More than 300 people crowded the SLC at the University of Waterloo on Jan 24 during Facebook’s annual Hackathon. This was my first one and it was a blast. There were many prizes to be won (not saying I did) and lots of free food (nothing fancy). But the most amazing thing was the atmosphere. I remembered it as probably the first time I was able to talk code with someone else. The experience was a great one and I learned so many new things. So what was it like?

Hello World

This was the first hackathon for all four of us and none of us had any definitive ideas. Some team members had experience on Android (which I had none) while I have experience with iOS and web (which they had none). We began demoing our previous projects to get a sense of the experience of each other. And then began the idea generation…

We finally decided on a multiplyer game which displayed the game on the computer and players could control their characters using their own phones, which was matched to the game using a unique id. The game concept was similar to Light Bikes in Tron. I thought it was something we could pull off in 24 hours as I had worked on a previous project using similar technology (although that was over the course of a month). We took the challenge on and began running.

Up all night to get lucky…

A few things happened: I went to get my computer gear, we finished two bottles of Gatorade, and no one slept. (We did not consume any Awake chocolate.)

The morning code

Now the rush to finish was on. The routine was simple: code->coffee->code.


By this time, we got into the groove (finally). We added the finishing polish (no spit was used) to our app. If we were to plot our progress over time, it would be a hockey stick.

The final product

Check it out here: