Deciding on a Toolset for Ludum Dare's warmup weekend

This weekend is warmup weekend for the 23rd Ludum Dare. Ludum Dare is a 48-hour solo game-making competition. I've been wanting to participate since competition #2 or 3, but never had the chance. This April is the 10th anniversary of Ludum Dare and I decided that there's no time like the present to to finally throw my hat into the ring.

This will be my first time making a game from start to finish. I'm fully prepared for the possibility that I won't finish and if I do that the game will suck. One of the things that everyone says that helps improve your chances is to know your toolset well. Since I'll have to write all the code, create all the art, and record all the audio during the weekend, I need to figure out what tools I'm going to use so I'm not wasting time learning the tools when I should be creating.

If you're interested in coming out to try your hand at making a game in 48 hours, you can checkout my post on the KwartzLab blog on how you can sign up and join us at KwartzLab!


Picking the game engine is probably the most important decision I have to make. The engine will dicate what will be easy/hard during the competition itself. Different engines have different strengths and weaknesses. I've been looking at 3 different options:

  1. Unity: This is an awesome engine that a lot of indie devs use. It's a 3d engine that publishes to web, Flash, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Wii. I'd really love to learn this engine, as it would be great for converting my Ludum Dare project into a real game. Sadly, it's 3d, which means I'd need to do modeling, etc. I'm not that good at it, and so I've concluded it would take too much time for my first try.

  2. Flixel: Flixel is a Flash-based engine for doing rendering and collision detection. Apparently it's really easy to use. I see a lot of games that are using it. I think this would be a good choice for getting something up and running that's easy to publish (which is important for the sprint to the finish at the 47th hour). The only problem is that I haven't touched Flash or ActionScript in about a decade.

  3. PyGame: PyGame is a 2d engine written in Python. In terms of capability, it's pretty similar to Flash+Flixel. I'm much more familiar with Python than ActionScript, so that's a huge advantage in terms of time. Packaging PyGame games is a fair bit harder than pushing a Flash file to a website, so I could lose some time there.

I think this is where I'm going to be spending most of my time during warmup weekend. I just don't know whether Flash or Python will serve me better. I think I just have to try them both and see what fits.

Visual Asset Creation

I think I'm just going to use pixel art, so The GIMP should do. It has everything I need (I think). I've never done pixel art though, so I'm going to have to practice this a bit during warmup weekend too.

Audio Asset Creation

For sound effects, I'm probably just going to use Audacity and a crappy mic. If I have time, I might create some fancier stuff, but still in Audacity. If I get time for music, I'll likely do some chiptunes. I found two guides online that give some tips. If I have spare time during

I'm going to be quite busy over warmup weekend...