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Cover image for PICO-8 GameDev | Making Abilities Look Better
Tรณth Bรฉla
Tรณth Bรฉla

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PICO-8 GameDev | Making Abilities Look Better

This article was taken from my Ko-Fi page, where you check more of my stuff! If you like what I do, you can support me with a price of a single coffee!

Last week I left you off with abilities added to the game! Dashes and Fireballs are cool, but these still lack that oomph, the extra level of detail. That was last week's job to fix, so let's get to what I did!

Particles and effects to the Rescue!

During the week I was looking for some feedback on social media on how to improve things I got, and one of the suggestions (and of course, plans) were to add more effects to picking up power-ups! I created a whole new particle type, which basically is a circle with some random movements to it, and upon pickup I create a few of them with varying lifetime to add a bit more variety into it. (see code snippets: HERE)

base circles

If you ask me, this is already better, but something is still missing. Some impact, something that makes us feel strong! Makes us feel that something important is happening! One way you could do this is to pause everyting else in the game while the pickup is happening! (see code: HERE)

stopping time

Now we are cooking with gas! The whole world stops of for us! But I think we can go ever further beyond! Lets add some flashing to the player to indicate some big change!


We are changing forms and addig polish every step, but I have one last trick up in my sleeve! Do you know how we made ground pounds better? What makes everything better? That's right, camera shake! So let's add the biggest cheat in the history of game making to this little project!

cam shake

Yes, this is the final punch in our arsenal! The good ol' camera shake! It's a small and subtle shake but I felt like everything bigger is distracting from the game! One last thing we could do is of course to add some spice to the fireballs them self!

Gifs on Ko-fi

They look really sad and just overall simple and immersion breaking in their current form. Fireballs should have sparks and smoke coming off them, so let's use our particles that we deploy upon breaking boxes or ground pounds, assign new colors to them and create new ones for the fireball along it's path!

Gifs on Ko-fi

The cherry on top

One last thing that is missing is a very crucial part of game design and sadly a part that I'm not very skilled at. I can make the jankest codes to achieve things, I can fiddle around with art, or just go for a very minimalist look (Looking at you Neon Runner๐Ÿ‘€), but you need to feel the empty silence of a game. That's right I'm talking about sound effects and the dreaded soundtracks. I'm not good with music. I'm actually terrible at it, that's why none of my games has one (Clock Mage has but it shouldn't, trust me).

You can, you shouldn't really, avoid soundtracks but sound effects are a different thing. You need them for every game. You need them to make punches and hits feel real, to add the extra oomph and power, to help explosions feel like explosion (can you imagine one without any sound?) so I could not avoid doing them. So, without further rambling, here is a video about the game as gifs don't really excel at giving sounds across:

I'm not the happiest with every little detail but for the alpha version they will do. The main theme I want to come across with is a cute little platformer hence the squeeky almost rubber toy like sounds.

Oh yeah, and trees

Before I forget writring about them, yeah we got trees in the game! The sprite work is simple, created basically everything to make custom sized trees however I want them!

tree pieces

But the best part is, you may picked it out earlier, that they work like one way platforms! Passable from under but standable on top! This is a new addition to the codebase that let's you create all kind-of semi-solid platforms one of the basics of platformer games! Let's see how!

Basically we have Flag 2 set for each upper part for the trees:

Gifs on Ko-fi

But not set one for basic "ground checks", which is Flag 0:

Gifs on Ko-fi

Why would I do it this way? Because now I don't need to add something to the code part which checks ceiling collisions and only add this Flag 2 check for ground collision. This helps the code to be a bit cleaner as we don't have that much checks everywhere which is a nightmare to debug. (see code: HERE) And we have semi solid platforms!

Gifs on Ko-fi

That is the end for this update! PicoShorts will be postponed for the next weekend due to a game jam event that I'm participating this week!

If you like the new code shares, let me know down below! And as always, take care, have a nice day!

Ko-fi supporters

Big thank you to Csรถndi and Sztrovacsek, for supporting my work!

Wanna see your name here? See more frequent updates? Longer PicoShorts? Or you just like what i do? Consider supporting my work with even the price of a single coffee, and if you can please share my work, so more people can enjoy the magical world of PICO-8.

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Oldest comments (2)

yuridevat profile image
๐•๐•ฆ๐•๐•š๐•’ ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿ’ป

Wow, nice work, Bรฉla!

larrymartin1job profile image
Larry Martin

Great job on elevating the game's visual appeal! The addition of dynamic particles to power-up pickups really adds a captivating touch to the gameplay experience. Looking forward to seeing more of these enhancements!
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