Ignore the theme…

Posted by (twitter: @_Gaeel_)
December 3rd, 2014 9:47 am

Okay, here I am to tell you to IGNORE THE THEME!
I don’t like themes, I have yet to find a theme that has sparked my creativity in any meaningful way. More info on this over here: “This jammer doesn’t like themes”

You don’t have to ignore the theme, but if you don’t like it, then I ask you to completely ignore it

Many of the great games in Ludum Dare history only had a vague connection to the theme, and to be fair, in many cases they might even have been better if the theme had been ignored completely.


If you do ignore the theme, then I ask that you subscribe to some other set of constraints, and mark them clearly on your submission.

Here are some suggestions for alternate constraints:

  • Speccy Jam (use ZX Spectrum attribute clash effect)
  • Make a one-button game
  • Random input assignments
  • You’re not allowed to fix non-crash bugs, you must work around them
  • Traditionally combat-oriented genre, but remove the combat
  • Persistent universe, online game
  • Sound-only game
  • Text-only game
  • Generate levels from player-supplied image files
  •  Suggest more in the comments below…

6 Responses to “Ignore the theme…”

  1. angela says:

    In the past I’ve reviewed some games that were really well thought out and put together but had nothing to do with the theme. my first thought: They probably submitted a game they’ve been working on for months.

    We’re all just here for the fun and challenge, but its kind of disheartening when you compare you skills to someone who didn’t follow the rules.

    just my opinion

    • Gaeel says:

      The “working on a thing for months” claim is rather irrelevant, since we’re doing this for the fun of it, and there’s no prize. So “cheating” doesn’t really help in any way. Besides, I feel the voting system is there more to encourage playing other people’s games and providing feedback rather than sorting to good from the bad.

      Does giving your game a “theme paintjob” really increase the challenge?
      Does not doing the “theme paintjob” really give an unfair advantage?

      Is it really about comparing skills, or about exploring the possibility space of 48 hour game development?

  2. JSandusky says:

    Not following the theme is really against the spirit of the whole thing. The theme is as much challenge as making something.

    • Gaeel says:

      I don’t find themes challenging, I find them limiting. In most cases when the theme drops, I can pretty accurately predict the look&feel of 90% of the games, and while I sometimes try to be a little unique by breaking away from this, I don’t feel that the challenging, innovative part of the experience is the theme.

      Is the spirit really the theme, or is it participating in a massive online game jam and playing the thousands of games that were produced?

  3. You should not submit your game to ludum dare, if you choose to ignore the ludum dare theme.

  4. somebear says:

    I agree with Jan Peter, why do you want to participate in Ludum Dare if you don’t want to follow one of the basic rules? Find another game jam to enter.

    The whole idea of the theme is that limitation inspires creativity. We are a few people from work participating in the compo, and for the final round I made a snark about the “entire game on one screen” theme because it’s the one I felt the least happy about. Basically, I said I was going to make a JS game just a little bigger than the browser window, and you needed some information in each corner to succeed, so you would have to scroll around while you were playing to play it, just to piss people off. I’ve gone on from that idea, but it was the original spark that ignited my creativity.

    Sometimes even the most frustrating can be interesting, so live with the frustrating and use it to grow.

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