Creative Days 2014 Recap


Creative Days 2014

On August 21st and 22nd, our team took a break from client work and diverted our energies to Barrel Creative Days, our annual two-day hackathon (here’s what happened in 2012 and 2013). Split into six teams, we built functional prototypes of games, apps and and even took a stab at home decor.

For the third year in a row, we broke into teams and embarked on a 2-day hackathon.
Each team donned their logo-emblazoned t-shirts for the occasion.

After two intense days of designing, coding, and refining, we presented our results to each other. Here’s a recap of what each team built:

Modal Citizen: “Sketchy”

Cindy Leong, Gary To, Jessica Su, Scott Polhemus


Sketchy is a collaborative drawing app with some neat twists. Users are prompted to draw weird and wonderful randomly selected scenarios–for example: a lazy robot or a doughnut in disguise. Apparently not a sentimental app, Sketchy then subjects each work of art to a cataclysmic fate, from sea monster inking to alien abduction brought to you by CSS animations and SVG vector graphics. A Wall of Fame lets users see each other’s masterpieces. A small back-end service on Node.js using Restify and socket.IO lets users save their submissions and keeps all the views up-to-date so you can sketch with friends in real time.


TEAM: “Thingy”

Ben Godfrey, Leslie Ye, Max Rolon, Sylvia Gacek, Yvonne Weng


Barrel used to have regular visits from Sidney, one of our founder’s dogs, but these days we don’t see much of him. TEAM aimed to fill the puppy-shaped hole in our hearts with Thingy, a virtual pet for the Barrel office.


Barrelers can feed, clean, and play with Thingy to gain points and unlock new backgrounds and features, but beware–neglect Thingy and he’ll meet an unfortunate fate. Thingy was built using Backbone.js as a JavaScript framework and CSS animations. TEAM’s two developers, Max and Ben, used modular design so files were not being simultaneously updated and a Git repository to share work. Thingy was designed to cycle through a limited number of levels per day, so Grunt was used to speed up the process during testing.

Kwaba Squad: “Kwabaverse”

Angel Ng, Angela Hum, Betty Chan, Kevin Kneifel, Wesley Turner-Harris


Kwaba Squad went all out in creating a world for their theme, the adorable creatures they named the Kwabas. The mythical land of Wabak is the setting of this Tamagotchi-like game, which you can play on your phone or desktop, alone or with friends.


Users are randomly assigned one of five Kwabas–each inspired by a member of the team–and must feed, clean, and take care of it to help it level up and grow strong. Both Kwaba Squad and TEAM realized towards the end of Day 1 that they were working on very similar ideas. Kwabaverse is a Node.js web-app built using Express 4, MongoDB, and Backbone. Web-sockets were implemented using the popular Socket.IO engine, allowing your personal Kwaba to follow you across multiple devices. The Kwaba Squad used the Snap SVG library to show an animated Kwaba metamorphosize from baby to adult.

Hatch and play with your own Kwaba here.

Kwaba Collage

Team-I.S.H.: “Thrift”

Diane Wang, Marianne Do, Crystal Ellis, Shayra Kamal, Lucas Ballasy, Jenna Steckel

Team-I.S.H. delivered on the ’90s hope for the Internet as an “information superhighway” with Thrift, an app to let Barrelers, as the tagline says, “buy, sell, borrow, and lend all the things.”

Thrift Landing Page

In minimalist red, with a ’90s digital-inspired font and modern icons, Thrift is Craigslist with a facelift. Users can post pictures, haggle over prices, request items they want to borrow, and share the stories of the items they’re selling–including the history of some of the curiosities populating the Barrel office. However, on a technical level, Thrift is worlds away from the ’90s. It’s built on Ruby on Rails, using the CarrierWave gem for file uploads, and the MailForm gem for sending emails.



Peace Fingers: “Alley Kat App Races”

Andrea Horne, Aretha Choi, Jenn Roman, Zack Lerner, Ray Masaki, Nathan Hackley

Peace Fingers took to the streets with their bicycle racing mobile app. AKA Races, focusing on the Williamsburg Bridge, uses your GPS coordinates to find other riders nearby and allows you to challenge them to a race, measuring your time, top speed and average miles per hour.

AKA characters

AKARaces is a native iOS app built with Phonegap, a JavaScript framework that gives the app access to all of the native features of the iPhone (camera, accelerometer, etc) and packages code in a format that can be installed on iOS, Android, etc. Within Phonegap, Peace Fingers created an Angular.js app that hooks into the phone’s geolocation API to record users’ current position and speed as they race across the bridge. The app is powered by a Node API that saves user profile info and race data to a MongoDB instance, which are hosted on Heroku and, respectively.

AKA Races Phone Screens

3bps: “Himmeli Lights”

Peter Kang, Sei-Wook Kim, Boram Kim

The Himmeli Lights website is a fully functional e-commerce site built on Shopify.
The Himmeli Lights website is a fully functional e-commerce site built on Shopify.

Team 3bps decided to go (partially) analog for Creative Days, building a trio of handcrafted hanging lights with an e-commerce business venture. Through several iterations (and one trip to Red Hook for supplies and lobster rolls!), the members of 3bps discovered a few things:

  • Iterate, iterate, iterate.
  • Don’t skimp on materials. You get what you pay for.
  • Hackathons don’t always mean digital.
3bps Himmeli Lights

Check out 3bps’ handiwork on their Shopify site.

To see more images from our Creative Days, check out our Tumblr created for the occasion.

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