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Cart #teniyowune-0 | 2022-12-10 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

Heliopause: 2D space exploration and combat for the pico-8!


  • Revert minified source code
  • Create an object class


  • Original 2017 Release

You can also find this on github here.

(change style in options > mouse+music > control mode)

left, right - turn ship
up - thrust forward
down - point in the opposite direction of movement
z - open and close the pause/ship menu (use arrow keys to make selections]
x - fire weapon

Ship will rotate to face mouse cursor
right click thrusts forward
left click shoots

Stylus (PocketChip)
Tap and hold near the ship will rotate
Tap and hold far from the ship will thrust in that direction


- [x] Simple 2D Newtonian Flight Model
- [x] Procedurally generated ships
- [x] Procedurally generated planets
- [x] 3D planet rotation (courtesy of gamax92)
- [x] Simple autopilot
- [x] Multicannons
- [x] Explosions
- [x] Ok AI
- [x] Title screen (courtesy of EatMoreCheese)
- [x] Homing missiles
- [x] Off-screen targeting and missile impacts
- [x] Better token optimization
- [x] More planet types
- [x] Shipyards
- [x] Dogfights
- [x] Sound Effects
- [x] Music
- [x] Gamepad, Mouse, or stylus control styles
- [x] Configurable starfield graphics
- [ ] Inventory with items and more weapons
- [ ] Save games?

Out of date GIFs:

Defend your planet

Get blown up

Random Ships

Minimap and Overlay

Overkill Starfield

Starfield Options

Gas Giants

Terran Planets (and more!)

Credit to @gamax92 for the 3D planet rotation!

Older Versions

Cart #36065 | 2017-01-19 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

Cart #35379 | 2017-01-10 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

Cart #34722 | 2017-01-02 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

P#33381 2016-12-12 00:24 ( Edited 2022-12-10 19:45)

Hey this looks really cool. I'm interested in sfx/music/title if you're still looking. factoryonfire at gmail

P#33392 2016-12-12 07:31 ( Edited 2016-12-12 12:31)

Seems to be better than No Man's Sky already.

P#33399 2016-12-12 09:27 ( Edited 2016-12-12 14:27)

wow! impressive!

P#33401 2016-12-12 09:32 ( Edited 2016-12-12 14:32)

@EatMoreCheese Sounds good! Whatever you can come up with for any or all of: title screen, ship engine sounds, weapons fire, explosions or music is much appreciated! The heliopause.p8 file you can use for development is on github here: https://github.com/AnthonyDiGirolamo/heliopause.pico-8/blob/master/heliopause.p8 Feel free to collaborate there or here whatever works for you.

P#33418 2016-12-12 21:05 ( Edited 2016-12-13 02:05)

Hey, here's a concept you can use. You can see with and without the planet behind by pressing a button.

Could also remove the streak of white. Feel free to use this.

Cart #33819 | 2016-12-21 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | No License

P#33820 2016-12-21 03:38 ( Edited 2016-12-21 08:38)

Looks better with stars i think

Cart #33825 | 2016-12-21 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | No License

P#33826 2016-12-21 03:59 ( Edited 2016-12-21 08:59)

Nice that looks great! The stars do look better. I'll get that added in and probably use the bottom portion for credits and control scheme info.

P#33857 2016-12-21 12:11 ( Edited 2016-12-21 17:11)

Hi all! Update to v0.8 with a title screen by EatMoreCheese, homing missiles and offscreen targeting.

Cart #34097 | 2016-12-24 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

P#34098 2016-12-24 14:48 ( Edited 2017-01-14 04:27)

Looks like I accidentally turned this into a non-cartridge thread. Anyone know how to fix? I pasted the new cartridge ID over the old in the original post and now the screenshot is missing from the forum index page.

P#34099 2016-12-24 15:01 ( Edited 2016-12-24 20:01)

Hey Anthony looks great! I'll do some sound effects/music for you next; do you have a list of sfx requests?

I seemed to have gotten stuck after taking off from a planet. I couldn't move. The planet mapping is still impressive =D

P#34103 2016-12-24 16:23 ( Edited 2016-12-24 21:23)

Thanks! For the inability to move, my guess is your ship health was < 10%. At that point the engines are completely disabled. Between 10 and 20% the thrust will randomly cut-out. I should probably add a repair option in the landed menu or get rid of the complete engine failure.

For now you can give yourself a new ship anytime in the debug menu ( Options > Debug > New Ship ).

For sfx these would be great to have:

  • laser fire
  • laser impact
  • missile launch
  • missile impact
  • missile reloading?
  • engine firing
  • ship explosion
  • menu selection
  • notification popup?
  • low health warning?

Not sure if some are really necessary but that's what I could think of :-)

P#34104 2016-12-24 17:31 ( Edited 2016-12-24 22:31)

Update to v0.82. Lots of small improvements and an overall token reduction count.

Cart #34533 | 2016-12-30 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

P#34534 2016-12-30 14:42 ( Edited 2017-01-14 04:33)

Update to v0.83. The code is no longer minified and is readable within pico8!

Getting the compressed size below 15k was rough. A lot of indentation was removed and variables renamed but everything is still readable.

Cart #34616 | 2016-12-31 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

P#34618 2016-12-31 16:06 ( Edited 2017-01-14 04:33)

Happy 2017! One more update tonight adding planet shipyards.

Cart #34643 | 2017-01-01 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

P#34645 2017-01-01 03:42 ( Edited 2017-01-14 04:34)

Updated to v1.1 now with sfx, music, and mouse+stylus controls!

I'm a complete music noob and attempted to translate a song into the pico-8 world "Welcome to Lunar Industries" from The Moon soundrack. I'm not sure it fits but it was a great learning experience.

P#35380 2017-01-10 03:46 ( Edited 2017-01-10 08:51)

I really like the look of this game. Especially when your ship is moving fast, and the stars start stretching out.

P#35588 2017-01-13 03:54 ( Edited 2017-01-13 08:54)

Thanks! I really liked making those star trails.

Funny tip: try flying over 1800 pixels/sec and your speed will reset to zero due to number overflow.

P#35637 2017-01-13 23:37 ( Edited 2017-01-14 04:37)

I am loving this game

P#35969 2017-01-17 22:53 ( Edited 2017-01-18 03:53)

@Skyrunner65 Don't insult this game like that :P E.T. for Atari is better than No Man's Sky. This game is amazing!

P#35971 2017-01-17 22:56 ( Edited 2017-01-18 03:57)

This game is out of this world (pun intended!), quite advanced for a Pico-8 game.
Anyway is possible to disengage any autopilot command without doing a full stop and wait for complete?

P#35978 2017-01-18 00:16 ( Edited 2017-01-18 05:17)

This is amazing. Looks great, feels great, sounds great, just holds together really well. I'm so inspired by this, I've always been compelled by this type of game.

Thank you

P#35984 2017-01-18 03:53 ( Edited 2017-01-18 08:53)

Thank you all for the kind words! I'm glad you like the game! It was a ton of fun to write.

@JustBurner There isn't another way at the moment. I should probably have the autopilot cancel itself if you try to steer or thrust.

P#36063 2017-01-19 00:09 ( Edited 2017-01-19 05:09)

Just posted a v1.2 update. Only change is canceling any active autopilot when the ship is rotated.

Cart #36065 | 2017-01-19 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

P#36066 2017-01-19 00:48 ( Edited 2017-01-19 05:48)

Easily the most criminally underrated game on Pico-8. Technically impressive, plays like a charm and is still fun to pick up and play years later!

P#103764 2021-12-29 15:47

Shoot and destroy an enemy ship and gain ... nothing ?

P#103778 2021-12-29 20:06

I got this error.

Runtime error line 451 tab 0
Attempt to index local ‘dest’ (a nil value)
In set_destination line 451 (tab 0)
In order line 482 (tab 0)
In follow_cur_order line 532 (tab 0)
In _update line 1844 (tab 0)
At line 0 (tab 0)

I had just set a pirate ship as my target and turned autopilot on
when the pirate ship exploded and this error appeared.

P#120574 2022-11-12 22:47

Thought I would take another stab at this, @anthonysavatar. I honestly cannot shoot anything. Either the enemies are traveling way too fast or I am no good at this.

Suggest the DOWN arrow key be like as they do for Star Trek The Next Generation for the NES where the map zooms elements.

That is if there are objects clustered near you, pressing DOWN will change from 1-4 different zoom levels. The default where if something is a mile away that counts as one pixel difference.

As from above you see the planet where it is from the ship and the rotation of the ship. If you changed zoom it would appear as if the planet were closer or farther away. By using the closest proximity zoom, you could easily track and trace nearby enemies.

Also maybe have an option to automatically face an enemy ship when in red alert (or if enemies are nearby) - and make it optional.

Failing all this has someone posted a Youtube video walkthrough ?

P#122172 2022-12-10 19:56 ( Edited 2022-12-10 20:50)

@dw817 great feedback! The controls are super hard. I was experimenting with having the ship auto slow down. Here's a test cart.

The other idea I had was to make the dpad just point you in the direction that you want to fly. Instead of having left/right steer like tank controls.

Here's the change for the above test

P#122174 2022-12-10 20:04 ( Edited 2022-12-10 20:06)

@dw817 zooming out would be cool. I'm not sure how to make it work in pico8 though.

I did port the game to love2d a while back and added zooming there. It's kinda crazy playing at 1x zoom on a big screen. Here's a screenshot: https://raw.githubusercontent.com/AnthonyDiGirolamo/heliopause.love2d/master/screenshots/landscape-zoom1x.png

The repo is here: https://github.com/AnthonyDiGirolamo/heliopause.love2d

P#122177 2022-12-10 20:22

For me to really play this, @anthonysavatar, it would have to at some level be turn-based or at least have the controls to automate a computer to accomplish tasks.

  1. Travel to nnn planet (slow, normal, emergency speed)
  2. Go to red alert and use onboard computer to (defend self, balanced, outmaneuver and escape, or all out destruction of currently attacking enemy vessels).
  3. Transport goods, beam up, beam down, etc.
  4. Steal from nearby freighter using a skeleton crew, etc.
  5. Communicate with nearby ships for information, commerce, or attention.

Naturally these would be met with terrible handicap as your game wants to be played at a user-control level. Yet for me I could 'grind' using the auto combat feature and be comfortable with that despite it taking 3x the game length or longer to accomplish goals.

... sometimes we just want to see the stars ... :)

P#122180 2022-12-10 21:17

@dw817 what you said. i physically need a trade gameplay loop PLEASE

P#139901 2024-01-09 17:41

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