I’ve been thinking that there was something missing from the Ludum Dare voting categories (and apparently I’m not the only one). Mr. Zarzecki gave me an idea as to what that was, but I think I’ve found an answer that’s a little less specific and a little more versatile (imho): “Usability“.
You know that game that has the great graphics, catchy chiptune soundtrack, and unique ideas, but is let down by its controls? Have you come across a game that is great once you get it going, but is a pain to get running? Or perhaps you’ve just played a game that looked fine, but ran at 4 frames per second?
Usability is a category that defines the user’s technical experience of the game, or how easy it is to actually use, never mind play. It includes everything from the player’s experience in unzipping, installing, or loading the game (EDIT: read my EDIT!), to the UI, controls, and framerate. It incorporates the user’s interactions with the program, outside of the game itself. It could even include how easy the menu is to navigate, or how awkward it is to get the game running on your calculator.
I realise that I’m new here, and that it is totally not my place to make suggestions like this. However, I think that Ludum Dare could really benefit from an addition like this. Perhaps my fresh new perspective is an advantage?
If you like the idea of Usability, or have a suggestion for an alteration (or a completely new category, whatever) feel free to shout about it in the comments. Zed (of Flibble fame) also has a suggestion for a new “Narrative” category, if you want to discuss that too. Or, if you have the power to actually make this happen, I beg you to at least consider it.
So. Usability. That’s my jam.
EDIT: Okay, a problem in my original idea has appeared, and that is in my mentioning of the installing/unzipping experience being included into the Usability score. This of course would be completely biased to web games, which would limit people to Flash, Java, etc. I’m sorry guys! That didn’t occur to me at all when this idea first popped into my head. So that element obviously cannot be included into it. But I still think we need this category, or something similar (“Polish” as one person suggested? But it doesn’t include controls).