Why write in Pico-8?

When I develop Re-Hoard, I target the the Pico-8, a “fantasy game console” from Lexaloffle. The Pico-8 had some features that I found enticing:

  • The Pico-8 is deliberately designed with a “retro” quality that I like. I do not simply like this “retroness” aesthetically; Lexaloffle seems to actually understand just why the games of yesteryear were actually fun, not simply mindlessly apply a “retro finish”.
  • I enjoy the entire process. I like writing games in the simple and familiar Lua programming language, even though I use Notepad++ instead of the Pico-8 itself. I like working with the graphics. I like the quick turnaround between editing and playing. I like the ingenious distribution format which puts the entire game in an actual .png image file.
  • I like the fact that there are others who seriously like the games of yesterday. I also like that they take their seriousness into actually making games that are skilled and actually fun.
  • Pico-8 games are easily distributable; other than sharing the game in either its native format or in an image cartridge, you can embed the game in an HTML5 page where anyone that has a contemporary bowser and keyboard controls can play the game. In other words, games from the Pico-8 have a very low barrier to entry.
  • The console itself had a low barrier of entry to development: other than said easy-to-use Lua language, the console has tools that assist in making audial and visual assets, then packs up your game in easy-to-distribute packages. The Pico-8 enforces resstrictons in development to rather simple games, thus taking off some pressure or making something “big”. In fact…
  • …part of the reason why the Pico-8 was made was having fun in game development!
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