This weekend I participated in Ludum Dare 27, a programming competition in which competitors create a game in a weekend. I made a game, had fun, and learned a lot. In this series of three articles I reflect on my experiences before, during, and after the competition, looking for lessons to apply to other kinds of projects.
I have long been attracted to the idea of creating a game in a weekend. In large-scale (AAA) game development, the 3+ year game cycles often feel unbearably long. For the creative people who fill this industry, these marathon projects can be worse than stifling: they crush the soul. What’s more, long projects do a poor job at educating developers. A “veteran” developer will have shipped a few games but it may take a decade to have seen two or three full game cycles. Since many of the lessons that make a rookie into a veteran take place in the fevered finale of a project, developers have few chances to live through these experiences and level up their perspective and skills. Quick “practice” projects, I reasoned, could provide a crucible for experimentation, mistake-making, and learning as well as a creative outlet. Yet as full-time game developers, we seldom have the time or energy to burn a whole weekend doing more of what often exhausts us during the week. So I’ve never tried a game development contest. Read More