About 6 years ago Neil (of Twin3) had began working on a Windows Phone game called Dotsi. Dotsi was a fairly basic game based on a rediculously old PC game called Squarez where the aim of the game was to navigate around a map trying to fill all required spaces without going back on yourself and without getting yourself stuck in a corner. As Twin3 had a fairly busy few months we decided a cool down session was in order, so we set out hosting an internal Hackathon where we gave ourselves 48 hours to bring this game to the iPhone, but with the added difficulty of introducing a multiplayer mode.
To make things more interesting we also decided to stream the entire 48 hours on YouTube for people to tune in and watch. Doing this would allow people to get a better insight as to the stages involved in building a project like this.
What exactly is a hackathon?
Lets begin with the basics, a hackathon, despite how it may sound, does not involve hacking; ethical or not - it is an event put on for programmers with the sole task of solving a problem. The events can last anywhere between a day and several days and will usually involve a great lack of sleep and many many hours sat infront of a computer screen typing out characters. For people who love coding a hackathon is an exciting prospect!
So the problem we aimed to solve was to take an old game concept and introduce it into the new age of mobile computing with new interesting UI graphics and the ability to play with your friends.
The first day went fairly well, things seemed on track and the work was getting done at an impressive speed. We decided just into the project that we could probably also handle the mammoth task of automatically generating our puzzle maps, this meant developing logic to automatically build solvable maps which we could then import into the game. Doing this would give us a greater quantity of maps and remove the need for us to manually create and check each and every map - which if we had manually done it would likely have taken us the 48 hours just to do that!
In the second half of the hackathon we had done loads of code walkthroughs, helping people understand and see the logic we were implementing and answering questions people had raised (when there was time!). Coming to the end of the Hackathon we managed to implement single and multiplayer however missed the mark by about 20 minutes to have a completely working model.
Waste Of Time?
It might appear a failure having missed our goal, however we don't see it like that. Within 48 hours we wrote thousands of lines of code and implemented logic that would usually have taken most people days to work out and we did the entire thing live on Youtube, talking to people about what we were doing and (hopefully) teaching people a thing or two. To show exactly what we did achieve during that time we decided to publish the game to the iPhone App Store with no adverts and completely free, so if you're interested in trying Dotsi and seeing what we managed to implement during that 48 hours of madness, please see the links below!
Below are a few of the many skills that we used to develop this project...