|Carcassone. I play a lot of this at the moment.|
This particular game has gained a wayward pig.
Some challenges are bigger than others. A game of Carcassone can last up to a few hours (sometimes as long as "gone midnight"), but recently I've found myself involved in a couple of much larger events, and having a lot of fun with them.
|This artist's impression of sunrise over Jack & Jill,|
as this artist's camera phone is rubbish in low light!
Here the point was absolutely not to win, it was a team effort and every checkpoint reached was an impressive feat. Having said that, the the team did amazingly well (they completed it!). Acting as support was of course a lot less challenging than walking but I still got a lot out of the overnight experience. If nothing else, it is very rare that I get to watch the sun set, stay up all night talking and drawing and pouring drinks, and then see the sun rise again. I even got to have a nap on a sunny morning on the south downs.
|Early morning at Jack & Jill|
|Mini jelly-babies make good, if not somewhat|
temporary morale boosting team mates!
The challenge problems set are always deeply interesting (this year's can be found at http://icfpc2013.cloudapp.net/), and I find it really refreshing to fully engross myself in a problem for a fixed set of time, knowing that (for those days at least) the rest of the world can be on hold.
What's even better though is that at the end of the competition, I have something I can look back on. My friends and I still discuss previous competitions, what we did, what we could have done differently, laughing about the horrible hacks and stupid tools we wrote in a frenzy to help increase our score. We do try to do well (and usually don't completely embarrass ourselves), but we know we'll never win, and that's OK. The clichéd taking part isn't what counts, but that you come away knowing more about yourself, with more experience to draw on, fun memories to keep, and hopefully interesting stories to tell.
|One of my ICFP Competition traditions is to make some overblown complicated visualiser for the task. |
Usually using some gratuitous and highly dubious technology choices. This was the year of websockets!