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Cart #42427 | 2017-07-13 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

This is my first Pico-8 cartridge, hope you enjoy it! Took me approximately 24 hours effective time to make.

Title screen artwork was created by @jellocube (Matthew Shelley), much appreciated!

Picopolis is a SimCity demake / idle game in which you place roads, residental/industrial/commercial zoning, schools, police departments, hospitals, and various other things. The city will grow depending on housing, jobs, pollution, and crime ratings, and the bigger it gets the more money you make.


// Jens

Changes in 1.1:

  • Fixed placing large buildings outside of the map
  • Added "Established" date to the victory statue, kind of like a highscore
  • Made large commercial zones develop just a tiny bit faster
  • Added "jeb_" intro ;)
P#42185 2017-07-04 18:25 ( Edited 2018-09-02 05:35)


Heyy, good job! Nice compressing the title image into a string haha

P#42188 2017-07-04 21:10 ( Edited 2017-07-05 01:10)

I just got the statue, the game is great!

P#42189 2017-07-04 21:50 ( Edited 2017-07-05 01:50)

@Isogash Haha thanks, my runlength encoding didn't work on Jellocube's image because of all the dithering, so it's a 1:1 char-to-pixel method.

P#42190 2017-07-04 22:18 ( Edited 2017-07-05 02:18)

Holy crap. I think for my first PICO-8 cartridge I made pong. You made a brilliantly executed SimCity demake. O_o And my pong game probably took me as long as this took you. This is amazing. Very nice work.

P#42194 2017-07-05 00:31 ( Edited 2017-07-05 04:31)

This is great. Im still trying to get the statue, but have been playing for quite some time. I cant seem to ever get the large commercial space to actually construct. It just sits there with a blue square for a REALLY REALLY long time.

P#42195 2017-07-05 00:47 ( Edited 2017-07-05 04:47)


P#42205 2017-07-05 13:18 ( Edited 2017-07-05 17:18)

Very cool and double cool that Jeb made it. From Minecraft to Pico-8...most of us go the other way, ha! Can't wait to look into the source a bit and see what I can learn.

I do wish there was a way to speed up time or at least get a better sense of time passing but hey, at least I got some hi income residents.

P#42218 2017-07-05 22:06 ( Edited 2017-07-06 02:06)

Very well done, although was able to "beat it" first try (statue). Be nice if there was a bit more challenge.

P#42224 2017-07-06 03:14 ( Edited 2017-07-06 07:14)

Thanks for all the comments!

@sloum Yeah, C2s are very sensitive to land value and pollution so they're very hard to get started. Should probably tweak that.

@morningtoast Mm, it was tricky trying to find a sweet spot for the game. It's very slow in the beginning (too slow?), then it's "nice" for a while, and then you hit the windfall and nothing matters any more. I wanted it to be somewhat of an idle game, but the investments don't scale with the income.

@mhughson True, though I intentionally didn't want the game to have a loss state. The only difference is how quickly you hit that 10M.

P#42234 2017-07-07 04:00 ( Edited 2017-07-07 08:00)

@jeb This was awesome. I'm most impressed by how smooth the menus feel. Also, that scrolling marquee at the bottom, I might need to snoop that, I was working on a Bolo clone and that'd be really handy.

Any feedback on Pico-8 itself? Any problems encountered that seemed more like a bug than an intentional effect of the retro-limitations?

Clearly in the hands of pros, this system does amazing things. I'm still glad that hobbyists like myself can make it do some cool things as well.

P#42240 2017-07-07 12:42 ( Edited 2017-07-07 16:42)

Hmm... I don't think I noticed any bugs, really.

To be honest I'm not really motivated by trying to push the boundaries of the platform, but they put a nice constraint on what you can expect from a pico game. There's no point trying to make a "real" game, since you will hit either of the limitations eventually, so it takes some stress out of the game making process and you can focus on just enjoying game development.

If there was one thing I would want to change, though, it would be the 16 bit fixed point number format. It's very annoying and hard to explain when trying to teach my nephews about programming. Then again, I did have some fun making the "big integer" methods to get around that problem in Picopolis :)

Oh, one thing while I'm at it: I think the rnd() method is strangely defined. rnd() should return a decimal value from 0 to 0.999999... and rnd(value) should return an integer 0 to (value-1). In my opinion ;)

P#42245 2017-07-07 14:39 ( Edited 2017-07-07 18:39)

Great game, really felt the demake of the sim city 2000 feels I played several years ago.

Btw, how to reduce the polution?
Also, some random tips would be great to help figuring like the C2 problem ;).

P#42284 2017-07-08 19:34 ( Edited 2017-07-08 23:34)


Yeah the C2s probably needs tweaking... play testing became very time consuming towards the end.

Essentially the trick is that C2s are very land value sensitive, so you need to put them far away from polution and next to high-value constructions such as the mayor house, museums, stadiums, and tivolis. It still takes a very long time for them to develop, but once they do they are also high-value constructions so you get a domino effect.

Parks are also high-value and they are currently the only thing in the game that reduces polution. And the "secret" is that polution always drifts towards the east, so putting parks to the west of C2s have a greater effect on the land value. Still very slow though!

I didn't want to explain all of this in the original post because I think the game is more interesting if you leave some exploration to the players :)

P#42290 2017-07-09 00:24 ( Edited 2017-07-09 04:24)

I guess I found a bug :/

P#42316 2017-07-10 12:35 ( Edited 2017-07-10 16:35)

Aww that sucks... I can't really figure out what the error is, do you remember what and where you were bulldozing?

P#42373 2017-07-11 12:56 ( Edited 2017-07-11 16:56)

Just a guess but maybe HeavyPodda was trying to destroy a big building that was on the border of the map? (which is very much possible to do and kinda feels like a bug itself)

Anyway, super cool game Jeb, I had a really nice time with it!

P#42379 2017-07-11 14:52 ( Edited 2017-07-11 18:52)

Didn't notice the buildings were outside of the map! Fixed it now, thanks.

P#42428 2017-07-13 06:12 ( Edited 2017-07-13 10:12)

This is one of my favourite carts I've found so far. It would be great to have a little bit of explanation for a few things in the description though. In particular, the meaning of the colours, and a bit of general advice on how things interact (what does pollution actually do?).

Particularly like the menus, they look and feel great to navigate.

P#56033 2018-09-02 01:35 ( Edited 2018-09-02 05:36)

Awesome game, love the feel and the gameplay. It's a bit limited obviously but it makes it more like a builder game, like design your own city or something.
Only problem: I accidentally bulldozed my capital building :\

P#89170 2021-03-18 15:02

Really good game. At first, I wasn't looking forward to playing a city manager with only a d-pad and two action buttons instead of keyboard and mouse but the interface and menu system works really well. I love all the different styles of buildings you managed to fit in, it's great seeing your small 4-pixel houses get upgraded into swanky 8-pixel houses with 4 pixel swimming pools! Moving the game into a more casual/idle direction with buildings giving you a drip feed of income rather than getting a windfall of tax income each month works really well. I like how the random terrain prevents you from just building a boring grid layout too. Really great game.

P#100487 2021-11-20 15:50

Hi @jeb, I love this game and it inspired me to build my first own game with pico 8. Of course as well a city building game :-). https://www.lexaloffle.com/bbs/?tid=46242

P#106003 2022-01-30 20:18

@Mike6453 @extar Thank you for your comments (and the review)! I haven't checked the BBS for a while so didn't notice this until @sven.liese pinged me.

P#106067 2022-01-31 20:17

What is the utility of the industry?

P#134886 2023-09-25 21:38

Made it to 133.7k population!

P#137846 2023-11-24 06:20

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