I am a student at UCS, currently studying for an Honors Degree in Computing and Internet Technologies.
At a specified time in the months of April and October, a theme is announced. Once this theme has been announced, competitors spend 48 hours of their time trying to create a game around that theme. When they are finished, they need to publish it to the Ludum Dare website. After that, there is a time period of roughly 23 days where users can play and rate these games based on a select few factors.
This event's theme was "Start with nothing". Many ideas came to mind, but one stuck.
A space exploration game.
...and so I got to work. The reason why I chose this idea was because I have tried to produce a game in the style in the past so I have the experience and the knowledge of what I should do and what will cause problems for me. I knew this was not going to be easy, but with the encouragement of a time constraint and the moral support of those around me, I managed to produce Hadron.
During the planning stage, I did not produce in-depth documentation about the project. The reason for this is because of the time constraint. During Ludum Dares, you cannot allocate a lot of time towards planning or making sure the code is pretty, you must throw things together and see if they work.
This meant that all I had in terms of project panning was a single document where I wrote a list of things I wanted in the game. This proved to be somewhat effective as I manage to incorporate most of them into the game.
Resource management, combat, upgrades, a shop… I was able to produce all these features for the game within the 48-hour time period. Not only this, but I also had roughly 12 hours of sleep across the two days which is a lot when it comes to Ludum Dare participation. I believe this project was a success as the end product is far better than anything I could have imagined I would be able to produce in two days.
Bugs. A lot of them.
Throughout the development of the game, my main goal was to develop the most important features and then improve upon them with the time I had left. However, this did not go to plan.
I was still producing the shop for the game with a mere three hours left on the clock, so I simply did not have time to go back and check that everything was working as intended. This experience taught me a lot about how important project management and planning are to the success of any project.
In a way, I am embarrassed by the mess of code I produced because I did not follow any of the typical guidelines people follow, but I am also proud because I pulled through from start to finish, even when I thought the game was going to be terrible. My goal was to go easy on myself as this was the first time that I had a time constraint for a project. This factor was what threw me off as I simply overestimated how much I could do in 48 hours.