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Beginners Game Development with PICO-8, April 2020

Beginners Game Development with PICO-8


In this three week evening course, you will make a tiny game using the PICO-8 “fantasy console” – a delightful game making tool for retro style games.

Over three weekly sessions, you will create your own retro arcade hi-score chaser. This course takes a hands-on approach – you will follow along the development of the game during the workshop.

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

You will benefit from Darren’s experience running game making events over the past 5 years, and from his own game projects. Darren will highlight common pitfalls faced by beginners and provide useful strategies on how you can avoid them in your own games.


  • When: 7pm-9pm on Wednesdays 1th, 8th & 15th April 2020.
  • Where: To Be Announced.
  • Price: €75 per person.
  • Register your interest:
  • Limited spaces available.
  • You will be provided with a copy of PICO-8.

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. PICO-8 has a very short loop between writing code and testing it out, so is very well suited to giving you quick feedback on your first (or subsequent) attempts at programming. The skills you learn can potentially be used to develop games or give you confidence in your ability to pursue other projects.

Who is this course for?

This course is aimed at adults (18 years+) 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 make your first game using PICO-8.
  • You will share your tiny creation with the world using PICO-8’s online platform.
  • You will also get to network with people who are interested in game development.


Students are required to:

  • Bring their own laptop with cables.
  • Be familiar with using computers and browsing the internet.
  • Be willing to learn by making mistakes.
  • Supply a contact email address for course correspondence and registering their copy of PICO-8.
  • All participants are required to agree to the Code of Conduct.

A copy of PICO-8 is provided for this course. If you already own a copy of PICO-8 please contact us for a €15 discount.

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 events, organiser of monthly local game developer meetup group 1GAM Galway, a board member of Global GameCraft CLtG., and the site organiser for Global Game Jam ‘19 and Global Game Jam ’20 in Galway.

Organising and participating in game making events for over 5 years has given Darren valuable 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 of gamedev! Darren also sports an impressive beard, which some suspect is a source of his wizardly knowledge.

Teaching Style

Darren uses a practical, workshop style approach. Which means, rather than listening to a lecture, you will be following along with step-by-step instruction with some space for your own creative flair.

Key concepts will be highlighted along the way. Notes will be provided.

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, playing around with the possibilities, both during and after the course.

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