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What’s in a theme?

Posted by
Monday, December 26th, 2016 6:06 am

Happy holidays everyone!

Ludum Dare and the awesome games you guys create always gets me inspired; so I put together my thoughts on what can make or break a theme in a game jam. It’s really interesting seeing the reactions people have when the theme is announced and seeing how differently people view different theme ideas in the voting. I would love to hear your guys thoughts too, so feel free to add to the discussion in the comments!

Theme Interpretation

In my mind, a great theme should be able to be interpreted in many different ways. This allows for a ton of creativity and variety in the games that are made. A theme can be too specific, which can restrict creativity and lead to the theme only inspiring a few “obvious” types of games. Alternatively, themes can also be too wide or too general. There is a common saying: “Restriction breeds creativity”, which I really feel captures the spirit of Ludum Dare. For me, the perfect theme is one that is open enough that there isn’t an obvious game to make, but restrictive enough to inspire ideas and make people build their games around the theme rather than tying the theme into their games.

One thing I’ve found is that a lot of good themes can be extended. A good example of this is the theme Guardian (from LD #1): you can add different adjectives to the word to completely change its meaning and evoke different thoughts and ideas. What would a malicious guardian look like? How about a reluctant guardian? What is it a guardian of? The central idea here is that the theme of Guardian immediately gets you thinking and can evoke different responses from different people depending on what kind of guardian comes to mind for them. For me, this is the perfect sweet spot of restrictiveness in a theme.


I’m in

Posted by
Friday, April 15th, 2016 5:31 pm

Tools (probably)
– nodejs, javascript, canvas2d
– Photoshop/Paint/GIMP

Real Planets Have Curves – Making Homeworld’s Orbiting

Posted by
Saturday, December 26th, 2015 6:16 am


A number of people have been asking about how I made the orbiting mechanics in Homeworld. I think it is an interesting programming problem, with many possible solutions, so I wanted to share with everyone the thought process I went through and how my ideas changed while implementing the mechanic which helped define my game. To help fully understand the mechanic, feel free to check out my game here!


Four interesting games (and a shameless plug)

Posted by
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015 7:41 am

After playing 50 great games, I really wanted to share with everyone a few that I found that really stood out and interested me in some way.

Cultivate – Compo

Story-based games in these short game-jams always impress me so much, it must be so difficult to find the time to write in between brainstorming ideas, implementing code, designing assets etc. So when someone nails a story-based game as well as Cultivate, I am very impressed. The game makes great use out of both themes, and the story is genuinely engaging. Definitely worth multiple playthroughs.

Vines of Darkness – Jam
Vines of Darkness

This kind of game is the reason there is a mood category for judging. The paranoid atmosphere this game creates was well done, it really felt like I was slowly losing an impossible battle against the vines as they came creeping in.

Punch Beat – Jam
Punch Beat

This game is really simple and arcadey, and makes great use out of the two buttons. The graphics and audio are super polished, and the game (once finished) could easily find a place in the mobile market. While there is room for improvement in the mechanics, the potential of this game is clear as even in it’s current state it really captures the simple pleasure of punching robots in the face.

Two Buttons – Compo
Two Buttons

This game is really similar to an existing web game called multitask, and is similarly frustrating. However, it manages to somehow seem fair, and is really addictive. It’s graphical style and gameplay are really bare bones, but it has that something about it that makes you want to beat your high score every time you play.


Shameless Plug

Homeworld – Compo

This is my game, a super simple arcadey shooter defense thing. I would really appreciate it if you guys could check it out and give me feedback. I am really happy with what I was able to do in 48 hours, and while there are some valid criticisms, most people seem to be enjoying it :)


I’m in

Posted by
Friday, December 11th, 2015 5:21 pm

First time doing the Ludum Dare, good luck everyone :)

Engine: Unity

Sound: SFXR

Graphics: GIMP

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