Lexaloffe’s Zep announced a new fantasy console today, Picotron is the third in their line after the original Pico-8 and the voxel-y goodness of Voxatron. According to the announcement we can expect an early alpha of Picotron in late 2022, and that the system is more focused on being a “practical and flexible development environment.”
Developer hacker training simulator, EXAPUNKS, has exited Steam’s Early Access program for games that aren’t ready for the spotlight yet.
Typical development courses are about learning “big data” and rust and other modern baloney, Zachtronics’ EXAPUNKS is about pulling off hacking heists to earn a cure for the phage that you were accidentally infected with. Oops!
In the early access process much has changed, Zachtronics added an animated gif recorder to save short clips of your solutions to EXAPUNKS’ programmular puzzles. They’ve also added a bonus 9-level campaign, and released a free TEC Redshift player program on Steam that lets you experience community-made homebrew games on the in-game fantasy console without owning the full EXAPUNKS game. Interestingly enough, the homebrew games are embedded in image files distributed online. It’s not quite clear how to get them, so I’ll explain here that you download the image to your computer and then drag and drop the image file into the TEC Redshift Player. Here’s an example image I found online that plays the original Gameboy Tetris music in the TEC Redshift Player.
There were many more updates in that process, and EXAPUNKS is reviewing well. Jody Macgregor enjoyed the challenge in his review for Windows Gamer.
Every time I write about EXAPUNKS, or any other Zachtronics game, I want to mention that I think they’re something special, they each inhabit a little world of their own perfectly and I love that about them even if I’m not always up to their challenge.
EXAPUNKS is $20 on Steam or through the Humble store for Windows, macOS, and Linux. There’s a temporary sale, bringing the game down to $16. The feelies that were available for pre-orders may be available directly from the developer, otherwise you’ll probably get a PDF or something with the game to read Trash World News, the in-universe zine.
Speaking of unknowingly acquiring games, PICO-8 showed up in my Lexaloffe account recently. Lexaloffe are a small game developer who also produce what they call Fantasy Consoles, like PICO-8. Fantasy Consoles are game consoles that only exist in software but have similar limitations for developers to a real console.
For example, PICO-8 limits developrs to 128×128 pixels with 16 colors and like older 8-bit computers that had their own versions of BASIC and a minimal operating system you can launch games and switch to the editor in order to immediately start developing your own in Lua.
Or you could just play a ton of games that others have developed using PICO-8 right in your browser. There are scrolling shooters, train (riding) simulators, drawing programs intended for Japanese calligraphy that are abusable into creating artful sketches of Splatoon characters, hardcore platformers, and many others posted to the Lexaloffe BBS.
Unfortunately sound for the browser-based PICO-8 games doesn’t work in Safari, they’re fine in Firefox and Chrome. The downloadable PICO-8 Fantasy Computer is available for $20 in a bundle with Voxtraon on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.
I found out that PICO-8 was available via metafilter’s grobstein.