18Apr2012

Enter Ludum Dare: A 48 Hour Game Dev Contest This Weekend (April 20-22, 2012)

Ludum Dare is an online game development contest based around 48 hour competitions. It celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. It's recently had a publicity boost because Notch, the creator of the mind-bogglingly popular indie game Minecraft, has been taking part (although he might not be doing it this time, alas).

The next Ludum Dare contest is taking place this coming weekend on April 20-22, 2012 (it starts on the Friday evening and ends Sunday evening) and I want to encourage more people to take part because it's fun! The competition is open to developers of all types, but tends to be dominated by Java, C++, Unity, Flash and JavaScript/HTML5 developers. The key is producing something that other entrants can run and then score. And remember, it's online so you don't have to go anywhere (though there are a ton of real world meetups, if you like.)

How to Take Part in Ludum Dare

Go to the Ludum Dare homepage, read the rules and guide, register on their WordPress blog, wait until the 'theme' has been decided, and start coding once the countdown is finished (

During the 48 hours, you can post blog entries directly to the main Ludum Dare site (if you want) and submit your entry via a special link at the end. Entrants play and judge each other's entries for a period of three weeks before the winners are announced.

The Basic Ludum Dare Rules

There's a proper rules page but the basics are:

  • You have to work alone. (If you want to do a team effort, you need to enter the less restrictive 72 hour 'jam' contest.)
  • All content and code must be created within the 48 hours (except for libraries, legally licensed fonts and drum/instrument samples).
  • Your game has to be based on the theme given out at the start of the contest (though you can be creative with this).
  • You must share the source code with the other participants at the end of the contest though you do not have to give it an open source license.

Super simple. Don't cheat, build something, submit it at the 48 hour mark :-)

The Ludum Dare Community

The contest has a popular IRC channel (which is already active) at #ludumdare on irc.afternet.org. I'm petercooper on there - say hi! I'll be lurking in there a lot. Also, follow @ludumdare on IRC for more updates and info if you're into Twitter.

To get a feel for the contest, check out this "keynote" from a recent Ludum Dare. There'll be a new one for this year soon though:

But What If I've Never Developed A Game?!

A common point! Lots of people enter Ludum Dare without having any game development experience. That's much of the point. Your goal is to spend 48 hours enjoying learning new things and producing whatever you can. If you strip things down to the bare essentials, it's amazing how quick you can come up with a simple game, and you can then make it more complex with the extra time you have. Just make something and learn along the way.

What Will I Be Doing?

Last time I used JRuby and it was a nightmare as I wasted a lot of time trying to get it to build a Java applet, and then wasted more time trying to get my game working on multiple platforms. This time I'm skipping the headaches and going straight to JavaScript and HTML5 by building an HTML5 canvas based game. I'm going to try and avoid frameworks to begin with and do it raw, but we'll see how it pans out.

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