Ludum Dare 31 post-mortem

Last week I participated in Ludum Dare 31, and it was totally awesome! Now that the dust has settled and I’ve had time to clear my mind a bit, it’s time to look into the process of the actual Ludum Dare, and… Evaluate!

There are quite a few good and bad things to talk about, but the most important thing to mention is probably the on-site event. A few dudes from my university (Play their games here and there!) and I decided to share a location during the event. One of the dudes had some connections so he was able to provide a university space for us to work at during the event. It was really cool! You still end up working non-stop for 48 hours, but it’s cool to be able to take a breather every once in a while and chat up with other devs. It’s especially nice to see other people’s games develop over the weekend. If you get the chance to join an on-site event, I totally recommend it. Also, having a coffee machine within 20 metres is absolutely amazing.

Now, let’s talk about a bad thing: locality. In short, when I woke up saturday morning and the compo had already started I was still 2+ hours away from university. This meant working and planning a bit while travelling. This is not a very bad thing but it was still irritating and distracting. So next time I should make sure I wake up at the right place, at the right time.

One thing I’m really happy with is how I managed to complete the compo with exclusively my own resources. And with my own resources I mean my own art & graphics, my own idea, and my own utility library. This is ofcourse mandatory if you want to participate in the compo, but it is still a new experience for me. It was very cool to see functions from my utils library pop up all over the place, and I could really notice I was coding faster than before. Downside was (again) that my utils library had a few bugs and hiccups here and there. This includes a very very very grrrr stupid bug which caused 2+ hours of frustrating debugging near the end of the compo. But anyway, this means my game has a very distinct style, both in visuals and code.

Something I have mixed feelings about is my game idea and the gameplay of it. On one hand the idea was very applicable. It integrated nicely with the themes, was perfectly within scope of 2 days work, and had enough possibilities for extending in case I would have time left. On the other hand, it was a quite rubbish “game” idea. The actual gameplay was barely there, and if you’re not really curious you probably won’t finish it. Since in the end the entire compo is about making a game this is a crucial point for me to focus on next time.

Now lastly, the compo had two nice side effects. First, I made a timelapse:

It includes screenshots, webcam pictures, and pictures I made with my mobile camera over the course of the two days. I spent some time (coding a program that can do the) editing, and I think the end result is pretty neat. It’s quiet but clear, and it shows accurately what I worked on that weekend. It also shows me taking a break every once in a while.

The second side effect is that I found a bug in SDL2! I already posted it to the mailing list, and I hope it will be fixed soon. Luckily it’s not a deal-breaking bug, and it’s only a problem if you do weird stuff with SDL_SetRelativeMouseMode. Which I did. Grr.

So, to wrap it up:

  • On-site events are cool!
  • Plan the start and end location carefully.
  • Don’t rush the game(play) idea.
  • Lastly: be proud of your own assets, even if they are hideous!


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