Episode 29: Mars After Midnight

Christa Mrgan: Late at night at the Off-Colony Community Support Center, there’s a knock at the door.

You crank open the little window to peer at the frowning one I’d Martian outside and ask yourself one question: should I let them in?

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’m Christa Mrgan. Today. I’m talking with game designer and developer Lucas Pope, whose game Mars After Midnight is an entrant-screening, mess-tidying, session-planning work simulator made just for Playdate.

Spoiler alert: In this episode, We talk about the overall gist of the game, it’s systems, and mechanics. Also, for any sensitive ears: there is one mild swear word.

Lucas Pope is primarily known for his games, Papers, Please and Return of the Obra Dinn, two incredible indie games that won the Seamus McNelly grand prize at IGF, independent games festival.

He also creates these detailed and fascinating dev logs where he Chronicles his work, his thought process, and things he’s learning about as he develops his games. They’re super interesting and worth checking out if you’re a developer or just curious about game development. So, let’s say hi to Lucas and hear about his latest game.

Lucas Pope: Hi. I’m Lucas Pope and I’m making Mars After Midnight for Playdate.

Basically you’re working the door at some place on Mars at the Off-Colony Settlement. So it’s not the Colony, it’s the Off-Colony Settlement. And you flip open a small little window. You can see in those classic sort of movies and things, they flip open a window to see who it is. And then if it’s somebody who’s supposed to come in, then you open the door and let them in. And that’s basically the premise.

Christa Mrgan: Yeah. You Also have to clean up after them and plan other sessions to help more Martians, but deciding who gets to come in is your primary job. Similarly, in Papers, Please, you work as a border crossing agent in a dystopian country where your job is mostly to review paperwork and documents, deciding who gets to pass through the checkpoint. I feel like Mars After Midnight is a distant way, more fun and lighthearted relative of that game.

Lucas Pope: Not exactly. I wanted to make something that my kids could enjoy. So that’s the lighthearted part. And then the Papers, Please thing, I think just comes from I, focus on first person games, I think, and when I started messing around with the Playdate,

I thought it would kind of make sense if you were looking through a small window and you had to kinda look around, and so putting those two things together, what can I do with a small window in first person? Okay. Showing funny faces would be nice. And then it I moved along from there-- where’s like a setup where that can work? Alright, you’re kind of working the door as a bouncer or something. I didn’t have any context at that point. And then I implemented that and I thought, actually this is fun. When I give it to the kids, they like to just open the little window and then look at a funny alien face and that’s enough.

But you implement that and then you realize, you think you’re done. But when you actually play it, it wasn’t quite enough. So I kept like kind of adding small things until I felt like, okay, now it’s enough and it’s still a much smaller game than Papers, Please, or Obra Dinn or something like that.

Christa Mrgan: Yeah. So I briefly described Papers, Please, but Return of the Obra Dinn is an adventure puzzle game that Lucas released in 2018.

And like Papers, Please and Mars After Midnight, it’s a first person game, and in it, you’re an investigator in the early 1800s who has to unravel the mysteries of a merchant ghost ship that has reappeared after going missing five years earlier. . And like all Playdate games, Return of the Obra Dinn uses an entirely 1-bit black and white art style-- albeit on a much larger screen than Playdate’s. And while it’s definitely more intricate and dark than Mars After Midnight, I feel like there’s a clear through line between both Papers, Please, and Return of the Obra Dinn to what Lucas has made for Playdate.

Lucas Pope: You know, I felt like for the platform and for the interface, it kinda worked really well. And it was the kind of thing like for a lot of my games where it really evolved over time. So first it’s looking through a window, then it’s these funny faces and then, okay, maybe I can set it on Mars. Would be cool if it’s Martians you’re looking at that would give me some flexibility with the art style at least.

And then I built this procedural face generator.

Christa Mrgan: Yeah, you should check out the DevLog post about the face generator! More on that in a bit.

Lucas Pope: And then put everything together and wracked my brain for a while to figure out how to, get a closed game loop that was fun with that. And then that’s when I ended up adding this cleaning the table mechanic where you let somebody in and there’s free refreshment so they can get some food and then mess up the table.

So you need to clean it for the next person. So keeping it pretty simple, but at least enough there that this is a closed loop of things that you’re doing to build a story out of which I haven’t, you know, actually worked out yet.

Christa Mrgan: Oh, by the way, this interview was recorded in September, 2023. So since then Lucas actually has worked out the story, but I’ll leave that for you to discover. So how did he hear about Playdate? Did someone from Panic reach out to him, since Return of the Obra Dinn uses a 1-bit graphic style?

Lucas Pope: No, I don’t think so. I’ve never been so wounded in my life, by the way. I’m, I’m kidding. But it was, just the first, marketing beats on it. I think I, I saw them. That was it.

But it was, it was the kind of thing where like, it’s basically the, console that I would dream about, being a fan of the Mac 1-bit stuff. Also it has just enough of a new interface thing to keep my mind active, with the crank and things like that.

So, I have some of the similar sensibilities for this kind of hardware. I mean, it was basically that like, wouldn’t it be fun to challenge myself to see if I can make something for this console, which hits a lot of the points that I like about, hardware like that. It’s a little bit retro, but also stylish and modern. It has the crank so there’s new ways to interface with it.

And then also it’s 1-bit, so it has these sort of crazy restrictions that are a lot of fun to design around.

I mean, When I originally heard about it, I think one of the rumors was that it was made for basically emulating Game and Watch games.

Christa Mrgan: Yeah! Well, not for emulating existing Game and Watch games, but creating games in the Game and Watch style was one of the very earliest ideas for Playdate. You can hear more about that in the first episode of the podcast, the Story of Playdate. .

Lucas Pope: So even there, I’m interested actually, 'cause I’m a big fan of Game and Watch stuff, too. But then seeing how nice the screen is-- and this Sharp screen is actually used in a couple of the devices that I know about. And I’ve, I’ve always been thinking I should get that screen and try to see what I can do with it.

Christa Mrgan: Oh, yeah. Lucas studied mechanical engineering in college, and as a generally brilliant person, he just likes to build things with electronics and whatnot for fun. Anyway:

Lucas Pope: So the fact that it’s included with the Playdate, sort of part of the whole package was just a really nice kind of thing for me.

And I was coming off of Obra Dinn at the time, which was all 1-bit, and I was immersed in this idea of making something readable and interesting and cool looking in 1-bit. So, everything just kinda lined up, basically. I was really interested in making something for it.

For me, Obra Dinn was a really big, tiring project and after that I felt like exhausted, basically. And Playdate was a way of just taking it a little bit easier, more relaxed. Also, it was during the pandemic, so I was spending more time with my kids and I thought, this is something my kids could enjoy playing I can, if I can get it just right-- not quite as many deaths, not as much blood, then maybe my kids will enjoy it sort of thing.

So yeah, just a lot of things lined up to make the Playdate the perfect place for me to start working.

Christa Mrgan: I feel like this is so validating for us. Maybe I shouldn’t say that out loud. But, yeah. So after making this sort of dark sophisticated game, making something smaller, lighter and more fun felt right to Lucas. But I wondered if after having two huge hits, which were both sort of weighty and complex, there might be some pressure around Mars After Midnight to follow in that same vein.

Lucas Pope: Right. You know, I’m trying to manage expectations for this. And I think it helps that it’s a small device. It’s supposed to be portable and pick up and play. It’s not supposed to be deep and involved. And actually, when I first started thinking about what to do for the Playdate, I had sort of more involved ideas about a deeper game-- I had another game concept, basically, that was more involved and a lot more serious and things like that. Still used the crank, but in a very different way. And when I started thinking about that more and when I got the hardware, especially, I felt like that is not really right for sort of, the way you use a Playdate.

The kind of themeing of the Playdate and the way that you interact with it is not quite right for what I had in mind before. And that’s when I put Mars together and, started working on that instead.

Christa Mrgan: And having just finished a much more ambitious game that was also rendered entirely in a 1-bit black and white graphic style, I figured he was pretty well prepared to design a game for Playdate.

Lucas Pope: what I learned on Obra Dinn is that, for me at least, the most important thing is clarity-- is being able to tell what is going on, being able to see clearly, to understand the visuals, because it’s easy to get caught up in the sort of dither punk style that looks really cool, but is just hard to interpret.

And as an indie, for me anyways, it’s easy to fall in the trap of thinking that like what this looks like is the most important thing. So it looks so cool, and then therefore everyone’s gonna like it. But really, I mean, objectively, I think people will really spot the kind of deficiencies in 1-bit pretty quickly and easily.

And then they’ll start to wonder, “why is it in 1-bit?” Like if, if I could just see it, I can enjoy it a lot more. So I’ve really tried to focus on that part of making it so that nobody ever questions or wants it to be more than 1-bit. And this was something for me when I played Mac games when I was a kid, it never occurred to me that I wanted color in these games.

I dunno, maybe I’m just weird, but that, that’s the kind of feeling I wanted to get is like, when you play this game, you don’t want color, you don’t want a higher resolution or you don’t want these things that are not there. And so. For Mars, that also involves dealing with hardware. The hardware itself.

There are quirks about the hardware, the screen specifically, that you don’t really think about when you’re thinking abstractly about 1-bit. But then you,

sort of put them together and you put them on the console and you realize that for example, the refresh rate, it will strobe if you don’t arrange or dither patterns in the right way when you’re scrolling, for example.

Christa Mrgan: Just as a quick reminder, dither patterns are like crosshatching or stippling in other forms of art. Since you only have black and white to work with in 1-bit art, creating patterns of alternating black and white pixels in different ratios can effectively give you shades of gray. Okay.

Lucas Pope: So if you wanna scroll horizontally, you don’t wanna use a checkerboard dither pattern 'cause it’s gonna strobe the pixels a little bit and it’s not a huge problem, but it’s enough for me to notice anyways, and to be like if I just stretch my dither patterns horizontally, if I’m scrolling horizontally, then the problem goes away.

So it’s those kinds of little issues and things are what I live for basically. I love that stuff. I love to notice little things like that and then fix them up. So the 1-bit style is like the ideal black and white, not even thinking low resolution. And then, okay, now adapt that for low resolution, physically, very small device with these kind of hardware quirks.

And so coming off Obra Dinn, I was already thinking in black and white, I guess for art styles. So how do you draw things and shade things in 1-bit? You use hatching instead of gradations and things like that.

Christa Mrgan: But unlike Return of the Obra Dinn, where Lucas rendered 3D content from Blender with real-time post-processing into 1-bit, the art for Mars After Midnight was all hand drawn.

Lucas Pope: yeah, The hand drawn stuff was just a lot easier to manage and maintain. And also, I’m not that great of an artist, so if I hand draw it, I’m just not doing the kinds of complex things that you could do in 3D, basically. I’m not doing the shading and the deep stuff like that, so my shadows can all be just fully on or fully off and other basic stuff to make it just naturally work better in 1-bit.

I, I think one of the other big differences between what I was doing with Obra Dinn and what happens on Playdate is that dithering on Obra Dinn – where you stipple the black and white to get different shades of gray-- it didn’t really work because the screen is so big and the pixels are physically so large. On Playdate, actually you can get pretty good shades of gray because it’s so small. The pixels themselves are so physically small, you can get shades of gray out of it. But my mentality was already don’t dither anything. So there’s a little bit lost there, but I think I just tried to incorporate that into the style of it being more just higher contrast not having a lot of shades and tones and things like that.

in the Playdate game, And I incorporated all that into the procedural face generator, and the art style. I tested a lot to see is it legible on screen? Is it something you’d wanna look at on screen? Things like that. And that whole process has been really a lot of fun. Probably the most enjoyable part of the art side of it.

Nice. Well, I wanted to hear more about the procedural face generator, and, we’re about to, but there’s also a really fantastic post about it on his DevLog, which again, I highly recommend you check out. Lucas is a really engaging writer, and I love how open he is about sharing his development process. It’s clear that he just really enjoys the cycle of discovery, learning, and iteration. Yeah. This is a lot of fun, and this is probably the part that took the longest, is just figuring out how to make these faces. And it’s something I realized, a couple years ago, that my games just have a lot of people or characters in them. And I’m not sure why, Obra Dinn has 60 crew members and then Papers, Please has randomly generated faces as well.

And I think, you know, just keeping the streak going here for this one. But if I was a good artist, I could just draw, a hundred or a thousand or whatever really interesting Martian faces, but I’m not that good.

Christa Mrgan: Come on. He’s pretty good.

Lucas Pope: Another thing is when I’m working on a game, it’s really hard to keep my interest for a long time it’s just hard. And so something like a procedural system to do something is a way to keep myself surprised with the output on the long-term basis. And so for the faces, I decided, okay, I would draw the pieces, I would draw the eyes, I would draw a bunch of eyes.

I would draw a bunch of noses, a bunch of mouths, some other things like that. And then I would have a system that stuck 'em all together and put them on a head basically. I mean, It took a long time and I’m still tweaking that system to get it to where I was happy with the face, the results, but then, you press a button and you get a random face every time and sometimes it looks weird or not that great, but sometimes it looks really cool and it surprises me how the pieces that I put together could generate this face this time.

And so that kind of keeps me going and inspires me to like, okay, it would be cool if I could also add hats on these guys. So lemme draw a bunch of hats and then see how I can make them attach to different heads in different ways. And like a lot of the stuff with game development, you implement a feature and then you realize there’s more work to do. And so a lot of times with this face generation, I would get somewhere and realize, okay, I thought this would be great. I mean, it’s okay, but I really wish it had this feature. And then I would keep adding things like that.

And so over time as I’m moving along, I lose sight of how much progress I’ve made, but still, I, I enjoy just clicking the random generator and seeing a new face. And then that allows me to sort of experience something that my kids would experience when they play the game.

And also the kind of gist of the game really is that surprise when you open the window and see an alien there that is supposed to make you laugh or supposed to look funny or something. What I’m trying to really capture with this game is the kind of looking forward to what’s gonna happen next that just that small element of opening the door and not knowing what’s gonna be there.

You hear this knock, and you don’t know what’s gonna be there, and you open the door and see a face. So I can actually, in developing the game, I can capture that for myself by just having this procedural generator that puts together the pieces I drew. So I know kind of what the elements are. But you know, They get stuck together in some pretty funny ways sometimes, and it’s kind of

rewarding to see that.

Christa Mrgan: And beyond being surprised by a wacky Martian face every time you open the window, Lucas has added some simple, but really lovely and effective parallax there that hints at the larger world of the game. So sometimes when you open the window, you can’t quite tell if the Martian you’re looking at meets your entrance criteria, so you have to sort of look around using the d-pad.

And as you do that, you also get a glimpse into this Off-Colony Settlement outside, and the parallax of the background elements as you move your field of view, is just a really nice effect.

Lucas Pope: Yeah, so for a first person game, you’re already challenged because it’s so small. The screen itself is so physically small. And it made sense to me that you would be looking through a window. And part of looking through a window means moving your head around to get a better look to see what’s, going on outside, your current view.

And that’s just a perfect opportunity to have all this like serious parallax going on which is really nice performance wise. That doesn’t need to be full 3D. It’s easy to put it together in 2D just

you know, the actual generation of those art assets is not that challenging. And the reward is really nice just because you have the Martian’s face, which is very close.

So there’s just a little bit of parallax, just enough for you to kinda look around the whole head. 'cause their head is bigger than the window as well. So in cases where you need to see their mouth or the top of their head or their hair or something, you need to look around through the window.

and then you’ve got the background that’s like swinging behind it in a very exaggerated way 'cause it’s so far back. A lot of times parallax can be pretty annoying because it’s kinda makes you dizzy or it’s just too much. But here I felt like this is a perfect use case for it because you wanna really emphasize that sense of depth.

And also you need to look around. You’re not focusing on the background when you’re looking around, you’re focused on the foreground. So it doesn’t give you that kind of dizziness that sometimes you get.

Christa Mrgan: Yeah, it’s just right. And I love that it kind of fills in the world. Lucas also created his own font just for the game.

And it has what I think is a fun feature.

Lucas Pope: It’s like a vector wireframe text, and it jitters every frame. It’s randomly like jittering around. And my wife played it and she said, that is really annoying. So, so I added a checkbox in the settings called “Mirth,” which will turn off all the fun in the game and makes all the text not jitter anymore.

Basically I was kinda looking for a different way to do text and something that was fun and would use up some engineering time that I felt like I wanted to spend on some, some bullshit system. So I wrote this whole text system based on wire frames and made a a font out of it. And now I can jiggle it and I can scale it and I can rotate it and things like that, which all the, those advantages I’m trying to use them in in certain places, it’s still was probably a waste of time. We’ll see.

Christa Mrgan: I love it. And of course, Lucas did all of the sound design and music in the game, too.

Lucas Pope: Yeah, I wasn’t sure what to do for the audio on this. And initially I started out just recording samples or downloading samples and manipulating them as I usually do for my games. But then I thought it would be nice to kinda lean into the retro aesthetic a little bit, and I initially thought I would be synthesizing the sounds on the Playdate itself.

It has a pretty nice synth built in, but at some point, like a one person game you gotta call it. And I decided I’ll just synthesize the sounds on my computer and then record them to WAV and then put them on the Playdate.

And that worked pretty well for the pipeline. And it’s a lot of fun for me putting these synthesized sounds together.

You have pretty limited set of things you can do. I got a noise oscillator and a couple sawtooths and things like that. So I try to keep it a little bit limited, but I’m using Bitwig for generating these sound effects and there’s a lot of features in there. So it’s pretty fun to have in my mind a sound I wanna make and then try to get that to happen with the, relatively primitive oscillators and things like timers and things like that.

Christa Mrgan: The DevLog post about his Martian speech synthesis is especially good. Lucas got surprisingly deep into speech synthesis in general. And reading about that and hearing the evolution of his Martian voices was super interesting and very entertaining.

Lucas Pope: So that part of it’s fun. And then putting it together into the game and the SDK itself is nice because it lets me speed up and slow down sounds. So you get a lot of mileage from one sound. You can pitch it up or pitch it down easily, and so you get a little bit more out of it that way.

And then once I’d committed to using retro synthesized sounds for the effects, I decided, okay, maybe I’ll try experimenting with the same kind of thing for the music. And that led me to this M8 tracker, which is this hardware device which uses synth sounds.

There’s no samples in there. You can put samples in it, but I don’t. And it uses a kind of old school style of arrangement where you’re working in hex. It’s like making a song in a spreadsheet basically. Which is not how I normally make music, and has been kind of a challenge for me.

Christa Mrgan: Uh, yeah, that sounds like a nightmare to me, but it seems like Lucas enjoys a challenge.

Lucas Pope: One of the reasons I make games is to learn new things, basically. I love to learn new stuff. This is the first time I’ve used Lua, for example, and I’m learning all about Lua for this game. And writing in the tracker for me was something that I felt like, okay, I, I wanna learn that. Trackers have been around forever and I’ve never used them to write songs. And so I kind of want to try that out for this one.

I’ll let you know the secret: I just write a song that I think is fun and cool, and then I put it in the game. And then a lot of times It sets the tone but sometimes I have a tone in mind and then I try to make a song that matches it and I fail, or sometimes I succeed, or, yeah, I dunno.

I, I had a couple different tracks that I thought could work well and one of 'em ended up working pretty well, and so that’s the one I put in basically. it’ll go like that for the whole project. I have lots of little melodies and things that I write from time to time, and I’ll try to find a place where maybe this melody will fit here and then expand that into a whole song. We have an upright piano in our living room, so I noodle around on that. And then anything That’s good, I’ll record it on just the iPhone’s voice recorder or something. And if it’s any good beyond that, then I’ll transcribe it to the tracker and then try to make all track out of it.

Christa Mrgan: Nice! Well, Lucas mentioned earlier that this was his first time working with the scripting language Lua, which is the kind of higher level language that Playdate games can be written in. So I wanted to hear about that and his experience with working with the SDK in general.

Lucas Pope: I started out just writing everything in Lua. I don’t know, I, I’m not a huge fan of Lua, but what I found is that when I started splitting, doing the high level stuff in Lua and the low level stuff in C, I was a lot happier.

Christa Mrgan: Oh, yeah. So C is the other programming language supported by the Playdate SDK, and a lot of developers find that this kind of split works really well for their games.

Lucas Pope: And this is the first project I’ve done that where I basically write everything in Lua of first, and then if it’s got a performance problem and if it needs to be faster then I will take that code, section it off, and then move it over to C and then have Lua just make a few calls and to see, and then it runs all the slow stuff in there, and it’s much, much faster in C, which is one of the nice things.

Just making that separation first off is, is really nice, just from a conceptual sort of program design thing. But then also being able to choose what I’m gonna spend that effort on is also really nice. When I worked in Unity, you’re stuck in C#, so C# itself has to all be fast enough.

Christa Mrgan: You probably know this, but Unity is another game development engine, and C# and C++ are other coding languages. Okay.

Lucas Pope: Which it was, it’s fine, but it, it’s a lot more work, I guess, on the engine side. And also you don’t make that separation as you’re designing the application. Whereas with Playdate, the Lua is functional and actually is really nice for high level stuff. The way that it can handle the collections and first class functions and things like that. That’s all really nice.

But it’s not that fast. Luckily the SDK has C support, which is really fast. So. That’s been a lot of fun for me actually. I think I could gripe about Lua more if I didn’t have this ability to split things off and work directly in C. And I hadn’t used C in like 20 years before this, so I used C a long time ago and I used C++ 10 years ago and I kind of put all that low level stuff behind me in the last few games. But going back to it now is really nice in a way that you forget just how simple everything is in C. So that’s been a lot of fun, too. For me, just the fact that it’s a separate device is probably the hardest part, and this is not something I would’ve predicted. Basically, when you’re making a desktop game, you are working and playing the same sandbox. You run the game, you test the game, it’s all on your big screen.

For Obra Dinn, I had to worry about developing in the window and then playing full screen. That was my big problem there. The physical size of the pixels just changed when I was developing and when I was playing, but that’s, that was a small sort of thing I could deal with pretty easily. With Playdate, everything about development is different from playing, basically. You have a simulator, which is nice, but that’s on, a bright well-lit screen in the corner next to your VS code or whatever, your text editor. When you hold the device in your hand, and especially you know, it’s got a crank, it’s a very physically notable device. So playing the game physically is very different from developing it.

And that just takes time to iterate on to, compile it and then download it to the hardware. people have been dealing this for forever, basically with any kind of handheld device. But for me it was a new, wrinkle in the, flow of making the game.

So. It’s also been fun, you develop it on a simulator or you get to a certain point and it’s great on your computer, and then you put it on your hand and you realize actually it’s moving too quickly. I, I can’t really tell what’s going on. Or switching from the buttons to the crank is a little bit annoying, so maybe I don’t really want to have the crank and the buttons in the same sort of game space as I was thinking. those sorts of challenges are a lot of fun. But it’s kind of unpredictable how it’s gonna work when you go from this sort of comfy desktop screen development to the hardware itself.

So for me, I think that’s been the trickiest part. the physical interaction is very different than playing on a phone or playing on a desktop screen. And so I really wanted to get that right. I wanted to focus on that in the mechanics and the visuals and everything. I wanted it to be very clear that I made this game for Playdate, and the experience you’re having with this little yellow device is what I was tuning it for, it wasn’t for, a fast simulator on a desktop screen with a bright screen. It was really for this thing with a mechanical crank. And, it’s this big in your hands and it has these limitations, but these strengths, that sort of thing. I was very focused on the, the real hardware itself. And for that, there’s no substitute, you know, to just run it on the hardware.

Christa Mrgan: I love that Lucas was so instantly enamored of Playdate that he wanted to craft a game just for it. And Mars After Midnight is a lot of fun. But despite its lightheartedness and humor, I still felt like there were some Papers, Please overtones of just sort of being this cog in a larger machine that you can’t really steer yourself, but where you do have agency to affect things on a local level.

Lucas Pope: It is funny. I don’t know if I’m carrying it over or if it’s even conscious. I think that’s just how I think about putting a game together basically. Like I build out the rules that I think are interesting and then I try to turn that into a full game. And so that’s what I’ve got here is like,

I think it could be interesting if all you’re doing is this very limited thing: checking the door, fixing the table. Can I turn that into a full game? And then in the end it, feels bureaucratic. It just feels,

you know, it’s repetitious and feel like you’re kind of outta control. But that’s just what I was building the game out of. I will say though, that for this game, because you get to choose the next session, there’s a little bit more of the player’s sort of influence on how things are going, and I am gonna try to wrap that into the narrative in some small way. It does help that I’m aiming this game at the younger set.

I think older people can enjoy it, but I’m doing things like trying not to rely on text too much, for example, or trying not to go too deep with the narrative just because you know it’s gonna fly right over the heads of, who I’m making the game for. Hopefully in the end uh,

it’ll come out and everyone will love it. We’ll see.

Christa Mrgan: yeah. I think people of all ages are going to love Mars After Midnight! I hope you do, too. You can find links to Lucas Pope’s other games, his dev logs, and some other stuff we mentioned in this episode via the links in the show notes. Thanks so much for listening and stay tuned for more episodes coming, maybe soon-ish? To the Playdate Podcast feed.

Lucas Pope: Thank you for having me and thanks for listening and uh, bye-Bye.

Christa Mrgan: 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 composed by Lucas Pope and come from Mars After Midnight. 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, Kaleigh Stegman for putting the word out on social media, and Neven Mrgan, who created the podcast artwork and site design. And thanks as always to everyone at Panic. Playdate is shipping now to more countries than ever! Learn more at play.date.

Okay, so like I mentioned before, it Lucas’ has DevLog post on Martian speech synthesis is awesome. And also it totally reminded me of when that team of scientists used sophisticated technology to recreate the voice of an Egyptian mummy. News Anchor: Scientists were able to mimic Nesyamun’s voice by recreating his mouth and vocal cords with a 3D printer. It allowed them to produce a single sound: Nesyamun: Eh. Ehhhh.