Competitive programming is scary. Too difficult? Inaccessible? Time-consuming? Above all, it remains a mystery for a lot of programmers who don’t really understand what is is. Two weeks before the launch of the Fantastic Bits competition, it’s time to reveal the true face of competitive programming. Dark arts or light magic?

“I don’t have the time to write a proper algorithm.” 
“I don’t know anything about artificial intelligence.”
“I’m not good enough compared to other participants.”

These are the reasons we usually hear for not participating in one of our coding contests.

They are all irrelevant!
Don’t get me wrong, I understand your feelings.

You cannot spend the entire week coding because of work, family or whatever. True, but most of the other players can’t either. You’re not alone.

Overwhelmed by the complexity of AI? Trust me, if you’re a developer, you can do it. It’s just about writing code that solves a problem. I never implemented specific algorithms during contests and I wasn’t so bad.

Competition scares you? You’re afraid of being compared with other developers? Who cares about who wins and who loses anyway? This is just about the fun of coding.

I think you should participate in the next contest Fantastic Bits. Here’s why:

  1. If you haven’t noticed yet, the theme is inspired from the universe of Harry Potter. Come on, you’re not a muggle. Prepare your wand and broom and get ready to code some magic.
  2. You can easily get past the wood leagues. They have been designed to be easy and get the player accustomed to the game. Don’t worry, it will become more complex, (fantastic) bit by bit. Remember: easy to enter, hard to master!
  3. We’ll stream on our Twitch channel on Monday 29th! We’ll start the contest from scratch and explain what can be done. We did it for The Accountant contest and it was a lot of fun, here’s the video.
  4. There will be CodingHubs! It’s a kind of meetup to code, discuss and have fun around the contest. You can find all the needed information on this public Trello board:

CodingHub list for Fantastic Bits multiplayer programming challenge

If you’re still not convinced, y_kawano, a regular competitor, may inspire you:

Are you a software developer?
Yes, I am a game programmer! Recently, I‘ve been working on smartphone games.

What is your favorite language?
C#! It is easy to debug, so I can quickly make and improve my AIs. I also use it to code tools to visualise and analyse the behaviour of my bot.

Your history on CodinGame is impressive. When and how did you start doing competitive challenges?
I started when I was a student about 10 years ago. The reason I started competition is just for its sheer amount of fun. I’ve also participated in AI competitions in Japan like codeVS and SamurAI Coding and sometimes in TopCoder Marathon Match.

On the other hand, you don’t train on classic puzzles. Is there anything you’d love to see on the platform?
I prefer battling against other programmers, so I’m only playing multiplayer games.
I think it would be fun to code an AI for a game like HearthStone.

– What do you like in competitive programming? Would you recommend it?
I love exciting battles against awesome programmers. The feeling of beating them is just great. Just look at this replay of a Hypersonic battle, isn’t it nice? Try it and you’ll see the fun in coding AIs.

– How do you prepare for competitions?
In order to make a good start, I get a good quality sleep on the day before competitions, and I wake up at 2am (CodinGame contests always start around 2 in the morning in Japan)

– Do you plan on participating in Fantastic Bits?
Of course I will participate! I want to get the 1st place!

Thank you y_kawano!

To conclude, I invite you to read an amazing answer on Quora which illustrates the difference between competitive programming and real life programming. Are you ready to kill the lion in the jungle?