Scurry: A Race-To-Finish Scavenger Hunt App

During our recent Pointless Weekend, we built a scavenger hunt game with trivia and photo challenges.

We have a lot of traditions here at Viget, many of which you may have read about - TTT, FLF, Pointless Weekend. There are others, but you have to be an insider for more information on those.

Pointless Weekend is one of our favorite traditions, though. It’s been around over a decade and some pretty fun work has come out of it over the years, like Storyboard, Baby Bookie, and Short Order. At a high level, we take 48 hours to build a tool, experiment, or stunt as a team, across all four of our offices. These projects are entirely separate from our client work and we use them to try out new technologies, explore roles on the team, and stress-test our processes.

The first step for a Pointless Weekend is assembling the teams. We had two teams this year, with a record number of participants. You can read about TrailBuddy, what the other team built, here.

The Scurry team was split between the DC and Durham offices, so all meetings were held via Hangout.

Once we were assembled, we set out to understand the constraints and the goals of our Pointless Project. We went into this weekend with an extra pep in our step, as we were determined to build something for the upcoming Viget 20th anniversary TTT this summer. Here’s what we knew we wanted:

  1. An activity all Vigets could do together, where they could create memories, and share broadly on social
  2. Something that we could use in a spotty network at C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado
  3. A product we can share with others: corporate groups, families and friends, schools, bachelor/ette parties

We landed on a scavenger hunt native app, which we named Scurry (Scavenger + Hurry = Scurry. Brilliant, right?). There are already a few scavenger apps available, so we set out to create something that was

  • Quick and easy to set up hunts
  • Free and intuitive for users
  • A nice combination of trivia and activities
  • Social! We wanted to enable teams to share photos and progress

One of the main reasons we have Pointless Weekends is to test out new technologies and processes. In that vein, we tried out Notion as our central organizing tool - we used it for user journeys, data modeling, and even writing tickets, which we typically use Github for.

We tested out Notion as our primary tool, writing tickets and tracking progress.

When we built the app, we needed to prepare for spotty network service, as internet connectivity isn’t guaranteed at C Lazy U Ranch – where our Viget20 celebration will be. A Progressive Web Application (PWA) didn't make sense for our tech requirements, so we chose the route of creating a native application.

There are a number of options available to build native applications. But, as we were looking to make as much progress as possible in 48-hours, we chose one of our favorite frameworks: React Native. React Native allows developers to build true, cross-platform native applications, using some of our favorite technologies: javascript, the React framework, and a native-specific variant of CSS. We decided on the turn-key solution Expo. Expo has extra tooling allowing for easy development, deployment, and debugging.

This is a snap shot of our app and Expo.

Our frontend developers were able to immediately dive in making screens and styling components, and quickly made the mockups in Whimsical a reality.

On the backend, we used the supported library to connect to the backend datastore, Firebase. Firebase is a hosted solution for data storage, with key features built-in like authentication, realtime updates, and offline support. Our backend developer worked behind the frontend developers hooking those views up to live data.

Both of these tools, Expo and Firebase, were easy to use and allowed us to focus on building a working application quickly, rather than being mired in setup or bespoke solutions to common problems.

Whimsical is one of our favorite tools for building out mockups of an app.

We made impressive progress in our 48-hour sprint, but there’s still some work to do. We have some additional features we hope to add before TTT, which will require additional testing and refining. For now, stay tuned and sign up for our newsletter. We’ll be sure to share when Scurry is ready for the world!

BethAnne Dorn

BethAnne is a digital strategist in our Durham, NC, office. She loves deep conversations with clients, well-designed digital products, and Durham sunsets.

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