25 April 2018
Tower Defence, this years’ Entelect Challenge (https://challenge.entelect.co.za/) launches today. The event will run from 25th April, and the finals will take place at Comic Con Africa (www.comicconafrica.co.za) on the 15th September at 11am on the centre stage.
“Each year we look to build the challenge around a popular game theme, and this year is Tower Defence” says Rishal Hurbans, Solutions Architect, Entelect. “The idea behind the theme is not just to make it appealing to those of us who love gaming, but to also provide a game with simple enough rules that anyone with a basic understanding of programming can enter.”
This year, we will again be running with a mini-playoffs series, a staggered strategy component, and the grand final playoff event.
The mini-playoffs series will provide more opportunities for contestants to win. Unlike previous years where contestants submitted their bots to the play-offs in September and then the final 8 competed at the Finals event, the series of mini-playoffs will allow contestants to pitch their bots against other players throughout the year and stand a chance of winning golden tickets to the finals.
There will be 3 mini-playoffs during the year. The first will be in June, known as Codename Renegade and the second in July, called Operation Firestorm. At these playoffs, contestants will be able to pit their bots against one another in a Round-Robin format and possibly win a golden ticket to the finals. The third playoff is Countdown to Zero Hour, this will be a Double-Elimination round to determine six of the eight finalists.
What is particularly exciting, is that the first submission date for Codename Renegade will take the format of a Hackathon. ‘Hurbans’ says details will be announced nearer the time, but in simple terms, contestants will be able to utilize the Hackathon environment to refine their submissions before entering the first Round-Robin event.
“There will be a few small cash prizes up for grabs and a golden ticket to the finals at ComicCon Africa, however, no one will be eliminated in these sessions.” Explains Hurbans.
The phases are designed to help contestants see how their bot is fairing. After each playoff event, a new strategy component will be launched, for example, the ability to introduce weapons or cloaking devices. Thereby upping the competition by adding in more bot strategies.
As before the Player Portal will be available to contestants to test their bots, and the community forum for contestants to chat about their builds and discuss ideas. However, Entelect are adding a webinar series to the competition period too.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is that competing successfully in the Entelect Challenge is not about having the smartest, most supersonic bot. It is actually all about player strategies. Your bot may be really simple in design, but its strategy could be highly effective. The collaboration between the community also makes for an amazing experience” Explains Hurbans.
Prize money for this years’ event is R200 000 which will be divided across the mini-playoffs series and finals, with the biggest component awarded at the Finals at Comic Con Africa. First prize will be R70 000, R35 000 will go to second place, third and fourth place receive “R25 000”, and fifth to eight place receive “R10 000”.
Entelect run the Challenge every year as a fun way to bring the software community together, but also to demystify the world of coding and AI. “We want as many people to enter this competition as possible and discover a whole new world of machine learning and AI,” says Hurbans.
Machine learning is a term that is often used interchangeably with AI but they are actually very different. Machine learning is a type of AI that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed by focusing on the development of computer programs that can change when exposed to new data. By comparison, AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems.
While AI is seeing an exciting growth, Machine Learning is all around us and changing the way we live and work. There is no doubt that jobs of the future will rely on Machine Learning to a greater or lesser extent.
The Entelect challenge shouldn’t be viewed as something that only super coding geeks can enter. This competition is designed for anyone with a basic level of programming who is interested in the world of machine learning and the future of software.
This year we expect a wide variety of people from different backgrounds to enter which is going to make the player strategies really exciting. Who could win is anyone’s guess.