Hack Night

Jack Simpson

Head of Marketing and Communications

So it goes

Look, when it comes to hackathons, I’m sure by now you know we take things pretty seriously. If one of our Marketing team isn’t going insane live-blogging from Great Uni Hack at 2 in the morning, then our placement students are handing out bacon rolls at Hack Manchester.

In the past, we’ve had ‘genius days’ where inter-departmental teams of employees pitched innovative ideas to the company, which we still kind of do, in the form of micro-challenges that Craig occasionally sets for our placement students. Hack Night was kind of a Genius Day lite, in that teams had 4 hours to produce a basic game.

4 hours!

On the fateful Friday I arrived at the office, fresh from my day off to find that the teams were already in planning mode, some having evidently made use of their Personal Development Time to test out some theories. Charlotte in particular was looking competitive for her debut hackathon (note: unsure how many hours you need to qualify for the ‘athon’ suffix), and had apparently been fiercely protecting her team’s intellectual property throughout the day.

Around 6:30, loaded up on coffee and prawn crackers, we rolled up our sleeves and sat down to get to work.

A breakdown of the teams and what they got up to:

Jamie, Jack, Nick: Escape Velocity
Built in C# on Unity, Escape Velocity was a vertical scroller inspired by the likes of Doodle Jump and the good old high school favourite, Helicopter Game. The premise: You’re a soviet test pilot who must escape earth with as many survivors as possible on the day of an annihilating meteor shower. The aim was to get as high as you can without taking too much damage from the debris being drawn into Earth’s gravity. The real innovation here was the game’s dark sense of humour, which was supposed to take the form of cluttering the page with insults to distract and confound you. Down the line, we wanted to implement a ‘polite version’ button, that when pressed, would make the game friendly and ‘work safe’.

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Gini, Tom, Dave: Multiplayer Snake
What it says on the proverbial tin, Multiplayer Snake was a clever reboot of the classic Nokia game where the gameplay took place in a shared environment, with gamers fighting for food to grow longer and ultimately murder all opponents! A cruel twist added arbitrary changes of speed when the player alters direction. Multiplayer Snake was built using Javascript and Node.JS, also making use of node package Socket.io.

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Charlotte, Ian, Matt: Web Apps Against Humanity
Built on AngularJS, WAAH was a digital version of the not-safe-for-polite-conversation card game, hosted on a site with Node.JS, made easier by use of node packages such as Socket.io and Express. A key feature was matchmaking, where a host could wait for 3+ people to join before dealing out cards and beginning the game. Traditionally one of the problems with Cards Against Humanity is dealing with a big stack of cards. WAAH was intended to eliminate this by adding smart device compatibility – this would make life at lot easier at Webbie events!

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Sam W., Craig H., Jon: Notrocketleague
 Notrocketleague was, in Jon’s words: “a 2D, awful, top down knock-off of Rocket League”, referring to the popular car soccer game that is the twisted offspring of Micro Machines and FIFA. The team made use of Node.JS, Javascript, Socket.io and Phaser.io. We got rather jealous towards the end of the hack, when it appeared that they had managed to incorporate functionality that let players choose the colour of their cars, though I’m not sure if that made it into the final version.

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Though Escape Velocity was initially judged to be the winner, PM Charlotte demanded a recount, and we appear to have come to a consensus that we’re all winners, and that next time longer than 4 hours might possibly be necessary.

The main thing, we all learnt something, and all go into Hack Manchester this weekend with our brains in gear for some heavy-duty hacking.

See you this weekend!