Fear and Screaming at the London Python Dojo

There were sounds of fear and screaming courtesy of Team 1 at the Dojo last night, hosted as ever at Fry IT offices in Southwark — an area whose eclectic mixture of shiningly-new and uncertainly-old architecture I continue to enjoy. We kicked off with the idea, promoted by Bruce (aka @otfrom), of producing the basis of a game to which other London-based Dojos could submit bots. Nicholas (@ntoll) had tweaked an existing PyGame-based game and proposed specific “Dojo Quests” for each team to work on independently.

Which was fine, except for two things. the sheer number of people — just below 30, a record I think, and leaving people perched on tables or even on the floor for want of chairs; and the relative complexity of the code. Very much to its credit, the modules were well-structured, consistently named and fairly well laid-out. But there were layers of complexity in there which meant that, in less than 90 minutes, certain of the teams were struggling to understand enough to start the task, let alone complete it. Including ours.

Fortunately — and with the help of Rene (@renedudfield) — most teams managed to get at least something to show in the “show & tell” session at the end. I think Nicholas was relieved that it came off as well as it did: we’d had a previous bad experience in trying to get to grips with an existing library in the course of a Dojo. Team 1’s Dojo Quest involved adding music & sound effects, which they did with gusto. The end result was a character wandering around a rural landscape with randomly-generated screams and cries of fear filling the air. Never has a walk in a forest been so terrifying.

In addition to helping out generally, Rene also generously provided a bunch of game controllers. And O’Reilly continued their “sponsorship” of the Dojo by providing their XMPP title for our customary raffle… which I won! (The idea is to use XMPP to connect these hypothetical Dojo-generated gamebots).

It was great to see so many people, although it does pretty much illustrate the physical limitations of our venue. I enjoyed it as always, and people I chatted to afterwards did, too. Looking forward to next month.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that we *really* kicked off with a truly lightning talk from Tom (@tomviner) showcasing Michael Foord’s recent e and oo modules.

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