As we were researching Trent University and Peterborough before arriving here on Friday night, we saw how much nature plays a big part of this town's image. My teammates and I really wanted to make this evident through our app, which focuses on getting people, especially the youth, more involved into keeping the world clean, and making the Earth a greener and more sustainable one for future generations.

What it does

ScreenClean is a simple single-player mobile game. The goal of the game is for the player to clean up the plot of grass, which has litter all around it. As the player progresses in the game and completes more levels, the number of obstacles present on the field increases, as well as the amount of litter. It is a fun, simple, and subtle way to motivate people to clean up after themselves, and keep their surroundings clean.

How the team built it + Challenges we faced

The way my teammates and I decided to build this app was through Unity, which is a game engine, which allowed us to style and create our application. Since it is our first time at a real Hackathon and our first time creating a game like this, there were a lot of things that we had to learn on the spot. As Unity was a new platform for all of us, it took us quite a while to get used to its features and tools. Familiarizing ourselves with Unity and deciding which methods and functions to use was probably the biggest obstacle our team faced.

First, we created the playing field, where the player icon could move around and collect the trash from the ground. Then, we created the player icon on a separate layer. One of the bigger challenges we faced was setting the border on the map, because otherwise, the player could just move off-grid and off the screen. It took us quite a while to get this to work, but fortunately, we solved this issue. Afterwards, we had to create the obstacles and the collectible trash items. Generating the trash icons in random locations on the map was also another challenge our team faced. Getting the trash to disappear when the user "picks it up" was also quite difficult, but with enough reading and persistence, we were able to accomplish both these things.

Once we finished the initial phase of creating an executable program, the rest was pretty simple. The team and I just had to tweak a few errors, and added some simple features (but with more time, more could definitely be added!) that would make the game a fun one for everyone.

Accomplishments that the Team is proud of

Learning Unity and getting used to it is definitely the accomplishment our team is proud of. We came into this Hackathon planning on creating a simple Javascript application, but we decided to take a risk learning a new platform to make the game more visually appealing and user-engaging. The fact that we were all able to contribute and see this application actually work almost the way we envisioned it is one of our proudest moments so far as new programmers. At every step of the way, just seeing each individual element of our program come to life in our simple game made this experience worthwhile and surely one to remember.

What we learned

Other than the obvious answers of the importance of teamwork and collaboration, our team learned that despite not being the most experienced programmers present at this Hackathon, nor having the flashiest or most exciting program, just learning a new language and creating something simple and fun with it is what these Hackathons are for. This experience motivated us to keep coding, and stay curious to learn more. Being in the same place as many like-minded people inspires us that the future is bright for innovation, and keeps us hungry to keep learning as there is so much that we have yet to figure out in the world of hacking.

What's next for ScreenClean

As what we have finished currently is a rough version, there are many features that we would like to implement in the future. A timed mode, different themes and player icons, and other general user interface features, are some of the ideas that we discussed so far. The implementation of these features would allow a more user-friendly experience and greatly improve the functionality of the game.

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