As a kid, I loved my NES and eventually I wanted to make my own video games. So I asked my all-knowing big sister how I could go about doing so, to which she replied, “You have to do a lot of math.” Well, that didn’t sound like any fun to my 8-year-old self, so I decided right then and there that I would stick with playing games rather than creating them.

Not everyone is a programmer, and that’s okay! There are artists and writers with stories to tell, and gaming is a wonderful medium for that. Anyone with a desire to design a game has the ability to do so, even if they aren’t well-versed in coding, thanks to the recently funded Kickstarter campaign for NESmaker by Joe Granato and Austin McKinley. Rather than spend hours on tedious coding, one can select NES-compatible color palettes and graphics, input text for NPCs, and build screens, and immediately see the result. Once the game is done, simply flash the data to a cartridge and play it on an actual NES.

I was able to check out the NESmaker at PAX South over the weekend, and saw how easy it is to design a game using the program. All it takes is a little creativity. During the convention, Joe and Austin “de-made” screens of the game Sleep Tight which was being demoed at their neighboring booth.

A “de-made” sprite of a character from Sleep Tight

NESmaker creator Joe Granato shows me the overworld grid

The Kickstarter campaign for NESmaker went live on January 13 and has already reached twice its goal. For more on the NESmaker’s capabilities, Joe and Austin have compiled a frequently asked questions video.