A few weeks back I started to get into the game Kingdom: New Lands. The game itself is an bit-style game with a pretty simple principle. I don't want to get too much into the game mechanic because that isn't the content of this posting but to give a rough overview here a small explanation: The goal of the game is to build (and expand) your kingdom with simple "pay" interactions with which you can hire people to work for you in different fields or you can extend buildings (which all have a dedicated purpose) to be able to upgrade the upon referenced things (each building is meant for) in your lands. Though it is only possible to move from left to right and from right to left, so the game handles a lot by itself. The ultimate goal is to "survive" enemy waves that also get stronger which each round.
A few days later I discussed the game with a colleague of mine, Stan, and since the annual trivago Hackathon was comming up, we decided it would be a good idea to take the basic principle of the game but modify it in a way that we can explain with it how trivagos sales business works.
Explaining the wave
The wave was basically a visualization trivago used in an internal company meeting to explain how trivagos culture (and business) grew over the past few years. So we thought it would be a good idea to take this thought and put it into a game concept. The first draft of the concept we came up with was the following. A map should be created which will generate a collection of hotels in five different categories. All of them are categorized by price, a higher price means that it will also generate more clickouts which is the "good" which drives trivagos revenue. You should be able to gain clickouts (and new coins) after a determined period of time (called billing cycle). Each acquired hotel to that point in time will give you a certain amount of clickouts. The clickouts are also evaluated into coins so you gain both resource with each billing cycle. The game should be time-driven so we wanted to have a limit of the game-time aswell, to make it competitive. In addition it should have items that represent the core products of trivago which improve the value of a hotel because they deliver more data about a hotel or enable a direct connection between customer and trivago which drives trust. Those items should be also timebased and unlock after timeperiods, so you are not able to boost the value of a category one hotel with the latest product of trivago which would have the highest impact. Aswell should the items have a cooldown so you can't use every item on every hotel you acquire.
We had some more ideas in mind, that we didn't really put into the final game idea though.
During the realization of the project we needed to spare out the "item"-part of the game because we hadn't enough time to really get into the development of the specifics because, but not exclusively why, the balancing and refinement of the other game components took a major portion of the development time.
Compose the squad
We had couple of people in mind we wanted to motivate and ask if they wanted to participate in our project. So we asked two additional backend developers, two additional frontend developers. The final team though were eight people, from which two took over the backend coding (we wanted the game to fully run in the backend with websockets), two frontend developer which where dedicated to create the client of the game, two frontend developer which took over the design of the backdrops, sprites and all the other graphics we needed, Stan, is frontend developer and also a enthusiastic music maker, took over the job to create a unique ambient soundtrack and creating all sorts of sound effects we needed to polish the game and finally myself took over the role of production lead and was involved in the client development aswell.
It took eight developers in three dedicated teams, 14 hours to create the game we had in mind. And it turned out great.
We used rails 5 as backend, and phaser as game engine in the client application.
In retrospective ...
I think it was because we had a clear vision of the idea and a team of highly talented people at hand that we all knew good enough to utilize them correctly and the interaction of the seperate sub-teams and the overall communication that made this particular hackathon project really unique. This wasn't the first hackathon I participated in but it felt really special to be able to work with this team. A lot of people of the Leipzig stopped by during the development and were suprised and excited to see the game finished. The impact of the project was accordingly good even though we could only present it office internal because of connection problems to the headquarters in Düsseldorf.
In the internal hackathon voting we placed in two of three categories first which where "Most challenging project" & "Most innovative project". I personally would have never thought that our simple idea would turn out that good.
But I'm grateful that i was able to experience such cooperation and successfull teamwork.
p.s. If you wan't to try the game, provided it is still up, feel free to do so: Trivago Game