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    First and Last Ludum Dare

    Posted by
    May 23rd, 2011 10:24 pm

    I am completely disillusioned with Ludum Dare. I first heard of this competition from a friend telling me to try it out saying how amazing it was. He convinced me to go ahead and enter. Then I burn an entire weekend only to find that in 21 days my entry recieves 22 ratings from 288 submitters (7.639%). Of those ratings, many are blatantly done without reviewing the actual submission. Some were obvious downvoters, others gave undeserved 5′s all around the board, while others just gave random scores, or NO score for categories I KNOW  I had, showing me they didn’t even bother playing the game or looking at my community page.

    Then I see other submissions with over 100 ratings making me assume there is some kind of advertising/word of mouth meta-game in play which is always a disheartening thing to see in any competition. While I do agree the games that won top 20 deserve those 20 slots, the games that fell elsewhere were completely lost into the void, with no quality control on their placement. I don’t know how you can improve a rating system that depends on a biased party to make the votes, but as a first time participator, frankly it’s just a joke.

    Essentially I am a pretty upset that for a competition that has been running as long as it has; so many submissions have fallen through the cracks, and that I unwittingly set myself up for disappointment by entering.

    TL;DR – The rating system brings no incentive to participate again :(

    26 Responses to “First and Last Ludum Dare”

    1. moltanem2000 says:

      It’s best to take the whole voting phase with a grain of salt. If I didn’t I would have been gone ages ago. Just be happy with the game you made and the time you spent making it and let the haters get to you!

    2. LegacyCrono says:

      Yeah, the voting system is a bit flawed, and some childish people really can make things worse… :/
      By the way, 22 out of 288 is 7.6%, not 0.07% ;)

    3. Orangy Tang says:

      Yeah, I’m feeling the same way right now. Only 18 people actually gave my game a score, and that includes one person who left 111111 and one who left everything as n/a except for a ’2′ for graphics.

      The top 20 games are great, but for everyone else there’s definitely a meta-LD where you have to be ‘in’ with the right crowd to get any attention, and whore your game out at every opportunity. Frankly I’m not interested in doing that.

    4. Kvisle says:

      As far as voters go, I got 14 — and I reached 74th place…

      I’m quite happy with that, actually. And I’m motivated to up my efforts for next time (I got a pretty good idea about what went wrong).

      My question would be; What kind of incentive would you like? Next LD will probably have more than 300 entries. There will always be a few ‘superstars’ doing it significantly better than others (Deepnight made last LD, too).

      Keep in mind that participating in this competition is something you do for yourself – not for anyone else. If you don’t feel that a crammed effort work for you, then quite frankly – LD may not be your thing.

      • Fizzik says:

        The only incentive I ever expected was for a critique of my game. The result I got was a few honest reviews smaller in count then the amount of feedback I received from my few friends. The ratings were completely meaningless because over 75% of them showed they were voting randomly (all 1′s, all 5′s, no rating for comm/audio, etc). I make games all of the time for myself in my free time, what I did was hunker down for 40 straight hours to make a game for people, and no one bothered to even look at it. That is a huge let down.

        • LegacyCrono says:

          Unfortunately there’s a huge number of games here, so you really need to expose yourself and “advertise” a bit your game if you’re looking for more meaningful feedback.
          There’s always people idling at the IRC, so you can always hang out there and show people your creations. Most people are always playing Minecraft, but there’s still some that can check out your game if you ask politely. ;)

      • LegacyCrono says:

        I agree with you. As the Guide page says, “our goal with Ludum Dare is to encourage people to sit down and make something”.
        Sure, it’s great to see your game popular. But this is not the point of the competition.

        • Orangy Tang says:

          My gripe isn’t about not being ‘popular’, its a lack of feedback or critique. Negative criticism is fine and very helpful, but a deafening silence is hugely depressing.

          • LegacyCrono says:

            As I said above, you need to show your game around. On the IRC there’s a lot of people that can try your game if you ask. You can’t simply expect that you get some proper feedback when there’s more than three hundred games here…

            • Fizzik says:

              If you enter a competition you expect your entry to be judged as fairly as everyone elses, its a very simple principle. As I said this was my first Ludum Dare, so yes I entered a competition and I DID expect all 300 games to be given proper feedback.

              • arielsan says:

                Sorry you got disillusioned, my own entry has less votes than yours and I am a bit disappointed too (I am on place > 110 :( ) but do not expect 350 people to make a comment at your game or event to vote it, or even at least to play it. Several of those people may have no time to test all the games (because they have to do another stuff for living) or it is impossible (to me for example, I am on Linux and some games are only for windows). My first ludum dare I tried hard to test all the games but I couldn’t, and that is because I had no time, and I believe it is what happens to most of the people.

                Just don’t get so angry, we could try harder next time :D, I promise I will try your game.

    5. samel says:

      I think the question is, why there must be a winner? Why not just comments other games without points? IMMO there’s no need to elect a winner, we do this for fun.

    6. britzl says:

      I must say that I am a bit surprised when I read that people get upset that their game has received so few ratings. Sure, those obviously bogus ratings of straight 1′s is silly, but for the rest I’m not surprised. As someone pointed out, there were more than 300 entries. The absolute minimum to give a game a fair review is say 10 minutes (and add download and installation time for non-webbased games). 10 minutes per game is a full 50 hours of testing for 300 games! How many people could you honestly expect to spend two full days of their life reviewing games? Did you review all of the entries yourself Fizzik?

      • Fizzik says:

        I got up to almost 100, but your point simply makes it clear that this entire system is flawed.

        • Hamumu says:

          People are busy. I don’t have time to try out 288 entries. The randomized list to vote on is the closest thing you can get to a solution for favoritism. If you thought you were going to get votes from anywhere close to everybody, you just had the wrong idea about this contest. I’m curious what you think the ‘unflawed’ system would be. You want a group of judges? Who are these heroes going to be that play all 300 entries (for free? Or who’s paying them?), and do you really think there are going to be more than 22 of them?

          What you think are random scores are real scores, from people who feel differently than you do. I got a huge mass of scores for Theme, 1-5 all over the place (mainly because of how stupid the theme was). I got a spread from 2 to 5 in every category (1-5 in most categories). There are a lot of reasons for that and people choosing randomly isn’t one of them. This ‘broken system’ you are seeing is actually called people. They have different opinions. I got null votes in Innovation, Audio, and Humor. That’s okay. People couldn’t come up with an opinion there, maybe they accidently skipped that box, whatever. I got a legitimate score by my peers averaged out.

          Other than the all-5 troll and the all-1 troll, your scores are completely legit. Real people who put in time to check out your game and give you impressions and comments. Appreciate it and stop whining. People who didn’t rate audio either didn’t have sound on or it didn’t work. Get over it.

        • thristhart says:

          If the entire system is flawed, please feel free to suggest a new one! We as a community are quite open to change. if change is needed.

          As to the complaints – scores you disagree with are not the same as ‘random’ scores. You got a SINGLE n/a score, in audio, which is probably due to the rater being unable to hear audio. N/A doesn’t mean “doesn’t have.” It means the rater doesn’t feel qualified to judge that score, and it has no impact on your end score.

          As to the amount of ratings you got – well done, you got more than I did! Which is fine with me. I had useful feedback, and so did you for that matter. You have a windows game using gamemaker, which narrows the selection of people who can play it. You’ll notice most games with 100 ratings are web-based games, and for good reason. They’re more accessible to raters. These are not professional game critics, or people paid by Ludum Dare to rate your game. These are people just like you, taking time out of their lives to give you a rating.

          Keeping that is mind, isn’t it more remarkable that a whopping 22 people took the time to try your game out and give you feedback?

    7. Want lots of votes? Use Flash and put it on Newgrounds and Kongregate for thousands of plays and critiques. My first Ludum Dare I was also terribly disappointed by the deafening silence – now I realize that this is the norm and the only reason to join the compo is for your own feelings of accomplishment, not validation by others. I got FAR less plays then you did! =D

      • britzl says:

        I agree with McFunky. If I were to enter the next compo it would be just as much (or more) for the sense of accomplishment and feeling that you can pull soemthing of and deliver before a deadline than to get 100+ ratings.

      • sfernald says:

        Having done this for a while, I learned this trick ages ago. I always post my game on kongregate. I got about 14 ratings on here but over a 1000 people played my game on Kongregate in the same amount of time. I get a lot more feedback there too.

        Having said that, i think the rating system does work to an extent. I decided to focus my game and try to win the audio award and I did. People notice a game’s strengths I think if it really stands out in some way. The strengths of my game stood out from it’s weaknesses that it was able to rate highly in those strengths.

        That’s why I think if you want to stand out and not get voted in the middle of the pack you need to really focus those few available hours on a specific category rather than sprinkle them across all the categories. If you are an artist, focus 90% of your efforts on art. If you have a knack for gameplay focus everything you got on that. In this time of competition, where everyone is so so good it is he only way to stand out in som way.

        My suggestion to improve the voting would be to bring in some forward looking company like google to sponsor the competition. Imagine if that allowed people on google apps to play and vote on the ludumdare submissions. That would make for an honest unbiased voting and everyone would get tons of feedback.

    8. ACodeGerm says:

      It’s a shame that the LD didn’t live up to your expectations. Keep in mind, post-rating bitterness might have tinged your vision here.

      You had a really nice polished showing for your first LD especially considering you learned GameMaker on the fly(!). Based on your complaints I assumed you’d have way fewer reviews than you did. You had some really encouraging and positive comments on your game, that definitely recognized the tremendous effort you put into it.

      Try not to fixate too much on the ratings, or number of ratings you received. 22 is actually a pretty solid number for a non web-based game. When you consider 211 of the participants have rated under 5% of the games. I mean if you break it down the average user votes on 20ish games (someone more mathematically inclined than I may dispute this).

      Going over your Post-Mortem it seems that these should be your take aways:
      Finished a project!
      Learned enough Game Maker to make a complete game in 48 hours. (!)
      Created a game with a nice subtle allegory running through it.

      You worked hard, you kicked some butt, and honestly from my point of view you got a good amount of recognition for it. What kind of critique were you expecting?

      I disagree with their being any sort of of vote getting meta game, games with exceptional features get shared. Check out Nyaa, MorganQuick, Cambrian_Man, and Jesse Chand for some first timers that garnered a decent ratings and votes, it’s not an old boys club here, quality rises to the top. It doesn’t hurt to pop into the IRC channel and ask for a few folks to give you some direct feed back but at the most you might only get a 10 vote bump from that (as Legacy mentioned, the majority of them will be too busy Minecrafting it up :P ).

      But that entirely misses the point, it’s really not about the ratings at all. I’m just echoing earlier sentiment at this point but maybe this guy can get through to you:

      “My god I’ve actually finished it. This was my first Ludum Dare and I honestly never thought I would ever come CLOSE to cranking out a entry, I have very very very FEW finished projects, so to have one that I made within 48 hours is thrilling and will definitely give me a Confidence Boost to future projects. I was intimidated the whole way through and I am just glad I stuck with it.”

      Don’t let the sour grapes of ratings ruin this for you :P

      P.S. Down voters should be named and shamed though.

    9. Sos says:

      1. Your game crashe dfor many people, don’t be mad at people not playing it if it does that.
      2. As Breakdance said, flash will gather you some more publicity.
      3. Your votes are coherent, nad you got one row of 1s, it’s not bad, probably from a pissed voter that your game crashed on.
      4. I feel you’re just being childish, and you couldn’t live up to your expectations of the results.

      Anyways, please don’t hate us!

    10. BiraNeto says:

      Well… this is exactly like the real world behaves actually. The game market is very close to this… and if you have games available to people to evaluate there will be some unfair evaluations. I often get ratings on my games that clearly want only to push my score down… but then again… what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger :)

      Keep trying, practice leads to perfection.

      That being said, I also agree the rating system could have some upgrades though.

    11. Reference…

      Take a look at a great illustration showing precisely what I mean by that…

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