Ludum Dare #32 Thoughts

Ludum Dare #32 starts tonight and it was to be my most prepared Ludum Dare of all Ludum Dares. I had specific goals to be tracked over the previous few months, including learning how to make better music with garage band on my mac and upping my skills with open source illustration programs.

There was progress. I discovered InkScape, a free multi-platform vector graphics editor that completely replaces anything I might ever want to do with Adobe Illustrator.  Sculptris, a 3d digital sculpting tool, was also fun to play around with and could yield some interesting sprites or meshes if I produce a 3d game at some point.

There was incremental sideways progress on a few unexpected things too. I made a game for a mini Ludum Dare, which cemented my desire to get away from crafty.js and do something cool with phaser.js. This game was also my first introduction to and the agonizing decisions that come with designing a game around the best assets I could find. I also worked on Pantheon’s Ride the Lightning game, produced with crafty.js, which was satisfying to see so many people play on April 1st.

My musical progress fared less well. I composed a few loops which sounded good enough for jam purposes, but I need to be composing every day for at least a few months to get where I want to be with the audio.  For this upcoming jam I plan to stick to generated music and bleeps or incredibly simple garage band loops if I can pull off the composition without running out of time.

I think my targets were reasonable and my progress and time management could have been a bit better. For the next few months following this Ludum Dare I’d like to have more concrete and specific goals regarding audio and visual game development.  Recently, I’ve been getting into a system called OKR, short for Objectives and Key Results,  and I think using it to help plan goal posts and milestones following this Ludum Dare could help me move forward with game development.

I’ve also thought quite a lot about goals themselves and how I feel about goal management.  It feels good to achieve goals, and I love game jams because they time box my work and force me to produce something tangible I can look at in exchange for that time. Goals themselves are less concrete, even specific ones, and I think that in a way they can become an unrealized debt to oneself.  I’m hoping the OKR system improves how I feel about them, and how I feel about working towards a goal over time while not necessarily producing something concrete from it, or at least not right away.

My goals for this weekend will be pretty simple. I have a lot of other work I need to do on top of the jam, so I’m going to do the best I can with what I have going into it. On Friday I’m going to look over phaser.js tutorials and design something conceptually fun that I hopefully won’t trip up on during the implementation. On Saturday I’ll write the code and release it and on Sunday I’ll have to cut things short and move on to another project.

I do have a self-improvement plan for the judging phase. The Ludum Dare 48 hour compo requires projects to be open sourced during the submission process. In the weeks after the jam I’m going to look specifically for phaser.js games and try to understand the implementations. I also have a friend who uses Unity and I plan to acquire at least novice level skills with the framework in order to run projects and examine workflows.  I also plan to rate as many games as I can, and I might even try streaming some on Twitch depending on the bandwidth.

After the judging closes, it will be back to another iteration of what I could have done better along with looking ahead towards any game I might make for next month’s one game a month jam. I don’t think I’m going to incorporate games themselves into my OKR’s, since I’m using the OKR system to make otherwise intangible goals more concrete.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the goals themselves progress in the system and I’ll share the progress here.