Our Ludum Dare experience
Written by BeefEX on 26/04/2017
Few days before Ludum Dare, we decided to join it as a team. In few hours the team grown into size of almost 15 people which was pretty exiting, but also terrifying. And than Ludum Dare begun, I overslept 3 hours and so we actually started to work about 4 hours after Ludum Dare started. Bigger problem was that in the end only 5 could work on it, with one being the graphics guy. But we already had a plan and we were pretty exited for it, but that plan was designed when we though we were bigger team, and we didn't change it. We didn't actually finish the game in the end. We will be working on it further though and you can follow the development of it on our Discord server.
What did we learn?
You never lose, you either win or learn.
This is more than true because we learned a lot during this Ludum Dare, it was first Ludum Dare for all of us and first team work for some.
Good cooperation and communication is a key
Good cooperation is crucial if you want to finish Ludum Dare as a team, you will need to work with the team for some time to develop it though. Same with communication, if you want to work on something time restricted as Ludum Dare, you need to have good communication channels established or you will lose a lot of time to it.
This was another thing we didn't have, we never even talked on Discord before, we didn't know what others are good at what do they enjoy doing, but if we would it would save bunch of time and make the experience much more enjoyable for everyone. We started to at least somewhat cooperate on Saturday night, almost halfway through the event, which was too late.
Think small, code dirty
As weird as the subtitle may sound it is crucial. Take the time and get a simple idea, even if it would take few hours it will save you more than that. Than write as extensive GDD (Game design document) as possible, even though it may not look like it this will save your life later on. Plan your tasks, all of them one-by-one, you will get better idea of how much time it will actually take and since you haven't started yet you can still safely change the idea if it would take too long. Let's get working on the game and get everything done proper and complex way! ...Are you sure?
This will take a lot of time, what if you haven't estimated the time required correctly, even after planning everything? Always do functional prototype first, use cubes or blank textures, just get it done as soon as possible. Don't make fancy code, this part of the creation has to be fast not proper. Now you will have something you can send, even if you fail the next part. Now it's time to rework the code, comment it, adding additional features or working on graphics. The order is your decision and depends on what game you are creating. It would also be good habit to not add any features in last few hours and reserve them for bugfixing, because last minute coding is just not good idea.
For our game started by making it moddable, it sounds hard but it was easy. But that doesn't mean it was good idea to implement it right on start. We should have started by creating functional prototype and adding features later. whit our wrong approach we actually never got to the functional prototype stage because some issues with "proper" implemention were popping up every few minutes. We just though that we can make a Ludum Dare game with the same approach we were using for making games without time limit and solo.
As far as my experience from this "failed" Ludum Dare goes, I loved it. I have never learned so much in such short amount of time. Next time we will be prepared!
Reading time: about 3 minutes
Beginner guide to game developmentby Kenney
Manipulating pre-made game assetsby Kenney
Platformer ideasby Kenney