Hello! I'm a research student at the New Mexico State University, and I've been analyzing the usage of different IDE's used in game-development related classes (Digital Game Design, Senior Projects, Intro to Game Design/Programming, etc.).
I was recommended PICO-8 by my professors, and I quickly became addicted to messing with this fun, simplistic software.
However, I was wondering if any teachers, professors, or students have had any experiences with PICO-8 in the college classroom. What class was it used in, and how was it implemented?
I asked a similar question to the TIC-80 community, and I would love any insight about either software! Also, if available, would you guys be willing to share some sample projects (while crediting the creator, of course)?
Thank you for sharing!
I don't have experiences in using PICO-8 in classroom, however I do take Game Design, OS, Graphic Manipulation, intro to programming etc.
I think while PICO-8 is really fun to play, I don't think it has the depth needed to be a full blown college course or as the primary focus (this is of course derived from my comparison with my experiences in such classes).
- OS: was tasked to create a basic 8 bit os from a barebone kernel for the whole year while being taught how OS work from boot to memory representations of things, architecture, etc.
- Game design: taught about the theory of actual design process, tasked to create a unique game (we need to give a proposal of the game to be approved by the assistant lecturer) with multiplayer support
- Graphic manipulation: mostly learning about direct buffer for graphic manipulation and OpenGL
- Intro to programming: procedural/functional primer mostly, how to think programmatically
It's not like a course cannot contain PICO-8 element at all though. I can see that it would be a great addition for classes as a task for the student to simply try things out and have some fun in the process.
I was an assistant lecturer for a couple OS related courses, and if I had known PICO-8 existence that time, I would have tasked the students to create a multiplayer runner game in PICO-8 and have multiple PICO-8 communicate via serial/GPIO lol. That would make them think how to design a protocol for reliable message passing.
I have not used it for teaching a college class, but I have successfully used PICO-8 in classes for students from age 6-7 through high school.
For extremely young students (6-7), I've usually pre-built a very simple game (like this one) and then made it very easy for the kids to change certain variables and also edit the sprites and sounds. They loved it. To them, just being able to make simple changes to a game and immediately see how that worked was extremely effective.
For elementary/middle school students, it was having them make very simple games with one game mechanic, maybe two. This gives them enough of a framework that they can understand all the code, see what all the parts are doing, and make simple changes and expansions on that, but doesn't bog them down in a lot of "architecture".
For older middle school and high school students, it's doing games like my top-down adventure game tutorial. These kinds of games give them enough of a structure where they can see "systems" in place and can learn to make new systems that integrate with the current systems.
I've also used PICO-8 in teaching advanced coding and computer science to juniors and seniors in high school because it's extremely easy to get something up and running quickly that visually demonstrates a concept. For example, I used PICO-8 when I was teaching my students about 3D perspective projection mapping because it was extremely easy to demonstrate the concepts quickly and easily inside PICO-8 with minimal code.
I hope that helps.
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