Built-in Tools

Pixel Vision OS includes build-in tools to help you design, create, and share Pixel Vision 8 games easier. 
Pixel Vision 8 leverages a unique workflow allowing you to use the built-in tools as well as external editors to create authentic 8-bit games. That means you can use modern programs like Atom, Texture Packer, and even Aseprite alongside the built-in tools to create a workflow you are comfortable with.

Editing Colors

You can use the Color Tool to manage the system-wide set of colors the DisplayChip can show, as well as set up individual palettes for swapping at run-time. Colors are broken up into pages; each page displays 64 colors. Color IDs begin at 0 and go up to 255.

Colors are stored as HEX values. To change the currently selected color, enter a new HEX value. Pro users can access the color mixer by double clicking on a color or selecting Edit from the drop-down or pressing Ctrl + E.

Pixel Vision 8 supports two color modes: direct and palette. When in direct color mode, PV8 will index the sprites based on the first system color it finds as it goes through the sprite’s pixel data. For more advanced users, you’ll want to switch over to palette mode.  While in palette mode, the Color Tool will split the color memory in half. It will reserve the first 128 colors for unique system colors and the other 128 colors will be split up into 8 palettes of 16 colors each. The sprites will also be remapped to the first palette.

Finally, you can switch between palettes by clicking on the pagination buttons below the palette picker. This will automatically update the sprite preview so you can see the changes. Organizing colors into palettes allows you to simulate how 8-bit video game systems handled palette swapping.

Working With Sprites

The Sprite Editor allows you to preview and edit sprites in memory. This tool is critical to see all of the sprites that are imported into the game and verifying that they are displayed correctly. 

The picker displays a single page of sprites. Each page contains 256 sprites. You can have up to 8 pages of sprites in memory. It is important to note that the transparent color is represented by magenta (#FF00FF). If a sprite’s data contains no pixel data, the engine ignores it and consider the sprite empty.

The sprite editor includes a pen, eraser, line, square, circle, eye dropper, and bucket tool. In addition, you can use the two flip buttons to preview what the sprite looks like when drawn to the display using either of the flip flags. These buttons do not alter the pixel data of the sprite; they simply are used to preview what these effects would have on a current sprite.

The Sprite Editor’s drawing tools will also enforce the colors per sprite limitation you set in the data.json file.

Sound Effects and Instruments

The SFX Tool allows you to create sound effects for your game and instruments to be used in the Music Tool. At a high level, the SFX Tool is optimized to make sound effects for your games as easy as possible by offering templates to streamline the creation of sound assets. It is based on Sfxr. Here is what the tool looks like:

You can use the left and right arrows to navigate the SFX IDs or enter an ID by hand to load a sound effect. Each sound can have a label which is there to help make organizing sound effects easier in the tool. The engine does not use the label; sound effects are only accessible by their ID in code. You can use one of the built in template buttons or customize the sound values by hand. The last option in the Sound FX toolbar is the wave buttons. This displays more granular options for configuring the currently loaded sound’s wave type.

Early 8-bit systems were limited in which waveform worked on which channel. You can define each channel's waveform in the data.json file.

Creating Songs

The Music Tool allows you to create music from scratch, edit existing songs, and can also generate random music to help get you started. This is what you are presented with when loading up a music.json file.

The Music Tool is divided into 4 different zones. The first zone focuses on playback and navigating between songs which are collections of patterns. The next area allows you to build songs from individual patterns. Finally you have the tracker and music keys.

Pro users can use the random music generator to have the tool create patterns for you based on a set of pre-defined templates and values.

Join The Club

The Fantasy Console Club is free to join and offers exclusive access to updates, tutorials, and more. By joining, you'll get a free copy of Pixel Vision 8, it's documentation, and a collection of API example tutorials to get you started, which is everything you need to start making 8-bit games.
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Help Support Pixel Vision 8

Pixel Vision 8 is still in development. Currently, it is offered as "early access" and may contain bugs, unexpectedly crash, or have missing features. These early access builds help get feedback, identify bugs, and stress test the tool-chain. Join the dedicated Discord server for support and sharing with the community.
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