Hello! PICO-8 is used to play carts, download them from the BBS and create them. The screenshots you can see on https://www.lexaloffle.com/pico-8.php or in youtube videos show the editors for code, sprites, map, sound effects and music tracks. It’s also possible to edit code or sprites with other programs. The carts are saved in a plain text format for development and as PNG for sharing. PICO-8 can also create HTML pages embedding the game and a player, or native executables for major OSes.
My habit tends to be to just work in PICO-8 if it's something tiny and to jump back and forth between editing code in Notepad++ and editing everything else in PICO-8 otherwise.
In theory, you can do something like start a file with
pico-8 cartridge // http://www.pico-8.com version 29 __lua__
...then write your code below that, and it'll load fine, but I usually just start it in PICO-8 itself.
I believe N1ghtshade is asking about whether a purchase of PICO-8 comes with the tools to make PICO-8 carts.
Yes, you use PICO-8 to make PICO-8 carts, including code, graphics, sound, music. You also use it to play PICO-8 carts, and to test your creations as you make them. All of the game making tools come with your purchase, as a single program.
Other people can play your cart without owning PICO-8 if you use PICO-8 to export it to this BBS, export it as a web page, or export it as standalone programs for Windows, Mac, or Linux.
The other comments are referring to the ability to edit a PICO-8 source file using a text editor instead of PICO-8's built-in code editor. You still need PICO-8 to play and export the cart, and you will want to use PICO-8 for editing graphics, sound, and music even when using a text editor to edit the code.
It is technically possible to use other tools to generate a PICO-8 game file that can be uploaded to the BBS without PICO-8, but I don't recommend it as a way to make games. :)
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