Ludum Dare 29 Theme Voting Begins!

Posted by (twitter: @ludumdare)
April 19th, 2014 7:04 am

Theme Voting has begun! Tune in every day this week for a new round of themes. *

[ ROUND 1 | ROUND 2 | ROUND 3 ]


Thanks again to Sorceress for helping out.

* Links above in Bold are still open. If you haven’t cast a vote yet, click the link to do it. End times for each round vary, and many cross over.

* If you get an error message about needing to log in to vote, and you are already logged in, then try refreshing your browser (CTRL+F5 in Firefox/IE), or in Chrome F12 then Right Click on Refresh and select “Empty Cache and Hard Reload”).

96 Responses to “Ludum Dare 29 Theme Voting Begins!”

  1. Cheezey says:

    Yay! I wonder if I was just the first to vote…

  2. Managore says:

    I don’t see Pepsi Consultant anywhere!

  3. gemumeka says:

    Oh, goosebumps

  4. Gaspard_ says:

    Such great proposals!
    I don’t know what to vote…

  5. deathray says:

    The theme voting page doesn’t seem to work on my mobile phone (android). Page loads but tapping on a +1/0/-1 button does nothing. It might be the nested double quotes in the onclick event.

    Anyone else have this problem?

  6. bitserum says:

    “Control more than one”I thought I slaughtered you, die!

  7. anasiaue28 says:

    I’m really hoping paranoia or isolation wins! This will be my first ludum dare and I think it would be fun to do something dark and creepy πŸ˜€

    • Tim Bumpus says:

      Ugh. Trust me, those themes get annoying after a while. v_v

    • Jiggawatt says:

      Don’t count on Isolation, since a lot of people still remember Alone from a few LDs back. Paranoia might get to the final round, but even round 1 has more likely winning candidates.

      • sorceress says:

        If the majority enjoyed Alone, they’ll probably enjoy Isolation too.

        Remember that lightning IS prone to striking the same place twice! πŸ˜›

      • anasiaue28 says:

        Ahh, well it makes sense that no one would want to do an isolation themed game after an ‘alone’ one, but then again, isolation doesn’t *have* to mean on your own, does it? For example, maybe there could be a game where more than one character is cut off from others, or maybe it could be a game where you have to get to someone who is isolated in their mind or in some place.

        Either way, I’m excited to see what theme my first LD will be.

    • bugninja says:

      I have to disagree, I feel like we just finished “Alone” and “You Only Get 1”. I’m ready for something totally different.

      • dRxL says:

        This is my first LD so I’m wondering about this voting process. Is what we currently see the final field of possible themes or does each of the coming rounds represent more theme candidates to choose from?

        • sorceress says:

          There are 80 themes in the final field. Round 1 shows the first 20 of these.

          • dRxL says:

            Thanks for the reply. A few nice ones from the slaughter were missing πŸ˜‰

            I assume that the X highest scoring from each of the numbered rounds advance to the final round ?

            If so how many themes are we voting on in the final round?

            • sorceress says:

              That’s correct: the final round will consist of 20 themes, taken from rounds 1-4.

              The results of rounds 1-4 will be revealed over the coming days, so you’ll have a good idea what’s most popular going into the final round.

              Opinions change though. Whats popular in rounds 1-4 isn’t always popular in the final round. Seeing what’s popular gives everyone a chance to think about things a bit more thoroughly, and we ask ourselves “do we honestly want to see 2000+ games about X?”

              • dRxL says:

                Again, thank you for the reply.

                Maybe this information is already readily available elsewhere, but if not, I would consider adding a description of the process either to the post above or somewhere else on the site that can be linked to.

    • Kyatric says:

      The theme is just a guideline.
      You can have something creepy and dark even with the theme “Happiness”.
      It probably could be even creepier. It all comes down to your own interpretation of the theme and whether you want to stick to it or not.

      • bugninja says:

        This is an excellent point, and I wish more people voted with this in mind.

        Vote for something odd that would make applying your idea to it all the more interesting, rather than voting for something that matches your idea and find that 20 other games end up doing the exact same thing.

  8. Moist says:

    “Contrast” is my favourite. Wonder what next rounds will bring.

  9. Diventurer says:

    Paranoia could create some interesting games. I hope that wins! (Well, it still is only round 1)

  10. Seppel says:

    1. Break the Rules
    2. Contrast
    3. Everything is Connected
    4. Time Does Not Exist
    5. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

    I like hazardous things. And Bubsy.

    If we get an LD that’s nothing but Bubsy games I will giggle forever.

  11. Osgeld says:

    as time keeps on passing the themes get more and more samey, it just seems that we end up on slight variations of the same thing


    lets quit voting for this generic mush of cloudy ideas, vote for something crazy that doesn’t encompass every possible idea in some safe land of squshyness, be bold vote bold.

    at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if the theme ended up being “game”

    • Jiggawatt says:

      This guy knows what’s up.

    • joshg says:

      I *think* I agree with you, but would you like to elaborate for those of us who haven’t been here forever? Pretty much all of them seem pretty generic and cloudy to me.

      Some of them seem overdone and likely to lead to a whole lot of boring sameness (Deep Space, Destruction, Build Your World, Infiltration, Magic, Modification, that sort of thing). And the lone/only/minimalist ones since that has been done recently. So I’d downvote a bunch of them for those sorts of reasons.

      But beyond that…I’m not sure I’ve seen anything that seems to really encourage interesting experimentation yet…what do you look for in a theme?

    • Tim Bumpus says:

      With this in mind, I’m now upvoting a little bit more liberally. :)

    • Seppel says:

      I voted for “Pepsi Consultant” because of your comment. :)

  12. Jezzamon says:

    I like a lot of the themes this round. I especially like “time does not exist” because it’s sounds really tricky, and people will have to think up clever ideas to fit it, compared to the more general themes.

  13. Jiggawatt says:

    Symmetry is a deeper theme than you might think. Think again if your only idea was literal symmetric level design in some platformer. On an abstract level, it’s about balancing things out. That could be applied to game mechanics having an anti-mechanic, or dependency between parties in resource gains/losses.

    Also, symmetry can involve way more than two concepts. A well-balanced strategy game with rock-paper-scissors style weaknesses would go fine with that theme, for example.

    • Tim Bumpus says:

      Very true.


    • arrogant.gamer says:

      Round 2 was mind blowing!

      Alone in the Forest
      Beneath the Surface
      Night and Day
      Self Replication

      I admit, literal interpretations of “Alone in the Forest” would be kind of boring. Lots of games… in a forest… alone… I still like it, though. Probably I agree with the general trend away from “alone” and “only one” themes. Beneath the Surface, on the other hand, is totally rad. Night and Day, and Rain could be really cool too. Self replication and symmetry could lead to a very mathematical jam.

      These are all rock-solid in my humble (but always correct) opinion.

      • Jiggawatt says:

        I feel obliged to respond, partly because you replied to me, and partly because I disagree with most of those. Specifically:

        Alone in the Forest is particularly bad, to the point where I even contacted sorceress about how that can have slipped through. I mean it’s literally just Alone… in a forest. No room for interpretation, nothing to be inspired by, and it’s a copy of an earlier theme. I get that it has no chance of winning, but themes always occupy space, and it might’ve pushed a better candidate out.

        Same with Loneliness, of course. sorceress’ comment was that they convey different emotions, but I don’t think most people are going to differentiate between the subtleties.

        Rain is a visual motif, not so much a theme that suggests any sort of gameplay integration. I see these as non-themes and automatically -1 them. I’d like to hear why you thought it’s any good because I can’t ever figure out why people like these.

        Now Boundaries I did like too. Boundaries can be abstract, as anyone who’s a Touhou 7 connoisseur will know. It’s a really fun sort of theme because you can take it literally and offer other kinds of interpretations as well. “Oops, I just changed the boundary of resources and health, now attacks are draining my resources instead of my low health.”

        • bitserum says:

          “Non-themes” meaning they don’t lend themselves to unique mechanics / play designs easilly; but instead cater to atmosphere and audio-visual more?
          I don’t get how that’s a “non-theme”. More so as most of the categories that are being voted are completely non-gameplay based (which is something I find really strange in LD, there’s only the “overall” category which probably houses all the design/controls/etc aspects of game creation. But that’s another topic)

          Anyway a bit of lateral thinking can turn all of those “non-themes” into pretty nifty mechanics anyway.

          I’m personally all for “non-themes”, I’d love to see more atmosphere/story focused games.

        • Personally, the appeal of “non-themes” with no clear relation to gameplay is precisely that– they have no clear relation to gameplay. I know what the games for a theme like “Control Everyone” or “Infiltration” are going to look like. I don’t know what the games for a theme like “Rain” or “Fragile” are going to look like.

          Like, last time, even before the entries poured in I just knew we were going to have a bunch of entries where you only had one bullet/arrow/javelin/whatever. If the theme had been more abstract I think the entries would have been much more diverse.

          • Christina Nordlander says:

            I usually dislike purely gameplay-related themes since we get every genre of games, from text adventures across real-time-strategy to puzzle platformers, and you’d have a hard time finding a gameplay mechanic that occurs in all of them.

            Of course, since the themes are supposed to be interpreted creatively, there may not even be such a thing as a purely gameplay-related theme.

  14. qbicfeet says:

    Ugh, round 2’s themes sucked. Way too many ‘Alone’ and ‘You Only Get One’ clones. Reversed Mechanics and There is Always Another Way were the only two I liked.

  15. lorniebear says:

    I don’t want it to be secret room. It would be so obvious before you played each one that there would be a secret room, that playing them would just get boring

    • klianc09 says:

      Or people would deliberately NOT include a secret room, just to keep you searching.

    • sealfin says:

      There are a lot of ways to interpret a theme as seemingly mundane as “secret room”.Β Eg., in a scenario I wrote[1] (ages ago) for a pen-and-paper role-playing game there was a (common, and centuries old) spell which caused the victim of the spell to seemingly be destroyed.

      But the victim wasn’t destroyed – or harmed – at all.

      Instead, the victim was transported to a series of secret – and seemingly inescapable – rooms, populated by the previous victims of the spell; whilst many of those previous victims were dead, many *weren’t*, and factions had formed, some factions trying to find a way to escape, some factions trying to kill, loot – and *eat*, as the rooms contained no food or drink except that being carried by a victim when they arrived – newly arrived victims, etc.

      The player character who fell victim to the spell had to try to either escape or survive to be rescued by their companions (if their companions figured out that the player character had not been destroyed as they thought…)

      [1] Maybe unconsciously inspired by the Tain from “Myth : The Fallen Lords”/”Myth II : Soulblighter”.

  16. Tredekka says:

    What is the process from “suggestions” to “round options” for voting?

    • PoV says:

      A few months before events, we announce the dates for the next event, and open up theme suggestions. That stays open until about 2 weeks before the event. We take the resulting mega list of themes, remove some of the absolute most horrible (offensive), and pit them in a week of what we call the Theme Slaughter (like a hot-or-not for LD themes). Then a week before, we take the highest rated ~80 themes (duplicates and prior themes removed) and make 4 rounds of voting out of them. We then again take the highest rated themes from the 4 rounds to create the final round. Then for the last 2 days before the start time, we vote on those themes, and winner is revealed at the start time. We (the administration) typically only know what’s going to win an hour or so before the start of the event.

      Then we make games. :)

  17. hamster_mk_4 says:

    Round 3 is filled with fantastic ideas. Mad props for the people who suggested them.

  18. Christina Nordlander says:

    Pepsi Consultant or bust.

  19. SonnyBone says:

    Lots of great themes this time around! Getting excited again…

  20. TriceratopsX007 says:

    I actually hope Magic wins because there’s a lot of ways to go with it. Are you the only one with magic? Or does everyone have it? Do only enemies have it? Or only allies? Do only NPC’s have it? Or does no one have magic and the location itself is magical? There’s room for lots of creativity with magic as well so is there a cost for the magic? Do your most powerful spells hurt you too?

    • Jezzamon says:

      true, magic is a very open theme, which is cool in some ways.

      Themes that have one obvious interpretation are generally bad, but I think themes that have no obvious interpretation, and are fairly ‘closed’ or ‘hard’ seem fun because they force people to think of unusual ideas. Magic gives you a lot of options, but alternatively, it allows almost any gameplay concept.

  21. Cirrial says:

    I don’t understand the need for this rounds of voting process. Surely there’s already a bunch of themes picked out. What is the point of having everyone vote on things in rounds instead of having one list of approved themes to vote on over the week and using the most popular result? What does this voting round system accomplish other than more busywork for the admin team?

    • Seppel says:

      It gives each theme a fair chance rather than being buried among 80.

    • gre says:

      It also gives a good motivating effect on us I think :-) It generates more suspense that way!

    • sorceress says:

      I think it’s a relic of Ludum Dare’s early days. I was not around then, so I may not have the story correct. But as far as I can tell…

      Originally a small list of ‘potential themes’ was kept written down in Ludum Dare’s Wiki, and this same list was voted on for each competition.

      As the most interesting themes were used up, there was an open request for theme suggestions, and these were added to the Wiki. As the list grew in size quicker than themes were used, the voting stage was expanded to these 5 rounds we have now.

      Eventually the Wiki was closed because of spammers, and Google Docs was instead used to collect theme suggestions anonymously. Coinciding with a rapid growth in popularity, this yielded so many themes that it was hard work for the admins to sort the wheat from the chaff.

      So some time in 2011 user Sosowski created the theme slaughter to assist with this chore, by getting the general public to up/down vote the suggestions and output a managable ‘top 100’.

      This was effective at the time. But as the event grew bigger still, the sheer volume of suggestions meant that lots of themes were suggested twice, and were not always obvious from alphabetical sorting (eg, light and dark = dark and light; moon = the moon; etc)

      This led to a problem with pairs of very similar themes both making it through to the top 100, which has had to be solved with a layer of manual filtering.

      So the system we have today is a Heath Robinson contraption of repeatedly adding a new stage to fix a problem with the old system.

      It probably could be streamlined, but that would come at a risk of breaking what users are familiar with, and putting an end to something they might actually enjoy. :)

    • PoV says:

      Gre brings up exactly why I like it though: Buzz. The current system is fun. People can talk, chat, rant, discuss all week long. Multiple rounds means something new to talk about each day, in anticipation. I get the chance to stir up some controversy on Monday/Tuesday as well, to get things buzzing. The more excited we are, the more we enjoy ourselves. Statistically there may be better ways of doing this, but are there ways that are more fun?

  22. ioanD says:

    Pe… Pe… PEPSI CONSULTANT?!?!?!??!??!??!?!??!?!?!?!?!?

  23. Furyhunter says:


  24. Jiggawatt says:

    >Wake up
    >Check round 2 results
    >Day ruined
    Have you all gone absolutely mad? It’s like watching someone flush a winning lottery ticket down the toilet.

    • ZeppelinCaptain says:

      Huh, that’s funny, I looked at the results and was positively surprised. I had not even considered Beneath the Surface to get anywhere, but now that I think about it, it’s a nice open theme. It’s not limiting or very suggestive with regards to mechanics (like “Death is Useful”, ugh). It does however provide a guideline that points you towards either a concrete concept (beneath the surface of water, earth, etc.) or towards examining an abstract concept (going beneath the surface of someone’s outward appearance, for example, or beneath the surface of a specific culture).
      Most of the other themes in round 2 was IMO mostly mechanic-focused, which makes for a very boring 3 weeks after LD, since most of the games that we’ll play will be extra similar.
      What was it that you think was flushed out, though? What was the lottery ticket?

  25. DarkMeatGames says:

    Going to make this my first game jam. Hoping I can make a small enough game to actually finish something!!

    I’ll be using Unity, and a Unity Editor Extension I wrote called “Voxwell” which should hopefully make designing the levels go very quickly.

    Shameless self promotion:
    Timelapse build:

    If anyone wants a free copy for the purposes of Ludum Dare, just reach out on Twitter @DarkMeatGames or respond here πŸ˜€

    Looking forward to hearing what the theme is!

    • ZeppelinCaptain says:

      Welcome to Ludum Dare! (wow, that sounds like I’m experienced, I am definitely not)

      You should probably post this to the blog, instead of here in the theme comments. You do that by pressing Write Post at the top of this page.

  26. bitserum says:

    We have to go deeper… under the surface! So psyched for round 4 results

  27. Keon says:

    Wow. People *hate* Pepsi Consultant. I think that’s the most downvotes I’ve seen.

    • qbicfeet says:

      I don’t know if it’s the record, but Bieber 4Evar <3 got 2082 downvotes last LD πŸ˜›

    • Kyatric says:

      It felt more like a “fashion” theme, because there’s been a story happening a few weeks ago, in a very niche spot.
      It also makes for a poor theme I think, since it’s a narrow approach on a broader story/issue.
      Have a theme like “sexism” or “cohersion” it makes more sense in the frame of that story and of a jam.
      Nevertheless, those are pretty hard/adult themes to treat and not the like of themes that can likely win a popular vote on a LD voting round IMO.

      “Pepsi consultant” is just too limiting and too dependent on a recent story to really make sense. It’s already crazy IMO that it went past the slaughter. I remember clearly having slaughtered each time it was proposed. Crazy to see that it still made it in the top 80 nevertheless just to be massively downvoted.

      It goes also to show that there is a difference of opinions between some of the slaughtering people and the round voting people.
      Not even talking about last-round voting people.

      • Ravneiv says:

        It’s a joke theme. Some are put in the top 80 just for fun.

      • Christina Nordlander says:

        It’s not the first time joke themes have ended up in the voting stage. Last time we got “Justin Bieber 4 Evar” and “free2play”, among others. I’m fairly sure the powers that be are letting them through, for some sinister purpose or others.

  28. peterlavey says:

    Create some mysterious puzzle or machine. πŸ˜€

  29. fullmontis says:

    If it’s gonna be Break the Rules, I’m going to be so happy tears of joy will soak my keyboard.

  30. tony finale says:

    So is the thing up top gonna be updated to say the actual theme instead of ??? or am I missing something

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