Ludum Dare Game Jam – A Beginners Guide

The Ludum Dare Game Jam – a thrilling global event that encourages creativity, innovation, and camaraderie among game developers. Whether you are an amateur experimenting with game ideas or a professional looking for a riveting challenge, this beginner’s guide will unravel the excitement, intricacies, and nuances of the prestigious Ludum Dare Game Jam, lighting your path towards crafting an extraordinary gaming masterpiece.

Ludum Dare is a world-renowned online game development competition that takes place over a 48-hour period on a specific weekend. It is also called the ‘compo’ and is hosted by Mike Kasprzak. Aspiring game developers and professionals alike participate in this thrilling event, where they are tasked with creating a game from scratch in just two days or three if part of a team. The competition emphasizes on design, coding, and creativity, making it a true test of a developer’s abilities. Once the games are made, everyone is welcome to play and rate them, leading to a communal appreciation of game development and talent discovery. 

What Is The Concept Behind The Ludum Dare Event?

 The Ludum Dare event revolves around the concept of creating video games from scratch within a specific timeframe, often 48 or 72 hours. The core idea is to inspire creativity and innovation among developers. Participants are provided with a theme which serves as a point of departure for their designs. This global event draws many professional and amateur developers who submit their games online for public feedback and voting. Ludum Dare promotes learning, experimentation, and collaboration in video game development.

What Are Some Themes From Previous Ludum Dare Game Jams?

Ludum Dare Game Jams have explored various themes that motivate participants to think creatively and innovatively. Some of these themes include, “An Unconventional Weapon”, encouraging designers to rethink offensive mechanics. “Combine 2 Incompatible Genres”, pushing the boundaries of game design. And “Start With Nothing”, a test of progressive build-up in-game mechanics. Other themes such as “Beneath the Surface”, “Running Out of Power”, and “Keep it Alive”, challenged participants to incorporate in-depth narratives and unique mechanics into their games.

2002AprilIndirect Interaction
2002NovemberPreparation — Set it up, let it go
2003AprilPreparations — Set it up, let it go (again)
2005DecemberLight and Darkness
2007DecemberThe Tower
2008AugustChain Reaction
2008DecemberAdvancing Wall of Doom
2010AprilEnemies as Weapons
2010AugustA surprising weapon
2011AprilIt’s Dangerous to go Alone! Take this!
2012AprilTiny World
2012DecemberYou are the Villain
2013August10 Seconds
2013DecemberYou Only Get One
2014AprilBeneath the Surface
2014AugustConnected Worlds
2014DecemberEntire Game on One Screen
2015AprilAn Unconventional Weapon
2015AugustYou are the Monster
2015DecemberTwo Button Controls
2016AugustAncient Technology
2016DecemberOne Room
2017AprilA Small World
2017JulyRunning Out of Power
2017DecemberThe More You Have, The Worse It Is
2018AprilCombine 2 Incompatible Genres
2018AugustRunning out of space
2018DecemberSacrifices must be made
2019AprilYour life is currency
2019OctoberStart with nothing
2020AprilKeep it alive
2020OctoberStuck in a loop
2021AprilDeeper and deeper
2022OctoberLost and Found
Table showing previous themes of previous years’ Ludum Dare game jams.

When Are Teams Assembled For The Jam?

Teams for the Jam are typically assembled after the theme has been announced. This allows individuals to discuss their ideas and find people with skills that complement their own. Such skills as game design, storytelling, art, graphic design, and, of course, programming.  The majority of these discussions and team formations take place in discord servers, where potential team members can easily communicate and coordinate their efforts. Finding a good team will really boost your enjoyment of the event.

There is no limit on the number of people per team, and people can be in multiple teams. Only one person from your team needs to join and submit the game. But, if others on the team also join, they can be tagged as contributors.

If you’ve never joined a team for a game jam before, you might find the following articles helpful: How To Find A Game Jam Team – Like A Pro. You will also like our article about the 20 Must-Join Discords for Indie Game Dev Success.

How Are The Final Games Published?

Once participants of Ludum Dare have finalised their games, they upload them to an online platform, such as, and then provide a link to this location on their Ludum Dare entry page. They must choose to enter either the 48-hour ‘Compo’ or the 72-hour ‘Jam’. Both entry options require the game source code to be publicly available in order to encourage learning and sharing amongst the Ludum Dare community. After uploading, the game then becomes part of the Ludum Dare competition, where it is rated by other participants and the public in several categories over a few weeks. 

Are There Any Restrictions On What Engine Can I Use?

There are no specific restrictions on what engine you can use to create your game. Whether you’re using Unity, Unreal Engine, Godot, or even creating your own engine from scratch, all are permissible. What’s essential is that you should be able to create, develop and submit your game within the competition’s timeframe, and it should be based on the provided theme. The aim is to encourage creativity and innovation. 

When Is The Next Ludum Dare Event?

Ludum Dare is commonly held twice per year and typically takes place in April and again in October each year. The next event, Ludum Dare 54, will be held from September 29th – October 2nd, 2023.

Below are the dates of previous jams:

YearDateNumber of SignupsNumber of Submissions
2002April18Not specified
2003April84Not specified
2004October93Not specified
2005DecemberNot specified27
2007AprilNot specifiedNot specified
2008AprilNot specified71
2008AugustNot specified57
2008DecemberNot specified59
2009April123Not specified
2009August144Not specified
2009December121Not specified
2010April204Not specified
2010August172Not specified
2010December242Not specified
2011April288Not specified
2011August599Not specified
2011December891Not specified
2012April1402Not specified
2012August1406Not specified
2012December1327Not specified
2013April2346Not specified
2013August2213Not specified
2013December2064Not specified
2014April2497Not specified
2014August2538Not specified
2014December2637Not specified
2015April2821Not specified
2015August2725Not specified
2015December2870Not specified
2016April2718Not specified
2016August1912Not specified
2016December2390Not specified
2023April 2859932309
Table showing the number of participants and game submissions for previous years’ Ludum Dare game jams.

How Can I Signup to Take Part In Ludum Dare Game Jam?

To participate in the Ludum Dare Game Jam, first visit the official website and create a new account. After verifying your email, log in to the site. Look for open events and select one to participate in. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the rules and guidelines before submitting your game.

Aron Marriott-Smith

Aron is a hobbyist indie game developer. Before building this website, Aron spent many years helping businesses market their products and services.

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