This post is written by Raimo, our distinguished Startuplife alumni. Last weekend a bunch of us attended a hackathon and built an accurate simulation what it’s like to live the Startup Life. You can follow Raimo on Twitter: @raimo_t
The Event in Joyent’s office
Last weekend I participated with Anders, Tele, Michelle, Lauri and Kristian in a multinational hackathon called Node.js Knockout. Our team (Michelle, Lauri, Kristian) had planned the idea of a real-time simulation of San Francisco and starting a company, whereas Tele and Anders built a data analysis tool. Apart from myself we had little knowledge of Node.js or HTML5 game development so it was a really good learning opportunity for all of us.
Preparing for the Hackathon
Like often in hackathons, we got only a small proportion of our all plans developed, but had a clear goal on the prioritization of different tasks. I used Asana for maintaining a minimalist catalogue of things that needed to be done and we met a few times before the hackathon to discuss things that later on, didn’t make so much difference after all. The discussed things involved the gameplay, various stories, dashboard, scheduling events and so on. During the competition we sketched some plans on the whiteboard on how to proceed.
Product management on whiteboard
We wanted to make a barebone prototype of what a real-time simulation of kick-starting a company in San Francisco would look like for a competition called Node.js Knockout. The game was supposed to convey all the people in the world, especially outside San Francisco, how choices in the fast-moving and chaotic startup ecosystem affect the future of a company. On the other hand, we wanted to make the game fun to play with a slight difference from the reality in physics side (because to be honest, nowadays physics aren’t that important in most of the industries covered in startups).
See our demo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1aP5YHauQw
How to Play the Simulator
As the barebone version of the game is quite limited, I should provide some hints on how to play it. If you think you are lost, head to the top-left corner of the huge map until you are on the big street (Market St), and then spot places one block east-south (South of Market) from the big street. When you reach the point when the mobile phone in the game says World is ready!, you have completed trying out the prototype. Well done! The prototype doesn’t include building the actual product yet. Leave feedback on the game directly or indirectly!
The game is here: https://startuplife.io/
Why Node.js Knockout
When I participated in Node.js Knockout for the first time, Node was kind of a new and cool thing, but nowadays it’s become quite an ordinary choice for certain applications (but definitetly not as popular as Java, Rails or C# -based technology stacks). I especially like Node.js Knockout most out of all the hackathons, because it’s about building interesting stuff and people are mostly really laid back and to succeed, you actually need to build something that works as opposed to fancy slides in certain VC / launch / idea people hackathons. I’m not saying there’s no place for the latter group, I’m just saying that some hackathons should focus on product development in addition to (or even instead of) building a shiny business vision. Creativeness is best nurtured by exposing oneself to various different situations and setups.