blog by rae

Playdate Update Showcase, &.. More!!

Feb 28th, 2024   •   rowbot rally

Hey folks!!

It’s rae again! How’ve y’all been so far this year? I’ve been working pretty hard on RowBot these last few months in between college and … life, stuff; and I’ve been getting quite a bit done in the way of refactoring and getting things looking and feeling nicer to play. Personally, I think things are looking AWESOME. Like. more awesome than ever.

Anyway, I’m writing in because…there was a Playdate Update today! If you don’t know what that is, it’s a showcase from Panic themselves, in which they highlight some radical upcoming games for Playdate, and also some neat hardware news and stuff like that. “But what does that have to do with RowBot?”, you might ask? First off, ouch, and second of all, I’m happy to break the news to you…

Woah, I was in there!

That’s right! Me and my game both had the immense honor of being featured in the latest Playdate Update video. If you haven’t seen the full presentation, by the way, you should go check it out! There was a ton of other cool stuff featured, and it’s a must-watch for any Playdate fans looking to stay in the loop about some rad upcoming games.

It was super fun putting everything here together, and it’s a pretty awesome (and anxiety-inducing!) feeling seeing my game go out in front of an untold number of new faces. If you’re one of those new faces who managed to find me over here: Hello! I hope you like the game! Try out the early demo, maybe! :D

I wanna give my biggest heartiest thank you to everyone over at Panic for giving me the incredible opportunity to be featured here. They reached out to me about it back in December, and since then I had a wonderful time working with Voxy on making the showcase video stand out among the rest, and also getting the Catalog page lookin’ ship-shape for its premiere.

…Oh yeah, that too!

RowBot Rally: Coming to Catalog!!


It’s official, it’s real, it’s HAPPENING. As of today, RowBot Rally is officially listed on the Playdate Catalog!!!

It’s not available for purchase just yet of course, because the game’s not…done; but you can hop on over to the game’s page to give it a Wishlist! (You can also find it in the Coming Soon section of the main Catalog page, holy fuuuuuuuuuck.) By wishlisting it, you’ll get notified over email the moment it comes out for realzies. That’s pretty awesome!

Real talk: getting something of mine onto the Catalog has pretty much been my dream goal since I first knew about the store back in early 2023. It really felt like a place where some of the best Playdate games were allowed to shine as bright as possible, and I’m seriously so stoked that my stuff’s got the chops to be up there with ‘em. Thank you once again to Panic, and thanks to everybody reading this as well!! I don’t think my game would be anywhere near the level it is today without y’alls’ support and feedback. And bug reports — yuck.

I def plan to make the most of this spot in the Catalog — I’ve already put in support for on-line Leaderboards within the Time Trials mode, that way you can duke it out worldwide and compete for the top score against everybody else! This is honestly one of my favorite parts; I’m so excited to see all the competition up close and personal as soon as the game comes out later this year.

The Process™

So to have a showcase spot in a Playdate Update, you need a showcase video. (what a surprising fact!) This means that, well…I had to make one! A minute-ish-long segment talking about who I am, what my game is, when it’s coming out and why it’s rad as hell. Usually these videos have the developer on-screen talkin’ up their game…but I hate my face, so I needed a backup plan. After a brief thought about animating the whole thing in the style of the in-game cutscenes (which would have taken me like five months, and that’s pretty unfortunate considering I only had around a month to get the whole thing done), I had an epiphany:


Paper puppets, specifically. It was fool-proof — I could be deliberately kinda lo-fi and crafty with it, so all my mistakes look intentional, I wouldn’t have to show my face (only my voice, which was at least more easy to come to terms with), and also I figured it was a really unique way to stand out amongst everything else in the prezzie. Everyone would be all like: “Did you see that idiot with the paper puppets?” or whatever people say in response to things.

So, after one very panicked trip to the arts & crafts store, I got back with some hearty cardstock, a bunch of popsicle sticks, an X-acto knife and some green posterboard. Then, it was time to get to work.

I had a real fun time working on all the assets needed for recording this project. It’s been quite a long while since I had the opportunity to get knee-deep in some proper physical material crafts like that, and it was super fun to just go nuts with an X-acto knife and experiment to see what looked good. And I didn’t injure myself once! The mark of a good quality product.

The Catalog book-throw scene was one of the earliest scenes I shot, and also probably my favorite part of the video. Ruining the movie magic: my brother helped me by throwing the book in from off-screen, since unfortunately I don’t have more than two arms (yet). The confetti was a last-minute move by me, and I think it really sold the shot — the sound effect should have been a sneeze or something though.

It’s at this point that I wanna give major MAJOR (like, the majorest) shouts to Voxy, who got me through…pretty much this entire process. He helped me clean up my super-rough script and get it fitting nicely within the timeframe we had, spruced up my voiceover to get it to acceptable levels (since I know nothing about audio editing), AND he edited the whole final cut of the video (since I also don’t know anything about video editing) — he’s responsible for all of the super tight pacing and the snazzy, appropriately-themed transitions and graphics. The final product turned out so unbelievably super good, and I really have him to thank for it turning out the way it did.

After a hectic weekend-ish of editing and last-minute nitpicky changes (sorry!), we got the video turned in around a week before it was due (hooray for being on time!), and then it was just a long long … seemingly-forever wait until the Update video premiered on their page. And that day happens to be today! I mean, I’m writing this in advance, but I can guarantee you I’m absolutely reeling over it. (Update from the night before the premiere: yeah i was pretty on the ball i am so reeling over it.) If you wanna check out just the RowBot segment, by the way; I’ve mirrored it on my personal YouTube page here:

Okay and what about…the game?

It’s been coming along really nicely, actually! So far this year, my efforts have been focused on refactoring all the existing code, and redrawing a lot of the graphics; getting everything all nice and squeaky clean both under and over the hood. I realize to some this may sound like I’m just running around in circles instead of progressing on the stuff that’s been waiting to get done for months now…and I’m not saying that isn’t what’s happening,

…that’s the end of that sentence.

Things have been coming along super nicely though! All the newly-freshened up stuff runs a lot better than it used to. I have some things that were previously set up suuuuuuuper poorly (even for my standards!) running a LOT nicer now (global functions, dynamic text strings, etc. so good), and I hope that doing this work helps me finish the remaining stuff even faster and more easily.

There’s also some new changes that I’ve been making that I hope will make the gameplay experience even better when the final game drops:

If I can keep up the pace that I’ve been having so far, then I hope to get a new version of DEMO out sometime in mid-to-late March perhaps? School’s still happening, and I’m going off for a trip some weekend in the middle there, but things have definitely been moving along quickly, and there’s only a few more big things to touch up before this build is DEMO-ready.

Of course, I’m once again plugging my Mastodon page, and the Devlog thread on the Playdate Squad Discord server. And, if you like a less wordy flavor… I’m now on Bluesky as well! Usually just mirroring my Masto posts in shorter form. More frequent updates are always posted in those spots, and I’m on Discord pretty much every day so it’s the easiest way to funnel feedback my way. (I also take email, and check it regularly — there’s a link on the Catalog page you can use! I can’t believe I can say that now.)

One More Thing…

Hello!! I’m amending this post from the FUTURE…but also the past. (Like a month after I first drafted this thing up.) Today (as of writing), I just found out that RowBot Rally was also nominated for Most Anticipated Game in this year’s Playdate Community Awards! That’s, frankly, nuts. I believe it’s one of the only awards in the show to be entirely community-voted, so it’s especially flooring to see my game up next to one by Lucas God-Damn Pope™ in the running for things people are most excited to play this year.

The awards are coming around later on, so let’s see if we can snag that ultimate W…that’d be pretty cool! Regardless, though, I’m super duper excited about the nomination, and it’s really inspiring and crazy to see so many people who are this excited for my silly little boat game. From the bottom of my heart, thank YOU! 💖

That’s it!

Alright, I think that’s all the updates I’ve got in my back pocket for now. Back to work on the game! I’ll hopefully see y’all soon with some more things to share, but ‘till then… Sea ya later!