Ludum Dare 32
Theme:
An Unconventional Weapon

Judging Ends in
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PlayRate80Star

Archive for the ‘LD – Misc’ Category

‘BABY BORN’ – A POSTMORTEM FOR YOU CAN SHAVE THE BABY

Posted by (twitter: @chikun_dev)
Sunday, April 26th, 2015 11:23 pm

‘BABY BORN’ – A POSTMORTEM FOR YOU CAN SHAVE THE BABY
A CHIKUN GAME BY JOSEF AND RYAN

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‘You Can Shave The Baby’ is a minigame experience that harks to the time-honoured Warioware minigames with a special dash of bizarre tasks that require the user to suspend their disbelief – and their sanity. The inspiration of the game draws from a series of weird and wonderful in-jokes Josef and I developed, incorporating elements from previous games we have made (all of which are available on our chikun.net website).
If you haven’t played it yet – check it out! Find it here, or on our site at chikun.net.

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01
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THE DESIGN PROCESS FOR ‘YOU CAN SHAVE THE BABY’

‘I want to make a weird game’. So we made one. Originally going down the avenue of wanting a hybrid horror-adventure in the vein of Yume Nikki, the project immediately turned into something else at the start of the jam.
The basic coding for the minigame format was fairly simple and self-contained once it was complete. In the vein of making minigames via Warioware: DIY the logic behind the games was easy: it needed,

(1) a timer, countdown and increasing speed,
(2) a win and lose state,
(3) different modes of user input that triggered success in minigames, and
(4) a life and score system to add progress.

After that, development was smooth sailing and the major focus of the programming was to tailor elements (2) and (3) to the unique specifications of each minigame.

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02
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As Josef was doing this it was up to me to ascertain the creative direction we wanted to take to give the minigames their personality, whilst retaining the challenge of the game. We made up a list of potential minigames, incorporating a basic description, and the win/loss states of each minigame.

Despite the bizarre nature of the game, many of the concepts revolved around non-sequitur comments, running jokes or references to previous games:

  • Aphrodite in the ‘disguise’ minigame was a character in Turtle Simulator.
  • ‘Don’t Spook The Bird’ is based on a photo of a sulphur-crested cockatoo I took at a nature reserve and features in reddit.com/r/lovebird.
  • I wrote a short story called ‘Pizza Pants’ at six in the morning at the Global Game Jam in Sydney. It stands as the only written example of pizza fetishism in literature.

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04
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CHALLENGES AND LIMITATIONS –
HOW DO WE IMPROVE THE BABY?

All in all the game came together relatively efficiently, unlike the tension of previous Dares. My only concern during development was that we would not create enough minigames to sustain the interest of players – using the base 30 minigames in a level of WarioWare, I think there was always room to expand.
We came up with few actual challenges during development, but one large roadblock manifested in the last few hours of the Jam – a major storm hit the coast of NSW, Australia, and caused power outages that ended up lasting for a week from that very night. Fortunately, when the power went out on the morning of the last day, most of the work was complete – it was only a matter of uploading the game via phone and praying for electricity.

 

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03
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So what did we learn from making the game? How could we improve the baby game?
(1) Develop more varied and innovative game mechanics
Due to time constraints, many of the minigames revolved around either using the arrow keys on the keyboard to steer the direction of an object, or hovering or clicking the cursor to highlight a change in a graphic. Making tattoos, shaving babies, and putting on makeup all rely on the same fundamental mechanic. With more time to develop ideas we could have certainly provided the player with a more engaging and challenging experience.

(2) Actually related to the theme
A common criticism of our game was that it had nothing to do with the theme. This is completely correct – Josef asked me, “Ryan, how does this relate to the theme?” I replied to the effect of who cares. At the end I think I implemented some tenuous intro theme about coming across a hacking weapon in the form of a floppy disk, but the plot was certainly a last minute ass-pull. We made the game for the abstract minigames, and that’s about it.

(3) More animation and graphics for seamless game experience
Though the simplicity of the minigames in WarioWare are simple, there’s a lot going on in the animation department. With more time we could have implemented fades and transitions between the opening cinematics, provided more animations to gague success and failure, and actually provided an ending to give an end goal and thus closure to players after the novelty of the minigames wears off.

 

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05

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Regardless, it’s clear from the feedback we got that people feel ‘You Can Shave The Baby’ was unique in style and memorable. That’s all we could ever ask for.

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Updated my Ludum Dare 29 game, Close Your Eyes

Posted by (twitter: @AestheticGamer1)
Sunday, April 26th, 2015 3:51 pm

Thought I’d mention here I spent a few days to fix a few things and add a lot of new content to the game I had made for Ludum Dare 29, Close your Eyes:

001

 

Can be downloaded from one of the following sources:

RPGMakerNet: http://rpgmaker.net/games/7578/
GameJolt: http://gamejolt.com/games/adventure/close-your-eyes/58200/
Itch.io: http://aestheticgamer.itch.io/close-your-eyes
IndieDB: http://www.indiedb.com/games/close-your-eyes

 

Trailer:

 

It’s that time again!

Posted by
Saturday, April 25th, 2015 11:07 pm

Playandrate*witty, intellectual, vaguely pop-culture oriented comment about playing and rating more Ludum Dare entries*

Hey, everyone! I’ve finally managed to settle in a bit to continue playing your games. I know we had quite the lengthy experience last night, playing a very enjoyable (but lengthy to stream) board game created during Ludum Dare — but we’ll be going back to our regularly-scheduled list now!

I’m going to continue to play in accordance to how people show up in chat via the stream, to give the best personal feedback possible. Just remember that I will be playing all the games on my list regardless, so even if you don’t jump in during a stream, I will continue to play, rate and give feedback to your entry when I’m able to!

Looking forward to seeing you there! :)

Sword_Click_HereDon’t forget to PLAY & RATE the game I worked on: EX-SWORD-STENTIAL CRISIS!

It needs more love.

480px-Tumblr_static_heart

Ray Gamer – Post-Mortem

Posted by
Monday, April 20th, 2015 4:57 pm

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This is our first game in ludum dare and first post-mortem also, we are pleased with the result despite starting too late to play the game, started on Sunday, but we deliver on time, we had problems with the location, for members the group live far away from each other.

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In the game you are a gamer, and you have to defeat the enemies in a parallel reality, using objects of your day to day, which is a mouse and a lightning rod. In this game worked: Daniela (Design Andart), Lucas (Design Andart), Caio (programming), Enio (programming) and Luan (animation). In addition we had the collaboration of a musician, Rafael Rodrigues, creating a unique music.

11160178_746627852101334_422693529_n 11180579_746627775434675_562748642_o

History: While playing Luan I felt dizzy take care of themselves and felt being sucked. After the dizziness passed he realized strange noises, he saw from his window a red sky and some distortions within its city, that same street could hear howls bloodthirsty. So fell the fixed what it was, maybe he was in a parallel dimension, alone, needed to survive and stay at home hiding was not part of you. He put on his red rubber cover, put on his boots, took his best mouse – and toughest – in one hand and your laptop for-ray prototype in the other and go out in search of his enemies.

 

Mechanical: because we are beginners in the creation of games as a whole and we are still learning the mechanics was not something new, it was something simpler (up because of the time issue) that is to walk and attack with the mouse.

 

Aesthetics: Art and the setting was entirely produced with the technique in vector in illustrator. We wanted to give a chaotic air to represent good about what it was, after all it is a parallel reality, so the use of vibrant shades such as red, and as a gamer in such a situation, he would not miss the chance to portray a character your taste, so inspire us assassin’screed to make the cover of it. The animation of the enemy, especially, was made to bring the terror, there would be no conversation, there was no way to hide, are just beasts looking for a game to have fun.

 

Technology: we use the construct as a tool, and import directly to the web, as is a prototype not yet think of other forms of platforms to put the game.

 

We had the idea on Saturday and on Sunday we met, ending the second prototype of the game.

 

What we learned: How to work as a team, it was a plus, since we understand very well, despite setbacks. Because we are beginners in this area, we learn more of the platforms we use as construct2 and platforms to make the whole scenario and characters vector.

 

The Good: the fact that the character is a gamer and use a mouse to fend off enemies in an apocalyptic world that has generated the identity of the game, also the lightning rod has an important role, since it has the idea that he was smart enough to create something like that, giving a futuristic air to the plot. I also think the game, to have a sound of terror and the use of unusual objects, causes people to “have fun” to kill enemies.

 

The Bad: We have not had many comments about the game, but we feel that lacked a more cool mechanics to the game, perhaps for lack of time and lack of ideas, we had no chance to do something better, also the way it was placed the controls might be a bad thing, since it would be more difficult player to play in the tablet such as the mouse is needed to attack.

 

Anyway, before the time we were given and ideas that emerged, I believe we can give the best of themselves in this situation, for the first time and as the course beginners. We are still thinking about this idea evolve, and continue working on the game, but for now it is so.

In need of last-minute music for your Jam game?

Posted by (twitter: @qrchack)
Sunday, April 19th, 2015 1:16 pm

I finished music for the game with @Sigrath and am sort of bored so hit me up if you need anything audio. Pretty much anything, from chiptune, through industrial to orchestral epic stuff will do (though silently I’m wishing someone with an art-like game will get in touch with me – think Nihilumbra, Journey)!

 

Clickies for listening to help you decide!

Final preparations for the compo/jam?

Posted by (twitter: @go_go_goto)
Friday, April 17th, 2015 12:08 pm

Just updated my LD32 repo at github (https://github.com/yuigoto/LD-32) with a blank game project (Haxe/OpenFL project for FlashDevelop).

I also put some code for a FPS/Resource monitor and the code I use to draw my company logo.

Is it ok to use this for the compo?

Also…gotta clean up my desk and get some snacks! I’m shivering >_<

Being Happy With Your LudumDare Game

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 4:49 am

This is a cross-post from my blog

 

Ah, the Ludum dare! Your favorite gamejam. You have fond memories of the last one: the wait before the announcement, the not-so-inspiring theme, and its famous 48h time limit…

48h, Really? 30h at most if you ask me. Everyone will tell you that you need to eat properly and to take a break from time to time. This is not the purpose of this post, I will just assume that you have at least one 8h sleep and a few proper meal during the weekend.

How it might go

So 30h. Let’s do this! Let’s say you have the perfect idea for the jam, and you spend the first day producing cool graphics, slick animations, and great audio. Good. It took some time of course, but it’s done.

Now you have 15-20 hours to make an actual game that has a usage for each asset you made… Aaand done! That was easy! No weird physic bug, no special case to handle, and you implemented every single mechanic you wanted. After all you knew exactly how to play an animation in your game engine. Right?

~5 hours to go. Let’s wrap it up : 2-3 levels, a title screen, a game over screen… Aaand you submitted just on time. Hurray! Can’t wait for the comments :

 

That was super hard, I gave up on the second level. Graphics are great.

Great! Difficulty is good. Too bad he didn’t see the boss though.

Looks awesome, but I don’t understand how my abilities work”

Ow man, one of those guys who rate games in 2 minutes and don’t actually try to play it. That sucks.

I didn’t know where to go after I beat the third patch of enemies.

Wait, what? There is just one path: you need to jump on the platform offscreen. Did he not try that?

My attacks felt very underwhelming, and it was hard to beat the simpler enemies”

Well of course! You need to make combos!

 

21 days later you are a bit depressed from the comments. You even wrote a post about it, asking if people actually played your game. No one seemed to care. Results are in and your best score in #84 in graphics. Audio is at #261. You’d rather not talk about the rest.

(Copyright theMeatly.com)

 

Let’s go back, and refine our objectives

This example I gave is highly unrealistic. Nothing goes smoothly from start to finish, and the simple tasks will take more time that you would expect. That is, if you don’t have an unexpected bug popping out of nowhere.

You might have the time to implement all the mechanics you want AND have nice assets AND a proper level design… but you cannot know for sure. So Keep It Stupidly Simple! (or “Keep It Simple, Stupid” if you prefer that one)

If you ever want to make a good LD entry, you not only need to make a game, but you also need to make a game that doesn’t drive people away by beeing too hard/long/boring/complicated/… And for each feature you add to the game, you will have to make sure that it’s not too hard/long/boring/complicated, which comes on top of the technical challenge.

Why not going easy on yourself? Why wouldn’t you pick just one feature? (feature, concept, mechanic… call it however you like). It is better to have one cleanly executed (and matured) feature than a bunch of half-baked ones. A few examples:

  • You have to navigate a maze to reach a visible goal but the walls are invisible
  • You have to navigate a maze to reach a visible goal but you can only stop moving by bumping into a wall
  • A basic platformer but jumping toggles some platforms
  • A basic platformer but wall-jumping breaks the walls
  • Solve a mystery but you cannot ask the same question to different persons.

After all, YOU are the only one defining the amount of work required.

 

Pick an idea

When the theme is announced (or even before), write any ideas you may have, no matter how stupid or vague they may be.

Go through your list and, unless it’s a REALLY simple idea, remove those who don’t match your skills (you can always keep that idea for another game):

  • It needs good graphics, and you are not good at art? Next! Coming up with assets you deem acceptable will take too long.
  • It needs a physic simulation, and your game engine doesn’t have one? (or you never used it?) Next! Don’t risk going through technical hurdles when you can avoid it
  • It needs to have animation synchronized with the music, and you are not sure how to do that? Next!

This might seem a bit over the top, but my point is that you need to come up with your own rule that guarantees the idea is reasonable. Mine is “If I can’t make it with colored squares on a single screen, I need a good reason to keep that idea”.

Combine that to the “one feature” rule we talked above and you have an efficient way to filter out your ideas.

…no matter how stupid…

 

Implement your core feature

Once you have your one key feature, get it to work as soon as possible. This, as said earlier, will take more time than expected. So don’t go on a tangent here. Just get it to work. Bonus point if you can tune the controls so that it’s not boring to move around in a blank room.

Then introduce your concepts properly. Easier said than done, I know; “how to make a tutorial” deserves its own article… So here are the first 3 level of my LD26 as an example (not a single line of text to explain things):

(The LD site doesn’t display gifs: click to see the animation)

 
sq_in_room_1

“This is how you move (what you can do), and what you have to do”

sq_in_room_2

“This is the concept I will build the rest of the game on”

sq_in_room_3

“This is how you can fail”

Congratulation! You now have a (very short and ugly) game, one that is not bugged or broken.

 

When the core feature is implemented

If you reached that stage, there is a chance that you are either late in the first day (and you should go to bed), or already in the second day. From there, you have a few options:

Implement a second feature

I wouldn’t recommend it. You are not guaranteed to have enough time to add a concept to the game. If you feel confident, go for it, but it will be less risky to focus on smaller tasks and improve what you already have.

Add some content

This will probably mean adding a bunch of new levels, but it could also be adding a bit of dialogue to NPCs, adding a new station in you space game, a new kind of enemy…

With only one twist to your game, it might seem hard to produce multiple levels without going in circles… but it’s not. Watch this:
[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBmIkEvEBtA”]

The key here is to play with your core concept to see what kind of situations you can have. Make a couple of level based on each situation. Don’t make them to hard and keep them short (remember that “on one screen” constraint?): remember you want the players to keep playing so don’t frustrate or bore them.

Once again, gifs to the rescue:

(The LD site doesn’t display gifs: click to see the animation)

 
sq_in_room_4-6

Levels 4-6: Follow a path, a basic precision challenge

sq_in_room_7

Level 7: Development: Find the path yourself

sq_in_room_12

Twist! Find which goal is reachable

Make it pretty

Add sounds. That’s the easy one, and the most important in my opinion: a lack of sound feels wrong. People don’t necessarily notice, but they tend to give a worst rating to soundless games. It’s better to have poor sound effects than none (unless they are unpleasant of course)

Add graphics. I know you want to. It’s ok. Now you can.

Add some juice: Screenshake, particles… There are a lot of things you can do in that domain, and a lot has been said about it (content that is just one google search away). This is usually the last thing I do, as I can keep adding “one more thing” until the end.

sq_chain_reaction

chain reactions are awesome

Add a story

What now? A story? I thought I wasn’t suppose to add a big feature!

Well… Yes. If you go for a story, you can’t deliver an incomplete one. But it is hard to break something if all you are doing is adding a bunch of if (eventX) display(textEventX); Worst case: you don’t have the time to finish it, and you just have a few lines of code to comment.

You don’t even need to have many kind of events: onLevelStart, onLevelEnd, onDeath... is enough. Before you know it, you will have a complete, narrated game. Or even NPC expressing their personality.

Boom! you gained a few stars in mood, maybe humor, and a new kind of comments “Man, I love the little dialogs in that game!”

“But I just have a bunch of squares running around! How could a story–“

 

Final thoughts and TLDR

There are a lot of rules and tips to succeed at a gamejam out there, and I just added a handful to the mix. You might not agree with some of them, and that is totally fine. Just remember that one:

You are making a game for people to play. Try to make something enjoyable, not a half-baked version of what you wanted to create.

Now get check you tools one last time, and join us while we wait for the theme.

Have a nice week-end!

Any young developer here?

Posted by
Monday, April 6th, 2015 11:19 am

I’m 13, I have been coding since i was 10, but i have been interested in computers and programming almost all my life.

I used to make (extremely simple) python games…

I’m wondering if there is any other young developer participating in Ludum Dare!

If so, feel free to say how you started, etc!

 

Cheers!

(I hope i have posted this on the right place…)

I’m (musically) in! (+ Bonus Advice)

Posted by (twitter: @qrchack)
Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 5:51 am

So, after my failed attempts at trying to Ludum Dare, I had a little break of it. But you’re too awesome, so I’m back here, though this time I’m organized and focused on the thing I’m best at: music and SFX. I’ve teamed up with Sigrath, he’s gonna do the actual game stuff and I’ll be doing just audio.

My setup:

  • As usual, a ridiculously old laptop (Intel Dual Core 1.73 GHz and 2 GB of RAM)
  • FL Studio / Reaper (depends on the style we’ll be going to use: Reaper for orchestral stuff, FL for electronic/ambient/chiptune)
  • Plugins: stock FL/Reaper, Kontakt (with my favorite libraries, Kontakt 5 Factory Library, Drums of War 2, Evolve Mutations, Shevannai Voices of Elves, and some freebies here and there), Sylenth1, 3xOsc (it’s FL stock but it just had to be listed separately for its awesomeness)

Now, onto the advice part: currently I’m trying to really get OOP and generally train myself how not to fail and actually make games. It’s a sort of weekends research project, though I aim to finish a game this way. I decided to use NetBeans for a couple of reasons:

  • Although I love coding in Sublime Text (I code most stuff in it, including my website), the autocompletion feature is really lacking for me (even with SublimeCodeIntel). I really miss being able to CTRL+Space and select functions from SDL/LÖVE, or my own functions from other files in the project folder. Sublime suggests just the ones in the file I’m on currently, which isn’t gonna work well when I’m trying to learn classes and code separation
  • I want a sort of unified experience (same IDE) if I decide to try writing in Java (and I’ll need once I get to university) – NetBeans supports both C(++) and Java
  • It’s free and open source, and I like free and open source :)

My piece of advice I’ve learned while coding: make a test run, write a game a week or two before Ludum Dare actually starts using the setup you’ll be on. You can’t afford losing first 5 hours reinstalling MinGW, setting up your environment variables, changing compiler settings and adding include directories. Have your libraries installed, tested working, with a skeleton project ready to code in. Make it already include loading settings, main menu, renderer code, audio engine. You’ll have time to focus on the game, not the engine. More time spent on what your game is about = more fun coding and more fun playing.

Second advice: team up! You don’t have to make a formal team and code together. Have a friend (or a whole bunch of friends!) with you, so you have someone to talk and give ideas for your game. Plus, hopefully, you won’t lose sanity that fast.

I guess that’s pretty much it for now, can’t wait for Ludum Dare, good luck everyone and most importantly, have fun!

How to make sure a game idea is good?

Posted by (twitter: @strong99)
Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 7:20 am

You finally came up with the game of your dreams. You wrote everything down, used all available studies and it sounds too good to be true on paper. But how do you make sure it ends up being fun to play? You could build the game and throw in endless testing afterwards until your test subjects think it’s fun. But is that really the way to go? I think not. There are better ways to do quality checks. So what easier and quicker ways are there?

Periodic player involvement

Don’t shy away from asking potential players to try and review your game concept. Besides the obvious part where they give feedback on what they like or dislike, they are also the first to try the game itself when it’s finished. If you gain their interest the chances are they will be the first group to spread the word. Not to mention they feel a part of the game since they were involved. It’s a good way for a small indie developer to get some attention. But let’s get back to the obvious part. If you think developing your game takes around 5 months. Make sure to involve your future players at least once a month. It gives you time to act on their fears and comments. Later on this will lower the time taken during testing.

Prototype, prototype and implement

I learned that creating your game at once with all features feels good, but it gave a headache to test it with my audience. Instead, I tend to build smart prototypes in the GameCreator with the most important game features. When I’m making a platform game with a special boss I take the bosses mechanics and put it in a small level which I can easily fine-tune. It’s quicker and easier to get done for your next session with players. Nothing beats seeing your involved audience smile for five minutes rather than get stuck on issues you didn’t want them to comment on.

 

Analytics

To further know if your game will be a success, write down which statistics to record and how you expect them to analyse. Letting players test your game is one. But how do you record the necessary information you need to know the players act as you wish? Is watching enough? Do you need to record the screen and eye moments? Before I get to play-tests I write a simple table with bullet points I need to know in Excel. It often contains: time needed to finish a level/section, amount of retries, keys being pressed, the player’s emotion and their average compared with all others.

Use structured tables to keep your data at hand

This is just a small set of techniques I use and have seen in other companies. They give you the edge and act as a forward warning system when users freak out about your concept. Large game development companies even have their own departments with data analytics who analyse every pixel of a game during game-play.

How do you make sure your users enjoy? Did you ever use play tests? Or are you planning to? I would love to know!

View all blogs from the series “What makes a good game?”

Where’d the Time Go?

Posted by (twitter: @timbeaudet)
Monday, March 16th, 2015 2:19 pm

precise_shot_title

Ludum Dare 31 was an awesome event for me, the Precise Shot compo entry came out great!  Not only did the game come out great, by running the RescueTime application, I was able to breakdown how much time went into development.  The reports clearly show what went well and what could be done better for Ludum Dare 32 and beyond.

  • Sleeping was the single most time consuming activity: 15 hours 29 minutes.
  • Most comfortable with programming, and it shows taking more than 50% development time.
    • Future events I should aim to spread this time on content creation, arts and sounds.
  • Six hours of development efforts on the second day didn’t make it into the final game.
  • 76 minutes spent on twitter, composing 41 tweets.
  • The final hour was spent on the art, sounds and counting effects for the results screen.

Check out the results in more detail below: (click the image to make it larger)

precise_shot_time_graphic

I do work at RescueTime but I know there will be people interested in the data above, and maybe some will be interested in using RescueTime to learn about their own productivity and habits.  You can sign up for an account at: https://www.rescuetime.com/ or ask any questions you may have about it.

More post-mortem details about Precise Shot can be found here.

Target audiences and user motivation

Posted by (twitter: @strong99)
Sunday, March 15th, 2015 7:27 am

Creating an artistic game is one part. Making a game popular for an audience is another. My company creates games for businesses, a different kind of audience than Ludum Dare participants. How to make sure that a game will fit them? The key is to know your target audience to the bone, to make sure they keep playing and recommend it to friends. Our goal is to make lots of people play and enjoy our games. So, what does motivate a human to enjoy my games?

Whenever you create a game you’ll have an idea about the people you expect to play your game. We’ve discussed how to make a game fit to everyone in the previous blogs in the series. But how to define your audience? Let’s take a look at the game I previously made for Ludum Dare 29 called “Troubling times“ . The theme in this competition was “Below the Surface”.  Since it’s made for a Ludum Dare competition, our first and main audience are the Ludum Dare participants. The game is intended as a physiological and survival story driven. The player gets stuck in a submarine base and finds itself locked while the base slowly but steadily breaks down. There is a bit of exploring (finding out why) and a goal (escaping).

Beneath the Surfaace

If I reflect on why players would play it I ask myself “What does motivate them to continue and play?”. To do this I often use four intrinsic motivations. Intrinsic means a part of, the default nature or the self-desire, from within the player. For example: you’ll end up being a game developer, because you enjoy learning about games. It isn’t: you’ll end up being a game developer, because you adore money. That’s an extrinsic motivation. With an extrinsic motivation you’ll do it for the reward (money), not the process (learning).

Player motivations

These motivations are well defined in the RAMP framework, namely: Relatedness, Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. The exploring element relates to a bit of autonomy while our goal of escaping fits the purpose motivation. I miss two types: players who are motivated by relatedness and mastery will bite the dust. What does this mean for our target audience?

It means that the target audience for this game wasn’t the entire Ludum Dare user base. It was a niece audience who longs for purpose or a bit autonomy. I never researched our Ludum Dare user base, but probably less than a half would qualify as the real target audience of users who fancies such games.

Expanding our audience

How would I change this game to fit a broader target audience? I missed the motivations: relatedness and mastery. Let’s start of relatedness, this motivation is about being connected and creation relations with others. I can do two things, make you feel really connected to the other character ingame or by sharing your current game status to others for hints or even discussing solutions. To include the mastery motivation the game needs to have learning curve. The current puzzles are too short and simple to really motivate or challenge you to learn how to solve. A set of more complicated puzzles, a bit harder after the previous, would increase the mastery motivation.

So next time when we start a little game for Ludum Dare, we keep the target audience in mind and what motivates us to play your game. I know I will. To get my games better fitted with the Ludum Dare participants I’ll design an easy to use matrix.

What techniques do you use to check your target audience? Or do you rather create artistic games for the fun of creating?

Welcome GitHub Game Off Participants!

Posted by (twitter: @ludumdare)
Friday, March 13th, 2015 9:18 am

GameOffWelcome developers finding us through GitHub’s latest contest.

We’re in the process of improving and building us a brand new website to make finding, submitting and sharing games much better. Unfortunately, everything about the current website is dated and clumsy. We’ve been running Game Jams for 13 years now, and we’ve got a lot of stuff (but you need to know how to find it).

Here are links to games with source found on GitHub from our past 4 events:

Ludum Dare 31 – Entire Game on One Screen
Ludum Dare 30 – Connected Worlds
Ludum Dare 29 – Beneath the Surface
Ludum Dare 28 – You only get one

A complete list of events can be found here: http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludumdare/. Click any of the “All” or “Compo” links (if there is no “All”), punch in github.com in the search box to find games from that event on GitHub.

Be sure to give credit to the original authors!

Hey! What if I don’t want my games to be part of this contest?

Simply visit your game page, Edit, and remove the link to your GitHub repository. All we’re doing to find them is a simple search (for github.com). As long as there is no mention of github on your game page, you wont show up in the search results. NOTE: Site caching may keep it around for a few minutes after editing.

Re-branding Ludum Dare. Lets talk Logo and Mascot

Posted by (twitter: @mikekasprzak)
Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 3:58 pm

Alright! It’s time we got this ball rolling.

As many of you know, my goal this year is to finally refresh, redo and build us a brand new Ludum Dare website. It’s a big deal. We’ve been going strong for 13 years now, but we’ve grown *A LOT* the past few. I’m in constant awe that many thousands of you tolerate the sub-par duct-tape and cardboard website we have today. I never expected LD to get this big, and to become so important to so many people. I feel I have a responsibility to take this little hobby of mine very seriously.

So part of bringing Ludum Dare up to date is cleaning up the branding. Last year I took the first step, switching our hashtag from #LD48 to #LDJAM. We are big on social media. It’s how I keep in touch with many of you. But we’re constantly bringing in new people, and in just 5 years we’ll finally reach our 48th main event. If we weren’t already 13 years old, that might seem far away. It’s one less question I need to answer.

I can’t even remember when I made the current Ludum Dare logo, but it’s been a very long time. What a shame it would be to have a brand new Ludum Dare, with the same old logo. Like getting a haircut before something new, it’s just something you do.

But rather than starting with a debate on typography and color, I want us to explore something that’s been in the back of my mind: A Ludum Dare Mascot.

We sort of have a logo. At some point, it was clear that many early LD’ers were Commodore 64 fans (myself included). The Commodore 64 never really had a standard joystick, but you could plug in *A LOT* of different things (including Atari 2600 joysticks or Sega Master System gamepads). Somewhere along the line, a bunch of us just mutually agreed that the Suncom TAC-2 was the iconic joystick we were going to use to represent Ludum Dare. It also kinda helps that nobody really knows who Suncom is anymore, and if they’re still around, they certainly don’t care about the TAC-2.

The Suncom TAC-2 (Totally Accurate Controller MK2)

The Suncom TAC-2 (Totally Accurate Controller MK2)

Funny thing, it’s actually a really terrible joystick for play (solder and balls instead of microswitches). But man, it captures that 80’s iconic retro gaming vibe just right. It was all about the style.

So hello, it’s 2015 now.

It’s probably 30 years since the TAC-2 was manufactured. I’m not saying we get rid of the TAC-2, but we should consider our options. Gaming has changed, and is always changing. You might even say we had an effect on that change (something small, but hey). Really, the only constant in gaming is change.

So if it’s fair game to change the Logo, what could we do?

Of course, there’s the mascot route.

Taccy the Tacky TAC-2... this is why I need your help

Taccy the Tacky TAC-2… this is why I need your help

.. Well, Taccy is probably not a good choice, but we need to start somewhere.

I want to think there is an ideal little character we can create to both represent and share with the community. Maybe there’s multiple mascots. Maybe there’s a root character that gets reinterpreted. Maybe there’s the general mascot, and maybe there’s a Ludu-tan/Dah-ray-chan or other personification.

I'll admit. I love what GitHub does with their branding

I’ll admit. I love what GitHub does with their branding

Ludum Dare means a lot of things to a lot of people. You all constantly blow me away with your creativity, so I feel this is something I need to defer to all of you to help find.

Help us design a Mascot and/or Logo for Ludum Dare!

This isn’t a contest per se. I’d rather think of this as a conversation. If someone has an idea, and if you have suggestions or alternative takes on the idea, I want to see the back and forth. I want us to work together on this.

Post your thoughts, sketches, and ideas in the comments. I will follow along as best I can.

EDIT: Oh! Image posting doesn’t work in WordPress. I’ve been manually editing posts and embedding the images. Leave me a link to an image file, and I’ll do that for you.

Thank you GitHub for the amazing party. Photos!

Posted by (twitter: @mikekasprzak)
Monday, March 9th, 2015 4:58 pm

First a huge shout-out to everyone that joined us at our Ludum Dare GDC gathering party in San Francisco last week. It was an amazing time. We’re hoping to do it again next year, and will try to get even more you there.

TIP: Sign up for the Mailing List!

I owe a huge thank you to GitHub for generously hosting us, and Lee Reilly for planning, organizing, and throwing us a really amazing party. It was the best!

Here’s a few photos to remember the night.

EDIT: More Photos (Higher Quality. My camera phone is terrible)

Enter Here

Enter Here

People thought they were early

People thought they were early

Octocat

Octocat

Octocat skeleton

Octocat skeleton

Octocat Thinker

Octocat Thinker

Gaming themed Bar menu

Gaming themed Bar menu

Side Scrolling Platformer

Side-Scrolling Platformer

Real Time Strategy

Real Time Strategy

Third Person Shooter

Third Person Shooter

The Chow

The Chow

Pool with Sos

Pool with Sos

Footy

Footy

Developers

Developers

Developers

Developers

Developers

Developers

Developers

Developers

Demoing

Demoing

Developers

Developers

Just Cheese and Vegan left

Just Cheese and Vegan left

@foolmoron sleeps

@foolmoron sleeps

We got those!

We got those!

Wide

Wide

Bar

Bar

Until next time...

Until next time…

Which aspects are important in a game?

Posted by (twitter: @strong99)
Saturday, March 7th, 2015 9:00 am

Although there are millions of games these days, only a few really succeed and even less are worth to play. How is this possible? A game consists of a set of rules, right? But a bunch of rules don’t make it fun to play. Actually, far from in my opinion. Throwing in some random rules doesn’t make a game good. So, which aspects are important related to the rules and make it worth the play? What gives rules the edge to play a game again and again?

There are lots different theories about that. But let’s start analyzing it a bit on our own first.
Take FarmVille, already a much debate game reflecting micro economics and social play. While you’re forced to do social play and use the micro economics, most people keep returning as long as they can. Why do they get back? If you ask players what makes the game fun, you’ll receive several answers. I took the three most heard reasons to analyze:

  • It’s my farm
  • I keep finding new stuff
  • Crops harvesting before they wither

My farm in FarmVille

It’s my farm ‘cause I build it

What makes them think it’s their farm? Well, they have put time in it, they decorated the farm themselves by earning or buying options. It gives the player the idea it’s his own farm. He actually did create the farm based on the game’s rules. It’s like drawing a painting or building a house. You put effort in it to create it. It’s a strong drive for players to return. We can define this as “creativity” and “ownership”. Depending on the theories I know there are around 4 to 16 “drivers”.

The need of collecting

Will you keep finding new stuff? Yes, because there isn’t much stronger than the human’s curiosity. If it grabs hold of your attention. You want to know all of it. So that’s a very strong game driver. The drivers I normally define are: calling, creativity, curiosity, possession, social pressure, impatience, scarcity and accomplishments. If a game contains all of these, the theory is, it will be playable by most if not all people.

The need to avoid loss

In FarmVille you need to tend your crops like a baby? A very strong drive in this game to get back is to prevent your farm from dying. The last thing you want is to hinder the progress of building your farm by letting crops wither. This forces you to get back regularly. Yet, they don’t go as far as destroying the entire farm. The behavior is known as avoidance and creates a pressure driver.

I can analyze a game much further than this to find if the game is good. But luckily I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There are already a lot of gamification and analyzing guidelines and frameworks you can grab. In the past I used the following frameworks: Octalysis, Marczeweski, GAME, RAMP and much more. They contain questions, constraints and rules. I often find these incomplete and I normally use a set of frameworks to get all drivers and aspects correctly.

Although a game implementing all these drivers has more change of succeeding, focusing on less drivers could also end up being a very popular game. But even in a first person shooter where the focus lies with the story and thrill for action it often also contains ownership and creativity. Weapons, different paths to solve the level and even scores are related to a driver. But they aren’t always very clear or even the focus of the game.

Although these frameworks can predict your game’s popularity and acceptance, I see them more as guidelines. I find it easier to set up a fun game and balance my game before development starts. It allows me to shift my attention to actually creating the game rather than endlessly include game testers and that makes it easier to compare it with your target audience’s profile.

This is my second of a series of blogs on “What makes a good game”.

You probably unconsciously use a lot of these aspects already. can you find them? How do you define your game’s aspects during Ludum Dare?

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