Kye for Playdate 20 Apr 2024

The story of our port of Kye in Uncrank’d #3

I wrote an extended article about porting Kye to Playdate for the third issue of Uncrank’d. It’s called Kye for Playdate: something easy to pull off, in an evening or two and that title makes me smile. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Last October, we ran a trailer in the Playdate Direct that opened with ominous words: “The last time we saw Mouflon Cloud and gingerbeardman, they were focusing on their current projects with intensity and passion. They were not getting distracted by prospects of making ‘something small’ on the side. Not even [checks notes] cute projects; easy to pull off in an evening—or two!" So, of course, it is now six months later and we’re finally close to releasing the game. Let me tell you more about it!


’Twas a peaceful August evening and Matt Sephton (aka gingerbeardman) wrote on Playdate Squad Discord he’s playing a new Commodore 64 port of an old game named Kye. Being a man of action, he calculated right away that in a possible Playdate port, one tile would be a tiny 12x12 pixels square.

When I saw that, my heart started pounding — I almost forgot about that game from my childhood and there it was, ticking like a clockwork! I wrote that I’ll be strong and that I won’t drop my current workload and code this little thing immediately. Matt said Yes, I’ll be strong with you and the next afternoon he sent me the initial designs of the tileset. I replied that I’ll be free at the end of September and immediately went to read through the Python Kye source code. That was Tuesday. We had a working prototype by Friday. I implemented a Playdate exclusive crank to rewind functionality on Saturday.

Devs will be devs.

We worked for a month and then I created a trailer for the Direct and we actually released the version 0.1 and a short roadmap. (I deleted the words “hopefully in a few weeks” from it in January.) Matt asked the dev behind the C64 port to check it out. And he did! …and pinpointed a glaring timing issue in one of the opening levels. He liked the rewind though!

After that, life happened. For the rest of the year, the development basically stopped.

The cover image of the Uncrank’d article.

(…) With every game, there is a rigid mass inside that you cannot change and it grows bigger as the development goes. When porting an existing game, the nature of the beast is just a bit different — instead of starting with that quickly evolving substance of a game that slowly takes shape over prototyping sessions, you begin with a big chunk or that rigid mass in an opaque box. You roll up your sleeves and put your hands inside to slowly feel the shape of it. It’s exciting and gross at the same time!

Read the full article in Uncrank’d #3! There are both print and digital editions available. Get it on Shopify or Storenvy.