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AcadArena Dev Blog Update: Tournament Platform Launch

May 21, 2022
Kevin He

Hello, Academy Students!

My name is Kevin, Director of the Academy Innovation Labs.

Today, on behalf of our team, I would like to share a Development Update on our latest feature — the Academy Tournament Platform!

I’ll be talking about what motivated us to create our own Tournament Platform, what we ended up building, and how you’ll be able to use and explore the new feature in the future.

Early Tournament Platform User Flows from our UX Design team.

Research & Development

First, some background. When we first started hosting tournaments, we ran into a simple but annoying problem — how do we host tournaments where we can be sure that all players are students?

There were plenty of tournament platforms available, but the only place where we knew we could validate student status using the criteria we wanted was our AcadArena website.

Our early tournaments had to use a manual verification process that could take up to 30 minutes for students to complete, which we knew was a bad experience.

We knew we couldn’t compromise on student verification because we wanted to maintain competitive integrity for our tournaments, so we were left with one solution — build our own platform!

With a clear solution in mind, we set out with three guiding design pillars for the platform:

  1. The platform must be able to reference our verified Academy Student database
  2. The platform must allow schools to create and organize their own Varsity teams
  3. The features offered must be equal to or better than other tournament platforms

Our UX Design team kicked off the design process in late 2021, guided by our Senior Engineer and resident Tournament expert Jasper.

We knew building our own platform would allow us to reference our student database, so our biggest challenges were figuring out how to create a permission-based Varsity team creation process and figuring out how to bring up our feature set to a competitive level with other platforms.

Today, after months of research and development, the Beta version of the Tournament Platform is live!

Early mockups of the platform’s Varsity Team Creation process.

Beta Platform Features

The live version of the Tournament Platform features several distinct feature sets that set it apart from other Tournament Platforms available.

  1. Built-in Student Verification requirements from the AcadArena main platform
  2. Tournaments can be classified as Varsity or Standard tournaments, with a separate Team Creation process for each
  3. Students can store game ID’s for their most frequently-played games in their Profile, and those ID’s will be viewable in matches to help with lobby creation
  4. Alliance Leaders will be able to use our Tournament Dashboard to create and run their own tournaments for their community

With these improvements, we were able to cut down registration time for tournaments from 30 minutes to less than 5 minutes in internal playtests, which we think is a huge step forwards.

Still, because the platform is still in Beta, we’re planning to develop several additional features — allowing students to join incomplete teams, a way to place opposing teams into the same Discord lobby, and more. If you have any suggestions for how we can improve the Tournament Platform for you or your community, please let us know!

The live Tournament Platform Beta, featuring our May COD:M Aces Tournament Page.

Upcoming Events

Now that the platform is live, we have several major events and milestones planned for the next few weeks, both to stress test the platform and to welcome feedback from students like yourself.

  1. Our ACES monthly tournament series will shift to our new Tournament Platform moving forwards. You can start signing up for May ACES Tournament Series here.
  2. The Groups for the Alliance Games will also shift to our new Tournament Platform, which will allow us to provide better insights and data to our broadcast team.
  3. Lastly, we’ll be selecting a few Alliance schools to test out the Tournament Platform by using it to host their own campus Etrams events. If you’re interested in being a Beta Tester, please reach out to us!

That’s it for our quick development update! This is a work in progress and if you encounter any issues, you can always reach out to us through our Discord.

Thanks for listening, and let us know if you have any other requests for new features or improvements. Our Academy Innovation Lab members are always cooking up new and interesting ideas, so stay tuned for more development updates coming soon!


Kevin & The Academy Innovation Labs


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