Sunday Spotlight: Pixel Press – Draw Your Own Video Game

Making video games is a bit of a hard job. I know that, I’ve spent the last three years making prototypes and half-finished game attempts at University, trying to get my head around whatever programming language the module requires.

It’s certainly a lot harder than writing about them for this very site or even meticulously designing every aspect of a game and chucking that in a design document.

Imagine if that making part wasn’t that hard though, at least for levels. Imagine if you could take a core section of design and just work from that – using the drawn concepts of levels to create your game.

That’s where Pixel Press comes in.

It’s aimed at kids (and kids at heart), and offers a way to create your own video game levels akin to LittleBigPlanet, without all of that digital nonsense or any knowledge of game code.

As the above video explains, all you’ll need is your laptop, a printer, some stationery, imagination and an iPad or iPhone. Obviously, a few of these things are expensive – not imagination, that’s free – and you’ll naturally have to shell out for the app itself. That’ll cost you $10 (under £7) to pre-order, with it releasing in December on iOS.

It’s really quite smart how it recognises simple (yet constrained by the grid on the paper) levels and then puts these into the game using the camera of your iDevice, allowing you to merrily draw your level and then design different colours and styles once you’ve loaded it into the app.

You’ll also be able to upload your levels and compete with friends; it seems like a really great system and I’m sure kids will adore something as functional and brilliant as this.

I remember drawing silly little video game levels when I was younger, usually inhabited by warring stickmen, and while you’ve been able to emulate that digitally, I don’t think there has been anything quite like this – allowing you to transport your paper worlds into video games – which is quite simply brilliant.

In fact, I think I’m going to pre-order this soon and download the sketch kit to get creating some levels before the app releases in December (on iOS, Android users won’t get the app until June of next year). It even seems as though it could be quite a bit of fun without the drawing aspect, although that might be missing the main point!

I wonder if I can submit a level made in Pixel Press as one of my University projects this year? Probably not…


  1. Already ordered :)
    Seriously though, both my son and I will be all over this. My son spends hours designing Minecraft stuff, but as responsible parents we make sure he has plenty of time “away” from the screen as well – something like this would be perfect for him – he gets to work on his designs all day if he wants to, and then he gets to do the fun bits on his iPad.
    I gather they met their Kickstarter goal but without any of the stretch goals which is a shame – the stretch goals for altering in-game physics and adding enemies sounded good, but one step at a time, eh?
    Anyway, I’ve already downloaded the design templates, and I’m off to sharpen my pencils.

  2. Yes!

    Got to say this looks amazing. When I was a kid I’d draw levels out on graph paper then convert them to UGCs on the Speccy. I’d built a tile engine and was happily making platform games but that took ages. This looks like it’s just the fun bits and is absolutely what the app store should (and used to) be about.

    Pre-ordered. Can’t wait.

  3. Sounds awesome, but as an android owner I’m now a bit sad really… Now where did I put Sound Shapes?

  4. That looks absolutely wonderful, what an awesome idea! I’ll definitely be buying it, hoping that they can incorporate some sort of excite bike option with physics. Very clever and absolutely wonderful for kids.

  5. Maybe the vita could do something like this too.

  6. This looks absolutely amazing, what an ingenious idea. I’m sure in 10-20 years time the next generation of games developers will be referring to this as their inspiration behind wanting to design games.

  7. Sorry but you lost me at “all you’ll need is…an iPad or iPhone” – A bit like those trendy sofas in DFS with the ipod dock built in, it limits the target audience.

    Instead of the above overly expensive requirements, I recently introduced my 8 year old son the the wonderful MIT Scratch. It’s a purely browser based ‘programming’ environment where code and objects are linked, pushed and pulled together to make all sorts of games and graphics presentations. Code comes in the form of ready-made blocks which can be dragged in to the code area and then tinkered with to make use of the variables within the code blocks. The great thing is that this dev environment requires no additional kit, requires no understanding of overly complicated code and its syntax, just a basic understanding of English and logic.
    It’s wonderful and it’s a shame it wasn’t available for use in my Assembler and machine code programming days.

  8. i think even i could manage to use that.

    though just because i could use it, doesn’t mean the levels i made would be any good.

    anybody taking bets on how long this will be out before somebody recreates Super Mario Bros?

    put me down for five minutes. ^_^

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