Inspiration

We were inspired by the classic game, Telephone Pictionary, in which players take turns drawing a picture based on a description or describing a picture based on a drawing. This game is often used as a party game or an icebreaker, so we made it a web application rather than an app to make it more convenient to access.

What it does

Our game allows an arbitrary amount of simultaneous players to play Telephone Pictionary, online! The way Telephone Pictionary works is simple; each player comes up with a starting phrase such as "a bird in the hand is two in the bush" this phrase is then given to the next person, who is responsible for drawing it. That drawing is then passed to a third person who interprets the drawing into a phrase, the cycle continues until it has passed to everyone. Afterwards, the sequence of pictures and phrases can be observed and analyzed to track the evolution of the idea. We also added a new and innovative feature: suggested phrases. These phrases, based on common idioms are generated by our algorithms to introduce a new dimension to the fun.

How we built it

We used a javascript build toolchain involving babel webpack and flow build our code. We used the socket.io library to manage connections between clients and the server. We wrote our server in nodejs and hosted it on the google compute engine. To generate suggested phrases we downloaded a list of common idioms and then used the Princeton WordNet database to identify words similar to ones contained in the idioms and strategically replace and restructure them.

Challenges we ran into

We ran into several challenges with this project. First, we needed to find an architecture that allowed us to maintain connections with many users simultaneously. With regards to phrase generation, one challenge we faced was that WordNet contains many offensive words, so we had to come up with algorithms to filter out those words.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud of the fact that we built a functioning multiplayer crossplatform game, which we believe is as nifty as it is fun.

What we learned

Though our team came in with varying levels of coding experience, we all learned something new through designing this game. None of us had ever designed a multiplayer game, so this required a lot of research and resulted in a lot of trial and error in regards to how server/client architecture works. Half of our team members had never coded in any of the languages used for this project or participated in coding a project for a hackathon. Overall, though we are pleased with our final product, we are equally pleased with the knowledge we accumulated when making it.

What's next for Pix-It-Up

While we already have a complete product, there is still room for expansion along several axes. One such avenue is to add the ability for users to draw in color. Another direction we could take the project would be to use an AI to judge the quality of drawings and descriptions and award points.

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