Panic, the maker of the quirky Playdate handheld, has released a public beta of its Playdate Pulp in-browser game builder. The company describes it as “a friendly tool for making tiny but visually and narratively rich games for Playdate,” in its developer documentation.
In the Pulp editor, you’ll be able to do things like make pixel graphics, build levels, write music, and even create custom fonts. As you’re working on your game, you can test it right in your browser, and when you’re ready, you can export your game as a .pdx file (a clever reference to Panic’s Portland roots) so you can load it onto a Playdate handheld. You don’t have to write any code to make a game in Pulp, but if you do want to try your hand at some coding, you can use the PulpScript scripting language.
I’m no game developer, but Pulp seems relatively easy to use in my few minutes of messing around with it. I already figured out how to turn the player sprite in the default game Pulp loads with into a big letter J, which of course will be totally necessary for my future masterpiece. I’m really looking forward to seeing what people cook up with the tool once they spend some time with it, and have my fingers crossed for some off-the-wall, Undertale-style games.
Releasing the public beta of Pulp now could also mean that the Playdate will have a bunch of fun games for people to try when the device comes out. Panic has so far only announced one curated season with 24 games, and you’ll only get two new games per week. Thanks to Pulp, though, you might have a lot of other games to choose from that you can side-load onto your device.
Panic says it expects to deliver its first shipments of the Playdate in 2022. You can still pre-order the device, though Panic cautions on its Playdate store page that pre-orders placed now won’t ship until late this year.