Ludum Dare is a two-day contest and a three-day game jam. Expert to beginners from single developers to teams of people compete for the prestige of their peers. The two-day contest is restricted to a singular person while the three-day game jam is unlimited when it comes to the scope of their team. A theme is voted for by everyone who is registered on the site and is widdle down until the winning theme is announced when the contest and jam begins.
This year’s theme was “Running out of Space”. Most people took this as running out of physical space and a few others took it in the direction of running out of outer space. Both were great directions to go with a game’s overall design.
In all honesty, I myself had a general game idea from the past that fit the parameters of the game theme quite well and so I went for that as I couldn't get it out of my head. I also was shooting for the two-day contest but ran short of time and like a lot of other contestants fell into the game jam part of the contest. At that point, a single person was showing their creation in the same genre as the multiple person teams, so it’s hard to shine against such stiff competition. It was definitely a letdown and I think a lot of people give up then. I kept going through as I was very close to completion and it was looking pretty good.
Detonation Dice was the name of my game. Dice with fruit symbols fall from the sky and fill a simple box. It was a cross between a 3D Tetris like game and a match three. The player could either roll or push an individual die as to try to match a nonlinear three symbols face up.
As tools go I used the latest version of Unity, Artimech (an open source visual scripting system I made), GIMP, and Fragmotion.
Unity is a godsend when it comes to creating games quickly and easily. It has allowed scripter level coders to create games without the need for a heavy hitter C++ coder.
Artimech is a tool I created for Unity to generate C# state machines. It’ll probably never be a mainstream visual scripting tool since it’s not interpretive and has to be compiled as states are added to the state machine. It does help me a lot as I’m a big believer in the state machine design pattern as it keeps code modal and contained in discrete chunks so as to stop run on classes.
GIMP is a Photoshop like tool that has gotten better over the years and that is now at a level as to use it professionally. Layers and pathing are essential to creating art that can be created and modified quickly. It's a free open source tool so it's price point fool you into thinking this product is inferior. In a lot of ways I like ti better than the latest versions of Photoshop.
Fragmotion is the tool that is the least used by most developers. Blender, Maya, or Houdini are the heavy hitters when it comes to indie and professional development. I myself can’t remember Blender’s oddities when it comes to its use while Fragmotion is similar enough to Maya and most all the other 3D editing software making it easy to learn. It's the best 35$ you will spend.
All in all the Ludum Dare and it’s three-day jam was a great experience. The three days forces one to be creative but limited in scope which is a good lesson for those games that never get finished because of grand ideas that need teams that are beyond the grasp of most of us besides the AAAs.
Detonation Dice’s source code and assets are located at https://github.com/Scramasax/DetonationDice. So check it out and see what thirty hours or so work can produce if properly motivated.