Gaming – Ludum Dare and the Indie Game Revolution

Making games used to be hard.  Well, at least harder.  You’d have to know the platform: its limitations, constraints, and quirks.  How many colors could you display?  How many sound channels could you play?  What sort of optimizations would you need to get a steady framerate?  All of these specializations needed time and effort.  Time and effort that wasn’t spent on designing the actual game, but on wrestling with implementation.  Things took a big leap in the ’90s with the rise of powerful, general purpose computing hardware.  Another 20 years later and we’ve warped into a time when you don’t even need to program a single line of code to develop a cross platform game!  Now more than ever, people who might have been put off by the challenges of game development (yours truly included) are learning with ease due to fabulous tools like Unity, GameMaker, Construct, RPG Maker… the list goes on.  Self distribution and publishing is also easier than ever thanks to cheap storage and bandwidth.  Anyone can make and publish game these days.  And during a special event called Ludum Dare, many do: in 48 hours!

What is Ludum Dare you might ask?  As you might have guessed, it’s a competition that requires participants to make a game relating to a theme (the theme is different every time the competition takes place) in 48 hours by themselves.  There’s also a more relaxed “jam” event that runs alongside it with a 72 hour window and teams allowed.  This last event, there were almost 2500 submissions.  Even if you only played each game for 5 minutes, it would take you about 9 days to get through them all without interruption!  Thankfully you don’t have to rate that many games, but the more you rate and comment on other’s games the more chance that your game will get rated back.

That’s just about the basics. The theme for this one is Beneath the Surface.  So what ACTUALLY happens during this entire event? Insanity:

I like cake

I like cake

Hairballs everywhere

Hairballs everywhere

Derelict my...

Derelict my…

I’ll go into more detail about the specific games I played/am playing and liking a little later.  In fact you should head over to the Ludum Dare website now and start playing!

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