April 8, 2019

Teaching kids game development with PICO-8

Growing up I loved to play Crazy Comets on my C64. The magic starfield seemed almost impossible to code for a 14 year old and the music by Rob Hubbard totally blew me away. I decided to code a pico8 remake of it together with my 6 year old daughter in order to show her how to make games. We had a fantastic time!

crazy comets intro

Pico8 has the simplicity needed in order to show how everything fits together. Graphics, code, music and effects. You can have a live discussion about game development while coding and showing how things are made. In my ordinary job as a C++ game developer everything takes time, sometimes a lot of time. In Lua and pico8 it’s refreshingly fast. Like super, blazingly fast. And at the same time it brings the classic C64 feeling of having control. And what can I say. Kids love pixel art. A perfect teaching environment.

crazy comets game

The game is implemented as a simple state machine with objects handling the ship, comets, star field, camera, particles and missiles. It handles collision detection with classic AABB bounding boxes and I’ll come back to some of the implementation in a future blog post. The game has a whopping total size of 11K. <3

You can download the game with all source code as a cartridge here:


Or play the game in a web browser by following the following link.