Hackathon 2015: Meteor

8 minute read

It's 13:00 on a chilly Saturday in October and the Gravitywell studio is a-buzz with activity.

We've got a fridge full of beer, a counter full of snacks and more ideas than you can shake a stick at - let the Gravitywell Hackathon #builtwithmeteor 2015 commence!

14:00 Update: Mind Mapping

We've hit the ground running and we're finalising the rules of how our application will work is underway.

The coffee has quickly taken a back seat, with the aim to revist in the early hours of tomorrow morning, and the San Miguel is flowing. Whether or not this was the right or best decision we'll find out later at our own expense.

We're currently throwing ideas around the board room table and Matt is hurriedly writing them down on the whiteboard. 

So here's the basic low down of what we'll be getting up to over the next 12 hours:

We will be creating Petricide! A game that combines bacteria and viruses with small scale competitve gaming. How does it work? How do you play? You'll get to find that out later. This is mainly because we're still figuring that out ourselves and we're still in a heated debate over who, what, when, where and why... but rest assured it's going to be sick!

The bacteria puns have started.

16:00 Update: First Steps of the Build

Having come to an agreement on the initial scope, we're now into the first steps of the build for Petricide.

As we're under time constraints we accept that there's lots of additional features we'd like to add post Hackathon, but for the time being here's the basics for Petricide Phase 1:

- Petricide is an online, realtime multiplayer game where you play as a virus fighting for survival
- Fast paced free-for-all gameplay 
- Up to 10 players in the initial release
- Watch your cells grow and die organically
- Defend your territory against other players
- Expand your territory to dominate the petri dish arena
- Reach the top of the leaderboard, and hold positions as long as you can!

We've also started to do a little bit of filming in order to keep a record of the process. We have plenty of things planned for this and we'll be doing more as the night goes on. 

At the moment we're in the trial and error phase with the development side so it's now onto 8 bit branding.

18:00 Update: Branding

We are now five hours into the Hackathon. Heldeep radio is blasting out of the Sonos speakers, Pizza has been ordered in preparation for food intermission and the build is well and truly underway.

In the past couple of hours we have:
- Fine tuned the organic growth algorithm 
- Made some big performance improvements to the game
- Working on making multiplayer work. Not effectively, just to work at all would be nice.

In addition to ploughing through the build, we've been focusing on branding for our Meteor creation. So far we have a name, a font and logo, a basis for the colour palette (building on the look and feel of the game) and a Twitter header. 

No one has cracked yet and the coffee remains unopened. We view this as a success.

20:00 Update: Pizza Coma

So we are over halfway through our 12 hour stint on creating Petricide. There's not a huge amount to report in addition to our last update as we're all nursing what can only be described as food hangovers, having stopped to eat an inordinate amount of pizza.

During pizza fest, discussion moved to our progress and we're slowly beginning to realise we've taken on quite a mean feat. Have we bitten off more than we can chew! We'll find out soon enough.

22:00 Update: Demo Video Preparation

We have 4 hours to go before submission and the team are going hard to get Petricide ready for the 01:00 deadline. Aside from some ups and downs (mainly downs post pizza), it's coming along pretty nicely.

We are currently working on a colour player select and routing to provide a solid baseline experience for the intital release. Lucian is hard at work re-engineering the core algorithm and Luke is in the process of polishing the front end.

In between furious coding and general hard work, we've been pulling each other away from our keyboards for mini filming sessions and interviews for the demo video.

This has been a lot harder than it sounds. In hindsight perhaps we should've done this before this much alcohol was consumed and we weren't quite so delirious with exhaustion. 

Final push to deadline!

0:00 Update: Finishing Touches!

There is just one hour left! This is not a drill!

Despite an overwhelming need to go home to bed we're still going!

Matt is in the process of hammering through video editing and audio syncing, myself and Luke are testing the gameplay, and Chris and Lucian are exploring ways of loading the game engine on the server and serving it to the client in a slim package. Boom!

Can we do it? We shall see!

01:00 Update: Submission!

It's done! We've finished! And we are knackered!

And after all that excitement we're very proud of our Meteor masterpiece.

If you'd like to take a look at what we've been up to for the past 12 hours, click the link and have a play around.

Behold! Petricide!


You can also see a concise video summary of our Hackathon over on Vimeo, take a look below.


In the meantime we're off home to sleep for the remainder of the weekend. Goodnight from the Gravitywell Hackathonians of 2015!

Written by Laura Alison (Studio Manager). Read more in Latest by Laura or check our their socials Twitter, Instagram