Behind the scenes: Arsène Bomber

Arsène Bomber is Piepacker Studios’ very first original game. The team has opened up about its development and for the first time, we’ll share with you all the anecdotes no one else knows about.

From the conceptualization of the gameplay to the selection and refining of the art style, here’s how Arsène Bomber came to life!

A winding origin story 🦹

As is often the case in modern retro endeavors, it all started with fond childhood memories. The first devs to join the team, Jean-André and Juno, had always dreamt of coding their own Bomberman-like game. When Piepacker looked for its first inspiration, they both jumped on the occasion and got to work. This was even before there was any kind of organized studio within Piepacker. This was their fan project more than anything else. Pretty soon, the amount of work needed called for more brains to join in the adventure. 2D artists and game developers were recruited and a game producer, Pierre, took over managing the project.

In the beginning, the team looked for inspiration around the world: they decided to draw maps inspired by regional holidays and celebrations, and design characters who would look at home there. So there they were trying to represent as many corners of the globe as possible, a hopeless mission to all who know how many corners a sphere has…

They eventually settled on 8 world-renowned parties: 

  • an Irish Saint-Patrick’s Day celebration and a dancing little Leprechaun;
  • the Japanese Obon Festival with matching Kunoichi;
  • a Mexican Cinco de Mayo party and its sombrero-wearing skeleton;
  • the famous Venice Carnival and its nimble jester;
  • the Thai New Year’s Songkran and its water fighter;
  • a traditional American Halloween night and its deadly black widow;

  • a good-old fashion winter wonderland with Santa and reindeers;

  • and a Holi Festival of Colors with Indian elephant that didn’t get any concept art …

The team ran pretty far with those concepts; as you can see, they drew maps, characters and even started working on the blocks… But something felt slightly off. This was the studio’s first game and somehow “celebration from around the world” didn’t seem like a strong enough concept to the newly formed team. 

Final concept art and gameplays 🎨

They put their heads together and thought about what united them. Their passion for old-school video games would provide a strong foundation for the gameplays, that was not the issue. What theme would they choose to tell the world about who they were? By that time, most of the team was originally from France. So why not take inspiration from a good French story? One that people around the world were already familiar with but with a universe that could be declined and explored anew in pixel form?

That’s when Lupin joined the party! The famous gentleman thief has been featured in many stories and has his own international adaptations. He’s a thief, so he’s definitely not above bombing a few things. He has had adventures all over the world and, let’s be honest, in the early 20th century, people had a lot of style!

Slowly, the team started gathering inspirational content for their maps. Can you guess which actual photo originated which Arsène map?

Here’s the evolution of Arsène Bomber’s maps from concept to in-game look:

Theater La Renaissance

Place Massena

Le Piecafé

La Santé

Eiffel Tower

Le Louvre

Mount Tuwaiq

Stadtfest

An old-timey tramway

The maps were constructed one after the other, and sometimes a map would inspire another: for instance, the PieCafé was a late addition to the set inspired by the Place Massena’s easter egg. “There’s an easter egg in every single map,” commented Ismael, the team’s lead 2D artist. “I really wanted players to be able to look back on their in-game experience and remember the details as much as the general impression.”

Draft for the train map

Even within the Arsène Lupin universe, there were times when they had to backtrack. One of the original setting ideas was in a train at the Parisian Gare du Nord. 

But integrating the trains into the tiny map was just too complicated. The rails stayed in a different way, you can spot the old tramway crossing the Place Massena from time to time. 

All the maps had to be filled with special materials that fit with the atmosphere and the style of the décor:

Lupin came with his own set of characters, all inspired from the books! (Except for that one secret character… Have you found Rosie yet? 🔍)

Abbas’s evolution

Arsène’s evolution

Clarisse’s evolution

Countess’s evolution

Dorothee’s evolution

Ganimard’s evolution

Herlock’s evolution

Olga’s evolution

Meet all of Arsène Bomber’s characters in their final form: each one has an animation based on their personality; yes, that’s how you give emotions to game characters that don’t speak! 

Abbas the soldier

Arsène the gentleman

Clarisse the dancer

The noble Countess

Dorothee the diva

Ganimard the bon vivant

Herlock the detective

Olga who had one too many

Rosie the secret character, a tribute to Pierre’s dog 

The first sprite for the different modes in the menu

But Arsène’s story didn’t only inspire the design. It was important to the team to develop their own original game modes. “The main driver was to create a rich multiplayer experience,” Jérémie, lead dev on the project, said. Arsène the gentleman thief is the primary inspiration for the Treasure Hunt and the Disguise Party modes. Other modes came from yet other childhood memories: “When I conceptualized the “Hot Potato” mode, I thought about the fast-paced game I’d play with my friends at recess,” Jérémie continued. Furthermore, the first prototype of mask interaction has been developed for this mode. You can try it out for the first time during Gamescom and watch the loser’s mask explode as their character does! 

Each game mode is the result of a deep reflection on what would be the most fun! Of course they hit dead ends along the way, like when they developed their first coop mode. 

The abandoned first coop mode

The devs themselves couldn’t manage the complexity of this one while playing, it was either too easy or too hard. Because of the lack of balance, it was completely dropped. The final coop mode came much later when the team was getting ready to participate in the Gamers Without Borders event. It’s much simpler than the first one and manages to bring together team play (you must kill as many enemies as you can) and individual performance (gotta get them kills to snatch that crown!). It was also the occasion to draw another map and create a completely new character, Abbas, member of a Berber tribe, based on Arsène’s travels in Mauritania.

Each map comes with its own special gameplay through in-game events randomly triggered in Battle and Treasure Hunt mode. It’s really worth changing maps often to diversify your experience! Which one is your favorite?

Testing, testing, testing… oh sorry, I meant playing, playing, playing! 🎮 

Classic Battle mode

The team was hard pressed to deliver the best multiplayer gaming experience, and that meant testing the maps and game modes extensively. Among the many technical challenges they encountered were the calibration of movements, fundamentally different from Bomberman’s because the characters have free movements in every mode: you can move diagonally, but the computer-controlled characters don’t (remember that in Disguise Party mode).

Hot Potato mode

Another difficulty arose when the team designed their random bonuses. The idea of a mega bomb was rapidly dropped because it was too powerful, even on the lowest setting. The teleportation had to be calibrated to prevent “cornering” players where they couldn’t use a bomb without dying. In ghost mode, it was quickly decided that the player would be responsible for where they ended up.

Coin Grab mode
Disguise Party mode
Darkness Invasion mode
Treasure Hunt mode

Details after details, the team polished the game by playing it extensively. They even had to code a way to launch the game with only one player in the room so devs could work independently! Once they couldn’t stop playing after working hours and Alexis, another dev, established himself as the absolute master of the Hot Potato mode, they decided the game was ready to be enjoyed by others! “It was a lot of fun!” Alexis added.

Piepie UFO

As mentioned, Arsène Bomber’s development didn’t end when the game was released. Gamers Without Borders marked the development of an awesome twitch integrated mode in which viewers can help or hinder the players, thanks to a very out-of-place Piepie UFO. And now, as Gamescom is upon the studio, they developed a completely original map showing Arsène and co at a German village fair.

The UFO in action

Once again, the result shines through its details. When asked why he was working in Pixel art in 2021, Ismael answered: “There’s a charm in pixel art that I can’t find in other art styles. I think it’s an approachable style to begin with when making video games but also a style that can be improved and polished a lot after years of practice. It feels familiar and nostalgic, but graphics evolve to look more modern as time goes. Games like Stardew Valley or Cadence of Hyrule tell me that pixel art is constantly evolving and adapting to new times, so I don’t think it will end anytime soon.”

What’s next for the Studio? ☀️

The entire project was a team effort. It was the first time they worked together and they were really happy with the team’s dynamic and the end result. “We’ve collaborated with Adams Spragg – creator of Hidden in Plain Sight – for the Disguise Party mode,” Pierre mentioned. “It was great to be able to rely on the expertise of creators to develop our own original game. In the end, Arsène Bomber is very different from the original Bomberman because, on top of creating our own pixel universe, we worked hard to add original new multiplayer experiences.” Arsène Bomber is bound to keep evolving, as it was designed to be a flexible game on which a lot of ideas could be applied.

For most of the people involved, it was also their first time developing a video game with coworkers and they are eager to renew the experience on their next game 🤫

Piepacker at Gamescom

Piepacker is going to Gamescom 2021 (virtually)!

This week, Piepacker has its own digital booth in the Retro Area of Gamescom 2021.

For obvious reasons we shall not name (🦠) Gamescom will be held 100% online this year. The good news is that you can join the fun from anywhere!

Let’s meet up in digital form in the Retro Area for incredible moments of gaming, interviews and a surprise in the Hot Potato mode of Arsène Bomber 🧨

There’s stuff to win! 🎁

As always, we want our community to be a part of this event! You’ll have several opportunities to participate in live streams and we are launching another Arsène Bomber competition! The competition starts Tuesday, August 24th at 10 am CEST on Piepacker! 🏆

The participants will all receive the Gamescom 2021 badge and unlock a special Arsène mask in the colors of Gamescom! 

Furthermore, we will invite the winning team of the 3-players Arsène leaderboard to represent our community and play live with Sven Vössing on the Retro Area stream Friday at 8:30 pm.

Check out our event section on Piepacker for more info on the competition! 

If you’re more of a lay back, have fun with no pressure and let luck work for you kind of person you can also play Worms World Party with your friends for a chance to win Worms Rumble keys 🍀

To enter the lottery: play Worms World Party with your friend(s) on Piepacker. You can play a 2, 3 or 4 players game. Post a screenshot of you and your friend(s) at the end of the game (last surviving worms or final scores) on Twitter: @Piepacker #WormsLottery. You can use masks for privacy. On Friday, August 27th, at 8:00 pm CEST we will draw 3 teams who will receive Worms Rumble Keys!

Live streams 📺

See you in pixels at Gamescom 2021! 💜

Indie Stories: Fresh Retro Gaming Talents

Piepacker thrives to add more and more great games to its catalogue. This week, we integrated three new NES indies which will convince anyone who doubted it that great games today don’t necessarily come in HD. 

In honor of Piepacker’s Pixel Summer, we have asked the games’ creators to tell us more about their creative process while developing a game for a retro console. If you ever wanted to know how a game character goes from crayon on paper to your computer screen, this article is made for you. These creators are all fresh talents who developed their first video games for the NES and their stories are worth a read. 

The stars of the week on Piepacker are three homebrews developed for the NES in the past year:

  • Kubo 3 was developed and designed by Seiji, 8 years old, with the help of his father’s guidance and expertise; 
  • Doodle World is Nate Peters’s first game and his universe was inspired by one of his young daughter’s drawings; 
  • Flea!, Lowtech’s first game, features the cutest little bloodsucking bugs, all in pixel art.

Kubo 3 by SJGames

Seiji lives in France and was 7 years old when Kubo 3 came out. It took two early versions and almost a year of work during “holidays and rainy afternoons,” but, with the help of his programming savvy father, Dale Coop, SJGames successfully produced his first game. Seiji is inspired by “games he plays on the Switch and the NES, as well as movies he watches and the traveling he has done with his family.”

Believe it or not, Kubo started as a hand-drawn cowboy ready for any battle! 

To turn him into a video game character, however, was tricky. The drawing had to be reproduced using pixel art. That was Seiji’s first task and he soon realized that his character could not display his own skin color on the screen. Indeed, the NES can only display four colour palettes at a time, so one needs to be careful that all the colours used in a frame are part of the limited set available. It didn’t stop Seiji who wasn’t discouraged but inspired! His cowboy became a cubic turtle, and since turtles live in water, “eau” in French, the character was named Kubo and his adventures finally started.  

Already, technical constraints have influenced the artistic direction of the game. As is the case for any artistic endeavor, the creative process that goes behind a game must go beyond aesthetic and storytelling concerns to encompass the constraints of the medium used. In this case, each character has been designed pixel by pixel, and the game was put together frame by frame from beginning to end. Seiji drew on paper the atmosphere and monsters of each level before drawing them all in pixel art on his computer. The story unravels as the player discovers amazingly diverse backgrounds and creatures. For every single character, Seiji decided on all characteristics, from the design to the pattern and the weak point and added them to the game. He learned to use the symmetry of his characters to save computing space and how to draw sprites and animate them. His father’s help proved useful in implementing Seiji’s most complex ideas in the code. 

Dale Coop grew up playing on the NES and started video game creation with his son as an activity to pass the time. Four years later, his son’s imagination, guided by his programming skills, a complete world you can now discover and show to your friends on Piepacker.

Join KUBO in this new adventure that will take you to the four corners of the world in search of the sacred crystals to free the inhabitants kidnapped by the infamous Moglar! Journey through the underworld, the graveyard, the underwater world and the skies. Collect items… There will be many monsters and bosses on your way, before the final battle in your enemy’s castle! 

Doodle World by Nate Peters and Araceli 

Nate Peters was looking for inspiration for his first ever game on NES, when he saw a doodle drawn by his young daughter, Araceli… They went to work and started a Kickstarter campaign. It was funded in 12 hours and the game was successfully produced! 

He didn’t need more than Araceli’s passion for drawing to take up the challenge of creating a whole universe from her art. “Her doodles have been brought to life in this highly stylized NES game,” he said. 

The main character, Doodle, came first. But the game is a series of incredible worlds containing several characters and backgrounds. Nate Peters “tried to emulate the look of crayon-colored pictures on notebook paper, while adhering to the limitations of the NES.” 

Here again, technological constraints have guided the design of the game. Working on a game in pixel art and working on a game in pixel art for the NES are two different things. 

This is reflected in the final style of the game which shows the ingenuity necessary to the creation of a world with very limited resources. Yet, these constraints can be used as a positive creative push for game makers. What strikes the eye in Doodle World are all the little details in the background that create the feeling of walking through a different world. “In the final design, slight coloring “mistakes” were added to give it a more natural coloring appearance,” Peters explained. With this simple trick, Doodle’s universe manages to link an art form (coloring), to its medium (eraser bosses to defeat) through a game. 

Araceli’s art successfully gained a new dimension by being integrated into the game with as many of her original drawings’ characteristics as possible. Although it was a difficult task, Peters declared: “the final look worked out really well and I am looking forward to making more games in the Doodle-verse!” 

Doodle World offers a beautiful journey in a completely unique set of worlds. The game also has an innovative “Kids Mode” that makes it accessible to all! It’s the perfect platformer to introduce younger players to retro gaming. 

The evil King Eraser and his office supply minions have stolen the magical crayon used to create Doodle’s amazing world! Play as Doodle and travel across the world to defeat King Eraser and his minions. Along the way you will encounter numerous office supply enemies and eraser bosses.

Flea! by Lowtech

Alastair Low is based in the UK and has founded his own game studio, Lowtech, in order to produce fun dyslexia-friendly games. Flea! came to be thanks to a collective effort : it was funded on Kickstarter, and members of the retro loving community contributed heavily to the code, including Dale Coop and Nate Peters. 

Alastair Low designed the entire game by converting his own detailed drawings into pixel art.

All the characters of the game are insects or parasites, since everything you encounter must live on the “beast”. And humour is never far for Low who said: “I used to travel a lot on trains and liked using sketchbooks, just exploring flea or parasite based puns and seeing how they could fit into the universe.”

Each character is portrayed in amazing detail and is wackier than the last. Even though some details had to be left out, “like the small front arms of Henry, the main flea”, Low managed to render engaging jumps and movements with very limited space on the texture. To overcome this limitation, Low has had to think about how to “utilize the same elements of a single animation, flipping it or recoloring it for different uses.”

The main focus of the game being the jumping of the flea, the beautiful character art was refined with precision to give a readable game to the pixel. “A fan pointed out that it would be good for the flea to show direction somehow,” the creator remembers. “I was reluctant to add separate sprites for looking right and left where there was only 2 pixels of a difference but it really made the character feel more alive and was a nice piece of polish.” For Low, gameplay was the primary driver and the design followed what would be most comfortable for the player. 

The colour of the flea was also modified to fit the game design during development: he was originally drawn in a darker brown shade. Yet, the last levels used a darker palette than the first ones. When testing the game, Low realized his flea was not easily seen when the background grew darker. He decided to change the colour of the flea to make it easier to spot in the harder levels. “Working on the old system is quite restrictive on the number of colors for characters,” he said. “You have to get creative with placements of seams swapping and palettes.”

Low is “quite pleased with how the fleadom fighters turned out in Flea! as they all have unique headband colors and animations.” Be sure to keep up with the jumping bug long enough to discover all of his enemies. (You can use Pieapcker’s homemade save system!)

This hard as nails platformer has you traverse inside and outside a great beast. You are Henry the flea and you never stop jumping which only adds to the challenge ahead. Meet interesting characters and learn about the beast. 


One thing we’ve learned from talking to these game makers is that creativity is necessary at each step of the process and you should be flexible. Each creator’s sensibility develops into a particular universe. Both the technical limitations and the gameplay will impact the characteristics of the entire pixel made world. With ingenuity, designs can be optimized to fit an even more complex experience into a minimal format. In the end, it’s not just about drawing well with pixels, it’s also about making sure the design will fit with the experience of playing the game on a NES. 

Today’s indie scene is filled with creators who have the capacity to produce incredible effects through the limited use of pixel art offered by the system they are working with. All three homebrews now on Piepacker are perfect for speedrunning and already have a community of fans you can measure up to. But they are also carefully designed pieces of art that a player can take time to appreciate and discover. 

Piepacker is a great place to introduce your friends to new games like these. We’re really happy to help share the work of talented game creators driven by passion. The art of creating modern retro games is still evolving! We hope the community of retro lovers can keep growing if we keep collaborating and talking about projects such as Kubo 3, Doodle World and Flea! 

It might be hard to gather all your friends around a vintage NES but you can always gather virtually around cool retro games through Piepacker 💜

First retrogaming Piepacker challenge!

Thanks to you, Piepacker’s Flashback Challenge was a BLAST!

In the past month, we’ve been having a lot of fun organizing 3 competitions and 4 live events, including a participative Twitch experiment in which the viewers controlled a character in the game 👾 Over 4 nights, more than 220k gamers from around the planet gathered virtually to watch the streams from Gamers Without Borders’ charitable event, who kindly believed in our platform to deliver fun retrogaming nights.

We’ve been delighted to see how much fun the 9 star streamers had on Piepacker. Big up to jonsandman, daltoosh, buddha, mizkif, yvonnie, danucd, clix, tubbo, and nihachu who faced our challenges like the pros they are! 

The Piepacker team would like to thank and congratulate everyone who participated in our first ever competitions on our platform 🏆

Since June 23rd, you completed 20,000 multiplayer challenges on Piepacker and played for a grand total of 1 million minutes!

You’ve collectively scored 15 million points across Micro Mages, Xeno Crisis and Arsène Bomber!

Every participant has unlocked an exclusive badge and the White Fancy Arsène mask! Every winning team has unlocked an even more exclusive badge! 

And let’s never forget our community heroes, Bizn355, JbarHomie (replaced by DreamyWarrior00), stravv, and Silen, who bravely fought live during the finale with the mischievous interventions of the streams’ chats.

Welcome to all our new Piepacker members! Don’t forget to join our Discord to meet other gamers 😉

Thanks again everyone for making the Flashback Challenges possible and helping Gamers Without Borders support international charities 💜

Stay tuned for our next competitive event! 

Piepacker’s first open global competition

PIEPACKER x GWB 

Come and challenge yourself and the community on Piepacker!

UPDATE: The Xeno Crisis tournament and the following Arsène Lupin tournament will start on Wednesdays afternoon and last until the following Mondays. That’s 5 DAYS to try and get the highest scores!

This is it! Piepacker’s first global competition is about to start! 🏆


Piepacker is teaming up with Gamers Without Borders to bring this special tournament to you. GWB is a charity event gathering gamers and entertainers from all over the world to raise funds for international non-profits working on bringing the Covid vaccine to areas in need 🌍

The Flashback Challenges will happen every Wednesday at 20:00 CEST for 4 weeks starting on June 23rd. Each day of the competition, one of our lovely indies will take the spotlight. Streamers, including Mizkif, Daltoosh, Yvonnie, DanucD and JonSandman, will participate with their own teams for unprecedented evenings of fun 📺 

Watch all GWB events live here!

Anyone with a Piepacker account can also get into the spirit of the Flashback Challenges by playing our game of the day in competition mode! 🎮 The only thing you’ll need is one Piepacker account for your team leader. 

  • On June 23rd: Micro Mages tournament (1 to 4 players): The more enemies you take down, the higher your score! Any object you pick up will give your team extra points! 
  • On June 30th: Xeno Crisis tournament (1 to 2 players): Blast open the alien invaders to get them points! Watch out, you only have a limited number of pills! If you fail in your mission too much it’ll be game over! 
  • On July 7th: Arsène Lupin: Gentleman Bomber tournament (2 to 4 players): Coins, coins, coins… It’s all about the money for Arsène and his friends! But wait! What’s that in the shadows? 
  • On July 14th: the Flashback Grand Final! A brand new Arsène Lupin: Gentleman Bomber game mode with Twitch live interactions. Come help or hinder the players and cheer your Community Heroes as they take on renowned streamers!  

How does the competition work? ✅


WHO CAN PLAY?

Anyone with a Piepacker account can enter the tournament! Just enter a game room from the Piepacker x GWB slide in Piepacker! Once in the room, you can invite your teammates to join you (or participate alone); your team and its score will be registered at the end of your first game together (when your team finished it or when you all died trying).


WHEN TO PLAY?

The competitions will start on the Wednesdays afternoon, and you will have 5 days to play as much as you dare and get the highest score you can to grab one of the top spots 🥊


WHAT CHANGES?

Saves will be disabled during the competition, please don’t quit the game without having your score saved or it won’t be registered.


HOW TO SCORE?

The leaderboard is divided based on the number of people on your team. You can participate as many times as you want, with different teammates! Your score is calculated based on how well you play the game as a team.  


REWARDS?

At the end of the event, every participant will receive an exclusive Arsène Lupin mask and a rare new badge! If you and your team end up on the podium, you’ll be able to display an awesome “GWB leader” badge 🌟 And the winning team of the 4-person Arsene Bomber challenge will face off celebrity streamers on the 14th of July!  



⌛We’ll see you for the first competition playing Micro Mages on Tuesday 22nd at 20:00 CEST and for the first GWB stream on Wednesday 23rd!

🗓️ We’ll see you for the second competition on Xeno Crisis starting Wednesday 30th afternoon and for the second GWB stream at 20:00 CEST!

Stay tuned on Twitter and Discord!

GLHF 💜

GRAND OPENING: PIEPACKER BETA

After over a year of hard work and rich feedback, we finally feel ready to open our platform in its beta version to the general public! 

Starting June 8, 2021, anyone can register on Piepacker beta to play with their friends. 

Here’s everything you need to know before you get gaming 🎶

Piepacker has a built-in catalogue of 60+ games that you can play in multiplayer online for free. 

We’ve selected both classic retro games to (re)discover and indie gems for endless multiplayer fun 🕹️ Just sign in to the platform, select a game and send the link to whoever you want so they can join you. 


We also have put together a game studio team who will release exclusive games regularly 💣 The first one is already on the platform for you to enjoy. Let us know what you think of our Arsene Bomber on Discord!

You only need one account to play games up to 4 players. Every game room comes with its integrated video chat system. Virtual couch-gaming is finally here for everyone. 

Our catalogue also contains its fair share of single player games. You can play on your own or invite people to watch you play and pass the control over to them at any time 😁 Just change the order of players in the room: P1 always gets control over the game in single player mode. 

You can play from your keyboard or use any controller you’ve got at hand.


We’ve added our own save system, which means you can save your progress whenever you want on all games! 💾 You can resume playing from where you left off or from your saved file on any computer as long as you’re signed in. 

For extra fun, the video chat comes with virtual 3D masks you can wear while playing! 


You have now access to a beta version of Piepacker

We’re very proud of all the work our team has accomplished so far but we still have room for a lot of improvement on the platform ⚒️ As you play, keep in mind that the platform is still in beta: it is ready to use and all the options have been extensively tested by our team, yet there’s more work to do to ensure the best experience on Piepacker. 

We’re still in the process of improving our platform everyday, and we need your help to do so. Please report any bug you encounter and consult our help center in case of difficulties. 

Some of our features are experimental and only available to our Kickstarter backers 🌟 They will remain the only ones to have access to them for a while. As soon as these features are ready for everyone, we’ll let you know. 

For now, you can only play from Google Chrome on a computer. Make sure your internet connection is stable before joining a multiplayer game. 

Our aim is to offer a great service to every part of the globe by the end of 2021. We’ve started with Western Europe, North America and Australia 🌏 In these locations, our service works well. Soon, we’ll expand our coverage to other areas! We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

GLHF 💜

Early access: everything you need to know

Thanks to our backers, our project can now move on to the next chapter of the adventure!

Whether you have already backed us on Kickstarter and are now waiting for the early access to start, or you are still considering pledging in these last few days, here’s everything you need to know about what awaits you.

When will the early access to Piepacker Beta start?

We have to wait for the Kickstarter campaign to end before we can open our platform or ship our rewards. So the access to the platform will start on the May 22 🥳 for our backers.

We will contact each backer via email (the one you used on Kickstarter) and we will share with you all the instructions you’ll need to access Piepacker Beta early. 😃 

We will do it as quickly as possible but be aware that a 24h delay may apply, depending on where you are in the world 🪐


Exclusive premium features in early access

On May 22nd, you’ll have access to our announced catalogue of 60+ games, our first original game Arsène Lupin: Gentleman Bomber 💣 and the following features:

  • Bring Your Own Game: Drag and drop your ROM on Piepacker and play your own game with your friends. For now, we support compatible NES, SNES, SEGA Genesis / Mega Drive ROMs.

Please remember that BYOG is still an experimental feature. While our team is confident that our technology will successfully support most ROMs, we’ll be counting on your feedback to help adapt our tech to cover the largest catalogue of titles possible. Please restrain from sharing any game content or links directly in our official channels: we take piracy seriously and will be monitoring them actively. If you do have a problem on a specific title, reach out to the dedicated Discord channel and flag it with our team.

  • Unlimited save states: Save at any time and resume playing from wherever you want! You can have saves depending on your advancement on the levels, the characters you picked, the friends you’ve been playing with, … there’s just no limit!
  • Local multiplayer: You’re lucky enough to have people you want to play with in the same room as you? Play with them locally, and invite other players to join you online at the same time. Our first stretch goal was reached so fast and we had enough time to implement the feature! 
  • Surprise games: We’ve kept a few tricks up our sleeves and are excited for you to discover all the hidden gems that were added to our catalogue while our Kickstarter campaign progressed. 
  • Profile badges: You’ll be able to display your awesome backer powers on the platform, on your username for instance.

On top of these, you can expect the following rewards to arrive on the platform soon 👀:

  • Rewind power: still in development and will come later in 2021 for compatible games. 
  • Your name in the credits: we’ll be collecting your desired display name via Kickstarter’s pledge management survey. Please be mindful and choose wisely as we won’t be able to show any offensive names or nicknames. The platform credits should be added this summer.
  • BYOG GBA/GB, our second stretch goal: development has started.
  • Twitch integration, our third stretch goal: development will start soon.
  • Competition & leaderboard, our fourth stretch goal: development will start soon. 
  • UPDATE: The Kickstarter campaign ended and we’ve reached our sixth stretch goal!! 🤩 BYOG PS1 has been added to our roadmap: development will start soon!

We will open our beta to the public in Summer of 2021, but only our Kickstarter backers will have access to these premium features for now. You’ll be able to explore the platform and share all these perks with your friends, since they don’t need an account to join you on Piepacker! 😁


Exclusive masks

On top of the premium features, we have included a few exclusive masks as rewards for our backers. The first 7 masks will be available in their beta version on May 22nd 🍭

The legendary set of 3 masks is still in development and will arrive this summer. 

Some of these masks have been specially designed for our Kickstarter campaign and will never be offered for sale in the future. So your only chance to get them is to back us on Kickstarter 👾

Surprise and impress your friends with the selection of masks you will receive after the campaign. 


What about the PieReader?

The PieReader, available only through our Kickstarter campaign rewards, is an accessory that completes our platform. It’s main purpose is to give a new life to your collector cartridges and easily share their content with your friends. 

Plug the PieReader to your computer, insert your cartridge, open Piepacker … and invite anyone to join you for a game! ✨

We won’t be able to start the production of our PieReaders until the end of the campaign. We will send them to you as fast as possible. You can expect your PieReader to reach you in November 📦 We’ll be giving you status update on production starting next month. 

Remember that you don’t need to be have premium access to use the PieReader, the device will always work on our platform 😃


Where can I find ROMs to use with BYOG?

Piepacker is not permitted to provide any specific recommendations on how to acquire digital games as part of its commitment with key game publishers.

We encourage our users to seek advice by themselves, join dedicated communities and read more about their local legislations as they vary from one country to another 📚 

By providing its users with a private game room each time, Piepacker does not have any access to the game content played through its advanced BYOG functionality.The legal use of ROMs on Piepacker is the sole responsibility of its users. Please make sure to read our terms of use in case of doubt, everything you need to know about the legal use of games on Piepacker is in there.


Piepacker is still in beta, it’s already great to use and provides us with a lot of fun. But we count on all our beloved users to give as much feedback as possible on the platform so we can improve it quickly and effectively 🐣 

If you have any questions about the early access, please don’t hesitate to contact us on Discord! 💜

Meet the team 👋

Behind the Piepacker project, there is a team of passionate people. Our team has been growing steadily in the past year and it continues to grow with our hopes and ambitions for the project. It started small, Benjamin and Jules, two old friends from France who had spent years in the Silicon Valley, talking over dinner in San Francisco about a new cloud base technology. They both had experience in well-established companies of the tech industry, like Twitch, Facebook, Amazon, EA and Gameloft. Very early on, because they both remembered fondly their childhood pastime, they decided to use this new technology to develop an easy access to online multiplayer for retro games. This became the main focus of their work, and Piepacker was born.

Pretty soon, engineers joined them to develop emulation software and the website, among which Libretro contributors and some of the engineers who helped Sony to create the PS2 emulator for the PS3. The first issues we tackled were to be able to provide a great multiplayer experience with as little lag as possible and integrate our signature video chat system to our site. As Piepacker became more and more concrete, designers and business developers were hired to make our site both pretty and easy to use, and interesting in its content … While designers focused on the look and the user experience, our “biz dev” crew looked for the games that would best fit our catalogue and secured deals to distribute them. 

Later on, the frontend unit grew so they could implement the design to the site while our existing engineers focused on making everything work as it should and developing new features. We also got ready to talk to the world by adding community management and marketing pros to the team. We were getting bigger so we enlisted people to manage our contracts and our accounting. A few months ago, the studio was put together and started to work on developing our very first game: Arsène Lupin: Gentleman Bomber 💣. That’s about when we started the production of our 3D masks in cooperation with our partners. As our beta attracted more testers, one of our engineers reconverted into quality assurance and we recruited people to help identify bugs, gather feedback, and generally annoy the rest of the engineering team by giving them extra work. 

Overall, our team can boast an impressive experience in both indies studios and major companies such as Blizzard-Activision, Google, Sony PlayStation, Microsoft, Apple, Ubisoft and Twitter. But Piepacker also gave their chances to a few promising people right out of school who have been able to prove their worth, gain new skills and grow by working at Piepacker.

In the future, more people will join the adventure and help us make Piepacker a great product! We all have this common goal in mind and genuinely enjoy working at Piepacker because we have the success of the project at heart. We believe in what we have to offer to the world and we have taken advantage of the platform often among ourselves or with our friends, which is a great way to find ways to improve it. 

We are an all-remote company, which means most of us have never met in person! The sanitary crisis prevented us from organizing any kind of team gathering but as soon as possible we really want to all meet face to face and check out how tall everyone really is. We are spread all over the world, from the West Coast of the United States to Vietnam, and most of us are currently located in France. English is the common language we use to communicate among ourselves, but since a lot of us speak French, we also make a lot of jokes in this language. Communication is key to keep progressing in our work together. We use Slack for internal written communication, and Google Workspace to exchange files and plan virtual meetings. It’s very important to us to create and maintain a pleasant and chill work environment, we get things done because the project unites us and we have a good time doing our work. Every addition to the team is considered both based on skills and personality, so that whoever joins us can fit well within our team. 

We believe the success of our project will be assured by excitement and enthusiasm, from our team but also our partners and fans! We have received the help of a lot of people to get to where we are now… Retro gamers, indie creators, beta testers, licensors, advisors, supporters… Piepacker wouldn’t have existed without all of you! You’re shaping the project as much as the team is.   

Don’t hesitate to come to our Discord server to talk to us and join our adventure! 💜

Our contribution to the emulation community 🕹️

As a member of the emulation community, our team would like to take the time to share more information about our work, our setup, as well as answer all key questions we have received so far.

At the heart of its mission, Piepacker aims at bringing live multiplayer, with video cameras, to the world of emulation, which makes it a very distinct project from other great technology such as RetroArch. While our free primary service includes pre-built licensed games, a subscription will unlock, among other extra features, the ability to drag and drop ROMs to our platform to then play them in multiplayer. To read and stream games on Piepacker, we use both open source code and proprietary code and do not use any non-commercial emulators such as SNES-9X for example. We have been using GPL licensed emulators compatible with libretro (you will find the full list of emulators used below).

While using GPL licensed code, our team of gaming veterans is directly contributing to the emulation community by sharing our code. You will find our contributions here. In the long run, our goal is to support our ecosystem even more, by maintaining the swanstation libretro or helping on fixing key bugs to open new doors in the emulation space. We also publish additions like multitap support, or software renderer upscaling in emulators that were lacking it.

You might be wondering how we are different from RetroArch. While both projects are multi-console platforms, RetroArch is an open source downloadable application which users need to install and configure themselves whereas Piepacker is a proprietary web application that is ready to use. Piepacker focuses on the online multiplayer and makes it as simple and instantaneous as possible. There’s no network configuration required. All it takes is to copy paste a link to invite your friends to play directly from their web browser. Furthermore, we integrated a video chat to talk and see the friends you are playing with and we have legally secured the rights to distribute all the games available on our platform. 

The emulation on our platform is not based on RetroArch, but on the libretro API header*. Incidentally, RetroArch also uses it. Because this header only identifies a common interface for emulators (or cores in the libretro lingo) to follow, a number of emulation projects relies on it, such as Ludo, among others. We then use GPL licensed emulators compatible with libretro, such as Swanstation for the PS1 and Blastem for the Genesis.

In order to process rom files, we are using a hybrid system that runs locally when playing alone and on our servers when playing with other people online. We’ve been asked if we were using Parsec’s SDK to run the remote play. We do not: we have our own custom solution based on WebRTC. 

We have designed our own cartridge reader, the Piereader, which is fundamentally different from what is available right now. Since game roms cannot be always legally duplicated or distributed to other people, the PieReader does not allow you to dump and save your game like most cartridge dumpers. It’s a read only process that works exclusively on our platform. The game is executed on a private instance owned by the user and only the video stream is shared with other players, not the game data itself.

We have focused on answering the most frequently asked questions we have had until now. We encourage you to join our Discord to discuss with us directly if you want to know more. We’re always happy to talk to other emulation lovers! 


* libretro is under the MIT license.


List of emulators we currently use:

  • blastem (genesis and sms): GPL 3
  • mesens (snes): GPL 3
  • mesen (nes): GPL 3
  • fceumm (nes): GPL 2 
  • mednafen (psx): GPL 2
  • swanstation (psx) : GPL 3
  • mame (arcade): GPL 2
  • mgba (gba) : mozilla public license 2.0
  • lutro (lua game engine): MIT

Hello World! 💜

We are Piepacker!

We created a platform on which you can play your favorite retro video games with your friends online 🕹️ 

We are thrilled to be coming closer to our public beta launch this summer, and we’d like to introduce ourselves to the world 🌎 

We want to recreate the feeling of playing at the arcade or at home with your friends even if you can’t get together in the same place 💻 Our purpose is to bring people together around video games which is why we integrated video chat to our platform, allowing you to see and talk to your friends while you play (text is there too if you feel like being quiet 🙊). Choose a game, create a room, send our magical link to your friends (even if they don’t have an account) and play together! Our gaming system is cloud based which allows us to keep saves of your games indefinitely. Just log into your account from any computer through Google Chrome, plug in your favorite controller (or whatever you got at hand) and start playing where you left off.

We already have a built-in catalogue of over 60 games from the NES, the SNES and the Genesis, all the way to the PlayStation 1 that will be available for free on the platform when the public beta opens in Summer 2021. We have secured distribution deals with the publishers of every single one of these games. We want to make sure creators get back their fair share of profit on their amazing creations. Our video-chat system is enhanced by AR 3D masks that we are designing and producing ourselves. They are inspired by the games we have on the platform and suggestions from our community. Collect them and show off to your friends 🎭 They will be available for purchase on the platform as soon as possible (and some of our original creations will be available for free!).

We, at Piepacker, are a small and passionate team. We all live and breathe video games and we want to share with the world what we see as the past’s best pastimes, as well as bring the future to our platform. To add to the retro classics that you’ll find on Piepacker, we are also creating our own original video games, looking to snatch any indie gem out there and will eventually include card and board games to our catalogue. Whether you want to compete with your friends or cooperate or even just show off your mastery (or lack thereof) of a game, there’s something for everyone on Piepacker! 🎆

Maybe you are nostalgic of the countless hours spent in front of your console with your friends when you were younger, or you want to discover fun games you never knew existed. Just browse through our catalogue where you’ll find games to entertain yourself for hours! Want a challenging platformer ✨? Try climbing as far as you can in Micro Mages. Want a good old fight 🥊? Find the best combos to kick your opponent down in Rage of the Dragons. Want a great game of football? Sensible Soccer ⚽ has nothing to envy younger games. Want to shoot ugly aliens 👽? The marines of Xeno Crisis are waiting for your command. And if you feel like showing your friends who’s in charge, look no further than Worms: World Party 🐛, where you will choose the best weapons to eliminate their squad before they wiggle out of your reach 🧨! 

Our partners, among which Mega Cat Studio, Codemasters, Piko Interactive, Bitmap Bureau, Team17, Interplay, Broke Studio, and Morphcat Games, have given us access to some amazing games. We value our relationships with our partners, and are thrilled to be able to bring back iconic games from the past as well as today’s best games on the lesser known indie scene. 

You will be able to help support our project and future content by subscribing to a premium membership 💎 that will give you access to extra features, such as rewind power, HD graphics, and unlimited save slots… We are first and foremost mindful of our community’s demands, which is why our roadmap is greatly influenced by users’ feedback. The majority of the first users who tested our private beta asked to be able to play their own games with their friends on the platform. Which is why we are including a Bring Your On Game 🎮 feature to our premium access, allowing you to play your own legally acquired ROMs in online multiplayer with anyone you invite.

“But what about the physical games I have?”, you ask. Well, we have you covered! We launched a Kickstarter campaign to help us finance the creation and production of the ultimate accessory to our platform: the PieReader, a modulable cartridge reader (with several adapters) to connect your collector games to Piepacker and play them with anyone you want, wherever they are, as long as you all have an internet connection 🧭 It does not require any sort of subscription to work on Piepacker.

If you want to test out our games and features early, you can secure your early access by backing our Kickstarter campaign until the 21 of May 2021 🏆 It’s also the only place where our Piereader will be available for purchase for a while, so don’t miss out on our Kickstarter exclusive design. 

Give us a like or a follow to stay updated on our project’s progress! And hopefully, you’ll come tell us what you think of it on Discord ✌️