Why the Ludum Dare is a Wonderful Thing
The Ludum Dare is a 72 hr web-based Game Jam
The Ludum Dare Jam is a fantastic mad-scramble of creativity, problem-solving, and international team work. I knew I wanted to get involved, but I didn’t have a team, so I found a Programmer from Costa Rica in the same position as myself on the Ludum Dare sub-Reddit, and the next thing you know we’ve got two more and we were a four man team with a mission.
The mini-LD saved us
For the uninitiated, the mini-LD runs over a 72 hour period, 1 week before the actual Ludum Dare takes place. Its theme this round was “Preperation”, and it definitely prepared us. We had ambitious plans, and the project tested us. We ended up with a game that showed the potential we all had in working together, but which was also, in and of itself, not overly play-able. Not so the case with our Ludum Dare entry one week later – we made it into the top 10% of over 2000 entries.
Working with Constraints
Because of our experience with the mini-LD, we knew we needed to narrow our focus A LOT without reducing the game-play experience. There have been studies showing that creativity increases when people are asked to work within a constrained set of limitations, and game jams a great testing arena for this. Not only are you constrained by the very short time limit, you are also working with a specific theme – in this case, “the entire game on one screen”. With this in mind, we decided that a puzzle game was the way to go. We already had experience with top-down gameplay from the mini, so we went with a dungeon-escape style game with a bit of a twist. We all brought our own styles to the board and combined them in a unified way, thanks to an extensive pre-pro conversation that started long before the theme was even announced. When the theme was released and the 72 hour clock started its countdown, we hit the ground running.
We had such positive feedback from our LD entry that we are moving forward with a mobile app, and it all started with a bit of, “well this seems cool… anybody want to buddy up and give it a go?”. So if you are at all interested making games, get involved with jams. The Ludum Dare is accessible no matter where you are located, and even if your skill-set is too specialized to make the whole game on your own (like mine is), if you look around and put yourself out there you are going to find a cool team and get HANDS-ON!