Pool (brainstorm) of ideas for new games (or software) for Playdate

TL;DR: This is a bunch of ideas that you can use to get inspiration for building your own games. Feel free to add your own ideas to this thread.

I had a bunch of ideas of things that could be made interesting by using the unique Playdate hardware. I'm not going to implement them myself, and I didn't want to just discard these ideas, so I've decided to share them here. Feel free to use them as inspiration.

What's more, I encourage other people to share their ideas. This thread can be a repository of ideas that may or may not ever see a concrete implementation, as well of inspiration for those days when you're out of ideas.

Without further ado:

  • Gear ratio simulator - Edutainment or just a fidget toy.
  • Mechanical calculator - You know, before 7-digit display calculators, people used mechanical crank-powered calculators! This can even be edutainment software, as it can show the gears and explain how those calculators work.
  • Bicycle pedaling simulator, including:
  • Racing game where the crank is the driving wheel (either in relative (Pole Position arcade) or absolute modes).
  • Jet-ski or motorcycle racing game based on the crank for gas and the accelerometer for steering. What's more: the crank could be extended in 90° angle to better simulate the handlebar-mounted accelerator.
  • Cannonball ballistic simulator, like Bang! Bang! and Scorched Earth. After all, real-world mechanical cannons used wheels and cranks for aiming.
  • Telescope, crank controls rotation and zoom. It can even use real star maps.
  • Microscope, crank controls x, y position and focus (z). Real microscopes are adjusted using several knobs, so this can be a bit edutainment, as it would show how microscopes work.
  • Fishing game, using the crank as part of your fishing rod.
  • Slot machine.
  • Pinball game, crank controls the initial spring, acceleration for tilt/bump.
  • Pachinko / Peggle style, crank controls the tube or some devices making up the maze.
  • UFO catcher game.
  • Ports of existing games:
    • Pong/Arkanoid 360 (circular field, paddle moves around).
    • Tempest (arcade game).
    • Super Hexagon.
    • Downwell. The game is already almost black and white. Well, but with that argument there are many other monochromatic games as well: LUFTRAUSERS, Gato Roboto, Minit, Hidden Folks
    • Atari 2600 emulator (as monochrome TV). Atari 2600 is a fairly limited system, and it had a TV mode switch to toggle between color and monochrome TV output. Some games ignored that, others would actually change the palette to monochrome.
  • Mini-games in WarioWare style (or office simulator) (or a bunch of small ideas that are likely not enough for a full game):
    • Pencil sharpener simulator
    • IKEA standing desk simulator (manual crank)
    • Awning (sunblind)
    • Roller blinds
    • Garage-like door (metal rolling up door)
    • Car ignition (turn the key = turn the crank); car lights; car wind wipers
    • Manual drill
    • Manual food mixer
    • Changing channels on old TV (also radio)
    • Rolling up extension cords
    • Medieval torture device (stretching)
  • Dasher text input method.
  • Shopping list (always-on display, very readable, nice to use inside the supermarket) + QR code or barcode display (for loyalty card)
  • Ebook reader (but very simplified). Could be great to read stories before going to bed.
    • Also a manga-style or comic-style reader. The 400px horizontal resolution may be too low.
  • Random noise games:

Great list!

This has been heavily on our radar as something to do, the options seem endless to me! But it also seems like such an obviously great idea that I sort of assume someone else is doing it... :thinking:


My game Circular is similar.

I'm working on a game in this vein.


Love this list! I keep a game design journal and put stuff like this in there. I have a similar list of playdate ideas going, but your list has a lot of themes without mechanics... (Whereas my ideas are more often just a single mechanic without any theme.) The game I'm primarily working on right now actually has no theme, which is something I'm considering pretty hard right now, especially since Panic just opened up pitching games to them. Anyway, I appreciate you just throwing your list out there. I'm not sure I could do that.

This is an interesting point of differentiation.

I refer to the two as scenario (theme, location, setting, characters) and gameplay (mechanic, interaction).

I always try to get the gameplay mechanic first. If the mechanic alone is fun, then I find the rest of the game is much easier to design and build. It kind of designs itself.


I think what would make the playdate get the spotlights would be projects as the two below.

  • a free story driven game playable on browser anyone could play easily like Undertale (being story driven would avoid stripping most people who are not "good" at video games, and being free/playable online would make it easy to share getting the as much reach as possible)

  • Having a tutorial game explaining how to use PULP, as a free browser game. It would be fun to play and would allow anyone to write a simple game (targetting users of bitsy)