Just a moment ago I finally realized something I should’ve realized years and years ago, and decided that the best way to approach it would be to write an open apology.

Over the years of participating in Ludum Dares and other game jams, I have partly unthinkingly and partly knowingly cheated and otherwise acted maliciously in ways that have made my results look better than they deserve. This has happened in two ways:

  • Using certain bits of MMF2 code I had made earlier to get started with a game project faster, and
  • Using the “submission hour” to add content and polish/tweaks

In earlier LDs I’ve taken part in it’s also possible that I’ve added content after the deadline along with bugfixes, but I’m not certain of the extent of this kind of behaviour and I’m fairly certain it hasn’t happened in recent years (not that that makes it acceptable to have happened before!)

The former category of cheating has mostly concerned certain relatively simple “modules” that I’ve added to my projects upon starting to work on them; it would’ve been quite trivial to re-implement the same features during the actual compo and I doubt I’ve gained much advantage via this abuse of the rules; this of course doesn’t make my behaviour any less wrong, merely a bit dumber.

Using the “submission hour” for polish and features has definitely affected the quality of my entries significantly; I have no excuse for this behaviour.

It makes me angry at myself to have abused the goodwill of the community in such a way and I’m very very sorry that I’ve acted this way. The reason behind this kind of behaviour is probably partially in my own naïvete; when I first participated in LD I was much younger and thus had less of a moral compass, and after that it’s been easier to point at past offences and think “well, I did that before so I don’t have to care now, either”, or just not think about the whole issue in the first place. I’m glad I’ve realized that this way of thinking is actively malicious and morally wrong, but I’m really sad it took me this long to actually decide to acknowledge it and the awful things I’ve done. What makes me feel even more awful is the fact that I’ve manipulated my time lapse videos so that this behaviour couldn’t be seen in them.

So, again, I’m very deeply sorry to have acted in such a malicious manner, and I apologize for having been as dumb and mean as I have. Ludum Dare has been a very important part of my game developer hobby for these past 7 years and I’ve learned a lot and enjoyed all the experiences related to the event; I just wish this kind of attitude hadn’t been a part of it behind the scenes, or at least that I’d have been morally sound enough to stop doing it, feel genuinely sorry and apologize a long time ago.

As a gesture that someone hopefully finds useful, I’ve decided to upload the bits of engine I’ve re-used in many of my LD games; right now I can recall two that I’ve utilized in multiple entries (especially the latter can be found in nearly every entry):

  • A simple platforming engine. The version I’ll include here contains some extra functionality, such as slopes, because I’m not completely certain on whether I’ve used only the simplest form in a cheaty manner or also this more advanced one.
  • A system for quickly resizing the game window to a multiplier of its original size. This is a very simple piece of code, but as a result also very easy to quickly add to a project at the start of development.

Additionally I’ve used Adam “Sketchy” Hawker’s pathfinding tutorial in multiple entries, and while I’m not certain of how much of the tutorial code I’ve copied directly to my entries, I have a memory that suggests that I’ve done so and renamed variables afterwards to make this less apparent. This is really awful behaviour.

I have used these two particular engine pieces in a similarly cheaty way in other game jams, such as No More Sweden and Nordic Game Jam, for similarly dumb and irresponsible reasons, although without the intention to act maliciously (if that matters).

I hope that the fact that I bring this matter up on my own helps prove that I genuinely feel very sorry about it and wish to be a better person in the future. It’ll be somewhat scary to see what’ll come out of this, but in the end whatever possible bad outcomes are deserved and I’m nevertheless sure that this is the right thing to do, right now.

Here are the two pieces of engine mentioned:

Platforming engine (with slopes) – ThePodunkian kindly taught me the basics of this design years ago (in 2008, maybe?)

Screen size multiplier – I’m fairly sure I implemented this myself and refined it over the years.

Seems like Adam’s pathfinding tutorials are no longer available; I feel slightly uncomfortable uploading them as they are, but if anyone wants I can make a tutorial based on the system I’ve used.

In case it helps, I’m fine with my LD entries being removed from the site.

12 Responses to “An open apology to the Ludum Dare community (and other game jam communities)”

  1. fragileannihilator says:

    1) Rules say: “You’re free to start with any base-code you may have” so I believe that there’s nothing wrong with using pre-made basic engine. As far as I know, many participants do that.
    2) As for sumbission hour… On one hand, entries are supposed to be made in 48(72) hours, not 49(73). On the other hand, It isn’t mentioned anywhere that you can’t polish your game during the submission hour. To be honest, I continued working on my games until the end of submission hour several times and never considered it cheating.

  2. Hempuli says:

    I added some extra text regarding time lapses and pathfinding.

  3. Alexbrainbox says:

    Honestly regarding (2), I really think that so long as you’re not actually changing the nature of the game, making changes in the submission hour, or even later, is acceptable so long as you’re only making it more accessible / easier to play for people who are going in to judge it.

    Remember that compo’s like Ludum Dare are really there for bettering yourself rather than trying to beat other people, and the judging is really a convenient way of getting people to provide helpful feedback. That’s especially true this time around where there’s no value-comparison between entries at all.

    So thanks for being so candid but be sure to understand, it’s not the community that needs to forgive you, it’s yourself 😀

  4. runvs says:

    Thank you for your open words and your honesty! I played lots of your LD Games and always liked them very much.
    I can ensure you, that I, personally (!), do not feel offended at all. For me, Ludum Dare (or most other game jam) is not about competition, but a having fun, seeing great entries being created and playing them. I (again, personally) don’t care if it took a person/team 1, 24, 48, 49, 72 or 73 hours to create a game. If anyone has fun doing this (during creation or playing), it was absolutely worth it.

    I don’t want to justify cheating and you have my highest respect for telling us your thoughts. I appreciate your open-mindedness and the will to question your motivation. I truely hope, this will not hold you back from submitting games at further jams!

  5. Hello,

    For point 1, I’m also reusing the code base from previous ludum dare. Let’s face it: the purpose of the jam is to make a game, not retype again and again the same lines of code by heart. And if you could not reuse code, you should not either be able to use a pre-made game engine (in a similar fashion it’s code reuse)

    Hell, I even prepare the project BEFORE starting the LD (opening a new project, adding the needed libraries, trying to compile, setting up the git repository and so on).

    So, what you do is totally fine, at least, for me.

  6. quaternary says:

    Well, the purpose of the Dare is to get together and have fun. And if using basecode makes the jam more fun for you, more power to ya~

  7. g12345 says:

    You know, if Ludum Dare is really a “part of my game developer hobby” for you, then please don’t take this too seriously.

    I’d say, relax, and from now on, do JAM, instead of COMPO. You can have that “polish 48th hour” with jams, and there will be more time for writing your own code instead.

    There is also no shame in making post-jam or post-compo versions. I’d say it’s actually more encouraged to imporve your LD game afterwards.

    So, relax a bit more, do jam instead of compo, and why not have some chat on the IRC channel with some of us? It’s a hobby, it’s okay to not finish with a great game in 48 hours, and improve later.

    Have fun! :)

  8. ajayajayaj says:

    I always work 10-20 minutes past the final hour (which you can see in my timelapses too. But, that’s just usuall to add a menu and fix compilation bugs.

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