Babby's First Game Jam


I’m planning on participating in the next Ludum Dare in April with a talented illustrator friend of mine whom I’ve been wanting to work with for a while. I’ve never really done any serious game programming of any kind, only working on little prototypes on my spare time here and there, and I’m grateful that he’s given me the opportunity to work together on something this year despite my inexperience.

What advice would you have for me as a first time game jam participant? Bonus points if it’s applicable to someone who’s never publicly released any game-related code. (I am a full-time Web developer and have dabbled in lots of other unrelated tech in the past, so my own inexperience is gamedev-specific, although if you have broader advice for beginning programmers, I’m sure any of them reading this thread would love to hear it.)

  1. When the theme is announced, figure out the idea you want to make. Then cut it down to its simplest form. Then make it even simpler. Then simplify it one more time.

  2. Figure out your concept, maybe start making it right after the theme announcement, but get some sleep soon after. Get a full night’s rest. Give your mind time to process the theme and your ideas when you’re not actively trying to put them together.

  3. Code That Works means Messy Code Is Fine. Build first, optimize probably never unless you revisit it after the jam.

  4. Post your progress & share it with folks during the jam. Get feedback on it before you have to submit. Extra eyes can help you hone in on something that might make a huge difference.

  5. If you aren’t feeling your idea, don’t be afraid to switch gears, even if it’s in the middle of the jam. Don’t press on doing something you don’t enjoy just to finish.


I miss doing game jams.


Maybe this should be numbers 1-5 even


Every Idea You Have Is Way Too Much For 72 Hours: The Game Jam Story


I’ve done over a dozen jams, so here’s my advice:

  • Scope low. I’m the third person to say it because it’s that important.
  • Get something moving right away then take a step back, see how hard/how much time/how your partner’s doing etc, and then rescope your project again
  • Most of my successful fun gamejams have had a schedule attempting to get something going Friday night, something playable Saturday afternoon, and playtest/funtest/adjustments for the last 50% of the time

Other maybe obvious but maybe not things:

  • Get some rest.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Tell your friend what kind of assets you can/can’t use for the jam.
  • Know how to use the assets you told your friend you can use.
  • Get SFXR, BFXR, or LabChirp or something.
  • Open source music is nice


If all else fails, Visual Novel

(sorry for shitposting)


Oh god, unless you’re really magic, a visual novel gamejam is like the hardest thing. Creating compelling content is so much harder than the already difficult task of creating a compelling mechanic.

That said, the bar for visual novel coding is real low, so


Don’t Make Your Own Engine During The Jam.

Unless the jam rules prevent it (and Ludum Dare does not), use frameworks / engines that get you off the ground and that you’re comfortable using.

You can try to learn an engine during a jam but you’ll likely have to be even LESS ambitious with your game.


Yeah, I’m only planning on using stuff I’ve worked with in the past for this because I don’t want to spend the majority of the jam fighting with new tools.

It’s been a couple years since I’ve messed around with the engine, so I’m planning on warming myself up over the next few weeks by writing little toys in it during my lunch break.


Smart! Jam warm–ups are a great idea.