Whether you’re a budding game developer or just looking for something fun to do, making pixel games can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Pixel games are becoming increasingly popular due to their retro-style and ease of creation. Here’s how you can get started:
Learn to Create Pixel Art
The first step to creating pixel games is learning how to make pixel art. Pixel art is a style of digital art made up of small squares called pixels.
Learning how to make pixel art is time-consuming, but there are plenty of resources available to help you, such as YouTube tutorials. You can hire pixel artists from Guru to make high-res pixel art for your game (more on this later).
If you choose to do it yourself, focus on techniques like dithering, anti-aliasing, and color theory–these concepts create sharp and professional visuals. For example, anti-aliasing gives objects a smooth appearance by blending and mixing colors to eliminate jagged edges. Mastering dithering will enable you to create an illusion of depth and shadow by simulating mid-tones.
Select the Right Size for Your Canvas
The size of canvas depends on the resolution of the hardware you will publish your game on. Generally speaking, the larger the resolution, the more detailed the graphics can be.
For example, if you plan to produce a game for Game Boy or Super Nintendo, select a small canvas size, such as 256 X 256 pixels. If you publish your game on PC, you need resolutions up to 1920 X 1080 pixels.
Factor in the type of game you are making; if your game requires a large viewable area on screen, then larger resolutions will be needed to accommodate them.
Create a Game Plan
Before diving headfirst into development, create a game plan. This includes defining the goal of the game, outlining its features and content, sketching out levels and characters, and setting a timeline for completing it.
Choose the Perspective Your Game Will Follow
There are three main perspectives for making pixel games: top-down, side-scrolling, and isometric.
- Top-down: The camera looks down at the game world–think early Pokemon Gameboy games.
- Side-scroll: The character and objects move along a horizontal plane–an example of this is Super Mario Bros or Mega Man.
- Isometric: This uses parallel projection, providing players an angle where they have a three-dimensional perspective. One example of this is the Fallout franchise.
The type of perspective you select depends on your preferences, the type of game you are creating, and the hardware you plan to publish it on. For example, isometric perspective works well for adventure and RPG games, while side-scrolling is ideal for platformers.
Once you have your tools in place and a plan outlined, it’s time to begin development. Start by creating the necessary visual assets and assembling them into a sprite sheet. A sprite sheet is a collection of images that are used to animate objects in your game.
Creating the sprite sheet will require you to define the size of your sprites, draw each one frame by frame, and arrange them in the correct order. For example, if you have a character walking in your game, you’ll need to draw a different sprite for each step the character takes. Once the animation is complete, you can use a program like Piskel to compile all of your sprites into one sheet.
Next, code the actual gameplay. It’s important to test your game frequently during development in order to catch any bugs or issues before your game releases.
Release Your Game
After you’re finished developing your game, it’s time to release it. This means packaging the game into a format that can be distributed, such as an executable file or web page. Depending on the platform you’re publishing on, there may be additional steps required before making it available to players.
What if You’re Stuck?
As you can already imagine, creating a pixel game is not easy. It takes time, skill, and a lot of hard work to make one that is both visually appealing and enjoyable to play.
If you find yourself stuck at any point in the process, you may want to consider hiring a freelance pixel artist and game developer. They can help you:
- Create a detailed game design with visuals that transport players to your world
- Improve the overall quality of your artwork, ensuring it’s professional and polished
- Help you troubleshoot any problems you might encounter, keeping your game running smoothly
- Provide guidance and advice on how to make your game stand out from the competition
- Give you valuable feedback on what players want in a pixel game, so you know what changes to make
Guru can help make your gaming dreams a reality. If your talents lie in storytelling, collaborate with other professionals who can help you actualize your vision!