Where to find the incentive, or how we went to the Microsoft hackathon

    Hi, Habr! As part of the recently held Igromir and KRI, Microsoft hosted the Gamedev Hackathon Games Coding Night. Among others, our young team also took part in it (moreover, it even took some place), but first things first.


    First steps

    Hi again! Our name is OArts, and we are a team of people who love games and have dreamed of creating them all our lives. It was on this basis that we teamed up a couple of years ago in an attempt to create a dream game. In the first couple, student and personal acquaintances made it possible to recruit almost two dozen enthusiasts, among whom there were even an artist and a sound engineer. There were a lot of ideas, enthusiasm, too, so everyone vigorously took up discussions and preparations for work. However, after a couple of weeks it became clear that even for the sake of their own dreams, no one is ready to sacrifice a stable job, a salary and an established rhythm of life. And, coming after work at 8-9 hours, it is very difficult to manage to do something useful for a large project. Only discussions and went actively - the development began to slow down. Obviously, it was necessary to change something. For instance, to relieve part of the team from the main employment and transfer to active work on the project. To do this, they tried to attract an investor and go to crowdfunding, but in both cases something went wrong.


    Already at this stage, the majority fell off the team. The remaining few people decided to temporarily postpone a large project and take up a small game to fill their hand. But this process did not go as fast as we would like. The main work ate up most of the time, and congenital perfectionism impeded overall progress, forcing a lot of time to spend on trifles.

    But nobody was going to renounce the dream. Therefore, when Microsoft announced the igrodelov hackathon as part of Igromir / KRI 2014, we again perked up and decided to definitely get there with some cool idea. The idea was chosen quickly, discussed and brought to working form a week before the hackathon. We will do a magic duel!


    So on the hackathon

    So, on October 2, 7 people from the O'Arts team left work and rushed to the Aquarium Hotel at Crocus City Hall, where at that very time Microsoft was starting its program. It should be noted right away that we were the largest team at the event. The rest, on average, contained 2-3 people each (who often met and gathered in a team right at the event), and Microsoft itself, by default, thought that the team should be one of four. In any case, no one dispersed us, and we, having occupied a whole table, meeting our neighbors and imbued with an atmosphere of indie igrostroy, sat down to listen to welcome words and lectures.


    During the first couple of hours, Dmitry Soshnikov ( shwars), the host of the event, told the audience where we came from, what was happening, who these people were, and shared his vision of the future of Microsoft. The event, in general, was attended by many interesting specialists, and lectures were held all Thursday evening and all Friday afternoon. Different topics were interesting for different members of our team, so when announcing the next lecture it was normal that someone jumped up and ran away to listen. This did not stop working at all, especially since the bulk of the code was written at night when the scene was empty.

    Closer to 10 pm, the first presentation of the teams took place, at which people went out and talked about their idea, and also announced a vacant place in the team. Among them came the leader of our team, Leonid Baranov, with the mysterious announcement of a future game about a duel of magicians. It was pretty nervous, because one of the first to enter the scene was a team with a very similar idea in description. However, no one was going to retreat. In total, 38 cool ideas for games were gathered, the hackathon participants, satisfied with themselves and with each other, went to the tables, bypassing the fans of extension cords, and ... it started.

    Coding Night

    We came to the hackathon with an idea, almost a working game mini-server in perl (yes, funny, but it worked! Of course, at the end of the hackathon it will be rewritten in a more suitable language) and a couple of character steps animations. So there was a lot of work. And first of all, it was necessary to break down the tasks into team members. Our team leader - the only one whose activities are directly related to game development - scattered tasks for 5 programmers and 2 designers. Because the tasks of writing code did not fight against so many people, one of the programmers played the role of a sound engineer, another helped designers in rendering gestures and particle systems. The rest took up game logic, networking, and gesture recognition. Designers frantically painted spells at this time. The night passed unnoticed.

    By four in the morning the hall was noticeably empty. Some of the remaining slept at the table or on the armchairs. Soshnikov, by the way, did not sleep and was ready to help, if that. And we began to assemble the scene.


    And morning

    The morning began briskly, the lectures continued, but we didn’t go to them - too much had to be completed. Only sandwiches were eaten and coded. Designers finished with effects and enthusiastically chopped into the alpha version of the game. The hall after the previous evening looked somehow empty, although everywhere my eyes ran into monitors with Unity, Visual Studio, Sublime Text, etc.

    At 11 a.m. on Friday, the first presentation of the games took place. Many went out without projects and told that they had time for the night, promising to show the game in the evening. Several games blew up the hall with their original gameplay. We enthusiastically clapped our hands and red eyes. Showed our alpha. While Leonid was telling something on the stage, three more enthusiastically threw each other fireballs and air walls on the screens and the projector. It seems not bad, given that the game logic constants were taken from the ceiling (well, there was no time for balance).


    By evening, we managed to slightly modify the game logic and effects, as well as to properly break the server. They repaired nothing, but the last hour was nervous. There were about 20 teams left for the final presentation, the games were completely different: from single-button arcades to space admiral simulators. From simple sprites to 3D landscapes. From keyboard to Oculus Rift / Kinect / Razer Hydra. I was very pleased that the teams really implemented the idea, not the product. The guys created an extraordinary gameplay right in the common room, overnight. And all the games were different. Both in spirit and in mood. In the end, the jury selected three prize teams, among which we were in second place. We were overtaken by guys with a similar idea, but a completely different gameplay. Guys, congratulations again!

    We left the hall with a great mood, pride, gratitude to Microsoft and all participants. We would love to play some games from the hackathon, so we are waiting for releases!

    We also left the hall with the Microsoft BizSpark support program and several certificates for training in 3D graphics and game dev. And with renewed vigor and a sea of ​​enthusiasm. In 24 hours we did what we tried to do for 2 years - we made a game. Not completely ready yet, yes, but my own game. And it was a great incentive to understand that our dreams are realizable, and around, in fact, there are many people who also follow this path, and people who can help to take it confidently. So here.


    O'Arts, we'll be there soon!

    PS Do not put off projects that you want to implement
    P.PSWe make a site and prepare the server. Expect MBT in the near future!

    Update : second hackathon video

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