Main image of article How to Win a Mobile Game Hackathon
They've hacked away to create the coolest mobile game app in 30 hours, and drank cases of Red Bull along the way. Now, it's time to unveil the winners of this weekend's Chartboost Hackathon.

First Place: Typing with Strangers: Ninjas v. Dragons

You got a glimpse of this snazzy multi-player action game when it was in the preliminary design stages. Remember that cute dragon figure made by team member Andy Jiang, co-founder of friend-to-friend recommendation service Piggyback? Turns out the three judges were not only impressed with the designs, but also the technology behind the dragon-slaying Ninjas. In essence, here's how the game works: Players download the iOS mobile game app and play it either solo, or with others who happen to be within range via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, says Elliot Lee, founder of mobile apps developer GreenGar Studios. In other words, players don't need an invite to play each other, nor do they have to be on a 3G network. [caption id="attachment_47087" align="aligncenter" width="512"] Ninjas v. Dragons hackathon presentation. (L-R) Kimberly Hsiao, Eran Davidov and Lee.[/caption] The peer-to-peer arrangement allows new players, a.k.a Ninjas, to seamlessly join an game that's already underway. But in joining, they also bring along enemy dragons, warns Kimberly Hsiao, a team member and another co-founder of Piggyback. Players kill the dragons by quickly typing the words that appear under each dragon before the green monster reaches them. And if they're not successful, the dragon or a hurtling fireball can kill them.


[caption id="attachment_47088" align="aligncenter" width="512"] Ninjas v. Dragons team in final hour of 30-hour competition. (L-R) Lee, Hsiao, Davidov and Jiang.[/caption]

Second Place: Friendly Feud

Your knowledge of Facebook friends is put to the test with this social game. It pulls in data from all your friends to populate a Friendly Feud database, explains developer Adam Mork, part of a two-man team behind the iOS app. By day, Mork is a developer and co-founder of start-up Thred. The game poses a question regarding one of the three friends displayed on the game screen. You have to figure out which of the friends match the question. For example, one question may ask which friend is the least popular. You have to click on the one who has the least number of Facebook friends, says Brett Redinger, the team's designer, who by day works at J.P. Morgan as a mobile interactive art director. [caption id="attachment_47093" align="aligncenter" width="187"] "Friendly Feud"[/caption] One of the greatest challenges in designing the game was achieving the look and feel of a real televised game show, Mork said.  "We wanted to make it feel like a real game show," Redinger added. The duo plan to submit their game to the Apple App Store sometime this week. [caption id="attachment_47094" align="aligncenter" width="512"] "Family Feud" team checks out design. (L-R) Redinger and Mork[/caption]

Third Place: Doodletangle

Rahil Patel, developer-designer and one-man team, landed third-place and rock star status in designing a functional mobile game. Designed for the iPad, his Doodletangle challenges up to 11 users to simultaneously navigate a series of mazes -- with their fingers on a single device. The degree of difficultly, as well as the speed, increases as time progresses. If a player's finger hits any part of the maze, game over.


What makes Patel a rock star is his ability to produce a functioning game by himself within a 30-hour time period. Winning hackathon teams are often comprised of three or more members, says Sean Fannan, co-founder of hackathon organizer Chartboost. In Patel's case, he was both the right brain and the left brain. While Patel is currently out of work and spending some of his free time developing iPad games, this all-in-one iOS guy may find his fortune with Doodletangle. He's definitely  worth checking out. Related Links