The Intel Ultimate Engineering Experience Hackathon just wrapped up for the Sacramento group, and boy did we have a great time. I never thought I could get so much done in just ten days! The assignment for the hackathon was to create a game using HTML5, which nobody in my group of six had any experience with. In fact, most of my teammates had very little programming experience. However, we did not let this hold us back. This made the experience even more rich. Myself and one of my teammates were able to grasp the basics of HTML5 quite quickly. We did our best to help the rest of our team get their fingers wet with coding.
We chose to create a game where various foods fall from the sky, and the player controllers a stick figure with a basket on his head at the bottom of the screen. The goal is to collect all of the healthy foods, and avoid the bad ones. Our game included food falling from the sky with random speeds, a timer, a health bar, and a walking animation for the stick figure. Because of the lack of programming experience in our group, communication was key. This was truly where we excelled. We divided up the work so the brand new programmers wouldn’t be overwhelmed with the bulk of the project. I ended up working on a little bit of everything aside from the game timer. One person was responsible for sound, one for a health bar, and one for a menu page. Myself and my teammate with some experience worked on the algorithms and game logic. Once we finished that, he worked on the game timer and I started with the animation for our stick figure. However, we found ourselves constantly helping our teammates with other parts. Helping others with their code was my favorite part of the experience. This was new to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Gaining teamwork and leadership skills is one of the major reasons I am attending the IUEE in the first place.
Now for the part I am most proud of! I have always been a bit artistically challenged when it comes to drawing, so I figured doing the animation for the stick figure would be a good learning experience. The reason I am so proud of this work is because I had no idea how animation worked before the hackathon, and ended up with a decent walking animation. It ended up taking me about three hours to perfect the frames for the images, and only about five minutes to implement it in the game. It felt awesome seeing the stick figure walking around in the game after such a quick implementation. The cool thing is I did it a completely different way than all the other groups. I stored each image frame in an array and looped through the array at the correct speed. A few days after this was complete, I noticed other groups using something called sprite sheets for animation. One might think this would give me a sense of regret, because I did it the “wrong way.” However, I believe solving problems in different ways is a huge asset for a programmer. Both methods ended up looking the same in the end and I am proud for taking the road less traveled.
We are very proud of the game we created, but we all agree there is still more we would like to add. We decided to make the project open source and it is currently on github: https://github.com/JohnGalt34/food-catch
It is also available on DropBox: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/eimpnrd7muwbc9x/ViHp7_uHPB