Are you a programmer, and do you want to win R100 000 for doing that thing you love?

Presuming you love coding, you’ve got the chance to do exactly that in this year’s R100K Challenge, an annual competition put together by Joburg-based software developer Entelect aimed at encouraging South African programmers to face trial by code.

The theme for 2015 is Space Invaders and artificial intelligence, and entrants will need to write a piece of code that guides a little bot through waves of Space Invaders. The autopiloted ship will need to when and how to use the power-ups and weapons that are available.

The coder whose bot lasts the longest before being destroyed, wins. Contestants will square off against one another in a round-robin knockout contest that will culminate in a final that will take place at this year’s Really Awesome Gaming Exhibition (rAge).

2015 marks the fourth year of the R100K Challenge, and it’s open to absolutely anyone. So that it’s fair, the competition has two categories, one for more advanced coders and one for beginners with far less experience; the prize in the advanced category is R100 000, and entrants in the less experienced category will compete for R50 000.

There’s also a category for GUI – Graphical User Interface – design, with a prize of R50 000 up for grabs.

Registration is open right now, and Entelect’s Tim Kroon highly recommends that if you’re interested, to get registered as soon as possible to give yourself enough time to work on your project before the knockout rounds begin.

This year’s contest sees the addition of Sony Mobile to the list of participating partners, and the company will be providing a prizes from their latest Xperia range.

Here’s a quick video Entelect put together to sum up what the challenge is all about:

Putting on a contest like this takes quite a bit of work, as Entelect’s Tim Kroon told us in a brief interview last week.

He told us that this year’s competition took a team of four Entelect staff three to four months of development time to build the tools, define the competition’s specifications and create the website, which they had to do in addition to their day to day duties.

Basically, Entelect has built the foundation, or “the plumbing” as Kroon puts it, which the entrants must use as the basis for their artificial intelligence algorithms. Their final code is then fed into Entelect’s visualiser software, which displays the results on a screen for an audience to watch.

While Kroon says it has been a lot of work, the payoff has been really big; on Friday the 12th of June, the competition’s “Player Portal” went live, which allows entrants to test and compile their code, see what’s breaking and why and ultimately to refine their designs before the competition actually starts.

In previous years, Kroon told us, some entrants would get disqualified for really silly reasons that could have been avoided if they’d had the chance to test their code properly beforehand, which the Player Portal now allows them to do.

This year’s theme of Space Invaders was chosen because the team wanted to tie the competition into something from popular culture that everyone could relate to. Older games are also easier to mod and adapt, plus many of Entelect’s own programmers are big into retro gaming, so the idea just fit.

Kroon says it’s important for developers to register as early as possible, as the process of creating and fine-tuning the code needed to win a challenge like this can be quite labour-intensive. The more time you have to put into your work, the better your chances of making it through to the semi-finals in September, and the final in October at rAge.

We’ll be there to bring you the results.

//Updated 18th June

This article was updated to change references to team entries to individuals. The Entelect rules specifically forbid team entries, although our original piece suggested it was possible to enter as a group. Thanks to Kaitlyn Crawford who spotted that for us.

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.