The Hackathon

In the week following Christmas 2011, Intrepid Pursuits cast off its consulting-work shackles in hopes to inspire its developers to tap into their creative genius that rarely gets recognized…

Actually we really just wanted an excuse to think up some cool apps and have a few drinks at the office.

But like any ‘organized’ event, it needed to have a few rules or guidelines to provide some direction for everyone. (Who doesn’t like rules right?)

The Rules:

  • Each team could not have more than 4 developers.
  • Each team also had a design budget of $500 except for the team who had Jason.
  • Each team can’t start planning your idea until that Monday. (We actually started a week before but I’m pretty sure everyone did)
  • The final rule was that at 5pm on Friday everyone puts their pens on the desk and must compile their app.

So it Begins!

Day 1: The Prime team was in rather high spirits and after a week of pre-preparation, we began the hackathon. Once we finished delegating tasks, we began digging through a list of user stories and concepts we started to get to work on the engine. After a few roadblocks we’ve decided to use a grid based engine for block placement. This will help the engine differentiate between moveable objects, and also provide a snap-to system to ensure the blocks rest directly where they are placed.

Day 2: I think the sleep deprivation has begun to set in however morale still remains rather high. Although Colden occasionally is sitting with his headphones on giggling to himself, I’m sure that’s normal. We’ve managed to find some license free artwork to serve as blocks and also have mocked up the first look at our Hero Prime. I wouldn’t mess with him.

Things are starting to get interesting. We had originally thought up the idea to create an iPad version of the game with a built in Level creator so that I could ‘easily’ mock up levels. Finally something for the non-developer to do!! I quickly began to mock up levels using our previously constructed (I told you we came prepared)wooden game board.

Day 3: Due to only 2 days being left we had to scrap a few things, namely the idea that we would have a level creator app. Instead I’ve been tasked with breaking down the levels onto grid paper and charting their coordinates. Guess what has two thumbs and gets to use JSON to input them manually… (This guy) Also a side note it turned out the coordinate system I was using for levels was backwards for the first three… Fail…

Day 4: Also known as “THE WALL”. The team was rather sleep deprived and starting to become concerned that we wouldn’t have a playable version by the presentation. We have scrapped a majority of the mechanics, level selection screen, and a whole plethora of other bells and whistles. The app feels naked, yet a small amount of enthusiasm is growing because for the first time we are starting to see a playable version of what’s to come.

Day 5: (Judgment Day)
We’ve begun to scramble to finish the level creation and fixing bugs that make the game completely unplayable. Jason has whipped up some awesome marketing materials (printed out and affixed to poster boards), which totally blew us away. If worse came to worse we would at least look professional.

Presentation Cover


Splash Screen

We handed out the devices (iPad and iPhone versions) to the judges after the presentation and began to explain how to navigate through the game. It was awesome to see their eyes light up as they started to navigate prime through the first level. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

The Judges went into deliberation in a nearby conference room and time seemed to tick by slowly… Very very slowly…

Suddenly the door opened and the judges stepped out. Mark our CEO began with the obligatory “Every project was great and you’re all winners” speech. If that was the case then none of us would be here…

The winner is…

“Ablockalypse: Primes Quest!”


After a short stint of running around the office with our shirts over our head doing a victory lap (see: Fabrizio Ravanelli), we settled back in and continued with the festivities.

The game has come a long way since December, but it’s nice to look back and see where the seed had been planted. Everything starts somewhere, whether it’s on the back of a napkin, a dream, a hackathon, or even a conversation starting with…

“Wouldn’t it be cool if…”

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