Several of the top winners of the competition used a game development tool such as Game Maker or Multimedia Fusion 2.

What brought these games over the top seemingly is a scope and size that is difficult to match with just frameworks and APIs.

Cat Planet I think has something like 100 levels. With a level designer built into Game Maker, the programmer can be developing levels within a few hours of the competition. I remember when building the level editor was part of the challenge. It is just really difficult to compete with a fully integrated set of tools that make it easy to create a game in a couple hours.

Apocalypse Adventure is absolutely enormous and doesn’t seem like a 48 hour game at all. To build something like this, you almost have to be building the world from the first moment of the competition, which evidently is possible in Multimedia Fusion 2.

I think it’s clear these all in one tools with sprite editors, animators, level designers, and event based drag and drop development environments, etc, give a big advantage to those who use them in these competitions.

I’m just wondering for fairness sake, and to continue to promote a diversity of languages, frameworks, and more interesting types of games than these tools usually allow being built, should we consider banning such all-in-one game development tools?

The list of which I would consider: Game Maker, Multimedia Fusion 2, Construct, Unity, and perhaps the UDK.

I’m not connected with Ludum Dare in any way other than that I enjoy entering the contests, but I just was wondering what everyone’s opinion on this was, as I’ve noticed a big difference in the scope and size of games developed with tools such as Game Maker and those that are not.

And I’m definitely not saying I’d like to go back to a “all from scratch” contest either, hehe.

53 Responses to “Should we consider banning game development tools such as Game Maker?”

  1. PoV says:

    Something I’ve wanted to make an effort pushing was having the non middleware users collaborate on general purpose tools, editors, and such. We’re solving the same development problems over and over again, many times over in the same 48 hours by multiple people. That’s my goal for the Forum, when we get around to that. Get more people discussing and improving the so called “from scratch” process, and improving processes overall. SFXR has revolutionized sound making during compos (and in many indie games). We need more of that.

  2. LoneStranger says:

    I’ve been leaning this way more and more over the past few competitions. I’m all for banning those all-in-one tools. They’re great for rapid prototype development outside the compo, but they don’t fit the spirit of Ludum Dare, which should be all about getting your ‘hands dirty.’

    I’m fine with basic frameworks, because honestly, who wants to write that crap over and over again when it’s all the same?

  3. pekuja says:

    While I agree with PoV here, I think for a Mini-LD it could be fun to set strict limitations. I think the best option would be to very explicitly name the libraries, languages and tools that are allowed, to ensure an equal footing for everyone. I’d set the footing pretty low. Possibly something like OpenPTC, where all you get is per-pixel access to the screen. Could be fun.

  4. ExciteMike says:

    Taking a hardcore stance on banning gamemaker and the like would result in far fewer entries and fewer interesting games, so I think that it’s much better if we allow them. I haven’t been involved in LD as long as many folks, but for me the spirit of Ludum Dare has more been about coming up with an idea and making the game happen in one weekend, rather than re-building up the basics again each time. The more of the 48 hours that is spent on the parts unique to your game idea, rather than re-inventing collision code, map editors, scene graphs, utility functions, sprite animation code, UI widgets, etc. the better!

  5. sowbug says:

    It’s a letdown to see a cool game, download the source, and get just an assets folder and a project file for a proprietary tool. PyGame or Flixel is about the right level of abstraction to skip the tedium but still be able to get an idea what was going on in the coder’s head during development.

  6. Hamumu says:

    I say let ’em do it. The times, they are a-changing, and I don’t think anybody has yet gotten such a leg up from those kind of tools that it made any difference. My game had more hand-made level design than Cat Planet, and I did it in paint shop pro with pixels. His was just more enjoyable! Game Maker didn’t make it that way for him, it was all in the developer’s hands. I didn’t play Apocalypse Adventure, so don’t ask me about that.

    The things I’ve seen make the most difference (and basically make the entire game for people on many occasions) are physics engines, and I haven’t seen anyone (but me) decry their use. How many times has an entry been “here are some blocks, knock them down”? And those games are well liked, because physics just clicks with people.

    I guess I’m in it to learn, and I get that both by pushing myself to make some wacky little thing and by seeing what people can do with Unity and then being able to spy on their code. That’s not my argument for letting people use that stuff though, my arguments are there’s no possible way to draw a line on it that’s fair, the contest isn’t for prizes, and a lot of people only know those tools.

    There’s no restriction on what you use to make your content, so why is it fair that somebody can render a fancy 3D model in Maya and another guy can only draw stick figures in Paint? That’s just the tools they have, and the skills they have. Several people have played live guitar/banjo/ukulele/something (tuba once?) for their games, so they have fancy expensive gear they’re using, and major skills that took years to learn. That’s just the difference of the journey you took to reach LD. You use what you got in your head, in your heart, and in your left nostril. If you want your tools to include Gamemaker, you can! Learning that’s a lot easier than learning the guitar.

    I’m a from-scratch kinda guy, but LD has reached a point where that isn’t gonna fly, and there’s no way to make the rules perfectly just. LD’s a festival and a celebration of popping out quirky games, we should celebrate instead of stifle.

    I would compete in a PixelToaster (openPTC) mini-LD, though.

  7. PsySal says:

    For the most part I’m with hammy, let’s celebrate the games getting made and not how hard it is to make ’em.

    However it would be interesting to have a “hardcore” mini-LD or a more limited scope competition, maybe totally separate from LD. Like for instance a “flixel compo” or “pygame compo”…?

    But LD is fun the way it is! It definitely shouldn’t be limited to just those who are excellent programmers.

  8. greencow says:

    I’ve made many LD games using C++/Allegro and a couple recent entries using Game Maker.

    I believe that Ludum Dare is primarily about designing games and creating content. Allegro and Game Maker are both purposed with reducing the overhead in realizing your game design and thus providing additional time to create content.

    The argument seems to be that Game Maker should be banned because it represents your design using a visual language rather than typed code, which results in more rapid development. Game Maker also integrates many tools, such as level and sprite editors, though these tools are also available in more generic forms.

    1) Not all game designs can be implemented more rapidly using GM. Though this mainly depends on your level of expertise with each tool.

    2) Banning tools is a slippery slope, there is not much real difference between Allegro and Game Maker, it is just an arbitrary choice which will have to be made every LD as new tools come out.

    3) Modern tools enable higher quality games. Newer code libraries have been improving physics simulations in games. Generic level editing tools have been available for a while as well.

    4) As some problems cannot be solved using game maker, people will choose other tools. Games that implement more innovative or advanced techniques will probably score better in most categories than more generic games, although implementing innovative game designs often comes at the expense of game content, so more innovative games sometimes come out looking less polished or slightly buggy.

    5) For making a basic platform game, it is really not helping to spend time reimplementing platform physics, level editor, etc, when the level design is what people should be spending their time on in a platform game.

    My bottom line is that Ludum Dare is a game development competition, not a programming contest, and having the best game development tools available will result in better games.

  9. sfernald says:

    Well, I get what everyone is saying, but I don’t think it would be a slippery slope to ban these kind of tools.

    I think you can simply ban any visual tool designed specifically for game development and designed to encompass the process as a whole.

    This would clearly and cleanly eliminate the Game Makers, while keeping the Flashes, the Flixels, and the Visual Studios safe.

    I understand not doing this ban, but I think more and more people are going to end up using these tools in order to compete and pretty soon you won’t have any coders left. I just don’t want to see that happen.

    And I’m not saying that Cat Planet is not a cool game, and I would hate to have not seen it be entered in the competition. I’m torn about this I guess.

    I just think these tools destroy the challenge and the games made with these tools are usually more straightforward, and I love the oddities that people come up with when they just have a pixel pushing routine, and few equations and a lot of imagination. Will people still do this, when in order to compete you are expected to have a polished product with at least 50 levels?

    I don’t want to see Ludum Dare diminished by this in the future, that’s why I’m bringing this up now.

    This thing came to my attention when I decided to try out Game Maker, and I was able to rebuild most of the game I had built in 12-14 hours of coding in blitzmax, in about an hour or so with Game Maker, using the same artwork. Arghhh. All I can say is I won’t be using that tool again next time.

  10. Almost says:

    I’ve never tried game maker, so perhaps I’m missing something, but what can it do that flixel can’t? Is it the visual part of the editing that you dislike, or the fact that it supplies you with built in functionality for things like physics, map editors and platforming games? Yes Unity has a built in physics engine, but so do a lot of 2D engines, and I don’t think that’s why you dislike it. It seems to me that the issue is that it has a visual of the “world” and the ability to drag and drop to move things around, with which I see no problem.

    Somewhat related:
    Having a “technical excellence” category in the voting seems to me a good way to reward those who take the more coding path and create something new. It’s a way to give credit to somebody that made something that is, from a coding perspective, impressive.

  11. jovoc says:

    I’ve felt that way sometimes — and even come close to posting a similar post to this — but on reflection I think GM and Flixel are good for the compo and should stay.

    Tools such as level editors need not be limited to builder users — there’s nothing stopping any of us from putting together a really fast and tight level editor framework before the game .. you just need to write the loader code during the contest, and if you make sure you stick to simple formats like a text file this can be easy. I used TileStudio for my ill-fated ChainGuy entry and had levels loading with little work. Practice, and tune your workflow before the compo.

    The key thing to remember, however, is that along with the advantages, you get the limitations. Lately we’ve seen a bunch of awesome platformers — flixel and GM lower the bar to create something like that. So if you’re writing a SDL platformer, you’re going to be at a big disadvantage to a GM or flixel user.

    Don’t fight GM on it’s own turf. Come up with a unique gameplay idea that would be impossible in a builder. It’s getting harder to differentiate your game if it’s a platformer so make something that’s really unique and I guarantee it will stand out.

    That said, I would love to see a “hardcore” category, only for entries using a very small set of low-level allowed libs (OpenGL, SDL, allego and the like).

  12. There are a lot of games being made for Ludum Dare, which I believe is a good thing. To me Ludum Dare has always been more about the fun and personal challenge of making a game in 48 hours and less about actually competing against each other. I’m not so certain about banning game making tools.

    The problem might not that these tools are being used, but that games made with these tools are being compared against games coded from scratch. There are people starting from blank text editors competing against others who already have fully functional engines to build from. These two groups of people are not really competing against each other, but their games are being piled together all in one place. Perhaps it would be a good idea to provide a few categories games can be submitted into depending how they were designed (strict set of tools and libraries, starting codebases, game making tools, etc.)

  13. Catmoo says:

    I don’t think it’s that fair by just saying you think the use of GM should be banned. LD 16 was my first LD and I’m not exactly a programmer, but I enjoy making games. If something like this happened then I just wouldn’t be able to take part in it. And I’m sure it may be the same for other people too. I myself would be very upset to not be allowed to make a game, just because I do not have the time to learn as much code as a lot of people on here can, this doesn’t mean I should be disqualified from entering the competition for it.

  14. Covenant says:

    I can see both sides of this issue…
    I don’t think LD has to do only with design and content, tbh… For example, my game on this LD was a bit slow in the beginning (which fits the way I see the exploration concept) and because of that people didn’t see any of the neat stuff I’ve added in the design department… So you have to put all the design elements up front, which can sometimes detract from the design itself… And content is hard for non-artists and people with no graphic skills whatsoever…
    LD has to do with the integration of everything… for me, it’s about the technical and design achievement, which is the parts I like the most…

    Anyway, I think that a change in rules could be added… if we allow for GameMaker, Unity and U3D (and all those), we should allow people to use pre-existant engines…
    I’ve been working on the last 4 years with the same engine on different projects, I’m confortable with it, I’d like to use it… But I can’t show/distribute the code (even in .lib and .h form, I think. I can’t even wrap the engine in an executable with LUA support to make the actual game…), which percludes me from using it… With it, I could use a whole suit of tools, from content exporters to image bank generators, etc…
    Even so, my engine wouldn’t be on par with Unity or U3D, but I’d really like to participate in a compo with it…

    So, what suggest is to discuss the true essence of the competition… is the source code really needed? In the past, it was “needed” to ensure people did everything during the competition, but I’m wondering if that is the case anymore, with all those tools available now?
    Would it be better to just trust people to do all the game code during the competition and evaluate the design/content part of it, as it seems it is a common trend?

    If people can learn with other people’s code, we have emails and posts and stuff to explain what we’ve done, to spread the knowledge… I know I’d be thrilled to explain my procedural island generator to anyone who cared! :)

    So, my final though is:

    Is LD about tech/code? -> Don’t allow GM, etc, etc
    Is LD about design/content? -> Drop the source code clause
    Is LD about experimentation of concepts? -> Drop the source code clause, increase the “value” of the Theme rating , which in some cases seems to be an afterthought and not the core of the experience. And make sure the themes are good enough for this… “Indirect Interaction” is a good one, “Caves” is not, imo…

  15. Codexus says:

    I used to do my LDs really from scratch so I understand the frustration when you spent your week-end coding an engine and others have just made better games by using an existing solution.

    But this LD, I used Unity. It didn’t give me a huge advantage as I was learning how to use it at the same time but still, I was able to get a game done in less time. And most importantly it was a lot more fun than reimplementing texture and model loader for the Nth time.

    This evolution of the LD is a good thing, we get more artistic oriented people, we can spend more time on the games themselves and we get better games. LD not a coding competition, it’s about creating games.

    But maybe we could have a ‘from scratch’ category with very strict rules on what’s allowed (no premade engines, no physics library) for those who want a coding competition.

  16. Fiona says:

    There’s no reason to ban these type of tools. You use whatever you are used to. A fancy pants tool that gives you easy 3D graphics will not save your game if it plays terribly.

    I’ve used frameworks in all my LD entries, my last three entries have been using my own little framework on-top of pygame that handles game objects. I’m used to using it and managed to come out with something that easily rivals the Unity or Gamemaker stuff.

    There’s nothing stopping you having an ascii-based tile formate for instance and slamming out the same levels that Cat Planet had – the levels aren’t even very complex!

    LD is about making a fun game in 48 hours, these arguments are silly. You might as well remove the judging system altogether if you think people using Unity or Gamemaker have an “unfair advantage”.

  17. Hempuli says:

    I guess most that can be said about this issue has been said earlier, but I also think that all-in-one-tools shouldn’t be banned. For me the reason is mostly because LD isn’t really about the competition and so on, but also because using an existing tool (namely GM, MMF 2 or Construct) restricts your possibilities in the end. While there are many things that are pre-made when you start to work on your game with these tools, as you get further in the development there often appear issues you can’t really affect, and which are caused by the clumsiness of the tool.

    As for Apocalypse Adventure, I really added that content at the cost of gameplay and further thought. I had the idea straight from the beginning and built stuff on it, but the raid progression MMF 2 allowed meant also that I really couldn’t put that much thought to the design. I kinda regret that now.

  18. PsySal says:

    I just had an idea, why not have an additional voting category for Technical Excellence?

    Even GM/tool-based-game reasons aside, I’ve often felt that a game was amazing technically– but utter crap as a game. =) Normally this is because someone tried something too ambitious and didn’t get a chance to really refine (or even define) the gameplay.

    It would be nice to be able to reward these types of games rather than just skew the “Overall” vote or something similar. It would also provide balance against GM/tool-based-games, of course, as you’d not get as high a score for making a GM game unless you really did something amazing with it.

    • Jonny D says:

      Maybe the “Overall” category should be deleted. Then we would have to use a more complete palette of categories in order to describe our judgment (like adding “Technical”, “Control”, “Immersion”, “Goals”, “Progression”, “Levels”, or others). It would recognize the winners of other categories a bit more, making it fully desirable to place in any of them.

  19. sfernald says:

    I’ve really been thinking about this more and I have to agree with everyone that I don’t think banning tools is a good idea.

    I think Covenant hit on a great solution. I think the themes need to be chosen with more care to ensure fairness.

    Themes such as Caverns or Explorations are bad themes because I think a theme should really apply some sort of restriction to the game play. In the same way, a theme about Cat Planets or murder would be equally bad, because any such theme can be adapted to almost any game type.

    Instead as Covenant says, a theme should restrict gameplay, such as the example he uses, Indirect Interaction.

    A good theme might be ‘One screen’ or ‘use of magnets’. There’s no reason a theme can’t have more than one clause. So that a theme of ‘a one screen game that uses magnets’ would be fine. I think this puts everyone on a more fair playfield. GM users will have to put away their platform engines and create something unique.

    I would further suggest that history indicates voting will tend to select generic themes such as Caverns.

    I would suggest that users vote from a list of gameplay restrictive themes and gets the number down to 10 or so. And then someone like PoV just picks one or more of these and assembles a theme that will be challenging and fair to all. A theme that will require developers to think beyond normal gaming conventions and that will make these tools such as GM not as useful.

  20. Jonny D says:

    This would be a big decision to make, indeed.

    People seem to have their own ideas of what Ludum Dare is all about. I think it’s up to the mods unless they host a poll or something. My opinion is that of several others on this thread. Ludum Dare is about game creation. We want to create exciting new gameplay and/or solid experiences, and show what the indie movement can do. In no way can we ban game development tools or reword rules to ban them in a roundabout way. Ludum Dare *must* be open to the creativity that simplified, comprehensive tools support, but also to the creativity that such tools hinder.

    I have the same thought as a couple others here. If you really want the voting to be fair, it has to be broken into development categories, each with its own restrictions. My suggestions are “Hardcore”/”Low-level” (pixel and sound card access as the limit), “Restricted”/”Mid-level” (any libraries allowed, but no visual game development kits), and “Comprehensive”/”Free For All”/”High-level” (any tool).

    I think the spirit of LD is really summed up in the rules: Your prize is your game. This isn’t strictly true, since there is now some indie media coverage of LD, but everyone who completes something wins. It’s not meant to be all about the competition, but it is significantly less fun without that communal aspect. Just don’t take it so seriously. You do have an unlimited amount of time to finish and polish your game after the competition. This lets you make your game stand out regardless of the development category. The point is to have some fun and get something finished in 48 hours that makes someone else smile. In the end, we all improve our skills and have something else to show for it.

  21. ippa says:

    Good blog post and discussion. I thought about it and I don’t think banning tools is the solution.

    As suggested in earlier posts:

    *** New category “Tech”
    Decent idea, but voting fairly on a lot of games is already a tons of work, will people really go through and look at code? I guess we could just require people to name their tools and then people who care about this subject can make their voices heard through this vote.

    *** Odder and/or stricter themes
    This is a good idea and easy to implement. Game Maker etc can still compete, but might require some cool bending to get high Theme-scores.

    *** Community being aware
    This blog post is a great start.

    I know when I vote for a unity3D game I don’t give high Graphics-points just cause of the advanced 3D.
    Games done with high-level tools won’t score high in the innovation-category. And maybe “another flixel side scroller” won’t score as high in “Fun”. An educated community will not be impressed by something that comes for free in high-level software.

    With advanced tools comes restrictions. I scored the “Cat Planet” entry pretty high cause of it had some fun hard levels. People doing stuff from scratch, go for something odd and unique! :)

    • Almost says:

      Regarding the idea of a tech category, looking at the code is not what I had in mind at all. I assume it would be for neat effects. If a 2D game implements a neat shadow/stealth feature, destructible terrain, a complex game system that isn’t fun but is still impressive, a unique flight simulation, or a bunch of trippy effects these sort of things deserve some recognition.

  22. ippa says:

    And oh, while I see the core of LD as learning,having fun and “make games” the vote is still an important part.

    People (including me) care about the votes they get (and give!) and we should try to keep it as fair as possible. This requires the community as a whole to try to be fair but might also need some changes to the system.

  23. chuchino says:

    I’ll be honest, I basically vote for themes based on how easily I can think of a game idea for them on the spot, because I don’t want to end up having no inspiration when the contest starts and be unable to make anything. So I end up upvoting all the ones likes Caverns, Castle, Exploration, Cute Kittens, etc. that I could cram into a basic platformer/action template and downvoting the more abstract and challenging themes like Indirect Interaction or Twilight Fandom. While that makes it easier to produce a quality finished game, it also makes things somewhat less interesting (even though I voted for it, I was kinda bummed out when Exploration was announced as the theme because it’s pretty bland).

    I think that to get on the voting list themes should be required to have some sort of interesting effect on gameplay, rather than just dictating what your tileset looks like or being too broad and generic to encourage innovative mechanics (like “Exploration” or “Shooter”).

  24. TenjouUtena says:

    What if, instead of creating different ‘leagues’.. we had a dropdown for when you submitted your game, you selected what middleware you used. So DirectX, SDL, Allegro, pygame, Unity, XNA, etc. would be listed. The results would still be tabulated the same, but you might also be able to see the results by Middle Wear class (Raw, Library, Engine) or my toolkit used (Show me the highest pygames, or show me the highest Game Makers) Metals would still go to overall, but you could at least say ‘Yeah, I made the highest rated XNA game’ or whatever. I think this is a good compromise between breaking out the compo into what is basically three different compos, and still wanting to see the various ‘hardcore’ options.

    • Almost says:

      This seems like a great idea to me. Knowing that one created the highest rated raw code game is always nice. As well as comparing high level/low level engine results, this would allow somebody who’s still learning to more easily find which games are made with an engine with which he has familiarity to see source code.

  25. keeyai says:

    I guess the question is what is the goal/spirit/whatever of LD. In my mind, LD is about fast indy game design. I don’t care how you got there — if you think gamemaker or unity or whatever is the fastest way to make the best product, why aren’t you using it?

    That being said, I definitely understand the yearn for a more hands on compo, and as others have mentioned I think mini LDs that ban game makers are probably a perfect platform for that. If it really really upsets enough people, perhaps we could have a parallel compo with more strict rules.

    Also, TenjouUtena’s point is great — it would be nice to see what middleware was used. Not for judging, but just for knowing and that ‘I made the highest rated XNA game’ feeling he mentions.

  26. TenjouUtena says:

    Just to add some facts into the conversation:

    1. GameMaker
    2. Python / Pygame
    3. Unity
    3. Multimedia Fusion
    4. Java
    5. Flash
    6. Unity
    6. Delphi / GLScene / ODE
    7. C++, HGE, Box2D
    8. Flash
    9. GameMaker
    10. GameMaker (?)
    10. Construct
    11. C++ / OpenGL
    12. Python / Pygame
    13. GLBasic
    14. GameMaker
    15. GameMaker
    16. Flash
    17. GameMaker
    17. GameMaker (C418 didn’t post source, and didn’t say dinifitively ever?)
    17. Python / Pygame


    GameMaker – 7
    Python / Pygame – 3
    Flash – 3
    Unity – 2
    C++ – 2
    MMF – 1
    Java – 1
    Delphi – 1
    Construct – 1
    GL Basic – 1

    Engines (GameMaker, Unity, Construct, MMF) – 11
    Programming (Flash, Pygame, C++, Java, Delphi, GLBasic) – 11

    So I don’t think Game Engines really swept the compo.

    • sfernald says:

      Interesting info. I had not even realized the “all-in-ones” had practically become the majority already. I was more seeing it as a growing trend than something that had already arrived.

  27. nitram_cero says:

    Ludum Dare. The name speaks for itself.
    It’s a contest about making something playful: games, not technology.

    Also it’s fair to everyone:
    If you choose C++ over Game Maker… probably you’ll never make 100 levels in time.
    But that’s your desicion.

    You can always learn Game Maker and use it for the next competition.

    • Jonny D says:

      Unfortunately, an important aspect of LD is overlooked here: Gaining experience. There’s not as much to gain from learning and using Game Maker if you’re shooting for a game dev job.

      • LoneStranger says:

        That’s a very, very good point, and one that I think a lot of people miss. Even if you aren’t shooting for a game job, you’re missing out on good experience.

        • Hempuli says:

          I doubt many of us are seeking for the experience of besting a confusing tool, more like the experience of actually creating a game and releasing it. There are many fairly better places to get experience of professional game design than Ludum Dare, and I personally think that as long as we get experience in something, be it design or just showing out our ideas, Ludum Dares are a really great thing to have.

          • nitram_cero says:

            I have to agree with Hempuli here. If you want to gain technological experience there are better places.
            But if you want to gain experience about what it takes to make and publish a game (regardless the platform), it’s awesome.

            Besides, having “good experience” sounds to me like “having fun” doing something instead of just “learning” to do so 😉

            You can even gain experience by learning game maker 😛 (Which I do not endorse but it’s a fact)

            Best regards

    • PsySal says:

      Hah! That sounds like a challenge…

  28. Covenant says:

    I think there’s an important point left out…

    nitram_cero says: “If you choose C++ over Game Maker… probably you’ll never make 100 levels in time.”
    While this is true to a certain extent, if I could use my C++ engine (of which I can’t publish source or even .h files), I’d be able to do 100 levels…

    So the issue I have with allowing GameMakers and Unity and such is the fact that they place the user in a position in which they really don’t have to show the source code, only a small fraction of it (the gameplay code)… While I have to show all the source code and build from scratch stuff I’ve already built 10000 times…

    For example, I feel much more confortable in 3d than in 2d, and I can certainly do 3d graphics much better than 2d graphics, but everytime I tried doing that in a compo, I can’t get too far, since I have to make texture managers, and mesh managers, and loaders, etc… even if I do that in a small framework, I can’t take the time to extripate my 200k+ lines engine to make it happen properly.

    My point is: people don’t want to ban game makers, that’s fine… But let’s drop the source code restriction then, and just show the game’s executable/whatever… People can be a community still and talk to each other about the techniques they used to get the end result…
    Or we can make the source code restriction apply only to the gameplay code… Best of two worlds, imho…

    • Codexus says:

      Well, if you publish your engine without the sources but as a library that others can use, that would be the same.

      But you’re talking about a completely closed source entry. One requirement for other proprietary engines is that at least a free demo capable of compiling your code should be available.

      Personally, I like the source code requirement, it shows that you’re willing to share what you do with others so that they can learn.

      • Covenant says:

        I conceptually agree with that… and I say “open the source code for the gameplay (the 48 hour compo stuff)”. That way people can learn, etc…
        Problem is that most of the “interesting” code while using Game Maker, etc, isn’t in fact there, they have a GUI for it (someone mentioned camera code, for example)…

        As I said previously, I could do a wrapper on the engine, with LUA scripting or something and do all the gameplay code there… It would be allowed according to what most people are saying, but people would still not have access to the source code…

        The point here is “One requirement for other proprietary engines is that at least a free demo capable of compiling your code should be available.”. If we took this rule off, and keep the source code rule, people could still learn from the gameplay source code, while enabling people like me to use our engine to actually do the game. Note that my problem is not wanting to show my source code, is more the fact that I can’t for legal reasons.

        Note that I don’t object to hardcore rules (I’ve been participating in LD since the very beginning, and I love hardcore coding in 48 hours), my objections are related to the fact that it is very hard to stand out in 150 entries while being hardcore… I’m all about levelling the playfield… although I’ll participate either way… :)

    • LoneStranger says:

      The source requirement, I believe (and I could be wrong) was so that people couldn’t get a head-start on making the game. The source code would let people judge whether or not what they did was possible in 48 hours. I think if we dropped the source code requirement, then there needs to be an added rule that restricts the theme to abstract ideas like gravity or procedural instead of simply ‘paint’ themes like Caverns or Castles. This would give people less of a chance to do anything worthwhile ahead of time.

  29. LoneStranger says:

    The Ludum Dare competition is a great motivator to try out some concept you’ve been thinking about and depending on the theme, see how other people implement similar concepts. It’s also a way to strengthen your skills, whether in design or planning or coding or whatever.

    If I remember correctly, however, it never used to be billed as a ‘Game Design Competition.’ It was always a ‘Game Programming Competition.’ I guess I’ve always kept that as my impression.

    I enjoy the increased participation that the compo has had over the past year, however, I am a little worried. With 150 people it becomes harder to make yourself heard over the ‘noise.’ Things like Game Maker automatically give you a leg up on the people who are doing it from a simple base. It’s impossible for all 150 people to vote for all 149 other entries, so each entry is only getting a subset of the people looking at it. I don’t know what the average is, but 10 or 20 doesn’t seem statistically relevant to me, since the 20 people who voted on mine may be completely different than the 20 people who voted on the entry ranked just above or below me, let alone the guys at the top.

    As ArmchairArmada said, The solution might be to create separate categories, similar to auto racing where there are multiple classes of cars running on the same track at the same time. Let each category’s entrants vote on primarily their own category. Game Maker and the other ‘all-in-one’ tools vote on each other, making the pool size smaller and the same sets of eyes (and preferences, grading methods etc) giving input on the same group.

    As long as we could define strict groups (two of them maybe being as TenjouUtena said above, Engine and Programming) we could get away with two or three or four of them. They would have to be different enough so that one entry couldn’t fit into more than one.

    • David Koontz says:

      I’m new to LD, but on the about page ( it states “Ludum Dare is a regular accelerated solo game development competition. Entrants develop games from scratch in 48 hours, based on a theme suggested by community.” So perhaps the focus is officially more on game dev now than game programming?

      I also vote for having entries categorized by middleware so you can compare against other games in the same vein or at least take the middleware into consideration when voting.

  30. mrfun says:

    Looks like everything has been covered but I’ll add my two cents and vote as well.

    I think GM and kin should be allowed. Tools that are freely available to everyone should be allowed.

    Pre-existing custom content of any kind should not. (A grey area are default things like Unity/Torque scripts that control cameras.. I think we should let those slide, otherwise the engines would be useless)

    I feel source/project inclusion should always be mandatory, and included in such a way that someone else can build your project. (Your custom fork of you’ve been working on for two years can’t be used, unless it’s available for anyone else to use.. pre-compo!)

    Tech category… well, we used to have one, it was ok. I’m neutral on that but keep in mind 80% of people are going to give unity entrys with physics and shaders which will just cheeze people off anyway. 😛

    Two categories? Hrm. Sort of an unnecessary fracturing I think. The winner should be the overall winner, and there are difficulties in separating the “pures” and the “middleware enhanced” engines.

  31. retrogamer500 says:

    First of all, I want to point out that I am biased as the only entry I have submitted to LD was created with Game Maker. Now that that is said, the main reason why I used GM was the fact that I am more comfortable with GM than any other language, as GM was what got me into programming. I’ve since learned C, C++, Java, and Python, but I’ve memorized all of GM’s functions (minus the crippled network programming and 3D rendering).

    One thing I want to point out is a misconception with GM, which is that most users use the drag and drop methods instead of the scripting. If you look at the top half of the last competition, you will most likely find that all of the contestants who used GM solely used the scripting language. Another one is that GM does an exceedingly amount of work for the coder. If you take a peek at my source for my entry, you will find that the physics for the player alone is over a hundred lines long (damn ladders).

    The two areas that accelerate development are the room editor and GM’s collision system. Keep in mind that (I believe) LD’s rules say that the game logic must be original, so you may write a general purpose room editor beforehand, and only write the level loading scripts and create the levels when the comp starts, which is not too much work compared to using GM. GM’s collision system is harder to implement in other languages, as a collision check uses a single line of code. I believe it can be done with just slightly more work with Pygame, though.

    I’ve ranted far too long. But I don’t believe the rating system should place weight depending on what language you use. It is the final product that matters, and as long as the language allows the programmer to put thoughts to disk with little limitations.

  32. Diet Chugg says:

    Hi everyone, I decided I wanted to add in to this conversation. 1st of all I will mention that I use Game Maker… Start booing me now. I probably just suck a whole lot or something because even with Game Maker I have only had a release with 3 levels total…. yes just 3 levels.

    I think it is time to get something straight however. I am biest towards the 8 bit graphic thing. I give higher votes to puny 8 bit graphics because I like the world they create in contrast to Halo 3

    I guess this really comes down to problem is sortof described like this:

    Problem 1: I’m lazy and don’t wanna make it a billion times. Let’s use middlewares. Un-necessary repetitiveness I think is a good thing. Sharing code base I think helps with that.

    Problem 2: Hey he’s using a fancy tool that costs lots and lots of $$$ or make it so he has to hardly do anything, how’s that fair to a poor guy like me coding away in C.

    I mean would this competition really be any fun to people who do it all in assembly?
    not to everyone.

    Would this competition really be any fun to having everyone using the most advance stuff that makes it so easy to do anything that everyone’s games are super ultimate?
    not to everyone.

    I really think this one is answered by the fact that the Ludum Dare is trying to be fun for all skill levels and all types of game designers. (Still not seeing too many board games out there… ohhh That would be an interesting theme :) )

    My one teacher in my programming class once said people used to say “Real” programmers only used assembly code. Now those kinds of people are the guys who say real programmers only use C++.

    I actually like the fact that everyone is doing it in so many different ways. I have always been a fan of options. often times I vote higher graphic scores on 8 bit games than 3d games because I like the graphics more. art quality is not graphic resolution. It really is based on the opinion of the gamer, his tastes likes dislikes.

    Honestly I think what shines though in all the categories is not what you use to make it, but the effort put in to make it. You spend alot of time thinking up of a catchy game play. People will notice that. You spend time making great concept art for you game. People will notice that. You make everyone laugh so hard when playing your game. People will notice that. What people don’t notice is what is not released so work hard at it.

    I really like music, I tend to make better music in my games than I do with my graphics. So be it. My graphics score plummeted last ludum dare, I am ok with that. I had tons of fun competing.

    I think I am ranting on random things at this point and will stop. Good night everyone

  33. moltanem2000 says:

    while we’re at it, why don’t we just Ban Flash as well, because those who paid for it have an advantage over those you use flash-develop because of the frames and drawing on the screen and motion tweens, and we should ban everything else that provides any thing visual why don’t we, nothing but command consoles for everyone!

    If you start banning stuff you alienate people. I personally feel alienated just by this conversation. I’ve been using Game Maker for 3 years now, and I’m offended. Saying more or less that Game-Maker does all the work for you is telling me that for 3 years of my life i haven’t been doing anything at all, that the reason my LD17 got 20th is because i used Game-Maker, and has nothing to do with the what i did personally.

    Just because you’re using Game-Maker doesn’t mean everything’s a pre-made breeze, I’ve run into more than my share of programming problems, and have had frustrating moments.

    Yes, Game-Maker has a built-in level creator, that again, Flash has frames you can drag-n-drop your movie clips into.
    Yes, Game-Maker has a built-in image editor, that again, Flash is an image editor in some ways.

    There’s definitely more than one way of doing things on Game-Maker, go on YOYOgames in the “new games” section and you’ll see that even with Game Maker “helping you do everything” it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a good game.

    if you can code amazingness in C/C++, props to you, personally i find the whole point of LD is to make games together and enjoy exploring new things, not being “OH MAN I CAN CODE ____ FASTER THAN YOU” and “YOU’RE CHEATING BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T NEED TO CODE ____”

    If tools such as Game-Maker get banned, i certainly won’t be learning a new programming tool/language just to participate, I’ll be taking my games somewhere where i can use the tools i want and know and have them appreciated for what i did, not unappreciated because of what i used to make it.


  34. PostmortemGames says:

    I know that this post is extremely old, but I want to post my opinion anyway.

    First off, Ludum Dare isn’t primarily a competition about who’s the best game designer in the world, it’s meant to be a joyful social experience, where people come together and share knowledge, information and ideas. If you’re thinking that Ludum Dare is just a competition, then you’re missing 3/4 of what it’s really meant to be about.

    The second thing I’d like to mention is just because you’re using a program like Game Maker or Contruct 2, it doesn’t mean game design is easy. Sure, it’s a little easier thanks to it being all in one and having everything there, but only someone who knows what they’re doing can make top notch games. If you really think that someone can pick up Game Maker and be making professional looking games in a matter of days, you’re way off. I’ve been using Game Maker for the past 4 years now and I’m no where near making the kind of quality games that I see other Ludum Dare entrants making.

    Think about this: when you enter a war, is it the weapons that decide the outcome? Or the people who wield them…

  35. Bella_91r says:

    The consideration of banning game maker is the most stupidest thing ever.
    Its like saying, were jealous because we have to know more and GM users have it easier.

    It doesnt matter what engine you use, a game can be good from any including GM.
    Banning GM wont solve anything, and if it does get banned, just know I wont go to another engine.

    So basically its about people wanting GM banned because they can produce faster games in little time,
    and others get mad that use more difficult engines and cry about it. If it bothers you that much,
    maybe you should stop game making and get a new hobby. criticizing other game engines because
    they arent up to you standards dont mean they should ban it because you feel weak.


  36. razvanc-r says:

    Yes, let’s ban them! Let’s ban them all! Let’s all use assembler, the it will be fair for everyone! On the other hand, maybe some guys have a better laptop/PC than I so I say let’s go further and restrict everything to sticks and stones! Kind of stupid now, isn’t it?!

    If you ban all ‘visual tools’ what are you going to say next? Oh, let’s ban Java cause it’s not fair that you can write faster code compared to C… And yes, as others have pointed out, this is supposed to be a fun experience for everyone, not just hardcore coders & people having loads of experience, am I mistaking?!

    New people will never ever have a chance. Finally, there’s no one forcing you to use C++ or whatever, it’s your choice so you should deal with it.

  37. Naiko says:

    This is the most ridicolous thing i have ever seen posted on this site.

    Seriously, i dont even know where to begin.

  38. There would only be about 20 Ludum Dare entries submitted if GameMaker was not allowed.

  39. marcusarow says:

    Maybe we should consider people making their own Operating System too, before they even thing about programing a game. Gees

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