This past weekend, I participated in Ludum Dare 33 with my friend Josh. It was a super positive experience, so I wanted to share just a little bit about the weekend. Our game is called Delicious Ships! and you should totally check it out.
Ludum Dare is a game jam that happens every so often (twice a year? I’m actually not sure). The idea is basically the same as a hack day or similar sprint-style event: you form a small team and then try to put together a game in a short amount of time. We had 72 hours for our category, The Jam (there was also The Compo, which only had 48 hours and some tighter restrictions).
Neither Josh nor I had ever made a game before, so we decided to try and keep it as simple as possible. We used PuzzleScript, which is a really cool little game engine by Stephen Lavelle that makes it easy to put together certain types of puzzle games. That turned out to be a great choice, because we wound up spending very little time implementing the actual mechanics of our game and most of the time designing levels and drawing sprites. Josh also composed a jaunty little sea shanty for background music.
The process of making a game was lots of fun, and the Ludum Dare community seems super nice and supportive. We’ve gotten lots of positive comments on our game along with a few helpful suggestions. My favorite part of the event, though, was the fact that we actually shipped something. Sure, it could use some polish, but it’s a real thing out there in the world that we actually delivered.
I got into programming about 15 years ago because I wanted to make video games, but I never actually made a game. I started about a hundred different ones, but I would always spin my wheels and make little progress, eventually giving up and starting a new project. The game jam format forces you to get rid of all the bikeshedding and just ship (ha) something. Now that I’ve felt what it’s like to release a real live game into the wild, I’m motivated to capture that feeling again by starting new projects and actually finishing them!