#playdate #crankstart


A barely functional, wildly incomplete and basically undocumented Rust crate whose aim is to let you write games for the Playdate handheld gaming system in Rust

2 releases

0.1.2 Sep 4, 2023
0.1.1 Apr 27, 2022

#2 in #undocumented

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85 downloads per month
Used in crankstart

MIT license

28K SLoC

Rust for Playdate

You've stumbled across a barely functional, wildly incomplete and basically undocumented Rust crate whose aim is to let you write games for the Playdate handheld gaming system in Rust.

This software is not sponsored or supported by Panic.


To use this crate, you'll also need to install the crank command line tool.

From the crankstart directory where you found this README,

crank run --release --example hello_world

Should launch the simulator and load in the hello_world sample.

If you have a device attached to your desktop,

crank run --release --example hello_world --device

Should launch the hello_world sample on the device.

For the sprite_game example one needs to copy the images folder from "PlaydateSDK/C_API/Examples/Sprite Game/Source/images" to "sprite_game_images".

Your Own Project

Using this system for your own project requires some setup:

  1. Follow the setup for crank with Rust nightly's no_std support.
  2. Start a new rust library project with cargo new --lib project_name
  3. git clone git@github.com:pd-rs/crankstart.git at the same depth as your new project.
  4. Go into the new project, and add the following to your Cargo.toml:
memcpy = false
sysroot_path = "target/sysroot"
panic_immediate_abort = false

panic = "abort"
opt-level = 'z'
lto = true

panic = "abort"
opt-level = 'z'
lto = true

crate-type = ["staticlib", "cdylib"]

crankstart = { path = "../crankstart" }
crankstart-sys = { path = "../crankstart/crankstart-sys" }
anyhow = { version = "1.0.31", default-features = false }
euclid = { version = "0.22.9", default-features = false, features = [ "libm" ] }
hashbrown = "0.14.0"

version = "=0.1.2"
default-features = false
features = [ "alloc" ]
  1. Add a Crank.toml at the same level as your Cargo.toml, with this minimum:
    name = "project_name"
    assets = [

assets should be a list of paths to any/all assets you need copied into your project, such as sprites, music, etc.

  1. Inside your lib.rs, you only need to implement the crankstart::Game trait to your game's core state struct, then call crankstart::crankstart_game! on that struct. See the examples folder for examples.
  2. To run the project, from its root, you should now be able to crank run successfully!

If you want an example of an independent project following these conventions, go check out Nine Lives.

Updating Bindings

If there's a newer Playdate SDK available that updates the C API, the crankstart bindings should be updated to match. Here's a guide.

  1. Install the dependencies for bindgen.
  2. Install bindgen-cli.
  3. Install the gcc-arm-none-eabi toolchain, either manually or through a system package, which may also be named something like "cross-arm-none-eabi-gcc".
  4. On Linux, install the 32-bit glibc development package, which will be called something like glibc-devel-32bit.
  5. Install the new Playdate SDK, and if it's not at the default MacOS path, set PLAYDATE_SDK_PATH to where you unzipped it. (This should be the directory that contains C_API, CoreLibs, etc.)
  6. Run ./scripts/generate_bindings.sh
  7. Inspect the changes to crankstart-sys/src/bindings_* - they should reflect the updates to the Playdate C API. If nothing changed, double-check that the C API actually changed and not just the Lua API.
  8. Submit a PR with the changes :)


~23K SLoC