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Playdate Simulator can operate on Steam Deck

The Playdate, if you’re not acquainted, is Panic’s tiny yellow handheld with a crank, but comparable to the long reservation string for the Steam Deck, Playdate preorders are backed up for months.

So if you put a Playdate preorder right now, it isn’t expected to ship until 2023. However, if you already have a Steam Deck and desire to mess around with the Playdate’s old-school vibes, it looks possible to do that by establishing the free Playdate Simulator.

Yet another reminder of just how relaxed Valve’s Steam Deck handheld gaming PC can be, an enterprising Redditor has reached the Playdate Simulator driving on their Steam Deck, as shared on Twitter by Valve designer Lawrence Yang.

You can notice a video of the simulator running on Steam Deck in u/ncarson9’s Reddit post. They establish the simulator from the Steam Deck’s menus, navigate to a game, open it up, and spend a few seconds driving around a Zelda-like forest and swinging a tiny sword.

Like numerous other things with the Steam Deck, getting this set up presumably takes some tinkering. But it’s fun to see one of 2022’s positively coveted handhelds running on another of 2022’s positively coveted handhelds, even in this limited fashion.

The Steam Deck is a handheld gaming computer designed by Valve. The Steam Deck can be recreated as a handheld or linked to a monitor like the Nintendo Switch, unleashed on February 25, 2022.

It is an x86-64-v3 gadget with integrated gaming inputs scheduled to play the whole Steam library, including Windows PC games, through the Linux-based Proton compatibility layer. In addition, the system is an open platform, letting users install other compatible games on the device or other operating systems.

Valve noted that the CPU has comparable performance to Ryzen 3000 desktop computer processors and the GPU performance to the Radeon RX 6000 series. In addition, the Deck contains 16 GB of LPDDR5 RAM in a quad-channel configuration, with a total bandwidth of 88 GB/s.

The unit shipped in three models based on internal storage options. The base model possesses a 64 GB eMMC internal storage unit, running over PCI Express 2.0 x1. A mid-tier model contains 256 GB of storage through an NVMe SSD device, while the high-end unit possesses a 512 GB NVMe SSD storage unit, with the latter two both shipping with drives that run PCI Express 3.0 x4.

All 3 SKUs operate the same M.2 2230 interface for internal storage. Valve declared that the built-in storage is not meant to be replaceable by end-users, though it can be replaced as essential for repair. Additional storage space is available through a microSD card slot, which supports microSDXC and microSDHC formats.

The Deck’s central unit is designed for handheld use. It includes a 7-inch (180 mm) touchscreen LCD with a 1280800 pixel resolution with a fixed 60 Hz refresh rate; games are configured to use vertical synchronization where possible.

The unit’s input set features two thumbsticks, a directional pad, ABXY buttons, two shoulder buttons on each side of the team, four additional buttons on the rear of the unit, and two trackpads under each thumbstick. The thumbsticks and trackpads use capacitive sensing, and the unit includes a gyroscope to allow for more technical control in the handheld mode. The team also has haptic feedback.

The Deck supports Bluetooth connectivity for input devices, including standard game controllers, and includes integrated WiFi network support to meet IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac standards. The Deck supports stereo sound out via a digital signal processor and consists of an integrated microphone and a headphone jack.

The Deck includes a 40-watt-hour battery, which Valve estimates for “lighter use cases like game streaming, smaller 2D games, or web browsing” can last between seven and eight hours. Valve estimated that by keeping frame rates to around 30 frames per second (FPS), more intensive games such as Portal 2 could be played for five to six hours. The system’s software includes an optional FPS limiter that balances a game’s performance to optimize battery life.

At release, Steam Decks were only manufactured in a black casing to reduce the complexity of production. However, Valve stated that they have considered introducing other case colors or themes in the future. Additionally, Valve partnered with iFixit to provide replacement parts for users.

A docking unit will be available a few months after the Deck’s release in 2022. The docking unit can be linked to an external power source to power the Deck and an external monitor through either HDMI or DisplayPort protocols to route output from the Deck to that monitor. Though limited by the processor pace, the display output from the Deck via the dock can reach as increased as 8k resolution at 60 Hz or 4k resolution at 120 Hz; this resolution boost can also be achieved by attaching the Deck directly through a USB to HDMI adapter without the use of the docking station.

There is no other change in performance of the Steam Deck, whether docked or when used in portable mode. The dock also supports Ethernet network connectivity and support for USB connections for controllers or other input devices. The Deck can also work with any third-party docking station that supports similar types of interfacing for portable devices. External GPUs are not supported.

Steam Deck runs a modified Arch Linux operating system called SteamOS v3.0. While SteamOS had been previously developed for Steam Machines using Debian Linux, Valve stated that they wanted to use a rolling upgrade approach for the Deck’s system software, a function Debian was not designed for but was a feature of Arch Linux.

An application programming interface (API) specific to the Steam Deck is available to game developers, allowing a game to specify particular settings if it is being run on a Steam Deck compared to a regular computer.

Within the Steam storefront, developers can populate a special file depot with lower-resolution textures and other reduced elements to allow their game to perform better on the Steam Deck. Steam automatically detects and downloads the appropriate files for the system when the user installs the game.