To Infinifactory, and beyond!

Jack Simpson

Head of Marketing and Communications

So it goes

The Webbie IP class of 14/15 has been one of the best groups yet, and they’ve been tested at every opportunity by Chief Exec. Craig Dean, who took them by surprise last week with a snap IP challenge.

Our industrial placement year, as any alumni will tell you, is probably the most unique ‘year in industry’ programme available for budding developers. Our IPs gain invaluable experience, in an office that cultivates an open atmosphere where personal development is absolutely essential. We believe self-improvement to be integral to achieving success in IT, and Craig’s IP challenges are intended to help our placement students assess their own strengths and weaknesses.

So far, challenges issued have been in line with other events happening  around the office. When we decided to add some extra pairs of hands to one of our development teams, they were given a ‘build-a-button’ challenge which was ultimately won by placement student Ben Nawaz and first-year employee Brodie Gilmour. Then our sister company, WA:UK Tech Angels, was confirmed as headline sponsor for Hack Manchester 2014. Naturally, the next challenge was aligned with Hack – the top four IPs in Craig’s ‘innovation’ challenge would be appointed to one of our official teams.

(Innovation challenge winners, and 2nd Official Webbie Hack Team. L-R Damir, Lora, Ben and Ryszard)

This time around, the prize was kept a secret until the last day, prompting some last minute sprints to the finish line. In their briefing on the final day of the Infinifactory challenge, I revealed to the IPs that the top 2 participants would be heading to UpFront Conference in May (which, incidentally, is also being headline sponsored by Tech Angels).

To the challenge. Our IPs were at first confused when Craig asked for their Steam usernames. They were even more surprised when they were gifted a copy of Infinifactoryan early-access sandbox puzzle game that challenges gamers’ creative problem solving skills. Players must design and run factories to specific parameters and success is measured in footprint (size and scale of operation) and number of cycles to complete (efficiency).

The premise was simple. Complete the game, download a level designed by Craig, and beat said level with the fewest cycles and lowest footprint possible. The top 2 players on the final day would be declared the winners. On the day, the atmosphere was focused. Craig’s assertion that his level was fiendishly difficult was turning out to be true, as only 2 players managed to complete it 4 hours in.

Finally, we had our results.We had a solid top 4 composed of Nick, Ryszard, Dan and Damir. The fewest number of cycles was incredibly close, with Nick pipping Ryszard by 20, and Ryszard pipping Dan by 1!

The winners on the day had to be Nick and Ryszard, with an impressively low 545 and 565 cycles respectively. Special commendation has to go to Dan, who was a whisker away from being on top.

(Chief Exec. Craig debriefs the finalists.)

Setting our placement students these challenges is something we take very seriously. Learning new skills in a pinch and thinking outside-the-box are absolutely vital skills to a software developers. We believe this kind of innovative training and development is one of the key things setting us apart from other IT companies offering placement schemes.

Find out more about our IP programme:

Dev Diary: Ben Nawaz Guest Blog,

Webbie Students