When comparing PICO-8 vs LÖVE, the Slant community recommends LÖVE for most people. In the question“What are the best game engines for point & click adventure games?” LÖVE is ranked 5th while PICO-8 is ranked 46th. The most important reason people chose LÖVE is:
The [LÖVE forums] are extremely helpful. With people checking the forums every day, it won't take long to receive answer to your questions on the Support board, receive feedback on games you post in the Projects board, as well as have a chat about the LÖVE engine while learning tricks to use in the very active General board. If you need an immediate answer though, or just want to chat, there is a very active and helpful [IRC channel]. : https://www.love2d.org/forums/ : http://webchat.oftc.net/?channels=love
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Restrictions of tokens count "forces" to write code effectively
When you reach 8192 tokens, you're screwed. However, this limit can teach you to take a look at entire code and think how you could optimize it.
Pro Possible writing code in external editor
Since launch of 0.1.12c version of software, you can now write and include external script using the same directive just like in C / C++.
Pro Takes away the pain of having to wire things together
Because it's an all in one product, you don't have to worry about things like how to load sprites.
Pro Very simple programing language
It's lua with a few modifications.
Pro Encourages building simple games
As a beginner it's all to tempting to try to make the games you like to play, like Zelda or Call of Duty when we should probably be making pong.
Pro Perhaps one of the easiest sound editors around
Pro Share the game in a .png file with other Pico-8 users
Pro You can read the code of any game you play
Pro Lots of examples
Almost every game made for the Pico-8 is open source (if you can download the .png, you can see the source).
Also there's the fancy Pico-8 "fanzine" that has lots of code examples as well as other great tutorials in a beautiful physical or PDF form.
Pro Easy to get things going very quickly
Pro Active and very friendly community
The LÖVE forums are extremely helpful. With people checking the forums every day, it won't take long to receive answer to your questions on the Support board, receive feedback on games you post in the Projects board, as well as have a chat about the LÖVE engine while learning tricks to use in the very active General board.
If you need an immediate answer though, or just want to chat, there is a very active and helpful IRC channel.
Pro Great for prototyping
You can learn the basics very quickly and start making simple games in no time, even if you have no previous Lua knowledge. If you're a little experienced with LÖVE, you can prototype a 2D game with it in no time.
Pro Uses the fantastic Lua for scripting
Lua is an embeddable scripting language designed to be lightweight, fast yet powerful. It is used in major titles such as Civilization as well as a lot of indie games.
Lua is very popular because it provides "meta language" features. You can implement object-oriented structures, or pure procedural functions, etc. It has a very simple C interface, and gives the engine developer a lot of flexibility in the language itself.
Artists tend to love Lua too because it's very approachable, with plain and forgiving syntax.
Lua is free open-source software, distributed under a very liberal license (the well-known MIT license).
Pro Easy to understand and use
Lua2D handles loading the resources, reading input, playing sounds and displaying stuff on the screen. Only the logic is left for the developer to write. It also removes the overhead of having to use and learn a GUI game editor. All you need is a knowledge of Lua and your favourite text editor or IDE.
Supports Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android and iOS.
Pro Many examples and libraries with source code
There are plenty of open source examples of games or components built by the community that are ready to use or learn from.
Pro Open source and free
The LÖVE engine is licensed under The zlib/libpng License (which is very short and human readable) which allows you to use the source code and even modify it as long as you do not claim that the original source code is yours.
You can obtain the code at this bitbucket repository and even help fix bugs and participate in the development of LÖVE.
Pro Can develop within Android
It is possible to develop games directly on a tablet or cellphone with the Android system by using the experimental Android branch.
Pro Very good for education
That is a great tool for teaching novice programmers. Creating a game on LÖVE, you have to think about developing, not about the syntax of the language.
Pro Very good documentation
The LÖVE wiki provides full documentation of its easy to use Modules, which are conveniently located on the side bar of the wiki. It only takes seconds to find the module for love.keyboard, which provided a list of all functions along with arguments and examples where the function could be used.
Pro Many tutorials on the internet
Has several tutorials in several languages on the internet, mainly on Youtube.
Pro C++ and Lua one of the best languages for gamedev
Because all professionals in gamedev use C++, and Lua the fastest scripting lang.
Pro Cute name
So much love.
Con Costs 15$
Unlike many of the other frameworks it's not free. However this is kind of a feature because it means it's much more likely to be supported.
Con No collision library or other common things
Pico-8 is very minimalistic and as such doesn't come with really any abstractions whatsoever which means often you end up re-inventing the wheel.
Con Code editor leaves some things to be desired
Such as code completion and automatic indentation.
Con Memory restrictions could be confusing or frustrating to a beginner
Con Not very powerful
The engine has very few modules and only the really required one, you'll have to do almost everything from scratch.
Con Game distribution is harder than it should
The process to create an executable could be streamlined: the dedicated wiki page is somewhat confusing, and the actual process either means relying on one of the various community-maintained tools or creating an executable manually for each platform.
Con More of an API than a game engine
It may come with graphical, audio and IO but it lack most features most game engines have such as UI system, pathfinding, etc. and you have to implement most of the stuff you might want manually.
Con Only for the very simple games
Con Documentation is very dry and technical
The site has plenty of tutorials, true, but they all read very technical, and explain very little. This might be too much for beginners, even for coding purposes, because of the fact that the specifics aren't explained well enough to learn effectively. The docs can be found frustrating to understand even the basics, such as tables or the like, because of how poorly they are explained, and how few examples are given before expecting you to be able to use them.
Con Game distribution for Android is a pain in the Arse
It is like you're doing a science experiment.
Con HTML5 support
Depends on love.js for HTML5 distribution which is old and incompatible with current Emscripten / LLVM version.
Con Absolutely no GUI (no graphical interface)
This has no graphical interface at all, you have to know how to read script in order to know what you're looking at. After you've written the script for everything, you compile it to see the result. It's a very poor way to create a game, given how even most professional tools out there give you a GUI to work with and debug on the go. The lack of a GUI slows down the work by ten-fold, and it's just an inefficient use of your time.
Con The community seems juvenile
For example, some of the library include names such as HUMP, LUBE, AnAL.