DO’s and DON’Ts of packaging your game for Ludum Dare.

Posted by (twitter: @@BubuIIC)
April 25th, 2016 6:57 am

I’ve played and rated quite a few games in the last few days and there are a few things I repeatedly stumbled upon, which I think can easily be avoided.

So to make it as painless as possible to play and rate your game here are a few suggestions:

  • DO put your game into a separate folder before you zip it up. It is so much easier to extract it into it’s own directory if you do that. (It’s okay if it’s only one file.)
  • DON’T name that folder or your game executable ld, ld35, ludumdare, win or game. Use the name of your game instead.
  • If you are using Unity DON’T include the .pdb files generated for the Windows build. These contain debug information relevant just for the developer. And often they take up more space than the game itself.
  • If possible, DO link directly to a downloadable file. DON’T link to a page where I have to find the link that lets me download the game without donating anything. (Also itch.io has repeatedly been very, very slow for me. It often takes an hour to download  a 100 MB game. :-()
  • DON’T make your game an installer! I think Game Maker is the worst offender here. This is just very, very inconvenient. I just want to extract your game into a folder somewhere along with dozens of other LD titles and delete the whole thing after I’m done with rating it.
  • DO provide a Linux and MacOS build if your engine easily allows you doing so (Mainly Unity, but also Unreal Engine, Libgdx, etc…). Even if you can’t test it someone else will tell you if it doesn’t work.
  • From the comments: DON’T zip only the exe file if your game is made with Unity, you DO have to include the data folder in the zip.

Please add your comments and your own suggestions below. :-)

PS: You can play and rate our game ‘Gerry Wins’ here.


13 Responses to “DO’s and DON’Ts of packaging your game for Ludum Dare.”

  1. mbccompanyx says:

    Maybe there is to add “Don’t zip only the exe file if your game is made with unity, you DO have to include the data folder in the zip” because i noticed such error in some entries

  2. whilefun says:

    I too noticed the Unity Data folder missing issue on more than one occasion. Also, regarding Game Maker installers: Folks using GM: Studio have no choice now. YoYo has removed the “save exe” option completely to make GM games seem “more professional” according to the forums. A bummer, but not really preventable unless you just don’t use game maker at all.

  3. BubuIIC says:

    @whilefun: Re Game Maker: That is really unfortunate but I played a least one game made in GM: Studio which I didn’t need to install. It was an .exe and and .gmz file. Maybe you could install the game locally and zip up the resulting folder? But I don’t know if this would work.

    • HoldMeImScared says:

      Running the installer myself, then packaging up the resulting folder is exactly what I did to deal with it. After I sent the installer version to my brother I wondered if it was possible to do this instead, was pretty happy when it worked. :)

  4. Naca says:

    Man, all these should be actual rules and not only suggestions! Specially I don’t understand why people that use Unity don’t provide a Linux build. I would add that if you make a web game with Unity, export it to WebGL and not to UnityPlayer.

    • adsilcott says:

      I used to upload a Linux build but I would always get comments saying it doesn’t work. So I guess another tip would be to try to test it on the platforms that you build for.

    • APantaloni says:

      I don’t provide a Linux build because right now I don’t have a machine to test it with and I don’t like to release completely untested stuff. There’s a WebGL build, hopefully that works fine for Linux users :)

      • BubuIIC says:

        If the WebGL version is the intended way to play it, this is fine. But otherwise you could just ask to provide feedback on the Linux build.
        My experience with Unity on Linux is that it either works identical to the windows version or it crashes on startup because the graphics drivers don’t support the necessary OpenGL version. For Unity 5+ and intel graphics cards you need an Ubuntu 15.10 or newer I guess. But this is not anything you can fix on your end. Either Unity has to provide some fallback code (or at least a reasonable error message) or the user has to upgrade their system.
        But still in the end more users will be able to play your game than without any Linux support at all.

  5. MSiddeek says:

    You can always make an HTML5 game and not worry about any of this 😛

  6. Ironhead says:

    Thanks for the tips. I know I’m guilty of a few of them. I’ll keep them in mind for next time.

  7. Cerno_b says:

    I actually like games published via itch.io because I use the client and it’s quite convenient for me since it downloads, extracts and starts the game.

    Unless someone uploads a rar file, which the client doesn’t handle. I’ve seen that a number of times.

  8. josefnpat says:

    > DO put your game into a separate folder before you zip it up. It is so much easier to extract it into it’s own directory if you do that. (It’s okay if it’s only one file.)

    +1 to this!

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