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Ludum Dare 20: My Experience

Posted on:May 2, 2011

From April 29 to May 2 Ludum Dare 20 has been going on. For those who don’t know, the main competition involves making a game based on a certain theme in a 48 period; tough call. Hundreds of developers have a shot at this every four months, and I thought I’d give it a try. In this post, I’m going to write about my experience in it, and the lessons I learnt. I’ll let you know now, however, the end result was me pulling out not long after half-way.

So anyway, I started when the competition was about 6 or 7 hours in. My plan was to use the Love2D engine, along with a personal framework I’d written for it. The theme was “It s Dangerous to go Alone! Take this!” So my first idea was to have sort of dangerous test facility which was pitch black with darkness (making it dangerous to go all alone), and you’re given a light or something (the “this”) to see your way through. Well that didn’t work too well, so I switch the character to a rolling ball, and made “this” the ability to propel yourself in any which way.

I’m telling you, Ludum Dare is probably the most full on experience I’ve ever had. Here I am, writing code like blazers, creating graphics, making sound effects, and so on. I got quite a bit done in the approximate 10 hours I worked. I got a moving ball going as the character, with its graphic. I got a full tiling system going for floors with their tile sheet. I got spikes on “destructive” floors that reacted to the player’s movements (with their graphics too). I was able to make the player fall to pieces with its main unit emitting tonnes of sparks (it was meant to be a robot). I got sound effects for almost everything, and a cool ambient sound effect too. And a number of other things too. Pretty productive for 10 hours if you ask me.

The problem was, my framework wasn’t stable. I think this shot at using put more strain on it than it had ever had, and during the latter part of my time in the competition, the thing started crumbling underneath my feet. Completely strange and out of the blue errors were flying all over the place, I think it crashed my computer once. Honestly, things weren’t looking good whatsoever. Eventually, I had to give in, it would be a waste of time to continue. With a framework as shaky as mine, it wasn’t looking possible to complete the game.

From this I’ve learnt a few things. One, I should’ve used something that had been tested far more thoroughly than my framework; I probably should’ve used FlashPunk, or Love2D with no framework at all. Two, I aimed too high; even though I had already cut my ideas back, I was still aiming too high, particularly on the graphics. Three, something like this isn’t for me, my body doesn’t like the strain.

Anyway, it was a fun experience (at times :P), and I’ll put the hours I did spend down to experience; I did learn a lot!