Game Design Game Development Geek / Technical

LD50: How My Entry Disaster City Did #LDJam #LD50

Late last week was the end of Ludum Dare 50, culminating in Results Day.

After giving everyone a few weeks to play and rate everyone else’s games, the final numbers were calculated, and the ratings announced.

Congratulations to those who ranked at the top in both the Compo and Jam categories! And congratulations to everyone who managed to finish and submit a game in a weekend!

So, how did my entry, Disaster City, do?

There were about 2,900 games entered. Of those, 1,413 were in the 72-hour Jam category, which is the one I ended up entering my game. I intended to submit it for the 48-hour Compo, but I ran out of time and needed the extra day to finish the game.

Here are my game’s final stats:

Overall: 1137th / 1413 (3.136 average from 35 ratings)
Fun: 987th / 1413 (3.106 average from 35 ratings)
Innovation: 783rd / 1412 (3.212 average from 35 ratings)
Theme: 947th / 1398 (3.424 average from 35 ratings)
Graphics: 1206th / 1279 (2.682 average from 35 ratings)
Audio: 870th / 943 (2.734 average from 34 ratings)
Humor: 602nd / 1147 (3.078 average from 34 ratings)
Mood: 1068th / 1353 (3.109 average from 34 ratings)

So, Disaster City was pretty much in the bottom of the pack, with my worst scores in the Graphics and Audio categories, which…ok, fair. Jam entries are made by teams usually, and I did everything solo, and I am not an artist or great with audio. I do wonder how it would have compared to other Compo games though. My Overall, Graphics, Audio, and Mood scores were in the 1st quartile, which feels a bit disappointing.

All of my other scores were in the 2nd quartile. My best scores came from the Innovation and Humor categories. While they were in the 2nd quartile, they were near the top of it.

LD50: Monster emerging mock-up

I could spend a lot of time analyzing it, but Honest Dan shared a post titled “Why didn’t my game rate higher?” and other similar questions which made me realize something: I’ve had a low-priority bucket list item to create a #1 game for Ludum Dare (despite not having participated in years), but that goal is kind of out of my hands to make happen.

My ratings/rankings don’t matter?

35 people submitted ratings for my game out of thousands of players. That’s not statistically significant. Out of the “winning” entries for LD50, I think I only played one of them. The others were mostly off of my radar. And I imagine it is the same for many participants.

I set a goal to review at least 40 games, as reviewing more games means the Ludum Dare algorithm will show your game to more people who are looking to review games.

One person managed to review 400 games, which is prolific! When I checked their own game, though, I saw that while they had way more than the 35 reviews I did, it was still only about 100 ratings for their game. So there is a limit to how much the algorithm helps players find your game, I suppose. Also, having 100 ratings means you can be more confident about what people generally thought of your game, but it still isn’t much more statistically significant.

The winners of LD didn’t have more participants rating their game than others. They had a small subset of people rate their game, and those ratings were higher than the subset that rated someone else’s game.

In a way, it’s hard to say how someone’s game actually compared to someone else’s game because there’s some randomness in terms of who played which games and how they felt about them.

And as Honest Dan pointed out, you can’t even really compare your previous LD results to your current results, as it isn’t like you had the same 20 or so people rate your game in each. It’s an apples and oranges comparison. You can’t say whether you improved based on how others rated you in two different LD compos.

So despite leading with the stats up above, I’m trying not to take them terribly seriously. Maybe the general average ratings can give me a sense of what someone’s gut feel for my entry was.

But what I found incredibly valuable was the comments section of my game. I think even though there was a major bug that people reported that they exploited, and even though they said the game was too easy, a lot of them also reported that they basically saw the promise of the game. They liked the turn phases, the general concept, the mechanics and dynamics. They enjoyed playing it.

Which tells me that in a weekend I was able to put together something that other people found entertaining, if flawed. And that’s an accomplishment, something a low-ish rating can’t take away.

Now what?

I would like to make a post-LD version of Disaster City. My task list was incomplete, so what you can play now is a subset of what I envisioned. Adding more disasters and more things for the player to do to mitigate or rebuild after them should make it more compelling. And balancing the game should help, too.

But if I do, I want it to be part of my Freshly Squeezed Entertainment line of games, and I want to be deliberate here. Rather than build onto what I did, I might start over without the time crunch of a weekend deadline.

More on those plans later.

Ludum Dare 51 is scheduled for September 30th, and I would love to participate in it. I’ve marked it on my calendar, and I’ll need to work out logistics with my wife in terms of how to ensure I can focus on the compo that weekend. She arranged multiple outings with the kids and babysitters so I could fully participate in LD50, and I am incredibly grateful.

More immediately, this LD got me focused on putting together desktop ports of my entry so that people could more easily play them, which is something I’ve been meaning to work on for my existing games. So I’m going to tweak some build scripts, create some desktop ports of Toy Factory Fixer and Toytles: Leaf Raking, and then look into how easy it would be to create a web build using Emscripten.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for a great weekend and past few weeks!