons are incredibly uncomfortable to use after a few minutes. They're basically little metal dimples and you have to use a lot of force to push them. It's a great way to give yourself carpal tunnel. People used to suggest buying little silicon adhesive bumpers but I could never find ones that covered the buttons well enough.

Also, after a few years the plastic covering has started to curl at the edges and the power button barely works anymore, sometimes when I turn it on it fails to boot and since I can't shut it down and the power button doesn't work I have to wait until the battery drains.

In fact I just dug mine out of the closet, and it turns on but doesn't boot, which means it needs to be reflashed. Sometimes if you don't use it for too long the memory gets corrupted and you need to wipe it. Which means I need to dig up the last firmware and flashing utility released before the company went under, yadda yadda.

It was a cool idea at the time but I wouldn't spend money on one of these things in 2021.

Once I've rescued mine I'll see what I had in my favorites. There was this one sloth endless runner game with kickass music that I can still hear in my head.

BONESAWWWWWW
Dec 23, 2009




That's a shame. Such a cool concept.
I've heard the GameShell also has the ability to do PICO-8 stuff but the price put me off from ever picking one up. Does anyone have experience with that?

raditts
Feb 21, 2001

The Kwanzaa Bot is here to protect me.




This thread reminded me that I got PICO-8 in a humble bundle ages ago and was really excited to make stuff for it before life got in the way, as it often does :negative:
But now that I've remembered, maybe I can give it another try!

flavor.flv
Apr 18, 2008

I got a letter from the government the other day
opened it, read it
it said they was bitches






BONESAWWWWWW posted:

That's a shame. Such a cool concept.
I've heard the GameShell also has the ability to do PICO-8 stuff but the price put me off from ever picking one up. Does anyone have experience with that?

There are much, much cheaper options



Pretty much any handheld with a custom firmware available has a pico-8 port

BONESAWWWWWW
Dec 23, 2009




Can you use Splore with that thing?

Walla
Sep 17, 2017




There's a working Pico-8 emulator on Vita, without splore. I'm tempted but I think I like the idea of the system more than the execution.

Your Computer
Oct 3, 2008






Grimey Drawer

Daedalus1134 posted:

Picotron is a 3rd "console" being made that will have a 480x270 display with a 64 color palette.
https://www.lexaloffle.com/picotron.php

oh dang, I am very interested in this

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



Is there a way to get the code tab to wrap lines? Reading/writing code is kind of a hassle. (Yeah you could use an external editor but it loses the immediacy.)

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Mode 7
Jul 28, 2007



Kept pottering along with the shmup tutorial I'm following. Part 2 got me a respawning enemy, little particle effect explosion, and some basic bullet interactions.



Part 3 should round everything out into a finished, playable, incredibly simple shmup game.

I think my plan after that is to see if I can recreate something simple like Space Invaders using the concepts I've learned to make sure I actually understand them.

Then on to something of my own design!

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply