It must be fun to work at Panic. It reminds me of how tech companies were in the 90s. Clear mission, but open horizon.
It looks like a toy, and kind of plays like one, but it's actually a marvellous piece of gear, very capable musically, and providing a fantastic user experience. There's just nothing else like it out there.
The company itself is very unique. Just look at what they came up with  for OP-1 accessories: brick LEGO shafts, a bender, and a crank, like the one for Coda.
I wonder whether that's accidental, or an homage.
 for example about 1:25 into this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNYcviXK4rg
You couldn’t find any on reverb dot com?
To me this is the dream: a company that is so successful that you get to take risks and build cool things that you want to exist.
I want to make my own games for fun, but also to expose my son to the creativity and exploration of programming.
A physical console would make this experience so much more real.
Also this audience might be interested to know that soon there'll be Python support in MakeCode. More details on our language toolchain here 
Disclosure: I work for MakeCode :)
Not affiliated, just also interested in new and emerging easy to use game systems, and this is just the latest in a long line of them I've been playing with ..
Everything I googled would give me results in the Phaser forums and the exercise was on me to figure out which version they were using, which was 100% Phaser 2.
And the API definitely wasn't written for Typescript support. For example, just changing the physics string completely changes the API available which felt like an exercise in obfuscation.
Also found the API so unintuitive that I was trying to repurpose examples to get what I wanted which is always a bad sign to me, like hoping your question appears in an FAQ because the code is too hard to read.
Ended up using https://excaliburjs.com/ which is written in Typescript thus much less guesswork. I really didn't like my experience with Phaser.
I don't know about changes in the last 2 years, haven't used it since then, maybe it's changed for worse but can't imagine
If you have any suggestions or bugs, please feel free to comment on https://forum.makecode.com/ or https://github.com/microsoft/pxt. We're still in the early stages with Arcade so feedback is especially useful.
What's your product?
* Our server code isn't open source, but it's basically just a node app serving a SPA. Everything is client side. Works offline too.
I worked on video games for the past few years and saw many less technical colleagues empowered by tools like Unreal Engine's Blueprint (https://docs.unrealengine.com/en-us/Engine/Blueprints). I thought that the same paradigm may apply more widely but the visual languages used outside of games weren't really hitting the mark.
Devev is a framework for creating visual programming languages. They are supported through extensions. For launch I'm working on an extension which parses TS types and allows you to use the existing code in nodes. That's what you'll see in my image above. This will allow early users to tap into existing libraries published on NPM.
I don't expect much traction with the launch version and plan to target a specific domain shortly after that. I'm leaning towards a build system where you can capture your dependencies in a visual graph. One of the applications I'd been thinking about was allowing users to build and share games or other applications in a web-editor similar to Scratch.
Devev is also a JS SPA and the client editor uses Electron. The client editor supports more features like multiple windows, editors panes and plugins. Additionally the client can parse new Typescript files but not the SPA. For the SPA to parse TS I'd need to deliver TSC over the web which I won't figure out for V1.
Targeting build systems seems like a great fit as well, since as you pointed out the build DAG is naturally a graph.
When you mentioned games programming, I thought of Dream's visual programming: https://youtu.be/eMRp3QMAkz8?t=773
I love the idea of using typescript types to define visual code atoms. We do a very simple version of that to create our Blockly blocks, e.g. block definition: https://github.com/microsoft/pxt-microbit/blob/master/libs/r...
although I'm sure you could take that much farther.
We run TSC in the browser in a worker thread, here's an example, in case that helps: https://github.com/microsoft/pxt/blob/master/pxtcompiler/emi...
We use TSC for typechecking and our own typescript compiler for compiling down to ARM assembly.
That being said, our platform is fairly extensible so someone could create an Android Apps target. They'd need to create a new backend to target the JVM probably and some work to link with whatever pre-built Android binaries.
It's awesome and it comes with PICO-8 pre-installed (you only need to add the license key).
It can also run lots of emulators.
Source: know one of the lauch game developers, have cranked the prototype hardware
Looks like the PlayDate will support lua and apparently isn't a complete potato according to their presskit page, so it's not out of the question that platforms like PixelVision8 could port its runner to the platform and then you could author for actual hardware using the editing tool.
So you could use any Raspberry Pi enclosure as a physical PICO-8 platform.
I think Dank Tomb's lighting is by far one of my favourite examples - https://hackernoon.com/pico-8-lighting-part-1-thin-dark-line...
Anybody remember this guy? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WikiReader
Single-purpose hardware has identity. It has explicit purpose. If it is well-designed, it has an interface that is intuitive while encouraging a limited amount of experimentation. I think a lot of good software emulates these properties, but often with the tradeoff of being less extensible/integrable/power user friendly.
There already is, for me. I'd imagine a product like this depends on that nostalgia to a degree.
I love that it's purpose-specific and isn't gimmicky like smartwatches. This also means the battery lasts about a month. Plus, it looks good.
There is one example that is still firmly lodged in my head from the labs in my electonic engineering degree. It was this big box with a nice keypad, a screen that could display a few characters, and a big handle to lock in place the integrated circuit you wanted to test. You would slot it in, pull the handle, then type the ID numbers of the particular IC. If it was functioning as expected, the screen would say something like "OKAY" and that was all this thing did. Truly magical! On further googling and reflection I'm now not so sure about how big the handle was, but the machine was something like .
On a more pragmatic level, it feels more and more like companies creating semi-disposable toy electronics should be held to extremely high standards when it comes to how they source their components and the environmental impact of the lifecycle of their device, because this is ultimately cheap junk that’s hurting the environment.
All products should be held to that standard, not just "semi-disposable toy electronics", which it's not even clear applies to this.
I don't think Panic is involved in organized crime, though.
Still contemplating a Dragonbox Pyra. The OpenPandora, despite a rocky start, played host to some incredible things.
I have never typed my email into a signup form so fast.
Put differently, limitations create interest, but they're also the opposite of cost-effective.
That’s why you don’t see many platformers for mobile. The ones that do exist auto run for you or put virtual buttons on the screen, which I haven’t found to work well.
A new game, every Monday, delivered wirelessly to your pocket.
What excites me about Playdate is that it is something only an outsider with no attachments to existing business relationships could make.
Games released today are still encumbered by the regional and geographic thinking of traditional software distribution. While Steam, the App Store, etc have certainly democratised some aspects, they are still an exception to the traditional model that generates the most revenue.
Episodic games tried to bring seasonality to gaming. That didn’t really work (Episode 3 anyone?). Fortnite has been the most successful at it, but it is still a AAA game attached to a big publisher. It’s the evolution of the old model.
Playdate and Apple’s upcoming Arcade feel like the beginning of a new model and that’s really, really exciting.
Streaming services, like Google's recently announced Stadia will probably have similar compensation models.
I really think it harms the world by incentivizing creators to pad and fluff. Dickens is great, but you can really tell which of his works were published serially, because it affected how he wrote.
At the same time, paying a flat amount for each created work incentivizes creators to pump out a huge pile of small works. It's all singles and no albums, which I also think is bad.
The programmer part of my brain wonders if you could solve this by simply picking a function somewhere between O(n) (pay linearly by quantity consumed) and O(1) (pay a fixed price for the whole thing). The obvious middle point is O(log(n)).
I wonder how well it would work if creators were paid by time spent consuming but with a function that offerred diminishing returns the larger the quantity was?
Your sentiment is great, but I think the world has moved far beyond where you are coming from and that isn’t where Play will differentiate. The subscription new games is neat though, but iOS will have that this summer.
I think the key factor is content leveraging. How much the game's core systems can leverage assets to create varied gameplay. Because with seasons you have to help your customers get excited about relatively small batches of content.
Through that lens you find that narrative driven single player games are the worst candidates for seasonal games. It's more suited to match-based multiplayer games with sensitive meta games.
The first party stores do not make more money than Steam and other third party stores combined with mobile
I also don't really know what business model you're describing. Subscription with a weekly game drop? PSN is the subscription for online Playstation services and it comed with several free games a month. There are a few existing "stream any game" services as well, PSNow, Origin's subscription etc.
Here's what I think happened. They decided that they wanted to make a low power black and white game system for people to use while camping. They decided that a crank charger was the best solution for this and went ahead with development.
Further into the process they discovered that they couldn't get the power budget low enough to make cranking a viable option, but they were too far along to abandon it completely.
Then someone had a brilliant idea. Lets make the crank an input system, and develop crank based games.
The point standing that it was an odd choice for a game controller anyway you cut it and most likely wasn't through some UX problem solving process related to games.
You can't always lab-grow your most creative ideas.
Check out “red means recording” https://youtu.be/7z4hoazra_g
As a self-described inveterate hobbyist, I completely understand looking around a workshop full of parts and saying "gee, what could we do with that?" And buying parts completely at random just to full future sessions of "Mystery Meat Monday"
I'm sure someone could come up with this idea and probably did, but getting to the stage of actually releasing a commercial product with a crank makes me think there is more to the story.
You're literally shoving the other player out of the way.
Everyone loved the crank charger built into it, but it exerted really large forces on the chassis. Our industrial designers came to us and said "This is a totally solvable problem: We just need to make the chassis out of milled titanium!" We were like: "Thanks guys, but that's so far out of budget..."
When I first saw the Playdate I thought the crank was a really odd use, a one-trick pony. Then I saw that Teenage Engineering was partnering on the design and it totally made sense.
Think about vinyls, cassettes, VHRs, typing machines.
It's all about the cool factor, the "authentic", the "vintage". That's where the crank it's coming from.
The weirdo typing love letters on a mechanical type writer on the park bench. The weirdo cranking this thing on the subway, with his Air Buds on and the expensive sneakers.
Is there a Hurdy Gurdy app yet?
It was a great controller for some games, like Breakout.
Not speculating at all. Just wanted to point that out.
Especially if there's games that utilise the mechanic. could just have a much lower torque (and therefore lower-current-generation) since it's going to be used a lot. Missed opportunity.
Maybe at this point it's supplanted by smartphones?
biggest hurdle for playdate is word of mouth - nintendo has that trust, i don't trust the company behind this. Same reason that android console failed - hell nvidia couldn't get enough support behind it
If they offer more games after the fact that's cool, but at this price point I think most customers will love it for what it is.
This crank would have ruled.
In a few years, we are going to revisit the golden era again, and it's going to be as fun as it was last time.
Between Switch and a lot of great mobile games I'm not sure how it's stagnant.
I saw a fair few people on the tube with their switch!
Until recently, I exclusively played my Switch while travelling - it’s great for planes.
It’s now permanently in my backpack and I play it on the tube on my daily commute. It’s great
So yes, I would definitely consider the switch mobile
A possible point of comparison for me would be Fujifilm’s very successful line of Instax instant cameras. They are similar to other cameras (phone, compact, DSLR, mirrorless) in that they take photos but framing them as a competitor to other cameras doesn’t make much sense.
Taking photos with them is much more expensive (given that nobody will give up their phone for an Instax camera and practically all phones today will take better photos than Instax cameras, just purely from a technical point of view, ignoring aesthetic preferences) and the photos you do take are just much more impractical than digital photos. But that doesn’t matter at all since all of that is not the point of Instax cameras.
In the gaming space the biggest actual competitor is still probably Nintendo, but not with their “normal” Games, more with their “weird” experiments like Nintendo Labo. I could actually imagine someone deciding between Labo and this.
Edit- looks like an SDK exists, it's just not available quite yet: https://play.date/media/
I wonder about the lack of backlighting though? Hopefully the screen is much better in this regard than the original non-backlit GBA, which was difficult to see in low light conditions.
It was tricky getting light to hit the screen in just the right way: https://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2001/06/13/lame-boy-advan...
$150 dollars is very expensive for a portable game system, which will compete with any tablet/phone that can play games that have better graphics and game play.
The problem is that this is competing with entire ecosystems of games that have been around for almost a decade.
This is more of a play on nostalgia and classic bulky simple handhelds. It would be in the same category as the NES Classic Edition or the Sega Genesis Mini. It's fun and almost a collectible honestly.
The NES class edition and Sega Genesis only work because of people that remember playing these games as a kid (like me). I have the NES classic edition and my teenage nephews were bored pretty quickly after they played it.
Nostalgia isn't usually there for something new that looks like the games I used to play when I was younger.
By referring to it as a collectible, I also meant that this will most likely not going to be a huge success, but more of a niche product. I see it as an indie hardware; the Cuphead of Gaming Systems if you will.
While I’m sure they will sell some devices and they will likely become a collectors item in the future; I can’t see them selling enough to make this worthwhile nor keep people playing on it long enough to be considered anything more than an expensive yet short-lived novelty item.
Hopefully I’m wrong, but as a collector of games consoles - including many of those that failed - I’m not filled with any confidence about the Playdate.
What do you think Panic means by successful?
From the PlayDate's site:
> Stock will be very limited. Sign up early.
It doesn't sound like they're trying to take over the gaming industry here.
1. Have any longevity beyond a novelty. By that I don’t mean hundreds of hours clocked up; I just mean people will use it for more than a couple of hours before putting it in a draw to never be seen again.
2. Make a profit. Obviously including all the time spent in design et al as well.
Personally I can see this both being unsuccessful in terms engagement as well as financially unsuccessful.
1] are infested with IAP/psycho crack time gates
2] cant cost more than a dollar or so, no one will buy them
3] have no buttons, and the number of games that work well without buttons is few.
4] have a horrible reputation, people discount games just for being mobile
5] ridiculously fragmented hardware, who knows what screen size or device type you're targeting if you develop for mobile?
6] are too high res. All new game systems are. Low res games with few buttons can be developed cheaply and quickly (i.e., 20k instead of 5M)
I want some simple games with real buttons. I want to make some. I'll pay for it. I think others will too.
I do think $150 is a little high, but that might also convey a sense of value, rather than "another crappy emulator box thing"
Both price points are in about the same range of disposable income for the target audience.
But $50 is a cheapo, side thing... as junky as the maker felt they could get away with. Not necessarily bad (Personally, I really appreciate things that are made as cheap as someone felt they could get away with, especially games. The cheapo-ness tells an interesting story and sometimes these things absolutely amaze me.) but usually pretty bad.
$150 is a centerpiece. It's a product that delivers at some decent level of quality/aesthetics. From the website I think they nailed that. (It looks like the handheld console you've made out of Lego and then imagined the details of what the real thing that the Lego model represents.)
So the $50 portable game is maybe too crappy to be a centerpiece gift (to another or to yourself), but maybe too expensive to fit in as a second-tier gift (e.g., a Christmas stocking-stuffer).
While this might qualify as "the gift of the year". (Or purchase for self of the year.)
The experience on the cheap device will probably be inferior in virtually every way to the phone you already have in your pocket.
But this device is different. Your phone doesn't have a crank. (Nor does whatever handheld system you may already have). It doesn't look like Lego. It doesn't have a black-and-white screen and it doesn't have a new, unique game coming out every week. (well your phone has seemingly a million games coming out each week, but in a diffuse, general way where you have to discover them for yourself and figure out for yourself if the IAP are too annoying or not, etc.)
Games are about new and fresh experiences so anything you already own and have been playing for 10 years is at a serious disadvantage, despite that it's cheaper to keep using it because you already own it.
I know devices like this often fail to thrive in the market, but Teenage Engineering has some experience making this sort of single-purpose device work for customers. Panic seems to be very passionate, quality and delivery oriented, and good at doing an exceptional job on familiar products. There might be some potential here. I'd absolutely take my chances on this thing if I could get my hands on one! My kids would love it too.
The main issues people have with it are 1) long-standing software bugs that don’t get fixed 2) TE doesn’t seem that focused on producing it anymore- it was out of stock for a couple years, and they raised the price significantly on the new batches.
made this in bed at 3am last night. sampled the vox straight from my phones headphone output into the line in on the op-1. its a beautiful piece of hardware that i take with me wherever i go.
Much like how Teenage Engineering's OP-1 is not competitively priced. This is another example of an insightfully designed, well built product for adults. Older millenials looking for a sentimental package so they can feel like it's their 8th birthday again. They are reunboxing a gameboy color.
Their goal isn't to revitalize the dying, Nintendo/Smartphone dominated scene of handheld gaming. Just a small company releasing a niche product in a low quantity for a low risk profit.
No different than a craft brew or a local farmers market.
In many ways, I think this is the antidote to a lot of the bad behaviors Silicon Valley has developed in the last several years. Sometimes not achieving hyperscale is OK.
I'm not saying I don't love the idea of boutique electronics. I'm just saying it's not really for the faint of heart.
That's not to say that spending loads on marketing is a requirement. Stuff like the original few OnePlus phones for example prove that if (at least in some sectors) tech is good and cheap, people will spread the word
Whether or not it's accurate for the OP-1, I think your analysis applies perfectly to the Playdate.
NDS: Ghost Trick, The World Ends With You, Ragnarock DS, Devil Survivor, 999, Rune Factory 3, Disgaea DS
2) It's 12 games to start with. I'm sure there could be more later on.
N++, Papers Please, Geometry Dash, Return of the Obra Dinn, Ori and the Blind Forest, 1001 Spikes, Hollow Knight, the list goes on. Then you have things like The Talos Principle, which does have DLC, but it's many hours long, or Humble and their bundles and monthlies, or that Lichess and Pokemon Showdown are legitimately completely free.
The Playdate looks like a fun toy, but it's vastly more of a cash grab than the games I play regularly.
It's like comparing the latest Avengers movie with a niche YouTube show. You can compare the price of a movie ticket with a Patreon subscription, but what are you even comparing?
How many people on HN have $100s spent on Steam games they haven't even installed once and probably never will? Or games they finally played but didn't like, yet too much time elapsed for a refund?
Still, I guess there is a niche for this. It just isn’t me.
Nerds with disposable income who will play with it for a few hours, after which it’ll take dust on a shelf.
Sorry, this looks like a overpriced gimmick. The digital equivalent of a pet rock, or a more modern (and far more expensive) take on a tomagotchi.
This thing looks beautiful and that by itself is worth a premium price to a lot of people. I bet it's going to sell out instantly.
I compare it more to a subscription to Kindle Unlimited or Netflix. With the difference that once I played them all, I can even sell all the games and the device.
I'm prepared to pay 12$ for a good book. Then pointing to free books as an argument that said book is not worth 12$ is not really applicable. I am not just paying for some book, I am paying for a specific book. Like, say, there is a new book out by Neil Gaiman. I will buy that unseen, even if you tell me that I could get a free book by Somebody INeverHeardOf instead.
In the case here, I loved Firewatch and I am willing to give Panic the benefit of the doubt.
As a device to plunk down $150 on, no way.
- If the crank is so fun, they didn't manage to show it.
- Hopefully they'll show more games, because the promise of 12 black and white games involving two buttons a crank isn't awe-inspiring.
- The 2DS is the same price and is vastly more powerful and capable. Obviously they're going for simplicity and quirkiness but objectively it's just a real hard sell here.
- Nintendo is rumored to be making a cheaper more portable Switch along with a Switch Pro this year, and I bet that cheap one is going to be $200.
I just think the only "why" of this thing is "because we could." That's totally okay, but I'd be shocked if this was any more than a limited run item, and even more shocked if anything beyond those initial games ever make it to the platform.
I think it's a hilarious idea, and will 100% buy one if I can. I have zero interest in buying a 2DS or Switch though.
Teenage Engineering seem to have a nice little "lifestyle business" producing electronics that most people just go "But why?"
(Also, the crank is demonstrated in the last image is you scroll right down the page. It looks fun!
They're called "pocket operators". Oddly fun to make beats on.
This one has some better pictures and soundcloud audio.
youtube has a lot on these little things.
This is literally a game boy with a crank, you can get a thousand-game library device with dual color screens for the same price.
Maybe nobody else besides TE is making cool portable synthesizers but this is definitely something that’s been tried before.
Obviously it’s a novelty and not trying to be a million seller, but I’m struggling to see who would buy one based on the price and features considering the alternatives.