Re-branding Ludum Dare. Lets talk Logo and Mascot

Posted by (twitter: @mikekasprzak)
March 11th, 2015 3:58 pm

Alright! It’s time we got this ball rolling.

As many of you know, my goal this year is to finally refresh, redo and build us a brand new Ludum Dare website. It’s a big deal. We’ve been going strong for 13 years now, but we’ve grown *A LOT* the past few. I’m in constant awe that many thousands of you tolerate the sub-par duct-tape and cardboard website we have today. I never expected LD to get this big, and to become so important to so many people. I feel I have a responsibility to take this little hobby of mine very seriously.

So part of bringing Ludum Dare up to date is cleaning up the branding. Last year I took the first step, switching our hashtag from #LD48 to #LDJAM. We are big on social media. It’s how I keep in touch with many of you. But we’re constantly bringing in new people, and in just 5 years we’ll finally reach our 48th main event. If we weren’t already 13 years old, that might seem far away. It’s one less question I need to answer.

I can’t even remember when I made the current Ludum Dare logo, but it’s been a very long time. What a shame it would be to have a brand new Ludum Dare, with the same old logo. Like getting a haircut before something new, it’s just something you do.

But rather than starting with a debate on typography and color, I want us to explore something that’s been in the back of my mind: A Ludum Dare Mascot.

We sort of have a logo. At some point, it was clear that many early LD’ers were Commodore 64 fans (myself included). The Commodore 64 never really had a standard joystick, but you could plug in *A LOT* of different things (including Atari 2600 joysticks or Sega Master System gamepads). Somewhere along the line, a bunch of us just mutually agreed that the Suncom TAC-2 was the iconic joystick we were going to use to represent Ludum Dare. It also kinda helps that nobody really knows who Suncom is anymore, and if they’re still around, they certainly don’t care about the TAC-2.

The Suncom TAC-2 (Totally Accurate Controller MK2)

The Suncom TAC-2 (Totally Accurate Controller MK2)

Funny thing, it’s actually a really terrible joystick for play (solder and balls instead of microswitches). But man, it captures that 80’s iconic retro gaming vibe just right. It was all about the style.

So hello, it’s 2015 now.

It’s probably 30 years since the TAC-2 was manufactured. I’m not saying we get rid of the TAC-2, but we should consider our options. Gaming has changed, and is always changing. You might even say we had an effect on that change (something small, but hey). Really, the only constant in gaming is change.

So if it’s fair game to change the Logo, what could we do?

Of course, there’s the mascot route.

Taccy the Tacky TAC-2... this is why I need your help

Taccy the Tacky TAC-2… this is why I need your help

.. Well, Taccy is probably not a good choice, but we need to start somewhere.

I want to think there is an ideal little character we can create to both represent and share with the community. Maybe there’s multiple mascots. Maybe there’s a root character that gets reinterpreted. Maybe there’s the general mascot, and maybe there’s a Ludu-tan/Dah-ray-chan or other personification.

I'll admit. I love what GitHub does with their branding

I’ll admit. I love what GitHub does with their branding

Ludum Dare means a lot of things to a lot of people. You all constantly blow me away with your creativity, so I feel this is something I need to defer to all of you to help find.

Help us design a Mascot and/or Logo for Ludum Dare!

This isn’t a contest per se. I’d rather think of this as a conversation. If someone has an idea, and if you have suggestions or alternative takes on the idea, I want to see the back and forth. I want us to work together on this.

Post your thoughts, sketches, and ideas in the comments. I will follow along as best I can.

EDIT: Oh! Image posting doesn’t work in WordPress. I’ve been manually editing posts and embedding the images. Leave me a link to an image file, and I’ll do that for you.

162 Responses to “Re-branding Ludum Dare. Lets talk Logo and Mascot”

  1. Dezzles says:

    Pretty sure we just need a potato as the mascot!

  2. 7Soul says:

    We need some kind of cat-goat-snowman hybrid

  3. Docjekyll says:

    I think that Octocat works well b/c it is memorable, easy to adapt/remix, and implies something about what Github is.

    With that in mind, here are some thoughts:
    – a muse (greco-roman garb and such) – I’m sure many participants could use a “muse of game design” for inspiration during the jams.
    – a “compy” ( – It’s a dinosaur but in a tiny, concentrated package. Similar to how game jam games should be big ideas with small scope.
    – an anthropomorphized game controller – Strong association with gaming, but how do you decide which type of controller to go with? I feel like trying to make this work may result in something that’s harder to adapt/remix, but I guess that depends on the design. Actually, maybe an anthropomorphic arcade cabinet could work well.
    – a chameleon – Since participants have to creatively adapt to the LD theme and constraints.
    – obligatory β˜ƒ (jkjk)

  4. 7Soul says:

    * It’s an egg
    * Symbolizes: something that could grow into anything, potential, beginning
    * Has googly eyes

    • PoV says:

      Wow. Not bad. πŸ˜‰

    • PoV says:

      Wow #2: Wow!

      I forgot that when I talk about where Ludum Dare fits in to game creation, I often say we’re there to “seed” or encourage an idea. Now that I’m thinking about it, I really love the idea of a little egg or seedling character. My mind is blown. πŸ˜€

      Haha, poor Taccy. πŸ˜‰

    • Dezzles says:

      I really like this one… (Obligatory needs more potato)

    • obskyr says:

      I really dig this one! The dark little character inside the egg really symbolizes the non-specific “thing” a person creates for Ludum Dare in a great way. Really nice.

      For the eventual site design I personally would probably like to see a vector art version of the logo / mascot, but this concept is very nice.

      • PoV says:

        Oh definitely. We’re brainstorming here, so use whatever medium you like. I plan to give whatever is decided the full treatment, however that has to happen (commissioning an artist, etc).

    • WetDesertRock says:

      Conceptually I love this as well, however I agree with obskyr with that it should end up as vector art. Vector art is wonderful for many reasons, one being how portable it is to resize, export and modify. I also like the smooth style that this site uses.

      Also, I think the egg should be more gaming related?

      • Piranesi says:

        The article kind of touches on the idea of being able to reinterpret the mascot, which I think would be a really great feature. Something like the way the GitHub mascot can wear different costumes in the picture above. In the context of the egg, that could maybe mean different things hatching out of it? I’m not sure whether or not that’s too much of a compromise against the original reason for choosing the egg.

        I also like the idea of a small robot character (maybe based on a joystick), that could represent modularity (similar to how the egg represents potential), with its reinterpretations coming from “installing” different limbs or mechanical parts depending on the context, but always being able to see the distinct traits of the original character under the modifications. The egg, in my opinion, would have difficulty in that role because it sort of inherently has few distinctive features, much as I admire its conceptual purity.

  5. I like the idea of a joystick mascot.

    This way, we can celebrate with a minild where the theme is to use the new LD mascot, and, as a constraint, you should use a joystick to control the game.

    Meta level over 9000!

    • coasterspaul says:

      Unfortunately, not everyone has joysticks laying around.

      I mean, I could connect my Nunchuk to my computer via arduino, but then no other joystick would work very well for it… and most other people probably wouldn’t want to have to do this to play my game.

  6. WetDesertRock says:

    A potato can be considered a seedling! I like the egg idea as well.

    In terms of the joystick, I have yet to see/think of something that is purely a joystick that I like, but if it was incorporated into the main picture somehow? Like tail of the cat looks distinctly like a joystick, alien with joystick for antenna, potato with a joystick sticking out of it. Something like that.

  7. hexagore says:

    Pixel art heart. Strongly and positively associated with gaming and it’s pretty much exactly how I feel about Ludum Dare.

  8. Ted Brown says:

    Because your hair is on fire if you’re doing it right. :)

    Bonus! Toasts to any color. MARSHIE IS A GLOBAL CITIZEN

    BTW Love the egg. Would totes support the egg mascot.

  9. Maxr00 says:

    Here is my quick attempt at a logo, because I am no good at mascots or character design stuff

  10. Tim Bumpus says:

    But aren’t mascots kinda… lame? I mean, Octocat isn’t terrible, but I thought the world got over mascot-branding after Clippy. Not even Ronald McDonald is gets as many commercials as he used to.

    If we had to have a mascot, I’d suggest a kitten, because duh.

    • jovoc says:

      I think as a form of corporate messaging, they’re not great. I love the octocat character but I think it’s kind of dumb for github to use it everywhere.

      However, I think for a community site like this, it’s a great idea. Rather than being a “spokesman for the brand”, the mascot will be something the community will adopt and remix. If we pick something good, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it popping up in lots of people’s entries, fan art, wallpapers, etc..

      • TheColorMan says:

        It’s kinda like how the Blender community has the monkey “suzanne” as their mascot, but they don’t really use it in their main website but their award show is named after it and subtle stuff like that.

  11. pythong says:

    @Mike you obviously started a discussion which will spark some kind of polarization, and in the end will come down to a voting
    Rather than creating definite mascots now, we could do an approach like the Olympics, switching mascots around until one sticks (like the kitten+1, the potato, the 1000 kittens, the goat, …)

    btw I’m against the egg :) I like the joystick

  12. aeveis says:

    Here’s some concepts going along with the seedling idea.

  13. jimmypaulin says:

    How about an anthropomorphised chess piece or similar? Bonus is these will immediately speak *outside* the community and will help us grown, plus they tend to be simple with easily distinguishable outlines…

  14. snooze82 says:

    sketched this for a game (which I never actually developed), but would also do as a mascot – a robot bunny :)

  15. TP-3 says:


    I saw the post on Twitter and decided to have a go at making a mascot and logo pair, let me know what you think:

  16. purplehuman says:

    Similar to egg idea, a cute baby. Because jam games are babies wait to grow up. The baby can be a gamer with some kind of controller in its hand. And a baby mascot is easy to customize like Octocat.

  17. purplehuman says:

    Sorry that should have been “Because jam games are babies waiting to grow up.”

  18. sanojian says:

    A little bean sprout dude. I am sure a real pixel artist could touch him up to make him look better but you get the idea.

  19. highlyinteractive says:

    In honour of the new hashtag, I thought this could work well for a logo:

    It would also be quite flexible as you could have different flavours for the mini-jams, the different categories, and so on…

    For example:

  20. Hamm says:

    So, what I can get from all of this is that we need a half seed- half potato mascot =P

  21. MSolomon says:

    Make it an anime boy mascot… internet people love anime ._.

  22. I don’t like idea to reference to old gaming devices. I don’t want to be nerd and oldfag in the eyes of public :o)
    My idea is to use ghost mascot to represent spirit of indie!

  23. Jajo says:

    err… I’m at a loss. Things looking nice is something that happens to other people, not me xD

  24. Sheepolution says:

    I like the idea of a mascot. A fun thing to do would be to make an artwork, with the character in a situation of the theme.

    So for example, if the theme is Escape, someone makes an official artwork where the main character escapes a prison or something.

    • PoV says:

      Yeah, this is another reason I’ve been thinking about it. I’ve had a lot of requests for Merch, so I’ve thought about exactly that. Have an artist do a themed shirt design, and we do a run of commemorative shirts. The hard part is the logistics. After all, we are international. Would probably need a print shop in both North America and the EU, just to keep shipping costs down.

  25. Jezzamon says:

    People keep mentioning the joke themes being in our mascot. While I liked them when they came around, recently our joke themes are super-short lived. Goats, potato, unicode snowman were all for a single Ludum Dare, and so it doesn’t make sense to tie them to a mascot that we want to keep for several years, spanning many Ludum Dares.

    If we did want to include something related to a joke theme, it should be some reference to “Kittens”, as that’s been around for a while and is more than a short-lived joke. That being said, the buzz around kittens has died down recently (being replaced by the other joke themes), so maybe not kittens either.

    Obviously we want something that will represent Ludum Dare for the next few years, not represent what was funny with Ludum Dare in 2014

  26. PoV says:

    I meant to post these yesterday, but I was too tired to finish them up. A few didn’t really work out as intended, but I want to share anyway.

    Things of note:

    – a DPad makes an interesting flower.
    – when a seed cracks open and sprouts roots, it becomes menacing. πŸ˜‰

    I like some of the simpler designs aeveis has been doing.

    I need to draw more. Going months without practice is uncool.

  27. highlyinteractive says:

    Just had a play with some character designs – I actually really like the anthropomorphic joystick idea.

    Turn the tac on it’s side & you get something which can be quite expressive:

    Kind of a cross between Maggie Simpson and an angry bird, but I think there’s something to it!

  28. localcoder says:

    I liked the character in Appy 1000mg by deepnight

    And while I’m looking at old LD games

  29. Baal says:

    I quickly sketched this over some of the ideas already presented.

  30. gmfk07 says:

    Clearly, the mascot needs to be a Pepsi Consultant.

  31. RedInkGames says:

    Made an animated mascot of a Screaming Fuzzy Octopus:
    What do you think?

  32. Jezzamon says:

    I really like Aeveis’s G suggestion, as I like the idea of cubes/squares as perfect placeholder art. It could appear like this:

      • Jezzamon says:

        Ok, I thought about this more (I didn’t sit down to try and think of it, but it just kinda… happened. I guess I’m excited about the idea of a mascot!) and so I’ll write down why I like this design and the particular elements I like (perhaps these elements could be incorporated into other mascot designs)

        The cube:
        I like the cube because it is very gamey in itself (spell check says gamey isn’t a work but I beg to differ). It’s reminiscent of a pixel. The isometric perspective is pretty gamey itself, reminding me of grid-based RPGs. It’s also the 3D equivalent of a tile, and tiled graphics are frequently used in Ludum Dare games.

        It also represents the work-in-progress-ness of Ludum Dare. Although the aim is to make a finished project, for most of the competition the games aren’t done, and people spend most of their time focused on this rough placeholder-y game. Often due to time constraints, that comes through in the final product, but there can be a certain charm to that. The cube is very plain and minimal, it’s pretty much the most generic 3D shape. It’s the default blender file, it’s one of the default prefabs in Unity, and is often the easiest thing to prototype with. Not only in 3D space, but heaps of developers use boxes and squares to act as placeholders for their 2D graphics (I do!)

        The sprout:
        The sprout brings to mind several things I associate with Ludum Dare. The idea of growth, creation, something appearing out of nothing all fit my Ludum Dare experience. Being a seedling it also gives off the vibe of different possibilities, which makes me think of how so much of the experience of a game is determined by the player. In many ways, game makers create the framework for a player’s input, and it’s the player’s input that really controls the experience of the game.

        The sprout growing out of the cube:
        (this is one of my favourite things about the design!)
        I really like the idea of all the possibilities of a game coming from the work-in-progress placeholdery object! The cube/sprout represents half-finished Ludum Dare game, where everything is rough around the edges, but from that roughness there’s a glint of life, a spark of something special.
        Not only that, but it fits many finished Ludum Dare games that end up being a way of demonstrating a cool idea or a game concept or story that could be fleshed out into a longer game (not that jam games aren’t proper games). One of the most common replies I see on games is “I’d love to see a longer version of this!”. The assets are often rushed, there might be glitches, there are often typos but from this simplistic design we see the sprout of a new and original game, that could grow into something amazing.

        I’m not a very good writer so that probably reads badly, but hopefully that kinda explains the ideas I get from this design. Whatever we go with, I hope some of those ideas can be incorporated into it!

  33. AlgorithmEnigma says:

    I made a 3d rendered mascot, taking some of the seedling ideas.

  34. eigenbom says:

    I created SEEDCAT. Here he is in a few forms. I think he’s pretty cute and can be easily reformed into different outfits and disguises.

    PS. I’m also running a #LDMASCOT day today over on @Pixel_Dailies on twitter. Link:

  35. Lynx says:

    Hey Guys!
    I know you said no typography, colors, or logos yet….but I’m a professional Graphic Designer and I could help myself.

    Here’s my take on the mascot. There’s an egg guy and my favorite, the like seedling with a gamepad for a leaf sprout!

    And here some really rough concepts of how he could play in as a logo for Ludum Dare as well.

    And finally I just had some fun a concerted a simple example of how this style of branding cold be implemented on say…. a wallpaper perhaps.

    Comments and critics (even negative ones) are encouraged!
    So excited to see what the community comes up with!

    • Sheepolution says:

      My favorite designs so far! Cute and simple. The only problem have with this, and most ‘seed’ designs, is it’s limitations of what you can do with him. I feel like he can’t really hold anything or express any emotions.

      Though it is only a problem depending what Ludum Dare wants to do with it.

    • Elrobo says:

      This is adorable. The seedling is killer with that genesis gamepad looking leaf. I thought that the literal jam logo would be my favorite, but this guy is just great. I love the egg less, but the seedling is great along with that typography. The potato color scheme seals it.

  36. Pandanymous says:

    That’s a funny coincidence,
    I am , not a professional Graphic Designer but i’m studying in order to become one.
    And as end-of-year project, we have to re-brand an organization.
    The choice was free, so I was working on the LD, Logo Website and maybe ad campaigns for the differents Jams.

    I don’t know what to do with this information, because I was supposed to work on a non professional project.
    But I would be glad to post my finished version of my work here, even if the logo has been changed before.

    You see, the problem is that it’s a long term project, and I’ll work on it until the end of the year, and for now we have not started the creative research, but only globals researchs about the subject (Target,History,etc.)

    So we’ll see…

  37. jovoc says:

    Here’s the logo I did for the last time we did a logo contest. It’s probably a bit too abstract for us to really use but I think it’s pretty neat and flexible, and represents a lot about the contest to me. Maybe it will spark some ideas.

    Also, I have to say I’m a little wary of all the pixel art. I love pixel art, but it doesn’t work in all contexts. On the other hand, if we had a more general logo, we would certainly have pixel-art versions of it, so people could use whatever is most appropriate.

    I’m loving all these mascots! Let’s see some pelicans for old time’s sake!

    • PoV says:

      Yeah, I didn’t do a very good job explaining this, but my plan was once we hone in on a design, is to give the character the full treatment. Model Sheets, style guide, etc. Anything that makes sense.

      For versatility, the chosen design will have to work in 2D, Pixel, and 3D (redrawn/recreated of course). And more than likely it will influence other choices of the new Ludum Dare brand, such as color.

      Right now, we’re searching for ideas. Use whatever medium you do best. Pixel, pencils and paint.

      • jovoc says:

        Should probably just focus on the mascot then, and not worry about the logo for now. Once a mascot is chosen, then you can open a call for logos (which will probably incorporate the mascot).

  38. TP-3 says:

    Here’s my logo and subtle mascot combo:

  39. mr_Hk_ says:

    Hey guys, here is some quick research.
    Did not had time to finish my research, but i guess it may add a stone on the wall.

  40. mr_Hk_ says:


  41. ponk says:

    aeveis’s drawings are fantastics !
    7Soul’s egg is really cool !
    and I love you all, for giving your time for this, so here is mine :

  42. JNZ13 says:

    Based on the great stuff people already did, I made a mascot, logo, and web design all in one:

    I like the idea of maintaining the sketchiness of the concept (to a certain extent) on the final design. I think it gives the whole thing a very light-hearted and safe ground spirit that suits a jam very well. Like, “Make mistakes! Have a blast! Grow as a creator!”…

  43. Alex Rose says:

    Deepnight should be the mascot.

  44. Positive says:

    After the mascot is decided there should be a MiniLD where the mascot is the main character… That would be plain good (Plus would avoid users using it in the next LDJAM which would not be a good thing)

  45. Flattened Tesseract Games says:

    Why not have more of these and display a random one every time you load the page?

  46. Tuism says:

    Late to this party, just saw it now! I love LD and support it with all my heart πŸ˜€

    I knocked out a few concepts, trying different things in a different space:

    I’m guessing it won’t embed right now :/

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