With no time to waste, Laurentian University students got down to business during the Greater Canadian Appathon.
Teams had only 48 hours to create a game app for a mobile device. Blake Quebec Desloges, an honours student studying computer sciences and math, was one of 13 students competing on a team from LU.
“The biggest challenge was trying to get a working game done in only 48 hours,” he said. “At one point around 1:30 a.m. on the second night of the competition it felt like we weren't going to be able to finish on time and it was really demoralizing. My team decided to go home and get some sleep because none of us were thinking straight.
“When we came back in the morning our morale was back up and we worked harder than ever to finish with half an hour to go in the competition.”
Having taken a theory of game development course in his third year of studies, Quebec Desloges said he knew what to expect.
Valérie Thériault, a second-year computer science student, had no idea what she was getting into. While she had no practical experience in building an app, the challenge let her put her textbook knowledge to use.
“The appathon, in my opinion, was the best way to really put all the information we studied and practised during class hours into something physical and concrete,” she said. “Something that could be measured and judged in the real world and see what we could accomplish as a team.”
Aaron Langille, the computer science professor at Laurentian who encouraged students to join in the competition, said LU's efforts were a “terrific success.”
“The students produced high-quality projects despite being under serious time and fatigue constraints — one Windows phone and two Android games were submitted for evaluation,” he said.
“The theme for the event this year was 'retro,' so they seemed to have a great time with text-games, classic funk music and old-school 8-bit-style graphics. There were some interesting discussion on how to blend retro-style games with new mobile device technology.”
Most, if not all the students who took part in the appathon said they would like to do it again.
“There is no doubt that we'll be looking to build on the momentum from this year and to grow next year's participation in terms of number of students, number of teams and number of submissions,” Langille said.
For more information, visit www.greatcanadianappathon.com.