Improve the Quality of Breaks With Kafka

The Startup
Published in
7 min readAug 26, 2020

Who is the best? To answer this question once and for all we created a tool with which we can track scores, rankings, and statistics. Why you might ask, it is simple, playing kicker, foosball or töggele is in our DNA. So is creating awesome tools with awesome components.

by Julian Stampfli

SPOUDIES playing Töggele on the Retreat of November 2019

Who does not like breaks? I do like them. One could say that I love them. There does not one day go by in our office when we don’t go to the töggelikasten to play a game. Even more so, I like them so much that I convinced the guys at Confluent that it makes perfect sense to talk about breaks together with Kafka at the KafkaSummit.

What is that game, you ask? It is famously played all around Europe and also (maybe even especially) in Switzerland. In essence, it is a fast-paced, semi-competitive, 2v2 game that crudely imitates football (ehrm, soccer). It is aptly named foosball or table soccer, depending on who you ask, and in swiss german, it is called töggele (from the noun töggel, which means figurine).

However, playing such a game very often leads to some inconveniences.

Firstly, people tend to have a favorite position, either defense or offense. The issue starts when more than two players have a strong preference for one spot because they need to agree who plays in what place. The second issue is when the skill level is vastly different. Thus fair teambuilding is hard for people. It turns out this is a child’s play for a computer. Simply randomizing the teams leads to good results and no discussions apart from the occasional glare from people who were assigned the same role repeatedly.

Secondly, I like to know how good I am. And for this, I want statistics, rankings, or generally, data. Thus creating a ranking seemed obvious. Additionally, to a simple ranking, I think it is vital that people who are ranked higher should receive fewer points than people who are ranked lower. Such that the spread does not get too big. Implementing some diminishing return functionality seemed crucial.

To alleviate us from those pains, we decided to band together and create an application called the Töggelomat during a hackathon.

So what the hell does this game have to do with Kafka? As you probably already…