Let me put my rant hat on:
Death is useful +426
“Death is useful” is a really cool idea. I’m pretty sure that a game made around this idea would be really unique and interesting.
But I don’t think it is a good theme for Ludum Dare. The reason is quite simple: It directs too much. It points very clearly to a direction, and removes a bit of surprise, a bit of creativity.
Ludum Dare nowadays has upwards of 1500 submissions. With this many games, I think a good theme has to be as open ended as possible. In short, not a “sentence” term (“death is useful”, “you are the companion”, “protect your enemy”), but rather a “noun” theme (“Glitch”, “Illusions”, “Colours”, “Castles”).
A noun theme allow first time LD’ers to make simple games with simple interpretations of the game (A 2D platformer in a castle), while veteran LD’ers can spend their creative juices trying to surprise us out of our socks (A dialogue-adventure game where the end goal is to convince feuding families to collaborate in the construction of a castle to defend against foreign invaders).
This LD, let’s try to choose an Open Ended theme, even if it doesn’t sound cool at a first glance (or because it doesn’t sound cool at a first glance!). You can always use the cool candidates that didn’t make it to further define the open-ended game (A castle-building game where progress must be paid for with the deaths of your workforce!)
Off with the rant hat