Sharing the love: making games with PICO-8

Presented by John Dalton
Monday 1:45 p.m.–2:10 p.m.
Target audience: Developer


PICO-8 is a fantasy console for making, sharing and playing tiny games and other computer programs. It's like an emulator for a 1980s console that never existed, with integrated development tools for building games in this imaginary environment. The harsh restrictions (by modern standards) such as a 128x128 pixel display, 16 colours and 32kb maximum program size encourage creative approaches, while the use of subset of the Lua programming language makes this a very accessible environment for even beginning coders.

PICO-8 itself is not open source, but applications made with it all include source - in fact they are distributed as PNGs with the entire cartridge data embedded inside the image! You can stop somebody's game and then switch to the development view to see how they built it. Around this tiny game engine has grown a community of developers who value sharing and learning from each other, and many of them have gone on to release games and tools under open source or creative commons licenses.

This talk will show what it's like to work with PICO-8, a few of the cool projects people have built with it, and how it's a great tool for explaining the value of sharing. It's also inspired this speaker to start making games again for the first time since he was a teenager, and he wants to share the love.

Presented by

John Dalton

John is a DBA and Sysadmin who works with Engine Yard from his home office in Tasmania to support clients around the world. Outside of work he enjoys gaming (video, tabletop and RPG), spending too much on old-fashioned dead-tree books, decorating cakes and spending time with his four young boys.

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