My alternate title for this post: People are Awesome!
If you haven’t heard of it, Ludum Dare is an open invitation, game development competition that has been around for about ten years. Every few months, a theme is announced, and game developers around the world create a video game centered around the theme. But here’s the fun part: they only get 48 hours. How awesome is that?
It’s not a new concept, and Ludum Dare is one of many development jams, but it has one of the most amazing communities out there. Throughout the competition, developers write regular blog updates on their progress and keep up with what others are doing. Many include final time-lapse videos. Some even have live video stream of their entire process. You get to see all of the struggles, successes, blood, sweat, and tears of very talented people doing something they love.
I’ve spent the last couple weeks playing as many of the 1400+ games as I could from the current Ludum Dare 24 competition (set to end on September 17th). Since I can’t make video games myself (maybe one day? A girl can dream…) and voting is limited to participants, I don’t get to vote on any of them, so I thought I’d at least share a few of my favorites.
Oh, I should note that there are actually two parts to the competition: the 48 hour challenge (that must be made completely by one person) and the jam, which allows a team to create a game in 72 hours.
Ok, so I was going to do a top ten, but 1) that wouldn’t really be fair since there’s no way in hell I’ll get to play every game, and 2) top tens are so arbitrary anyway. Instead, here are few games I’ve really enjoyed. We’ll just leave the ranking to the actual participants. (Oh, I also pretty much only played games that had web versions.)
The theme of this competition is “Evolution”.
Some of the 48 hour competition games I enjoyed:
A common take on the evolution theme is to evolve the character and actions through power-ups. This game is a good example of the concept done well. You start with a blob and advance through fighting other blobs. Ok, so it isn’t the most original, but it certainly is addictive. See what I mean by crazy talented people making things in 48 hours?
When I first heard about Ludum Dare, before I played any of the games, my first thought was “ok, so a lot of box-sprite platformers.” And there are, but what’s great about so many of these, and this game is a good example, is how clever they are. The biggest weakness that I could find with this very funny game is how short it is.
So much fun. This is a classic beat’emup that is shockingly smooth. Everything about this game is just so… clean. What does it have to do with evolution? No idea (although the dialog references it in a strange, that’s-not-quite-what-the-word-means sort of way). Still, if this game doesn’t finish in the top five, I’d be very surprised. Oh, and it has cats and it’s funny. That’s always a crowd pleaser.
Bob is a business-man angel (?) who gets more angels by running his minions into other dead businessmen. It’s a strange arcade-style shooter that makes no sense, but is a lot of fun to play. The best part is creating a moving formation of angels (who remember movement patterns that you teach them) to protect Bob. What does it have to do with evolution? No clue. You’ll probably have to play a couple times in order to get the hang of teaching your minions, but that’s ok because you’ll want to.
What Phonix Rising lacks in user-friendliness, it makes up for in uniqueness. It is a graphically driven game with a complete story. Each level tests your ability to solve actions to move forward in the game . “Solve actions,” she said? Yes. At times, it’s sort of like a click-through game in that you have to figure out how to manipulate the character. At other times, it’s an action game (including a really fun car chase). Did I mentions the graphics?
Speaking of cats, Boxy the Boxcat has, in addition to cats, lasers, tophats, and sex! You are Boxy, searching for food for your kittens in a 3D neighborhood that inexplicably has large quantities of nuclear waste that give you new powers. It’s a very short, very funny little game.
In this little, well I guess RPG, you have a wizard with minions who attack the baddies while you deliver crystals to a statue. I will admit that I spent most of my time yelling at my minions who didn’t seem to want to do what I wanted them to do, but it’s a fun game with great graphics. And yer a wizard.
And now for some jam entries:
I love this game. It’s an adorable puzzle platformer that makes me smile just thinking about it. The first level is probably my favorite. Well, no, I loved the third level. The second level is really good. I love this game.
The Balance by mr_Hk
Form definitely went before function on this game, but I highly recommend taking a look anyway. The jaw-dropping graphics and audio on this game are certainly the best I’ve seen, but once I gawked at the pretty, I found the game itself to be a bit dull. I really hope they continue work on it, though.
This one feels like a Pintrest poster in game form, partly because the art is so pretty, and partly because of the message. So the idea is to “eat” affirmative statements and avoid negative statements. It’s very cute, but I suspect the game creator had a lot of lonely lunches in the school cafeteria. The game definitely seems stacked in favor of the the negative, but then again, that is the challenge in the game. Somehow though, losing this game feels a bit more, er, personal. Oh lordy, I might just start waxing poetic on the philosophical implications if I think about it too much… If this one gets you down, you could always play the cow game again.
So, I know I didn’t get to play that many. I would guess maybe 100? I missed a lot of gems, so I’m looking forward to seeing the final scores. And to any participants who happen to stumble on this, thank you for a great week!