First and Final Dare

Posted by
September 17th, 2014 3:55 pm

I am extremely disappointed. This has been my first Ludum dare and it was here I made my first game, this will be my LAST Ludum dare, and here is why:

Everyone who played my game and left a comment said the game was good, but my results say that when it came to rating my game isn’t even average in a single category. I worked hard on my game and it is a good game, sure the web port has a few bugs like the fact that it plays in a 1080p frame forcing you to zoom out to see the whole thing, but it was my first step into game development, and I did it alone. I was proud of my game so I played and voted for plenty of other games so my game would be seen by more people, but I don’t even think half of the people who rated my game even played it.

The Ludum Dare encourages participants to rate their competition’s games, and rewards them based on how many games they rated for as well how well their ratings compare with other people. This system rewards people for rapidly giving other games bad ratings, which effectively lower the competition’s rating and boosts their “coolness” at the same time.

I was looking forward to seeing the results of this competition, but now I regret even bothering to check. Who ever came up with the current rating system should be ashamed. Good luck to any future participants, because how lucky you are is the only factor deciding if someone will play your game before they rate it.

48 hour contestants should only be allowed to rate 72 hour entries, and 72 hour contestants should only be able to vote for 48 hour entries. That way they can’t increase their odds of winning by giving bad ratings to their competition. There should also be a system to disregard ratings made by people who consistently give unrealistic ratings to several games. If somebody always gives a rating of all ones their ratings shouldn’t be counted against those games because they didn’t really rate the game the merely spamed the rating system.

26 Responses to “First and Final Dare”

  1. PoV says:

    Thanks for your feedback, and I’m sorry to see you go. We definitely need to improve the voting process, hence why I’m doing what I’m doing now. The ‘shotgun voting’ is a problem, one we can fix. I encourage you to come back in a year, as I’m hoping we have this and many other problems solved.

    • shico says:

      I had to work really hard to make my first game in 48 hours, seeing my rating be less than 3/5 in every single category (even audio when I saw lots of comments telling me that the music was great) is just too heart breaking.

      Because I honestly enjoyed making my game, got some honest feedback from people who played it, and your acknowledgement that the voting system needs to be improved, I’ll probably give the Ludum dare another shot in about a year like you recommended.

      In the mean time I plan to expand and polish the game I made for this competition and hopefully achieve some small amount of success as an independent game developer.

      Hopefully you can fix the voting process before I return next year because if my next Ludum Dare ends like this one there is no chance I’ll compete again. I hurts too much to see people smear your games ratings through the mud just so they might get a better rank in the competition. My game may not be the best but I just want it to be judged fairly.

  2. ponywolf says:

    I wouldn’t give up on the LD because of some bad scores.

    In the comments, most people try and be positive and call out what they like. Rating a game is a different story. Personally, when I give out stars I ask myself if this game gets more or less stars than the game I played before it (and the one before that.) There’s not a lot of wiggle room to give games you don’t think are absolutely the best five stars.

    You also need to think about the 6,000 people who voted on a theme. How many of those people didn’t even get a game submitted? Probably another 2000 “games” that finished below you by not finishing at all.

    I played your game just now, and I agree with the commenter who said “Good work – especially for a first LD.”

    Maybe your second LD will be even better.

    • shico says:

      In a 5 start rating system each number of starts has a meaning:
      5 stars= amazing
      4 stars= above average – good
      3 stars= average
      2 stars= below average – bad
      1 star = horrible

      Quiet frankly if my games rating is below a 3 in every single category that means one of 2 things:

      Either the majority of players who rated my game felt that the game was entirely below average in every way without any redeeming features, or a large number of people who rated my game did it unfairly.

      The whole reason I competed in the Ludum Dare was I wanted feedback on my game, so if the feed back I get from the Ludum Dare is biased by people trying to win I’d say that is a completely valid reason to quit competing in the Ludum Dare.

      • Spiridios says:

        I’m going to be harsh. Your games WAS entirely below average in every way. Sure, if you work on it more it could be a good game, so it’s not without it’s redeeming qualities, but there’s just too many flaws to get a good score. Your resolution is way off, your graphics are placed haphazardly, you can see seams all over the place, your stationary objects float around, your collision detection needs work, the controls are floaty, the graphics don’t feel like they really go with each other, and the massive delay from getting hit to actually dying is horrible.

        So, yes, you put in a lot of work, it was your first game, and for a first game it’s actually pretty good. You got gameplay, sound, win/lose conditions, it’s all there, but that doesn’t guarantee you a gold star. Voting in LD isn’t based on how many games you’ve written before, it’s based on how good your game is compared to how people think a 48 hour game should be. In that light, getting higher than 2 in most categories despite the flaws seems about right, no conspiracy required. Learn, improve your skills, and move on.

      • Same opinion as chardish but I have some Bonus reward for you: Your games may be better next time… but you’ll only feel this progress by beeing more releaxed facing the comments about your games next time…. no game is flawless… there will ever be players, competitors or assholes rating your game with different points of view… handle it…. I’ve never played your game, sorry for that… it’s childish to drop out of ld only because a not as aspected rating..

        Hope you’ll think about it… you finished a game.. what a reward to your self… be proud of it and … yeah… relax :)

  3. BuffaloPhil says:

    Criticism and bad reviews are part of the process. That’s how you learn what people like/respond well to, and how to get better at it. The best teacher is failure. Your favorite dev went through the same curve you are experiencing now. That’s what made them good. No one starts running at full speed.

    Don’t give up because of votes. Use that anger to fuel your progress forward, and show those schmucks who voted against you what’s up when you win next year.

  4. radmars says:

    Personally I would value the written specific feedback (which is way more useful in figuring out how to improve) a lot more than the raw scores. To me that’s the entire point of Ludum Dare – to learn how to be a better game developer, not to just win a competition or make a better game than other people. Remember also that there are a lot of other really impressive LD games, so the way people rate games is going to be relative to the others they’ve played. Plus, from my experience written comments seem to focus on the positives, especially for a first timer. Honestly I probably would’ve rated your game 2-3 in most categories – I doubt many people are gaming the system and rating without playing.

  5. Jedi says:

    Like Spiridios says, your game has some rather fatal flaws that will pull your ratings below average. Also, audio means music AND sound effects; great music is only half of the equation.

    Frankly, there is an element of Ludum Dare that is a popularity contest and you are right to call it out. The people who only leave positive comments are doing you no favors, yet it’s human nature when ratings are involved.

    However, you need to consider that not everybody that leaves a rating also leaves a comment, especially if they have nothing nice to say.

    Finally, Ludum Dare is a competition. At the end of the day, you aren’t rated 1 to 5 on any other scale than that of other Ludum Dare games. And the best Ludum Dare games are AWESOME. If 1 is a crappy game, and 5 is the best the competition has to offer, I frankly find it a bit arrogant for you to assume you deserve 3’s on your very first outing. You really think you’re already above average on your very first attempt? You really think half the other games released are more or less worse than yours in most categories?

    The first time every participant sees their ratings after reading all the positive comments, it is a punch in the gut, generally. However, those ratings are meant to be a metric for YOU! They only matter if you want them to. Your reward for participation is the game you’ve made and you shouldn’t take it lightly.

    • Raimonds says:

      I pretty much agree to what you wrote. There are a lot of us who has been doing LDs for many years and has loads more knowledge and experience that I do, so I do not expect to be better than them. If that accidental happens to be the case, that I get better ratings, then I am proud, but I do not get sad, if someone with 10 more year experience gets better results. If everyone gets 5 star ratings, where is the point?

  6. chardish says:

    Hi, sorry that you had a bad experience with the competition. The fact that you made a game is in and of itself praiseworthy, don’t get discouraged!

    This community tends to be positive in the comments because we all know how hard it is to actually even *do* Ludum Dare. It’s like running a marathon – finishing the marathon is hard enough by itself, but there’s still scoring and placement. You should be proud of yourself for even finishing, though. Different people go into this with different strengths and skillsets. Some people (myself included) are full-time professional game developers. Others have never written a game before, or never written any code before. And that’s awesome!

    If what you’re looking for is honest and direct critical feedback, including the negative points of your game, I would explicitly say so in the game description. When I’m rating games, I tend to leave positive feedback on the ones I really like, but on the ones I don’t like, I leave my rating and I move on.

    I would also keep in mind that the people who are rating your game are doing so in good faith. It’s possible to learn within two minutes of playing a game that they don’t like the game. That’s okay, and it’s not a defect in the system.

    And remember – half of all games are below average, anyway : )

    Good luck in your future game development!

  7. miwuc says:

    I don’t believe people give bad ratings to other games to improve their own game’s chances. I’ve just never seen it happen.

    However, I do agree that the system encourages rating games quickly, which means that games that ramp up slowly, take a while to understand or are difficult are at a disadvantage.

    Regarding the contrast between the ratings you got and the comments:
    – most people try to give encouraging/positive comments and highlight what they liked, even if they didn’t think the game was terrific
    – people who have nothing nice to say usually don’t comment at all

    All in all, you should be proud that you made a game, and that people played it, and some people liked it. But you should also have the humility to recognize that maybe your game wasn’t as good as a lot of other entries.

  8. Code White says:

    What ARE you on about? I’m the one who’s dissapointed in you.
    You’re better than over 30% of all the other entries, including me.
    For one thing, you should be looking at your ranking, not the ratings, and can really only compare your results to your own in past LDs. Think of the ratings you received as a benchmark or target, so you know what you need to improve on next time. My last LD had absolutely no sound, so in this one I concentrated on the music. Next time I’ll probably focus on my graphics.
    Don’t be harsh, and definitely don’t take it out on other participants. With an attitude like that, I’ll be glad you’re not participating in the next one, as you’re probably just going to one-star every single entry.
    Finally, be thankful you can even code. Less than 3 billion people in the world have so much as an internet connection, and only 2500 people have the ability needed take part in the world’s largest game jam.

    Think carefully before moaning like this in future, or you’re not going to get very far in your ‘dream job’.

  9. Kayelgee says:

    I can understand that you’re not happy with the comments not really pointing out any flaws in your game. But honestly I can understand why no commenter pointed them out. I don’t know if I had written anything because it’s obvious what’s wrong(a lot), so I would’ve focused on the good things. You see first games tend to not be that great. A rule of thumb: Your first 10 games will be bad. Acknowledge that and learn as much as you can from every project.

    If you want dead honest feedback then you can ask for it. I’m sure people are willing to point you in the right direction.

  10. waynaul says:

    Here is a quote that I hope will inspire you to keep trying LD:

    “Nothing in the World can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
    -Calvin Coolidge

  11. If you feel as though you did not get something out of LD that you were owed, then I fear you’ve come to the wrong place. There is no guaranteed reward beyond the work itself and being a part of the community.

    The rating system is flawed, but it is fair in the sense that is has the same flaws for everyone. I encourage you to return for the next LD, but do so with expectations of only yourself, not the community. Compare those results to this years results.

    My first LD I released a broken game that had a humor element, and it got a much higher rating than this years complete and unbroken game, which had more of a sad feeling to it. The humor category killed my ratings, but I am both aware and accepting of this, and that it’s one of the quirks of LD. But if you’re going to be making video games, you’re going to need feedback from the community, whether via LD or not. Where else can you get this much free feedback from people who would be the first support your game on it’s release? Use the feedback, it’s (mostly) handed out with thought and understanding in mind.

    Last but not least, you made a game and got it to the point that it could be reviewed in 48 hours. Take a stroll outside and give a thought to how many people you come across in a day that can make that claim. Would you have done it without the LD?

  12. Mekuri says:

    After seeing a few people play my game, and reading some of the comments on my game, I noticed that the thing people mentioned that was wrong, wasn’t really “wrong”. They just didn’t bother to read the in game instructions (Or forgot them) – And as such my ratings probably fell a bit in some cases..
    BUT – That is my fault! When I make the game, and a huge portion of the players don’t read something, or forget what they read, it is I that have failed to deliver the intended information in a way that makes the player want to read it and/or remember it.
    If your game got less than average scores it’s probably because it deserved it (I haven’t played it sorry).
    Blaming the people who rates your game is just being a bad sport. I can understand your frustration, but it is part of the experience.
    Have you ever heard of a game company that blamed their players for a game’s shortcomings?

    Deal with your disappointment, learn from this – Don’t just quit and give up- That won’t get you anywhere!

    See you at LD31 :-)

  13. Milo says:

    Not every comment says that the game is good. They say way more than that. It seems to me that people experienced various glitches, confusion about the mechanics, didn’t feel that the theme was deeply ingrained, found the difficulty of your game to be high, but not increasing, and thought it was too short. On the positive side, people generally liked your music, the way the game was presented, and enjoyed particular aspects of the mechanic.

    You received encouragement to continue, alongside many suggestions of how. Regardless of the numbers, that has a lot of value, and it would be foolish to pass the feedback up as mere compliments.

  14. udo says:

    I understand where you’re coming from. I received some very encouraging comments about my game, but in the end I barely managed to reach three stars in all categories. That means either people are giving a lot of 1-star reviews, or 5-star reviews almost never happen even if people like what they see.

    Personally, I’d like to know what the distribution is, and ideally I wouldn’t let people vote without leaving a text comment as well (and not repetitive ones, either).

    I also think ultimately LD is not for people who find ratings all that important, because there is a lot of unsolvable frustration associated with it.

    While I find ratings interesting (I thought my skills had improved, but obviously they have stagnated or even degraded), it’s nothing more than an additional feedback mechanism. It’s by far not the point of the exercise, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.

  15. bentog says:

    When I see a game that is 1 or 2 stars, I never comment “this is terrible”. I always do something like “congrats on finishing your entry, it’s good in this way, but I think it should be better in this and that”, so that the dev is encouraged to improve his game and his skills. Maybe what you’re seeing is just people trying to be nice, but being honest when rating.

  16. LTPATS says:

    One of the main points of Ludum Dare is self-improvement. What’s truly shameful is that developers use failure as an excuse to give up rather than keep trying. If anything this experience should teach you to look at your creations more objectively and to stop thinking they “deserve” positive reception, high ratings, or anything else like that.

    How others view your game is usually closer to the truth than how you view your game. These are the kind of things that jams like Ludum Dare are supposed to teach us. Either you accept them and keep pushing yourself, or ignore them and hide yourself from criticism and growth.

  17. SnapDragon says:

    I kind of agree with you because some people rate games bad so they have a better chance to win. Forget about the idiots who randomly rated your game. Focus on what the comments said. Ludum Dare is a great way to get feedback for developers who usuall.y make lonely games. The comments will make you a better developer. This is why there is no prizefighter of winning. (P.S. I think judges should be actual judges instead of developers rating games)

  18. Sestren says:

    I can’t tell you to just ignore the criticism or the underwhelming ratings, because I know how hard it is for anyone to do that. But, for what it’s worth, try to remember that the ratings are a small part of what Ludum Dare is about. You say you had a lot of fun making your game, and you should focus on that instead. Not everyone has the patience or the skills required to make a game in one weekend. That you were able to submit something is an achievement in and of itself.

    Ludum Dare can be a great way to motivate yourself to get the practice that is necessary to get better, and, if you keep practicing, you will see your skills improve. But, if you don’t think participating in Ludum Dare will help motivate you to keep making games, there’s no shame in sitting one out or not participating at all. What’s important is that you’re doing what you enjoy, and if what you enjoy is making games, then I hope you will keep at it.

  19. commodoreKid says:

    ‘not bad for the first try’ does not equal to ‘it’s a great game’
    We are not here to win usually, we are here to learn how to make games.
    If you learned something, keep it with you and make a better one next time.
    Plus, don’t care much about opinions while you’re learning, if you care about an opinion, it should be yours.

  20. MercuryLegba says:

    While I suffered a similar faith as you, it was my first time, I had some really nice comments, but only average scores in the end, I can’t exactly subscribe to your conclusions. The people who scored well, made really good games! Some people have been doing that for years! Game design is a humbling experience and there’s an incredible amount of defeat, failure and learning involved. You shouldn’t give up now, but rather ask yourself, what went wrong and how you could do better.

  21. Johnman says:

    I’m sure you worked hard on your game, and you should be proud of that. What you shouldn’t do is assume everyone is going to be as proud of your game as you are (it’s YOUR baby after all).

    You come across as a very bad sport in this post and honestly a bit entitled. I had to re-read it a couple of times to get past that first impression and understand what’s going on.

    The thing is I don’t think you should be focusing on how your game scores, not on your first try, that’s for sure. You have enough pressure as it is. “Pretty good” is good enough for your first time. It’s not the end of the world if you are not number one on your first try.

    I’m not going to rate your game here, but you need to know there are much better games in here. There will always be. And the only way you are going to become one of the best (if that’s your motivation) is if you learn to see what you’ve made wrong, what others feel you have made wrong and what you could actually improve and just move on. Be a little more humble. Otherwise you will end up angry, discouraged and not making games at all.

    And as a final note: yes, the voting system is imperfect. I guess the bigger the community gets the more robust of a system you need, but that’s a discussion for another day.

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