Gaming for Grown Ups
30th August 2011 07:00:00
Posted by Edd Harwood

Just Browsing - Ludum Dare Special...

Games take months, if not years, of work by teams a hundred strong to be released. Right? Apparently not.

This week Just Browsing takes a look at the latest Ludum Dare Competition which dares its competitors to create games, based on a theme, in just 48 hours. All entrants, for the formal event, are created by a single person and all code must be written in this time frame. Crazy.

The event took place between the 19th and the 22nd of this month, and a staggering 599 games were submitted. Judging is now taking place, but all games are available to play right now.

Here’s my pick of the bunch I’ve managed to sift through so far (100 and counting...):
Click the titles to play the game. Warning, some may require the install of software (such as Java and Unity players).

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Prelude of the Chambered by Notch (Java)
You may not know Notch (Markus Persson) by name but most likely you’ve heard of some of his accomplishments, most notably Minecraft (if not then Rebecca has written a lovely summary here).
For Prelude of the Chambered, Notch has taken the pixel heavy semi-3d engine of Minecraft and distorted it into some sort of puzzle-adventure game. You start out with nothing and then find items hidden in chests which help you venture further into the game. It plays like a cross between the original Might and Magic and Hired Guns only a little more old school!
It’s major downfall may be the lack of save functionality. Death means an entire restart and your limited number of lives and incredibly high difficulty may leave you too frustrated to try again. However, if you get far enough, some of the ideas Notch has incorporated into this are quite unique and the whole experience is exceptionally clever.



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A tale about life, death and a looser. by deepnight (Flash)
Not content with the challenge of making a game in 48 hours, Deepnight has made this interactive pixel comic strip in just 8. He states “I wanted to try to make something complete within one normal business day (8h), just to see what I can achieve, when I really commit to it”.
While it’s not exactly a game per se, more of a decision tree of life, if you enjoy pixel graphics and amusing anecdotes then it is worth a couple of runs.
Deepnight also admits that he “didn't have time to include the happy ending branch”. Maybe that’s just a statement on life itself. Sigh.


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/Escape\ by incredibleape. (Flash)
Ludum Dare also hosts a Jam version of the competition where the rules are relaxed. Teams are allowed and the time limit is increased to 72 hours.
/Escape\ is one such game. Following in the footsteps of the ocean of one-button games that have flooded onto the web recently (having been made popular by games such as Canabalt) this game will break your escape key as you jump between two walls avoiding lasers and spikes. It’s incredibly hard, in that addictive must-play-one-more-time kind of way.



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Metal Sphere Solid by Icarus Tyler (Unity)
I’ll excuse Matthew Zarzecki the pun.
Just this once.
Unity is an up and coming gaming platform built around creating beautiful 3d environments for web based applications. Matthew has used this and the embedded physics engine to create kind of distorted offspring between Marble Madness and the titular Metal Gear Solid.
If you felt that Marble Madness just didn’t have a good enough stealth element or that Metal Gear Solid's edges were a little too sharp then this is for you. The initial ideas employed are interesting and pushing blocky guards onto spikes is thoroughly entertaining, but it all is over rather quickly. I guess 48 hours really is a short amount of time to make something this ambitious. Still, a very worthy effort.



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BRITAIN:2027 by Sophie Houlden (Unity)
In 2027 humans have begun to experiment with mechanical augmentations and society is rupturing at the seams. Sound familiar?
Even in our lovely home country the youths are rising up and organising water fights on twitter. The future is bleak.
Another game created in Unity, this plays as a stealth / over-head shooter mash-up. You must avoid the police and escape using your two abilities: sprinting and shooting your water pistol. Again the clever ideas implemented deserve to be in a game far beyond the scope of a 48 hour competition and it is sad that it finishes before it really finds its feet. Presumably game designers need to sleep and eat too...