Presenting Professional Invaders

A few weeks ago I attended The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam and join a bunch of fellow programmers for another edition of the Kings of Code Hack Battle, the same kind of event as the one where Bring Your Own Music was born.

Following the usual schedule, after a brief presentation from the API partners (Spotify, SendGrid, Braintree, Deezer, Pearson, Nokia, Rebtel, Bol.com, Smart TV Alliance and LinkedIn), all the attendees started evaluating ideas about what to build.

Hacking @ The Next Web #TNW

A post shared by Alessandro Bahgat (@abahgat) on

I teamed up with Alexander, a friend of mine I already had the chance to work with back in the days when I when I was consulting.

Having LinkedIn among the sponsors seemed to encourage us to build serious applications for serious professionals, but after discarding a few alternatives that would have been better projects for a Startup Weekend than a hackathon, we decided to take the opposite direction: building the silliest possible thing with the APIs we had access to.

We eventually decided to work on a game and tried to build a Space Invaders clone that would let you throw paper balls at your professional connections.

After some research, we found a well written Space Invaders implementation on GitHub (thanks Calamari) and we started adding the silliness to it.

The first day we focused on getting the game to work as we expected:

  • each invader would be one of your connections on LinkedIn,
  • a Boss would spawn every now and then,
  • the game would have some sort of soundtrack (thanks Deezer),
  • while in “Boss mode”, the game would have a distinctive appearance (blinking red background and a different theme song).

The second day we turned our attention to features that were just fun to build:

  • a coin slot where players could buy more coins with their own credit card (API courtesy of Braintree),
  • an easter egg we planned to use in the demo: attendees could spawn the Boss by sending email to an address we set up for the occasion (thanks Sendgrid).

The video below (3:11) shows the major changes the application went through. It was created by replaying significant entries in the commit log and recording what the game looked like at that time.

We approached the deadline with only one objective: making people laugh. Despite some technical issues (amusing at a tech conference), we managed to demo our hack and people seemed to have liked it: the guys from Sendgrid even decided to award us with a prize 🙂

You play the game here. This version is a slightly different from what we presented at the hack battle, since we decided to keep only the features that made sense if we were to offer it online.

We hope you’ll have as much fun playing it as we had putting it together!

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Alessandro Bahgat

Master geek, developer, avid reader and one of the minds behind novlet.com and bitlet.org

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