Inspiration

We wanted to create a multiplayer game that would allow anyone to join and participate freely. We couldn't decide on what platform to build for, so we got the idea to create a game that is so platform independent we could call it platform transcendent.. Since the game is played through email and sms, it can be played on any internet-enabled device, regardless of operating system, age, or capability. You could even participate through a public computer in a library, removing the need to own a device altogether!

What it does

The game allows user-created scavenger hunts to be uploaded to the server. Then other users can join by emailing the relevant email address or texting commands to our phone number. The user will then be sent instructions on how to play and updates as the game goes on.

How I built it

We have a Microsoft Azure server backend that implements the Twilio and SendGrid APIs. All of our code is written in python. When you send us a text or email, Twilio and SendGrid notify our server which processes the data, updates the server-side persistent records, and replies to the user with new information.

Challenges I ran into

While sending emails is very straightforward with SendGrid and Twilio works well both for inbound and outbound texts, setting up inbound email turned out to be very difficult due to the need to update the mx registry, which takes a long time to propagate. Also debugging all of the game logic.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

It works! We have a sample game set-up and you could potentially win $5 Amazon Gift Cards!

What I learned

Working with servers is a lot of work! Debugging code on a computer that you don't have direct access to can be quite a hassle.

What's next for MailTrail

We want to improve and emphasize the ability for users to create their own scavenger hunts.

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