What Is PICO-8?
PICO-8 is a virtual games console and development platform that is designed to be an accessible and simple tool for creating 8-bit style games. It was first released in 2014 by Lexaloffle Games, a small team of developers from the UK.
PICO-8 is designed to emulate the look and feel of early home computer systems such as the Commodore 64 and the ZX Spectrum. Games created using PICO-8 are restricted to a limited display resolution of 128 by 128 pixels and a limited color palette of 16 colors. These restrictions are intentional and are meant to encourage creativity and innovation within the constraints of the platform.
The PICO-8 environment includes a text editor for writing code, a sprite and map editor for creating graphics and levels, a sound editor for creating 8-bit music and sound effects, and a built-in emulator for testing games. Games created using PICO-8 can be exported to a variety of platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, and even retro gaming consoles such as the Raspberry Pi.
One of the most unique aspects of PICO-8 is its focus on community and collaboration. The PICO-8 community is a vibrant and active group of developers who share their games, tools, and resources with each other. PICO-8 games are often shared on social media under the hashtag #pico8, and there are several online communities where developers can ask for feedback and help.
PICO-8 has become a popular tool for game jams, where developers are given a limited amount of time to create a game from scratch. The limited scope and constraints of the platform make it an ideal tool for these types of events, as developers can quickly prototype and iterate on their ideas.
In addition to its use in game development, PICO-8 has also been used as an educational tool for teaching programming and computer science concepts to students. Its simple and accessible interface makes it an ideal tool for introducing young students to programming and game development.