How Super Confitura Man came to be :)
Recently at TouK we had a one-day hackathon. There was no main theme for it, you just could post a project idea, gather people around it and hack on that idea for a whole day - drinks and pizza included.
My main idea was to create something that could be fun to build and be useful somehow to others. I’d figured out that since Confitura was just around a corner I could make a game, that would be playable at TouK’s booth at the conference venue. This idea seemed good enough to attract Rafał Nowak @RNowak3 and Marcin Jasion @marcinjasion - two TouK employees, that with me formed a team for the hackathon.
The initial plan was to develop a simple mario-style game, with preceduraly generated levels, random collectible items and enemies. One of the ideas was to introduce Confitura Man as the main character, but due to time constraints, this fall through. We’ve decided to just choose a random available sprite for a character - hence the onion man :)
How the game is played?
Since we wanted to have a scoreboard and have unique users, we’ve printed out QR codes. A person that would like to play the game could pick up a QR code, show it against a camera attached to the play booth. The start page scanned the QR code and launched the game with username read from paper code.
The rest of the game was playable with gamepad or keyboard.
Writing a game takes a lot of time and effort. We wanted to deliver, so we’ve decided to spend some time in the days before the hackathon just to bootstrap the technology stack of our enterprise.
Scoreboard would be a rip-off from JIRA Survivor with stats being served from some web server app. To make things harder, the backend server was written in Clojure. With no experience in that language in the team, it was a bit risky, but the tasks of the server were trivial, so if all that clojure effort failed, it could be rewritten in something we know.
During the whole Confitura day there were 69 unique players (69 QR codes were used), and 1237 games were played. The final score looked like this:
- Barister Lingerie 158 - 1450 points
- Boilerdang Custardbath 386 - 1060 points
- Benadryl Clarytin 306 - 870 points
And the obligatory scoreboard screenshot:
The game, being created in just one day, had to have problems :) It wasn’t play tested enough, there were some rough edges. During the day we had to make a few fixes:
- the server did not respect the highest score by specific user, it was just overwritting a user’s score with it’s latest one,
- there was one feature not supported on keyboard, that was available on gamepad - turbo button
- server was opening a database connection each time it got a request, so after around 5 minutes it would exhaust open file limit for MongoDB (backend database), this was easily fixed - thou the fix is a bit hackish :)
These were easily identified and fixed. Unfortunately there were issues that we were unable to fix while the event was on:
- google chrome kept asking for the permission to use webcam - this was very annoying, and all the info found on the web did not work - StackOverflow thread
- it was hard to start the game with QR code - either the codes were too small, or the lighting around that area was inappropriate - I think this issue could be fixed by printing larger codes,
All in all we were pretty happy with the chosen stack. Phaser was easy to use and left us with just the fun parts of the game creation process. Finding the right graphics with appropriate licensing was rather hard. We didn’t have enough time to polish all the visual aspects of the game before Confitura.
Writing a server in clojure was the most challenging part, with all the new syntax and new libraries. There were tasks, trivial in java/scala, but hard in Clojure - at least for a whimpy beginners :) Nevertheless Clojure seems like a really handy tool and I’d like to dive deeper into its ecosystem.
All of the sources for the game can be found here TouK/confitura-man.
The repository is split into two parts:
- game - HTML5 game
- server - clojure based backend server
To run the server you need to have a local MongoDB installation. Than in
server’s directory run:
$ lein ring server-headless
This will start a server on
To run the game you need to install dependencies with bower and than
from game’s directory.
To launch the QR reading part of the game, you enter
http://localhost:9000/start.html. After scanning the code you’ll be
http://localhost:9000/index.html - and the game starts.
Summing up, it was a great experience creating the game. It was fun to watch people playing the game. And even with all those glitches and stupid graphics, there were people vigorously playing it, which was awesome.