Ludum Dare – My experience
The past weekend I participated in 22nd Ludum Dare compo. For anyone who doesn’t know Ludum Dare is a game creation contest (more like a festival actually) where game developers who want to participate must create a game within a certain theme in 48 hours and release it as Open Source. The theme for the 22nd Ludum Dare was “Alone”. What do you earn by winning? Well, fame, and only fame.
48 HOURS? R U SERIOUS? NO MONEY? OPEN SOURCE? Well yes. 21 times now it worked, why not now :P ? It’s a really well known contest. The famous Notch (creator of Minecraft) is taking part in the last ones, and others like Chevy Ray, Sophie Houlden and other known indie developers. I always expected those taking part in the contest writing endless hours code, not eating, not sleeping, just CODE. Many times I have wondered the feeling of it, so I decided to take part in the 22nd contest. Unfortunately, things in my calendar didn’t go exactly well, and I lost the Saturday. Not until late Sarurday did I find out the the contest was running….
At Sunday I was really frustrated by that and I kept watching screencasts by Notch, and Sophie Houlden with their games. A friend in msn told me to do something. I was like “What?”, so he proposed to me his story. You are in a room full of robots and you must do exactly what they do in order to trick them and not spot you. It was a really nice idea, and I had about 16 hours to make it happen, so I started right away.
I used FlashDevelop and FlashPunk since that’s the tools I’ve been used to. No time to learn others… Graphics created with Pixlr, music with sfxr, background music found in the web a free copyright, and edited in Audacity (though i feel I sould have created it myself even if it would be worse :( ). Actionscript combined with FlashPunk made the development process a piece of cake. Also sfxr saved me a TON of time for the sound effects. While I was developing my game I’ve also run screencasts which you can find on my channel at twitchtv. As for the graphics when I made the robots I wanted to create a spritesheet with them and TexturePacker was the right tool for that. Lucky for me I am an open source developer (thanks to ISS) so I had already acquaired my free license :).
The development of Alone with Robots (the name a picked for the game) went really smooth. Having already developed 5 games in FlashPunk I had some library-written code, for example the floating text was already created, sound management, and a particle system from ISS. Unfortunately family issues have disturbed that process. I went outside to the pharmacy, shopped from the market and when I returned I dropped everything and continued my game like a freak. The screencasting also went really well, I had up to 7 viewers at a time, watching my screen full of code and graphics, which is nice for a noob like me. At 2 hours left, I had finished it and started polishing. I’ve added achievements which I haven’t ever done in my games! A screencast viewer also said to me to polish more the achievements, and make them more flashy! At first I didn’t like the idea but later on it proved himself right!
Ludum Dare was the best experience I’ve ever had in game development so far. It helped me improve my time management skills with deadlines, calculating my priorities in development for the features I wanted, fast coding, test my programming skills, improving my art/sound skills (I really liked the way I made hearts. Finally!), even learn knew things (achievements in this case) or the calculation of score which was done by luck and I liked it xD, and finally the best, I know my limits better that before the contest! I know what I can do and what I can not, in a certain amount of time. The screencasts were for themselves a lot of pressure since I didn’t want my viewers watch nothing but mistakes :P . I think I matured a lot from this contest.
I was really happy with what I’ve achieved and surely my next Ludum Dare entry will be a lot better ;) . But until then, it’s rating time! Next Ludum Dare will be in 4 months so I’ll have improved a lot until then.