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. To obtain a PICO-8 licence, increase your pledge by €8 and you will get a licence-code by e-mail shortly after the campaign ends. It is also available for $14,99 here.
About the book
The book comes with 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).
* approximately, this may change slightly during the book's development
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.
Once the campaign is completed, you will get direct access to a regularily updated version of the book's PDF and can start to learn right away.
About this campaign
Learning to make games teaches you the use of maths and logic in its most entertaining form. The techniques you learn in this book are widely used in our modern world: in spreadsheets, digital graphics, animation, image editing, engineering and so much more.
I am running this 7-day kickstarter-campaign to make this book come true as soon as possible. Writing and illustrating this book is a time-consuming process and I want to put as much time into it as possible.
Your support in this campaign will allow me to spend the time required to complete this book, expecting to complete it in July 2017.
Should we exceed the original goal of this campaign, I will be adding additional content to this campaign and make it available to all backers.
REACHED! 3500€ I will be creating and hosting .p8 files with the code, graphics, sound and music of each page (if applicable), so you can download and use them freely
REACHED! 4000€ I will add four pages of "How to make great pixelart" tutorials to both the printed and digital book
5000€ All backers of the book will get an additional PDF "Bringing your breakout to the next level" with instructions of how to add advanced features to the first game made in the book. We are going to add Power Ups, Screen Shakes, Particle Animations and much more!
6000€ All backers of the book will get an additional PDF "Bringing your platformer to the next level" with instructions of how to add advanced features to the second game made in the book. We are going to add projectiles, Power Ups, dissolving floortiles and dialogues.
About the author
I made my first games back in 1985 on an Amstrad CPC 464. While I became a graphics artist in 1998, I never actually stopped working on games in my spare time.
After having created cover artwork and manuals for over 300 video-games, I decided it's time to do my very own games professionally and founded the game-development studio bumblebee.
To pass on what I learned to the next generation, I started teaching video-game development for kids in primary-schools in 2013.
Two years ago I began teaching business-students with no games background at all how to make games using PICO-8. After just half a year, they all end up having made their own game.
Needless to say, I love to create games in PICO-8 as well.
Click here to play one of the games I made using PICO.
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.
If you are a teacher considering to use this book and PICO-8 for class, this might be interesting as well: "All Lexaloffle products, including Voxatron and PICO-8, come with a standard license allowing users who are teachers or administrators at a school, workshop, or other educational institution to install and use the software on any number of on-site machines in that space. Individual take-home licenses are also available at an 80% discount from the non-sale price. These can be redeemed once by each student, and used off-site for things like homework, or to continue working on projects after a course has completed. Take-home licenses are otherwise identical to regular ones and provide access to future updates and multi-platform downloads."
For more information about PICO-8, please visit http://www.lexaloffle.com/pico-8.php
Risks and challenges
Here's a list of events that could slow this project down and how I'm going to handle them:
- Hard drive failure: I will keep a copy of the files in the cloud
- Lack of time: That's what this campaign is for. If we reach the goal, I'll have the spare time
- Writer's block: Come on, it's an instructional book. And I've been through this several times in my courses. No way.
- A piano falling on my head: Okay, there's little I can do about this. Be warned!
- (7 days)