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Running the Ludum Dare Marathon

I just completed my first Ludum Dare Game, and it reminded me of running my first marathon.

Game Developer, Staff

December 10, 2014

4 Min Read

Running the Ludum Dare Marathon

When I was a cadet at the Academy, a group of my friends decided they wanted to train for a marathon, so I decided to join in.  Having run a marathon, I quickly found that the Ludum Dare Game Jam, and the marathon running have some things in common.


Out like a Rabbit

One hard lesson I never seem to learn in all my years having to run to maintain physical fitness, is the lesson of pacing.

I go out like a rabbit.  Look at all those people I'm passing, psssh.  Marathon running is too easy.

Likewise, during my Ludum Dare Game Jam, I started out with a sprint.  I felt very confident in making and finishing my game.

I'm Getting Passed

I then proceeded in the marathon to be passed by a bunch of people.

Grandmas and children are perhaps the worst to be passed by.  Mutual friends you cheer on as they trot along in the distance.

After about 6 hours into the Game Jam, I made the mistake of checking other Game Jammers.  So many cool ideas, that weren't mine.

Pit Stops

Then it's time to take a break.  Maybe I shouldn't have gone so hard at the beginning...

A needed break in the woods turns into a bit longer of a rest.  Maybe I'll slow down going through the water points.

In the Game Jam, I take a break and play some games, perhaps a couple hours too long.

The Wall

Then you hit the marathon wall.  This is your first marathon, and you're all dried up.

"Why did I @#$@#!@ sign up for this @#$@" I think to myself.

I begin to think maybe I'll just stop, and say I got hurt.  I am hurting after all.

Maybe I've got some other "priorities" I need to take care of first rather than finishing this game.  Weekends are for relaxing first and foremost, right?

The Support

Then seemingly out of nowhere, that family member, dear friend, or random stranger cheers you on.

"Well, I can't let them down."

I got some good advice from my wife when I felt like quitting this Ludum Dare jam (last one I stopped early).

Rinse and Repeat

Who knows how many walls you're going to hit on your first marathon.  You don't know because you're a beginner.  A n00b.

I thought I was done doubting myself after my wife's pickmeup, but then I built my Unity file and a whole bunch of bugs I've never dealt with before hit me.

Just like I ate every power pill, water stop and rest stop in the marathon, trying to get energy to keep going, I'm distracting myself with Youtube videos and Twitter to release some steam as I methodically go through my game code  line by line.


I tell people I ran a marathon, but really the last part has a lot of walking.  It's okay, a lot of beginners do it, except those Grandmas, they're crazy.

At the finish line I decide to go for a trot as everyone cheers.

With my Game Jam bugs mostly fixed, I submit my game.

In the marathon I threw a blanket over myself and got a free massage.  My energy completely demolished, but my first marathon completed.  We all look tired, and talk about the race.

In the Ludum Dare, I submit my game, then reward myself by playing other games, and posting comments, talking about the Jam.  I then proceed to eat some of my favorite food, pizza.

Press Continue?

That was the end of my Marathon running days.  I don't like running a whole lot honestly, even after 4 years at the Academy and 5 years in the Army.  I learned a lot from my first marathon, and I'm sure I'd be better prepared for the future ones if I did them.

But I'm glad my first completed Ludum Dare entry is completed.  I'll be coming back for more in the future, and look forward to pacing myself better and taking what I've learned to do better.

What do you think the Ludum Dare Game Jam is like?  Leave a comment below!

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