App developer Panic reveals 'Playdate' handheld gaming system

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 22
Panic, a developer known for macOS and iOS apps like Transmit and Coda, on Wednesday announced plans for its first hardware offering in Playdate, a small handheld gaming device set to launch in 2020.




Four years in the making, Playdate is decidedly idiosyncratic, with a retro-futuristic 2.7-inch 400-by-240 pixel, reflective black-and-white display joined by more modern components like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communications and a USB-C port. A headphone jack and speaker are also incorporated into the tiny, square-shaped device measuring less than three inches on each side.

Along with the usual power button, directional pad and A and B controls, Playdate includes a small crank with a handle that fits into a recess in the chassis housing. The distinctive input was dreamed up by Teenage Engineering, a Swedish digital music electronics company which assisted Panic in Playdate's design and manufacture.

A team of five people, led by Panic's director of special projects Greg Maletic, conceived and developed the project, reports the Oregonian.

As detailed by MacStories, Playdate's software lineup -- and method of distribution -- is unique. Panic enlisted notable indie game developers Keita Takahashi, Zach Gage, Bennett Foddy, Shaun Inman and others to contribute to the project. Aside from showing off the crank in Takahashi's "Crankin's Time Travel Adventure," Panic is keeping game specifics under wraps, saying only that the first batch will include short, long and experimental titles.

Games run on the Playdate OS and were built using a custom SDK that supports C and Lua. Panic also tooled a Mac-based simulator and debugger for developers.

The first dozen games will be pushed out to Playdate one-by-one every week as part of a "season," with each release designed to be a surprise for users. Future seasons will be discussed at a later date, but the initial group is being offered as part of the device's $149 pricing.

"The system itself is really all about surprises," Cabel Sasser, Panic co-founder, told the Oregonian. "We know everything about everything before it comes out. And we wanted to buck against that a little bit."

Panic is no stranger to the gaming industry. The company published "Firewatch" in 2016 to critical acclaim and its upcoming "Untitled Goose Game" received plaudits for its unique play style, but Playdate marks a bold step into the realm of hardware. With a unique interface and games like "Crankin's Time Travel Adventure," however, it appears Panic is -- wisely -- not chasing market giants. Indeed, Playdate is designed to co-exist alongside products like Nintendo's Switch, according to MacStories.

The system is a gamble, as Panic funded the project internally and without funding from investors. Though hopes are high for the diminutive device and unique game release "season" model, Panic is not betting the company on its success.

"Worst-case scenario, we're still going to be standing the next day," Sasser said. "We might have a roomful of cardboard boxes."

Playdate will debut in early 2020 for $149. Those interested in being one of the first to order can join a first come, first served pre-order list on the Playdate website.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 657member
    Welcome to the party, Pal..aydate. :-) 
  • Reply 2 of 18
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,519member
    Intriguing. I think kids will like the crank.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,061member
    So the crank isn't a power source?

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,519member
    mattinoz said:
    So the crank isn't a power source?

    Nope. Incorporated into games. Reminds of the ancient nickelodeon movie machines. Could be very cool for players to use the crank for (as an example) "digging" to find treasure or "powering up" et cetera.

    Ooh, if there were a flash on the back you could use the crank as a flashlight! Ha!
    edited May 22 watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 18
    supadav03supadav03 Posts: 447member
    My hands are cramping just looking at that thing...
    leeherickscornchip
  • Reply 6 of 18
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,684member
    Could be a sleeper hit. Might end up "big in Japan" as they say.
    pulseimagesracerhomie3cornchipStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 18
    I don't know why they didn't tilt the A B buttons. Maybe to avoid some kind of lawsuit with Nintendo? Looks like they went for indestructible and unique over some common sense stuff like sliding it in your pocket, ergonomic comfort, etc.

    Wish the best for them!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 2,838member
    Looks like they went for indestructible and unique over some common sense stuff like sliding it in your pocket
    It's less than 3x3" — how big are your pockets?
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 603member
    mattinoz said:
    So the crank isn't a power source?



    ^ good example of it in gameplay. This one is by the creator of Katamari Damacy.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 18
    And Gruber is probably going nuts about it.
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 18
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,650member
    It was co-designed by Teenage Engineering, I know of some of their music gear.

    Knowing that, I suppose that the design makes sense, since it looks like something that they would've designed, including the color choice.




    pscooter63cornchipStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 18
    pscooter63pscooter63 Posts: 923member
    apple ][ said:
    It was co-designed by Teenage Engineering, I know of some of their music gear.

    A coworker lent me his OP-1 for a bit, and its combination of build quality and quirky interface was endearing.  I didn't want to give it back.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 18
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,650member
    apple ][ said:
    It was co-designed by Teenage Engineering, I know of some of their music gear.

    A coworker lent me his OP-1 for a bit, and its combination of build quality and quirky interface was endearing.  I didn't want to give it back.
    I've actually never tried one of those yet, but I've seen it in action on some youtube videos. It looks like a fun little piece.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 18
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,096member
    This is the kind of delightfully inventive product you’d expect from Nintendo or Disney or possibly even the Apple of the past.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 18
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 487member
    Interesting. 

    Mat $149, it’s got a bit of an uphill battle. 

    As a game system, I personally don’t find it compelling with limited specs. 

    However...

    As odd as it seems wt first, the crank has major potential. Especially for kids. Parents do t want their kids just vegging  out. They want them active. But kids want to play video games. This is a neat compromise. Hope that crank is built out of liquidmetal. It’s going to see some abuse. 

    I love panic apps. Didn’t know they did stuff like this. Heck I’d buy one just to encourage disruption and innovation. 
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 18
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,576member
    This is the kind of delightfully inventive product you’d expect from Nintendo or Disney or possibly even the Apple of the past.
    So AirPods aren’t delightfully inventive? Or did they come from Apple of the past and get sent to Apple of the present? 

    Sounds like you’re sliding into “It was better then!” nostalgia mode. 
    AppleExposedwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 18
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,096member
    This is the kind of delightfully inventive product you’d expect from Nintendo or Disney or possibly even the Apple of the past.
    So AirPods aren’t delightfully inventive? Or did they come from Apple of the past and get sent to Apple of the present? 

    Sounds like you’re sliding into “It was better then!” nostalgia mode. 
    This PlayDate product is pure whimsy. Apple doesn’t do pure whimsy anymore.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 855unconfirmed, member
    apple ][ said:
    It was co-designed by Teenage Engineering, I know of some of their music gear.

    Knowing that, I suppose that the design makes sense, since it looks like something that they would've designed, including the color choice.





    Really? Freaking cool!
    watto_cobra
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