My Rules for Game Jams

This is how I cut corners in Ludum Dare and other jams:

  • non-modal interaction
    • no overworld
    • no menu-based combat
    • no world map between levels
  • simple graphics
    • stay in 2D unless gameplay is in 3D
    • keep animations to 2-4 frames
    • no scrolling,
    • orthogonal perspective
    • no alpha blending, only color key
    • keep the color palette small (5 per sprite, 16 per screen, 32 total)
    • no realism, take inspiration from cartoons
  • no fancy AI algorithms
    • no A* search
    • no learning
    • no constraints solving
    • simple mob behaviour
  • human-vs-human multiplayer for intelligent enemies
    • no online multiplayer
    • turn-based multiplayer can be played with only one keyboard
    • local co-op is tricky
  • simple game tools
    • bfxr for sound
    • autotracker for music
    • gimp for environment art (backgrounds/tilesheets)
    • aseprite for characters/animations
    • if you do a 3D game, use 2D tools and put the sprites on billboards
  • port to Microsoft Windows after the jam has ended
  • design the game with a lowest playable resolution in mind
  • only 5 minutes of content
    • players are slower than you anyway

This is what I always try to put in:

  • animation
  • sound effects
  • a title screen
  • a game over screen
  • a shortcut to take you to the LD rating page
  • colorblind mode if necessary

This stuff is easy to do and nice to have:

  • a main menu
  • gamepad support (if applicable)
  • music
  • screenshake
  • tweet your high score function
  • a help button