Been really enjoying playing with Pico-8 lately. If you’re not familiar, it’s essentially a so-called ‘fantasy console’ that you can code against. It has all kinds of restrictions as far as code size, memory, graphics, etc. But that’s the point: coding within restraints. Old-school style before entire trucks full of gigabytes and gigahertz were dumped on our doorstep.

The consoles include code, music, and art editors inside the app, so you can do everything in one place. It’s possible to edit these things externally, too, if that’s your bag. Personally, I’ve been using VSCode along with an appropriate extension.

My first attempt was recreating the classic demo-scene fire effect, which has popped back into the mainstream consciousness thanks to this post.

As you can see, it runs pretty great in a web browser!

There’s other ‘fantasy consoles’ besides Pico-8, including TIC-80 which has an Android port for coding on-the-go!

Not only is it a good exercise coding down to restrictions, it’s very convenient to just pick up and go to sketch out gamedev ideas.

Give it a go!