Making a Survival Game with 1 Pixel
I made a survival game with 1 pixel!
and Guess What
You’re looking at it right now.
I know what you’re thinking, that’s just a
BUT, in the very center there is a tiny point,
turning just the right colors, and flashing
just the right way, for there to be just enough
information to display a game.
…Unless YouTube compression has removed
that pixel, in which case you ARE looking
at a black screen.
BUT, if we zoom in, there we go, you can now
see the colors and the flashing, but you can’t
really see the game.
By the end of this video, you WILL see the
And you will know, the only way to escape
a hungry bear, is by eating blueberries and
drinking freshwater as fast as possible.
I’ll tell you why.
I’ve seen other people’s videos about making
restricted games and I like those videos,
and perhaps more importantly, I like the views
on those videos.
But beyond that, there’s the curiosity and
sense of discovery in the challenge.
How could it be done?
Can it be done?
When you have only 1 pixel, you really can’t
Go ahead, try and scale down your 4k master
The only options you do have are color, and
color changing over time.
Well, technically you have audio as well,
but relying on that would be cheap (and definitely
not something I considered myself), so it’s
my goal to make the game playable without
We’re going to be using Unity for this project,
because, number 1, I have experience with
Number 2, I don’t really have experience with
My first idea is for a top down game, with
a blocky gradient representing the terrain.
Hills with food and valleys with water.
look at that, it practically feels like we’re
in the great outdoors already.
But, that’s not what the player will see.
They can only see one color at a time with
their single pixel, so they need to observe
how the color changes to navigate.
This may seem like a terrible FOV to PC players,
but being a console gamer myself, I feel right
Because there’s no room for UI, we can’t have
a hunger or thirst bar, so the goal will be
simply to alternate, drink eat drink eat.
I’m using Unity’s color system and Perlin
noise to try and make a randomly generated
world to play in.
I was confident that with my prior experience
using Perlin noise, I could solve any issue.
But after a while of struggling with it, I
noticed it felt familiar, and I remembered
that my “prior experience” was also me struggling
So things aren’t looking good.
Getting the right amount of water to generate
is hard, and no matter the amount, there’s
always ditches that are just high enough not
to have water in them.
The entire point of the game is trusting the
gradient to lead you, and this is a lie!
How could you gradient?!
And I haven’t even decided whether the randomly
generated map will be infinite or have boundaries.
A small map would reward memorization skill,
while an infinite map would, well, uhhh…
I don’t really have a great reason for an
infinite map I guess.
At this point I’m having a major rethinking
of the game.
What if I have the map be limited by making
it take place on an island?
Now there’s a realistic boundary, and it makes
sense that you can’t drink the saltwater to
Now to make a… island…
Yeah, thinking about it, trying to make the
map randomly generated was completely unnecessary
and complicated, especially for a prototype.
So, I’ll just do it myself.
And I have.
The game is playable, and after trying it
out, I have to say…
You just stumble around blind until you hit
That’s not what a game is.
So, back to the drawing board, way back.
I could have to scrap this whole thing.
After thinking, the map must be much smaller
to have any chance of memorizing it.
But now that it’s small, it’s too easy to
So the map has to change slightly in predictable
There is only 1 obvious solution
But not just any bear, a bear so sleepy and
fat that his slow waddling towards you is
The bear tile moves 1 tile every time you
eat or drink.
And if you go to where the bear is, you lose.
That along with the food now dropping randomly
around a tree, will keep the game interesting.
And by interesting I mean broken and unplayable,
because upon testing it I have found that
the bear will move onto the objective and
prevent any way to advance, because touching
the objective is when the bear moves.
The bear’s slowness is now his greatest strength,
and his power is too great for the game to
The only way to overcome this beast would
be to allow him to move in real-time, but
his might could still be too great, for he
could be nigh unpredictable.
But I have an idea.
If the bear darkens all the tiles around him,
the player will be warned about the risk they’re
And the realistic explanation is that it’s
just the bear’s shadow.
I know shadows don’t actually surround objects,
but this is a video game.
You think doctors are studying Skyrim to find
out how cure wounds with cheese wheels?
The game is starting to be kind of fun with
the whole map visible, and to help the single
color view, I added a black flicker when the
bear moves, and a fade to red when the player
Oh, by the way, the saltwater kills you.
I guess you can’t swim?
It is time to test its final form, and I have
made a black one pixel cutout to restrict
Is it any good?
Well, some of the colors are confusing at
such a small scale.
So we no longer have apples, we now have,
I also beefed up a lot of the colors, and
added a white flicker after death, to show
how many points you got.
1 from each time you drank or ate.
And yes, I would say it’s pretty good.
I mean, I wouldn’t charge 60 dollars, but,
100 for the deluxe edition?
I feel that I have accomplished what I set
out to do.
But I’m not done yet, it’s time to beef it
up with audio and add some final polish.
Try to keep calm.
It is now time for the the final reveal.
And you can play this without any downloads,
completely free at the itch.io link in the
You have a debilitating neck issue that keeps
your head facing down, so that you are only
able to see the ground beneath your feet.
Fortunately, a chiropractor is only a boat
Unfortunately, a fat and sleepy bear wandered
onto your boat before you left, and now you
and the bear have shipwrecked onto a small
island, with only a blueberry bush and a small
pool of freshwater.
Survive by drinking and eating, but most importantly
by avoiding the bear.
Can you do this while only seeing the color
of the ground beneath your feet?
What do you think?
With an explanation like that, the game is
practically 100% realistic.
And with all that said and done, let us look
back now on that clip from the beginning of
Can you see the game now?