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Ludum Dare 29 — April 25th-28th Weekend [9 PM EST] — Theme: ??? (Slaughter Ends Soon!)
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    Greetings to all the new guys! (a.k.a. Folis’ inofficial guide for newbies.)

    Posted by (twitter: @F0lis)
    December 10th, 2012 7:48 am

    Well, looks like we have a lot of newcomers again this time!

    And as I appreciate all of the new guys, I’ll just welcome all of you! So have a warm welcome and a hug from me!

    And now I’ll try my hand at a McFunkypants-style guide, which contains some  teaching and hinting and also motivation!:

    • To get the most out of the compo, join the #ludumdare IRC channel on the AfterNET IRC network. (You need a IRC client for that. Check here or here or here for these.) – There are tons of awesome, and really nice people there who are willing to help you. If you want to talk to me directly just poke Folis. I’m there very often.
    • Generally get involved with the community as much as you can! People love to see photos of your desk, food, a timelapse (you can use ChronoLapse by Keeyai for this), or just a screenshot with some text every now and then. Also, don’t forget to write a post-mortem!
    • Check out the LD survival guide by fellow LDer Sol_HSA – It’s a very nice guide that helped me a lot during my first compo! You don’t have to follow every rule, but there are a few I can recommend: Sleep, tool preparation (use the Warmup for that!), and taking breaks. Those helped me the most. You should probably avoid alcohol too.
    • Check the tips section, it contains many useful posts written by other LD veterans! They know what they’re talking about!
    • And some general tips for the game design:

      KISS (Keep it simple & stupid)! Your game shouldn’t be a overly complex 3D turn-based online strategy sim! Try to get a small idea. Describe it briefly (about the size of a tweet. Thanks to Neonlare for that idea!)

      Cut features when needed! Sometimes there’s this great mechanic you have, and it takes AGES to implement. This is where a mental battle begins. If a feature takes too long to implement, you should consider cutting it (except if it’s your core mechanic). Sometimes that’ll help with speeding up development!

      Get something playable quickly! You shouldn’t waste any time getting some nice, solid engine going. You don’t need an all-rounder. Just get your core mechanic into the game as fast as you can. If all else fails, you can still submit something like that.

      Avoid feature creep. Yes, there’s this great feature, and that great mechanic, but you have a very limited timeframe, so forget about all the unneeded mechanics. Focus on the main idea!

      Playtest, playtest, playtest! Hop on IRC (see above) and let people play your game (there’s always someone who has time for this)! They will find bugs you might not see! And they can point out any balancing flaws, graphical hiccups and other problems (The experience of DLL hell isn’t exactly great.)

      Polish! If you have time left, replace the placeholder art with some pretty pixels. Compose some music (check the tools section!), add some bleeps and blops! Give your game that “finished” feel.

    • But there’s one rule above all others: Don’t forget to have fun! After all, Ludum Dare is a competition just for the fun of making games! You shouldn’t force yourself to apply all of these rules, if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.

    And after you read through this wall of text, here are some final words of motivation: Even if the time is limited, I know that you CAN do it! We all can do it!

    Perhaps you are like me and have never made a game before Ludum Dare? Don’t worry! My very first game ever was made during Ludum Dare #19!

    And even if you don’t manage to finish: There is always a next time.

    Alright, that’s all I have to say for today!
    Maybe you’ll come to IRC for a chat?

    See ya,
    - Folis

    (P.S: Is there like a position for welcoming and helping the first-timers with their questions? If there is, I’d love to do that! *looks at PoV*)


    10 Responses to “Greetings to all the new guys! (a.k.a. Folis’ inofficial guide for newbies.)”

    1. Ventura says:

      Thanks!, I think this will be useful for new people like me!

      • Folis says:

        You’re welcome!

        I do hope that it’s helpful, even if it’s just a single tip. I remember my first LD and boy, was I nervous! And thus, I try to help you newcomers prepare well, so you can enjoy your first LD even more! ;)

    2. Attrition says:

      You should add a note about knowing when to cut a feature — even if you’ve tried to KISS, it’s easy to over estimate how much you can get done.

      Even if you love a feature dearly, if it’s going to take too much time to get it done, or get it right, it’s better to cut it out and make the rest of your experience more polished.

    3. Puzzlem00n says:

      Quote: “P.S: Is there like a position for welcoming and helping the first-timers with their questions? If there is, I’d love to do that! *looks at PoV*”

      I am right with you on that! …Or at least I would be if I didn’t have school to attend to.

      If you get the job, maybe I could be your unappreciated sidekick in the summer! :D

    4. McFunkypants says:

      This is fantastic advice! Very well done. My one extra piece of advice you could add would be to avoid trying to learn a brand new tool/language/game engine (unless that’s ALL you want to accomplish this weekend).

      The “learning curve will be steep enough that if you want to focus on coding your actual GAME and not learning the new tool you should GO WITH WHAT YOU KNOW: use something you are already familiar with. Naturally there are always exceptions to the rule – but generally people who tried to learn a new language or API don’t spend much time making the actual game.

    5. jmk says:

      Thanks for the guide! It can be hard to find general advice for newbies, and this is super helpful.

      I’ve never done Ludum Dare before, but I’ve made a couple of 48-hour films, and what I’ve learned is to make sure you SLEEP. And I mean a normal-ish amount, not like 2 hours per night. Although it’s really tempting to burn the candle at both ends, it’s impossible to be at your best for 48 hours straight.

      I think this goes hand-in-hand with the KISS principle too.

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