It’s a question many have before a Ludum Dare. How do I prepare for it? What to do? Compete in Mini LDs? Stop right there! You should do something completely different first! Something different? Yes. Have you ever evaluated yourself after the previous Jam?
Why I’m referring to self-evaluation is because it’s a very good process in improving yourself. It’s hard to practice and improve yourself when you’re not exactly sure if it will help you to reach your goal. Just start writing down what you did and what the result was. And start grading how well that went. In my case most seemed to go smoothly but the result wasn’t as perfected as I thought it would be. Where did it go wrong? To find out what I did wrong I reviewed the entire process, half hour by half hour. An important fact I found was that after two hours of work my concentration and motivation dipped. Not because it was annoying and uninteresting work, but because it drains you. I already noticed that same thing in LD29 and had scheduled several small breaks of 10 minutes. The breaks did work but weren’t efficient enough.
Another thing you could find out by self-evaluation is which jobs took you more time than you expected. I do these evaluations a lot and I’ve improved a lot based on the results. But what I noticed is that while my games get better, I tend to forgot to build a nice ending. How often do they finish your game? Seeing my statistics only 16% plays that long. But its effect of a nice ending can be seen throughout the game. The ending of my last three LD games were quite hasted.
From my last self-evaluation on LD30 I wrote down these points to work on:
- Regular breaks (to freshen up)
- Ending a story (storytelling)
- Analyse types of user feedback in games (for better feedback tricks)
So instead of practicing building entire games in the little spare time I have I’ve been working on planning and writing skills. Building a game is one thing, building an immersive world is another.
How do you prepare? And is this article useful for you? Share your story!