Recently, I’ve fallen in love with Pico-8. It has completely replaced Processing as my go-to tool for creating toys in code. If you’re of the same vintage as me (i.e. you lived through the 8-bit era and your year of birth seems distressingly far down web forms), then you might get a kick out of it too. Here are some of the reasons I like it so much.
1. It has everything you need
It’s got a built-in editors for code, sound effects, music and levels. You can construct an entire game without ever leaving the application.
2. It’s web-aware
With the touch of a button1, you can generate a gif of your program as it’s running. A small, perfectly-sized gif that’s perfect for tweeting. Speaking of which…
3. < 140 characters to do cool things
The #pico8 hashtag on Twitter has some great examples of the things people are doing with Pico-8. In less than 140 characters, you can have an entire program.
4. It reminds me of the good old days
I still remember sitting in front of a Commodore 64 for hours and typing out a program from Commodore User Magazine. It was a great way of learning a language and, looking back I realise, a great way of teaching patience. Well, the Pico-8 Fanzine also has a bunch of programs that you can type out yourself.
or well, two touches of a button. One to start the recording, one to stop it. ↩