On Sunday a few friends at Miniclip and I attended the Facebook Hackathon 2010, during which it was our task to develop a Facebook Application using the new Graph API in a little under 6 hours and have it judged by Mark Zuckerberg, Ethan Beard and Mike Vernal from Facebook.

Given we all work for a gaming company our idea was to use that knowledge and play to our strengths. So we had decided that we were going to build a Facebook game.

Our Facebook application, codenamed “MiniPlay”, allows users to place themselves at the centre of the game play by giving them a number of short and engaging games using their friends as characters, the more games they play, the more games they unlock, and the more awards they get.

Miniplay Game selection screen
MiniPlay game selection screen

Miniplay buddy lineup
Buddy Lineup Game

During the development we had regular interruptions and breaks for Pizza, drinks and was even interviewed by a team filming the event.

Facebook Developer Garage with Mark Zuckerberg
The Team Miniclip Room
Facebook Developer Garage with Mark Zuckerberg
Ben being interviewed by the resident Developer Garage film crew

Whilst we were hacking away Mark Zuckerberg came around to have a chat about what we were doing and wanted to know what we thought of the platform in general, and where they could improve. Of course, I was truthful, it’s a good platform to build things on-top of, but the documentation is not great and it can be inconsistent.

By the end of the evening, we were all tired, and unfortunately we’d only managed to get about 75% of the way through the first game we wanted to build. We clearly didn’t plan on it taking as long as it did, but we had managed to build a framework that allowed us to easily add new games to the application in the future, so although we didn’t have a comprehensive suite of games, they would be easy to add.

The final part of the Hackathon was to present our applications to the group of developers, and specifically to Mark Zuckerberg who would be judging them. I drew the short straw to demo the application in front of the Facebook Executives and a room of about 60 other developers, it was quite a surreal experience having the attention of one of the industries most influential thinkers for a few minutes, especially when you really don’t like public speaking!

The judging would come up with a list of the best 3 applications which would get a chance to demo their apps on stage at the Developer Garage the next day, but unfortunately, as much as Mark seemed to be really into social gaming, sadly we didn’t make it into the top 3.

Facebook Developer Garage with Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg hanging around for a chat before the presentations
Facebook Developer Garage with Mark Zuckerberg
Simon and Ben relaxing before the final demo

Even though our application didn’t get into the top 3 it was a great experience and gave us all some ideas about how to leverage the Graph to build better, and more social applications. And of course, it was nice to meet some of the execs of Facebook, sometimes it’s hard to separate press from reality and all of them came across as down to earth people.

Posted in: Development, Facebook