My Dear Dev Team

Posted by (twitter: @josefnpat)
December 13th, 2012 9:16 pm

Dear Ludum Dare developers. For LD25, I will be working in a team, and have written up a message to all the developers on my team. I am posting this here in an effort to document my knowledge, get comments and suggestions on how to improve this document, and perhaps help a few folks out who are having troubles.

You can check out the article here, or follow this link to a much more legible version:

My Dear Dev Team

LD25 is getting close, and I want to prepare you for the shit-storm that is about to happen.

Tips for success:

  • Read the damn rules. It’s not hard to figure out. We’re doing a Jam compo, which pretty much means just about anything goes. To clear things up, I will post the game on the teams behalf. It’s also especially important to look at what aspects our game will be rated by.
  • Be public. Join the luduim dare irc channel. Post screenshots to the site or IRC for feedback. Tweet with the LD hashtag. Post blog posts to with your own account. Get people excited about our game, so we can get lots of ratings.
  • K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid. You’ve only got 72 hours, so you need to make them count.
  • Sleep well and eat well. If you are well rested and eat well, you will find yourself much more productive, and less prone to introducing crap into your game. If you are tired, either work on something else, or go get some sleep. Take breaks, don’t burn out. If you suck, your code will suck.
  • Avoid stepping on toes. If you’re working on a ticket, make sure you’ve marked the ticket to yourself and tell everyone. Try and stay out of the global files, and modularize. The less merging you do, the better off and faster you’ll be.
  • Trust your team to do it right. One person shouldn’t be writing all the code. If the code isn’t in your style, clench your teeth and keep going. If you find a bug, report it and make sure the owner of the ticket knows that it’s their responsibility. Always ask for permission to change someones code, and tell them why you want to change it.
  • Chill out and have fun. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun learning experience!

Before you even show up:

  • Reduce barriers of commutation whenever you’re working. When you’re working, you need to be on mumble unmuted. Since we can’t be in the same room, we need to communicate as much as possible.
  • Prepare your toolset. Don’t waste time setting up during the competition. For example, I’m a programmer, artist and sound tech guy ( I wear all the hats ). Here’s my toolset;
    • MVP/GDD → Google Docs
    • Repo → git-core
    • Framework → love 0.8.0
    • Code → nano/gedit
    • Issue Queue → Bitbucket or Github.
    • Art → gedit
    • Sound effects → audacity, zoom R16 / SM58 , sfxr
    • Music → ZoomR16/SM58/Guitar/Effect Pedals, LSDJ, Audacity
  • Know your toolset. Yes, this should be a part of “prepare”, but this is essential, otherwise you’re wasting time. If you plan on coding, you better know what you’re doing. If you haven’t even gone through a tutorial and attempt to commit, I’ll remove your write access. Also ensure you know what the formatting guidelines are. In this case, it’s two space, no tabs.
  • Decide out who’s running the show. The jam will be so much easier if you have someone who has the final say. Since I am taking this roll, I will be the person who compromises most.
  • Apologize to your friends, family and/or girlfriend. You’re in this for the long haul, and it’s a lot of work, but believe me, it’s worth it. Note: If you have no friends, family or girlfriend, please go pet your cat. If you do not have a cat, get one. Then pet it.

A quick note on the git repo;

  • Use /dev for development assets and such that are resized or altered for the actual game. it adds overhead, but it’s nice to have the original assets available to everyone.
  • Use /src for anything that actually goes into the game.
  • Put any build scripts or dev scripts in the root of the repo.

The repository should be set up and ready for everyone to use!

During the jam:

Ok, so you’re ready to jam, #ludumdare has been muted, and has started crashing due to people raping the F5 button. Finally the /topic is changed, and twitter starts re-tweeting the theme.

First things first

  1. Brainstorm ideas. Figure out an idea that everyone likes or at least will compromise to.
  2. Once you have an idea that everyone can work with, brainstorm on the idea. I like to open up a Google Doc, and give everyone write access. Let everyone write what they want, and as much as they want.
  3. Decide what ideas go into the game. Put them in your issue queue. Break them down as much as you can.
  4. Decide what goes into the MVP. Decide what it takes to make this game a game, and leave everything else out. Mark those issues appropriately.
  5. Make sure the team believes they can complete the MVP within the first half of the competition.

The first half

No one should be doing issues not marked for MVP until the MVP is done (unless they can’t do any other issues). Remember, once you have the MVP, you have a game. The first half of the competition ought to be used.

Concentrate on getting the MVP done!

The second half

At this point, what is left is transforming the game into a great game;

  • Testing and Bugfixes → Get people to test it! IRC, your friends, your family, anyone! The more issues you can find, the more you can fix before the game gets released.
  • Extra Features → Remember those extra features you wanted to put into the MVP, but couldn’t? Do them now.
  • Polish → Something doesn’t look right, isn’t fast enough, or could look better? Fix it here.
  • Content → Add more stuff. You only have 2 guns? Add 8 more! You only have 3 levels? Double it, triple it, whatever!
  • Be sure your packaging system works, you have a good title and blurb, and of course fun screenshots! Thens submit the sucker!

After the jam:

You’ve finished the game and you’re beat, but you’re not done yet.

  • Respond to folks who review your game, and review theirs back!
  • Ensure the team reviews other games through the account that submitted the game, so the game can get more exposure.
  • Tag the release version, and try and close the rest of the game breaking bugs. If you feel so inclined, add more stuff! Just because the jam is over, doesn’t mean the game is done.
  • Package your game up and host it!


I intend to be available as much as possible to help keep things in order, but if I’m not there, you guys need to communicate with each other as well. Whoever is there, use your best judgment. Not everyone will have the same schedule.

Tomorrow at midnight is when LD25 starts. If you’re there, you get to help out on the ground floor. The MVP. If you’re not there, you’re going to have to follow the GDD to the letter until we get to the second sprint.

– josefnpat

For more, check out the The Game Jam Survival Guide!

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