Brian's Playdate DevLog

Hi everyone! Some of you may have seen me hanging out on the Discord server, but this is my first time posting in the forum. I’m Director of Engineering at a software shop here in Toronto, Canada and I’ve been excitedly playing around with game ideas since I joined the developer preview.

I’ve very much enjoyed following everyone’s progress on their games & prototypes, so I thought it was time to start sharing some of what I’ve been working on. Both games are very much WIP, but I’ve been enjoying the experience so far.

First up is Blackjack.

Blackjack

The basics for an 8-deck table are in there. I still need to figure out UI/animations and handling cases like splitting, doubling down, etc. But as a self-proclaimed Blackjack enthusiast, I’ve been enjoying practicing my basic strategy with what I have so far. Huge thanks to Neven for sharing the excellent card image table!

Second game is a classic: Sokoban. I’ve been using Kenney’s 1-bit pack for this one, so far. I’m questioning the size of the sprites on-device. It all might be a bit small. But it’s pretty legible and leaves lots of room for different level designs.

Sokoban

I’ll try to keep sharing updates as I go, as well as some builds in the near future.

LATEST BUILDS
Sokoban: sokoban.pdx.zip (112.7 KB) (December 27, 2020)

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Really nice couple of games!

Looking forward to seeing these and others progress.

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Thanks Matt! Your own updates inspired me to start sharing. It’s great to see the community popping up around the Playdate.

Sokoban has been my main focus for the last week, or so.

(I really need to come up with my own name and take on why the player is shoving these orbs around)

I’ve cleaned up much of the codebase, added the first 10 levels, added a card image for the game picker, added a simple win state, added the ability to track progress on the levels, implemented storing preferences behind the scenes, and created a common sample-playing object to handle muting and such.

Screenshot 2020-10-11 23.00.55

Static views are all implemented using the same drawing logic as the levels themselves. Time will tell if this is too limiting. Currently I’m designing the levels in Tiled and exporting as JSON.

In terms of player-facing features, I’ve implemented a simple title screen, cleaned up level design to aid in clarity (as a starting point, at least), added some samples for footsteps and pushing things around (to be adjusted/swapped out eventually) and adjusted the in-level GUI.

sokoban_oct11_level1

I’ve also added the ability to undo unlimited moves by pressing the A or B buttons.

sokoban_oct11_undo

As well as the ability to restart a level, or reset level progress/the entire game.

sokoban_oct11_restartLevel

sokoban_oct11_resetGame

I’m sharing a WIP build: sokoban.pdx.zip (110.8 KB) (I’ll also update my original post with the latest builds as I go)

Press A on the title/main menu screen to start/continue playing. Ditto for the “win” state — which appears once you complete all 10 levels or if there’s an error loading a level :rofl:

Next up: More levels, better main menu, saving current level state on exit/pause/etc. and probably some other things I’m not thinking of right now.

This is my first foray into trying to put together a basic game. I’m open to any and all feedback, if folks decide to grab the build!

2 Likes

I just played it, really nice so far! Even better in your GIFs.

One thing I love about Sokoban is that because it’s been around for so long (1982) there are thousands of levels that have all been critiqued and solved for difficulty. This means that the difficulty curve of such a game has the possibility of being perfect.

That said, I found the first level of your game to be more difficult than the following levels. Or maybe I’m just rusty!?

BTW my favourite variant is - without hesitation - Chip’s Challenge on Atari ST (originally Atari Lynx)

Thanks Matt! The note about the difficulty curve is spot-on, it’s something my wife picked up on as well. I’ll definitely have to tune that. Thanks for sharing the video. It’s impressive just how many Sokoban games have been released since the original — I’m definitely not short on sources of inspiration!

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In my experience, in these types of games, levels that require you to move blocks to a temporary resting location before the move to their final location (like, you push Block A off to the side, which lets you move Block B to its final location, which then lets you go back and push Block A to its final location) are significantly more difficult than levels that don’t. The first level of this game requires two temporary relocations (or, at least, my solution involved that), whereas in some of the later levels you can just move each block directly to its final location, and that makes those levels feel much easier.

I like the high-contrast white-on-black art style. I’ve been mostly using dither-heavy “grayscale” art in my games, but when I saw this game on my Playdate I really liked how strong the contrast looked. It’s a good fit for the display technology. The tile size is a bit small, but the contrast in the art style is so high that the game is plenty legible, even if the tiles are small.

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Thanks for trying it out! You’re absolutely right about temporary locations being tied to difficulty, I hadn’t thought about it that way previously. It’s a helpful insight that I’ll keep in mind as I’m looking at new levels (and swapping around the existing ones!)

I was initially worried about the tile size, but I also found the legibility pretty good on-device and it offers lots of room for larger level designs. I’m glad you liked it — all credit has to go to the original Kenney 1-bit pack. I may need to look into doing my own art/having someone else do it for me, at some point, but not having to worry about art has helped this novice immensely :smiley:

I’ve added a new build that should run on 1.0.0.

Also, hello! I’m still here. Coming back to continue polishing Sokoban, but I’ve been side-tracked by a handful of small game ideas that I’ve been tinkering with. I’d like to have something available on Day 1, so I’ll have to pick something to bring to 100% soon. Sokoban is the most likely candidate, though I’m quite entranced with an idea I had for a super grim power management/idle game.

Keep cranking or everyone dies, kind of. We’ll see if it bears any fruit.

A minor diversion, but I’ve been playing around with some basic game ideas that leverage playing in a vertical orientation. My first concept is a pretty simple one — avoid the bad guys while collecting as many coins as you can. Obviously it would require some explanation to players, but it’s kind of neat to one-hand the Playdate and play sideways.

We’ll see if it stays interesting to me, but it’s been fun to play around with.

avoider_gameplay

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How it looks in left-handed mode – with apologies for my dirty screen.

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Nice work! having fun with Sokoban