Using Panels for Cutscenes in Other Games

A Panels comic is meant to be a self-contained, standalone game. You can, however, embed your Panels comics into another game to use them as cutscenes, intros, or other story elements.

Table of contents


Follow the instructions in the main Get Started section to install and import the Panels library.

All the setup instructions apply with one exception:
Do not call Panels.start() from your game code.

Create Your Comics

Follow the normal instructions for creating artwork and comic data files for your cutscenes. Each cutscene must be a complete comic data file that defines 1 or more sequences.

Play Your Cutscene

At the point in your game when your cutscene should be triggered call Panels.startCutscene(comicData, callback).

Where comicData is the full comic data table for the cutscene you wish to play (1 or more sequences), and callback is a function in your code that will be called when the cutscene is complete.

While the cutscene is active, continue to call Panels.update() every frame from your main playdate.update() function.

Resume Your Game

When your callback function runs, you can stop calling Panels.update() and resume your normal game loop. It’s up to your game code to keep track of when a cutscene is running, and to send the appropriate comic data table each time a cutscene starts.

Branching Cutscenes

If your cutscene has a branching multiple choice ending, you can receive the user’s choice in your callback function. Panels will send back the target parameter from the advanceControls option the user selected.

An example of a branching cutscene ending is shown in the example project.


When using Panels in your project, please include the following (or similar) text in your game credits or about screen:

Cutscenes built with Panels:


Accidental Input

Button callbacks and input handlers in your game may continue to get called while the cutscene is running. Make sure to clean up input handlers before starting the cutscene, and check if a cutscene is running in any button handler code.

Never-ending Comics

Remember to stop calling Panels.update() when the comic ends (after your callback function gets called). Continuing to call Panels.update() will cause the comic to appear stuck on the last panel.

Never-starting Comics

Neglecting to call Panels.update() in your update loop will prevent the comic from appearing. Panels.startCutscene() won’t draw anything to the screen without also calling Panels.update() every frame.


Calling Panels.update() before Panels.startCutscene() will cause your game to crash.

Likewise, calling Panels.startCutscene() with an incomplete or invalid comic data table will also crash.


See below for an abbreviated example of the general flow for starting and stopping a cutscene.

Download the full example project for more details:
Panels Cutscene Example

local cutsceneIsPlaying = false

function cutsceneDidFinish()
    cutsceneIsPlaying = false

function startCutScene()
    cutsceneIsPlaying = true
    Panels.startCutscene(comicData, cutsceneDidFinish)

function playdate.update()
    if cutsceneIsPlaying then
        updateGame() -- your game loop