Who says that games can’t be educational? Well, Matej Jan for one. Retronator Pixel Art Academy is a project for his master’s thesis at Stanford University about making pixel art. That’s right. A pixel game about making pixel art. Here’s the thing, though. He’s committed to this project no matter what happens because it’s for school. That said, the asking price of $1,000 has already been exceeded ten times over. And it does look like an interesting concept. And only $10 gets you access to the game for perpetuity. Or at least until it stops being supported by the community. It will be open source so even if his server gets taken down as long as someone has the code it can live on.
All right. So, what exactly is Retronator Pixel Art Academy about then? Aside from learning to draw retro graphics that is. Well, obviously that’s the main focus. But, like so many edutainment games there’s an angle to keep people wanting to continue to learn. In this case it’s a Sims-like pixel world where you actually take classes learning said techniques. The first week, a tutorial of sorts, is already being worked on and the “syllabus” for it is free for all to see. I mean, he did put up the “slides” up on the pitch page. Which is pretty cool.
If there’s one thing that I’m a bit wary about it’s the use of existing sprites as examples. The images on the main page for Retronator Pixel Art Academy showcases characters from classic games like Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Mario. For a non-profit title this would most likely not be a problem, but for something being worked on for money I do hope that he has the rights to have them in the game. But, either way it is a great idea to get people interested in learning how to draw old school.