The University of Oregon Lundquist College joined with UO computer science students John Brawner, Jeff Bayes, and Daniel Krell—who make up the student group HackTownUSA—and the national Major League Hackathon organization to produce QuackHack, a weekend-long game prototyping event held January 15-17 in the Lillis Business Complex.
The hacking marathon was open to any North American college student and 118 turned out from six states, including Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, Indiana, and Massachusetts, and 14 universities representing 16 different majors.
Creating a playable game in a weekend was the nexus of the event, with additional supporting activities including a keynote address, a series of 30-minute tech talks, a light-hearted Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament, food, and even chair massages.
“It was a tiring weekend but was a total blast!” said Michael Muir ’17. “The majority of the participants seemed to have a good amount of coding knowledge. However, as a business major, I am not one of those people. One of my minors is product design, so the skill that I best brought to the table was 3D modeling in AutoDesk’s Fusion 360 CAD program.”
Muir teamed up with fellow UO students Nick Capaldini, Molly Steelhammer, Alex Lee, and Adam Carlton.
“We knew that we wanted to make a physical board game so we identified our favorite components of other board games and put those all together to make VIRUS,” he said. “We made a phenomenal group. I could not have been more satisfied. Our skills balanced out very well, and we could each tackle a task then regroup and collaborate.”
He said the team greatly appreciated the mentorship and support they received from the AutoDesk team: Michael Aubry, Ethan Ouimet, and Grant Holmberg-Baugher.
“They were able to answer so many of our questions, and Ethan was generous enough to let us use his 3D printer to create the game pieces that I had made in Fusion 360,” Muir said.
More than 100 high school students, sponsors, community, and business leaders also took part.
“The students were very eager about their projects and taking part in the QuackHack, which made for great interactions,” said Chris Sjoblom, who served as one of three mentors representing Eugene real estate software company IDX Broker. “Our role was especially rewarding because we could apply our own areas of expertise to help the students solve issues quickly instead of hitting their head against the wall for two hours. The games themselves were fun and interesting, as was providing feedback to those teams that asked for it. Everyone had great ideas.”
The top prize ultimately went to Team Inferno Ducks, which included UO students Howard Lin, Edward Szczepanski, Joseph Yaconelli, and the University of Denver’s Sam Schooler. The judges deemed their creation—a multiplayer, smartphone-based title called “Game Full of Animals”—as having both noteworthy technical capabilities and potential for real-world market success.
VIRUS took third place, but Muir was just glad to be a part of the first Major League Hacking sanctioned North American collegiate hackathon.
“My favorite part of the event was meeting all the cool people from other parts of Oregon, and there were even a bunch of people from out of the state,” he said. “The masseuses were a close second though. Everyone was so nice and friendly.”
Faculty advisor and organizer Kate Harmon said the first QuackHack shows what can be accomplished in just 36 hours.
“Industry relationships are forged, new skills are gained, and communication and teamwork are improved—all in one intense weekend,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what these talented, entrepreneurial students from across our campus—as well as across North America—come up with next year.”