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DevSpeak: What the Hack is a Hackathon?

DevSpeak: What the Hack is a Hackathon?

Here at Gala… and throughout any part of the tech world, we sometimes forget that the language we use in the course of business is… well, definitely not how normal people talk. We’ve come to terms with this on a personal level, but we want to make sure that nothing ever gets lost in translation with our community

It’s not embarrassing to not know things. In fact, it’s quite normal! We want to help break down some basic jargon and concepts that are thrown around in the development world in this new series.  Welcome to DevSpeak!

A lot of concepts may be oversimplified here, but this is just some basic information to get everybody without a technical background some basic knowledge. Enjoy!

With our registration open for the March 20-21 GalaThon event during GDC, we’ve been talking a lot about hackathons this week! We suspect that there are quite a few people out there who smile and nod when that phrase comes up without really understanding what it means.

That’s OK! Not everyone is a developer or knows their jargon. Today we’re going to go over the basics of hackathons for those who may not have ever participated in one… or even heard the word before!

Hackathon Defined

A hackathon, in its most basic sense, is an event where developers and enthusiasts can gather for collaborative programming. This is an idea born out of the open source community, with decades of nuanced culture and variations.

While collaborative work has existed since long before the computer era, the first event called a “hackathon”, is typically agreed upon as the OpenBSD Hackathon in Calgary, June 4th, 1999. This was a semi-spontaneous gathering of 10 developers all working towards the goal of creating a program that would allow two devices to communicate with each other using an infrared port.

This right away set one of the standard cultural norms for hackathons – that there would be specific goals and parameters that participants were working towards. Often this takes the form of building up a particular piece of software or building tools to accomplish a specific task. In the case of our upcoming hackathon, the parameters are to build on GalaChain using the recently released SDK

Bigger and Better

As the idea of hackathons grew into the mainstream, an entire culture sprang up around them. More and more hackathons saw amazing results from their unbridled creative collaboration, more and more hackathons popped up. Now there is a robust circuit of hackathons happening all year long all over the world.

While in-person hackathons are still widely held, remote tools have allowed even more people to enjoy these short development sprints, leading to more innovation across the world of hackathons!

We’ve put together an amazing prize pool with a total value of $1m for our upcoming GalaChain Hackathon. This is a frequent feature of major hackathons in the modern day. 

While not every hackathon goes as overboard on the prizes as we did, it’s pretty normal to see multiple awards with prizes at the end of development. These prizes will usually be decided by a panel of judges after reviewing the work from each team versus the criteria of the hackathon and the requirements of each prize.

Why Hack?

While prizes are cool, they’re not the biggest reason that people usually want to jump in and participate in a hackathon. Don’t get us wrong, there are some serious devs out there who are professionals on the hack circuit winning prize after prize… but there we see the real reason that a hackathon is an amazing experience. Getting to work with people like that.

The development world is not a place where you go to school, know everything, then stop learning. Tech is changing all the time, and hands-on experience is a huge advantage to both veteran and novice developers. Self-taught devs often hone their skills at hackathons, and those with the benefit of a development education get priceless real-world experience.

Sometimes hackathons are a great way to try out brand new systems and tech (GalaChain anyone!!!), sometimes it’s just an opportunity to work alongside devs who may have more or just different experience than you. A fresh perspective is often where the best innovations start.

Often in hackathons, people will be open to new teammates for their project as well. This is a great opportunity to get in and network – meet new people with obviously shared interests and maybe find future collaborators and fellow hackers.

Last, it’s just plain fun! Development is work for a lot of people. Hackathons represent a chance to actually get out and do something you love without long-term metrics and bottom lines to worry about. At a hackathon, you can build things that never would be built by a company and you may not have time for as a hobby. Creative development and building for the sake of building can truly flourish!

Come One, Come All!

Don’t take our word for it though! If you’re even remotely interested in development and coding, a hackathon is the time to take that passion to the next level! Anyone can join!

A hackathon is a free way to get in and get your hands dirty in the industry. Most hackathons will welcome amateurs, and will provide robust documentation so that anyone can come in and learn!
Even if you don’t win in a hackathon, there’s no way to lose. No one’s efforts “aren’t good enough”. The only way to fail is to not try!

If you want to give it a go, join us on March 20th!

GalaChain SDK: “The Price Perspective”

GalaChain SDK: “The Price Perspective”

Just a short time ago we announced the initial public release of GalaChain’s Software Development Kit (SDK), giving developers everything they need to build on our L1 blockchain. Shortly after, we announced the initial release of the Gala Creator Portal, a user-friendly interface to guide developers through the process of creation, even allowing them to manage their collections and ecosystems.

Our live games are already using the Creator Portal to power up their games and manage web3 features like rewards, transactions, minting of NFTs and much more. Gala Music used the Creator Portal to build a self-service artist interface that allows musicians to submit and upload their content with no barriers. So many new projects are on their way to GalaChain that we can almost feel the earth shaking with their approach.

Today we’re sharing some of what we like to call “The Price Perspective,” courtesy of Archmage Adam Price, the fearless leader of our GalaChain team, and brave emcee of our company all-hands meetings. This guy knows blockchain, and we’ve been honored with his presence and expertise since the inception of Gala Games. So let’s get started.

Q&A with Adam Price

What is holding the mainstream public back in adoption of blockchain technology, and how is Gala prepared to solve those challenges?

I think there is going to be a tipping point in the near future. The mainstream public doesn’t really get the point of blockchain technology. And it isn’t helped by the fact that any attempt to learn more about it is met with either complicated technical jargon or the latest pump and dump meme coin. With the massive expansion of subscription based centralized web2 services and platforms, we are beginning to see it more and more. You don’t own what you pay for anymore. It can be taken from you at any time. You are being given permission to access that content for just as long as the overlords allow it. So to me, the only thing the general public really needs to know about blockchain technology is that you as a consumer are finally in control again. You and only you control what happens to the content you own.

Building easy to use apps, decreasing friction to adoption and making things secure for all is just an implementation detail and will improve with time.

Even in 2024, the word “blockchain” tends to repel the average developer. What is it that makes GalaChain more enticing to developers than other blockchains?

Most existing blockchain technology has an exceedingly steep learning curve. But GalaChain allows you to write smart contracts in TypeScript, a programming language that is much more familiar to the modern developer. TypeScript is descended from JavaScript, which is practically mandatory for modern web application development and continues to be the most used programming language for eleven years running. Compared to something like Solidity (for Ethereum smart contracts) or Rust (for Solana smart contracts), there are MANY more developers that know and are comfortable with TypeScript. StackOverflow’s 2023 Developer Survey shows this very clearly. JavaScript is the most commonly used language with 63% of respondents using it; TypeScript is in 5th place with 38%. Rust is at 13% and Solidity at 1.3%. 

Our mission with GalaChain is to make this empowering web3 technology more accessible to all software developers. The more people building on the technology, the better for everyone.

Those of us who have been with Gala for a while know that “interoperability” is one of your favorite words. Care to tell us why?

Interoperability is the idea that technology, software or even entire products can work together, usually in synergistic ways. Interoperability is enabled by Standards. By establishing an explicit method of doing something or presenting a specific agreed upon interface for interaction, things tend to “Just Work” together, enabling more comprehensive possibilities. 

A great example of the power of standards and interoperability in web3 are token standards such as ERC-20 and ERC-1155. Because they were adopted by the community as a whole, fungible and non fungible tokens are now a feature that any blockchain software can interoperate with and rely on. The modern web3 ecosystem would look very different without these standards. Even something as simple as a wallet that shows multiple tokens in a consistent way wouldn’t be possible.

Promoting and enabling interoperability and standards is how we all power up and achieve bigger and bigger goals because it isn’t possible to do as just one developer or one team. A rising tide lifts all boats!

Why is the GalaChain SDK so important for Gala?

This release of the GalaChain SDK marks the first time that truly anyone can begin building on GalaChain. No strings attached. It is the culmination of over 20 developer years of work that we’re making available to the world so they can build the next generation of kick ass blockchain tech. The GalaChain SDK contains everything you need in one easy to use package. Documentation, tools, an entire running instance of the chain itself. It works on every mainstream platform and offers a highly ergonomic developer experience with features like hot reloading so you can build and test on chain features quickly and easily. GalaChain is open for business!

Gala appears to become more decentralized with each update. How do you strike a balance between the chaotic freedom of total decentralization and the rigid control of a centralized core company?

I imagine it’s something like parenthood! You spend the formative years doing the best job you can to prepare what you’ve created for the “real world.” Before you know it, you aren’t in control anymore! You can try to provide advice or shepherd things in a certain direction, but you don’t have any direct authority. It will have its own life and make its own decisions and experiences. It’s frightening and stressful. But hugely rewarding, satisfying and exhilarating. Ultimately, all you can do is your best to set it up for success.

What are some developer resources that you haven’t been able to provide in the SDK but plan to in the future at some point?

Currently, the GalaChain SDK comes with everything you need to develop a GalaChain Smart Contract or a GalaChain integrated application, but the examples are pretty basic. In the future, I would like to provide many, many more examples of advanced capabilities that can be offered as part of the SDK. This would allow GalaChain developers to mix and match or build on those advanced capabilities to achieve bigger and better things.

Picturing a future with hundreds (or maybe thousands) of projects built within the Gala ecosystem by external developers, what is the plan for providing support?

We need you! While we are more than happy to spend time fostering this first wave of GalaChain early adopters, the real mark of success will be when the open GalaChain developer ecosystem itself is the primary means of getting support for developing on GalaChain. We have a GalaChain discord with over 400 members but I could see that growing to many thousands more, and becoming the hub of GalaChain development. With open source projects to learn from, seasoned GalaChain developers to bounce ideas off of and a robust SDK with all of the tools you need to get started in a familiar language and easy to use package, GalaChain Discord is the place to be. 

Using the SDK, will external developers be able to build their own node networks that produce their own tokens within the GalaChain ecosystem?

Yes! Although not fully enabled by this first release of the GalaChain SDK, I do see this being possible in the future. No, I won’t say WEN! 

What’s your favorite Gala game and why?

It has to be Common Ground World. I spent a lot of my early time at Gala working on the game. We were a small, scrappy team trying to do something that hadn’t ever been done before. When I look at it now, it’s almost unrecognizable. It looks and feels and plays SO GOOD. The CGW team has really done an amazing job with their stewardship in the intervening months and years.

Finally, there are rumors that your workspace is actually a mage tower located somewhere in the enchanted beyond. Can you tell us more about that?

Actually, due to the magical security measures built into the structure itself, even I am not capable of d̵i̴v̵u̷l̶g̴i̷n̸g̶ ̷i̴t̵s̸ ̷s̴e̷c̴r̷e̶t̸s̵. 

Any attempts to elaborate further about its m̶̦̊̔a̵̙̾g̷͍̍͆i̵̯̞̾c̸̮͒a̶͔͊l̸̮͛̂ ̴̲̮̀̇s̸̼̩̈́̇y̶̩͌s̶̛͑ͅt̵̘̫̅è̴̺m̸͕͆̊s̷͔͂̅ 

will be prevented 

b̵͖͆̍̔̈́̓̃̃̎͝ÿ̴̱͖̞̝̦́͂ ̴̙̰̯͇̩̠͍̟̠̉͠t̷̡͉̼͊̓͒̿̿͗͝͠͝ḫ̸̛̞̾̎̐̕è̵͖͐ f̷̛͇̝̣̭̰͇̫̺̟̈̒̎̓̈́̊̃̀̓̓̌̅͝͝͝ͅḁ̸̢̮̠̥̠̽̈́͗͂̽̾̈́̈̒̿̓̓̾̈́͝͝ͅḇ̷̫͈͌̿̀̍̉ṟ̵̢̮̖̦̠̯̒͂͛̌̋̓̍̒̑̉͗͂͜į̶̱̺͓͉̳̃̿̅̿̈́̏̐̍̌̇̀͛͝c̴̨̳̖̮͓͔̱͈̼͉͂̄̋͘͜ ̴̢̢̺̻͈̽͋̔̎͋̈́̓̐̓͗̈́̊̕͘̕̚o̸̡͚̹̣̭̯̠͔̐̊̔̃̓̔͝f̶̧̨̩̩̓͌̈́̾͗̓̊͝ ̶̨̠̩̝̾̌ř̴̛̻̩̟̓̓̈́̇̈́̓̀͛̈̆̿̿̚̕͠ę̶̢̢̜̱͇̰̜͉̖͓̱͈̀̓͋̔̃̊̊̿̀͐́̈́̀͂͜͝a̶̢̭̖͉̜̺̪͆̿̾͂̄̕l̷̦̝͔̀̐̉͋̈̄̿̒̊́̓̌̋͊̒i̷̡̡̗͇̟̣̘̪͊͗͂͋͊͘͜t̸̡̺̙̤͓͍͓̤̀͂̑̃̋͂̇́̚͜y̶̨̼̰͕̖͊̄̈́̌̅͛̓͋́̆͒͋̀ ̴͕̻̲̓̐̓i̵̤͖̻̦̤͎̣͔͖̻̻͕̠̜̺̫͙̎̑͂́͛̈́̎̄́̏̂̐̅̉̑͒̕ẗ̷̳͎̖̠͕͇̟̪̗̜͔̫͓̯͕́̽̎̆̿̓̽̎̉̉̏s̵̨̨͕͕̜̺̹̙̪͇̜̋̂̈́̓͒́́͠ė̴̜͉̘̟̬̆̾̓̎̄̎́͛̾̅̐̚l̵̮̩͙̟̻̓̽̌̂͂̑͌f̶̺̜̼̬̖͚̟͑́͛͗̌̊̊̊̓́͊͝͝.