Beginners Game Development with PICO-8

written by course, education, learning, pico-8, training

Last updated: May 23, 2019


In this three week evening course Darren Kearney (Mind Cauldron) will teach you the basics of making tiny games using PICO-8 – a “fantasy console” and delightful game making tool.

This course takes a hands-on approach to learning. Each student will make a tiny retro arcade hi-score chaser from design to delivery in only 3 weeks.

This course presents a great opportunity to learn the basics of programming in a fun and friendly environment.

From his experience with running game making events over the past 4 years and from his own game projects, Darren will be able to flag common pitfalls faced by beginners and offer suggestions on how you can avoid them.


  • When: 7pm-9pm on Wednesdays 5th, 12th & 19th June.
  • Where: Just Art It, 33 Dominick Street Lower, Galway, Ireland
  • Price: €75 per person.
  • Max capacity: 8 people.
  • Apply online:

You will be provided with your own copy of PICO-8. Please see requirements below.

The skills and knowledge gained in this course will help equip you to make your own PICO-8 games and share them with the world.

This course will touch on the following topics:

  • Game Design,
  • 2D Pixel Art,
  • Game Audio and Music,
  • Programming.

This course presents a great opportunity to learn the basics of programming. The skills you learn can be used to develop games or other projects.

Who is this course for?

This course is aimed at adults who are curious about games and how to make them. You do not need to have any prior experience in any aspect of the game development to qualify for this course. If you are interested and willing to learn, then you are already prepared!


Here is what you will have achieved by the end of the course:

  • You will have made your first tiny game – a retro arcade classic hi-score chaser – using PICO-8,
  • shared your tiny creation with the world using PICO-8’s online platform.


Students are required to:

  • Bring their own laptop with cables.
  • Be familiar with using computers and browsing the internet.
  • Supply a contact email address for course correspondence and registering their copy of PICO-8.

A copy of PICO-8 is required for the course. This is included in the course price. If you already have your own copy of PICO-8 please contact us before the course begins.

What is PICO-8?

PICO-8 is a “fantasy console” created by Lexaloffle. A fantasy console is an application that emulates the restrictions of retro-era game consoles, mostly used by hobbyists.

PICO-8 also provides simple yet powerful tools to make and share your own retro style games. It is designed to make developing games a joy.

The artificial limitations built into PICO-8 serve as a walled sandbox that you can play with. It’s often easier for us humans to be creative within clear limitations. It is also very common that beginners over-scope their projects. PICO-8 solves some of the problems of over-scoping your project by virtue of these limitations. Many hobbyist game developers and educators use PICO-8 to make their first games and teach concepts of programming.

Regarding programming, PICO-8 uses it’s own subset of the Lua programming language. Lua is commonly used in the Game industry to allow people to develop their own custom game “mods” for their favourite games on Desktop platforms (Windows/Mac/Linux). If you are curious about the application of your programming skills after the course, your familiarity with PICO-8’s Lua can translate into Lua, which can be used to develope larger games. The approach to coding, testing and fixing your code will be applicable everywhere!


Course Goals

Here are the goals we hope to achieve with our course.

Teach beginners that they can make games

Give anyone who is curious about games a taste of game development.

Focus on skills and approach

Empower and encourage course participants to continue making their own games after the course has finished by applying a practical approach to classwork.

Provide a friendly, safe learning environment

We (Mind Cauldron and Just Art It, Galway) believe that you deserve to be comfortable and safe, to enjoy learning, and simply in general! We have a Code of Conduct that helps us to keep everything in order which every student and tutor must read, understand and agree to before they can attend or participate in the course.

About the Tutor

Darren Kearney (Mind Cauldron) is a game developer and game development community leader based in Galway, Ireland. Darren has been running game jams (game making events), workshops, courses and other game development related events in Galway and around Ireland since 2014.

Darren organises a lot of local game development related events. He’s an organiser behind Galway Game Jam, is a board member of Global GameCraft CLtG., organiser of monthly local game developer meetup group 1GAM Galway, and was the site organiser for Global Game Jam ‘19 at PorterShed, Galway.

Organising and participating in game making events for over 4 years has given Darren insight into the common pitfalls faced by people making games. Darren will guide you through making your own tiny game, highlighting these pitfalls so you can avoid them. Darren is also super friendly guy who wants to bring the joy and challenge of making games to anyone in Galway who has a notion of making games! Darren also sports an impressive beard, so we suspect he has hidden wizardly powers!

Teaching Style

Darren uses a practical, workshop style approach.

You will be following along with instruction rather than listening to a lecture. By going step by step through the process of making a tiny game, highlighting key concepts along the way, you will gain more confidence and remember the lesson better.

You are encouraged to focus as the time will be limited. You are welcome to ask questions (which is why we keep the class size small!). When faced with something you don’t understand, that’s totally normal and okay. Darren will offer an explanation if asked and wants you to feel comfortable making mistakes and playing around with the possibilities, both during and after the course.

All participants are required to agree to out Code of Conduct.