Lessons learned from a unfinished Ludum Dare

Posted January 13th, 2012 in Blog by Jelle

Last month I participated in another Ludum Dare. After a week of voting it was concluded that the theme would be “alone”. I didn’t have a good idea what I would make and it took me a long time of brainstorming to decide on what to make. After a couple of hours I decided to just incorporate the theme into a shootmup because I always wanted to try to make one of those.

That was how AI1 was born, a shooter where you alone fight an boss type enemy called AI1. First day was pretty slow with me building a spaceship, the boss and getting the idea on what to make.

Second day I made a lot more, a load of graphics and all the shooty stuff. But time flew by and before I knew it it was already evening and I wasn’t nearly finished yet. I tried to downscale what I had but in the end I decided to just throw in the towel, cause it would still take a lot of time which I didn’t have anymore and I had to go to work early the next morning too.

Im kinda sad I didn’t get to finish my game. But in the end I did learn some new things on how to create a shoot em up style game and I made some mistakes I won’t be making the next LD. Even though the game is unfinished I’m still pretty proud of what I made in that weekend. Next Ludum dare will only be better, hope you all will participate too and drop by the chatroom!

You see the game here: AI1

The things I learned:

  1. Don’t think too large and don’t be afraid to downscale
    For my game I wanted to make 5 different phases with different kind of bullet patterns, enemies and such. In the end I barely made 2. 48 hours is not a lot of time to create a game, you also don’t need to forget your basic human needs. 

    Sleep is very important for your body, but I’m sure you all know that. But especially for an event like this a solid mental state is important. Another thing not to skimp on is food, programming while hungry just sucks so make yourself some nice breakfast/dinner and drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated. *mom mode off*

  2. Do your polishing at the end
    Polish is NOT important for a Ludum dare. Sure a polished entry is awesome, but it is more important to have a finished entry. When you got time left after you finished you can polish the heck out of it. I was taking to much time just making my ship fly in the screen with an animation while I could’ve spend that time building the actual game.
  3. Be able to make it late
    For me a Ludum dare ends in the middle of the night around 4:00. Not an ideal time to stay up if you need to get up for work 4 hours later. What I noticed the previous LD’s is that those final few hours before the deadline can be super productive and enjoyable so you don’t want to miss them. Next time I’ll take the next day off for sure.
  4. Enjoy
    Ludum dare is all about just having fun, building awesome stuff and learning in the proccess. More and more people are participating in these events and the chatrooms are filled with them so don’t be a stranger!

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