I’m in and some tips

Posted by
April 19th, 2012 11:15 am

I am in. This is my third Ludum Dare and I am already looking forward to a weekend full of fun. This time, I also could convince two friends (Zyn, RedDwarf) to participate in the 48h compo.

As last time my tools are:

  • Visual Studio for relentless C coding
  • My custom framework/engine (download it here)
  • Paint.net for graphics
  • FL Studio for sound effects and background music
  • Chronolapse to record the whole process

Maybe this is useful for any first time LDers:

I learned that it is very important to try to finish your game on the first day. On the second day you will most likely end up having new gameplay ideas and maybe encounter bugs that eat up a lot of your precious time. I suggest that you reserve at least some hours for fine-tuning. There are always little details to improve that will make your game great.

Coming up with an idea is easy, coming up with a good one is hard work. Don’t be afraid to spent 2-3 or even more hours just to think about the basic gameplay/genre. Some ideas will not only be better, but they will also be a lot less work. In the end, you might actually even save some time. Besides, most of the Ludum Dare entries will be 2D platformers or top-down shooters, many will appreciate it if your entry is different.

Make it easy to play your game. If runtime packages or special clients are needed for your game to run, add the download link in the description. Remember that there will be a lot of games and if it takes 30 minutes just to get your game running, a majority of people will just skip your entry. This post might also be helpful.

Sound, it’s as important as gameplay and nice graphics. Sadly this is often underestimated. From my previous experience at least half of the submitted entries don’t have any sound. There are a lot of little tools that can help you create sound effects for your game, just read through some of the “I am in” posts and see what others use. Regarding the background music, if you are like me and “suck at making music” then it’s time you confront your enemy and find your personal style. I found out that while I fail terribly at composing music, I can still place a few notes here and there to make a very minimalistic but acceptable soundtrack. Everything is better than pure silence in a game.

Similar applies to art, if you can’t draw then go abstract. If you have a weakness either find a way to improve it or avoid it.

Don’t give up. I remember that I indeed had fun playing games that were far from complete (i.e. no graphics and only colored squares instead) and I did give them a decent rating. On the other side, don’t beg for better ratings just because you couldn’t finish in time.

I often read that people drowned in bugs and problems because they tried to learn a new technology during LD. If you aim for a good game, then familiar tools are the safe way to go. However, if you really want to use the opportunity for learning, then just do it.

I think a lot of people ignore this one out of habit or lazyness: It is important that you get enough sleep and don’t eat too much chunk food. Believe it or not, this simple rule can gain you a few hours measured in overall effectiveness.

Last but not least, don’t worry too much if your game will be any good. Enjoy the weekend, that’s what Ludum Dare is for!

One Response to “I’m in and some tips”

  1. Tomalla says:

    ‘Nuf said! If everything plays out well, it’s gonna be my first LD entry ever. I do realize it’s gonna be tough though, especially since I know I’m not very well prepared, but nevertheless – I hope it’s gonna be fun. Your post surely did encourage me to take part in this event even more. Thanks for that! Cheers and have fun making your own entries as well.

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