Tough Decisions (Future Ludum Dare stuff)

Posted by (twitter: @mikekasprzak)
January 4th, 2016 9:22 pm

Hi folks.

So, I’m in a bit of a difficult spot. If you’re in a hurry, find the TL;DR at the bottom of each section.

Yes Ludum Dare will continue (Ludum Dare 35 is coming April 15th-18th), I’m just having a hard time figuring out how I can afford to keep doing it, and that’s both in a money and time sense.

The Patreon and Paypal contributions have been amazing, pulling in about $1000 US a month for the past year. After fees, I clear about $1000 Canadian per month, which has been really great. That is about what my rent+utilities cost per month, but there’s more to bills than rent. That’s only part of the problem though.

The main thing I haven’t talked about yet: I need help doing it.

I’ve been solo running Ludum Dare for a few years now. Phil was a huge help getting Ludum Dare back on it’s feet 8 years ago. And for a while, he handled the website code, and I handled the rest. Understandably he got busy and I took over, but then to all our surprise, Ludum Dare got crazy popular, and I’ve been doing my best to keep things going ever since.

There used to be a time when I was able to participate too. :)

The website we run today does not suit us. So in addition to running Ludum Dare and fixing the current site, I’ve been working on a new site. During the summer I talked more about what I was up to, and on Ludum Dare 34 we tried the new Theme Selection website. So yes, there is progress I can show, but I’m not moving fast enough by myself.

This is a problem. I need to figure this out.

TL;DR: Patreon=Amazing, but I need to pay bills ($$), and I need help working on LD (too much to do).

Getting Help

I’ve had a lot of people offer to help out with Ludum Dare over the years, I’m just not sure what to do. Fact is, Ludum Dare has been open source for nearly 8 years now, and with one exception I’ve never received a patch. That said, more people are aware that we’re open source since we moved the old code to GitHub, but there’s just too much disorder for anyone to know where to start. Today, it’s unreasonable to expect anyone to contribute.

One of my goals with the new Ludum Dare is to organize the site code in such a way that people can contribute, and to make it straightforward to get started. We’re getting there, but keeping things clean, documenting, and explaining things takes time. All of this will be better once the new site is launched for real (instead of partially, hacked, as it is for now).

Frankly, being Open Source isn’t enough.

The other side is the community and the event itself. The IRC channel has been hugely helpful. People can ask simple questions about Ludum Dare and usually get an answer there. But thanks to some oddities of IRC, not everybody can use IRC, and not all questions are appropriate for IRC. So many of the key, more subtle features of the new website gives LD power users the opportunity to help out. And when it’s too much, the issues can be escalated to me.

That said, I need help behind the scenes too. I can’t give just anyone access to the servers, the Twitter account, or the support e-mails. I need someone I can trust, and share the development workload with. Core things need to get done, and at the moment, it’s only me doing them.

Long story short, what I need is to hire someone to work with me. An intern perhaps, but I really don’t like the idea of people working for free. As I see it, unpaid interns are an irresponsible way to run something (been there done that). But fact is, I can’t afford to hire someone right now.

To be clear, what I’m saying is I should hire someone, but I can’t afford to hire someone. That’s not me saying temporarily work for free, that’s me saying I will not hire anyone while I can’t afford to pay them.

That’s not an invitation to send me resumes, but if you’re an LD fanatic and you know me, *shrug* feel free to get in touch.

TL;DR: This is what I’m thinking (I should hire someone), but at the moment it’s not practical.

Raising Money

Like I’ve said, I’m not giving up on Ludum Dare. I just can’t afford to continue full time as things are today. Between the ongoing events, I need to earn some money.

Contract work is something I need to look in to. I have a funny skillset though:

I don’t know Unity, and frankly, I’m not all that interested in learning it (I’m really enjoying web dev with JavaScript and PHP though, i.e. what we use for LD). I’m historically a low-level embedded C/C++/Assembly guy, Console developer, SDL and OpenGL fanboy, I used to write Physics and 3D code from scratch (i.e. I can math), Linux user, the former Technical Director of a studio, shipper of more than a dozen commercial games (only a few worth listing), developer of an award winning Indie game you don’t care about, and as far as I know the only person to win a car making games.

What potentially throws a wrench in things: I run a popular community of Game Developers with it’s own schedule of events I need time to regularly attend to. They even pay me, so I’m committed to them. I have my own projects that I will continue to do. I’ve been involved in the gaming industry for over 15 years (since 1999), and I will not sign a non-compete. I happily live in London Ontario Canada (That’s in Canada, not London UK, roughly 2 hours from Toronto and Detroit).

So admittedly, I have a hard time knowing where to start.

I’d like to stay where I am (working out of my home office). Every 4 months I have a blip in my schedule (i.e. Ludum Dare) that needs my attention for a few weeks and days here and there. If our schedules don’t conflict, and you have something I can help you with, you can get in touch with me here: http://ludumdare.com/compo/contact/.

Unfortunately, if I do contract work, this does mean I have less time for Ludum Dare. That said, I figured it is important to put it out there, so people understand I am looking (I hope this isn’t an abuse of power).

TL;DR: If I can’t find another way to cover my costs, I’ll do contract work. Get in touch.

Sponsorship (uh oh)

It’s time to finally talk about Sponsors.

In our 14 year history, we have never accepted sponsors for Ludum Dare. Every Ludum Deal and other promo we’ve ever done never earned us a dime. It was all just sharing things I thought you would be interested in.

We’ve taken donations and contributions over the years. And amazingly, the Patreon and Paypal contributions have been enough to cover my rent. But like I’ve mentioned above, it’s not enough to cover all my costs. And unfortunately, my other endeavours don’t earn me enough either, so something needs to change.

I apologize that this next part is a bit ranty, but I want to talk about Ludum Dare accepting sponsors.

Because of my responsibility to you guys (the community), I can’t do this without your permission.

* * *

For some this is a no brainier (everything is sponsored). For others, the idea of introducing sponsorship is blasphemy, will ruin the purity of the community, etc. *shrug* it might. I hope not, but I wont dispute that technically accepting sponors makes us a “sell out”.

We have at thing. It got big. I’m still here. I want to fix the thing.

I’d like us to start taking sponsors, so I can afford to pay myself, and perhaps bring on someone to help me work on Ludum Dare.

Unfortunately I kind-of burned through my own savings while putting a lot of time in to this last year (and many years before), and I am willing to put more in to it (❀️), but as things stand it’s not sustainable. That’s my wall at the moment.

Because Ludum Dare is a thing for good (education), as far as I can tell it has the potential to become a non-profit (which still means it makes money, but the money sustains the venture, not shareholders). That said, as an engineer, community manager, and dude that’s spent several years running an Indie games business, it’s a-lot simpler for me to make a normal for-profit business.

But before any of that, as I see it, Ludum Dare needs to be fixed first.

I don’t even have to explain to you guys what’s broken. Every time we run an event, we again learn that game browsing sucks, that we need notifications, that we need team support, that you’re not getting activation e-mails, that you can’t find things based on a tool or platform, that you want you to find team mates, just to name a few. We can do all these things. We should be able to do all these things.

And perhaps I’m a little ambitious, but for a lot of people Ludum Dare is the center of this phenomenon of Game Jamming. I’m all for embracing that.

Hilariously, all it might take is time and putting a few thank you’s on the website (but to be fair, I am biased).

Yes, in principal, things do change the day we finally accept sponsors. I’m hoping it’s for the better.

I didn’t create Ludum Dare, but I inherited the responsibility of running it, and I’d like to think I’ve done pretty good. That said, Ludum Dare is you guys, the community. This is something we created together.

It’s not mine. It’s ours.

I wont do this without your permission. Here’s a survey:

http://goo.gl/forms/VDQxAuho24

If you’d like to leave a private comment, there’s a field on the form you can leave it in.

For public comments and discussion, leave one in the comments below.

If we find out you guys are very against the idea, we’ll figure out what that means after. For now I’d like to be optimistic.

TL;DR: I’d like us to consider taking sponsors for Ludum Dare. Survey: http://goo.gl/forms/VDQxAuho24

What does Sponsorship mean?

Ideally, it just means a few logos in the sidebar, or elsewhere on the page, thanking the contributors.

Every season (i.e. Ludum Dare Event), we get a fresh set of sponsors for the upcoming event.

I hope you guys can trust my judgement here given how I’ve run Ludum Dare in the past. I plan to be picky about who we accept as sponsors. Gambling, shady Steam Key resellers, we’ll have none of that. Sponsors will have no control over our rules. If a middleware company sponsors an event, you will not be required to use their tool.

People have actually been contacting and inquiring with me for many years now, and I’ve had to turn them down (or conveniently neglect them) every time.

If you’d like to get in touch, you can contact me here:

http://ludumdare.com/compo/contact/

There are more sides to sponsorship (Sponsored Events have come up several times), but merely letting sponsors contribute to Ludum Dare and be publicly acknowledged is all I’m proposing today.

TL;DR: Sponsorship = Logos the page. No funny stuff.

Wrapup

That’s enough for now. If you have thoughts or feedback, leave them in the comments below.

I don’t know what to expect from this post (if anything). Personally, I’ll probably be spending a couple weeks this month working on my side project (I need a break from stressing over LD πŸ˜‰ ). I’ll respond when I can.

I hope I’ve explained the situation well, and that people aren’t freaking out.

As of right now, I will not be at the Game Developer’s Conference (GDC) in March. I figured it would be irresponsible of me to be talking about money and spending that much flying across the US. I hope to be back in 2017.

Ludum Dare will continue. The next one is April 15th-18th weekend.


68 Responses to “Tough Decisions (Future Ludum Dare stuff)”

  1. Kortuga says:

    I’d just like to say that I think I can speak for all of us and comment that we appreciate the community outreach here to the fullest possible extent. Ludum Dare is an amazing experience for all those involved, and we appreciate the time, effort, money, and whatever unnamed sacrifices you have made for it to flourish.

    Personally, past Ludum Dare games that have entered my game design portfolio have recently helped me get into a very prestigious collegiate game design program, something I never could have hoped to have accomplished (or, for that matter, even realized my will to study game design) without Ludum Dare, and by extension, you yourself.

    From all of us here, thank you. Sincerely.

  2. Jwatt says:

    I don’t think this is anything to be upset about. You seem to be bracing for some sort of backlash, but people should have grown to trust your judgment by now. Sponsors are a fairly standard way to keep a ship this size afloat, as well as hiring new people. It’s all fair and reasonable to match the exponentially expanded popularity.

  3. Tijn says:

    I wouldn’t mind a sponsor at all. If that helps to have one or two people working on making the website better, then it’s all worth it imho.

  4. yuigoto says:

    Thanks again for running LD and thanks for opening up to us on the subjects in this post.

    It’s all pretty clear and totally reasonable. It’s not easy (and cheap) to run a website like LD basically by yourself and I’m ok with whatever decisions you make, if it means keeping LD and the community alive and in full health.

    Some people view sponsors as a bad thing, but I don’t see it that way. People wanting to sponsor LD just means that it has importance and relevance to those who want their brand showing up in here, and doesn’t exactly mean that we have to follow their rules. As you said, LD is the community, not the sponsors.

    Also, if it’ll help you take some weight off your shoulders, it’s totally ok. :)

    Keep being awesome! πŸ˜‰

  5. Tyler says:

    Yes to sponsors! Great idea that has no negative impact to us, and free money to you.

    Thanks so much for the work you do. I wish I had the skill or time to contribute, and I wish I had the money to donate. ?

  6. Jezzamon says:

    Looking forward to the future of Ludum Dare! Keep up the good work, and keep up keeping up funds so you have the ability to keep up keeping up… up. Keep.

  7. Thanks for making all this happen for years, this is my first year helping around and being a Youtuber for the LDjam. If I had any money I’d give it all to you, this event is amazing. I wish there was a way I could help in other ways, I guess just by helping out the devs like I have been doing. I don’t see a problem with getting sponsorships, especially in the sober way that you envision it, it should be fine. If it has to be done, which it has, because this has to keep running, then do it. You can always change it if it doesn’t work out like you’d hoped.

  8. xWarZonex says:

    Ludum Dare is the only thing I actually look forward to, I count down the days till LD by the second year around. You, Mike, have always sort of always been my idol in the game dev industry, I’ve looked up to you, and see your commitment and love for Ludum Dare, and I try replicating that in real life. I for one am, all for the sponsors, I don’t mind a couple ads here and there if it means Ludum Dare can run more smoothly, and you can focus on it more stably. I can see you really love Ludum Dare, and I will know you will do what best for it.
    Thank you

  9. graebor says:

    The event’s become huge and it’s just reality that you’ll have to scale operations up a bit to make things sustainable. I think accepting sponsors the way you’ve outlined is 100% agreeable and I trust your judgement in carrying that out if that’s the route you end up taking. Your great attitude and level of commitment is a huge part of what makes LD so awesome to begin with, so whatever it takes to make you able to continue your role (and bring on others to help) I think is worth it. Thank you for all your hard work so far, I hope things get a lot more comfortable for you over the next couple of events.

  10. ambi says:

    As I’m pretty much broke, ads or sponsoring would be a great idea.

  11. Do what you need to do to keep Ludum Dare going full steam ahead. That’s what is important.

  12. csanyk says:

    Just a thought: Mojang/Notch have donated generously to LD in the past,and have extraordinarily deep pockets vis a vis their own business, as well as Microsoft.

    It’d be awesome if they could put together an endowment or trust with enough money in it that it could fund LD indefinitely off of the interest/investment revenue, and NOT make it a sponsorship, and be hands-off about it.

    No idea if they’d be inclined to [em]do[/em] something like that, but it would create tremendous goodwill toward them among gamers and the indie community, and in the long run would probably bring more indie titles to XBox, so would in a way be like an investment for them.

    • xWarZonex says:

      That would be interesting.

    • Super Hamster says:

      Agreed. Also I definitely wouldn’t mind an xbox version of Ludum Dare and maybe they could pay a little more to have a weekend game jam for their console. That way they know they’ll get more games on their console, while also helping us and maybe even having more people know about Ludum Dare.

      Then again, I’m not Microsoft and don’t make choices for them… Anyways, just my opinion on something that would work. πŸ˜€

    • goffmog says:

      I like this thinking, not necessarily the involvement of Mojang/Notch, but the idea of a trust. There are plenty of people in the community with both material resources and generosity. In theory if you need an income of $1k a month then the goold honest capitalist course of action is to raise about $250k ($12 per compo entrant – how about running a fundraising jam??) and stick it in something that yields 5% with low risk of losing capital. Any financial advisers who are also game jam enthusiasts? Afterall this *is* how we’re meant to do these things in the Western world don’t you know.

    • z3 says:

      yeah, I thought something similar. I think if itΒ΄s possible to do that way could be better than some sponsorship. Or a fund of gamers that could donate, even after for example getting some money from a game that they developed in LD.

    • deathray says:

      I’ve always thought that Notch should “save” Ludum Dare. I think if there was a good team in place and a non-profit structure in place, he (or someone else with deep pockets) might consider something like that. A simple 10 million endowment could keep a small organization going for years and years. Of course then maybe we’d have to rename to “Ludum Notch” in his honor. :)

  13. csanyk says:

    I say yes, accept sponsors, with some conditions.

    If there’s no other way to raise money that works, and it’s a choice between sponsorship and ceasing to be, I’d definitely rather see LDJam continue to exist in some form, than die.

    Sponsorships should, ideally, NOT compromise the event.

    (Although, people may — and some certainly will — suspect that they do create compromises, regardless of fact — even if you’re totally transparent about how it works. Be prepared for that, and willing to accept people walking away if they don’t like the change.)

    Sponsorships SHOULD be an exchange of money for promotional mention. Nothing more than that. They don’t get a say in judging, in the rules, or in control of the event or the community or the submissions. Things stay as they were, only now with some advertising and logos.

    DON’T give sponsors ownership or control in return for money, and don’t allow them to control you by threatening to take away the money (always be willing to let a sponsor walk, even if it means going out of business).

    If you can do it with that kind of integrity, and it helps keep the event alive and well funded, I say go for it.

  14. ViKing Games says:

    Sponsors could be fun, I’d love to incorporate them into my games in silly ways.

  15. nihilaleph says:

    I wish I could help more too keep this awesome community >.< And I don't think it's fair having you in such an unsustainable state… I don't mind the sponsors nor ads. I'm sure that you will do the best for LD~!

    Thank you for opening up and for being so awesome! I hope you can make it to GDC…

  16. LukeZaz says:

    Don’t worry about it. As long as they don’t go too far, which I trust your judgement on, sponsorships are absolutely fine; especially if it helps Ludum Dare grow.

  17. eric777 says:

    I can’t thank you enough for running Ludum Dare. It seriously means more to me than I can say.

    I seriously doubt that sponsorship in your hands would turn out badly – and even if it somehow did you could always end the sponsorship in the future.

    I say the tiny benefit of not seeing ads on the site is not worth you running in the red trying to make this work. You have my full support and trust!

  18. Ardy says:

    Why would we oppose it?

    You said you’re only a glorified scheduler but I really think you’re wrong.

    You’re the link that keeps this community together by running the event even if you think it’s only setting a date, if you weren’t doing i who would? Would anybody put so many dedication on it? Do you think there would be another people that would actually take his time to make a post this long about how they’d like to be able to afford his expenses by doing something for everybody that they love? Would someone really care that much about the community? I think very few people would and you’re one of then…

    So yeah, I’m all for sponsoring. Unfortunately not everybody can or is willing to contribute and you have to be able to sustain yourself. I’m not even against you getting sponsors to actually profit from it. What if you can’t find another source of income that works with LD? What if an emergency expense comes? Will you still have some savings? What if you want to travel somewhere or something? There’s really a lot of stuff.

    And in the end, even though I’m not that old around here, I know you really care about the community and that you weren’t entrusted this for nothing and thus I trus you. I trust you’ll not chose sponsor that will compromise the integrity of the community and nothing like that.

    If you can do all of this alone in this situation… It really puts a smile on my face to think about what you’ll be able to if you can afford to put even more effort and with help :)

  19. Baecun says:

    My first LD experience was LD34, and that was all it took to make me addicted to it. I plan on participating on every LD that there is, so if taking a sponsor is what it takes you have my full support. Participating in LD was what made me commit to making games, and I’m 100% sure I was not the only one, so I say do what it takes to keep this boat afloat. An awesome community has formed around this, and even for newbies like myself I think it’s quite evident that you know how to run things, so I expect people will support you fully on this. Good luck!

  20. Guard13007 says:

    For the sponsorship question, my only concern is “Does the sponsor have any influence other than pasting their logo in?” As long as they don’t, go for it!

  21. Tuism says:

    Mike, you’ve been nothing but tremendous in running LD, your transparency has been fantastic, and nothing short of legendary. You have my support, and I’m sure countless others’.

    Sponsorship seems like a no-brainer. Go for it if it comes up, and I’m sure you’ll choose responsibly. Entities like Unity or Microsoft, or others that have an interest in game devs making games would be great, and I’m sure they’ll get something big out of it too.

    I wish I had the skillset or the finances to help, but unless we’re talking about graphic design or game design or such, I probably won’t make much of a dent. But you know that you have a community to call upon :)

    YOU HAVE MY SWORD, should you need it :)

  22. Wahooney says:

    You’re only selling out if you have to change your values.

    YOU HAVE MY BOW πŸ˜‰

  23. refreshgames says:

    Nothing wrong with Sponsors IMHO, go for it!

  24. Nomys_Tempar says:

    Thank you for your work Mike !
    Like I said in the survey, I’m against sponsors, not because it’s “bad” or anything (but it’s a step nonetheless) , but cause I’m still hoping that we can do our living without publicity in general and to me it’s one of the reason that make LD so great.
    I’m pretty much unemployed right now and despite my very low abilities as web-dev (or any dev at all), I can definitly help you on the community managing side if you need to.

  25. Farelle says:

    I would say, go for it! :) go for sponsors πŸ˜€
    This was my first LD and it teached me so much about myself, so completely egoistically I want the experience to get better πŸ˜€ and sponsors don’t seem like a bad thing to me, it’s not like you would be “selling out” or something. It just means some form of advertisement around the page.

  26. Muel says:

    I’m a new guy in LD, just has been in my first one and still don’t exactly know how the community here works.

    But, let me see if I got your post right. You’re saying “I’m thinking about ways to get money to support LD. These ways should allow the event to go on, improve what needs to be improved, but without losing it’s essence”
    Is that all? In this case, I totally support.

    Btw, it’s my 1st time here, but I saw a huge event, with more than 2k participants, people doing amazing things and people seeing other people’s works and helping and many ways.
    And the backbone of all this is is maintained by you alone?
    Geez, you rock! Thanks for all this.

  27. AtkinsSJ says:

    Sponsorship isn’t ideal, but I’m fine with it. I trust you to take care of things Mike. You’ve been working so hard for LD for so long that I don’t doubt you’ll continue to do your best for it. :)

  28. dx0ne says:

    Have a try with sponsors. It’s not like you’re selling your soul. If it won’t work out you could try other things.

    Besides money, sponsors could bring other goods, like exposure for games(Unity/Epic), deals for publishing(won’t be surprised if Devolver would be interested) or even job opportunities.

    Thanks for great work and being awesome about it!

    On a side note: why not get in touch with itch.io folks. They have infrastructure(maybe except the theme voting, advanced voting/results). They are indie’s heaven. They are cool and passionate about games. I’m not saying total switch but some sharing of backend? Like ComiXology do with Marvel/DC shops.

    • Joror says:

      Went here to say what dx0ne also mentioned above – itch.io might be an ideal partner in this. They have the technical expertise, indie interest and already have some jam software inhouse.

      Expand that, and you have a new home that is built to last. Being totally independent is cool, but combining resources is something that can make indies stronger.
      Then you can focus on expanding the community, and the community managers have a broader base to work with. (And my thanks to them as well!)

  29. ShaunJS says:

    As the Community Manager for YoYo Games and a long term LD fan and participant, I’d definitely want to get in touch if you decide to take this route. I’m sure we could work out a way to help. Seeing events like LD continue to thrive is very much in our interests.

    -S

  30. We have enjoyed participation in 4 Ludums now, and every time it is a thrill. This event is, to us, one of the most exciting parts of the year (we tend to only make time for one since we throw ourselves into it so heavily).

    We’d really hate for this community to go away, and are absolutely in support of sponsorships. It’s not blasting us with ads, it’s not a participation fee, it’s absolutely a reasonable thing.

    This is a fantastic community that you’ve built up, and it is an absolute shame that you sacrifice stability in support of this great thing.

    Cheers, and take a load off your mind :)

  31. christiazn says:

    I’m for sponsers if it keeps you afloat! I totally understand where you’re at but haven’t felt the full blow (fortunately). I wish I could be more involved in the Jams and indie dev but with a wife, a 1 and a half year old, and another on the way the bills/utilities/rent/food costs/etc gets rather large….so i’m forced to work a 9-5 and try to fit in other avenues of income…and keep up with games and do my own development O_O

    I know the feeling of wanting to continue your dream but struggling with keeping stable income for adequate livelihood. I’ve got quite a few years of web development under my belt and hadn’t realized the code is public (definately going to take a look). Wish I could help out more! I hear your plea for help in all senses! If I had the savings/stability I’d say, “Let’s do this!”

    You do what you need to do and if you need any help know that I (and i’m sure the rest of the community) are willing to help in whatever way we can!

  32. sorceress says:

    I’ve been solo running Ludum Dare for a few years now

    Hi. I wouldn’t normally speak out, but I find this a little insulting. I feel I have helped a lot with the running of LD over the past five years (although not so much this past year, this doesn’t invalidate the previous 4)

    β–Ά Preparing the theme list for each theme slaughter, cutting out the duplicates, the offensive stuff, and the junk.

    β–Ά Prepating the slaughter results for the voting stage, so that we get a nice orthogonal selection of themes with minimal overlap. (I have often asked someone to help me with this mammoth task, and always made sure they received credit for their contribution.)

    β–Ά When you were late getting the voting started (this happened often), I’d have quietly got it all done and ready behind the scenes, with all the voting pages set up, and sometimes the announcement posts to go with them as well.

    β–Ά I SOLO looked after the MiniLDs for over 2 years: contacting the hosts to make sure they were still up for it, finding a solution when the host gave up their slot last minute, preparing the submission forms for those jams, stickying/unstickying their announcement posts and adding the submission links, and being at hand to help the host with whatever they wanted to do or understand.

    β–Ά People who come to irc with problems or questions, I generally deal with quietly and efficiently. For example, activating users who didn’t get their registration emails, which happens often.

    β–Ά This is all in addition to general moderating tasks that myself and upto 20 other users help with: deleting spam/approving user’s first posts etc.

    How I feel about sponsors: I disagree with the idea, just like I disagree with the idea of LD generating an income for anyone who helps to run the site. I feel strongly that LD should be run by people who are devoting their time freely. If you are unable to do this, then I think you should share the workload and responsibility with others who can. If this sharing is not agreeable to you, or if – somehow – LD would still be preventing you from sustaining yourself, then pass the torch to another who isn’t living on such a knife edge.

    Some have stated above that they expect a site this size to have sponsors. Well, sites that have ads/sponsors generally have them to pay for the server fees. Remember that LD already has a donations system to fund the servers, and that pot is quite healthy — http://ludumdare.com/compo/donations/

    • YinYin says:

      Thanks for that angle.

      Who are all the helpful moderators around here?

      Also for “just” running the event I kind of agree with you.
      For setting up a new platform, improving/maintaining it and migration however not so much.

      So maybe just that event running torch could perhaps be passed on to grant Mike more focus on the new platform as well as keeping afloat?

    • Tijn says:

      I agree it would be way nicer if LD was run as a community effort. It might be harder to setup and arrange for development to keep moving forward, but since this is largely a community of designers and programmers, it should be possible to make it work.

      • LastResortGames says:

        The thing both of you seem to be ignoring is that is hasn’t worked. Mike has been talking about this problem for a while and it isn’t like it wasn’t a problem before that. Ideally, sponsors or some sort of influx of money would be temporary until the new site is up so Mike doesn’t need to spend a million years setting up each Dare and dealing with BS. (The Trust idea above is probably the best thing that could possibly happen.) But until that is set up, he’s obviously just spinning his wheels. The community is there and hasn’t helped so far. Whether it is our fault or his doesn’t change that he isn’t getting the help he needs yet. Either he quits outright before he loses his house or we let him get the help he needs and hope things will get better across the board.

    • Crowbeak says:

      Your efforts are appreciated by those of us who know of them. And I think it would be great if those efforts were better known about. Thank you, Sorceress, for everything you do.

      That said (sincerely), it seems that what he wants to do is get the system set up so that such extraordinary efforts are unnecessary, but that right now the system is such a jumbled mess that getting others on board to help improve and upkeep everything is more trouble than having someone work full time to un-mess-ify it for the nonce. I fully support a sponsored effort to make that happen.

    • goffmog says:

      Well now I feel a bit silly for my last comment, thank you for ths insight. I’m still in favor of LD using whatever ethical means it can to raise money but I do agree that this money would ideally come from the community. It would be good to have a more complete picture of exactly how many people volunteer to help with LD, and what they do. As you rightly point out it’s very easy to get the impression. from articles like this one, that LD is entirely the full-time work of just one man.

    • madmccoy says:

      Just wanted to thank you for your contribution to LD.

      Something about the recent blog posts gave me the impression this was a one man show, but this sort of puts it into perspective.

    • g12345 says:

      Hey Sorceress, many thanks to you for all the work you have done. I think it’s never enough to thank _everyone_ who has helped in these events. Many will still believe the ideal of this being a one man show for an event of over 2000 entries, but that’s really wishful thinking.

      It’s sad that the other people are not thanked for, because they deserve to get thanks just as well. This problem really is a prisoner’s dilemma, because when people don’t get thanked/compensated enough, they will choose to do other things next time. And when people leave, the main person will notice that he/she can’t handle all of it, and wonder how this could ever work. (I can describe more about that problem but that belongs in a separate post; this is a “thank you”-post.)

      So, again, many thanks from me to Sorceress for all you have done. It’s clear to me that you didn’t got any recognition, and you have other priorities now, and I fully support your decision. (It was never sustainable in the first place. Been there, done that.)

      PS. Thanks to everyone else too who has helped to make this event happen. Well done, all of you.

    • Manu & Wan says:

      I’d really like PoV to react on this one.

      From what he usually posts, I too got the idea that Ludum Dare for some reason ended up being managed by a single person. And by “managed”, I (and most of the community I think) understand “paying the bills, patching the code, plus doing the administration for all events, plus the moderation, plus the communication”.

      So yeah, what is really the current state of the “Ludum Dare team”? If “up to 20” people are helping with the website, I guess the current communication is a bit off. It would seem like these contributors have a big say in the future of the event too – so why is the post not “*we* have decided to ask if we can find sponsors”?

    • deathray says:

      Well said about passing the torch. While I don’t think Mike should give up on LD, nor do I imagine he wants to, I think he should find some responsibilities that can be passed to others. Break up the work, give it to others, then everyone can still have day-jobs.

      I do still think that sponsor money would help incentivize team members, and pay for additional site development, but best way to do with this would be with a non-profit organization structure.

  33. Acerio says:

    Whatever it takes for LD to continue going, I’m okay with. If it means you need sponsors, I’m okay with it. Do whatever it takes to make things continue, as long as you don’t corrupt the community. The community is what keeps us together.

  34. goffmog says:

    Please do what it takes for LD to continue and to retain its identity. By rights it should be raising a lot of cash considering what a central part of the game jam scene it is, and how many people take part. Sponsorship is not a big deal. I think we trust you to make choices that most of the hobbyist/indie community wouldn’t find unethical, especially given the alternative of losing Ludum Dare completely. Also, do something like a one-off pay-what-you-like-to-enter fundraising jam.

  35. yetatore says:

    Let’s make this clear:
    LD doesn’t need sponsors to keep up running: just servers and volunteers.

    Servers cost money, but the donation’s amount is far higher than needed.
    And volunteers… Come on! There are a lot of volunteers that can and LIKES to help LD without compromising their lifes.

    The problem here is the mythical new LD site…
    We all want it, but it’s not a necessity right now and we can share the load as a community project…
    Just (PoV) don’t forget that you are another community member with a lot of economy help.

    Final line: don’t messup your finantial problems with LD… LD has healthy pockets.

    PD: Thanks everyone (including PoV :P) to keep LD running!!

    • YinYin says:

      This wordpress is messed up though.
      Past entry pages are missing.
      User profiles don’t exist before posting.
      No notifications whatsoever.
      External images don’t work.
      Filtering entries for platforms and the like is not a thing.
      And from the glimpse I get via the posts pending/spam/deleted/etc moderation is a larger task than it needs to be.

      • yetatore says:

        I know, I know. The LD site is a mess, and the new LD site is a need IN THE LONG RUN.

        What I’m proposing is tackling the problem as a community and not as a one men fight. More when this model is actually falling down (like PoV says).

        I think that’s important split personal problems with technical problems: here the problem is personal and sadly doesn’t have anything to do with LD nor its community.

  36. Big Cow says:

    Do what you gotta do, friend, I certainly don’t begrudge you using sponsors or whatever to pay the bills.

  37. Take the sponsors, but maybe pay someone else to rewrite the site instead of doing it yourself.

  38. avocadojoe says:

    do a contest for best site

  39. I like the idea someone suggested about having Ludum Dare run by a group of volunteers. Isn’t that how Ludum Dare was started anyway?

  40. stefenism says:

    I trust you with the future of Ludum Dare. If it means you have to take on sponsors to support yourself, I trust that you’ll maintain Ludum Dare’s integrity and stay true to the community we all know and love. I for one would gladly volunteer to help run a Dare and would drop everything to make it work (just like I have for every Ludum Dare I’ve participated in). This community means a lot to me and I’ll do everything in my power to keep it running.

  41. Chaoslab says:

    I think you will find most people are ok with sponsorship. Could always ask the community what sponsors it would consider appropriate.

  42. deathray says:

    I’m all for sponsorship! …as long as it’s tasteful, and doesn’t effect the rules.

    I do think that Ludum Dare should eventually become a non-profit. I would feel much better about donating more money, and I think other organizations and companies would be much more willing to donate and coordinate with you. The “Ludum Dare Institute” – I like the sound of that.

    For the game browser issue, all you need to do is make a public API and some front end wizards will make a variety of awesome interfaces. I’m really looking forward to contributing code once it’s possible to get a dev environment up and running.

  43. KodingNights says:

    I’d say go for it. Don’t see how sponsors would ruin anything as long as there is a ‘hands off’ approach to the rules, selection of themes etc. Make sure sponsors sign contracts where they commit to abide by these rules beforehand though.

    GameDev.net’s Week of Awesome is a sponsored event with cash prizes. They required you to include a splash screen with the names of the sponsors in the game. Didn’t see a problem with that either. Ludum Dare is too important to close down because of money/time problems.

  44. TaoPhoenix says:

    Just because I don’t see this anywhere else yet, and to start a different kind of conversation, and I’m quite okay with it being a “no” vote:

    Has anyone even thought about getting an educational grant? Not necessarily the old joke “pay your govt contractor the price of 8 meals for a line of code”, or any of X other snark jokes, but the money to at least “kick this problem into next year” really is “proportionally small”.

    Unlike commercial companies, certain types of government departments really have mostly clean agendas. rounded down (in case we get some walk-aways) we have 2500 entrants from X countries who I think all keep trying to thunder “we want to promote technology for the future!” So a low level grant say $50,000 – half goes to site ops and half goes to a professionally bid site design (and yes, to the poster above, I agree it needs to be bid), and something like $5000 (peanuts in these waters) for accounting oversight for sanity checking for five years to stopgap any drifting.

    Then since the site main design is offloaded, with PoV only doing “design consulting” on the bid entries, allocate what the actual run costs are of the event, and try to get a renewal clause.

    Who knows, remember, this is the US Presidential Election year, I made it this low because someone with knowhow should submit this to the candidates and any of them who thinks they are “pro education” might THEN really put in the big ticket dollars we were talking about, and then it’s on its way.

    And why not a joint venture between the others? I leave the opposite number comments on EU / other to those of you elsewhere, so then it gets even easier if it starts to look like a world effort for a world cause.

    (And you Euro/other teams, I have noted for a while now you get a rough time zone to start in!)

  45. mantis says:

    Thanks for the post, really appreciate what you’re doing.

    I am ‘yea’ for sponsors. Logos ain’t bad, but no rule changes (many of us want to sell the games afterwards, funny business here would be icky).

    The fact that sponsors can bring more traffic through their own social media is a nice bonus.

  46. Caelan - 8thKingdom says:

    I Don’t Mind, Unless You Are Happy. I Think That Ludum Dare Is A Amazing Thing, And Was Wanting To Compete Myself Since LD31, But Have Never had Time To Because Of School Work. But I Hope That Everything Goes Well πŸ˜€ Also I Don’t Mind Sponsors, But It’s Your Call.

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