Posts Tagged ‘advice’
It’s always pretty exciting to work on a game for ludumdare. I’ve participated alone and in team and it’s always such a great experience!
I’ve seen a few discussions popping up here and there about the judging/review process. There are several instances where it’s not THAT easy to know how to rate a game!
While I’m not a veteran, during the time I’ve been here I’ve seen people agree on “best practices” that I’ll try to outline below or at least start a healthy open discussion about them! (if I’m wrong in any of them please let me know!)
Take into account whether the game was submitted to the compo or the Jam!
This will let you rate the game better. I know bad graphics are bad graphics, but compo games can’t be judged with the same “harshness” you would use for Jam games because they were done in less time (48 hours instead of 72), by a single person (not a team) and -in theory- during the competition! (which is not necessarily true for Jam games, where using pre-existent assets is allowed). Same with music, or the level of polish. In fact, every aspect should be judged taking into account whether is a jam or a compo game!
Make sure you read the description!
The “description” is the first and main instance for developers to communicate with future players, so a lot of them will try to post information here that will help you play and rate their game.
I know sometimes there’s nothing relevant in the description, but you’ll find that in quite a lot of games reading the description first will definitely make a difference! Perhaps the developers didn’t have time for a tutorial and you’ll find the instructions there. Perhaps all the audio was taken from somewhere else and they are honest about it in the description (more on this later), perhaps you need to install something before playing the game. Perhaps the web version has annoying bugs and glitches the other versions don’t have. All of this is relevant and will probably help you judge their game better!
The game doesn’t run? Don’t rate it!
If the game you are trying to play is not working for you, don’t give it a low score!. The most sensible thing to do is leave a comment saying that it didn’t run on your system. If you can provide relevant information (Operating System, Processor, graphics card, Browser, A message that popped up before crashing, etc) all the better!
Remember that N/A means Not Applicable!
If the game lacks audio, for instance, the best thing to do is to NOT rate the game in that category. Same with humor, for instance. If it’s an emotional game about a serious topic there’s no reason to give it a 1-star rating in humor when it’s not trying to be funny.
The audio or graphics are not their own? (Open to discussion)
For jam games where assets made before the competition or freely available on the internet can be used this is a really hard topic!. A lot of developers will tell you in the description if there’s something in their game they didn’t make themselves, while others simply won’t, which makes this issue all the more complicatedl! Not really sure what the “recommended course of action” is, but when the audio for a game wasn’t made by the team I usually don’t give the game a score in that category.
If they used a mix between things they made during the jam and things they borrowed from public sources then I try to “judge” the assets they did for the game and how they “blend” with everything else. It’s a really complicated case (and hopefully uncommon) so I’d truly love to know what other people do when this happens!
Leave a comment!
Leaving a comment after you’ve rated a game is not only a way to let the developer know you played their entry but also a way of helping them improve their game! Bug reports, suggestions and feedback in general (e.g: “Loved your game!”) are always welcome by developers and will most likely help them continue working on the game beyond ludumdare. Plus, a lot of people (including myself) will return you the favor!
I think that’s all the advice I can give for rating games. If you know of other “best practices” please let me know and I’ll add them here!
Having said that, go and rate some games!
I’ve done several Ludum Dares in the past, and the one thing that I’d recommend to anyone is to always remember, you’re doing this for fun.
- If something comes along that sounds more fun, or is more important, go do it.
- Take breaks. Go on a walk. Get away from the computer. Draw inspiration from the world, or let your subconscious tackle a tough problem while you enjoy yourself.
- Don’t get stuck. Use a tool like Stutter to force yourself to bounce from art to programming to design to playtesting. (Yes, this is a shameless plug.)
- Sleep (or, at the very least, powernap). A tired developer is a sub-optimal developer. Four hours of peak development is worth much more than 16 hours of mediocre development.
- Eat. Food is fuel, and fuel, like sleep, is required to perform at peak.
- If you want to dominate your Ludum Dare (or appear to), don’t learn your tools while you work. Decide upon your arsenal now, and learn as much as you can about them.
- Revision control is your best friend. Commit early, commit often. If you’re doing it right, you’ll be committing way more than you think you need to, and this is good. Reverting fifteen minutes worth of bug code is better than spending another fifteen debugging. (Don’t forget to master revision control before the compo!)
- Submit your shit. Does your game crash? Submit it. Does your game suck? Submit it. Is your game so awful it’s embarrassing? Submit it! Once you’ve submitted it, realize you’ve completed a Ludum Dare, how awesome that is, how many people wish they were you, how attractive you are, and how much better you’ll do next time!
- Have fun. Have I mentioned that you’re doing this for kicks? If you’re stressed, worried, bored, upset, or tired, you’re doing a bad games make job. Have fun, goddamnit.
So, my second LD resulted in my first entry. Not bad.
What went right
Personally, I liked the theme. I’m always one to take it more as a game mechanic, so this one was pretty clear while offering a fair number of choices.
I had the game done after the first day. This gave me the second 24 hours to polish, draw, compose and add new features. I spent several hours obsessively tweaking numbers until I could win about 50% of the time, which seemed fair.
What went wrong
After tweaking for hours the girlfriend and I cooked dinner, watched a movie, and killed a bottle of wine. That in itself is not wrong, not at all. I thoroughly recommend it. However, it sort of put the idea of “The game’s done, I could add some graphics and music but would I be really happy with them and there’s another bottle of wine in the fridge oh stuff it let’s just relax” into my head. I need to be more committed. ^__^
Also, despite basing my entry on the engine code for my previous attempt, there was still a fair chunk of tech to write. I mean, if I knew I was going to do a shooter no matter what the theme, I should have written a weapon class ready, right?
I picked a stupid size for the screen (1280×720). Next time, I check it on my laptop before submitting.
Lastly, the browser variance got me. I developed in Chrome, one of the more forgiving browsers, but when my first comment was “It freezes in Safari 6 on a Mac” I thought I’d better check it out. Horrifyingly it ran in NO other browsers (except Opera, which uses the same V8 JS engine as Chrome). Hurriedly researching and fixing a combination of transform, keyboard and audio problems got it running reasonably in all browsers except Safari, in which it still runs at 3-4 FPS instead of the 60 FPS of everything else. Post-compo (and therefore not in the entry version) I’ve played around with different methods but nothing has helped Safari. I also don’t have a Mac, so I’m limited to version 5.1.7 (the latest version on Windows) which doesn’t implement requestAnimationFrame, which is the recommended fix for buffered frames – although that’s not the whole problem. >__<
Aaand see you all in four months.
I don’t think there is a single best method to do the Ludum Dare. I’m no expert and you may agree or disagree with my ideas but I’ve finished an entry for 9 different main LDs since LD #1. I’ve also failed many times and learned from those as well.
Making a game in 48 hours is hard. There will be times when you feel discouraged by your lack of progress, skills or inspiration. If you’re going to finish a game this weekend, you need to make that your #1 priority. Don’t start the LD without knowing that no matter what, you’ll make a game this weekend. Maybe a very shitty game if things don’t go your way, maybe an awesome game, but a game no matter what. Don’t have any doubt about it and it won’t be a problem.
The excitement here and on IRC before the compo is a great way to build up that motivation, but be careful that once the compo is started it can work against you when others seem to be advancing their game more quickly.
Hello Ludum Dare friends, I am writing a book on game jams. As part of the research I wanted to ask you if you had any anecdotes or advice you’d like to share for achieving game jam success! In particular, funny stuff is what I’d like to hear most. =) One liners, haiku, yoda-like wisdom… you name it. Update: I’m loving all the haiku (5-7-5 syllable poems) please submit more!
Instead of just saying SCREW IT, IT WON’T WORK, I decided to mess around for nearly 3 hours trying to create a specific death animation/scenario for the enemies.
What a waste. Now I’m behind schedule AND I can’t make it the way I wanted to.
PRO TIP: If it can’t be figured out in 30 minutes, simplify it and move on! NO TIME TO WASTE!
BACK TO WORK!
Alas, it turns out that I am going to miss yet another LD. A last minute invite to las vegas with free travel and a free place to stay is taking over this weekend. It was a hard decision, but I’ve stopped voting on themes because of this. I’m half tempted to help out by culling the ones people hate, but I’m also tempted to vote up the ones we always see on the list but don’t want (evolution, I’m looking at you).
Good luck to everyone who is competing. There are a lot of new names posting — special good luck to all of you. Hopefully you all get hooked and become permanent parts of the community.
Quick advice to you newcomers:
- Pick a game design that you can completely finish with time to spare but with room for additional features if you find yourself with extra time (lol). Too many first timers fail because they bite off more than they can chew.
- Make code that does only what it needs to do. I’m the worst about spending way too much time writing general, well commented, extendable code snippets instead of just writing what I need. It’s 48 hours – if you want a piece of your code to use later, re-write it later.
- As mentioned in an earlier post and on the wiki, there are lots of tools created by the LD community that can quickly add a large amount of polish to your game. Dr Petter has written two amazing tools that give you sound effects and music, as well as a graphics editor. Blecki has a good looking map editor. RB has a new 3D python framework (allowed?). I wrote a tool for making timelapses, and a loader to make judging the games less of a chore. I’m sure there are more – read what people are posting about their toolsets and ask around in IRC. In fact, we had a whole mini-LD on tools, so check that out as well.
- Have fun! If you aren’t enjoying yourself, take a 20-60 minute break. If you hate your time making your game, we will probably hate our time playing it.