It’s inevitable. When the theme is announced, more than a handful of people don’t know what to do with it. The theme might be too esoteric or vague. The theme might be too restrictive. It could suggest a particular kind of game, and that’s not the kind of game they want to make. Maybe they just simply don’t like the theme. We’re a diverse community, and so the theme doesn’t work right away with every one of us. This was me when “An Unconventional Weapon” was announced for LD 32. If this is you, this post is here to help you work through the theme so you can get to working on your game. Don’t give up at the start because you don’t like the theme! Remember, Ludum Dare is about making a game. The theme is there to help. This post is meant to be encouraging and helpful. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘advice’
Hello amazing devs and inspired new-comers.
I’m going to tell you how to get Let’s Players interested in your game. This is my personal experience as a Youtuber, therefore you can’t rely on just me, so check the comments section for input from other people. I will keep updating this post as I think of more things that could appeal to the general Youtube gamer community.
- First off, you have a game. A great game, the greatest game. You made it yourself or with a team. It is important that this game either has SEVERE replayability or has at least 10 minutes worth of gameplay, this is usually the bare minimum. Many Youtubers create videos that are 10 to 20 minutes long, sometimes even more than that. If you make a game shorter than that you have a chance it’ll get stuffed in a compilation video with other small games, which is..not phenomenal.
- Make it unique. You have the power to change the gaming industry with just one simple idea. Of course this means you have to get this idea and be lucky enough to get noticed. So don’t sweat it too much.
- Be self-centered. No, really. Make a game about something you’re an expert at or have experienced first-hand. Be informative, or convey your feelings like a pro, this is art — the power to make a personal thing into something that everyone can relate to.
- Make it have an easily searchable name. No one can find a game called ‘Cat’ on Youtube when there’s ‘Cat Videos’, ‘Cat Games’, ‘Cat Pictures’ and so on that people are looking for every day. SEO is important for Youtubers. The best thing to do is to make a word that doesn’t exist yet and something that Google doesn’t think is a typo of another word.
- Include humor. This is not always a good selling point so learn from the pros and don’t just resort to toilet humor. Good examples of this are “There’s Poop In My Soup” or “Where’s My Mommy?”, some Youtubers avoid these games like the plague, others welcome them with open arms. Something something target audience. (.. On another note, sassy achievements and pop culture references are always nice if done well.)
- Be controversial. Get into the topics that ruin friendships. Or don’t. Not recommended, but it’ll definitely have a chance of going viral. So be sure you’re anonymous if you’re gonna try this because you might ruin your life. Wait, DON’T DO THIS ONE. NO. BAD.
- As a dev, be helpful and approachable. Great devs have great connections, make friends and build up a community, don’t shy away from your ‘competitors’.
- BE THANKFUL. Even a little of this goes a long way, especially for the smaller Youtubers; you could mention their name somewhere or retweet & like their stuff on Twitter, or list them in your credits forever (Yes. Please.) Some Youtubers spend a lot of time with the devs to help them out, give suggestions and even provide free advertizing. They will remember your kindness. So get on their good side, they might make it to 10 million subscribers.
- Give EXCLUSIVE keys or access. This might not be possible for a LD game jam, it’s attractive though.
- Your graphics, story and or gameplay are MAGNIFICENT. Aw yiss graphics.
- Add kittens. I mean, appeal to a niche. This might be RPG, visual novels, spin-offs, dank memes, sandbox games in space, anything you can think of, there’s a Youtube channel for it. Hopefully they will find you and play your game, or find them and invite them. Their viewers are your audience too.
Some technical stuff: (POLISH IT, haha)
- Make sure your game has no bugs and doesn’t randomly close or freeze at any point.
- USE EVERY OUTLET EVER ON THE INTERNET FOR GAMES EVER. A lot of people like web-based apps, others like to download files. There’s your game’s Ludum Dare page, there’s Gamejolt, there’s Itch.io, and Miotigames is an upcoming similar website. There’s a bunch. Also, remember to make a nice set of accurate & captivating in-game previews.
- If you made a heavy game, make it known. Some computers can’t handle it without freezing up.
- MAKE AN ATTRACTIVE THUMBNAIL. The name and the image is the first thing people see. Make it appealing.
- Make sure there’s checkpoints and that they’re in a good place (if any). Unless you intend on making a rage game. Grr.
- If you have any experience with recording a game, it’ll be easier for you to put yourself in a Youtuber’s shoes. People with a dual monitor setup love it when they can play on one screen, record on the other. It might be difficult to achieve this, but make it possible if you know how to, or else don’t worry about it. If you have a single monitor, sometimes if you try to exit the game, it crashes and that’s really not cool. Prevent this if you can.
- Approach big indie media influences (Kotaku, IndieGameReviewer, etc) while you’re working on it and when you’re done. They might be interested, write an article and boom. Success.
- Be a good person. Spread motivation and positivity. Good energy is contagious.
I hope this helps someone stand out from the crowd and encourage you to come look up some smaller Youtubers to have play your amazing game.
My channel is right here, Twitter for updates & following, this was a video I did for the 34th Ludum Dare, and here‘s where you can request me (Tilde) to play your game for the channel. I hope you will all become very successful and well-known devs, may all the things in your life that you want to accomplish come true.
TL;DR: Make something cool.
I have noticed a lot of peole complaining about lack of suport for varius kind of keyboard configurations, so I thought I should make a post about this.
Alot of Unity games use Unitys built in Input system like this: “yAxis = Input.GetAxisRaw(“Player1AltYaxis”)” (from my LD game)
This means that when you start the game after it’s built there is a tab called “Input” (it’s allways there).
You click on it and then you find the movment keys/Shoot keys or whatever you want to change.
Dubble click on it and it will ask you to chose what key you want for that command.
And then you are done, chose whatever key you like.
I hope this post will help you. Go and enjoy the great LD32 games now
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.
- 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!
It’s always pretty exciting to work on a game for ludumdare. I’ve participated alone and in team and it’s always such a great experience!
I’ve seen a few discussions popping up here and there about the judging/review process. There are several instances where it’s not THAT easy to know how to rate a game!
While I’m not a veteran, during the time I’ve been here I’ve seen people agree on “best practices” that I’ll try to outline below or at least start a healthy open discussion about them! (if I’m wrong in any of them please let me know!)
Take into account whether the game was submitted to the compo or the Jam!
This will let you rate the game better. I know bad graphics are bad graphics, but compo games can’t be judged with the same “harshness” you would use for Jam games because they were done in less time (48 hours instead of 72), by a single person (not a team) and -in theory- during the competition! (which is not necessarily true for Jam games, where using pre-existent assets is allowed). Same with music, or the level of polish. In fact, every aspect should be judged taking into account whether is a jam or a compo game!
Make sure you read the description!
The “description” is the first and main instance for developers to communicate with future players, so a lot of them will try to post information here that will help you play and rate their game.
I know sometimes there’s nothing relevant in the description, but you’ll find that in quite a lot of games reading the description first will definitely make a difference! Perhaps the developers didn’t have time for a tutorial and you’ll find the instructions there. Perhaps all the audio was taken from somewhere else and they are honest about it in the description (more on this later), perhaps you need to install something before playing the game. Perhaps the web version has annoying bugs and glitches the other versions don’t have. All of this is relevant and will probably help you judge their game better!
The game doesn’t run? Don’t rate it!
If the game you are trying to play is not working for you, don’t give it a low score!. The most sensible thing to do is leave a comment saying that it didn’t run on your system. If you can provide relevant information (Operating System, Processor, graphics card, Browser, A message that popped up before crashing, etc) all the better!
Remember that N/A means Not Applicable!
If the game lacks audio, for instance, the best thing to do is to NOT rate the game in that category. Same with humor, for instance. If it’s an emotional game about a serious topic there’s no reason to give it a 1-star rating in humor when it’s not trying to be funny.
The audio or graphics are not their own? (Open to discussion)
For jam games where assets made before the competition or freely available on the internet can be used this is a really hard topic!. A lot of developers will tell you in the description if there’s something in their game they didn’t make themselves, while others simply won’t, which makes this issue all the more complicatedl! Not really sure what the “recommended course of action” is, but when the audio for a game wasn’t made by the team I usually don’t give the game a score in that category.
If they used a mix between things they made during the jam and things they borrowed from public sources then I try to “judge” the assets they did for the game and how they “blend” with everything else. It’s a really complicated case (and hopefully uncommon) so I’d truly love to know what other people do when this happens!
Leave a comment!
Leaving a comment after you’ve rated a game is not only a way to let the developer know you played their entry but also a way of helping them improve their game! Bug reports, suggestions and feedback in general (e.g: “Loved your game!”) are always welcome by developers and will most likely help them continue working on the game beyond ludumdare. Plus, a lot of people (including myself) will return you the favor!
I think that’s all the advice I can give for rating games. If you know of other “best practices” please let me know and I’ll add them here!
Having said that, go and rate some games!
I’ve done several Ludum Dares in the past, and the one thing that I’d recommend to anyone is to always remember, you’re doing this for fun.
- If something comes along that sounds more fun, or is more important, go do it.
- Take breaks. Go on a walk. Get away from the computer. Draw inspiration from the world, or let your subconscious tackle a tough problem while you enjoy yourself.
- Don’t get stuck. Use a tool like Stutter to force yourself to bounce from art to programming to design to playtesting. (Yes, this is a shameless plug.)
- Sleep (or, at the very least, powernap). A tired developer is a sub-optimal developer. Four hours of peak development is worth much more than 16 hours of mediocre development.
- Eat. Food is fuel, and fuel, like sleep, is required to perform at peak.
- If you want to dominate your Ludum Dare (or appear to), don’t learn your tools while you work. Decide upon your arsenal now, and learn as much as you can about them.
- Revision control is your best friend. Commit early, commit often. If you’re doing it right, you’ll be committing way more than you think you need to, and this is good. Reverting fifteen minutes worth of bug code is better than spending another fifteen debugging. (Don’t forget to master revision control before the compo!)
- Submit your shit. Does your game crash? Submit it. Does your game suck? Submit it. Is your game so awful it’s embarrassing? Submit it! Once you’ve submitted it, realize you’ve completed a Ludum Dare, how awesome that is, how many people wish they were you, how attractive you are, and how much better you’ll do next time!
- Have fun. Have I mentioned that you’re doing this for kicks? If you’re stressed, worried, bored, upset, or tired, you’re doing a bad games make job. Have fun, goddamnit.
So, my second LD resulted in my first entry. Not bad.
What went right
Personally, I liked the theme. I’m always one to take it more as a game mechanic, so this one was pretty clear while offering a fair number of choices.
I had the game done after the first day. This gave me the second 24 hours to polish, draw, compose and add new features. I spent several hours obsessively tweaking numbers until I could win about 50% of the time, which seemed fair.
What went wrong
After tweaking for hours the girlfriend and I cooked dinner, watched a movie, and killed a bottle of wine. That in itself is not wrong, not at all. I thoroughly recommend it. However, it sort of put the idea of “The game’s done, I could add some graphics and music but would I be really happy with them and there’s another bottle of wine in the fridge oh stuff it let’s just relax” into my head. I need to be more committed. ^__^
Also, despite basing my entry on the engine code for my previous attempt, there was still a fair chunk of tech to write. I mean, if I knew I was going to do a shooter no matter what the theme, I should have written a weapon class ready, right?
I picked a stupid size for the screen (1280×720). Next time, I check it on my laptop before submitting.
Lastly, the browser variance got me. I developed in Chrome, one of the more forgiving browsers, but when my first comment was “It freezes in Safari 6 on a Mac” I thought I’d better check it out. Horrifyingly it ran in NO other browsers (except Opera, which uses the same V8 JS engine as Chrome). Hurriedly researching and fixing a combination of transform, keyboard and audio problems got it running reasonably in all browsers except Safari, in which it still runs at 3-4 FPS instead of the 60 FPS of everything else. Post-compo (and therefore not in the entry version) I’ve played around with different methods but nothing has helped Safari. I also don’t have a Mac, so I’m limited to version 5.1.7 (the latest version on Windows) which doesn’t implement requestAnimationFrame, which is the recommended fix for buffered frames – although that’s not the whole problem. >__<
Aaand see you all in four months. 😉
I don’t think there is a single best method to do the Ludum Dare. I’m no expert and you may agree or disagree with my ideas but I’ve finished an entry for 9 different main LDs since LD #1. I’ve also failed many times and learned from those as well.
Making a game in 48 hours is hard. There will be times when you feel discouraged by your lack of progress, skills or inspiration. If you’re going to finish a game this weekend, you need to make that your #1 priority. Don’t start the LD without knowing that no matter what, you’ll make a game this weekend. Maybe a very shitty game if things don’t go your way, maybe an awesome game, but a game no matter what. Don’t have any doubt about it and it won’t be a problem.
The excitement here and on IRC before the compo is a great way to build up that motivation, but be careful that once the compo is started it can work against you when others seem to be advancing their game more quickly.
Hello Ludum Dare friends, I am writing a book on game jams. As part of the research I wanted to ask you if you had any anecdotes or advice you’d like to share for achieving game jam success! In particular, funny stuff is what I’d like to hear most. =) One liners, haiku, yoda-like wisdom… you name it. Update: I’m loving all the haiku (5-7-5 syllable poems) please submit more!
Instead of just saying SCREW IT, IT WON’T WORK, I decided to mess around for nearly 3 hours trying to create a specific death animation/scenario for the enemies.
What a waste. Now I’m behind schedule AND I can’t make it the way I wanted to.
PRO TIP: If it can’t be figured out in 30 minutes, simplify it and move on! NO TIME TO WASTE!
BACK TO WORK!
Alas, it turns out that I am going to miss yet another LD. A last minute invite to las vegas with free travel and a free place to stay is taking over this weekend. It was a hard decision, but I’ve stopped voting on themes because of this. I’m half tempted to help out by culling the ones people hate, but I’m also tempted to vote up the ones we always see on the list but don’t want (evolution, I’m looking at you).
Good luck to everyone who is competing. There are a lot of new names posting — special good luck to all of you. Hopefully you all get hooked and become permanent parts of the community.
Quick advice to you newcomers:
- Pick a game design that you can completely finish with time to spare but with room for additional features if you find yourself with extra time (lol). Too many first timers fail because they bite off more than they can chew.
- Make code that does only what it needs to do. I’m the worst about spending way too much time writing general, well commented, extendable code snippets instead of just writing what I need. It’s 48 hours – if you want a piece of your code to use later, re-write it later.
- As mentioned in an earlier post and on the wiki, there are lots of tools created by the LD community that can quickly add a large amount of polish to your game. Dr Petter has written two amazing tools that give you sound effects and music, as well as a graphics editor. Blecki has a good looking map editor. RB has a new 3D python framework (allowed?). I wrote a tool for making timelapses, and a loader to make judging the games less of a chore. I’m sure there are more – read what people are posting about their toolsets and ask around in IRC. In fact, we had a whole mini-LD on tools, so check that out as well.
- Have fun! If you aren’t enjoying yourself, take a 20-60 minute break. If you hate your time making your game, we will probably hate our time playing it.