Suggestion Post

Posted by (twitter: @philhassey)
January 9th, 2012 7:15 pm

Hey, we’re always trying to make Ludum Dare way more fun, so if you’ve got any crazy ideas, post ’em here!

-Phil & Mike & the rest of the LD Staff

162 Responses to “Suggestion Post”

  1. I’m going to suggest something radical: scrap ratings all together.

    Maybe move to a system where players can favorite/’like’ an entry and comment instead. It would solve most of the problems mentioned above and fix the overall feeling of unfairness.

    I think it would successfully move the focus away from scoring and more back to the original idea to ‘gift a game’.

    I saw so much plagiarism this year, it made my stomach turn. I think that’s coming from an increasing competitive vibe. If this is really is a competition than rules need to be enforced – but I’d rather see this as an event where the community comes together to lift each other up, not as a way of using numbers or percentages to put people down.

    • sorceress says:

      I agree with the sentiment that “this should be an event where the community comes together to lift each other up, not as a way of using numbers or percentages to put people down.”

      I’m wondering (a) how big this problem is, and (b) if scrapping ratings is necessary to solve it.

      I’ve said before that I’d prefer to see percentage awards, where instead of ranking people from 1 to 1000, we select the top few percent (3% ?) and give them all gold awards. Then silver/bronze maybe to the top 25% mark. Then a large “no medal” category and an “unrated” category for those who haven’t received enough ratings for an average to be computed.

      People would then get placed into one of five groups, which is much softer and friendlier than being given a number. :) I know this wouldn’t be a perfect fix, but I don’t think there is a perfect fix.

      • paulmcgg says:

        I really like this idea. The bit of competition I think is necessary to help encourage lots of rating and feedback, which I think is one of the strongest aspects of LD, but having a softer system like this (but still equally good to strive for) would be great.

        Also not in favour of ‘polish’ as a category. It’s kinda pointless. There’s a bunch more interesting categories to have before that like storytelling/’narrative’.

      • udo says:

        Yes, seconded. I’d be all for plain gold and silver medals (maybe 2%, 20% respectively) instead of detailed rankings, great idea!

    • bvanschooten says:

      I agree, make it possible for participants to opt out of the rating system, but only receive text comments. At least, I really do like the text comments, they are very useful. There should also be a coolness system to encourage players to write more text comments.

  2. jamesca says:

    It would be good to see what you rated vs. what they got. It would help people judge if they are being overly harsh/kind, but also help you next time get an idea of what pleases the judges.

    Or is there a system for this already?

  3. jamesca says:

    Another thing that would be nice is to see the distribution curves on each category. Mostly because statistics are nice, and the shape of those graphs would be interesting. :-)

  4. ahm99 says:

    I think this was already suggested, but please make notifications on comment replies. And also, more links on game page. I ran out of links. I had to combine Timelapse and post portem link to “Timelapse | Post-Mortem” so it looked like they were different links. I would say that adding a “Timelapse” and “post-compo” link would probably be enough.

  5. ahm99 says:

    Oh, one more suggestion. Rate games on a scale of 1-10. There are an increasing number of entries. Therefore, more ties and crazier results (I got beat in graphics by a text-adventure, a text-adventure shouldn’t be rated on graphics!). Rating games on a scale of 1-10 allows for more accurate ratings, because then you don’t have to think “should I rate this 2 or 3 stars” Because sometimes it should be 2.5. It just makes it easier.

  6. Jacques_le_lezard says:

    A (big) suggestion: a new skin for the website!!!
    It is really ugly for such a cool website with thousand of participants!
    And moreover why not thinking about a responsive website? (I was often looking news and comments on mobile)
    I may take some time to work with you on this responsive website if you like the idea =)

  7. Harsay says:

    Ludumgram – The ludum dare instagram where everyone can see a mosaic with food or game screenshots from developers.

  8. gameXcore says:

    I would like a new scoring category for “Polish”.

  9. Puzzlem00n says:

    I TOO HAVE A SUGGESTION. *trumpets*

    Now, I know that a lot of these suggestions are skimmed over quite fast and most of them have either been suggested a bunch of times or are too much to ask. But I really think I have something here. So please, hear me out.

    So, there’s a lot of talk about ratings. What categories there should be and what categories there shouldn’t be is the debate I think I can solve. I’ve been mulling all this over, and I think that the best solution is to make a ton of optional categories and three mandatory categories.

    Here’s how it works. Aside from the mandatory three categories, there are a ton of extra categories, such as Humor, Mood, Graphics, Theme, Audio, Technological Achievement, Level Design, Usability, Replayability, Best Potato/Kitten Game, and anything else that seems like something someone might want to be judged on. Why would this help us? Because the arguments against categories are almost always about how certain games shouldn’t be judged on them.

    Argument Against Graphics: “A lot of entries are text-based!”
    Argument Against Audio: “Some games are better without audio!”
    Argument Against Humor: “This category is an injustice to emotional moody games!”
    Argument Against Mood: “This category is an injustice to stupid funny games!”

    If categories were optional and only entered by people who wanted to be ranked on them, then that might end a lot of debate. Furthermore, we could add even more controversial categories like some of the ones mentioned above, and it would be okay, because if you don’t like it, you don’t enter it.

    Even cooler is that people rating the games can prepare to judge the game based on its strengths rather than its weak points just by glancing over the categories its in before playing.

    Now, here’s the part where you might start to disagree with me. That’s okay! I’m going to explain my personal choices for the three mandatory categories. They are:

    Quality is basically the replacement for the Overall category. I like the word Quality better because it’s a bit more broad and at the same time more specific as to what it means, just like all the mandatory categories.

    Aesthetic is the mandatory replacement for Audio/Graphics. Those two categories are available separately in the optional list for those who worked hard on their graphics or their audio. The reason why this broader category exists is because Aesthetic is a very important part of the game, and everyone should see a rating of it whether they want to or not, but they might not have the courage to enter Audio or Graphics separately. If you think that seems redundant, then let me remind you that the word Aesthetic also describes the unity of the Audio and Graphics in the coherent experience, so it could be considered a quite different thing.

    Finally, Originality is also something that everyone should see regardless of whether or not they desire it. It’s basically a broader Innovation, but without the strict technological connotations. It’s about whether your idea was good, and more importantly whether your game was worth looking at. People need to know if their originality is improving, because if it is, then they’re likely getting closer to standing out and becoming a better developer.

    Alternatively, if you don’t agree with my three, we could always just make Overall the only mandatory category and all the rest optional. That would likely be easier. So tell me what you think!

    • bvanschooten says:

      I understand why you want to have main categories, but why should we make them mandatory? I’m for a system like this, but I’d like to opt out of all of them in some cases, and just have text comments (coupled with a system where you can get coolness for writing text comments).

      In your list of suggested categories, I miss the Fun category which is for me one of the most important. Is this deliberate?

    • Simon says:

      In my humble opinion I think that aesthetic is not just about graphics and audio, gameplay aesthetic is also a key criteria that I always try to integrate in my ratings.

      I believe that some categories are just too specifics. Fun for example cannot describe a good game, not specifically fun but rather very interesting or frightening to play. Even more so in the case of humor.

      I guess Fun should be Interest, Humor should be Mood, as you said Innovation should be Originality.

      I don’t know about optional categories, I like that our challenge is to make a complete game and insuring a consistent experience.

      • Puzzlem00n says:

        I know that many categories are better mandatory, so the game must be better as a whole, but their are also many categories that would be interesting to have that we shouldn’t force people to design for. Not all games should be rated for Humor, Level Design, Replayability or Best Use of PotatoKittenGoats, but it would still be cool to have them for those that should.

    • ahm99 says:

      This wouldn’t really be as much of an issue if people would realize that they can leave a category as N/A. But this is an interesting idea :)

  10. Sandcrawler says:

    I think that the rating system should be a like or dislike answer to the same questions. I would find it more useful than having a number in a range from 0-5. Just to see if people liked the overall game or disliked it.

    Maybe an additional submission category (similar to the JAM entries) could be added for COMPO entries that would rather be rated on a like or dislike system

  11. michail says:

    Ratings in range from 1 to 10 – considering the number of games submitted to this LD – I think it’s a must.
    With hundreds of games squeezed into range 3.0-4.0 the random factor gets more important than it should be.

    • Puzzlem00n says:

      Personally, I’ve always thought that the opposite measure should be taken- decreasing it to four stars- but I can see the problem with all the decimals.

    • sorceress says:

      This would address one issue – what I call quantisation, whereby one person changing their vote by one star, manipulates your score a quantised amount (and moves you up/down the scoreboard by a quantised amount).

      With the current system:
      30 votes per game between 1.0 and 5.0 => 121 scoring sets
      2300 people / 121 scoring sets = 19 people per set
      => one star shifts people up/down 19 places (on average)
      => over a 5 star range, each voter has the power to shift a game up/down the scoreboard by 76.03 places (on average)

      With your system:
      30 votes per game between 1.0 and 10.0 => 271 scoring sets
      2300 people / 271 scoring sets = 8.49 people per set
      => one star shifts people up/down by 8.49 places (on average)
      => over a 10 star range, each voter has the power to shift a game up/down the scoreboard by 76.38 places (on average).

      As you see, it reduces quantisation a little. But with 10 stars at their disposal, each person’s vote is ever-so-slightly more powerful at distorting the results.

      • ahm99 says:

        Then maybe a better option would be to use a system of half-star ratings. So instead of rating a game as 3 stars, you might rate it as 3 1/2 stars. This way, you get improved accuracy for each person, but it is till based on a system of 5.

        • X-0r says:

          It might have that effect on a per-star basis. But if you “think” of half stars as regular stars, you’ll find that the result with half-stars is equal to increasing the number of stars.
          0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 4.5, 5 = 10 possible scorings. From 1 to 10 stars = 10 possible scorings. I don’t really see the difference, apart from half stars taking up less space 😀

  12. Simon says:

    Hi everyone,

    What do you think about the keynoter being the one giving the theme? It would make each Ludum Dare really special and flavored to the specificities of each keynoter. I’m sure we would be provided with great, profound theme. And it would also emphasizes a bit more on the keynoter, making them more crucial.

    I attach a great importance to the theme relevance and to the way games use it, and I would love to see the theme rating getting a bigger coefficient as I feel that a game too far from the theme is just not acceptable. Furthermore, theme interpretation is at the heart of artistic expression and LD games could benefit from this shift of perspective.

    Also, I’m a bit surprised that games without sounds can get to the top 10, 20 or even top 100. How can such games have such high overall ratings and lacking an essential element? I mean if it was an aesthetic decision I would be OK with it but in most cases it is just due to time or skills I guess. Thus, I think that an automatic Overall rating based on the other ratings could be better suited as it, as the name suggests, represents the global quality of the game, including audio, graphics, gameplay, theme etc.

    Anyway, overall it’s working pretty well! Thank you for reading

    • Puzzlem00n says:

      Personally, I don’t think the theme matters that much. If they don’t follow it, that’s their choice to get a bad theme score.

      Have you considered that perhaps some people don’t care whether the games have sounds or not? As long as it’s a good game, it’s okay with me.

      And finally, an overall rating based on the other ratings might be okay if we didn’t have such outliers as Humor and Mood. Besides, a lot people give the overall score as an average of the other scores already. Audio isn’t necessary for quality, and nor are graphics or theme.

      Always happy to read. :)

      • Simon says:

        I totally get that for some theme is just another category, personally I think that it is central as it is the starting point of your game and the justification behind your design decisions but I’m kind of trying to see what others think so thank you for replying!

        About sounds and graphics, I’d say that it’s rather a contract problem, the deal of the Ludum Dare is to make a game and if you don’t bother to add sounds, graphics (or any other thing) because you lack time or energy or skills then I think that the overall rating should be affected. I’m just saying that a game not finished in the overall top 100 is weird. It’s not about its quality, it can be 1st in other categories, just that the top 100 represents the game that are overall very good, on every aspect then. I agree with you that humor can be bothersome but mood ? I don’t see why, I’d say that humor is already encompassed by mood however.

    • sorceress says:

      What do you think about the keynoter being the one giving the theme?

      I think it would cause too much disruption, which I’ll try to explain to you.

      The keynote is currently posted a few days before theme announcement. Your suggestion means that the keynote would have to be delivered at the competition start time instead. There is great strain placed on the server at this time as thousands of people spam click reload to see the theme asap, which is why the theme is first announced in the IRC channel and on twitter, as a way to ease that strain. A video announcement would force all those people onto the website instead, which could DDOS the whole thing!

      Also, the theme voting would have to end a few days earlier than it currently does, to give the keynoter time to add the announcement to their video. Those days of waiting for the video to be prepared (after voting has ended) would be an interruption to the build up of excitement that we normally have. Or if you mean to not have theme voting at all, then know that the theme suggesting/voting is a great tradition of ludum dare, and stimulates much community interaction and pre-competition excitement!

      • Simon says:

        Yes I was suggesting that we let the keynoter pick a theme. But I completely understand that theme voting is a big part of the Ludum Dare. I admit that it’s a perfect way to get motivated and to participate, I even enjoy it very much myself! Although, we could vote and let the keynoter pick the theme from the most voted proposition. Thus we get the community’s excitement and the expertise of the keynoter, everyone’s happy.
        Anyway, thanks for your response! I had not thought about the whole community thing whereas it’s the heart of the LD, shame on me.

  13. AyCe says:

    Just wanted to thank the team for implementing my suggestions! 😀

  14. ahm99 says:

    I have two ideas.

    1. Allow ratings based on a scale of one to ten (or allow you to rate with half-stars). As we get more participants, we are getting more and more ties, so more accuracy is needed. And sometimes I wasn’t sure if I should rate a game as 3 stars, or 4 stars.

    2. I also think you should maybe be able to disable certain categories on your game. For example, if your game is a text adventure, you would be able to disable the graphics category on your game. Or if your game doesn’t have any sound, you could disable the audio category. I think this is important because a TEXT ADVENTURE had a higher rating in GRAPHICS than my game did during LudumDare 26.

    • shockedfrog says:

      It’s not unreasonable that a text adventure scores some points in graphics. Some people will give it points based on the quality of the writing and the mental image it creates (though this could be argued to be part of the ‘mood’ score), and some will give it points based on the design (such as the choice of fonts and the overall presentation/layout).

  15. epaik says:

    I would like some way to tag your game’s genre(s), it’d be cool to discover all of the games of a specific genre you’re interested in.

    RPG, Puzzle, Platformer, SHMUP, etc.

    • X-0r says:

      I thought of something like this myself a while back. Sorting games by genre sounded to me like a good idea at first. However… there will be a lot less ratings for a couple of genres, I assume. It would be sad for me to have a couple of unrated games, just because the genre description isn’t what everyone plays the most. I personally dislike a couple of genres myself and wouldn’t rate / play these entries at all. But what if there’s a genre I just never heard of, and never find out it’s my actual favorite, because I never entered it into the search?

  16. HeroesGrave says:


    Actually implement some of these good ideas instead of just sitting here watching them gather dust.

    Seriously, I haven’t seen a single change as a result of there suggestion posts. (I’ve been here for 4 LD’s)

  17. udo says:

    Notifications: get a notification when someone replies to you, or when a comment gets posted on your game (or your blog post), or when someone replies to something you posted on another game’s page. For the non-threaded plain comment views the mechanism for addressing someone could be a Twitter-like @username tag. They don’t even have to be via email, a web-based notification page would be enough for me personally. Just something to keep track of all the things you’re involved in.

    Flagging/Reporting: there is some spam here, and there are game entries that should be removed because they’re either spam or offensive. Let’s streamline moderation by introducing the ability to flag something.

    Ordering of reviewed games: when you’re reviewing, the list of entries you already rated should be (optionally?) sorted by the rating date. It would really help me make a better mental map of which game is which 😉

    Regarding Jam guidelines and content, I would like LD to emphasize self-made assets (graphics, sounds, music) over 3rd-party content. Right now I see a lot of games get good ratings in categories where they just used something made by other people. In my opinion, something the developers made themselves for LD should be preferred to, say, simply including a piece of classical music performed by an orchestra – even if the orchestra sounds better.

  18. neekobus says:


    I’d like to see the technology of each game : main language, main framework…

    I am interrested in seeing my position with “comparable” games : we know we have differents constraints to do a game with pure C, a C++ game framework, Haxe, javascript, or Unity3d.

    I am also interrested in seeing source code on specific languages I want.
    What do you think about that ?

    • X-0r says:

      Seconded (no pun intended)
      I’d like to have the info about the games in an organized manner, such as drop-down boxes (?) or text fields… The user descriptions don’t always include all the information I’d like to know (such as where they got their sounds from, etc.).
      It would be great, if you could enter your programming language, frameworks, source of sounds / DAWs, game controls, genre and similar things. When you open a game, you can see the entire information at the top, below that, the regular user description.
      I’m somewhat against the method of restricting search to this, since a couple of games might not be rated because of that. I can imagine the “mainstream” languages like Flash/AS, Java and Unity(C#, JavaScript, Boo) being checked more like others… Not sure what the others think of a search feature. If it’s implemented, I’d totally use it, I’m just not sure if it’s *really* a good thing.

  19. kraj0t says:

    Theme voting system is broken. Each round’s results should not be made public until the final theme is announced. Here’s why.

    Currently, after each round of voting the theme, the results of the previous round are made public. So, since you’re able to see which themes of the 1st round were the clear winners, you can already start preparing ideas for those themes, just in case they are eventually chosen. And also, you are now biased towards wanting those themes to win, so you will probably start downvoting the other rounds’ themes.

    This is not just a theory. It happened very evidently at this LD27 theme voting phase. At the first round, the ’10 seconds’ theme was upvoted by the vast majority of people. After those results were made public, you can notice that people stopped upvoting themes, and downvoted most of them: only 4 themes obtained positive votes at the last 4 rounds, whereas at the 1st round alone there were 7 positive results! This is really obvious, just have a look here ->

    I propose that the voting results are not shown after each round. The results should only made public once the final theme is announced. This way, no one will be able to tell which theme is winning the race, and everyone will have to adapt to the theme that is finally announced. I also think that, this way, there will not be so many negative results at the latter rounds, and all bias will be avoided. This is how it’s supposed to be!

    And don’t forget: it is all for the better of the Ludum Dare community.

    • J-d-H says:

      LD 27 was my first game Jam. And I found it a bit strange that the voting results were made public before the entire voting was finished.
      I think kraj0t is right and publishing the results after the final round would benefit the whole voting process.

    • Brian Stegmann says:

      I don’t see a single benefit to revealing the results either. It’s just as you say.

  20. panurge says:

    Cut ‘n pasting my comment from another thread in which people were expressing concerns about players rating without really considering the games they were playing:

    I used to belong to a writer’s site where authors critiqued each other’s work by scoring it in different categories, just like in LD, and it was a rule there that a comment of at least 100 words had to be left with each set of ratings. This way, it was obvious that the person had actually read the work. Also, for people really looking to improve, the constructive criticism given in the comment was way more useful than any numerical scores could ever be.

    Could something like this work for LD?

    • Brian Stegmann says:

      Requiring comments might be a bit much, sometimes you just don’t have anything really constructive to say about a game after rating it. But it definitely would be nice if ratings coupled with a thoughtful comment had a larger impact on coolness than just a rating.

    • kraj0t says:

      The way I see it, this new rule would enforce honesty and improve feedback. What’s not to love about it?

      I prefer to have 30 ratings with 30 thorough comments to 60 ratings and 15 fast comments.

      Besides, if you are already participating in LD, why wouldn’t you want to dedicate time to those who went through the effort of submitting an entry? You know you’d like to receive comments, so you should comment on others’ entries too.

      Mandatory comments would rock.

    • Gaspard_ says:

      Totally for that idea!
      Comments are really great to get!
      However even if you find a clearly fake comment, it’s still impossible to do anything…

    • TobiasW says:

      Yes, please! Either way, there should be something done to encourage meaningful feedback. I don’t care about how many people rate me, but the week after LD I live for the comments. With the system right now, each rating without a comment means that I’ll receive one comment less since my D rises.

  21. LTyrosine says:

    Some random ideas about the rating system:

    * Change “play and rate” screen to allow only ONE random game. The user get this very same game until he/she rate and review it or click “I wont rate this game” (this will incur in -1 cool score, cap 0). In this screen, game is presented with hidden author and comments (only author can see comments).
    * Long reviews (more than one line or so) are awarded with extra cool point.
    * Keep every game playable/searchable but rating is allowed only in screen described above.
    * Change scores from 5 stars system to like/dislike in each category. Only 2 categories can be liked and only 2 can be disliked.

  22. robertfcrocker says:

    Great Article it its really informative and innovative keep us posted with new updates. its was really valuable. thanks a lot.

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