Back in April, my colleagues and I launched the Rock Paper Azure Challenge. The RPA Challenge is a fun way for developers to gain some familiarity with Windows Azure and possibly win a few prizes along the way. In short, you get to code a “bot” that will play the childhood game of Rock, Paper, Scissors against other contestants’ bots.
Previously, we ran a series of tournaments over 6 weeks in April & May where we gave away an XBox Kinect as the top prize each week. I’m excited to announce that we are upping the ante and hosting a Grand Tournament on July 13, 2011 where there will be over $8500 in prizes at stake, with the top winner taking home $5000 (USD)! Now is the time to get in the game and code your best bot!
It’s easy and FREE to play – check out the website http://rockpaperazure.com for all the details, but be sure to get in before the deadline of July 13th!
If you played in any of our previous tournaments, we have made some changes. First off, we were able to clear some legal red tape and expand the tournament beyond just US Residents! If you are a resident of Canada, the UK, Sweden, New Zealand, Germany, and China, you can now enter the contest.
Next, we’ve changed some of the rules.
Previously, your bot had access to your current opponent’s name. This enabled contestants to write “attack code” against specific bots. In the Grand Tournament, players are now “blind”. What does that mean? It means that your bot will not know the name of the current opponent. While playing, the name of the opponent is a “?” and this is also reflected in the game history and log file.
Why did we do this? We felt it made the game a little more interesting as it focuses on algorithms as opposed to brute force. We’ve created a GT Practice Round that is not blind, so if you wish, you can tinker in this round to get some exposure and fine tune your logic. Of course, playing in the practice round is optional.
Players will break down into heats during the GT. After the round closes, we’ll segment players into a number of heats. The idea is that this creates a ladder approach to get to the top and adds a bit of excitement to see how far up the ladder your bot can go. It also scales nicer, since we’re assuming a higher involvement in the competition.
As I mentioned above, we decided to up the prize ante with more than an XBox. This time, we’re got $5,000 riding on first place! Additionally, what we’ve decided to do is spread out the winnings a bit more so second place receives $1,000, and the next ten players (3rd-12th place) all receive $250.
So, why the prize structure? Well, during an in-person event during our original 6 week competition, we received feedback that it would be too difficult to place in the top 3 to get a prize, much less win the Xbox. We can understand that because, indeed, some of the bots we saw were really phenomenal. What we wanted to do was make it so there were enough prizes to reward “pretty good play” for those are interested in playing a little, but not spending a hundred hours coding a bot.
With the new prize structure plus blind playing, it’s really anyone’s game with a little clever code. We hope you think so, too… and have fun playing! Questions or comments, feel free to ping us via the www.rockpaperazure.com website.