Draw your own video game

When I was in primary school I had an obsession with drawing on grid paper. But these were no mere doodles; they were always fantastical floor plans or some deadly obstacle courses. From my dream house filled with secret passages to an underwater survival dome (oxygen problem? Bonsai trees in every room; genius) I was as hooked on creating spaces as I was playing Super Mario Bros.

I eventually grew out of the habit, but my mind would have popped out of my tiny eight-year-old skull if I’d known that one day I could have drawn my own video game.

Say what?!

Oh yes, my friend; we have the technology. Or rather; Pixel Press has the technology, and it will be available to us mere mortals soon.

Pixel Press is a game creation app inspired by classics like Metroid (NES) that takes grid sketches and converts them into 2D video game levels that you can customise, play and share. The object of each game is to get through 5 floors of obstacles as fast as possible – there are no enemies or guns, so the gameplay is purely platform-based.

When did this start?

Founded by Robin Rath, the Pixel Press project was first unveiled to the public in May 2013 via a Kickstarter campaign. In just 37 days, the campaign smashed through its $100k funding goal with over 2,250 backers – which is no small feat! Since then, the team has kept the public regularly updated through their blog and appearances at gaming conventions such as E3. 

So, how does it work?

The steps of using Pixel Press are so elementary you’d think a child conceived them, but here they are:

  • Download and print the Pixel Press Sketch Kit.
  • Sketch the layout of your level onto the grid paper.
  • Using the Pixel Press app, take a photo of your sketch.
  • As a non-programmer, I can only assume that magic occurs at this step.
  • Your sketch is now converted into a video game level in the app.
  • You can customize the appearance of your level, or just hop straight into gameplay testing.

Once your level is finished, you can upload it to the Pixel Press community, meaning you’ll be able to share your levels with anyone else who has the app. You can find out all the finer details of creating and sharing levels in the official FAQ.

Just how much can I customise?

Virtually nothing is off limits! For the truly detail-oriented, it’ll be possible to replace the existing appearance options with your own designs by editing the sprite sheets in Photoshop. That includes the playable character, platforms, obstacles, items and background. It’s been stated that you can create your own sounds and music for the game too, but the details are a little vague regarding the type of audio file you’ll need to use.

How can I get Pixel Press?

Pixel Press is currently available for pre-order through their website at the reasonable price of USD10, and the iOS version is due for release in early 2014. The Android version is anticipated for release around mid-2014.

What do you think?

Are you as excited for Pixel Press as I am, or do you have some concerns? Are any ideas for levels bubbling up in your brain? Share them with us.

Photo Credit: PixelPress

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