We had quite an interested day at WeeWorld last week with our boss MacDog announcing that we’d all be doing something a little different. The plan was to split the developers into two rival teams and give each a day to think-up and build a really cool Facebook app.
Well if the truth be told we had just over a day, with the ideas and teams being decided on the Thursday afternoon. Although he was supposed to be impartial, MacDog couldn’t help put his favourites into some kind of super team, calling them Team Sex Panther! To be honest I was having none of it and decided to remove myself from Team Sex Panther instead opting to join the underdogs, Team Umlaut, giving them at least a fighting chance.
Even with myself on board it was still going to be tough and with MacDog threatening to stub out his cigars on the hands of the losers (he smokes them at his desk you know) no one wanted to come last. I knew I had to make a few big decisions early on if we were gonna actually pull this one off. Now I’m not one for boasting but I actually pulled off three stokes of genius early on, which instantly turned things in our favour.
Firstly I put myself in charge. It had to be done to be honest. It was clear during the team’s first meeting on Thursday that no one was making any real decisions. So I waited until after work on Thursday night and declared myself team leader. No one objected. Well actually that’s not true, Ian objected on Friday morning when I eventually announced to the team that I was in charge, but I told him it was way too late to make any changes that might upset the balance of the team and he soon settled down.
My second masterstroke was to bring an artist onto the team. What can I say Drew’s a talented dude and sure knows how to draw. In fact he’s also got great ideas and we ended up going with one of his game ideas, with everyone getting really excited when he unveiled his concept drawings.
My third and final masterstroke was to use Flash for the client-side stuff. Now this one was quite an unpopular decision. Three out of the five team members wanted to use JQuery and “cool shit like that”. Ian in particular, who hates Flash, was quite vocal about it all and had actually almost managed to convince me that Flash was the wrong choice. Fortunately Drew helped me come to my senses and we successfully bullied the others into submission.
I won’t lie to you, it was quite a stressful, but interesting day. Trying to build a game from scratch in a day probably isn’t the smartest of moves but we worked really well as a team and quickly had some momentum going.
You can say what you like about Flash but that Friday really brought home to me just how good the Flash IDE and ActionScript are for rapidly prototyping stuff. With the time constrains we were working to, the game was never going to be the most robust thing on the planet but I honestly still can’t quite believe what we managed to pull off in only a handful of hours. Sure, trying to add any new features to the code would be like playing a game of Kerplunk, but we learned a lot from the experience and would be in a good position if the concept was ever added to WeeWorld’s roadmap.
But the highlight of the day was probably seeing the positive reactions from members of Team Sex Panther. Wayne, another Flash hater, was first to come over and congratulate us, conceding that their own efforts probably weren’t going to be enough to win the competition. Even before the official demonstrations took place we had a stream of visitors to our corner of the office, all eager to give the game a go.
Come five o’clock it was time for MacDog to announce the winner. Everyone was in a great mood and it was high fives all round at Team Umlaut. Just as MacDog was about to make a move to the front of the office, I noticed Wayne pull him aside. There was some whispering followed by an exchange of what looked like money. I really couldn’t believe what I was seeing and knew our chances of winning were gone.
The rest of my team didn’t see it coming and the defeat hit them hard. Amanda couldn’t stop crying and both Ian and Callum threatened to leave work early in protest. As for Drew, he’s given up his art and I must admit I’m worried for the poor dude’s mental health. How am I doing? Well the burn mark on my hand is starting to heal but the doctor’s warned me that I’ll probably be left with a scar.
Obviously I’m still a little bitter that we lost out, but we learned a lot and the whole experience helped promote creative and forward thinking. I’m not going to let the outcome of this one get me down, and like most in the office, I’m really looking forward to our next Facebook Challenge.
I strongly suspect however that MacDog will disband Team Umlaut – he knows we pose too big a threat and he surely can’t go on fixing the results of all future challenges. Can he?