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Playing with the Pico-8 fantasy console

I’ve been using Pico-8 as a virtual playground for playing with generative art ideas. Pico-8 is a highly constrained virtual machine that behaves a lot like a personal computer from the 1980s. It has a fixed colour palette, limited memory, limited screen size, and a simplified programming model using Lua. The constraints make it a great place to scale down ideas and quickly finish demos and prototypes.

This week I’m toying with generative art ideas, starting with a tool that stamps the screen in various patterns. I’m hoping to evolve these prototypes into a general plotter library, but for now I’m focused on making things that look cool, as a way to play in generative code again.

One of my demos this week is a GTIA style plotter that simulates a weird 80s graphic chip that drew wide pixels, but coloured in a way that produces some fun random patterns:

GTIA tiles