This has come up in the ‘Should Game Maker (etc. al.) count’ thread, but I thought I would split it off here, so that we can keep the conversations topical, and because I’m interested in what other people think. Also, I do agree with a few other people in that thread, that coming to an agreement about what LD is about will assist any rules or voting changes that may or may not take place.
What I’m going to write here is a lot my opinion, but is also collected and paraphrased from what I have heard other people said.
Ludum Dare is a community of Independent and Hobbyist Game Programmers
I think the community that surrounds Ludum Dare is one of the most important things about us. Several of our members have used designs or even experience gained here to launch successful Indie Game Programmer careers. And everyone here is excited about programming, and willing to talk shop almost all day. Personally, I think Ludum Dare exceeds places like Gamasutra and Gamedev.net because here you know who can bring the goods, and who’s just pretending.
Ludum Dare provides an experience for learning game programming from many experts; and metering one’s own programming against a vast array of talent.
One of the things I see people often talk about is that Ludum Dare is for learning, for getting better. I think the sharing of source code, and the encouragement of development journals enhances this a lot. Also, I know I use it to judge what I can do vs. what others can go. I also get an opportunity to have people comment on my designs and labor in a constructive way so that I get better. Finally I do get a score where I can see where I rank in the categories I was concentrating on. This is a great judge of where I am, and where I can go.
Ludum Dare is about the rush and community of hundreds of game designers working at the same time in a short amount of time to create new games.
It’s fun to know that there’s hundreds of people working at the same goal along side you. Not only does it force me to put aside a weekend and just work on my programming, I also get the encouragement of my peers once I hit that first wall of ‘I’ll never have anything good!’
This is just what I think and what I’ve observed. Feel free to comment on anything I’ve missed or gotten wrong below.