Computerlovers win out at Hack Manchester

We’re celebrating after work created by a team of Computerlovers was crowned ‘Best in Show’ at the recent Hac100 Hack Manchester event.

Two trios from Code entered this awesome 24-hour, non-stop coding hackathon, which took place at the Museum of Science & Industry the weekend of 28th and 29th October.

Sax-Turtles (aka Charles Burdett, Laurent Humbert and Tristan Ashley) took up a challenge from Ombudsman Services to “create something that will make a consumer even angrier when registering a complaint” – here’s the process they went through to win out.


How we met the Hack Manchester Challenge

“The challenge involved making data input difficult but still doable,” says Tristan. “With something like this, the sky’s the limit on what you can do but we knew the most important thing would be making sure we kept the balance right, ensuring that the process wasn’t so infuriating that the person completing it wouldn’t get to the end.”

“We thought about what can make people angry but also more determined and coin-operated, retro games immediately came to mind. The game loop of running out of lives, buying more, playing again was something we wanted to incorporate into our idea.”

“We adopted the essence of ‘Super Mario World’ and applied our own Viking flavour to it,” explains Charles. “We split the elements of your typical complaint form into bite-size chunks that would become each level of the game. The trick was making it look fun, but difficult enough that it was annoying to complete.

“At the end of each level, you were congratulated by the Ombudsman Viking. You then saw your progression across the Complaint Quest landscape. These are all common ‘persuasion patterns’ used in games and ecommerce website that are designed to make you keep doing something.”

You can see the finished game here

“We decided to take a very pragmatic, agile, value-driven approach to building the process,” says Laurent. “We created tickets prior to the event, and then ranked them based on how much value we thought these features would bring to the hack.”

“As a team, we definitely knew what needed to be done and when,” says Tristan. “Early on, this was getting an MVP setup, built and deployed – something we could bank. From there, with the minimal journey of splash screen, to world map, to ‘level one,’ to end screen we could look at what would provide the most value going forward. This approach allowed us to focus on developing new levels and features and as well as go back to tweak smaller aspects, such as the character’s animation on the world map.

“The first level was iterated around four times during the 24 hours as we went back to tweak the appearance, behaviour and journey.”


“We kept track of our progress with a Kanban-ish approach, sticking tickets on the wall and moving them across To Do/Doing/Done column,” adds Laurent. “Getting small tasks throughout the board and see the “Done” column progressively filling up felt great and definitely helped keep our motivation going.”

“We’ve been finalists at Hack Manchester for two years in a row now,” says Charles, “so to actually win was fantastic.”
Sax-Turtles not only received high praise from the client for the quality of their work, but also for their way of working.
Our other team that entered on the day, Mantis Toboggan (Dale Reidy, Mike Mchugh and Matt McCartney), obviously also deserve a huge ‘well done’ for fighting off the sleep deprivation and producing their own seriously good hack.