As I mentioned in a previous post, the 35th Ludum Dare competition is nearly upon us. We are a week and few days out from the event at the time of writing this, and the fever is starting to grow in me. A fever as dramatic as Jeremy Irons describing the fever in Batman, except, you know, about a game development competition not hating Superman... In my interview with Dave Rael on the Developer on Fire podcast it was this I told him I like to geek out about (see chapter 40:18), and geek out I shall...

As Ludum Dare fever slowly begins to consume me I thought it fit and proper to write a blog post, or a few, related to this joyous event. I started out by trying to write a post about a game engine/framework thingy I am trying to build for it. However, I've discovered that my concern for quality took up a lot of my time and was competing for the time I normally spend writing my blog posts. I think I may go back down to 1 blog post a week so I have time to work on actual coding projects,  but I'll make up my mind on that on Sunday (as my quota system dictates).

So instead of a technical post I thought it would be fun to outline the games I have made for Ludum Dare up to this point. Maybe I'll add to this post as I complete more... an ongoing journal of sorts...

Ludum Dare 29: Beneath the Surface

This was my first Ludum Dare. This is the event that got me addicted to this wonderful game jam. The theme, Beneath the Surface, got me thinking about mining games like Minecraft or Terrarria and I thought it would be fun to try to create a 2D isometric, also known as 2.5D, mining game (since 2D and 3D were clearly taken). Thus "IsoMiner" was born:

You can view and play the entry from here:

Instead of using XNA/MonoGame (which I was already familiar with) I thought it would be fun to try to build a game framework out of JavaScript at the same time as developing my game. This was not a good idea as I clearly spent too much time working on the engine and mechanics and not enough time on actual game play.

Even though I didn't really create an actual game, I enjoyed the experience anyways because I learned a hell of a lot about JavaScript that I didn't really know before.

Ludum Dare 30: Connected Worlds

Round 2, with experience under my belt I figured it was time to really buckle down and build an actual game. I was able to accomplish it, but it was certainly rough.

Ludum Dare 30's theme was connected worlds. Friday night when the theme came out I spent a considerable amount of time in indecision thinking about what I was going to make and what I was going to build it with. I had a few beers thinking my creativity would go up, but that was a big mistake and I wasted the first day. I'm older and wiser now and realize that was a bad idea.

I initially worked on a platformer where 2 dudes' worlds were connected by their beards. I got a couple of circles connected by something that resembled a beard and had a hard time thinking about where to go with it. So I scrapped the idea and started over.

With a day wasted I started on a platformer where a guy and his spirit needed to maintain proximity or they would die, but they otherwise could fall off platforms and 'die' to transport to each other. The spirit, being light, could also jump really far. Thus "The connected worlds of a guy and his spirit" was born:

You can view the entry and play the game from here:

I built the game using Phaser.js as I wanted to try my hand at game development in JavaScript once again, and I had also build a prototype hosting solution at that I wanted to try out. The hosting solution isn't exactly beta-ready, but it worked. I even had multi-tenant urls like this:

Ultimately I was pretty happy with the result of this LDJAM despite the time I wasted on foolish things.

Ludum Dare 31: The Entire Game on One Screen

This is one of my absolute favorite Ludum Dare competitions. I ended up wasting a whole day being indecisive about the direction I wanted to go with my game, but I just learned about a genre called "rogeulikes" that for some reason I had never heard of before. Inspired by this genre, the TV show Lost, and the survival game Rust I created a roguelike (or maybe roguelite) game where you harvested wood/pigs/water to stay alive (turn based) WHILE having to enter a 9 digit code into a computer every 3  minutes (in real-time) or the world would end. Thus "Amiss" was born:

You can view/play the game from here:

I ended up getting fairly decent reviews on this game, and I was extremely happy with what I accomplished. I found it rather thrilling at first to go out hunting and looking for water all with the looming notion that if I didn't enter the 9 digit number into the computer within 3 minutes the game would abruptly end. I may have almost given a few people a heart attach with how it ends too.

I split from JavaScript game development and headed back to MonoGame for this LudumDare (and all since then). I know the framework much better and I wasn't wrestling just to get things to work.

Ludum Dare 32: An Unconventional Weapon

Despite wanting to further investigate the roguelike genre, I was inspired by the Ludum Dare keynote address suggesting you should try something different:


I decided to focus on creating something with better art, more story, and real characters. The Unconventional Weapon theme got me thinking about whacking people with a leek (which is a sort of onion). Thus "Allium: Rise of the Leek Knight" was born:

You can view/download the entry here:

Allium is the genus of plants that yields varieties of onions. Everything was onion themed. The baby Pearl, the Onion god, Lord Stanky Breadth, Allium's armor, her onion farm, and the leek as the theme tie in.

This was a first Ludum Dare I also posted progress to YouTube. You can see how I went a little overboard with blood particle effects in some of the initial game play:


Built this with MonoGame all from scratch in the time frame. I was pretty proud of the creativity of the story and some of the animations and things. There wasn't much to it in the end.

Ludume Dare 33..... darn :-(

Went on vacation to Boston/Maine with my wife for our 10 year wedding anniversary. Yes, there are things more important than Ludum Dare in my life. Just not many things.

Ludum Dare 34: Two Button Controls, Growing

Back at it after missing 33 the theme ended up being a tie! Two Button Controls and Growing. Already a sucker for indecision I went back and forth for an entire day, again! Finally, I decided to take another stab at the whole rogue like thing with the idea that in a diamond shaped grid you can go left, go right, spin left, or spin right with only 2 buttons. I also wanted to take this chance to jump out into space. Thus "Adrift: A Space Age Roguelite" was born:

You can view/download the game here:

Unfortunately the 2 button control system was a little hokey. The visuals ended up being fairly good, however. The colors and clear icons were pretty good. I didn't have a lot of time to balance the game out at the end, but it was quite difficult if you didn't know that killing certain units provided you with an unbalanced amount of resources.

I started, but never finished, a post-compo version of this game. You see how things polished up a bit...

I failed to put together what I felt was interesting game play and ended up abandoning it (as with most projects I have worked on).

I did this with MonoGame as well, but this time I used and developed a custom game engine/framework as I created it called Coldsteel. This was suppose to be the topic of the blog post I started on but haven't finished. Having this together helped me develop things much faster than previous Ludum Dares. Before Ludum Dare 35 hits I plan on putting together a cleaner, better tested version. We'll see how far I make it on that.

Ludum Dare 35: ?

We'll have to wait until April 15th to see what the theme is going to be. I am pretty excited about this. I'll write-up a retrospective Monday after the weekend is over.

Thanks for reading :)