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Bitsy Game Maker

Make little games, worlds, and stories! · By Adam Le Doux

Usability stuff

A topic by Laura Michet created Feb 10, 2017 Views: 685 Replies: 30
Viewing posts 1 to 15

I LOVE this tool!! Here's a few usability issues I came across while building games today:

  • When making animations, it would be useful to see a "ghost" of the other frame in the editor. Makes it easier to replicate confusing shapes between frames.
  • As far as I can tell, exits and entrances can be only one tile. This can be very frustrating if you're making games where the entrances and exits take up the entire edge of the map. If you do this, you've gotta create a new exit on every edge tile and link it specifically to an edge tile on another room. Here's an example of a game where I had to do this. It would be great if we could simplify the process of lining up rooms into a larger map-- right now, the longest and fiddliest part of any game-making experience, for me, is elaborately covering room edges with entrances and exits.
  • Would be nice to see what the max number of tiles we can have is, and get some info on how many we've already made. I didn't know there was a tile limit until I hit it, and the UI for making new tiles makes it hard to count and see how many you've already made. I still don't know if there are limits for sprites.
  • Speaking of tile UI: I would like to be able to see all my tiles at once, as a palette and click on the one I want, rather than clicking awkwardly to navigate left and right along the strip of tiles.
  • Would also be nice to know what the character limit is on sprite dialogue, and whether I'm close to hitting it, like twitter shows for tweet length.

Here's some features I'd like:

  • An "end game" condition of some kind
  • A key to restart the game
  • The ability to change the color of the page background in the game editor

And here's something I think might be a bug:

  • When you create a new game in the same window you were using to make a previous game, you can get stuck with empty rooms from the old game in your menus, inaccessible. I made a game with rooms 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4. Then I made a new game; now I've got rooms 0, 5, and 6, and rooms 1-4 living as inaccessible ghosts in me "add an exit" drop down menu.
Thanks so much for making this!! Hope the project goes/is going well!

Thanks for all the great ideas Laura! ( And for finding that bug D: ) I'm glad you're enjoying using the project; I'm having fun making it! The usability ideas and feature ideas are all solid, so I'll add them to my backlog.

Probably the trickiest thing to add would be the map one; I'm guessing you're imagining a larger grid of rooms? It does sound useful though.

Another question: what character limit are you thinking of for the dialog? The number of characters per "page"?


yeah, sorry, characters per "page".

And yeah the thing with making a larger grid of rooms and using them to represent a map, you end up creating SO MANY entrances and exits. It gets a little dizzying


hi Laura, I've just published Bitsy 2.1 in which I've changed the file format to allow unlimited sprites tiles and rooms :) the other UI issues will require more work I think but it's a start


holy shit, nice!!




A few new usability things:

  • When you are editing the text of a sprite, you must click outside the box on a blank background before clicking on a new sprite. If you click directly on a new sprite in the sprite selector strip, it will erase your writing and return the dialog attached to that sprite to what it was before you started editing it. I've lost a lot of dialog this way!
  • If you move from one room to the next with a tile selected in the tile/sprite viewer panel, the checkbox for "is this a wall" will remain in the status it was for that tile's version in the previous room. So if you create room0 and room1, create a wall tile in room0, and navigate to room1, it will still show that tile as a wall until you click on a new tile in the palette strip, then click back to the first one. It won't update automatically, basically. Can get confusing, particularly if you're working with duplicated rooms, duplicate tiles where one has to be a wall and one has to be not-a-wall, etc.

thanks for these! keep 'em coming

How about, if you switch on tile animation, the image is duplicated, so you can just slightly edit it?


The onion-skin animation feature made me think: we could also use with a toggleable visual indicator for what tiles in any given room are marked as walls!


oh! that's a good idea :)


It turns out Laura already reported the most noticeable issues I noticed, but here are a few other minor ones I came across:

  • When you duplicate an animated element, it only includes the first frame
  • When you turn off the animation on an element, it deletes the second frame instead of simply not using it (I had to redo sprites a couple times after testing how they looked without animation)
  • When you open the editor, exits are visible but the exit window is not
  • Being able to edit room names would make connecting the exits and dealing with almost identical rooms a lot easier
  • The text editor would be a lot easier to work with if it was a textarea instead of a single line text input
    • possibly a side effect of the same point, currently the only way of adding line breaks is to fill the rest of a line with spaces
  • The pixel and tile grid overlays are white, which makes it harder to work with white as one of your colors. Ideally there'd be a couple fallback greys to keep it distinct from any of the users colors.

hi Sean! thanks for taking them time to write these up - I'll add them to my backlog :)


thank you both for the usability feedback; it's super helpful!

by the way, I've just uploaded v2.2, which fixes a few things:

  • adds the animation overlay "onion skin"
  • lets you choose a page background color when you export the game
  • fixes the bug with "ghost rooms" in the exits panel
  • fixes the bug where copied rooms continue to to be "linked" so changing one changes the other
  • the player avatar can't escape off the screen to the left and right anymore
  • adds ability to apply wall settings to all rooms at once

Awesome!! Thanks so much for adding so much great stuff so fast!

I randomly stumbled upon this little engine and I have to say I'm loving it!

Just going to weigh in my opinions real quick:

  • The ability to apply wall settings to all rooms at once is really nice, but is it possible to have tiles maintain their wall status when creating a new room? With a lot of tiles, it gets a little annoying to go through them all and add wall settings to each whenever I make a new room.
  • Is it possible that we could get a downloadable version of Bitsy? I lose access to wifi quite a bit and it would be nice to take the engine on the go.
  • It would be really cool to see rpg mechanics implemented in this. You could add a lot more depth to Bitsy games if you create a way to create enemies and pickups. Maybe even a classic roguelike inventory system?
  • When using Bitsy, I saved and ran my game and it deleted half my room and my avatar. The engine also prevented me from editing the room after. Here's the html file:
  • I would recommend maybe renaming Bitsy to "Bitsy Engine" or just "Bitsy". "Bitsy Game Maker" sounds a little weird to me. (just my opinion though. :/ )
Anyways awesome job! Thanks for the fun little engine!
(2 edits) (+1)

Hi Yukon! Glad you're enjoying the engine. :) I'm adding your notes to my backlog.

Some thoughts:

  • A downloadable version of Bitsy is a good idea, and sounds doable with something like electron ( I'll look into it!
  • Can you elaborate more on what your goals are with RPG mechanics? What do you imagine it would look like in the editor? You're not the only person to ask for something like this, so it's something I'm thinking about, but I'm wary about overspecializing the engine in a way that would make Bitsy harder to use for creators who don't want to make something in that genre. That said, it seems like there's a need for some more interactivity, so I'm curious to learn what people want. Hopefully I can come up with something flexible, but not too complicated.
  • Sorry about the broken file! I'll take a look and see if I can fix it. I've seen a few of these lately, and I'm trying to figure out what causes it.. (edit: I've posted the fixed game data below)
  • As for naming, I did consider both of your suggestions (edit: I mean that these were both on my list of ideas when first deciding what to post on, but "Engine" sounds too intimidating to me, and just "Bitsy" might not be clear if you don't already know what it is. "Bitsy Game Maker" might be a bit awkward, but it's clear at least. I am open to more ideas on this though.

Thanks again for the feedback, it's really helpful! Feel free to add more whenever you think of something.

Hey Adam!

Sorry for not responding super quick, life's been busy... :/

Also thanks for the speedy fix! I'm planning on cranking out something soon.

For the RPG mechanics, I was thinking a rogue-like experience. For example, I was thinking mechanics that are similar to this game's mechanics. With the editor, you might have to add a window for item management, where you could turn the inventory on or off and make items. Items could have different properties like if you can wear it or eat it or use it as a weapon, and each could have stat changes that go along with it. Also, for enemies, there could simply be a checkbox which will set it to be an enemy or not. This could add new options like health, behaviors, item drops, etc.

That's all I can think of right now for the mechanics, sorry my brain is kinda fried...


Hi again, Yukon,

I fixed your game data! :) You can paste from here ( into the game data panel in Bitsy to restore your game.

Also, if you run into this problem again, one way you can try to fix it is by refreshing the page you have Bitsy opened in. Bitsy saves your game automatically, and it will try to recover from any messed up data when you reload the page!

I'm still trying to figure out the root source of this bug though..



Hey folks! I fixed some more usability issues in the latest version ~~ details here:

(1 edit)

If it's doable, it would be really helpful if the tiles you'd created could be displayed in a grid format rather than a row, as it can be difficult to search through them if you have a large number.

(Oh and possibly a way to "toggle" the placement of endings or exits, so you can put multiples of the same one in a room without having to scroll up and so down to select it each time)

good ideas! I'll add them to my backlog :) let me know if you think of anything else

Ok, just finished a sizeable project so I've come up with a small list of things that would be handy or nice (and one possible bug).


Just another tweak to the tile tool layout, aside from being a grid it'd also be really useful if you could rearrange them, so you could group together say, single use tiles or multi use textures just to make searching easier in a big project.


Being able to have more than one avatar design, maybe linking different ones to different rooms as is currently the case with colour palettes? This would be great for creating games with more than one character or more than one mode (eg, flying a plane across a map, and then walking around different locations on the ground).


A sprite being able to have more than one piece of dialog, either so a player can return to a sprite and read something different, or just to break up very long pieces of text (I've had trouble in a couple of Bitsy games where I have accidentally touched a sprite for a second time and gotten stuck scrolling through a lot of text I've already read).

Possible bug:

If you hit "Enter" when using the dialog box it'll put a new paragraph in, but everything you write afterwards will be deleted once you play test it. I understand if it's not possible to put new paragraphs in, but it'd be better if this just didn't register than deleting your writing, it's very easy to hit that button out of habit.


thank you again :) these are really helpful

I'm currently working on some large-ish UI updates, and I'd like to make a better tile picker as part of that

the enter thing is definitely a bug :(

I like the ideas about multiple avatars and multiple dialogs, too - those require some design consideration since they are changes to the engine, but I think they're really good ideas

Found another minor usability issue: when you delete a tile, it seems to arbitrarily select a tile near the start of the list as your new selection rather than one to the immediate left/right of the one you deleted.

(Bitsy's been progressing great btw!)

Thanks Sean! That's a good bug.I'll look into it soon :)


Minor display issue with v.3,  Bitsy doesn't quite  fit in the Itch viewport (I'm using Chrome so it should be fine) which makes using it a little awkward without going into full screen mode. For example, right now in order to scroll left and reach more tools, you first need to scroll down on a second set of scroll bars on the outside of the viewport in order to find the sideways scrollbar inside the viewport.

(unsure if this is an issue with Bitsy or Itch, since I don't recall the previous version being within a viewport at all)


oh, I see this - it's only on windows I think so I didn't notice it at first. I've temporarily fixed it by increasing the viewport height, but I think there's go to be a better way..

Arranging the work tiles I mean the windows not only horizontal but vertical. So art can be under animation or so

Also It does run poorly on mobile when having many sprites. It would be awesome if a web build where you could even create bitsys would be avaiable. I can see myself sitting on my daily bus and building a small game. Sadly it runs so slow on it its almost impossible.

thanks for the feedback! I'd like to work on a dedicated mobile version sometime, since I also want to make games on the bus :)