“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said that Cat: “we’re all mad here.”
So, Harry hosted a Ludum Dare jamsite in Melbourne, inviting game developers around the area to spend 48 hours cooped up in his house to make games. Here’s an account of the fun and chaos that ensued!
What went right:
- Going out and brainstorming before anything – give a chance for ideas to grow / ferment
- Being in the same room provided motivation and staved off the loneliness
- The epiphany couch (which doubled as Luca’s makeshift bed)
- There was always something to playtest, and the instant feedback was useful
- We all got semi-appropriate amounts of sleep
What went wrong:
- Pepper flavored cup noodles. Imagine noodles and pepper in a plastic cup. Yeah.
- Getting lost to the shops several times thanks to Harry’s navigation
- Temperature and computer cord control in the room was not great
- Canine interruptions; the dog would occasionally enter the room and chew on wires
- Didn’t record anything down, making this post-mortem more difficult than necessary
From top left to bottom right: Chad Toprak, Luca Pavone, Harry Lee, Sam Wong, Matthew Elvis Price, [REDACTED], Luke Hocking, and Jarrel Seah (not actually physically present).
The theme was released at 1 PM EST, so we had plenty of time to set up and practice our high fives*. We decided to go for a walk and grab lunch while brainstorming. On the way, we tossed ideas around, each crazier than the last:
- A pacman creature that must eat everything around it, then eat itself
- Fight against your previous actions and past selves in some sort of tactical action thing
- A platformer split into two mirrored worlds: use objects in one reality to overcome inner demons in the imaginary world
- A game where you gain friends in a happy adventure. Then at the end you have an existential crisis as you realize you’re less happy than your character.
- Using the mousewheel as input, fill a pleasure bar and avoid painful objects… Which ended up as a thinly veiled metaphor for masturbation.
- A Facebook ‘social’ game: you win when you have zero friends. You can’t delete them – you must make them delete you.
*The strength of an indie game development group is directly proportional to the awesomeness of their high fives. True fact.
Everyone had a different style of development and worked at a different pace. Upon our return, Luca launched straight into GameMaker and started building an adventure engine. Harry doodled in his notebook and stared into space. Chad and Matt started with assets: a ship, a wicked looking explosion, a sphere with expressive eyes. Sam focused on early prototyping and soon had a masturbation-inspired-mouse-wheel-controlled-avoidance-game up and running.
For dinner we went out for delicious numplings (non pepper flavoured noodles + dumplings).
After dinner, Sam began work on a new game (which would become his entry, Leave Me Alone), Luca continued to build his adventure game, working on assets and code simultaneously, and Harry was still brainstorming. Chad left and unfortunately didn’t make it back. Matt went home on the first night to record some music and get some sleep.
Luke arrived the next day, driving all the way from Shepparton. He worked on a puzzle game about peeing in urinals while uncomfortably close to others. Unfortunately it wasn’t completed in time, but he did end up with a bathroom shooter / simulator:
Harry had a skype chat with Jarrel (in Singapore at the time) and started work on their jam entry. For everyone, the day was largely spent working in silence on their respective games. Just the fact that we were all working in the same room was motivating. We celebrated the squashing of bugs and took breaks to check out how everyone else was doing. Sam finished his game shortly after lunch and went home a winner.
Dinner consisted of cup noodles.
There was less sleeping on the second night; with the deadline looming closer, everyone jammed at full speed. At 4 AM even the more stubborn ones retired to bed, returning to their games in the morning with just a few hours sleep to fuel them.
The final few hours were peacefully frantic – an air of concentration and quiet panic. Luca deemed his game essentially finished in the morning, while Matt added gameplay elements to his and gave it a last second title. And suddenly, at 1 PM, it was done – at least for the solo competitors.
Here are the games produced!
- Leave Me Alone by Sam Wong
- Sleepwalker by Luca Pavone
- A.I.one by Matthew Elvis Price
- Midas by Harry Lee & Jarrel Seah [JAM ENTRY]
tl;dr Ludum Dare 22 was an amazing experience: inspiring and insane, but most of all fun. Hosting a jamsite is relatively easy, and the bonds you form with other developers as you slowly go crazy in the same room are strong indeed. We’re looking forward to the next event!
Wanderlands and Melbourne Game Developers