Picotron is out and while it is pretty buggy right now, it also excites me very much!

I am writing this blog post inside of Picotron, the new fantasy workstation by Lexaloffle Games, the creators of PICO-8. What is a fantasy workstation, you might ask? I have no idea. Wrapping my head around the concept of a fantasy console — PICO-8 — has been hard enough as it is for me … I guess it’s kind of PICO-8 on steroids … with a desktop? In terms of game design, it expands the limitations of PICO-8 quite a bit: No size limits for carts (program/game containers), a larger screen (16:9 instead of square), 64 rather than 16 colours, a CPU that is twice as fast and double the audio channels.

But what makes Picotron even more interesting is the fact that it is actually a tiny OS. Not only does that make game development much easier than PICO-8’s cramped, if cosy, environment, it also opens so many more possibilities. You see, the Picotron OS is somewhat Unix-like, with most of its apps implemented in userland. And since they are written in Lua, the programming language you’ve been using in PICO-8 all along, it’s actually a hackable environment that can be customised while you’re working on your next game. Pretty neat!

Now, don’t get me wrong. The whole thing is a bit unstable right now and a lot of things don’t work. You also won’t be able to run PICO-8 games with it — those actually need some work to be ported over if developers want them to run on the new platform, but considering the amazing stuff people came up with on PICO-8, I can’t wait for these same creative minds to get started with Picotron. The results should be nothing short of amazing! I myself have been playing around with it a bit and once there is some decent documentation of its features, and once I actually get a PICO-8 game finished, I sure as hell will start work on a Picotron project.

Right now, I am quite happy to play around with the desktop environment, even without a specific goal. Using this thing, especially with its hideous CGA theme, gives me a very warm nostalgic feeling. It makes me think back to my first few years with a computer in the late ’80s. DOS 5, Windows 3.1 … I still remember when I switched from my mono-coloured amber CRT to the glory horror that was the CGA palette. Ah, those were the days! Using Picotron gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that I firmly associate with those childhood memories.