Let's talk about Pixel Washer, my upcoming game about washing pixels.
- What is Pixel Washer?
- Why is Pixel Washer?
- What's cool about Pixel Washer
- State of the game
- What's next?
📺 Watch the video
What is Pixel Washer?
Here's my current one-liner:
I have an easy time talking about Pixel Washer. I can tell you exactly what it is and, importantly, I can tell you exactly what it isn't.
Play as Pigxel, the tiny little piggy with a big ol' power washin' gun. Select from a number of dirty levels, pick the one ya like, and wash away. Take your time, stay as long you want, enjoy the view, folks, this is your game.
When I talk or write about Pixel Washer, I can get into this weird state of flow where words just pour out of my mouth, because the game has such a clear direction.
Here's a quick example of what I'm talking about, from a recent promotional experiment:
A game design pillar provides direction to a project. You can come up with whatever you want, but the goal is for these pillars to help you make decisions.
Pixel Washer's current game design pillars
- Clean, beautiful pixels
- Simple & satisfying as possible
- Chill gameplay (low pressure)
- Accessible (configurable)
Having these few game design pillars from the very beginning has been so helpful. Seldom have I been lost or (gasp) even over-scoped! It turns out it's possible.
🎮 Why is Pixel Washer?
"Why are you working on this game?" is always a fair question. My stack of game ideas has only grown over time. Also I had good momentum on Witchmore, my game about black magic, but I needed to switch gears for a few reasons:
- Apply new knowledge
- Utilize an ECS architecture
- Leverage stockpile of pixel art
- Finish a simpler game concept (no, really!)
First, I've been learning a lot recently, and I'm eager to apply this knowledge to a fresh project. I started working on a super early version of Witchmore as a side project something like 3 years ago, back when I had a fulltime job. Only in the last year have I started to take it seriously as a main project.
In that short time, I have:
Published about 50 blogs, talked to multiple experienced developers, talked with marketing experts Chris Zukowski and Derek Lieu, compiled research into dozens of game dev comics, watched probably hundreds of game dev talks, definitely read dozens of articles, and solo game dev book Production Point – including many long conversations with its author Ben Anderson ... and more stuff I'm sure.
That's a lotta rapid learning!
Naturally the way I'd approach Witchmore today is far different than I would have even just a year or two ago. The concept is still ripe at its core. I'm looking forward to tapping into that in the future, but in the short term I've been wanting to apply these new learnings to a fresh project, and so, Pixel Washer.
🏛 I'm also eager to get back into an ECS architecture.
These sprites have been on my hard drive for a while now, and I've been looking for an excuse to use them. Most of my ideas are like, OK these arcade sprites could be a collection of mini-games that are a small part of an epic JRPG that I'm gonna now spend the next 17 years of my life failing to make, right?
Being able to use all these cool sprites seemed out of my reach for a long time.
Lastly, I've been on the hunt for a simple game that I could actually, like, finish in a reasonable time. I was sort of hoping that I could bring Witchmore into the relatively lower-scoped survivors genre, which I still think is a good idea, but I just don't have the domain experience or excitement to make that happen quickly.
My hunt for a "simple game" concept has been been going on for years now.
I don't normally even think about simple games. My favorite games are ridiculously complex, and I wanna make games like those so badly, but I need to make a simple game, an actually simple game! To kind of pave the way for those more complex games, ya know?
Finally finally finally I've found a genuinely simple game concept that has captured my interest. The engine is fleshed out, I've got tons of pixel art assets, and I'm ready to crank out levels!
😎 What's cool about Pixel Washer
Ready to relax? Here's what's cool, baby:
- Discover new pixel art from amazing artists
- Explore a museum of pixels
- Satisfying power washing
- Genuine retro gaming
Pixel Washer highlights some of the amazing, unknown pixel art that’s hidden out there. Unless you’re a pixel art collector like me, I can almost guarantee that you’ll uncover some brand new pixels from an amazing pixel artist that you might not ever have seen otherwise.
There’s a lovely natural history museum in Pixel Washer where you power wash dinosaur bones and paintings, but Pixel Washer itself is sort of like a museum! A museum of independent pixel art.
There’s also something deeply satisfying about uncovering the lovely sprites. It just feels right. Some sprites look strange when they're dirty, and washing it might show you that it's not what you thought it might be. When I see a screen full of dirty pixels, I feel compelled to wash ‘em up.
To me personally Pixel Washer is special because it relates to my earliest video game experiences. It’s a low-resolution pixel art game, similar to classic Nintendo Entertainment System or Sega Genesis games. These are the games that I grew up playing, so working on a game in the same vein feels warm and comfortable to me.
Pixel Washer's native resolution is 512x288 pixels. That's sort of like a widescreen Turbo Duo or Sega CD game, which I think is probably the closest approximation of what classic consoles this game would make sense on. Pixel Washer's resolution is quite low, but the sounds and music are high fidelity.
This generation of consoles are my very favorite, making Pixel Washer feel good, like home.
If your project isn’t truly, deeply making you fall in love with it then you’ll have a harder time finishing it. When you work on it, it needs to feel good, like home.
- Yeah, I'm quoting myself. I can do that if I want!
🛠 State of the game
I wanted to push myself with Pixel Washer, so I published the web demo way before I felt ready. You can play it in your browser right now and I think maybe I've fixed the blurry font problem on Windows? You tell me.
There are three levels to play in the demo, including an adorable downtown city, a Japanese shop, and my favorite, an arcade. I grew up near a mall with an arcade called Challenges, and I can still smell the electronics & hear the sounds of Gauntlet and Street Fighter cabinets competing for my attention (and my tokens).
You might remember one of my game design pillars is accessible / configurable, so there's already a decent amount of settings available in Pixel Washer, with more on the way.
So it's totally playable! Give it a whirl, let me know what you think. There's lots to do naturally, but the state of the game is lookin' good.
🏁 What's next?
Headin' to Steam!
I've got a desktop build that I am now beta testing. Recently my buddy Geoff reminded me that something like 96% of all Steam users are on Windows, so I'm focusing on that. I work on a Macbook, so I want to support OS X, but I just can't justify spending any time on it right now.
Steam Deck, however, is on my radar. Pixel Washer would be perfect portable so I'm pleased to report the pig is poised to publish. (It isn't really I just wanted to type that.)
Here's "all" that's left to do, for me to ship this game:
- Playtest & iterate on the desktop build
- Finish up the content (8/35 levels complete)
- Implement Steam integration
- Aggressively promote the game for months