Ludum Dare Games

Ludum Dare is a 48-hour long game creation competition.  You have two days to build a game from scratch — you need to create all the program code and content (art, sound, etc…) by yourself within that time period.  There is always a “theme” for the competition, which the games should try to incorporate somehow.


Ludum Dare 22 (Theme: Alone) – Paper Towns

The theme for this, the 22nd Ludum Dare, was “Alone”.

I’d never done anything like Ludum Dare before, but I wanted an excuse to learn Unity 3d and I thought it might be fun to try streaming some game development. The weekend turned out to be fantastic fun and I learned a lot, very quickly.

Even looking back at this almost three years later, I still have to say that I quite like this little psychological game.  Originally it was going to be a bit more of a crafting/tower-defense game, but learning basic things like texturing and pathfinding took up far too long and didn’t leave enough time to flesh out that aspect of the game.

But, for the first time in my life I’d finally *finished* a game. There was a start, a way to lose, and a way to win — not to mention what I think it a perfectly functional story. The game could be played in about 5 minutes, which is still something I aim for in a Ludum Dare entry.

Interesting fact: I didn’t really know how to do 3d modelling for games at this point so I’m pretty sure everything you see in game is actually a Unity 3d primitive (cubes, capsules, planes, etc…)

Click here to play my game: Paper Town!

Read the Post Mortem!

Ludum Dare 23 (Theme: Tiny World) – Fish Tank Commander

The theme for this competition was “Tiny World”.  I knew that I wanted to do something web-based in Ruby on Rails that would be multi-user, so I decided to make a turn-based strategy game that draws heavily on Chess and Civilization, set in a fish tank (aquarium).

This was extremely ambitious for a 48-hour project.  I ended up because extremely happy with how it turned out.  There are a TON of features present in the webapp/game.  However, because it required that people create an account and because playing a match takes time, it wasn’t the sort of thing that would be very compatible with judging and I didn’t expect to get a good score.  However, I think that what I ended up with – while not ideal for Ludum Dare – is a game that has HUGE potential going forward.  I foresee huge things with FTC, once a few more features get added in.

The game can be played here. You can see the game’s source code on GitHub and follow along with the development.  You can also report bugs and make suggestions!

UPDATE: I have stopped paying for hosting on the server so the game is not likely to be available at the above link anymore.

Ludum Dare 24 (Theme: Evolution) – Pinbology

After always making the finals but never being picked, “Evolution” was the theme for this Ludum Dare. While many people made games that involved having the main character change in some way, I decided to instead explore a different way of using the theme.

I absolutely love pinball, and one of the remarkable things about pinball tables is that there’s one for virtually every theme. From movies to poker, to car racing, to fishing — there’s a pinball table out there that covers it.  So I decided to make a pinball table that explored “evolution”.  This allowed me to experiment with Unity 3d’s physics system and also create something “physically intuitive”.  By that I mean that everyone understands how pinball works: There’s a ball and flippers. You shoot the ball at stuff and try not to lose it.

Pinbology entry on the Ludum Dare site.

Play the LD version of Pinbology here.

I have since continued to work on a pinball game in Unity 3d, rebuilt from scratch. You can try an early build here.

Ludum Dare 25 (Theme: You are the villain) - Kittenzilla 3: The Return of Mecha-Kittenzilla

While all of my entries so far have exceeded my expectations, this was by far my most successful entry.  Out of 1,327 entries, Kittenzilla was ranked 32nd in humor and 40th in fun and was in the top 10% overall.  This game represents the point at which I finally considered myself to be competent with Unity 3d and Blender and it is by far my most complete game, with a fully realized menu system, options, sound design, gameplay elements, story, and even a score board.  What made this even more of a personal success was that I didn’t even have the full 48-hours to work on this, since I had two Christmas parties to attend on this weekend (it was in late December).  I’m certainly not trying to be arrogant about this game — but I am exceptionally proud of myself, and that’s not something I often feel.

Inspiration for this game definitely came from the old Rampage game I used to play as a kid.  It’s incredibly fun to destroy cities!

Kittenzilla entry on the Ludum Dare site.

Play the game here.

Ludum Dare 26 (Theme: Minimalism) – Shoot. (AAA_FPS_GOTY)

At the last minute, I changed the title of the game to “Shoot.”, as a nod to minimalism, but I really wish that I’d kept my working title of “AAA_FPS_GOTY”. Nonetheless, that’s pretty much the only regret I had with this game.

For every Ludum Dare, I always have the following schedule:

Friday Night: Come up with idea, implement rough proof of concept.

Saturday: Implement all core features.

Sunday: Polish, balance, textures, sounds, main menu, debugging.

I’ve also always said that if I don’t feel good after Friday, I can restart with a completely new idea on Saturday morning — but after that I have to be “locked in”.  I’ve never had to change my idea in the past, but this time I actually did it twice. I went to bed on Friday night so unhappy, that I ended up getting up at 1am and working on a completely new game for two hours. Then, by the time I got up on Saturday “proper”, I’d decided that I didn’t like that either and starting over again!

As a result, I only had about 25 hours (minus breaks + sleeping!) to make the game that I’d ultimately end up submitting. On top of that, I wanted to do the UNTHINKABLE for such a short competition: I wanted to make a multiplayer game.

Multiplayer is exponentially harder to implement and is a nightmare to debug.  I’m truly convinced that this was a crazy thing to try. However, I really wanted to make a multiplayer game because I love streaming the entire Ludum Dare process and I wanted to allow my viewers to play with each other (and me).

In the end, despite the craziness, I ended up with a game that I am extremely happy with — and the judging was incredibly positive as well. Out of 2346 entries, I scored:

Humor: Top 1.4% (Mostly due to the audio, I assume.)
Fun: Top 2% (The only rating I truly care about!)
Overall: Top 3% (My best overall showing to date!)
Audio: Top 5% (And that’s with no music!)

Shoot (AAA_FPS_GOTY) entry on the Ludum Dare website.

Play the game here.

Ludum Dare 27 (Theme: Ten Seconds) – Time Hack

 37,000 feet over the Atlantic is no excuse to miss Ludum Dare.
I didn’t think I’d be able to participate at all this Ludum Dare, as a result of being out of the country for business-related activities. However, I really didn’t want to break my 6-LD streak, so I decided to take my own advice: Just participate in any way you can, even if it’s just with an extremely simple game.

So when I found myself on a trans-Atlantic flight with no mouse, no Internet access, but with a small amount of free time, I decided to do the best that I could.  What resulted is a infinite-frogger-style game with a very weak hacking theme. What I really wanted to do a riff on the Hollywood-style hacking visuals that you see in movies and tv shows.  To do it right, I would have really needed some nice custom shaders, and that’s not something I can produce without more time AND access to copious documentation.

Still, in the end I produced an actual game. It has loss conditions (get “traced” by running out of time, smash into a firewall) and a goal (accumulate as many points as possible before you inevitably collide into the ever-speedier firewalls, or run out of time of course).  My interpretation of the “10 seconds” theme is very obvious, but enabled me to focus on a very simple arcady game that would be doable in just a few hours.

I started the game when I was still in Germany, finished it up somewhere over the Atlantic, and uploaded it using the Toronto Pearson International Airport’s free wifi.

[Click to play Time Hack!]


Ludum Dare 28 (Theme: You Only Get One) – L1ghter

“L1ghter” is an epic love story between a boy and his lighter and a dark temple full of unforgiving traps.

You have ONE light source.
There is ONE way out.
There is ONE answer to every puzzle.
Every room has a unique, SINGULAR puzzle.
There is ONE ginourmous spider. I hope you’re okay with that.

I had considered making another multiplayer game for LD #28, but I had difficulty coming up with something that fit the theme.  Ultimately, I decided to go with a game that involved a single light in the darkness.  Originally the light was going to be a flash from a camera, but the constant alternating between dark and light was kind of headache-inducing. I then toyed with the idea of a box of matches or a candle, but mechanically a lighter ended up working best.  When a stream viewer mentioned using the scroll wheel to strike the flint, everything really fell into place.

Speaking of falling, the idea of falling into a dark dungeon or cavern was also one I had in mind for long before this Ludum Dare (along with the camera flash idea).  I wanted the game to feel creepy, claustrophobic, and oppressive.  The choice to go with the “buried temple” idea as opposed to a natural cavern meant a much faster development time (square, flat walls + the ability to use a building editor plugin) and a good excuse to include nefarious traps.

I definitely included WAAAY too much content, which resulted in less polish than I would have hoped (there are many missing sounds), but the end result was still positive.  L1ghter ended up with a higher placement than any previous LD entry to date!

[View the Ludum Dare Entry]

[Click to play L1ghter]


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