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i've been interested in developing some games in my free time for a while. I've tried the free versions of some other software and just never got around to finishing any projects. Is Pico 8 a good place to start? I like the simplicity of these cartridges i've played. I'm just looking for some advice if I were to buy the software and get started.

P#28328 2016-09-11 16:20 ( Edited 2016-09-11 20:20)

I'd say it's a great place to start. The Pico-8 community is one of the friendliest and most supportive and helpful communities out there, and the fact that you can dissect and look at any cartridge's code to learn how it works makes it a great tool for beginners. Plus, the limited scope makes it a lot easier to not get carried away and try to bite off more than you can chew, which can be a common beginner's trap in other environments.

P#28330 2016-09-11 16:53 ( Edited 2016-09-11 20:53)
:: Agent

That sounds good. I like the community so far. Roughly how big is it and is it growing?

And regarding distributing cartridges, are they commonly shared on other websites like newgrounds? I know it's possible but is it commonly done or are games mainly kept to this site?

P#28332 2016-09-11 17:03 ( Edited 2016-09-11 21:03)

Hard to say how big it is, it's obviously a lot smaller than the big guns like Unity or GameMaker but still big enough that you should always have some people to talk to and share things with. I'm one of those people that pop in and out every now and then whenever I feel that Pico-8 itch and it has grown a lot since it all begun and considering how it seems to be getting more and more outside attention I don't think it's going to stop any time soon.

Outside of this forum you have an IRC, the #pico8 hashtag and a Slack group (don't have the link, sorry). As for putting up games, I know itch.io has a fairly popular Pico-8 tag and I thiiiiink a few games were put on Kongregate as well.

P#28336 2016-09-11 17:22 ( Edited 2016-09-11 21:22)

As a measure of the size of the community, I can say that over 1,500 cartridges have been published to the Pico-8 website in its lifetime. (That's an undercount and I don't have an exact number. I've crawled about 1,600+, though some of those might be multiple versions of the same game.)

The product and the community are very supportive of beginners in all categories (code, graphics, music, etc.). Code is probably the biggest hurdle in that sense, but there are plenty of resources and we keep making more. :)

P#28358 2016-09-11 22:16 ( Edited 2016-09-12 02:16)

yeah, Pico-8 rocks! It's the first time I've managed to finish a graphical game, thanks to the support from the forum and the design of the cartridge.

You can also have a look at love2d, which is also based on Lua (you can export your pico-8 work on love2d, and then to android...)
But Pico-8 strength is its IDE for designing graphics and musics. And now with the 0.1.9 release, there are even more cool features like direct import/export on this forum:


P#28374 2016-09-12 04:12 ( Edited 2016-09-12 08:18)

This is my first post on the forum, and I'm in the same case. I'm learning GameDev for 3 years now and I didn't created any game yet.

Pico-8 seems to be a nice choice if you want to learn how retro games was created. I say that but I can't use it properly for the moment.

P#28389 2016-09-12 09:47 ( Edited 2016-09-12 13:47)
:: dw817

Good Morning, Agent:

Your mission should you choose to accept it ... sorry, couldn't resist. :)

I think you will find PICO is likely the easiest game programming language there is today. And I speak from strong experience, having written video games for more than 30-years now.

It really is a shame there is no free version, but I think you can see from the game samples and programs others have written that it is quite simple to get started.

If you haven't yet seen the DEMO, go HERE:


There is a strong community with strong bonds of helping each other. The language itself is $15 and when you consider the cost of other game programming languages averaging $50 or so, it really is a good deal.

One of the distinct advantages of this particular game programming language is - once you write something in it, you can immediately post it Online.
I'm very old school, topview parallax scrolling and tile-based frames. So a lot of this is right up my alley.

Few other game programming languages offer that kind of connection.

Me ? I'm biding my time and working on a massive project in it in addition to other pet programs. I initially bought the language to learn new methods of game programming, especially on the line of object oriented programming which seem to elude me.

The good news is, you don't have to program like this to enjoy it and can in fact write any style of code you like, including Spaghetti - one of my favorites. :)


I await the day when PICO will allow true keyboard input such as letters from A-Z so I can share some of my better text adventures with the community.

Currently the INPUT for PICO is geared for arrow key movements and 2 buttons (A) and (B) although there are controls for a 2nd player additionally. This is more than enough, however, for the genre of racers, shooters, fighters, battlers, puzzles, card games, board games, and platformers.

Welcome !

P#28390 2016-09-12 10:29 ( Edited 2016-09-12 14:37)
:: Agent

Thanks for the replies. I went and bought it, look forward to sharing my work eventually!

P#28472 2016-09-13 17:37 ( Edited 2016-09-13 21:37)
:: dw817

Good deal. Welp, just write if you get stuck on something, feel free to ask in this forum. Many times when someone answers you, they are also answering the same question from another developer who got stuck - so every bit helps !

P#28478 2016-09-13 20:14 ( Edited 2016-09-14 00:14)

PICO does have a highly active and kind community, and is a very good pick-it-up lingo to work with. It's probably easier to use if you DON'T have experience in other lingos, because there's usually some habits with those that require breaking to use it effectively. It's also one of the few engines I've seen geared specifically towards custom hardware-friendliness... not only is it functional on the big three, but the Pi version got me to build myself a Picade thing (which was fun to build!); and while reviews of PocketCHIP here have been iffy (especially regarding twitchy action game controls), it's just about the only thing I've worked with that has a portable coding option, too! PICO is also very integrated with this particular forum/website.

Deeper fighting games seem really trick to execute under it's tight token limits (since they're essentially 80% animation/collision data/gfx and just REALLY BIG Finite State Systems with a few graphical menus attached), but if you like classic stuff and don't mind working simple, it's terrific.

Rarely does a week go by that I don't find:

  • at least 3 new games to play
  • something impressive on display
  • plenty of supportive input for newcomers
P#28646 2016-09-16 22:44 ( Edited 2016-09-17 02:44)

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