About Ludum Dare
This weekend, 20-23rd April 2018 is the Ludum Dare game jam. Ludum Dare runs a 48 hour competition every 4 months in which you must create a game based on a theme chosen by the community in the week leading up to it. At the end of the weekend you can release your project and over the next 2 or so weeks other participants play and rate it. Historically the competition was limited to video games but recently it’s officially been expanded to board and card games but the organisers warn that getting votes on non video game entries can be hard. There are two variations of the jam. The first is the competition. This takes place over 48 hours from Friday evening to Sunday evening. All code and assets (except licensed fonts and brand identities, such as your logo) must be created during this 48 hour period and by just a single person. Once submitted you must provide your source code to prove that it was created during the competition and I guess as a sort of give-back-to-the-community sort of thing. Libraries and game engines are allowed as long as you are willing to share your source. The second is the jam, this is the less formal version designed for teams, usually professional studios who would like to develop their games further, into full games. In this version you are free to use any assets from any source provided you have the license to use them.
I first participated in Ludum Dare during LD28 and the theme was “You Only Get One”. I made a little game where you had you complete mathematical equations using only the number 1, spawning more 1s as needed. I had intended there to be a little story where you could rescue and unlock other numbers to help progress through the game. Unfortunately this was the first time I’d really been developing something to such a tight deadline and I was creating the engine from scratch in Java so I didn’t get very far, only able to rush out one poorly explained and buggy puzzle.
I’ve taken part in most of the jams/competitions since with varying degrees of success, sometimes with friends, sometimes by myself. I fully plan to “compete” again in the upcoming event (LD41) depending on the theme and whether any viable ideas present themselves. I may even stream some of the process if there is interest or a streamable amount of progress being made. If you’d like to watch you can do so by visiting my personal Twitch channel.
Choices For the Jam
If I/we create a video game (the mostly likely outcome) I will most likely be using Godot Engine. This is a relatively new Unity-like engine with a fully open-source MIT license with a good community. I like Godot because it is lightweight, fully open-source using a license I prefer, integrates well with Blender, a decent little Python-like scripting language and seems to be under heavy development. While Unity and Unreal are more mature I’m not keen on the licensing and I’ve found their communities a little less helpful.
Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 is my go to for most production of assets such as textures, sound effects and music, though I’d rather use open source alternatives such as Krita.
Blender for 3D modelling and animation.
Bitbucket for git versioning, due to its free private repo functionality and team sharing. Backup repository on my local Raspberry Pi server.
Currently the headline themes are:
- You are the weapon
- A light in the dark
- Keep growing
- 3 rules
- Unusual magic
- Colo(u)r changes everything
- At the beginning there is nothing
- Combine 2 incompatible genres (e.g. turn based racing)
- You really shouldn’t mix those
- Floating islands
- It spreads
- The environment changes you
- You are what you eat
I’m keen on about 3, indifferent on about 8 and fairly against another 5 though I won’t say which in case the final theme goes against me, it usually does.
If you’ve been thinking about doing some game development, this weekend would be a great time for you to give it a go, yes the time is short and it can be very tiring but it’s also a great way to get over all those little excuses you might be using that put it off. The game doesn’t have to be great, several times I’ve tweeted that the game isn’t worth posting for the jam only to be tweeted back by someone that it’s better to post an unfinished pile of junk than to wuss out all together. Even if you only manage to get a character moving on screen it’ll be an improvement on where you are now. The game doesn’t even have to be that linked to the theme if you can’t think of a connection.