Would you believe me if I told you it was possible to create a game in just 48 hours? If not, then you’re definitely not going to believe that there’s an online community of thousands of developers that do it tri-annually!
Meet Ludum Dare, the rapid game creation community, where developers all over the world, including myself, gather (figuratively) in a mass competition to create a game from scratch in just one weekend! The 26th official Ludum Dare runs from April 26-29, and all aspiring game developers should sign up and give it a shot! To sign up, all you have to do is create a WordPress account on the Ludum Dare compo page.
The official Theme Slaughter takes place the week before the competition starts, and all participants vote on a myriad of themes to decide what the official theme will be. Here’s the catch, though: the winning theme is not announced until the moment the 48-hour competition kicks off!
From there, you have the weekend to create your game however you like. You can use tools such as Game Maker, Flash, or Unity, or you can code from scratch in your language of choice. To keep inspired and see what everybody else is up to, you can watch the Ludum Dare blog, where competitors post screenshots of their progress, share the tools they are using, and even record timelapses of their development process!
Once you’ve signed up on the site, you have immediate access to the blog, and can post to it yourself as well. Community and sharing is highly encouraged in the Ludum Dare community, it is a volunteer-run event, and thousands of participants take part every time, sharing their stories on the blog, forums, and IRC chats. There’s even a post where you can locate nearby real world gatherings, if you prefer working in the proximity of your peers.
Once the deadline hits, everybody submits their finished (or unfinished!) game to the website, and the voting begins. To further encourage community participation, the only people who get to vote on the winning games are those who participated and submitted a game themselves!
Weeks later, after the participants have had the time to vote on their share of the thousands of entries (very few can ever play them all), the results are announced. Games are rated according to various categories grading how fun, silly, weird, technically impressive, and artistic they are.
But as you take part in the “competition”, you start to get the feeling that most of the participants aren’t in Ludum Dare to win; they’re in it to prove to themselves what they’re capable of, and to share the process of creating wonderful and weird games with the rest of the world.
That’s definitely why I take part, so I hope you do as well. Sign up now, and let’s see what you can create in just 48 hours!
PS: If you’re interested in checking out the games I’ve made for previous Ludum Dare events, here they are:
Chevy Ray Johnston teaches Flash and Advanced Flash