Bitsy is a game creation tool in development by Adam Le Doux. It’s a bare-bones toolset for making small, stark, environment-explory games. I see it following in the tradition of Pico-8: both are game engines with strict limitations designed to encourage creativity within tight constraints.
The limitations in Bitsy are more intense, however. While Pic0-8 limits colors and filesize, Bitsy limits you to a specific category of tile-based game with arrow-key controls and a three-color palette. No sound. Nothing moves around but the avatar; all animations are limited to two frames. Nevertheless, people are able to achieve some really interesting things with this toolset.
Here are some examples of bitsy games I liked:
The Summit High by Sam Wrong
Zen Garden, Portland, The Day Before My Wedding by Cephalopodunk
Dog Walking, Dog Running, and Dog Still by Cephalopodunk
HIS ONLY LOVE by codejill
Modern Living by Night Driver
You’ve got three categories of objects to play with: a player avatar, environment tiles, and “sprites” which can trigger text boxes if the player bumps into them. The background is always a solid color; sprites and environment tiles can be different colors, and the player is always the same color as the sprites. This encourages a particular attitude toward the art which I find quite charming. Check out Dog Walking, Dog Running, and Dog Still above for some really neat ways of using pixel art, colors, and scene layouts.
Bitsy seems perfect for creating extremely short, poemlike games about low-stakes interactions or environment exploration. Unfortunately, I’m a garish asshole and the games I made with Bitsy this week are kind of senseless and berserk:
Don’t Go South, a game about not going south. My first attempt.
Goodfishas, about fish violence.
Reunion, SCI FI BODY HORROR!! focused around a specific visual joke.
The creator is going to add more features eventually, and takes feedback on Bitsy’s itch forum. If you are looking for a toylike gamemaking tool that will encourage you to be as creative as you can within the tightest possible constraints, check this one out. It’s extremely charming and I hope it flourishes.