or, “What do you mean I have to market?”
Ludum Dare is not like most game jams in that it’s not over when it’s over. Finishing and submitting your game is actually just the beginning; after that, you need to market. You may have (and probably did!) make something really cool in just a weekend, and that’s great. But if you don’t find a way to get it out in front of people, nobody’s gonna know about it but you.
Looking back at the Ludum Dare 42 statistics, fully one-third of the entrants failed to crack 20 ratings, and therefore did not get their game scored. Some of them probably weren’t interested in a rating at all, and were just doing the jam for fun. That’s fine! But part of the appeal of Ludum Dare is the scoring. If you want to be part of that and are just at a loss for what you’re doing wrong, the answer is probably either a beginner mistake about your game’s presence on the website, or a failure to properly market it.
Part 1: Common mistakes
First, here are some of the most frequent errors new users make, and the simple improvements you can make to get your game noticed.
No cover image
This is the single mistake most likely to make people overlook your game. Here’s a snapshot of the None filter on a random day. A big chunk of the titles with no ratings at all simply do not tell me anything about the game. How’s that supposed to pique my interest? Why would I play gray box #3 over literally anything else?
Luckily this is an easy one to fix. Take a picture of your game. Scale and crop it to 640×512. Upload it. You’re done!
Still struggling? That’s okay. One quick-and-dirty trick you can do to make a nice cover image is to turn off your in-game UI, take a screenshot of something interesting in your game, then overlay your game title in an image editor. Alternately, if you’ve already put some effort into a pretty title screen, you can use that in a pinch (again, just hide the buttons and stuff).