Episode 24: b360

Cabel Sasser: The words “game over” were written quite carefully, using permanent marker on top of the dust covered cardboard box, which was supposed to be holding receipts. Nobody is sure why the inventory team at Panic Warehouse four in San Gabriel, California stopped to check this box out in particular. Maybe it looked a little cleaner and it certainly was a whole lot lighter, but we like to think it was something a little more otherworldly that cast a certain glow on that one of a thousand, sparked someone’s curiosity, and brought it out into the daylight. Tucked inside this corrugated crypt was a most wonderful surprise: a dusty set of EPROMs, hand wired, worn looking, frail, and almost helpless with an adhesive disintegrating sticker marked B 360. REV two '83. Considered destroyed with the great video game crash of the eighties, along with all of Panic’s other arcade assets, including the never released arcade games, “Steer Go Round,” “Rocktor,” and the much sought after, " Vice Grip."

Neven Mrgan: Not a lot of people know that Panic made video games in the 1970s. And the first one that we published was called B 360.

Christa Mrgan: Oh, yeah. The 1970s, when arcade games were new and Panic’s co-founders were very young children…

Neven Mrgan: it was a lot like the Playdate game of the same name. But it ran on the arcade systems of that day. And so by the time we got, you know, All the way around to making our own console. We thought it would be funny to do this like homage to our history and bring back this game. Especially given that it’s sort of like radial circular nature clicked in with the Playdate crank really well.

So, you know, Almost like 40 years later we did be 360 again!

Christa Mrgan: Welcome to the Playdate Podcast, bringing you stories from game designers, developers, and the team behind Playdate, the little yellow game console with a crank. I am Christa Mrgan.

And sorry, my voice sounds a little funny this week. I have a cold.

Today, I’m talking with Cabel Sasser, Neven Mrgan, Dan Messing, Aaron Bell, and Jesus Diaz about B360.

A game that, it turns out, has a history that extends decades into Panic’s past. As always: slight spoiler alert. We talk about the gameplay, as well as some of the level designs in b360. Okay?

Cabel Sasser: Okay.

Christa Mrgan: That’s Cabel Sasser, Panic’s co-founder and CEO. And that was him a minute ago reading part of the README file on a CD-ROM that included a version of the game, b360 . I’ll let him explain. And, keep in mind that until relatively recently, Panic primarily made Mac software.

Cabel Sasser: So. We had a small booth at a Macworld Expo, maybe back in the year 2000.

Christa Mrgan: From 1985 to 2014, Macworld Expo, also known as iWorld, was an annual tech trade show in San Francisco that focused on Apple hardware and software.

Cabel Sasser: And you know, expo booths are tricky. There’s all these people flooding by and you’re this tiny, goofy, weird company and you want to catch people’s attention.

So we thought let’s make a CD ROM of cool stuff that we can just give out for free.

Christa Mrgan: Oh, no: it just occurred to me that some listeners might be young enough that I needed to explain what a CD-ROM was. I’ll put a link in the show notes.

Cabel Sasser: Who would complain about getting a free CD ROM filled with cool stuff? It’ll have demos of our apps. You know, like, maybe we can get people using our apps that way who have never heard of us. But we asked ourselves, is there anything cool and extra that we can include on this disc?

And that is when we remembered B 360, a game that we had made. So, thanks to the Internet Archive, I was able to download an image. And thanks to Michael’s help,

Christa Mrgan: Michael Buckley is a Mac developer at Panic who, incidentally, Also helped us resurrect Panic’s Audion and MP3 player from the early two thousands.

Cabel Sasser: We got the B 360 README off of this disc from the year 2000. It says: B 360, copyright 1983 to 2000 Panic Inc., the story of B 360. The original B 360!

Christa Mrgan: Yes. So Cabel read the first part of the B3 60 README at the top of the episode, and here’s the rest of it:

Cabel Sasser: b 360 was the pet project of one of Panic’s co-founders, Steven Frank. After a lengthy career in aerospace during the seventies, working on an embedded systems project for the NASA JPL Research laboratory, in 1981, Steven Frank turned his electrical and computer engineering skills towards the booming video game industry, along with Cabel Sasser, an unlikely contributor in the form of a college dropout “radical” who hated “the man” as well as " Ralph Macchio." They began to build innovative, groundbreaking, and economical video game arcade games, and were poised to light the video game world a blaze. Unfortunately, the video game world got there first. The industry took a tumble, Panic declared bankruptcy, and B 360 was locked, sealed, and never seen again. Until now. Thanks to the magic of emulation technology, which physically runs the B 360 game ROMs on the simulated hardware of the original arcade machine, you can play B 360 again. Something once thought impossible. Video games have changed a lot since 1983, but we like to think that the core gameplay of B 360 remains as fresh and addictive as the day that it was coded, almost as if the game had been sealed in a quality Tupperware container rather than a dirty, disgusting cardboard box we wanted to throw out. Instructions: use the mouse, move the paddle, destroy the bricks. Send us your high scores. Requirements. B 360 requires Game Sprockets. whoa. That is a blast from the past. There’s probably one to zero people listening to this that know what Game Sprockets is!

Christa Mrgan: Yeah, I had to look it up. Apple game Sprockets was a collection of four different software API libraries that supported gaming on the Mac from 1996, all the way to 1997.

Cabel Sasser: But anyways, then it says please note this game might not run well on older Macintoshes.

This is due to the processor’s stress of our emulation technology and certainly not due to the fact that the game isn’t an emulator at all, but rather just a fun quick project. Enjoy B 360.

And so we put that on the disk and we distributed it at Macworld. We handed out – probably made like a thousand disks, at least 500 to a thousand.

And uh, honestly, I don’t think we ever heard anything about B 360 ever again, and I don’t think anybody ever sent us their high scores. Until the year 2022 slash 2023 when B 360 was reborn. A reference to something that nobody knew about in the first place, which is the deepest and most amazing of references. And we ported B 360 to the Playdate. As far as the lore goes, that would be the third port of B 360. So, B 360 is secretly a very deep cut!

Christa Mrgan: Yeah. Okay. So as you probably figured out right away, neither the README nor the story that designer Neven Mrgan told at the top of the episode were true at all, but I love this Panic tradition of just coming up with fake backstories for things.

Cabel Sasser: Yes, it’s Obviously, None of that story was true and just goofy. God knows how much Mountain Dew I had that night and I wrote that README, and we included it on the disc.

And you know, we might be old, but we’re not that old. So, it was just really fun to pretend that we made this arcade game a long time ago. And the real story is that the original B 360 was just something that Steve made over the course of, I don’t know, a few weeks or a weekend. This idea just popped into his head.

Christa Mrgan: I just. I love this company. Okay. So we’ll actually circle back to this story in a bit, but now that you know, a little of its history, let’s get into the version of B3 60 that was created for Playdate.

Neven Mrgan: My name is Neven Mrgan. I’m a designer at Panic. The idea of B 360 is that it’s like a brick breaker game, of which there have been many out there Breakout and Arkanoid and things like that. Except it all takes place in like a radial geometry, where you have like a center point of the screen and then you can imagine like concentric circles coming out from that. And you, the paddle, are moving in a circle along the, you know, largest circle and in the middle are a bunch of bricks and your ball sort of travels through the middle of this circle and you have to spin all the way back around the field to catch it and clear the whole field by breaking all of the blocks that are in the middle.

Dan Messing: There are various types of bricks. Some of 'em you can with the ball, some of 'em you can’t. Some of 'em have special powerups and abilities. My name is Dan Messing. I’m a software engineer at Panic working on the Playdate SDK and the Playdate operating system. But yeah, it’s B 360 is sort of a novel take on a breakout style arcade game.

Neven Mrgan: It’s like a non Euclidean Breakout is how I would describe it. And a bunch of mathematicians are gonna yell at me about that not being what Non-Euclidean means, but I think it still holds somewhat.

Dan Messing: So when we were working on Playdate, we knew we had the crank. I don’t know who remembered that we had this old game that had a rotational aspect to it. So it just seemed like a perfect fit for the Playdate. And so we just worked off that original game and made some modifications to it to make sure it worked better on the Playdate.

Neven and I worked on it really early on in the Playdate development, which was great because I was working on the SDK. I’m working at the game at the same time, and so there was a lot of overlap there and it sort of helped development of the SDK because I saw things that were missing that we needed.

And I looked it up, and it looks like we started developing B 360 for the Playdate in February of 2015, so quite some time ago.

Neven Mrgan: Because B 360 has an arcade past

Christa Mrgan: Neven is committed to the bit!

Neven Mrgan: And also a strong arcade feel, we wanted arcade style graphics. That can mean a lot of things, but with a game like this, Especially one that dates back to the seventies. In my mind, that immediately means sort of like sharp Tron-like, Vectrex-like, graphics,

Christa Mrgan: vectrex was a short-lived home gaming console that included its own vector-based display.

Neven Mrgan: But a lot of like, vectors, sharp lines, things made out of triangles, few polygons, something like that.

It is funny to do something like that with a game that is based around circles so much. But we specifically wanted to make only the movement circular, but keep the graphics very square. The game has something that a lot of arcade games have, but not a lot of, like modern games, which is like one third of the whole screen is like your score and, you know, level info kind of pane. Older games used to do that mainly so that they redraw less of the screen, you know, just two thirds of it.

And the rest is like, you know, mask around it like your cockpit or whatever. So it makes you feel like you’re inside some sort of vessel. But, you know, largely, I think that was for performance reasons. We didn’t need the performance. But what we did need was a square playing field because the game is based around circles, which fit inside a square. The Playdate screen is not square, so we have some extra screen that we can use for the score and level info and stuff like that. And you have a bunch of blocks in the middle and you spin around and you break them. And there are different types of blocks.

Dan Messing: One of the sort of more fun things are the special bricks, so, you know, you can get brick speed your ball up or slow your ball down or introduce additional balls or give you a sticky paddle, or blow up the bricks around it.

You know, a bunch of things sort of add a little bit of interest to what could otherwise maybe be a bit of a stagnant game.

It was all pretty brand new to me. I’d never really developed a game like that. Probably the closest thing I ever developed was a four in a row game, which is-- Hasbro makes one that you might be familiar with, under the commercial name “Connect Four.” but that’s not really the same because this game has a lot of fast moving action. A lot of collisions. At that time, we didn’t have any kind of collision library in the S D K at all.

This game is probably a little bit part of the impetus to develop that, although it’s a pretty common thing though, a lot of games need. But, so that portion was pretty challenging, just coming up with the right physics and everything like that. Some of the rotational stuff wasn’t too bad, although we definitely had to do some tweaks.

Even though the paddle in B 360 looks like it has a flat edge, it actually acts like it has a convex edge. So if you hit dead in the center, it’ll behave the same as if it was a flat edge.

But if you hit it more towards the side, it’ll actually go off at a little bit of an angle, just to give you a little bit more control over the ball because that was one of the things that really seemed like it made the game very difficult, too difficult. So we did a few things like that just to try to make it a little bit less frustrating. That little bit of extra control helps a little bit.

For me, Working on it was a lot of, can we make this work? What do we need to add to the SDK so we can make it work? and the fun part was a little bit secondary in my mind. While we were first working on it. I just wanted to focus on making sure that the frame rate could stay up, that the collisions worked the way you expected them to, that the ball bounced around the way you expected it to, and wasn’t too frustrating. So getting rid of frustration in this game is probably a major thing.

And then making it fun, I mean, Neven was largely responsible for a lot of that, is he designed all of the levels.

Neven Mrgan: I got to do the level design, which was super fun. It’s something that I both know nothing about and also kind of enjoy doing. Dan Messing made a li little level editor that I could use to put these together and arrange them.

Dan Messing: We originally used the Tiled level editor to make the levels, but it just sort of became a little cumbersome to wrangle them all. So I built this level editor so you can see all the levels, a visual representation of them and you can rearrange them because we wanted to organize into groups of 10, I think for each galaxy you travel to. And it was actually pretty fun because, it made me appreciate how that is an important part of game design. Like you might put all this work into it, this tool that nobody really ever sees, but it helps you make the game.

Neven Mrgan: So yeah, that was great. And there’s a hundred levels which are all kind of, you know, designed and laid out. There’s no like randomness to it. So whenever you unlock a new quote Galaxy, which is a collection of 10 levels, you get to find out a little bit of the story of it which is.

You know, it was fun to come up with and hopefully it’ll be a good surprise for people if they’ve been playing this very like abstract game for a while and then suddenly they’re dropped into this story and they want to see what happens with it next. Some of that is hinted at in like the game’s promotional art on our website, where it does set up this story that’s a lot bigger than just a paddle and a ball. There’s a lot more at stake.

And then my favorite part actually of doing the levels was naming them, because that little like left area I was talking about, the info area has the name of the level. I remember playing Terry Kavanaugh’s game " VVVVVV" and that one had names for each, like screen, each mini puzzle.

And they would be all sorts of things. They would be like descriptive or they would be like little jokes or sometimes hints about what to do in the level. And I tried to capture some of that spirit in naming the uh, 100 levels of B 360. So that was my favorite.

Christa Mrgan: Yeah, the level namesare really fun. Some examples: “I hate this floor plan,” “swords to plough shares,” " grandma’s candy jar," and “the definition of gravity.” But don’t let the sometimes silly vibe of the level names fool you. The game is actually really challenging.

Neven Mrgan: One thing about B 360 is that even the easiest level in it is not easy. It has this tricky problem where let’s say you make a level where it’s just one brick in the middle. One hit with the ball.

And you’re clear. That sounds easy, but the problem is when there’s only one brick, it’s really hard to hit. It’s one tiny target and there’s nothing for your ball to bounce off of to, you know, go get that one brick. On the other hand, if you fill the whole level with bricks, that’s great. You get a lot of bouncing.

Bricks are constantly being broken. There’s a lot happening on screen, but now there’s so little room between the bricks and your paddle that at any moment you are at a risk of losing the ball. So balancing between those two extremes was really tricky. And my approach to designing the levels was mainly to have an idea for each level where it’s not just, well, here’s an arrangement of some bricks that, you know, I just happen to put down, or even that like look like things, even when they look like things, there’s an idea which is like, okay, let me see if I can give you a challenge. Can you maybe get the ball through this little tunnel? And then when it gets on the other end of the tunnel, you’ll get a reward in that.

It’ll destroy a bunch of bricks there. Or like, what if I give you two challenges, like you have to pass it through this, you know, small tunnel, but then there’s one more on the other side. And when you think you’ve won, like you got that one shot, guess what? You gotta do it again. Know, that’s hard. Or I’ll give you two challenges and the first one you’re gonna be like, I got it.

But then the second one has a slight change where the brick is slightly off, so the exact strategy isn’t gonna work. So that’s how I try to think about levels, which is every time sort of engaging your brain rather than just your, you know, reflexes and muscles and your, you know, cranking ability. It’s more about, let me see, there’s gotta be like a puzzle to this.

Even though the game itself is not a puzzle game at all. It is like a frantic, quickly cranking, quick reaction type of game. Hopefully people will see some thought put into their level design.

Christa Mrgan: Definitely. I love that each level feels unique and the various power ups and different types of bricks help keep the gameplay feeling fresh. I also really love the visual design of the game. It’s simple but elegant. And there’s this Starfield that kind of rotates around as you play that I really love. It just adds to the sci-fi feel of the game. And it turns out, it led to an important Playdate development discovery for Dan.

Dan Messing: One part of the game that required some fine tuning later on was the sort of starfield in the background. It’s sort of a minor design element, but I think it adds to the dynamism of the game. It sort of responds to you rotating the paddle, it rotates itself a little bit, so it gives you more of a feeling like you’re in space. and I had written that in Lua to begin with, but it ended up being sort of a bottleneck in performance, so I transitioned that over to C for a big performance win. The reason that I needed to recode the Starfield in C and improve performance was because we upped the frame rate. Originally, we had it planned so that all games would be 20 frames a second.

So that’s when we started writing this game. So I was targeting 20 frames a second, and then later we made it possible to adjust the frame rate, and we realized that this game would be better if the frame rate was a little bit higher, so we doubled it to 40. And so there was a bunch of performance tuning that had to happen at that point. I think we learned, that, oh yeah, it makes a lot of sense to separate out some little computationally intensive portions of a game and write them in C, and how you can kind of strike a good balance between the easier programming environment-- easier in some ways --that you get in Lua without having to translate your whole game to C.

Christa Mrgan: Yeah, that’s a strategy that we recommend to a lot of Playdate developers these days.

And I really wish now that I had also interviewed B360’s original creator, Steven Frank, for this episode, because I honestly didn’t know about the decades long history of b360 or the fake backstory nested inside of it, until very, very recently.

I had thought that like with Inventory Hero b360 was a game idea that Steven had had at some point and started working on, but then was just too busy with other Panic work to finish. So when I was planning this episode, I thought it would be a nice chance to talk with Dan, who did most of the work on b360 while also building out the SDK. And I figured that Steven was busy anyway, And I didn’t want to bug him with another interview after he’d already done a big live recording for the Inventory Hero episode. But! A cool facet of the B3 60 story Is that Steven actually came back on to finish up the work on it, Bringing the whole thing full circle, I guess you could say.

Neven Mrgan: So yeah, Steve did like a lot of the original work and then he did the final work he made you the old game, the pretends be from the seventies. He started on the Playdate game. But then Dan picked up just 'cuz Steve had other things–

Dan Messing: Steve sort of took over the final stretch of the development to get it ready for the first season. , which was great because I was sort of busy with a million other things at that point, trying to get the SDK ready to release the developers officially and everything like that.

Christa Mrgan: Yeah! So it’s cool that Steven came back on to wrap it up and send it off into the world for a second time. And when Dan and Neven were working on their new interpretation of this game, they of course needed some music for it.

And while Cabel had composed the original theme, He didn’t really have the time to devote, to creating a whole new score for B3 60. So that’s where panic co-workers and friends Aaron and Jesus come in.

Aaron Bell: I’m Aaron Bell

Jesus Diaz: and I’m Jesus Diaz

Christa Mrgan: Aaron Bell and Jesus Diaz created the music and sound design for b3 60.

Aaron Bell: I help out with Mac and iOS apps at Panic. I do some QA work as well as some project management and some release management and various other tasks, little IT, helping out with that sort of stuff as well.

Jesus Diaz: And I primarily do support at Panic. I help out with QA from time to time and music.

Christa Mrgan: Yeah. Sometime in 2017 or 2018, the two began collaborating on music together for various Panic projects, including Inventory Hero and Star Sled for Playdate and they’ve also made music for my Panic software tutorial and Nova update videos. And It’s really cool that Panic basically has a house band.

Jesus Diaz: I mean that kind of started, I kind of raised my hand to do music for a game, which was a little scary, and thankfully Aaron decided to also raise his hand, which I was very thankful for.

Aaron Bell: it’s not something that I had the opportunity to do before, but was something I was always interested in doing. 'Cause I loved music and have been involved with doing music as a fun side part of my life for a long time. And it was great that Jesus was willing to work as a team in our effort of trying it out together.

So, That’s been a great partnership for sure.

Christa Mrgan: Yeah, it’s really fun to see them at work together in the conference room at the back of the Panic office.

Aaron Bell: The setup that we use was kind of adapted from a pair programming setup that some of the Panic employees had been using. And we basically have two regular typing keyboards, two mice, and it’s all hooked up to one computer. So we’re both essentially driving at the same time or we’re kind of taking turns and we have a MIDI controller hooked up that we stick between the two of us.

And so we kind of are both doing things at the same time which we’ve been able to I guess get working pretty well. Kind of a non-standard setup possibly for making music, but it works well for us. When we’d started working on music, it was before the pandemic happened, and so we had only worked in the same building, same room together. And then we had to switch to doing kind of a more remote thing during the pandemic and learn how to collaborate on things remotely, which was kind of its own process.

And now we’re trying to get back to regularly meeting in person a little more often.

Christa Mrgan: Yeah, it’s so nice to see them together in person again. And Sound design was another place where they’ve branched out, And they’ve been able to learn it together as a team.

Aaron Bell: I think the hardest thing for my brain is the difference between music production or making songs and then doing audio design and coming up with sound effects and things like that.

In my brain, those things are very different.

Jesus Diaz: Yeah, You know, how do bricks break? how do walls in a fictional game break and whatnot. I think for a while too, we didn’t really have any like, actual gameplay to go off of, so it was a lot of like, guesswork. But yeah, it was a lot of just interesting trial and errors making sounds that ended up working pretty great.

Christa Mrgan: And in addition to doing the sound design, they wrote a bunch of original songs for b360, but of course they had the original theme or a version of it to work with as well.

Cabel Sasser: So for the original B 360, the first one, we needed a little bit of music and it needed to sound a little arcade-y. And this is at a time now, of course, if you wanna make music that sounds like any console or arcade game or whatever, there’s like incredible selection of plugins and things to simulate the SEGA Genesis sound chip.

Back then , not to sound like a grouchy old man, that stuff just didn’t exist. It was at the forefront of that. So I had one synthesizer in our apartment. It was a Yamaha SY85, and I loved that thing. It was really cool. Like analog, it probably cost like thousands of dollars. So I went through all of the preset sounds on that thing and found one that kind of sounded synthy and arcade-y, and then just banged out this super fast little B 360 theme.

It’s got the do on the base and the. Melody is like,

like that kind of a So I just recorded that super quickly and we dropped that in the game. So then when Aaron and Jesus were starting work on the music for B 360 I don’t think they knew about this preexisting version either, which is funny. You know, If it wasn’t for this podcast, our lore might be, you know, lost to the winds.

And so I was like, oh, hey. I wrote like a, an ancient song for the ancient game and I, took my new keyboard and just played it real fast for them. I handed it to them. So, it was really fun for me to hear how they interpreted that music. It was totally a different beat kind of than what had been in my mind, but it was, it was awesome.

And there’s something so great about like that little piece of the past, again, being reinterpreted by a new generation sort of in the future. It was just great. They did it. Just an awesome job with that music. It was really fun for me to listen to.

Christa Mrgan: I love the original and their re-imagined version too. And there are actually two new versions as far as I can tell. And they wrote a bunch of their own tracks for the game, too.

Aaron Bell: So it’s very, a very loose uh, interpretation, but there was an old series of games called Wipe Out which were racing games on PlayStation. And they had this classic sort of nineties electronic music soundtrack. And so we kind of had an idea of like if we could do something that was kind of inspired by this classic video game wipeout style soundtrack, but at the same time try to make it a little bit more focused on kind of the 8-bit brick breaking foundation that the game is built on. And so it’s combining a retro game with this kind of, at the time, futuristic soundtrack and how that could look on Playdate.

With the process of working with the actual game developers, there’s definitely a collaboration going on where we’ll give people ideas and get feedback and then come back with another round of revisions.

Whereas obviously when we’re just making songs for ourself, that doesn’t happen. But I feel like the actual process and the foundation from where we start, in my mind is actually quite similar a lot of the time.

And we have a great time doing it. Whether it’s a work project or just something that we’re doing for fun. It’s definitely something that I think we’ll continue to do for sure.

Jesus Diaz: yeah, it’s just fun. you know, Collaborating with somebody who can take an idea you had and expand it in somewhere that you wouldn’t have or that I would’ve never taken. It’s been, I think the best part of just moving a song forward cuz you can get stuck so easily.

And Aaron just comes in and he goes, well what if we do this? And it’s, yeah. And then there’s a seven minute long song, somehow

Christa Mrgan: Aaron and Jesus have a Band Camp page. I’ll put a link in the show notes. And they have the perfect name for a musical duo that started at a tech company.

Jesus Diaz: We are a Factory Default.

Cabel Sasser: So Steve made the original B 360 in kind of a cool vector style, and it was just a Mac game. I remember my big idea was we should put fake like, ROM initialization graphics when you boot it up, like how when you boot up a Pacman arcade machine, it shows you all these garbage graphics. So I like found some bitmaps of that from Pacman actually.

And I feel like it always slightly bothered Steve because the fake initialization graphics were like 10 times bigger than the entire rest of the game itself. Cause it was all vector. So the file size, you know, is probably a whole megabyte because of that. But there’s one super funny thing that I’ll add that you know, wrote that README in the year 2000.

Nobody, you know, probably cared or even understood that it was a joke. Now, Welcome to the year 2022- 2023 B 360 has come out for the Playdate. And somebody, one of the Playdate fans out there pieced together B 360 from the panic disk and found this Readme and read this Readme and , if I remember correctly, fully bought it at face value, but like, "whoa, I didn’t know.

Panic made arcade games and they had to cancel them all!" And I just have to say that, like to plant this little trolley joke seed 23 years ago and have it blossom into this beautiful plant 23 years later. That just felt great. I really appreciate whoever you were. Thank you for believing my stupid story but yes.

There was a very old B 360 that didn’t exist. There was a B 360 for the Mac that we made in the year 2000, and now there is a brand new B 360 for the Playdate. So let’s just say when, when I say that Panic tends to play the long game, we play the very long game .

Dan Messing: B 360 is one of the Season One games that is more arcade style, so I think it will be, a nice game for people to be able to just pick up and play when they have a few minutes here and there. There are a few other games like that, but there are also a lot of games that are sort of more involved and have a lot more story, and you’d want to sit down and spend some time with them.

This one, you can pick it up, play a level, get through a couple levels, don’t get through even one level, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just a nice little distraction. And I think it’s good that we have that mix of variety of games on the device in season one.

Neven Mrgan: B 360 for me is like a vibe game and like a zone game where you get into the zone and there’s a certain vibe that is you know, ideally established by like the cool geometric spacey look of it and like the really cool animations that Dan Messing did and the feel of like the ball flying and you know, destroying things and bouncing back and you having to catch it.

And then the really cool soundtrack that Aaron and Jesus did. So ideally you should feel like you are that like future pilot of a spaceship who has a really important mission and is constantly reacting to things out there in the world to, you know, stay safe but also look cool while doing it.

Christa Mrgan: Yeah. I personally love Breakout- style games. So I really hope you have fun with this one and that you enjoyed hearing a little about the real backstory of the fake backstory of b360. You can learn more about the developers, composers and the topics we covered, including CD ROMs via the links in the show notes.

I put a link to the second episode of the Panic Podcast in there as well, which I think you’ll enjoy if you’re interested in more weird side projects with fake back stories. Thanks so much for listening and stay tuned for more episodes, coming soon to the Playdate Podcast feed.

The Playdate Podcast was written, produced and edited by me, Christa Mrgan. Cabel Sasser and Simon Panrucker composed the theme song. Additional music and sound effects were created by Aaron Bell and Jesus Diaz and come from b360 for Playdate. The original b360 theme was composed by Cabel Sasser and was extracted and reassembled from the internet archive by Michael Buckley. Thank you, Michael!

Huge thanks to Tim Coulter and Ashur Cabrera for wrangling the podcast feed and working on the website. James Moore for making me an awesome Playdate, audio extraction app. And Neven Mrgan who created the podcast artwork and site design.

And thanks as always to everyone at Panic. Playdate is shipping now and available for pre-order at play.Date

Dan Messing: I’ll do my best to remember, but the original B 360 game was something that Steven Frank came up with years and years ago, I believe. It was, I believe included on a CD in a Macworld magazine a long time ago maybe in the nineties, probably?