The Future of Ludum Dare (Part 2) – Concerns

Posted by (twitter: @mikekasprzak)
September 17th, 2014 8:30 pm

OMG! Thank you everyone! In this video I address concerns (Watch Part 1 here).

The whole idea of working-your-butt-off for no prize is bizarre, yet here we are, thousands of developers strong.

I have to tell myself that what I’m doing is OK. The money I’m asking for is about giving me the time to give Ludum Dare the attention it needs right now. Long term though, I don’t want us in an endless loop, like those PBS telethons I’d watch every year when I was a kid.

To everyone asking me to shut up and take their money, that’s coming. If you can’t wait, the donations page works (if you’re logged in), but much of what’s written on that page is out of date. I haven’t had the chance to update it yet.

In probably my next video, I’ll have more to say on this. After that, I want to talk about my thoughts on the short and long term goals. Obviously, I want to fix some things for December’s LD, but some of the things will require a much bigger effort.

Thanks again everyone for your support. Leave a comment, send me a tweet, or fire an e-mail.

* * *

Also, share your thoughts on LD, the event, and the community in the Mega Thread.


51 Responses to “The Future of Ludum Dare (Part 2) – Concerns”

  1. That was pretty much as perfect as a response could be, great job and keep up the awesome work, can’t wait to participate for Ludum Dare again in December :D.

  2. Johanny says:

    This story is most entertaining than most of HBO series…

  3. Jedi says:

    Since I didn’t comment on your last video, thanks for keeping Ludum Dare afloat, PoV! Even charities need full-time employees, and those people need to get paid in order to pay their rent! There is nothing wrong with Ludum Dare following suit. I really appreciate how transparent you’re being about the whole process, too.

    Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: ads. I hate them. I think they’re insidious and rob surfers of productivity and braincells, and don’t pay webmasters nearly enough for the privilege. A lot of them just didn’t pay at all. I realize, however, that I’m in the minority (it would seem) and if you choose to use them, I personally will just block them anyway.

    However, I really hope that before you resort to ads you give this huge community that you’ve helped to build a chance for us to show just how much we love Ludum Dare! See how many of us will support you via Patreon and/or how many years of operation you can fund with a crowdfunding campaign. And let us help! Loads of us would be happy to volunteer our time as well as money for a fundraising effort. It doesn’t have to be something you dread every year, it could be something fun that people sign up to organize, like the miniLD’s.

    • PoV says:

      Okay, since I probably won’t cover it in a video, let talk ads: I don’t like ads. :)

      We are a popular website, but were not the same kind of popular as Newgrounds or Kongregate. Not to mention, we are popular seasonally, not constantly. Our demographic is very technical, skilled, and passionate. So assuming an ad would get past Adblock, an ad for hand cream would be completely wasted on us, but I will admit I do love the Old Spice ads. πŸ˜‰

      In the ad world, it’s all about CPMs and other wacky acronyms. I don’t see us as a very effective target for the typical ad world (that said, Google’s Adsense department has been in touch, but I don’t think that’s for us).

      We do have a highly specific demographic though: Game Developers, Creatives. And the companies that sell products to these demographics are few, enough that we deal with them directly.

      I have not ruled out sponsorships or highly specific ads for things *WE* would actually care about. Such as an ad for Unity, a promo they want to do. We’ve already given them free promotion, and I worked with them to sell >50 licenses to members of our community (at a discounted rate). No commission, just me being me. I don’t know if they remember we did this, they are pretty big after all. I would think they’d be open to something though.

      Of course, like we did last time (after our hosting prices skyrocketed), I will be starting with the community. We’ll see where things lead us, and if we need more, I will most certainly prioritize the LEAST ANNOYING options first.

  4. jthistle says:

    Just a question,

    How exactly are you planning to make money out of it? You’ve ruled out ads and a pay wall for participation, so how else can you make money?

  5. frnknstn says:

    How to pay? A good starting point may be to separate the brand “Mike Kasprzak” from the brand “Ludum Dare”. Keep the donation box for LD server costs, but set up a personal Patreon account for yourself, with links on the front page and donate page.

  6. Reassuring to hear that there won’t be any entrance fees or prizes. I’m also pretty pleased you’re not looking into adverting as the main solution either.
    Sponsorship could work, but I would hope that wouldn’t come with any prizes or anything from people like Unity. I worry that could lead to people preparing games beforehand, aiming for the sponsor prizes. I mean I’m not against people using LD as a way to promote their game – I love the idea someone can come up with a good idea here and take it all the way to the from page of Steam, that’s definitely a pipe dream of mine, just don’t want to see it used cynically to be a marketing tool for existing projects really.

    Really looking forward to the next video and some further details.

    Also I meant to say; if you do end up with a Kickstarter and you need rewards, I have a badge press so could donate a few hundred LD button badges to the cause (whatever design you want). I’m sure you will end up doing things on a much bigger scale than that, but the offer’s there anyway.

    • PoV says:

      Prizes for Winners

      I made a video dedicated to reassuring people of the 3 things I’m not going to change. What more do I have to do to assure people they’re not going to change? πŸ˜‰

      • Sure I get that, I guess it was just a point about sponsors having their own agendas once they’re involved. I’m sure you’ve got it all locked down anyway, it’s clear you’ve got our best interests at the top of your list

        • PoV says:

          You’re right, and even still, prizes aren’t always brought up for malicious reasons. Sometimes people do things because they can. :)

          I’m thinking I may have to do a poll soon. As mentioned, prizes are something I don’t want to do. But I wonder if we can compromise by instead by doing a raffle? Not that we are doing any, but if everybody feels raffles are okay, that gives me something to counter-offer any potential sponsors while still maintaining our integrity. Over the years we’ve said no to a lot of free things people would have loved. πŸ˜€

  7. Hi there. Is there a way for making a donation for ld not using paypal? I really want to help keeping ld alive but I cannot use paypal because of moral scruples… maybe there is another way to help?

    • PoV says:

      If you don’t mind me asking, what did Paypal do? About the only thing I’m aware of is them having some annoying reasons for temporarily locking an account.

      What alternatives work for you? Personal Cheque? Google Payments? Bitcoin? Dogecoin?

      • Hi πŸ˜€ They dissallowed me purchasing rum in Cuba and donating WikiLeaks :) Think that a financial service contractor should not care about political interests… cause there is nothing illegal or morally reprehensible in buying rum or donating in a organisation working for a free flow of information… so if they care of the law and moral direction of the united states, they could use there information about your money transfers for giving them to NSA or something like that …

        I would like to choose Google Payment (wallet if it’s the same thing and if its working in germany)… otherwise a personal cheque…

  8. udo says:

    I like the idea of sponsorship memberships, it works for other sites, why not LD? As long as it’s voluntary, of course.

    The problem with Kickstarter and other initiatives like that is you get money only once. And when that runs out, you have to do it all over again, and find a justification for it to boot.

    So if we had paid memberships instead, you’d get paid regularly. For example, if it’s $5/month, and you could convince 1000 people to sign up, that would be a healthy 60k per year ongoing!

  9. sol_hsa says:

    Merch ideas:
    – The typical t-shirt stuff. Per-event posters.

    – Official, diplomas that you can ONLY buy after results if you’ve taken part
    -> In digital (generated) or printed, signed and mailed versions (which would be much more expensive of course).

    – Book deals

    Halfway evil idea: auction mini-lds? =)

  10. H-Bomb says:

    Did not think my little Twitter troll will go that far :3
    Anyway, I’m looking forward to know where this is going but I’m not afraid at all. I’m sure you (and we all) are going to make Ludum Dare (yep, DAH-REY) an even better thing than it is right now.
    I’m 100% behind you and hopefully I’ll have some time to get in the next session \o\

  11. iisjreg says:

    I just want to put my vote in for sponsored categories. If done right (and the LD team does things right!), sponsored categories can be classy and supportive to both sponsors and competitors.

    I’m hoping for the best, either way. :)

  12. I volunteer my time. To not only run this, but to rebuild the entire website. I am a 32 year old web programmer who has been running websites much larger than this for over a decade. I could make this website what it should have been a while ago, and do so in a way that allows EVERYONE in the community to get their voices heard.

    I am not asking for any compensation. And while this flies in the face of everything I know about business, I love the LD and would absolutely hate to see it go this route.

    I have the time, I have well more than the skills required to do the job, and I don’t need to be paid. I’ll forfeit any participation in future LD’s. I created this demo site in a single night based off of the enourmous amount of suggestions offered by the community. It’s far from being anything near complete, but it’s a start, and I haven’t seen much insofar as progress on a new site from where I sit.

    I’m just saying, if you can’t do this, I can. I have a full-time job, job security, and the free time if I give up my personal gamedev time, which I am more than willing to do for LD. It’s not a permanent solution, but it’s a free one. One in which nothing has to change.

    In the interest of transparency, here’s what my plans would be:
    1. Cut hosting costs. Considerably. $2900 a year is ridiculous for what this site requires
    2. Immediately setup a proper forum so that there is a place for these things to be discussed.
    3. Give every member of this community their own profile page. Not just to appease the masses, but if you give someone their own piece of the LD website, they will be more apt to be open and honest in their opinions of it. We all need a sandbox to stand on right now, and Mike is the only one with one.
    4. Start from scratch. I do not know how you handle your data, but it’s not being done efficiently. This site needs to a web application, not a website. And no, I do not mean an “app”. WordPress needs to go, LD needs the freedom to grow in it’s own direction, not one that WordPress limits us to.

    I reiterate, I am expecting none of the current capital that LD currently holds. NONE. This is absolutely me volunteering to put my professional game development studio and work on hold to keep the heart of this competition in the right place. If nobody agrees with that, then I refer everyone to the discussion that my comments (on the final page of the Part 1 post) started, and how none of these points have been addressed.

    One night’s work:

    I am in no way, shape, or form suggesting that this is the website that the community wants. It is only MY interpretation of what I saw as the consensus. If I did this, there would immediately be a forum so that everyone could be heard properly, and with proper notifications when their posts spark a real discussion. It’s 2014, it’s way past time to give LD the treatment of a modern day site.

    • Gabriel says:

      Hey there! That would be a HUGE contribution!

      1. I do agree the site needs an extreme makeover. It’s not to change its spirit; it’s actually to allow LD to retain its spirit even with the huge change in its environment (a bazzilion users and all that). At least the basic stuff to make it work better as a community is really essential (profiles, thread following and email notification when someone answers a comment or post at least). Also a more planned / organized UI wouldn’t hurt!

      -I also volunteered my time to help plan how a new site should be. I worked as a project manager for exactly his kind of thing for 8 years, and while it’s not particularly fun to do, it makes a lot of difference in the development and it’s something I know how to do – collect, organize, filter and prioritize requirements in a systematic way and then keep a organized backlog, plan and manage sprints, produce use flowcharts and interface mockups, validate proposals with veterans / power users, etc. Again it’s not something I particularly like to do (I quit that carrer to make games, god damn it!), but I built a career doing exactly that and I love LD, so why not! I also don’t expect any type of compensation or promotion. I told all that in a personal email to PoV, but here it is again as a public commitment. Ludum Dare gave me so much already, I’d love to give some love back in a way that reinforces all the reasons why I fell in love with this community in the first place!

      -However, I now feel that we both may be ahead of ourselves. Looking back at the whole thing, I think that overhauling the site and making it economically sustanainable are actually two very different matters. PoV is clearly focusing on the latter now. And I think it’s fine – when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. Maybe he just wants to get some minimal cash flow to give him confidence to go full time on LD and then have the needed time / mental bandwidth to organize a deeper (and riskier) complete site overhaul.

      -Also, not diretly related, but I wanna be 100% clear: I really do not agree with your attitude on your first post on the ‘part 1’ thread. PoV could have pulled the plug on this thing a long time ago but he always chose to keep it running- he doesn’t make money from it (so far) and it was literally voluntary work, and even if the DID make money before, I wouldn’t care. Hell, I’d even feel good about it! Pretty much thanks to his work, thousands of developers have benefited from the coolest game jam and gamedev community around. I don’t think accusing, doubting and generally being aggressive to the man who has made this all possible is fair nor productive. We gotta build bridges here and work together! Ultimately, it is HIS thing, we are in HIS house and for all accounts we have been extremely well received. The only way to go about it is together, building consensus, and under PoV’s leadership.

      -BUT I do like your attitude on THIS thread! :) And again I publicly volunteer my own time and expertise to help organize a community (and veteran) endorsed site overhaul.

      • If the consensus is that this is Mike’s house but we are expected to make very important and uninformed decisions on his behalf, then I dare say I stumbled upon the wrong community.

        As a project manager, if you seriously consider who will ultimately pay Mike’s salary, then you should definitely be able to understand that it will be us, the community who visits on a regular basis. Not the visitors who visit only to play a game or two when it’s over, not the people who find the LD because of a tweet and quickly lose interest, but those of us who use this site on a regular basis: otherwise the site will not be able to sustain itself.

        Regardless of how that is paid, it is paid, and it ultimately affects what I see as the absolute last place to get uncorrupted feedback from an awesome community. There is absolutely no money exchanged except in the sense of “here, I trust you with this.”, which is what a lot of the community has done.

        Mike really has given a lot. But so has the community, in the form of $$$. Those $$$ were earned by someone by working (at least in a lot of cases). Did they work any less hard than Mike has? There is over $10,000 of this communities hard earned cash sitting in a stock pile that seems to only be used for (overpriced) hosting. How many hours of LD’ers time at work is that? How much has already been given to pay $2900 a year for hosting an event that happens less than a handful of times a year?

        My anger is not WITH Mike. My anger is with the fact that nobody seemed to be looking out for the community, and those donations. Everyone seemed to be looking out for Mike, and while this may be Mike’s house, he invited us in and asked for our opinions. Regardless of whether anyone likes my “attitude”, I can assure you that it is only in the interest of the LD itself. I’ve only done two LD’s, so losing the LD to bad business wouldn’t be nearly as much skin off my back as a veterans, but I’m still here, doing everything I can to, at the very least, find an alternative to monetizing this site. And if Mike gets paid a salary, that is exactly what will happen, there is no way around it.

        • PoV says:

          I’ll admit I haven’t read the concerns, but that $10k is from before, collected over several years, neglects PayPal fees and taxes paid, the majority comes from one donor, and is enough for 3 years of hosting at the current levels. Aside from $800 folks sent anyway, we haven’t started collecting anything.

          • Just saying, the fact that it neglects fees and taxes just goes to show that the capital in reserve does not accurately reflect the work that was required by donors to earn it. They paid taxes on it before you did.

            If I were the “major donor” then would my concerns get read?

            Your lack of response to any of my points (and at least a few members of the community have made it clear they share the same perspective) is insulting enough, but nothing compared to this:
            “To everyone asking me to shut up and take their money, that’s coming.”

          • For the record, that question was rhetorical. I will not be back for a response.

            • PoV says:

              Fair enough. Obviously you don’t care for what I’d like to do with LD, so that’s that.

              • That’s a pretty unfair accusation considering nobody here knows exactly what it is you want to do. I just don’t think you should answer that particular question AFTER asking if you should get paid full-time to do it, especially with so much unused capital. You neither laid out ways that this could be accomplished without affecting the heart of the site itself nor showed any interest in investing the funds that are already in your possession.

                So you’re not utilizing the capital in hand, asking to get paid personally, and wanting an answer before offering legitimate scenarios in which this could be accomplished?

                And yes, I came back to answer… I didn’t wait this long for a response from you just to let you make false accusations and walk away.

              • PoV says:

                Sorry. Yes, that was unfair of me. I’m finished playing ball here.

                Like I said, I have 2 more videos covering what’s going on coming up. I’m sorry but money will be next, then the plan. And I’m sorry I can’t finish them faster. All of this is too big and too important to do all at once. Again, TL;DR. It’s part for pacing, comprehension, and because I can only make videos so fast.

              • Your time constraints seem pretty self-inflicted from where I sit. I don’t remember anyone asking you to post your first uninformative video when you did.

              • Gabriel says:

                Holy cow, this IS turning into the most useless sub-conversation ever. My participation on this particular thread is over, so just to reiterate my position:

                I’m all about volunteering time, but that doesn’t mean that I’m against monetizing it too. I think it’s fair and productive for the event and community and culture that there is someone entirely committed to it. There are so many ways of expanding LD in ways that are true to its roots and purpose. When I volunteer my time, I’m just offering an extra venue to help make things happen. I have no clue about where these bizarre accusations about PoV doing anything imoral with the donations are coming from and I obviously don’t support them. Furthermore, the ONLY WAY to help here is by building bridges, not burning them. Offering help and then throwing offensive accusations towards the main organizer of the event is the same as not offering help at all, as nobody would ever accept help under this kind of flame. Which honestly makes this a fake offer for help.

                I’m with the LD organization for whatever comes up. Let me know how I can help with work, time, expertise or money. LD is important to me and I wanna help make it better.

  13. Will Edwards says:

    What about all the others who sink time into LD?

    Its a dream job, to be in charge of this kind of site and be paid for it, and hope all admins the best of luck! I just really really worry that actually it’ll turn LD into the kind of place I don’t want to hang out.

    Ads and, to a lesser degree, even sponsorship seem really really off-putting. Prizes and, to a leeser degree, raffles seem really really revolting. We don’t want these kind of crass commercialism!

    The direction I could see LD growing is towards Indie niche game promotion. Somewhere between RPS for players and tigsource for devs?

    And real-world jams and playing sessions, rather like minecon, perhaps.

    But absolutely no ads please!

    • I’d pay good money to see what you could do with an LD API. You have an incredibly unique perspective when it comes to interpreting data, and your ability to turn it into something both informative and aesthetically pleasing is a rare talent indeed.

  14. voidqk says:

    I would be willing to pay $50 for yearly “premium” membership.

  15. cdoty says:

    I’m all about ‘pay to win’!

    Seriously though, why not offer some ‘special’ superficial items with each jam? Charge people a little money to add these items to their collection.

  16. Christina Nordlander says:

    I feel a bit bad for saying this when I have no money or service to offer.

    But thank you for running such an excellent service.

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