Forming the team, building the demo

by Stasi Vladimirov Jul 03 2020

Pulse Demo

After some research and consideration, it was time to act. At this point, I had 3 main priorities: contacting CGE, looking for other people to form a team, and building a demo application. Written down, it looks easy and simple to execute, but these tasks were such a critical part of the project that I felt pressured.

The preparation

I had ideas of where to start. Not much experience, though. My strategy was twofold: make sure I was taken seriously, and communicate as directly as possible (using chat instead of emails).

The first part required a few internet searches of myself, to make sure nothing unprofessional or weird popped up. Fortunately, I am not big fan of social media, and the exposure on my work as developer looked OK. Still, I wanted to put an extra effort to update few bits and pieces and to prepare several demos in case someone asked for my experience.

The communication part wasn't as easy. Software developers normally have layers of insulation between them and any end users or investors. Often, project managers are needed to manage communication with the developers themselves. And that's for good reason: we are pretty bad about it. We're just more used to talking with computers, and we actually like it that way. So I took a day to read online on quick and easy ways to improve my communication with humans.

Getting in touch

As mentioned, chat was my preferred communication channel, so I started messaging people in the Through the Ages app, and on Discord, Reddit, Twitter and Facebook. My initial message was in the lines of:

Hi {name},

I am a developer and avid Through the Ages player.
I am building an online competitive platform based on the official app.
I would love to share the concept and get your feedback.
Let me know when you are around.


Some ignored it, some responded they were not interested. There were a few who showed interest, and started a discussion. Overall, I would say that it was a great experience, and we have an awesome community.

The team

I didn't make much progress in finding other people to join me, either. There was some interest (2-3 other developers) without much action. I don't mind putting the majority or all of the development work. Still, to form a functional team, each member should be able to make valuable contributions to the project.

One weekend, I was watching DJParson's stream, and at the end of the stream he raided another streamer: ChessWhiz. I was literally halfway through closing the browser tab, when I heard a catchy tune. I don't remember the track, I left it to play in the background, while switching my focus on something else. And then something amazing happened. A guy started talking. And it was hilariously genius. I switched back to the browser tab and watched the stream. Even though I don't play chess often, I loved it and followed him.

Next week, by some fortunate coincidence, when a notification popped up on my phone, I noticed ChessWhiz was streaming Through the Ages. At the time I didn't know it, but this was the chain that led me to get in touch with WHIZ. He was working on a project for ranking TTA Players using an Elo rating system, derived from matches in async tournaments. They already had the domain, a basic website, as well as a database of competitive players. They were in touch with CGE, and helped them with feedback on the tournament system. That was way more progress than I made so far with my idea.

Long story short, they liked the matchmaker concept and I joined the team to make it happen. It was quickly decided that I would focus my efforts on building an app (the front-end). WHIZ would work on the back-end, and the integration with CGE. Pajada, who also had a developer background, would take care of communications and marketing.

The demo

Finally, it was time to design and code a prototype. To be taken seriously by CGE, we needed to be able to demonstrate how this would work. WHIZ quickly figured out how to create 2-player tournaments through the CGE webpage, entirely programmatically. I designed an app-like interface with elements from the official Through the Ages app, that would work both on desktop and mobile. You can see it in the header of this article. Here it is animated:

Through the Ages Pulse Find Match

Pajada contacted CGE with the demo, and they were impressed. Soon, we received confirmation that they would support our community project. Nice! It took less than a week from the moment we formed the team, to the moment we had the green light to complete it. Awesome demonstration of the power of team work, motivation, and like-minded people.

What's next?

In further articles I will share some of the core concepts, as well as other challenges. Currently we are getting ready for beta testing (more in the next article) and aiming for release in several weeks.

Looking forward to match you Through the Ages!