EDIT: Please see the official Rules: http://ludumdare.com/compo/rules/
People are constantly asking the same questions over and over, so I took it upon myself to try to write up a clearer version of the rules.
Ludum Dare is an Online Game Jam event where people from around the world create a game in a weekend.
It is actually two competitions that happen side-by side. At 9:00 pm Eastern Time (which is either UTC -4 or UTC -5 depending on daylight saving time), a theme will be announced. At which point, the 48 Hour Compo and the 72 Hour Jam will both start.
48 Hour Compo Rules
- You must work alone (solo).
- All images, models, textures, music, and sound must be created during the 48 hours. You cannot use any pre-existing art of any kind, whether you created it or found it online.
- Games must be based on the theme in some way.
- All publicly available libraries and middleware are allowed.
- Yes, that means you can use plugins from the Unity Asset store like Playmaker. (But not art!)
- Yes, you can use code from public wikis and tutorials.
- Yes, You can use your own code libraries and project templates as long as you make them available online for other people before the competition. Make a blog post declaring your code base.
- All other code must be programmed within the 48-hour window. This code must be included with your submission.
- No, you don’t need to include code from middleware (often you do not have the right to do this).
- This does not make your program free/open-source if you don’t want to. You retain all rights to everything.
- All content creation, and development tools are allowed. (3dsmax, Photoshop, Flash, etc)
- You can port your game to different platforms after the 48 hour window.
- You can make small bug-fixes after the 48 hour window.
72 Hour Jam Rules
- The rules are the same as the 48 hour compo except:
- You can work with other people as a team.
- You do not have to provide a copy of your source code.
- You are free to use whatever artwork or content you like (preferably something you have the legal rights to), but you must accept all responsibility for its use.
- Yes, you can use art made ahead of time.
- Yes you can use public domain, creative-commons, or otherwise licensed artwork.
- Games should be based on the theme. (As opposed to must be.)
- Only ONE team member submits the game.
What is the prize for winning?
There is no prize. This competition is purely for the love of programming.
Can I use language _____?
Can I use a content-generator for sound/music/textures?
Yes! sfxr is a great way to generate sound effects, there are many midi-music generators (like abundant-music.com), and there are several tools to procedurally generate textures (like Substance Designer).
What about fonts, drum loops, sampled instruments?
That’s fine, as long as you have the right to use them.
Can I brand my game with my logo, even though it was made outside the competition?
Yes! Logos and intro screens are allowed.
Will Ludum Dare own my game after I make it?
No! You still retain all rights and ownership. Obviously if you are submitting your game to be judged, you are going to be implicitly allowing people to download and play it, but otherwise it’s all yours.
So I could sell my Ludum Dare game after the competition?
Sure — many people have gone on to polish up their game and then sell it!
If I submit my source code (for the Compo), won’t that make it open source?
No! You retain all rights to your software and can license it (or not) any way you would like. No one is allowed to copy your code without your permission.
If I submit my source code (for the Compo), won’t people be able to steal it?
I suppose. But you made this game in 48 hours. How good is your code going to be? Anyone who sees your game would be able to duplicate it if they really wanted to.
If you don’t want to do this, consider joining the Jam instead (which doesn’t require you to share your code).
Can I start my entry before 9:00pm Eastern Time?
No! Besides, you won’t even know what the theme is! However, if you want to setup a project “template” that launches an empty window, sets up your 2d/3d context, and includes some generic functionality, that’s allowed if you share this code publicly and declare in a post on the ludumdare.com blog. That way other people could start on the same level as you.
How can I share my code if I used [some kind of game-creation software tool]?
The safe answer is always: Zip up the whole project folder and put it online. Ideally, anyone else with the same software should be able to download your file and open it. If you don’t want to do this, consider joining the Jam instead (which doesn’t require you to share your code).