PICO-8: Making games in a cute, cozy design space

edited in General
Has anyone tried PICO-8 yet? It looks like an amazing game engine.


More info:

PICO-8 Website: https://www.lexaloffle.com/pico-8.php

Just curious if anyone here has used it at all and what the experience was like?
Thanked by 1BenJets


  • I've been really curious about Pico-8, my main exposure to it has been the many fantastic Ludum Dare games - I'm not sure if PICO-8 makes good jam games or jam games are well-suited to it - either way I've not actually dived into learning a new language myself, so would also be curious to see if anyone here has? :)
    Thanked by 1konman
  • So, I decided to check it out. PICO-8 game engine that is... and I'm very impressed! I spent this past easter-weekend evaluating this little package. Here's some of the experiments I tried:

    Making sound effects instantly:

    Amazing pixel art:

    Amiga-like/synth tracker chip-tune music (don't laugh it's my first):

    Colour cycling:

    Sprite rotation:


    Tile maps:

    Menu and game states:

    Platformer test:

    isometric maps :

    Space shooter (collision tests)

    All these were made over a 4 day period. I stepped away feeling like a graphics artist, coder, sound engineer, musician and game designer all rolled into one! If I ever only get to pick one app to take with me to that desert island, this is it!

    LUA the programming language is very easy to get into if you already know some programming/coding.
    This is a really cool little engine if you want to do some rapid prototyping or just want to create something in a short timespan like for a gamejam for instance. It exports your spritesheets, music or gameplay vids and builds into an exe for windows/mac/linux or raspberry pi. It also exports to HTML/jscript so people can play your creations in a browser.

    Overall a very fun game dev experience. The best R200 I have spent in awhile.

    You can check it out more of PICO-8 here: https://lexaloffle.com/pico-8.php
  • I love seeing what people have been making with PICO-8 and I have to regularly force myself not to dive in. I remind myself that it's not the tool that makes the game but the developer.

    I think what PICO-8 really provides is limitation which is always a creative, motive force.
    Thanked by 1mattbenic
  • edited
    @Fengol That is an interesting perspective. Why do you think PICO-8 makes the game for you? :D

    It has _init(), _update() and _draw() methods (similar to Unity and other engines) so you still need to code to make anything.
    It just happens to also have easy access to built in asset creation tools like the sprite, sfx editors, music tracker etc

    I agree with the limitations that is inherent in the tool, which will deter most 'serious' game developers, as it discourages making very large games due to a token/character limit, but that is intended design to motivate creativity as you mentioned. The 16 colour pallet is certainly a severe constraint as well.

    As an example the game 'Celeste' was first released on it to gauge player interest before they went with a bigger monocule/monogame build (Jan 2018) which seems to do very well on steam still.

    I am curious if others believes it is not a valid game development tool which, perhaps, automates the process of game development too much? Very interesting...
  • I didn't mean it makes the game or automates anything. I'm saying, in general not just PICO-8, it's not the tool that makes the game, it's the developer; just like a hammer doesn't build a house, the carpenter does.

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