A year in the life of a Playdate game developer

This week sees the first Anniversary Sale of Catalog, the official store for Playdate games. This means it’s almost the anniversary of the release Sparrow Solitaire, which was the first Playdate work I did in 2023 after taking an enforced break.

So I thought it would be interesting to look back and take stock of the last year of me making stuff for Playdate. What did I finish? What did I abandon? What is still to come?

After Sparrow Solitaire (a huge game that took around a year of development time split between myself and Mac Vogelsang), it took me a few months to figure out the right sort of size and scope that would allow me to make a game every month or two, whilst minimising the risk of not selling enough. By September I was well and truly in the zone and created YOYOZO which went on to receive a commendation from Ars Technica as one of the “Best Games of 2023”. And at the 2023 Playdate Community Awards, presented on 8th March 2024, Sparrow Solitaire won Best Puzzle Game and YOYOZO won Best Arcade Game.

Somebody asked me if this is my full-time job? My answer is: yes, this is my only job and I do it as often as I’m able. It’s certainly more complicated, due to various life stuff, but that’s the gist of things. Over the last twelve months, I would say I’ve been productive for around half my time.

Recently I saw somebody say “Be careful with scope and look what you can do in a year!”, about the wonderful Johan Peitz, and I think that addage can also be applied to my output this year.

Summary: 22 projects, 10 of which were released, and 5 are still to come. I’m pretty happy with that!

I also managed to squeeze in a couple of non-Playdate projects: my first real Love2D game Portrait Curling, modifications to vintage pixel art app JINZO Paint, and I’m always blogging.

Don’t forget to check out my Playdate games in the Catalog Sale! And my other Playdate blog posts.

Month Project Genre Status Store Blog Made With
2023-03 Sparrow Solitaire Puzzle Released Catalog Read vogelscript
2023-04 Shark Turtle Puzzle Unreleased      
2023-05 Radical Adventure Abandoned      
2023-05 Carton Puzzle On hold      
2023-06 Heno Heno Puzzle On hold      
2023-06 Fore! Track Sports Released Catalog Read  
2023-07 Mandala Toy Released GitHub    
2023-08 Strategies App Released Itch    
2023-08 DateDiff App Released Itch    
2023-08 Fortress Puzzle Abandoned      
2023-08 Mole Hole Adventure Unreleased     thoruman
2023-09 Rink Sports Tutorial      
2023-09 Kye Puzzle Released Itch   mouflon cloud
2023-09 YOYOZO Action Released Catalog Read  
2023-10 Pararena Sports Abandoned      
2023-10 Soccer Sports Prototype      
2023-10 Super ICARUS Action Released Catalog    
2023-11 Boing Action Prototype      
2023-11 Cranxious Action Prototype      
2023-12 See The Sky Storybook Released Itch Read thoruman
2024-01 Rocket Man Simulation On hold      
2024-02 Eggdog Action Prototype      
Originally published: 2024-03-07
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Comments: @gingerbeardman