So earlier this afternoon I sent out a quick poll to the Ludum Dare twitter account. The premise was simply, should the Ludum Dare Compo (48 Hour solo event) require source?
So yes, as it turns out a significant number of people like this requirement (or are indifferent). Drilling down in to the reasons people like this rule, we get the following:
- It’s a good reference for new developers
- It encourages community
- It lets us verify that somebody didn’t cheat (**)
- It keeps people honest
- It can solve disputes (**)
- Some broken games can be fixed with just a few source tweaks
- I like to look at how people implement things
- Source code is one of the best things to learn from
- Any code created in 48/72 hours wont contain any serious secrets
- Even if it’s not you, somebody will learn from the code
- Ludum Dare is about Learning
And some of the reasons against.
- The code is often messy and not a good example of proper game code
- I use a proprietary engine. I can’t release its source.
- Some tools can’t easily export source
- Code can be stolen, games can be illegally published
- I like to make games and sell them later
- Unity/Flash users get lots of features and only have to share game code
- My code is mine
I was actually surprised by the overwhelming response, so to make sure we didn’t have skewed results, I added a 2nd question about half way through the poll:
So about 60% have looked at source code, and 33% have learned something from it. All things considered, that is a significant number.
The data says something else too.
I didn’t ask specifically how much source code people have looked at, but one fact I will share is that in the 10 years we’ve run Ludum Dare, we’ve never had to take action because of what was found in source code. I can’t remember any questionable games ever making it in to the top games. Funny enough, many real disputes have been complaints about people forgetting source.
Now as you all know, Ludum Dare very big now. The idea of us policing entries is well beyond what we can do. We don’t actually have prizes, so there’s really no reason to cheat at Ludum Dare. So the old policy of “to stop cheaters” really didn’t make a lot of sense to me anymore.
That said, there’s a lot great reasons to continue requiring source. The Jam has never required source, and that has been one of our main ways of inviting more people to participate in the event. That will not change. But where there may be room to change is why source is required. So, to quote myself:
Of course, if disputes do happen, having source gives us something to make a case with. Innocent until proven guilty is kind-of a nice policy after all. So perhaps the main reason we share code should change.
Here’s another thought:
Now there’s an interesting twist. One of the classic complaints of “From Scratch” developers versus Unity/Flash/GameMaker/Middleware developers is the sort of “unfairness” that they have to share so much. It is an issue we let happen, and it is true it’s not fair. So alright, Matt’s idea provides a fix to that long long problem. Not to mention, #2, #4 and #6 in the “No” list. There’s nothing stopping you from submitting everything as usual, but it gives more liberties to those that are protective/unable to share their engine code. In contrast, it does mean fixing code for some entries (Yes #6) is not be possible (extremely cool but uncommon anyway).
So that’s what’s being considered. Again, we really don’t have the time to police thousands of entries, so the thought is to redefine why we ask for code, and perhaps what we ask of code.
Share your thoughts in the comments.