What Ludum Dare has Done for Me

I originally posted this on April 9, 2013 on my blog on Gamasutra. Cross-posting here, as I should have done before.

I first learned of Ludum Dare last August. I wasn’t in time to participate, but I was able to play a wide variety of interesting games. That got me fired up — I definitely wanted to participate in December’s 48-hour compo (hereafter LD48). I hadn’t programmed in years, really, but I was signed up for an Intro to Computer Science MOOC and was pretty sure I would be capable of pumping out something come December.

Participating in Ludum Dare #25

When December and its LD48 came around, I was not at all confident in my abilities. I had successfully brushed up on basic computer science concepts and learned some new things, but the MOOC had been taught in Python instead of the C/C++ I originally learned in. I could do some things with Python, like perform computations and output things to IDLE, but I had no clue how to do things like play sound and draw graphics. To make things worse, I live in Japan, which meant that the event would be starting at noon on Saturday for me. In order to be functional for work on Monday, I needed to get to bed around midnight on Sunday, leaving me with only 36 hours to make my game. In short, my limitations were many. Continue reading

Trifecta: Poke for OSX, Itch.io, and the Ender’s Game Trailer

Item one: there is now a Mac OSX build for Poke, the game I mentioned in my last post.

It can be downloaded from item two, which is my profile up at itch.io. Itch.io is a web site made by another Ludum Dare person. It’s designed to just be a place where indie game developers can host their game files. The site supports pay what you want models, with the minimum price being set by the developer and $0.00 being a viable minimum price. It’s a neat site.

Then there is item three, the first trailer for the Ender’s Game movie adaptation.

The book and I have a history. When I was 9, Ender’s Game became the first book so engrossing that I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish reading. To this day, it and its inseparable sequel Speaker for the Dead are, together, my favorite book. I’ve waited many, many years for this movie adaptation to come to fruition.

If I love this book so much, you might ask, why would I look forward to the adaptation? Aren’t they usually bad? Continue reading

Poke

Another Ludum Dare has come around and once again I have participated. The theme this time was Minimalism, and I did not do as well this time as last time.

Poke Screenshot

Granted, this time my game looks more like a game; it has graphics instead of a text interface. It’s easier to get into, since it’s short and simple.

It has one major flaw, though, and that is that I cannot build the code into something a non-programmer can play. This has been extremely frustrating.

So now I am going to go play and rate other people’s Ludum Dare entries. Maybe next weekend I’ll try using a different graphics engine and see if I can get that one to build. If I do, I’ll link the file here so everyone can try it.

Ludum Dare

One of the things in my mess of being busy in the past couple of months was Ludum Dare, a game jam which is held every four months.

A game jam is a challenge in which game developers must create a video game from scratch — concept, design, coding, everything — within a certain time limit and possibly with other restrictions.

So here are more details about Ludum Dare. In the month leading up to the game jam, interested participants may submit ideas for themes, which are voted on by the community up until the last minute before the jam starts. Participants then have 48 hours to make a video game, alone, that matches the theme. There are then three weeks of voting by the people who made the games, and at the end the games are ranked. Your prize is that you get a game and hopefully learn something.

The most recent Ludum Dare was held the weekend of December 14th and the theme was You Are the Villain.

I participated even though I wasn’t entirely ready, but it was fantastic. And I now have a game. And I learned much. And I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on the game from other participating developers, some amateur and some professional. I’m very happy with the experience.

If you’re interested in trying the game out, here are links to the files:

Here are links to the blog posts I put up on the Ludum Dare web site before, during, and after the event:

And here’s a link to my official entry page.