HOW TO MAKE GAMES with PICO-8
A downloadable book
DISCLAIMER: This book is still in development. Ordering now will give you access to the current state of the book. See below for current status.
Estimated date of completion is October 2018.
One of the most common phrases about school we hear by kids is "What am I learning this for anyway?". Well, at least my son asks me all the time. I say: Let's show them!
Making games is probably one of the most entertaining, most exciting and most rewarding way of using maths and logic. Many kids would love to learn it, but it may seem frightening, hard to learn, if not impossible.
But it actually isn't. And with PICO-8*, there is an awesome, affordable and easy to use all-in-one game-development tool that will allow everybody to draw sprites, design levels and add sound effects and music. The programming itself is done in an extended version of "Lua", a widely used and easy to learn programming language. PICO-8 is available for PC, Mac and Linux.
*Please note that PICO-8 is not included with this book. It is available for $14,99 here.
Just some of the many examples of awesome games made with PICO-8
The book comes with approx. 100* full-color beautifully designed pages in a child-friendly layout, with reasonably sized textblocks and lots of illustrations. It is available in english and german (you choose your preferred language after the successful completion of the campaign) and as a physical, printed book or as a digital version (PDF or epub).
While the books primary target audience is kids and teenagers from 10-16 years, it isn't suitable for teens only of course.
Every beginner can use it to take some first steps into making games.
The book starts after a brief introduction directly by making a breakout-clone - a bat, a ball and some bricks to dash - to introduce the reader to:
- the sprite-editor
- draw a ball and paddle on screen
- have the ball bounce off the screen edges and paddle
- using the map-editor to design levels
- draw the map on screen
- have the ball destroy the bricks
- using the sound-editor to create sound-effects
- display lives, a score and check for level completion
It then takes the next step in creating a small platformer game to showcase:
- player movement including jumping and gravity
- collisions with map-elements
- spawning and moving of enemies using tables
- using the music-editor to create some tunes
- parallax scrolling and camera-usage
It ends with:
- instructions how to share your games with your friends
- tips for advanced users
- a detailed description of all commands usable in PICO-8
All illustrations in the book are made in pixels and using the color palette of PICO-8 and can thus be used as inspiration for your very own creations.
PICO-8 is a fantasy console for making, sharing and playing tiny games and other computer programs. When you turn it on, the machine greets you with a shell for typing in Lua commands and provides simple built-in tools for creating your own cartridges. It is available for PC, Mac and Linux.
Current state of the book
Introduction: Partially complete
Game 1 (Breakout clone): Complete, awaiting final visual polishing
Game 2 (Platformer): Yet to be done
Advanced Techniques: Yet to be done
Links: Partially complete
In order to download this book you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of 15.00€ EUR. You will get access to the following files: