Ludum Dare 29 took place a few weeks ago, and again we were blown away by the amazing games people can put together in such a short amount of time. This is the second LD we have participated in, and even if we can’t say we loved the result of our efforts this time, we had a blast and learned a lot; Not only about Unity and how to make pixel art, but about prototyping.
As the graphic artist of the team, the idea of prototyping was new and a little bit confusing to me. We really had no idea how to go about making a prototype a year ago. When we began our first project as Mandelbrew in 2012, I did a lot of drawing (a loooooot) before Carlos jumped into Unity. When all the stuff I had created was finally moving, colliding, and all those fun things… we realized the game did not work. It was just not fun. It was difficult and disheartening to find this out a few months into a lot of work. We struggled with moving on. We were attached to the game already. The project was abandoned after about six months, and that was the end of that.
After meeting a few local indie dev’s, we realized this story isn’t unique. It’s actually very common. Too common.
Then, Ludum Dare 28 happened in December 2013. We decided to participate after our failed project, since we had nothing to work on. In 48 hours, we put together a new fully-functioning game that worked, and was kind of fun. Space Diplomacy was born. The fact that it was fun I still consider to be beginner’s luck. But, the fully-functioning prototype was not luck. It was an aha moment. All ideas are awesome inside our heads, but very few translate well into a fun game! A prototype truly tests an idea. We finally got it, why prototypes are awesome; it’s important to test a game before months or years of effort go into it.
We are about to release our super-polished LD 28 submission Space Diplomacy for iOS. We liked our prototype, we knew it when we played it, yet it was the LD community that encouraged us to release it for mobile. Success or not, we already learned a valuable lesson: Prototype, prototype, prototype! Our most recent LD 29 submission was playable after 48 hours as well, and we knew it wasn’t going anywhere once we tested it. We finished it for the sake of competing, but that will be the end of that prototype. And it is fine. After 48 hours of effort, it is much easier to walk away. Still, we learned tons of things about Unity and I stepped out of my comfort zone graphic-wise, so nothing was lost at the end.
Check out my Twitter for my favorite LD29 games. They really are worth a shot!
Our Ludum Dare account