Seattle HoloHack

By | May 24, 2016

I had to skip the Seattle VR Hackaton back in the end of April since both of us are moving to back to Seattle for good. However, three weeks ago as I flew back to Orange County, CA to get everything ready for long-distance mover, I caught news about Microsoft Hololens Hackaton. I jumped on it and signed up as soon as possible, although I know I’d still be in the middle of moving. For those who have move across the states, you know how stressfull it can be. But, having access to this Hololens device for three days, for free? Heck yeah, I won”t miss it.

So last weekend Microsoft held its first HoloHack in Seattle. An hour before the event started, there was a ladies-only mixer. I found it very interesting. In my experience with game jams, I can count the number of ladies in the event with my hands. Sometime with only one hand. Having this mixer made me feel more comfortable, especially knowing a lot of the organizers and mentors are also ladies. I don’t feel like a rare unicorn.

After the mixer, I met with an old friend, Sean Siem, whom I got to know from local IGDA and Indie dev meetups. Since he has been doing 3D art for a long time, and currently working in AR/VR, I decided to join his team and learn from them. He introduced me to his team, Lee Wolfe and Shawn Featherly. We agreed on a theme of educational game for our project. However, we didn’t have a specific game in mind, and it was hard to look up more information online since WiFi signal was super super slow. A lot of people were not prepared, did not have the required tools installed, and tried to download them all at the same time. During pitching and team forming, a few people came up to our group but ended up not joining since we didn’t have clear idea. One composer/audio engineer, Steven Silvers, decided to join us. Then the rest of Friday night was spent in tossing ideas about which educational game we can make in Augmented Reality. We had probably 6-7 different ideas, and narrowed it down to 3-4 by the time I decided to go home.

On Saturday, I came in super early, and most of my team members were still asleep. Lee was the only one up, and he kept me updated on the progress since I left. We decided on making a table top Robot Turtle game that will teach LOGO programming to its users. The game took place in Mars, where player control Mars Opportunity Rover to specific outposts by telling it to move forward or turn, 5 steps at a time. Sean already came up with the table top Mars terrain before he went for a nap, and the rover robot would be his next work. So I went straight to work and created some modular assets for the outposts. Then whenever we had a working prototype, I tested it. During down time, I would go around the room and check out other team’s projects. There were tons of good ideas in the room.

By the end of the hackaton, I learned a lot. It was great to have so many different mentors. Also, this was my first hackaton. Since a lot of people came from different background and interest, unlike game jams where most people are gamers, the variety of prototype that come in the end were different than what I’m used to. Overall, it was a great experience.