How to survive Ludum Dare like a PRO!

It’s Ludum Dare time! You don’t wanna be a loser do you? NO! You wanna make some games.

So, how do you survive 48 hours of making games and nothing else?

1. Use the same tools you usually do, unless you have GUTS!

You’ve got that engine and all that software for a reason. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! (Unless it is broke, in which case, fix it, fix it, fix it.) If you have the guts to try something new, get it all installed and running.

2. Food food food

Get food which is easy to make and tasty. It’s not a matter of the time it takes to make food, but the energy you spend preparing it. Use that energy for AWESOME GAMES instead! Buy stuff which will make you fat and happy if you want, or get some ‘real’ food like fruit/salad/veg. I get a bit of everything, ‘cos sometimes you need to eat something which has been alive, and sometimes you want to devour a muffin ‘cos your game won’t start.

3. Have a buddy

Ludum Dare gets lonely. Let’s arrange to be lonely together!

4. Find out the theme, then take a shower

Or take a walk, go jogging, spend far too long on the toilet… Whichever morning ritual suits you. It’ll clear your mind for magical idea time to start! (Note that you don’t need your buddy for taking a shower.)

5. Magical idea time!

Get your design tool of choice and start jotting down ideas. I always write lists and notes on paper, and have a stack of post it notes for designing maps. Sometimes the pad of paper has DINOSAURS on it, because dinosaurs are AWESOME!

If you get really, really stuck, the internet is your friend – just don’t spend too long browsing for inspiration. Or if you’ve got some other LDers around, have a chat about the theme.┬áSometimes an obvious idea is better than nothing at all, especially if you’re in Ludum Dare for the experience of making a game. Don’t stress too much about it.

I often make a list of things I need in the game, and things I would like but aren’t so necessary. Then I make a checklist and tick things off as I finish them. It feels good, and I can give myself a cookie at milestones!

6. Make the game

Now you just have to make the game. Try to get something up an running quickly, either a test or a character moving around. Make art and code you can reuse a lot. Use anything you can to make your life easier. If it absolutely doesn’t work, think about how can you make it more simple.

7. Go crazy

At some point in the weekend, something will go wrong and you will want to give up. Or you will start to feel crazy with the amount of stressful work you’re putting in. Relax, step back, you are not alone! It’s only okay to feel despair if you PUSH IT DOWN and FIX YOUR GAME! Even if that means CHOPPING IT UP a bit.

8. Excuses are for WEAKLINGS!

I’ve had some Ludum Dares where I’ve had less than the usual amount of time. One of my favourite games was made when I had to spend 50% of my day looking after my new puppy, only working in 2 hour shifts. Even if you have less than the whole 48 hours, if you plan around it, you can still make a game to be proud of.

9. PANIC!

I always give myself a couple of hours before the deadline for making title screens, squishing tiny bugs and uploading and all that. Panicking is well and good, but KEEP GOING!

10. Have fun!

Making games is fun! REMEMBER THAT! :D

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