Ludum Dare 54 game jam: Orbital Meltdown: Death by Laser Beneath the Naked Sun

The cover image for Orbital Meltdown: Death by Laser Beneath the Naked Sun, showing the mech in a spaceship.

tl;dr: I participated with a couple friends in the Ludum Dare 54 game jam, and we made a third-person shooter featuring upgradeable mechs and a fully destructible level! 💥

Some of the game's features

  • A fully destructible level.
  • Three different enemy units.
  • 3 different types of equippable weapons with random drops, and visible equip attachment on three different slots of the player character.
  • AI behaviors for chasing, shooting, and dodging the ever-changing landscape.
  • Amazing audio!
  • Excellent explosion effects.
  • Really cool mech models and animations.

The jam

We participated in the "jam" form of Ludum Dare, in which we had 72 hours to create our game according to the jam's theme. We created all code, music, and sounds over the course of the weekend.

We used preexisting 3D models that we found from various sites (attributions).

The theme this time was "Limited Space".

The team

This time around, I worked with Zaven Muradyan and Alden Witt!


An animated GIF, showing the mech player running around destroying all of the level platforms around the player.
A fully destructible level!

An animated GIF, showing the mech player destroying a tower.
More fun destruction!

An animated GIF, showing lots of different enemies.
We added three different types of enemies!


  • Even though I use the Unreal game engine everyday at work now, my perspective there is somewhat focused, and I still don't have much familiarity with some basic parts of Unreal. I learned a ton more about Unreal by doing this game jam! Some things, I had thought were just quirks of our codebase at work, but I now know to be standard Unreal things. Others, I just never had much opportunity to play around with much (like Unreal's blueprints)!
  • I really like making the music, but Alden's music is definitely better! It was fun to have someone making so much really great music and sound effects for every part of the game. Consequently, the game has such a richer more immersive feel than it usually does!
  • Zaven and I use Windows, but Alden was on Mac. It worked out mostly ok, except Alden never saw the destroyed platform fragments rendering on his machine.
  • We tried using Wwise, which is a sophisticated interactive audio plugin that integrates smoothly with Unreal. We wanted to use it because it's a common tool in the industry, and Alden wanted to get some experience with it. But, it ended up being too difficult to for us to get working on everyone's machines.
    • We'd spent a lot of time at the start getting Unreal to build and open correctly with Wwise. But then, Alden couldn't get any of the sounds to play! So we abandoned it on the second day, and Alden hooked-up sounds directly in Unreal's normal APIs.
    • Ironically, we later noticed that the Wwise sounds that Alden had worked so hard on, were actually running on Zaven and my Windows machines!
    • We wonder if Wwise would have worked differently if we'd integrated it from Alden's Mac machine rather than Zaven's Windows machine?
  • Zaven set up all the destructible geometry using Unreal's Chaos system. It's a fiddly system, and hard to get working correctly. But the result is so cool!
  • We had a lot of additional things we wanted to add, like lots of additional abilities and pickups, but I think what we ended up with was way more than a minimum viable product for a game jam.
  • Next time, we'll hopefully not need to spend so much time trying to get our tools set up at the start, and learning how to use quite so many new Unreal APIs.

🎉 Cheers!

This is a simple icon representing my sabbatical.