I would love to hear some feedback from you guys on what you think about the game.
Archive for the ‘LD – Misc’ Category
Hey folks! Mike here!
I was going to do a video for this, but it’s a lot faster for me to just write.
I’d like us to change the Hashtag (#LD48). It’s a common source of confusion for new participants (“I thought it was LD 31?”), which is about half of everyone participating in Ludum Dare events. And given all the other Ludum Dare numerics (72 hour jam, 48 hour compo, every past event), it’s helping nobody.
My proposed alternative is:
When we started Ludum Dare 12 years ago, the term “Game Jam” hadn’t caught on. Instead, we took our inspirations from the Demoscene (i.e. “compo”). Nowadays though, Game Jams are what people call what we do. And even if you don’t know what a Game Jam is, you probably know the music term Jam/Jamming, or the sugary spread you put on your toast (arguably both are accurate descriptors of what we do).
It’s unfortunately to change something we’ve been doing for 12 years (calling Ludum Dare LD48), but it’s a necessary step towards helping more people understand what we do.
This doesn’t solve the confusion between the Jam and Compo, but I think it’s still a better problem to have than having no idea what we do.
PLUS: ldj.am was available. Should make a good URL shortener.
Share your thoughts in the comments.
The video sums up the plan. If you want to contribute, hit one of the links below.
If you want to help by doing work, join the mailing list. I’ll let you know when we’re ready.
Honestly, I have no idea how realistic this is, but here we are anyway. You don’t see Patreons as high as $3000 (you rarely see $200), but you guys asked for it, so here we are giving it a try!
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Lets talk specifics.
Hey, do you Steam? You should follow us on Steam. We now maintain a curated list of games that started in Ludum Dare that made their way to Steam. Follow us! Help us share Ludum Dare games with the world.
Ludum Dare #30 is getting closer to finish line. I think it’s time to look back and try to analyze overall approach: what mistakes were made, what lessons I learned and how it can be improved for the next competitions. There are not only lessons learned, but also tip’n’tricks that can be useful for newcomers and for veterans of LD and game-jams. This post is about the competition itself. If you’re interested in my project in details you can check “The Beginning – Postmortem”. This material based on my Ludum Dare experience, but is relevant for almost any game-jam. It’s gonna be wall of text, so be patient and let’s start…
Ludum Dare has voting system for pick a theme for upcoming competition. Voting contains several rounds. Final round contains 20 finalists and starts 2 days before the theme announcement and the official start of competition. One of these finalists becomes an official theme of the competition. So, you have 2 days to think about all of these 20 themes. It’s pretty enough to plot at least 2-3 possible variations of gameplay and setting for each theme. This approach will save you a couple hours during the competition timeframe. So, don’t waste your time, start thinking about theme as soon as possible. It’s also a good idea to check Ludum Dare forum and Twitter (#LD48 hashtag) during these 2 days before competition and try to figure out what themes have higher chances to win the vote. So you can spend a bit more time on these themes.
Always keep in mind that within competition timeframe you must prepare promo materials to attract people’s attention. According to my experience you need at least 2-3 hours to make some basic promo assets like screenshots, description, etc.
Catchy cover image & screenshots
When other participants open the “Play+Rate” page they see 18 thumbnails. You must do everything to force them to click on YOUR thumbnail. Some people just put some screenshot of their game as a thumbnail. The problem is that when you scale down 1280×720 to 120×75 the image becomes a mess, especially UI elements. Players can check hi-res screenshots later on your page if they want, but first of all it’s better to show them something that will grab their attention even with 120×75 size. Compare these 2 thumbnails: left one is a screenshot, right one is a cover image.
Which one looks more interesting and appealing? I hope you’ve got the message. So, spend at least 20-30 minutes to craft cover image from scratch. You can use your game assets of course, but make it clear and readable. Make it interesting, so player will be hooked with this image.
Speaking about screenshots it worth to mention that main point of screenshots is to show players VALUE and OPPORTUNITY. You should tell a player something like “If you will play this game you will visit at least 3 different locations, fight against 4 enemies using 5 types of weapons!”. Show the best things that you have in your game (if it doesn’t contain spoilers). Don’t show the same content on several screenshots. It’s better to show less, than show the same content again and again. It’s just boring and a player will think that you don’t have a lot of content.
Intriguing name & description
It’s obvious, but the title of your game should be unique. Never name your game as game-jam’s theme. Never EVER! As the thumbnail, the title is the first thing that player will see. Some participants trying to explain gameplay in title of their game… Don’t do it. It’s boring. Make it interesting, force player to think “Why it’s called like this? What is behind of this name?”.
Description… Let’s be honest, we don’t like reading. When we come to game-jam page we don’t want to read, we want PLAY GAMES! Immediately! But if at some point I decided to read the description, I don’t want to read that this is your first entry, that you failed miserably, that you didn’t find proper application of theme, etc. Do you think it’s really going to help you earn higher rating? I don’t think so… Don’t complain, don’t excuse. I don’t want to read about you, I want to read about your game. Tell me the story! A brief introduction of the game. A couple sentences. Also there can be some important information e.g. critical bugs and how to avoid them or ask player turn on the sound if it affects user experience.
Some people include controls explanation in description. It’s not so bad, but my opinion is that it’s much better to explain controls inside the game, not outside (we don’t want to read, we want to play, remember?). Make some simple tutorial in the beginning or at least “How to play” screen INSIDE the game.
I saw a lot of entries that contain Win/Linux/Mac builds, but not Web (sometimes even mobile only). I understand that not all frameworks allow you to build for web, but try to use those that can. It will significantly increase amount of people that will play and rate your game. The explanation is simple – the less steps player must perform to start playing the better.
- Download archive
- Launch the game
Sometimes it requires do install the game, so one more step. Mobile version requires at least one more step – copy to device.
- Click link to start playing
Feel the difference…
Another advantage is that web build is platform independent. Win, Linux and Mac users can play the same game in their web-browser. So, if you want increase your audience, provide web version of your game.
Walkthrough video is not necessary, but nice to have feature. It can be helpful if your game is appeared to be hardcore and difficult to beat. In my case problem was even worse because I had a story-based game and the best part of the game is ending. Since game appeared to be really hard, not so many players were able to finish it. It means that they wouldn’t see the ending and wouldn’t figure out what this game is about. Is this case walkthrough video really helps. Players can check all the levels and features of the game and also watch the ending.
If you think that you finished since you’d made awesome game, prepared cool promo materials, record walkthrough video and submitted everything to competition website…. then you’re sooo wrong. It’s just a beginning. What’s the point to make a game if nobody plays it? Now it’s time for players acquisition. The more players will play your game, the more rating and feedbacks you’ll receive.
When I entered this competition I didn’t have a lot of friends who could participate and rate my game. I didn’t have any community ready to support my game neither. But… 2 weeks after deadline “most coolness” list looked like this:
You can see my entry “The Beginning” at #1 position (top-left corner). Entry has 200 ratings at that moment, most other entries have less than 100 ratings. Now I tell you how I did it. There is no rocket-science, just simple tools that everyone can use. Here we go!
Play, Rate, COMMENT!
At the competition page you can find this sign:
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want to place in the final results, you NEED votes. The easiest way to get votes is by rating other games. Judging lasts for 3 weeks following the end of Ludum Dare. For best effect, rate 20 games as soon as possible. Rating more games is encouraged.
If you want significantly increase visibility of your entry, you must rate about 100 entries. But there is another very important thing – when you rate an entry ALWAYS LEAVE A COMMENT! Even if you have nothing to say. Just throw the line like “Nice entry! Good job!”. People love comments, they’re waiting for comments. If they see your comment they will gladly play, rate and comment your entry. It’s like to say “Thank you for you comment, here is mine”. So, I repeat, when you play other entries always leave a comment. Always.
Another important thing you should keep in mind – first 2 days after deadline are the most important for self-promotion! There is a highest activity during these days. People still engaged, they visit competition website often to check if everything alright, if there some problems with their entry, etc. If you can reach coolness=100 (amount of entries you’ve rated) during first 2 days – excellent!
If you can afford to play and rate entries all 3 weeks – do it. Activity is pretty low after 1st week, but you can still earn some ratings. At the moment when this post has been written I had coolness=342.
Don’t wait untill players come to you, go to players and give them your game! People want to play games. You can use Twitter to find this kind of people. Check #LD48 hashtag regularly. You also can find #LD40 feed on main compo page. I’m pretty sure you will see something like this:
And of course, send me links of any you think I should check out! (Don't be afraid to self-promote #LD48
— Chris (@rogueNoodle) August 29, 2014
LD'ers, THROW YOUR GAMES AT US! #LD48
— Cake&Code (@cakencode) September 2, 2014
Don’t be shy. They want to play your game. Just give it to them. Don’t forget to thank the person which responded and played your game. This is also a good way to grow your Twitter community.
Another good source of traffic for your game is Reddit. There is special Ludum Dare subreddit where you can post all stuff related to your entry – link to competition page, walkthrough video, postmortem, etc. You can also find some people who will play and stream your game on YouTube or Twitch.
Twitch & YouTube
Don’t forget about streamers! Some of them have YouTube channels, some of them prefer Twitch. Guys from Button Masher Bros have awesome YouTube series about Ludum Dare. You can send them your game through Twitter, Reddit and YouTube.
The best thing about streams is that you can see how players actually play your game. It’s much better and much useful than just text comments. On Twitch you can communicate with them live – answer some questions, help them to solve puzzles and just have a fun
Ok, I think it’s enough for my “Ultimate manual – how to participate in game-jams”. Hope you found it interesting and useful. If you like this article, please share it using buttons below. If you have your own “Secret Weapon” and ready to share it – welcome to comments! Good luck with upcoming game-jams!
What’s up guys! Today I have something really cool for you. As I mentioned before, I played and watched several hundreds of LD30 entries. There are tons of cool games, but I want to share with you my personal Top15 of Ludum Dare 30. It contains entries from both 48 hours Compo and Jam. If you didn’t play some this games yet, then you definitely should. They’re all worth it. Btw, I don’t insist and don’t try to convince you. I just want to share my personal opinion and I hope you will find something interesting here. All entries unsorted and appear in (almost) random order.
So, enough talking, let’s check and play some cool games! Theme – Connected worlds.
Sadly, our game ( the team’s ) wont be ready before the deadline, but this compo, making this my third failure, gave me an idea for something that I will make however. What I plan to create is a game framework for SDL, in which you can easily create 2D games for competitions like this, that way you won’t be caught up on making the basis for stuff (which is always the case for me, I seem to always have some trouble regarding animations). So good luck to the rest of you LD’ers who are still in the compo, may the force be with you.
Copulus is a 2D God Game in which you have to help your subjects populate their little world. In order to achieve this you need to balance their need for social interaction (and copulation) with the need to survive. I decided to try and stream line the “god game” mechanics and let the player focus on only a few tasks, as opposed to regular god games where you have to manage many different needs (housing, hunger, peril, happiness, loyalty, security, etc). In order for your population to survive and expand you only need to make sure they are feed, safe and can interact with each other. I even took this approach a bit further and merged survival/peril with hunger satisfaction. Before I go into the, regular, What went Right, What went Wrong topic I would like to present my approach for this entry:
Limitations breed creativity
Before the theme was announced I already established how far I can stretch things. I know from previous experiences how hard it is to stay on track of the initial design and how many features end up being thrown away in order to finish “something” before the time runs out. So for this edition of Ludumdare, I’d like to say I came prepared. Here are my, self-imposed, limitations:
- 256×384 resolution (upscaled to 512×768)
- must involve some kind of an AI
- must be tile based.
Three rules in total. Three rules that, once the theme was announced, helped me establish a clear goal. For example, the small resolution and tile-based approach helped me establish the art style, level and user interface design. Working on a 256×384 screen I could only fit 8 / 12 tiles (32×32) on the screen, or 16/24 tiles at 16×16 pixels each. The AI requirement weighted in favor of the strategy genre and, it’s subclass, the god game genre.
From here on, I went with the entire map being confined to a single screen (in order to have a good view of your population, and not have to hunt for them everywhere). This also affected my User Interface Design and Experience, since It had to take as little screen space as possible. Little screen space for UI implied having only a handful of buttons during game play which, combined with the god-game thematic, had me limit what tasks the player could focus on. A small amount of tasks for the player to perform required me to streamline the entire “god game” approach and make it as minimalistic as possible (the soul experience as I like to refer to it). You can see how things developed further on.
What went right
- Using a WIKI to plan ahead. Features, classes, how the AI should perform, etc [click here for a screenshot of the wiki].
- Not stretching further than I can and imposing strict limits.
- Making fake-screenshots(mockups) before beginning development so I can plan my interaction approach.
- Using tools and frameworks that I was familiar with.
- Selecting a limited color palette to work with.
- The UI only interaction means that I can also port the game to tablets.
- Using “procedural” generation to save time (from level design) and focus on other areas.
- Nailed the risk-reward motif due to Wolves acting as a source of food but also damage to the units.
What went wrong
- My innate lack of knowledge when it comes to composing and/or generating appropriate sound effects.
- Having to remove the “convergence” scene. After winning a level, the player was supposed to reach a new world with his highest level followers and watch them fight off the inhabitants. I regret removing because it would have had a better tie in with this jam’s theme. Further more, I had a system which allowed the player to revisit worlds that have been previously populated, to see how they are doing.
- The game’s balance is a bit off. Level progression of your followers vs level progression of the wolves is tipped in favor of your followers for the first few levels. A few wolf summons in and you can only take them on if you have a high level character that survived.
- Social interactions are only represented by heart animations on individuals, but it’s hard to tell who “copulated” with whom. More so, a death of a birth of an individual is represented by their respective sprite disappearing from the game.
- Health, hunger and level indicators are way to small and crammed into a unit’s sprite.
- The tutorial is just a image and does not convey all the information needed.
I feel that with each Ludumdare event I partake in I can quantify my progress as a Designer. My first entry required the player to quit the game in order to restart the level and featured only mechanics but no clear goal (also no Ui of any kind). In my last LD (7DRTS) attempt I finally had a entry with no missing UI options and a clear navigation path. You can see where I’m going with this. But all in all, I’m glad that with each submission I end up acquiring new knowledge. As far as limitations go I believe that it’s better to know what you should not do as opposed to not knowing what to do. Hopefully my next LD submission will blow this one out of the water.
You can play and rate the game here. Linux, Mac and, hopefully, Android coming tonight. I’ve also uploaded it to itch.io and, in the weekend, will release a post-compo version that has sound and the features that were cut off.
So, I had a bug today that I couldn’t skip. When I started my game, it filled up my PC’s memory completely in about a minute, breaking literally everything that was running. I had to fix it to continue.
8 hours of hacking at this problem.
I just fixed the bug. It was with Scene2d.ui’s function Table.drawDebug(). If you set debug, apparently it runs this blindingly expensive operation that constantly creates new objects. Yay.
I followed a tutorial telling me to do this. And who would guess that something that draws literally a few lines on a screen would break my whole computer lol
8 hours of not actual game developing haulted… due to a single line of code I would have eventually taken out anyways….. FFFFFFUUUUU–
Long story short, my LD time is done. But now the bug is fixed, I’m going to continue my game to see if the fun factor is there or not. I think I definitely came up with an idea at least worth exploring and finishing an alpha.
Here’s a final LD screenshot of the game. See you guys at the next LD!
My game is called On The Other Side. There are two worlds which are vertically connected. You can switch between them with the right mouse button, you can also jump with the left mouse button. It’s basically a more advanced version of those jump-over-spikes games. Every 30 seconds a disaster occurs, as of now there are only 3 disasters. Here’s a GIF of the gameplay so far! You might have to click the image to see the animation.
Here are the tools I have used to make this, or will use tomorrow:
Engine: None, coded from scratch in C++
Libraries: SDL2 (and its sister libraries, SDL2_image, SDL2_ttf and SDL2_mixer)
Oh, and by the way this is for the compo unless I can’t finish it by tomorrow, in which case it’s going to have to be for the jam