18 February 2015, by Jiang Yingxin
Last summer, our training interns built a website for running Battleships tournaments. It allows players to upload a bot, which the website then runs against all the other uploaded bots to generate a league table.
The idea was inspired by a tournament we ran a couple years ago. Since then, we’ve asked new starters to write a Battleships bot as a training exercise, but this year, we decided to take the idea a step further and also write a website we could use to run the tournament! The first group of 6 training interns – most of whom had very little experience of programming before they got here – started with just one week of introductory exercises, and over the next couple of weeks wrote the website from scratch. By their final week they had completed enough functionality to run their own tournament, and even had time to add some creative touches – such as an animated gif of a battleship firing cannons as the “loading spinner” image while the match was running. The intern whose ship emerged the victor and took home the coveted prize of … a little T-Rex plushie!
The next group of five interns was faced with the perhaps even more daunting task of picking up where the others left off. They fixed some bugs, improved the efficiency of the league runner, and polished the user interface. The finished product is still being used to run bots written by new starters!