What was the scope of their involvement?
The developer Solidbrain assigned was responsible for the entire backend of the project, which is a mobile-based endless runner game. The frontend mechanics are quite simple, but we needed a leaderboard mechanism on the backend, social sign-in (with Facebook specifically), and some custom sharing options. There is a functionality for checking whether the user is signed in or not, and Solidbrain also came up with a way of submitting a score to the leaderboard in case users are signed in, or otherwise throw an error.
In terms of score submission, since it’s easy to fake API calls from a browser, Solidbrain implemented an extra layer of security involving cryptography and providing a checksum hash in the request, which was then validated on the backend. Rather than ensuring that the app would not be hacked, this ensured that there was no real chance of requests being faked.
They devised different ways to retrieve the leaderboard, including sorting and returning the top results. There is an extra functionality for always including the user’s score in the top 20 positions of the leaderboard, no matter where they were actually positioned.
Solidbrain also created an internal script for exploiting the database’s CSV files. There will be a prize draw after the campaign, and for this, we needed to download the leaderboard and export it into a CSV file so that it could be handed over to the client for the actual draw to happen.
As I mentioned, there is also a bit of custom sharing. Everyone who submits a score to the leaderboard is given an ID for that score, and they can share a unique link to Facebook from which metadata is created and displayed on the platform. Facebook can display some custom copy for the user, showcasing their completion time. Solidbrain took care of all of this.
They developed in the Python Flask framework, specifically for the Google Cloud environment. Solidbrain didn’t truly design anything, but rather followed guidelines and handled implementation.
They joined the project when it was starting, and we didn’t use any other partners for it.
What is the team dynamic?
The overall team size was quite big, at least for our standards in working with freelancers and outsourced vendors. There are 23 members on our Slack channel, all of whom are involved.
In terms of development, we had one backend coder from Solidbrain, as well as a tech lead and 2 frontend developers on our side. We have another backend developer from Solidbrain for another project, but I’m not personally part of it.
We’ve also been in touch with a client manager from Solidbrain’s side, who organized all the paperwork and confirmed whether they could commit to it.
How did you come to work with Solidbrain?
We got to know one of Solidbrain’s developers during a conference in Poland. It was an informal contact, but that person saw one of our advertisements on Facebook saying that we were looking for a backend developer. He proposed that his bosses get in touch with us to see if they could potentially help.
We had the first conversation with him on a Thursday, and the second one was with his bosses the next day. The lead-in time was crazy since we had to start ASAP. Solidbrain seemed professional, and we knew that one developer, which gave us some reassurance. It was a leap of faith as well, but I’m happy we made the choice.
We tried to get in touch with individual freelancers, and there was one other provider based in Romania that we tried to contact. They agreed to take on the project even before we’d gotten in touch with Solidbrain, but they were quite slow to respond. The communication with Solidbrain was really smooth, so we decided to choose them to avoid any potential issues, keeping in mind that we really needed to start the following week.
How much have you invested with them?
The cost was around £50,000 [US $64,757].
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with Solidbrain in July 2017. One of the projects is almost complete, while another is ongoing. It was a very short project, running for 3 weeks including QA [quality assurance].