Rocket Gaming Hackathon 2017

This weekend I went to a Gaming Hackathon hosted by Rocket Internet. The venue was Rocket Tower, a cool building near Checkpoint Charlie. I went with 3 developers from HelloFresh. In under 48 hours, we made a game.

The hackathon started on Friday evening. We did not come prepared with an idea beforehand - just a few technical constraints. Unity and 2D. We mainly just wanted to make something fun.

After having some pizza at dinner, we settled on the idea of a game that would be set in a warehouse where the player had to pack boxes of food with the correct ingredients and load them in a truck. After all, we all worked at HelloFresh and built supply chain management software. We also agreed that making it multiplayer (local co op) would make it a more engaging experience.

1 hour later and we had some rough sketches, a github repo and github projects set up for the project. We got straight to work! Two developers, Nenad and Tomaz paired up and began coding the core logic of the game: player movement and picking items up and down. Kieran and I put together an asset list and started making some cute pixel art.

Time flew by and we decided it was best to get some rest on the Friday night. We left around 2AM feeling quite happy with how much we got done - we had the basic control mechanics, a character spritesheet, 10 fruit assets and an animated conveyor belt. It was clearly the beginning of a game - although there was still tons to do.

On Saturday we knew we had to get the majority of the work done. Frankly what exactly happened when is a bit of a blur - but we definitely did a lot! First I focused on creating the assets for the boxes in different states - open, closed and carried. Then throughout the afternoon I worked on spritesheets for players 2, 3 and 4. Making a multiplayer game definitely needed characters that could be easily distinguished. Kieran worked on the warehouse parts - the truck, table and a few more objects for the conveyor belt. The dev team worked on getting animations of the characters working with the controller input, as well as the recipe behaviour in the boxes.

We fell a bit into the trap of all working in the same scene in Unity and getting some merge conflicts, but otherwise it was a breeze working together. By late in the night we were able to play test the game with 4 players loading different ingredients into the boxes, the box closing after 4 being entered, and then loading that box into the truck. All very entertaining.

The key things that were missing was the end game logic and a more complex game mechanic. We had the basic put food in the box part - but it needed to have more feedback based on if you put the right ingredients in. It would be important to have some kind of scoring system so that the players knew how many good vs bad boxes they packed.

It also needed more kinds of action to avoid the game feeling too repetitive too quickly. To do this we settled on a 'random events' mechanic. This was where an event could happen, triggering some kind of effect on the players. For example, a 'Rocket Internet funding' event could add extra time to the timer or a 'phone call' could make the players slower. In the context of a local multiplayer game we knew this would make the game a lot more entertaining. We reflected these random events in the UI by Slack inspired notifications.

Screenshot of game:

We stayed up past 3am on Saturday. It was awesome to build so much and get the more functionality in. There were still a few nice things to have (title screen, end game screen) but overall we decided it would be good to get a bit more rest.

The team was pretty tired on Sunday. Presentations started at 1pm, and the main thing we focused on was ensuring that the game played well. We tweaked the weights of the ingredients and improved the UI of the events. We also polished up the colliders and fixed a few of the bugs. Before we knew it, the morning was over.

Presentations were 5 minutes each. We briefly explained the game and demoed it. Then for around half an hour the judges tried out the games. Multiplayer games are always fun in this kind of environment!

There were 4 categories of prizes: Best Overall Game, Most Entertaining Game, Best use of Amazon Alexa and Wildcard game. We were awarded the Most Entertaining Game. The prize of this category happened to be Nintendo Switches! The team was super happy! Especially me. It's something that I was always planning to buy.

Overall I must say it's really good fun to go to hackathons with work colleagues. Together we got to be creative and just build stuff with no pressure. Would definitely do it again!

You can check out our game here.