Take the Rock Paper Azure Challenge!

I’m excited to announce the launch today of the Rock Paper Azure Challenge!


For the past couple of months, I’ve been working with Jim O’Neil and Brian Hitney on a new Windows Azure event/game called Rock, Paper, Azure. The concept is this: you code a “bot” that plays rock, paper, scissors against the other players in the game. Simple, right?

Here’s where it gets interesting. Rock, paper, scissors by itself isn’t all that interesting (after all, you can’t really beat random in a computer game – assuming you can figure out a good random generator!), so there are two additional moves in the game. The first is dynamite, which beats rock, paper, and scissors. Sounds very powerful – and it is – however, you only have a few per match so you need to decide when to use them. The other move is a water balloon. The water balloon beats dynamite, but it loses to everything else. You have unlimited water balloons.

Now, with the additional rules, it becomes a challenge to craft an effective strategy!  On the contest site, we have a live Leaderboard showing where all the bots stand.  We do what we call “continuous integration” on the leaderboard – as soon as your bot enters, it’s an all out slugfest and you see where you are in near real time.  It’s an exciting battle of wits as you race to out think the other players and constantly update your bot to defeat the others!

azureLogoThe game has been in test mode for a week now, but starting today, April 5th 2011, the official contest period starts. We’ll be running weekly tournaments where we’ve got some great prizes on the line – including Xbox systems, Kinect, and gift cards – so be sure to check it out!

The project homepage is here: http://www.rockpaperazure.com

What’s the tie-in with Windows Azure?  The concept & original code for the bot competition contest came from an open source project started by Aaron Jensen. It was originally designed to run on a laptop for in-person coding competition at events like code camps. My teammate, Brian Hitney, came up with the idea of running it as an online competition.  Would the contest attract a few folks?  Or go viral and have lots of users?   Who knows?  That’s why we figured Windows Azure and the on-demand nature of the cloud would be a natural fit!

Now, no secrets here, Jim, Brian, and I are Windows Azure evangelists at Microsoft. As part of our job of educating folks, we wanted to give folks an opportunity to get more familiar with Windows Azure. As part of the contest, you will get to deploy your bot to Windows Azure for entry into the competition.  We will also feature some “behind the code” type blog posts in the coming weeks over on the US Cloud Connection blog explaining how the game code was adapter to run in Windows Azure!

See you in the game!