Our first Ludum Dare was LD 23 and from a first timer perspective it was success. But it was mostly a success because of the lessons it taught, not the final product. Thankfully, LD 24 was a huge success! Ancient Ruin has received mostly positive feedback and to me it was success, not just for the final product, but also for implementing the lessons we learned from LD 23 and using them for LD 24.
Here are the lessons we learned from our first LD, Honey heist, and how we implemented them into our LD 24 game Ancient Ruin.
Put in the hours
LD 23 Lesson Learned : We worked hard on LD 23, but we could have worked much harder. We wasted most of the second day and probably worked a maximum of 6 hours on any given day. This left a lot of work undone, most notably the controls.
LD 24 Lesson Implemented: This time around we probably put in 12+ a day. We got a lot more done and there was a bit less stress when it came down to crunch time because most of the assets were done and ready to go.
Start balancing the gameplay halfway through the last day
LD 23 Lesson Learned : The major complaint we had with Honey Heist was the controls. We knew this before hand, but we just left it to do later. Later never came. We were so busy and under so much stress under crunch time that there was no time to do this.
LD 24 Lesson Implemented: This time we had a discussion mid way through the last day to go over the gameplay and start tweaking it. Luckily we did this, because we ended up tweaking the gameplay right to the very end. Had we not done this we probably would have wasted time on features that weren’t as important.
Sacrifice perfectionism in favor of good enough
LD 23 Lesson Learned : I wasted countless hours trying to make the art in Honey Heist perfect. This led to a lot of frustration and probably made the overall look of the game suffer.
LD 24 Lesson Implemented: This time around I decided to get the art to “good enough” and move on to the next thing. This kept frustration to a minimum, kept the work pace going and allowed me to get a lot more done. Once I have all the assets finished, I can always go back and improve upon it after.
LD 23 Lesson Learned : Working non-stop drove my frustration level through the roof. I remember being so frustrated working on the art the whole time. Then I realized I wasn’t taking breaks, which I normally do.
LD 24 Lesson Implemented: For Ancient Ruin, whenever frustration would set in, I would remember that its time to take a small break. Sometimes this even meant taking a break from one piece of work and working on another. This seemed to work out well as my frustration was pretty low and only came back towards the end when there was no time for breaks.
Now for the lessons learned from Ancient Ruin LD 24
Start working on the gameplay at the beginning of the last day
LD 24 Lesson Learned : Starting the gameplay halfway through the last day helped out a lot, but we still ended up working on it till the last second. Gameplay after all, in my opinion, is king.
Have all assets done before the last day
LD 24 Lesson Learned : Having this done will allow you to work on the gameplay on the last day. If you have time after, you can always add more.
You can get a lot more done in 3 days than you think!
LD 24 Lesson Learned : It’s amazing what you can accomplish when your motivated and have a deadline. This LD opened up my eyes to the fact that I could be working much harder and getting a lot more done. Even playing other peoples games amazes me of how much content can be created in 3 days.
I’m sure there are more lessons to be learned as I analyze the situation more, but for now these will do. I got to say, I’m happy that something like Ludum Dare exists. Not only is it a fun experience with a great comunity, but it can teach you some life lessons as well. I can’t wait for LD 25!