Lucas Pope Made Playdate Classic 'Mars After Midnight' For His Kids, Not Money 1
Image: Lucas Pope

There are loads of amazing games on Playdate, but Lucas Pope's recently released Mars After Midnight almost feels like the killer app the tiny yellow handheld has been crying out for. Amusing, compelling and an experience which makes good use of the console's signature crank, it's a wonderful video game – but Pope doesn't expect to get rich off of it.

Speaking to Tech Radar, Pope explains that there was a lot of expectation and pressure on his shoulders after the critically acclaimed Papers, Please and The Return Of The Obra Dinn – but he dodged it with Mars After Midnight by making a game primarily for his offspring to enjoy:

There's a lot of expectation attached to anything I do now. There's a lot of pressure following up Papers, Please, and Obra Dinn, and making something else that everyone's going to love. With the Playdate, it lowers the temperature on that expectation, especially because I made it clear this is a game I'm making for my kids, which is aimed at kids. That part is worth a lot more than just money or sales.

Pope explains that the first time he laid eyes on the Playdate, he felt compelled to develop for it. "I first saw the Playdate when everyone else did," he tells Tech Radar. "I was coming off Obra Dinn. Anything that's 1-bit is right up my alley and then I saw the crank. Everything made me think: ‘This is awesome. I want to make a game for it’."

Playdate maker Panic sent him a device, which triggered his desire to create a game his own kids could appreciate:

When I got the Playdate, I felt like it was the perfect thing for my kids to be playing. It's frustrating to have children who are crazy about games but can't play my games. They’re too violent, too mature, and just not interesting. I wanted to make something for them. I thought: ‘OK, cartoonish faces – I can do the drawing for that.’ Plus, putting them together procedurally gives a lot more flexibility if they're not supposed to represent real faces.

We awarded Mars After Midnight 9/10 in our review, saying: "Mars After Midnight is wonderfully engaging and addictive, and effortlessly one of the best Playdate games released so far."