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A Look Back At Ludum Dare’s Rise With Organizer Phil Hassey

Ludum Dare Phil Hassey

With Ludum Dare’s 10th anniversary just passed, it seems appropriate to talk to one of the people who have turned it into the great 48 hour game jam event that you know it as today. We’re of course referring to Phil Hassey who is one of the gentlemen behind Ludum Dare as well as being a well known solo game developer. In fact, Phil is such a big part of Ludum Dare that his bio on the site reads: “Phil was instrumental in the big switch from Ludum Dare’s random unfinished compo websites and webhosts, to WordPress and the custom code we run today. If the website is working, chances are he fixed it. Phil also tends to pick up the slack when Mike is .. slacking.”

As part of an interview in which we chatted about his upcoming release, Dynamite Jack – which is itself created out of a Ludum Dare project from 2005 – I took the opportunity to talk to him about his involvement in Ludum Dare and how he has seen it grow since he got involved as one of the main hands in 2007. Phil also talked about his ideas on game development, the role of game jams and marketing your indie game too, but we’re saving that for later.

“It was back when I made Galcon, [Ludum Dare] was just kind of falling apart because there was no one running it”, Phil says as he reminisces. “So I stepped up to take charge, then Mike [Kasprzak] joined in to help MC the thing. That’s actually worked out really well because there’s quite a lot of tech work and quite a lot of MC’ing work to be done to keep it running. But the whole thing just blows me away – like this past Ludum Dare I think we’re going to hit 1200 games by the end of the day.”

This interview was conducted before all of the submissions were in and the final count is actually 1401 games, which is a tremendous effort from everybody involved. The target for Ludum Dare 23, in order to celebrate its 10th anniversary with style, was 1000 entries. So as you can see, that has been blown out of the water.

Ludum Dare 23

“It’s so awesome to be able to help out and create this opportunity for so many people to just make games and learn that they actually can make a game. That’s one of the things when you’re a hobbyist developer, like myself who doesn’t have any AAA background or anything, you make a game and never release it because you’re just screwing around with it forever. But with a game jam you’re given a 48 hour limit and you actually get something completed…It’s great to see so many people getting involved and making the games they want to make.”

We then steered Phil towards talking about how he has seen Ludum Dare grow while he’s been behind all of the tech side of the event and helping plan things, before anyone else who is currently part of the organization of it all.

“It was in 2007 that I started working on the site, so December 2007. When I started that’s when we began to use WordPress and keeping track of everything. So it was back during Ludum Dare 10 that I started out and if you look at [this page] you can see how much it has grown. I think Mike came in around 11 or 12 and just having the competition more consistent helped the site grow and you can see it growing steadily until about Ludum Dare 18.”

“About then, Notch, well he’s actually been doing them since about Ludum Dare 15, but 18 was after his rise so around then he started promoting the jam just by tweeting about it as he was continuing to compete in it. You can really see how that made it explode, just by the numbers – 18 had 200 entries, the next one had 280, then 350, then 600, then 900; and now we are about to hit 1200. Between just having the competition be more consistent and having Notch promote its existence, Ludum Dare has grown like crazy and it’s pretty exciting.”

Ludum Dare 10th Anniversary

So according to Phil, who is one of the main driving forces behind Ludum Dare, you can all blame him and the other Ludum Dare organizers as well as Notch for its growth, particularly in the last five years. Of course, it’s the huge and ever-growing indie development community that makes the figures rise and it’s great fun seeing what can be achieved together. Phil also mentioned that it feels like indie games in general have grown a lot since about 2007, his focus in particular being the arrival of the iPhone and how this has attracted a whole new wave of game developers.

If you were a part of Ludum Dare 23, feel free to post your game in the comment section below.

We’ll have the rest of our lengthy chat with Phil Hassey published in Issue 22 of The Indie Game Magazine.


LD23: ‘Wunderworld’ Is A Simple But Lovely Dungeon Creator


Out of the many glorious things to have come out of Ludum Dare 23, one of our favorites so far is Rat King Entertainment‘s dungeon creation tool, Wunderworld. You must try it out, oh you must.

While many of those who entered Ludum Dare 23 were worrying about level design, Rat King took a different approach and made a tool that allowed the player to create their own levels. Taking the theme of “Tiny World”, Rat King combined this with their love of for game development and Ultima Underworld to make Wunderworld – a dungeon creation tool. In this, you can build up a multi-tiered dungeon from a simply 9


InGDIn Announce HTML5 ‘Build Your Own Game’ Jam For April 14-15


Indie Game Development India (InGDIn) have announced that the next Build Your Own Game jam will take place across April 14th-15th and will favor development using HTML5.

Celebrating Indian indie game development since July 2010, the Build Your Own Game (BYOG) 48 hour “sprint” has become a staple of the InGDIn’s cause, which is of course to provide a community and resource for any indie game developers around India. They’ve just announced the fifth BYOG and with this one they’re promoting the ease of use that HTML5 gives small developers.

It reads in the blog post:

“[HTML5] is also feasible for anyone with a game idea to pick up HTML5 and associated technologies and build a prototype, even if they are new to programming… HTML5 is supported across devices and, thus, a game written in HTML5 will have greater reach. There also exist a number of marketplaces that serve as a wonderful avenue to publish games made in HTML5.”

BYOG with HTML5 will require no meetup so you can create your game from the comfort of your own home, or where ever you feel comfortable really. The jam itself will be held for 48 hours across April 14th to 15th, starting from 10am on the 14th to 10am on the 16th. In the allotted time, developers are encouraged to use HTML5 to build a game idea from scratch and develop a working prototype of it – a “proof-of-concept”.

InGDIn Meetup

The games that are entered into the sprint will be judged by the team of three behind InGDIn according to Best Innovation, Best Design, Best Gameplay and then 5 will be chosen for each of those categories. From there, the global public can then vote on the games and then the three winners will be rewarded with unannounced, exciting opportunities – InGDIn are in communication with the biggest HTML5 organizers to arrange this.

To register for the BYOG sprint and enter your game you’ll want to sign up with the official InGDIn website, which you can do right here. A list of rules and guides regarding the BYOG can be read right here.

A list of games from previous sprints can be viewed here, if you’re on the lookout for inspiration or want to check out the competition.

Via InGDIn


Not The Face! ‘High Vaultage’ Competition This Weekend

High Vaultage

Ostrich Banditos inform us that their madcap olympics-inspired debut, High Vaultage, will be released on Kongregate and Newgrounds this weekend and to celebrate there will be a competition!

If you weren’t aware, High Vaultage is a game in which perform some good old pole vaulting, but uh, it’s powered by farts and then you literally end up thousands of meters in space and trying to reach the highest and furthest you can. It’s wonderfully nuts!

To get further you can maneuver your flying character on to balloons to bounce, get escorted by space dolphins and collect items for more fart power. The more progress you make the more you’ll unlock – these are awards, new levels and more stereotyped characters!

Speaking of stereotypes, what is it with these crazy Dutch? First Vlambeer now Ostrich Banditos – both with crazy games with similar artstyles too! Well anyway, you can enter the competition by playing High Vaultage between March 17th-19th and those with the highest scores will win. But what will you win? Basically, your face will be put in High Vaultage and maybe even their next game. A little bit of fame then basically.

You can play High Vaultage for free right now on Mochi Games, or on Newgrounds and Kongregate from March 17th onwards.


You can find out more information about High Vaultage and its crazy developers over on the official website.


Win Unity Pro Licenses In ‘The Edge Create Challenge’

Edge Create Challenge

Renown gaming magazine Edge has teamed up with Unity Technologies to hold The Edge Create Challenge in which you can win Unity Pro Licenses and an expenses paid trip to Unite, Unity’s developer conference in Amsterdam.

To enter the competition you will need to create a game for web browsers in Unity 3.5 (free download here), the theme of the competition is edge, which can be interpreted in any way you like. You can submit your game from now until April 17th 2012 at 23:59 GMT (presumably).

You can have a team of up to 8 creatives and can use properly licensed thirdparty assets and resources, if you so wish. All of the official rules can be read here.

Once the game is made, you will need to submit it to with:

  • Three screenshots of your game, depicting gameplay.
  • A written summary of your game.
  • The name and contact details of a nominated team leader.

The listed prizes, which will be awarded in May, will be:

  • Two runners up receive a Unity Pro licence including iOS and Android Pro, worth $4,500 in total.
  • One winner receives a trophy, a Unity Pro licence including iOS and Android Pro, and a trip for one to the Unite conference; package to include one ticket to Unite 12 in Amsterdam, three nights paid at hotel and one economy return ticket.
  • All winners will be featured in Edge magazine and website, and potentially other Future publications.
  • Potential coverage on and social media channels.

If you need any more information regarding the competition, your best bet is to scour this topic tag on Edge.


Klei Entertainment Has The Munchies For An ‘Eets’ Sequel


Amidst the chaos of GDC, Klei Entertainment have announced that they are working on a sequel to Eets, their 2006 puzzle game.

We reported on the utter failings of Klei and their previous attempt at a sequel to to their hungry 2D puzzler Eets, but now they say they are trying again even though they’ve only just released Shank 2 and even more recently announced Mark of the Ninja. Where the hell do these guys find the time?!

The sequel is not going to be a continuation of their failed Eets: Sugar Rush but will in fact be called Eets: Munchies, which is being flaunted on an iPad at the moment. No more information about this as known as of yet, but we’ll keep an eye and an ear out.

You can find more information about the original Eets over on the official website.

Thank you le Joystiq


Indie Games Apparently “Dominate” iOS And Android

Android iOS

Flurry, the mobile analytics and monetization company, have published a report that indicates that indie games, rather than games from established companies, take up most of consumers time on the iOS and Android platforms.

We’re always a bit sceptical when talking about these kinds of company produced reports – there’s usually a hidden agenda, so we’re not going to state any of this as fact. Indeed, Flurry are in the business of investing in mobile games and apps, so for all we know they could be looking for a way to elbow into the growing indie scene. Just keep your warning hats on for this one, basically.

So, before we get on to the chart, we should worm our way through what Flurry says it represents, just to warn you again, it’s worded a little odd and isn’t clear exactly what it proves.

“Flurry separated game sessions” – so this is amount of time people spent playing a game.

“between indendent game developers who started their businesses on iOS and Android” – so only those who are ‘independent’, read: developed and put the app on the platform themselves.

“versus established gaming companies who extended to iOS and Android from other platforms” – this is the tricky bit. For a start, what is an “established” gaming company? We’ll have to presume that they mean one that is not indie, we’re thinking the big players here. Not just that, but they have “extended” to iOS and Android – so companies that do not exist only on these platforms. Seems a bit of a dodgy thing to include here. Surely this leaves out big companies, who are established but did start on these platforms, no? Color us confused.

When you see the charts, you’ll notice a drop in 2011, Flurry attribute this to “a wave of consolidation by established game companies who acquired independent studios (e.g., EA acquiring Chillingo, Zynga acquiring Newtoy, DeNA acquiring Ngmoco and Gameview, etc).” Well now we know for sure who they’re classing as established and indie. The drop is because they see those acquisitions as shifting the companies from indie to the established group. Seems reasonable.

The good news then, is that there is a rise this year in consumers playing indie games, or so it seems. We don’t know which games are the most dominant or even which games are part of each sector, so we have to remain aback from these results a little. To be honest though, with the rise of indie developers on the platforms, it’s not a massive surprise if this is the case. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they are making more money than the games from the established companies, so to say they are “dominant” from these results may be a bit of a stretch, as is always the case with these reports.

Indie vs Established

You can see the whole report from Flurry over on this page.


GDC: Capybara Games Encourage iOS Developers To Take Risks

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery

Nathan Vella of Capybara Games took on the argument that not enough iOS developers are prepared to take risks at GDC today. He says that too many are simply trying to reach the mass market with clones of games such as Cut The Rope and Angry Birds, saying that it’s a bad business decision with a lottery’s chance of success.

“I personally believe that one of the scariest parts of the massive success of the iOS platform is that it has taught developers that they should try and make games for everyone,” Vella argued.

He would rather see iOS developers making games from new perspectives while not trying to appease absolutely everyone in the hopes that their game will become that next big hit. He went on further, bringing up Capybara’s own success, Superbrother: Sword & Sworcery, which he believes was noticed for being different.

Vella believes that the iOS market is so vast nowadays that you don’t need to be one of those “for everyone” games, you can hit a small niche of players and really win their hearts and you still have a very successful title on your hands.

“There’s a subset of gamers who want to play something new. If you provide them with something worth playing you’re not actually competing against 99 per cent of the market. You’re competing with the one per cent. Sure, you might not reach the biggest slice of the money pie but you’re ensuring your project has a really good chance of being successful.”

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Capybara Games are currently working on their next title, which was revealed to be Super T.I.M.E. Force. Initial impressions are that Capybara will be practising what they preach once again with this crazy sci-fi shooter.

You can find out more information on Capybara Games over on the official website.


Indies Fare Well In The 2012 BAFTA Nominations

The full list of nominations for the GAME British Academy Video Games Awards have been made public and, oh, is that an indie game? Oh, is that another?!If we’re honest, we’re really not a fan of these commercial video game awards which force you to pay a fee to even be considered – is that surprising to anyone? However, when a few indie games turn up in the nominations list there seems to be no reason to not applaud the lucky few.We know that there are probably going to be a few of you who raise the red card with lines like, “A Facebook game, indie?” and “OMG Bastion is not indie it was distributed by Warner Bros”, but you have to remember that the BAFTA’s only care about the commercial side of indie. Put it this way, if you care what the BAFTA’s think about games well then that’s up to you – we, on the other hand don’t.By scanning the list of nominees we have filtered out the indie developers for you and construed our own little list

Original Source: Indies Fare Well In The 2012 BAFTA Nominations

This Article was originally posted on our sister site, The Indie Game Magazine written by Chris Priestman.


5 Buttons Good: Experimental Gameplay Project Announces Contest Finalists

You may have already seen Monday’s announcement of the forty-eight submissions received by the Experimental Gameplay Project in response to their recent competition. The task, set back in December, was to design a game to be played in its entirety using only five buttons – no more, no less. Well, results have followed and thirteen lucky finalists are now guaranteed to have their games played through – and judged – at the imminent Stattmedia Game Contest at the Stattbad Gallery in Berlin on 17th February. Ten more runners up have also been given the honor on the condition that they make minor changes to fit in with the contest criteria.