The October Challenge Begins – A Guide

Posted by (twitter: @mikekasprzak)
September 27th, 2010 9:30 pm

What started as a friendly challenge to our community has exploded in to an internet wide invitation to indie developers everywhere.

Unlike a traditional Ludum Dare event, you can disregard the rules. The focus this October is to get a new game for sale somewhere. That can be something you’re already working on, something new, or something you want to finish.

To learn more about how this started, see the original post.

The rest of this post is a short guide on what you should be doing to make the most of your time.

Step 1. Pick a platform, do your paperwork

If you haven’t already, you should decide on a platform, and sign up for a developer program. To complete your registration, this will usually include filling out paperwork (such as a W-8BEN if outside the US or W-9BEN if inside) or signing contracts and mailing them. Mailing and getting papers approved can be a little slow, so do this ASAP.

I don’t have a good reference for filling out these forms, but will note the W-8BEN is only 1 page, and Apple’s iOS developer program had an excellent guide for the paperwork. I’ve been filling out these forms and sending them to nearly every distributor, all practically the same as the initial Apple ones (one platform required you to omit a section, but I forget which).

If like me you’re outside the US, you’ll likely need an EIN. You can fill out a form (to reference), and call the IRS (during normal business hours) and have one assigned to you within minutes.

Getting paid usually requires either a bank account (direct deposit) or a Paypal account. If you don’t have either, you should set one up. Bank choice wise, you should open an account at an institution with a SWIFT code. In the US that’s Bank of America, in Canada that’s CIBC (there may be more, but those are what people usually suggest).

Signing a contract is usually a matter of filling in your name at the beginning (unless automated or provided to you), and signing+dating a signature section of the last page. Using a blue ink pen is preferred, since it’s clearly not a photocopy (versus a black pen). Initialing each page of a contract is also a good idea.

Contractual agreements often require 2 copies of a contract. You sign both, and send them to the other party. They in turn sign both, keep one, and send you one back. That way, both of you have signed copies of the contract.

Step 2. Make your game!

Time is short, get to work!

We don’t have any content or marketplace restrictions, but keep in mind the goal here is to sell at least 1 copy (or make money from the game in some other way).

If you’ve never finished a game before, there is an excellent article by Derek Yu here. More resources can be found at the bottom of this post.

TIP: If you have trouble staying focused, keep some paper handy and take notes

TIP: If you have trouble staying focused, keep some paper handy and take notes

Step 2b. Blog about it

Either here or on your own site. During a Ludum Dare Event, the site acts as a progress feed. To see what others are up to, you merely have to visit the site and watch. This is one of the most interesting parts of the event that most people miss out on; The real live production of hundreds of games all in one place. When the weekend ends, you’ve missed it.

For the October Challenge, we’re inviting everyone participating to share their progress here on the /compo blog. Simply sign up, make a post, and hit publish. Feel free to upload images to the blog using the “picture frame” icon above the text box. Once you upload an image, if you didn’t use it right away (or use the wrong formatting), it can be found in the gallery tab (picture frame icon again).

If you’d like to re-post your blog-posts from your own blog that’s fine, but please watch your formatting! Large images on the blog are 550 pixels wide, and you will break the layout with a wider image than that. If you upload your images here, be sure to select the “Large” size. Also, the paragraph tag gives unusual spacing results, so that’s not recommended.

Step 3. Submit it!

Draft up your description text, prepare some screenshots, then go submit it.

Though it isn’t required, I strongly suggest you make a gameplay video or trailer and get it on Youtube. We’re expecting a lot of games, and don’t expect everyone to buy/play everyone elses games, so a quick video would be a great way for us to admire and appreciate your work.

Step 4. Submit it here too!

Once you’ve sent it off, submit it to us.

We’re using our standard Ludum Dare submission system to create a master list of all our October participants. To be included, simply create an account and visit that page. The link fields can be edited, so update them to something appropriate. Suggestions include: Website Link, iTunes Link, Youtube Video Link, Postmortem Link, etc. Also, the first screenshot will be used to show your game on the list, so an attractive screenshot is recommended. For an example of what the final list will look like, look here.

We ask that you wait until after you’ve submitted your game to whatever service/marketplace your game is for before you submit here.

Be sure to let us know how long you worked on it; Whether this is new for the October Challenge, or has been in development for months now.

Each account is only capable of creating 1 game. If you’re making multiple games this month, we’d prefer you share your most interesting one with us.

Step 5. Sell a copy/License it/Make some revenue

Getting approvals or licensed takes time, so we’re not requiring you to have made a sale by the 31st. If you can get your game out and your first copy sold before then, then that is awesome!

The goal of the challenge is to get more people to release something and be fully capable of earning money from it.


Like Ludum Dare, there are no prizes. “The prize is your product” as we always say.

Or if you think about it another way, if you happen to make the “sell 1 copy” quota, that’s a pretty cool prize too. Breaking the “0 sales” barrier is a big step forward for a game. From that point on, you now have a product to experiment with; To learn the ropes of running a small business, marketing, promotion, etc. The whole “give them a fish or teach them how to fish” axiom, but we’re not so much “teaching” as “telling” you to fish. 😉

Your website is ugly and difficult to use


We make games, not pretty websites. And this October, we’ll be busy making games. If you’d like to bug us to make it look better, please wait until after we finish. Thanks!

Light Reading and Resources

38 Responses to “The October Challenge Begins – A Guide”

  1. David Prior says:

    I might actually get my first commercial game out this year like I’ve been promising myself for months.

    Step 1 was the bit that always confused me/scared me off in the past. I can’t find the Apple iOS paperwork guide – do you have a direct link?

    • PoV says:

      It’s part of the signup process. I wish they were public, but I don’t think you see them until you pay the $99. In addition, inside iTunes Connect, on the contract/banking/tax page, there are “For all developers” links at the bottom. The actual documents themselves include guides for filling them out.

      • David Prior says:

        Dammit :(

        I’d looked into Xbox Live Indie Games and Windows Phone 7 Marketplace in the past, but was being told different things by different people as to whether I’d need an EIN or an ITIN, where to go to get one, what I needed to do when I got there, whether I should be registered as a business and about a billion other things business-related (read “scary and confusing”). In the end my head was spinning so much I had to give up.

        Looking at the IRS’s “Do you need an EIN?” page I don’t personally fit any of the requirements on the list and I’ve seen several people on the XNA Creators Club forums say an ITIN can take several months (and a trip to the US embassy with some ID) to come through. Even then I’m not sure if that’s the right one and we haven’t started on UK tax laws…

        tl;dr – I’m scared and confused by complicated international business practices and haven’t a clue what to do now

        • PoV says:

          The ITIN thing sounds familiar. When I actually called the IRS, as a “Sole Proprietorship”, they said what I was after was actually an EIN.

          • David Prior says:

            Looking at the notes on the actual form (SS-4), I probably come under “Is a foreign person needing an EIN to comply with IRS withholding regulations [and] Needs an EIN to complete a Form W-8 (other than Form W-8ECI), avoid withholding on portfolio assets, or claim tax treaty benefits” – but then as far as I can tell that’s exactly what an ITIN’s for.

            I think I’m just going to have to give them a call and see what they say. Personally I hope it’s an EIN – it’s a lot quicker and easier to get one 😛

  2. mjau says:

    I assume the part about filling out US forms is iOS specific?

  3. phidinh6 says:

    Hey, will this replace Mini Ludum Dare #22 or is that still coming?

  4. jovoc says:

    This is great! This totally coincides with my own schedule, I am planning to release a game in October, but was waffling a bit because that’s kind of an aggressive schedule. But now I’m gonna do it. Yah!

    I’ve got a little bit of a head start but not too much, really. No gameplay at all yet.

    This will be my first real game project for iOS, but I’ve shipped an app (The Brainstormer) and just this week shipped an iPhone port of one of Hamumu’s LD48 games, “Still Pond” (it’s free so try it out).

  5. Shifty says:

    Hi guys, this can seems a little odd but is there any article about “how to make a good indie game trailer” ? Thanks :)

    • PoV says:

      Great question! This is all I’ve seen (and only seen recently):

      I don’t exactly agree with that article, but I have nothing better to recommend.

      My own tips:

      – Make it 720p (1280×720). Youtube (and requires this resolution to generate all sizes up to 720p. Alternatively, you can do 1080p, but that may require a better PC.
      – Record game footage (on PC) using Fraps to an unfragmented drive.
      – Capture to a fresh unfragmented hard drive (a brand-new external is good for this). this is to avoid stuttering due to the slow seek time of a fragmented drive.
      – Expect to need LOTS of hard drive space (1 TB?)
      – Edit in something like Sony Vegas (Soundforge Bundle). The consumer version is “good enough”, especially now that it has 10 tracks.
      – If you need to render intermediary files, raw is too big, so use a good lossless codec like Lagarith. Do note, the default Lagarith settings do not use the RGBA color space, so may perceptually change after a first render, but is lossless thereafter. The downside of Lagarith is that it doesn’t work on Mac’s, so it’s a PC centric (free) solution.
      – Record as much footage as needed, but edit your final video down to UNDER 1 minute.
      – When you finish, rendering a lossless version of your trailer for archival is a good idea. Burn in to a DVD, and if you ever need it it again in a new format, you have a perfect original. This is a good way to consider a video project complete.

      That’s what comes to mind. So far, the most interesting thing I’ve made is the following (from last year):

      Some of those suggestions are counter to what I’ve done there, so consider this a bit of a retrospective.

  6. maraoz says:

    OK. I take the challenge. This will be fun. If I ever sell a copy of my game I will be forever grateful for the motivation you gave me!

  7. LoneStranger says:

    I suppose I have to declare this somewhere. I’m going to give it a shot. My idea for the last LD didn’t really take off, but I am going to use that for this compo.

    It’s only October 1st, and I started it a couple weeks ago, and I already feel like I’m behind.

  8. greencow says:

    Just a bit of legal warning from someone who is not a lawyer for anyone getting financial aid/unemployment: if you have even a small amount of income, you should report it to avoid getting disqualified from aid.

  9. medi says:

    first sorry for my bad english.
    i am Mahdi. a game developer from Iran.
    i can not sell my games because i’m in Iran .
    we don’t have access to Paypal .
    here is what Microsoft said to me when i wanted to submit my game in Xbox Live Indie Games :

    i’m going to make a new game for The October Challenge , and i like to sell one copy of it. can any one help me with selling my new game ? i don’t want the money of it. it’s not important to transfer the money to me. i want to see just my game is selling. ( even 1 copy )

    i can make game for PC and XBLIG. is it possible for anyone to help me selling my game for PC or XBLIG ? ( i will not put my name in the game so Microsoft will not undrestand that the game is made in Iran )

    thank you in Advance

    Mahdi ( )

  10. voodooplay says:

    ohhh…. cool!
    games can be build on any platform?
    i’m more designer then programmer… so i’m using gamesalad.

  11. luishuston says:

    Everybody today seems to go to extremes to either drive home their views or suggest that anyone else in the world is wrong. order buspar

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