Ludum Dare 32 Theme Voting Begins!

Posted by (twitter: @_sorceress)
April 11th, 2015 12:21 pm

Theme Voting has begun! Tune in every day this week for a new round of themes. *

[ ROUND 1 | ROUND 2 | ROUND 3 ]


* Links above in Bold are still open. If you haven’t cast a vote yet, click the link to do it. End times for each round vary, and many cross over.

* If you get an error message about needing to log in to vote, and you are already logged in, then try refreshing your browser (CTRL+F5 in Firefox/IE), or in Chrome F12 then Right Click on Refresh and select “Empty Cache and Hard Reload”).

Special thanks to PoV and Ratking for helping me with the theme list.

181 Responses to “Ludum Dare 32 Theme Voting Begins!”

  1. Budaniel says:

    I dunno, after “entire game on one screen,” I couldn’t vote down “one room” hard enough. I didn’t dislike the last theme but I want something different. There are probably interesting ways to tackle “one room” I suppose.

  2. MightyToast says:

    After weeding through those thousands of themes, it’s refreshing to see some really good ones! I particularly liked Companion and In The Clouds.

  3. Robber says:

    wooo..nice themes

  4. Definitely liking ‘Deeper and deeper.’

  5. bitfrost says:

    I like how many optimists are commenting so far, I voted down most of them because I felt they would be too restrictive, and that we would have 100+ submissions of pretty much the same thing. For example, ‘Stranded,’ ‘The Island,’ and ‘Time Control”

  6. Larzan says:

    Really, you think those are good? I couldn’t help but down vote all but four which i thought were ok (0).
    I like to see real themes and not just game mechanic suggestions as most of this ones are…

  7. rd127p77 says:

    I like most of these

  8. Krunoslav says:

    I liked:
    Genetics: No many games about that but it is a very interesting theme and it is very flexible, bref, the perfect theme.
    Self-destruction: Even limiting to “humanity self destruction”, there are many different games that can be created.

  9. Atemu says:

    The themes are great !

  10. Tim Bumpus says:

    *ahem* COMPANION

    Vote for Companion. It’s both inspiring and open to interpretation. Everyone has companions, everyone can tell a different story about them. It’s interesting.

  11. Miziziziz says:

    Really like the themes this time around; really interesting and none of them specify mechanics

  12. sathorn says:

    +1 for Companion

    It’s a great theme and it also immediately gives you ideas for mechanics without being too specific.

  13. Doctor Disfigure says:

    My votes:

    +1 Companion, Creatures of the Night, In The Clouds, One Room.

    -1 Everything else.

    I hit -1 on some themes I think are decent because I REALLY like the ones I voted for. They offer enough ambiguity to allow for a huge variety of submissions. I think their possible interpretations can lead to some really interesting gameplay mechanics. Admittedly, One Room may not be on the same level as the others, but I gave it a +1 because I had a really fun idea pop into mind.

    Honestly, any of these themes should make for a sweet jam, as long as it’s not “Time Control” *groan* or something we’ve already seen in recent LDs (Hidden World is very similar to Connected Worlds, Deeper and Deeper is very similar to Beneath the Surface).

    I spent a fair amount of time slaughtering themes and I’m just glad there’s no “zombie cats in hats on reddit LOL” as an option.

  14. HunterAugust says:

    I’m very much rooting for Companion. I’d love to see what comes out of that one!

  15. Jordan says:

    Really liking Companion. It barely restrictive compared to most of the others,
    and I feel it would be really fun to base a small story line from. I had to -1 a lot of the others
    for similar reasons as other comments (close to old themes, or restrictive enough to cause a lot of the same game being made).

  16. PhiPhi72 says:

    Whoever not slaughtered “One room” wants to work on his/her last LD idea on this jam too?
    I mean one screen, one room, also it’s even stricter than the screen…
    Favourite so far: “Nobody Likes A Hero”
    +1: Nobody likes a hero, Genetics, Hidden world, Two enters one leaves
    0: Companion, Infinity, It’s safer outside, Protection
    -1: all the others…

  17. Jani Nykänen says:

    I gave +1 to Companion, Hidden world, Infinity, Second chance, Self-destruct and Time control, the rest of themes got -1. Really, so many lousy themes, let’s hope other rounds will have better themes! I want a theme that forces people do something creative, something innovative!

  18. gillenew says:

    +1 the island!! I don’t know why, but this theme really made me want to do something

  19. NickZangus says:

    I like “Genetics”… I always wanted to do something with genetic algorithms, and this theme would fit perfectly!

  20. Jwatt says:

    Infinity +1


  21. Everyone needs to vote for Genetics so that when I leave my computer for a full hour on Saturday to watch the new Orphan Black, I can say I was “doing research.”

  22. evilentity says:

    Really fun themes this time, hard to choose!

  23. bunnyhero says:

    i had voted companion at 0 but there were enough comments here to convince me to change it to +1. for now, anyway. i’m super fickle with themes. i’ll love some one moment, and hate them the next 😛

  24. Sublustris says:

    +1 for Protection and Companion. Games about characters relations are the best, i think.

  25. Jwatt says:

    I can see how Passage Of Time might get dismissed because “lololoo grass growing simulators”, but it’s seriously a great theme. It’s about using time as a resource, plain and simple. The reason it’s an inspiring theme is because it offers potential to shape interesting gameplay around it, but doesn’t strictly force you to stick to certain mechanics.

    • Stuntddude says:

      I’m loving Passage of Time as well. It’s specific and gives a lot of great ideas without being limiting. Hopefully people will look past “lololoo grass growing simulators” and realize it could be about any time scale. We could have a game chronicling the history of the universe and a game that takes place within the span of a single second, in the same jam, which would be really cool.

  26. rogberth says:

    I think we have many survival related themes. Inspired maybe because all of this survival games emerging in steam?

    Although I really see cool themes. I’m very hyped for this LD.

  27. tudd says:

    Got worried that all the themes were trash judging by round 1, glad to see some great ones in round 2 :)

  28. Dreamlinker says:

    First time participant here.. Just a question about when we get to know the final theme(s)? Since we’re in a different timezone, the 6pm start on Friday falls on 1pm on Saturday, which would make it hard to do a full dare since I have to go to work on Monday. Just wondering if the theme is revealed before, so we can start on our Friday 6pm..

    • Jwatt says:

      The start of the event -is- the theme reveal. That’s essentially what the clock is counting down to.

      Consider the jam instead of the compo if you’re low on time. Though I couldn’t help noticing that you’re using the “we” pronoun, so just in case: if you’re participating in a team, you have to submit to the jam, with an extra day and more carefree rules.

      • Dreamlinker says:

        Thanks, yeah we’re going to do the jam as a team I think. Or we’re just going to make our own games but while hanging around in the same room for a few days :D.

  29. Jezzamon says:

    Is it just me of are pretty much all the round two themes really good! There’s only 2 I disliked (among the stars and trade)

  30. Warboys says:

    Round 2 is dire. I swear we see the exact same themes every LD, and this one looks like the epitome of “urgh same old shit” all in one place (except Trade).

  31. stray says:

    Adapt to Survive
    Edge of the World
    Fast Forward
    It Spreads
    Let them Escape
    No Way Back
    Side Effect
    Stick Together
    The Other Side

  32. Aren’t the themes picked by several people and put forth?

    How does stuff like One Room slip by when we just had Entire Game on One Screen? Too similar. People need to factor in the last 10 or so themes and remove similar themes, just in case.

    Big fan of single word, very open ended themes vs stuff like “Edge of the World”. Good grief.

    Also think stuff like Stick Together would yield a couple of brilliant games, but a million similar clones, vs something more open like just “Together”.

    • sorceress says:

      Thanks for your questions. We do take recent themes into consideration, from the past 4 years or so. We felt that ‘One Room’ is different enough from ‘Entire Game On One Screen’.

      There is some overlap yes, if you think of a room as being a screen. But there are many ways these two themes are dissimilar.
      eg, One room can actually be quite substantial, like a concert hall, or a video game arcade. One room might be one of several rooms, but is being singled out for being unusual/special in some way.

    • Stuntddude says:

      The problem with themes that are too open-ended is that you can submit pretty much any game with a tacked-on justification. But, more importantly, they also don’t inspire interesting or diverse ideas – basically, they don’t do a good job of making you think or spurring you in some new direction. Of course, there are a few exceptions, like the currently-popular “Companion” which gives me a few good immediate ideas (though probably roughly the same ideas as anyone else).

      The mark of a good theme isn’t being vague, it’s being specific but not limiting, and inspiring but open to interpretation. That’s what makes a theme like, e.g., “An Unconventional Weapon” so good; what you think of when you first hear it is probably not what the guy commenting below you is thinking.

    • Dan Norder says:

      “Together” is so open that it’s meaningless. A lot of the one word ones are just crap. Their has to be a middle ground between extremely meh and ridiculously specific.

      • >>“Together” is so open that it’s meaningless. A lot of the one word ones are just crap. Their has to be a middle ground between extremely meh and ridiculously specific.

        Open is key. Then you get variety based on the participants. You get more individual takes on a theme. This is undeniable. As opposed to something like “10 seconds” where every game has a timer.

        Together is open, but not meaningless. Could be about a companion, could be about love/death, could be about atoms and electrons, could be prisoners trying to escape while shackled. Endless possibilities in terms of mechanic, setting or theme. You’d get more varied games as an end result.

  33. arzi says:

    I agree that too many of the themes are very similar to previous ones, especially One Room. Some are very good though, I like “Creatures of the Night” as it gives you more of a setting than a mechanic. Companion just makes me think of Doctor Who (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

  34. Krunoslav says:

    Just by curiosity, will be possible to know the results of the slaugher theme?
    It would be interesting, isn’t it?

  35. RMDern says:

    Round 3 is looking pretty bad. I only +1’d Negative Space and Indirect Control. 0’s on Dimension and Illusion. -1 everything else. Lots of uninspiring stuff there.

  36. Now I’m going to whine a bit, and also put out a though before any results of voting is in.

    In democratic societies you typically don’t give out the right to vote as soon as someone joins them (through being born or migration). Typically you have to live in the society a couple of years before you get the right to influence its direction.

    First time I participated in a LDJAM, I probably voted like shit. Voting only on what gave me an idea for what I wanted to do. I didn’t consider how feasible the themes were for those making text-games. I didn’t think of that several other thousand games were being made in parallel. How many interesting variations on the theme could be made? Never crossed my mind. Playing more than twenty games by fellow jammers gets tedious if the theme is limiting. And I really love the voting part, when the theme is right.

    After a couple of jams and several hundreds of games played I know I want to down-vote all mechanics themes. Just an example…

    So here’s my idea: What if you got the right to vote on themes only after you’ve participated in at least one LDJAM and that participated also required you to have voted on a small number of other peoples games (e.g. 10)?

    • CodeNMore says:

      That isn’t a bad idea, that would make the themes much better. However, you’ll have a tricky time getting that to change :/

      • Upon further thinking, a version of this that might be even better would be if theme suggestion for next LD was open only during the 3 weeks of voting during present LD. Then the slaughter and voting could be for everyone as before.

    • schnerble says:

      Yeah, it’s a good idea – though from Jari’s keynote, only around 20% of entrants haven’t been in LD before, so at least there’s a much bigger effect from people who’ve been in a long time than from those who haven’t. (I say that and am still faintly nervous that we’ll end up with a theme about cats or something…)

    • Gurglor says:

      I don’t see what seniority has to do with it. In democratic societies there are plenty of people who vote stupid despite having been around for years.

    • coasterspaul says:

      So only people who already know about the running cat gag could suggest and vote? What could possibly go wrong? ;D

      As someone who hasn’t finished an entry for a regular LD yet, I feel like this whole voting process has made me feel more invested. To the point where I’m still set on entering even though I’ll be gone most of the first day.

    • highlyinteractive says:

      What about a weighted vote based on your profile?

      We already get a coolness rating based on how many games we play/rate. It would be a good incentive to get people engaging with the community. I quite like the way 1GAM levels you up based on the completeness of your profile.

      You could start with 0.5, add up to 0.2 for your profile, another 0.05 for each previous jam you participated in (up to 0.2) and a final 0.1 based on your most recent coolness rating.

      Maybe an idea for the new LD website?

    • joshg says:

      I think the fundamental problem is that people are deeply divided on what they look for in a theme. e.g. some people love themes which restrict mechanics; some people hate them, etc. If you look at the voting results from past compos, the voting on *any* theme is likely to be minor variations on 40% yes, 40% no, 20% don’t care (well, more like 33/44/23, as most themes end up in the red).

      I suspect that any scheme which doesn’t take this into account is doomed to failure…so unless you could agree on something like December themes being mechanical restrictions, April being open-ended themes which don’t restrict mechanics or settings, and August being a free-for-all…

    • gajop says:

      Meritocracy doesn’t work for large groups. This would just alienate newcomers.

  37. Ogniok says:

    “Time Loop” sounds amazing! I really hope it wins. 😀

  38. Ranesbow says:

    Really hoping for “An unconventional weapon”.

  39. OmnipotentPotatoDEV says:

    Shrinking world and There Is No Right both sound fun to do.

  40. Firefox says:

    My favorite so far is: “There us No Right”
    The player could only go left, then run into some sort of spinning thing. Or, the player could set up the spinning things in the level, to make it through a maze.

    • Tim Bumpus says:

      I just came here to say the same thing. There is No Right is a really good theme–it’s so interesting just to think about presenting choices that have no right or wrong answer. People could make a sandbox game, or any kind of game modified so that your choices don’t matter.

      Making choices that matter to players is such an intrinsic idea to what most consider “good game design” that an opportunity to defy it could prove to fruit interesting, unique experiences.

  41. Round three is… underwhelming. I do like “There is No Right.”

    Who keeps nominating “Simplicity,” though? Like… of course your game’s going to be simple, you made it in two days.

  42. Anikki says:

    In a way, every game with a save-function is a “time loop” game. Turning that into a theme… i mean, one could have fund messing around with basic assumptions of a save feature… too much Stanley Parable though.

  43. So many themes like “There is no right” or “time loop” lead to the vast majority of games being the same thing. It’s as bad as “10 seconds” where 90% of the games are about 10 sec timers.

    I would pick themes that are way way more general and tend to be based on a single word that could be interpreted a lot of ways. Very vague themes are by far the best way to go.

    Themes that immediately suggest a setting or mechanic are bad.

    “simplicity” is awful and should not be on the list. We did “minimalism” recently, too.

    I don’t get it.

    I think the Theme Slaughter and suggestions may be a problem here. Garbage in, garbage out :)

    Good themes would be stuff like (to me, anyway):

    Escape (been done?)


    I think there are too many multi word/specific themes lately.

    My .02 :)

    • Jezzamon says:

      I don’t think “there is no right” forces one particular game style. I can’t think of any idea for it immediately, but I kinda like that. On the other hand, many people vote based on what they can make a game about, so it’ll quite likely not make it.

      Ludum Dare themes vary and I think that’s part of the fun! Sometime you get a abstract concept as a theme, other times you get a theme that enforces a limitation on the style of game. I think having both types is good!

    • Stuntddude says:

      You’re just posting the same thing you did before with different wording. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it until it becomes clear: specific =/= restrictive. Vague themes are a wash because they fail to provide any inspiration, which is the purpose of having a theme in the first place.

    • RMDern says:

      Definitely agree, I can already see the amount of platformers and top-down games where the player actually can’t move right. On the other hand, single words that can be implemented in an endless number of ways yield a far better group of games.

      You could take something like the top voted “Companion” and tie it into your game as any number of different mechanics or narrative themes. You’re given essentially no direction whatsoever and that’s far more powerful for creativity.

      Still, these types of strict themes end up with a bunch of votes every year and I can’t help but think they must come from people who haven’t participated before. It’s the kind of thing that might not cross your mind if you’re unfamiliar with the 48 hour development cycle, then playing and rating 20+ games that are nearly identical. Or maybe they just really like the challenge of trying to break the theme.

      • Stuntddude says:

        “You’re given essentially no direction whatsoever and that’s far more powerful for creativity.”

        I mean, I don’t know what universe you come from, but over here a lack of creative direction is in no way a good thing.

        • RMDern says:

          Oh I don’t know, maybe so you can be creative instead of having somebody else do it for you?

          • Stuntddude says:

            If you seriously think being given a theme is having all the creative work done for you, I feel bad for anyone who has to work on a team with you. Ludum Dare is a themed jam for a reason, and trying to be as vague as possible to subvert that is just missing the point, and is frankly a bit disrespectful to the design of the event. If you want a game jam with no theme, there are plenty of those. Heck, even if you want to ignore the theme in a Ludum Dare jam, it’s doubtful anyone is going to care or call you out on it.

            • RMDern says:

              You’re so unnecessarily toxic. Go ahead and have your own opinion on themes, but learn to voice them less venomously or just don’t bother at all. Different people want different things from the event, they know their strengths/weaknesses and preferences. That’s why we do 5 rounds of voting. If you disagree with me, go vote on the themes you like, nobody’s stopping you. :)

        • RMDern says:

          Being able to establish their own creative direction is something any indie should be well accustomed to.

  44. …and I do like themes that are vague that you can shoehorn most games and designs into. The depth to which you do so should be reflected in the rating on that category.

    But I dislike themes that are constrictive or too specific. It’s best to be vague and let people explore and find a theme vs think “Welp….the theme is Other World….guess I’m doing the std 2 state platformer that we flip between”.

    Vague/open themes with lots of room for interpretation are better for Ludum Dare and the results.

  45. LTyrosine says:


    Too soon to say something yet but IMHO there are some themes better fitted for a game style. Companion suggests something story driven / art games, those (like me) who loves to play with strategy and simulation styles could have a hard time to extract proper theme usage. Anyway, as keynote says, time to try something different! =)

    • andreaswitzen says:

      Had the same thought. It’s a decent theme but I think we will se a lot of tamagotchi-style games or games inspired by Bioshock Infinite if it wins. Might see some interesting takes on NPC-companions though.

    • joshg says:

      Units which come (and act) in pairs? Separate units which are symbiotes? Or are parasites on the enemy? If they spawn in the same place and go to the same place, perhaps they could interact with ghosts of past lives, (i.e. The Company of Myself)?

  46. albinobat says:

    One of the themes I suggested is in this round, I had a lot of ideas for it before but now I’m not really sure about it

  47. Will Edwards says:


    Of all the themes in round 3, ILLUSION is the one that sings out ideas to me :)

  48. fragileannihilator says:

    I have an off-topic question: is it possible to submit a game before the end of competition?

  49. So, lots of people are going to vote for “there is no right” thinking they’ve got a clever twist on the theme, in that they will make a game where you can only move left? 😛

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

[cache: storing page]