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There's method to the (Hack Week) madness

May 22, 2017 in Community | 3 min. read

Since the early days of Unity more than a decade ago, we have had a long-standing tradition of bringing our widely-dispersed engineering organization together in one place for a week of innovation. Hack Week is about exploration, risk-taking, and pushing boundaries to find the extraordinary. Starting today, we once again assemble for Hack Week XII, this time in Nyborg, Denmark about 90 minutes outside of Copenhagen.

Nowadays hackathons are pretty common Why are they so interesting and what makes them so effective? I think it’s because engineers like to solve hard problems, and when you have the freedom to solve a problem without the constraint of also requiring producing quality code then you are able to wield all the know-how and tools at your disposal in effective ways. That’s a fancy way of saying it’s just simply more fun to write code when you can do it in any way you want!

We don’t have a lot of rules, but we do have a few guidelines

People shouldn’t work alone and they shouldn’t work on what they normally work on. It’s not uncommon for people to work on offshoots or evolutions in the same problem space they normally do, but the key here is to try new things, new directions, new approaches.

And with these simple guidelines magic happens. People come together, interact, discuss, discover, create, extend, build, push and learn. Innovation and insight often continues after the week is over, and a solution can even come about via multiple hack weeks. Some of our best features are the result of Hack Weeks: Profiler, WebGL build pipeline/target, IL2CPP and the Progressive Lightmapper are just a few examples.

Hack Week is part of our commitment to delivering a stable, ready-to-use product. It’s one of the ways we prototype stuff before the development and implementation of a specific feature of Unity. It’s not about producing short-term results manifested in specific new features available for download tomorrow. Hack Week is a long-term investment in solving the user’s  real-world problems.

Hack Week is also an investment in our employees. It gives them space to break out, have fun and explore. Pushing yourself the extra 4-5 hours past your normal workday routine all week long gives you that 50% boost you need to punch through difficult problems and make real progress.

You code into the night, hang around and get to know colleagues in a new way that’s impossible through Skype, Slack and email. You run into seemingly impossible problems and challenges and more often than not overcome them. At the end of the week on Friday afternoon, we gather together and check out the results of 4.5 days of inspired hacking. And it never ceases to be amazing.

You always leave feeling invigorated, validated and motivated (and sometimes a bit exhausted  given the fact that our end of week party is rather fun, too). Oh and hey, you get a cool t-shirt, too!

May 22, 2017 in Community | 3 min. read