CodeCombat in Y Combinator

Originally posted on the CodeCombat blog.

What a crazy weekend! We launched our beta on Friday morning by posting to a few subreddits hoping to pick up a few more interested users who could play through our levels as we started to release new ones with the level editor we just finished. But we were not prepared for how many people would come check it out. We stayed #1 on all three subreddits for over a day, amassing 1466 points, 384 comments, and far too many players for our real-time multiplayer server to handle (forcing us to shut off the multiplayer and all server code synchronization). And that’s all before we were crushed the next day by what appeared to our beleaguered Scott as all of Brazil, or at least every Brazilian on Facebook. (Olá!)

With all the chaos trying to keep the server up and the bugs down, we slept little and prepared for the next day’s Startup School even less. We had been tapped for on-stage Y Combinator office hours with Paul Graham and Sam Altman. We watched a video of previous on-stage YC office hours and concluded that “office hours” really meant “eight minutes of two of the smartest startup guys in the world demolishing your idea in front of 1700 entrepreneurs and a live video stream”.

See the video. Fortunately for us, they liked our startup and were much nicer than we expected. In fact, as we were walking off stage thinking, “Hey, that went well—maybe we’ll get an interview!”—then Paul whispered something to Sam, who nodded, and they called us back.


"Okay guys. Wait, wait, come back! Come back for a second. You didn’t realize that, but that was your Y Combinator interview. You’re in the next batch."

And the crowd went wild…

George and I excitedly high-fived and began our flabbergasted victory dance slightly before we actually got off stage. We couldn’t believe it; it had never happened before that they had decided to convert an office hour session into a YC acceptance on the spot. So now we’re the first W14 YC company.

Then some more crazy stuff happened that night, and even more today, but enough about us. What does this mean for you, lovely CodeCombat player?

Right now, the server is back up and DNS is almost working again, but all multiplayer and code persistence is off. We’ll re-enable that as soon as we can scale it up again. Update: both features are back now Update: oops, off again thanks to Hacker News. "Aaargh" - our server. Update: back now on AWS, one week later. We’ve also disabled Molotov Medic and a few of the dev levels we had until some bugs you found can be fixed.

In the coming weeks, we’re going to fix all of the bugs and playtesting problems you all reported via reddit, Olark, email, Twitter, Facebook, Hacker News, and just talking to us at Startup School. We’re also going to try to get those old levels fixed and some new ones made.

Soon after, we hope to have the level editor documented, UX-tested, and ready for action. (You can play with it right now, but you can’t save, and it will be hard to understand what to do.)

We heard from dozens of developers this weekend who want to help with the project, and we love that! We are hoping to open source everything just as soon as we can, unless someone with mighty wisdom can explain why it’s a bad idea. To us, openness seems completely good, and we know we can’t make CodeCombat into the amazing, world-changing programming game that we want to make without your help. Thank you!


Hacking on CodeCombat, a multiplayer programming game for learning to code. Mastermind behind Skritter, the most powerful Chinese character learning app.

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