The Future of Ludum Dare (Part 3) – The Beginning

Posted by (twitter: @mikekasprzak)
September 26th, 2014 2:32 pm

The long awaited conclusion, or rather, the beginning. (Part 1, Part 2)

The video sums up the plan. If you want to contribute, hit one of the links below.

BeAPatronBeAPaypal

BeASpacer

If you want to help by doing work, join the mailing list. I’ll let you know when we’re ready.

Honestly, I have no idea how realistic this is, but here we are anyway. You don’t see Patreons as high as $3000 (you rarely see $200), but you guys asked for it, so here we are giving it a try!

* * *

Lets talk specifics.

So in the next few days and weeks, here are a list of things I’ll be spending my time on.

  • Finishing the Patreon. I have to set up bank info.
  • October Challenge Keynote. :)
  • Improving the donation pages and plugin, so we can differentiate Hosting and Mike funds.
  • Adding a new sidebar widget that shows what we’ve collected every month. Basically, so you know where we are and how we’re doing.
  • The scary stuff: Server upgrades. We’re running some pretty old software, and it needs to be fixed ASAP. I want to get extra backups going as well. A number of things, server side, that I’ve been putting off waaaay too long.
  • Big overhaul of the rules. It’s been at least 4 years since we’ve given them a serious cleanup. Quill18 made a great stop-gap that we’ve been reposting, but it’s time to fix this. The rules are still one of the most confusing parts of LD.
  • Optimization. The website runs slow, even right now in the off season. I need to spend some time, digging through our page code, removing bottlenecks. If we’re going to keep growing, we’re going to need more juice. We’re already on a dedicated server. It should be singing.
  • Some website layout improvements. We have a lot to say (just look at all this clutter). Generally, I want to fix confusing things. Anything we have to repeat again and again, I want to take steps toward fixing that.
  • Fleshing out ‘the plan’. I want to share my thoughts with you on where I want to take us. The Mega Thread has been an incredible resource. I want you to know I’ve been listening.

There’s certainly more I need to touch. There’s a couple features I want to sneak in before December, but starting next week, it’s spring cleaning (autumn cleaning?).

I’ll try to keep you all informed about what I’m up to. If you want to hear my daily mumblings, you should follow me on Twitter. The big stuff though, you’ll hear about it on the main Ludum Dare twitter.

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.


37 Responses to “The Future of Ludum Dare (Part 3) – The Beginning”

  1. Sheepolution says:

    I became a Patreon :)

    3000 is quite a lot for a Patreon I think, I haven’t seen a lot of creators go higher than 2000, so I hope we’ll make it. Some sort of reward would be nice, although it would be hard to come up with something that would not benefit a person in the competition.

    “$25 award: Go up #50 ranks on all categories!”

    Maybe next to “default, least ratings,most rated” have a page with Patreons? I think any kind of award, not matter how small would make a big difference.

    Anyways, I hope we’ll make it!

  2. Joror says:

    Also Patreon’ed in! :)

    Some minor Patreon (or Paypal?) soft-rewards would be cool, like a username emblem, Trophy by Mike, or some unique supporter only merch. (once there is merch, which there will be, right? *hint* I suggest a Merch-LD compo for Art! :D)

  3. grid says:

    In the $10,000 patreon level, you mention making LD a proper non-profit. I think that would be a good use of your time, and opens you up to things like tax-free corporate donations. $3k from individuals requires… well, probably 3k individuals, but it might just be one or two corporate sponsors. Just sayin’.

    Good luck, and I really hope you succeed!

    • PoV says:

      Yep. Long term, I’m not convinced the Patreon/Paypal angle is sustainable, but I had an overwhelming number of requests for it, so I wanted to make sure we tried this first. All things considered, it’s going okay.

      I think eventually, if LD is to keep going for another 10+ years, a non-profit is the way to go. Unfortunately, there is a lot more overhead to running a non profit. I couldn’t do it alone. I don’t really want to make a business of LD, but I want it to keep going for as long as it can. I’d like to think there’s a sweet spot for it between Open Source and a Non Profit.

  4. udo says:

    I’m in for a modest patronage. It’s probably going to take some time until it catches on, but I imagine if you keep on advertising it, a sizable portion of LDers will join by the time the next compo starts.

    The goals aren’t that out of proportion for Patreon either. For example, Chris Pirillo (a tech podcaster) pulls in 6k a month from it.

  5. runvs says:

    Also Patreoned’ in.

    You are doing some really awesome work here, please keep that up!

    As mentioned, some more mech stuff, also for non-americans without shipping times of weeks to months, would be great!

    Let’s see how this works out, i wish you best of luck for that!

    • PoV says:

      Merch Merch Merch. :)

      Hmm. So, reasonably priced, and on two continents. :). I’d guesstimate ~50 some purchases every 4 months.

      I’m not sure how profitable it’d be for LD (not that it needs to be), but I definitely get it: You guys want Merch. Fun stuff, like a shirt commemorating your survival of an LD weekend. Or maybe an actual trophy (3D printing these days is pretty fancy). 😀

      • Spiridios says:

        I think merch is a good idea if for no other reason than to help build community spirit. The Office of Letters and Light, which runs National Novel Writing Month, survive largely on donations and merchandise. The merchandise tends to be stickers and t-shirts that say something like “Winner 2013” (for nanowrimo just completing is winning). Would be neat to have shirts available at the end of judging for those who completed that says something about that LD, like “Ludum Dare 30 – I connected worlds!”

      • goerp says:

        Merchandise.
        On the website you can already find Ludum Dare merchandise. It’s also made by the community, so I guess it’s made for free.
        Are you making money from that? And how can people contribute to that?

        As an semi-amateur cartoonist: I could see myself willing to contribute cartoons for merchandise, nice for promoting my work as well, but I can image you need some kind of quallity control. So don’t know if it’s worth the trouble.

        Is a cross-link possible? Some Ludum Dare winners become (semi) famous. Maybe winners can promote their game via Ludum Dare t-shirts. Ludum Dare gets the profits, winners can get the extra attention.

  6. OK I’m in too, supported you on Patreon. Not much, but I’m guessing every bit helps! I will definitely buy a t-shirt and a mug if merch becomes a thing

  7. Tim Bumpus says:

    I definitely volunteer to help clean up the rules! I enjoy doing that sort of thing. I suggest some kind of collaborative Google Doc somewhere.

    I haven’t been commenting on these too much, but I completely support you making a job out of this. It’s great of you to be willing to try it. :) I’d totally become a patron, if I weren’t a Teenager With No Source of Income.

  8. jmborden says:

    I hear notch has a lot of money he doesn’t know what to do with. :)

  9. uTired2 says:

    Am yet to actually participate in a Ludum Dare (maybe the next one), but I think the concept and what you’re doing to get young people into programming is fantastic. I really think you are underestimating how much/well the whole Patreon thing can go. I look forward to participating in the future and for the organisation to continue to grow and hope my small contribution will help.

    • PoV says:

      I appreciate the contribution. :)

      Funny thing, the Patreon is actually doing better than I thought it would. At the time of this writing, we’re at $303, 10% of the total. Including Paypal donations since last week, we’re actually half-way to the first month’s $3000. I’ve yet to offer any incentives, beyond committing myself to working on the website for the rest of the year.

      Anyway, this is about learning. It’s been a whole day, and we’re not sustainable yet, but it’s a nice start.

  10. dydx says:

    and a Ludum Dare laptop sticker!

  11. Just robbing this here for a $$$-idea:

    In practice LD is performing a service to sites that host indie-games by causing us devs to create tons of games. There are also a lot of ppl here on LD that host their stuff in places that make it a bit of a hazzle to play and rate their games (Mega and other share-sites, including dropbox to some extent). Such solutions also hides their creations from the world in an unneccesary way.
    I totally agree with the principle of no ads, but:
    What if game hosting sites could buy a sponsoring placement for when devs are submitting games to LD?
    A simple div suggesting to the dev that they may be interested in hosting their game on one of the following sites and then they site logos for those that sponsor the current LD…
    Just a thought.

    Great going with the patreon so far btw.
    I’d make it a quite high priority to have donations very visibly exposed for next LD.

    • PoV says:

      I suppose, but I’d still rather recommend the best site(s), instead of the one who pays the most. I dunno, something worth looking in to.

      One of the things I want to do as part of the big redesign is allow embedding on game pages. That means web games are playable right here on the LD website (via an iframe). I’m eventually going to have to work with Newgrounds, Kongregate, Itch, and GameJolt to set up some way for us to embed the games they host. I want these embeds to be ad free, but that probably means a little “hosted by Newgrounds” or similar label gets added in return. So even if someone was to pay, these little labels might make that buy less valuable.

      I definitely need to make donation stuff more visible. :). I’m hoping to have this and a little badge for all the contributors as part of the website next week.

  12. Would be nice, if I could donate via google wallet 😀 Nice to hear about progressing… Great work. I love It!

  13. little-burrito says:

    +1 would totally buy t-shirt and stickers!

  14. sfernald says:

    Mike I feel like you are sitting on a golden goose here with LD but you don’t know what to do with it. There’s a lot of ways you can make money with ludumdare and still keep your strong principles. I know you are against ads and sponsorships and that kind of thing but here’s an idea.

    Keep everything as is with the next contest, but add a LD Prime or LD Extreme contest that allows those willing and interested to enter the contest by submitting an entry fee (say $15) or something small like that. You contact every gaming development company and get them to offer up the prizes. Unity pro, game maker studio license, tools, extensions, music, graphics, assets, and whatever else has value to game developers and a sponsor might be willing to give to get attention.

    This is a fair and honest way of sponsoring. It’s something done all the time in the competitive world. Look at surf pros, skiers, etc. The sponsors want their tools in the best possible hands to showcase their products. If someone wins the contest, there’s no doubt they would want them to have their tools anyway because that person must be such a good game developer and of course game developers love getting their hands on all the tools they can get so it’s a win win.

    You keep all the entry fees as a donation to running Ludum Dare. You keep all the free contests and just add this one for those who want to play for real stakes. It’s something that might start small with a few entrants but will grow over time just like LD.

    Think about it! It would be fun!

    • Milo says:

      What principle does this idea serve, aside from “make money”? Your “LD Prime” suggestion is fundamentally different from LD. It is a real competition wherein the stakes are high, companies are vying for attention, and only already-confident people would participate. You can’t just say that, “Well, we’re keeping the old one, so it’s all alright” because the old one needs the attention that this site gets, and sticking in some new competition where there is a strong interest in promoting its results is inherently incompatible with the goals of the current LD.

      • sfernald says:

        Principally, it’s better to have the site earn money than have to beg which is what that patreon thing actually is. I don’t get when this became a religion and the idea of making money off of the site became taboo? Even Mike has the “make a dollar on your game” contest on LD once a year. So he’s not allowed to with LD? And I don’t understand any of your arguments. Adding a third contest to the two that currently exist doesn’t change things at all. It just offers another option; One that is for those a little more competitive and confident as you say. It’s the pro league so to speak. Some people would enjoy a much more competitive experience. Not everything competitive is evil; you can still love humanity and your community and be a fierce and tireless competitor. As much as some on here with a socialist agenda on here might poo-poo it, personal competition drives much of the contestants on LD. It’s just human nature.

  15. SteveSalmond says:

    Patreon’ed – hope you’re able to make this a full time gig dude! :)

  16. kaigani says:

    Hi Mike,

    I’m curious why you don’t launch a Kickstarter or IndieGogo campaign to fund the new website?

    • PoV says:

      We’ll see how things are after LD31 (results in late December). Main thing, there’s too much that needs to be done now. Running a Kickstarter is weeks of prep work, then a month of running the campaign itself, plus all those rewards (manufacturing, unexpected costs, fullfilment). 2-4 months of time I could be working on the website, which is what we really need (as I am doing right now). Not to mention, I’d have to raise more than the outrageous amount I’m asking ($3000 /mo).

      Long term, Ludum Dare needs to become sustainable. I don’t mind a few months of eating some costs, but it would be irresponsible of me to raise a big chunk of money, take too long to build the website, and run out of the money needed to run the event and have to ask for more. That’s one of the biggest things I’m afraid of when it comes to a Kickstarter/IndieGogo.

  17. kymmie231 says:

    Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.
    Friv 20

  18. flwns says:

    I wonder if notch would support ludum dare’s future endeavors.

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