University students and alumni found app company, release first app

| News Editor

Connect 4 hasn’t changed much since Milton Bradley created it in 1974.

That is, until three Washington University alums and a fifth-year student decided that the game would be better if you could knock out your opponent’s pieces.

Four members of the class of 2012 used the programming skills they gained at the University to found Tikitak Apps LLC and release their first app, “Drop ‘r Pop,” on Sept. 21.

Launched on a shoestring budget, the app has been well-received in the Apple App Store with more than 3,500 downloads since its debut.

Will Forrester said the development of “Drop ‘r Pop” began in the iPhone app design class CSE 436, taught by lecturer Todd Sproull.

“We started in April and we decided that we want to keep doing it [after the class], so we started this company [Tikitak Apps LLC] to keep working on it over the summer,” Forrester said. “We didn’t spend anything designing the app per se, but it cost about $170 to start our website, [fund] corporate expenditures and become an Apple developer.”

While a single-player mode pits the user against an artificial intelligence player designed by graduate student Kyle Cooper, the game also has online multiplayer and “Pass ‘n Play” modes, in which multiple players share the phone and take turns.

“[Drop ‘r Pop] is basically a variation of Connect 4 where pieces can also be pulled out. So maybe when your opponent has 3 pieces in a row, you could take [one of his] pieces out to block him from getting four in a row,” Forrester said. “This opens up a whole new strategy to the classic game.”

Upon its release, the app reached a peak rank of 66 on the “top free games” section in the App Store.

“For our first game, we’re pretty psyched about that,” Forrester said.

The developers are currently working on their first update for the app, to be released within the next few weeks.

So far, the app only supports iOS platforms; Cooper is currently working on an Android version.

“We already have the graphics and design from the iPhone version, so we just need to rewrite the code for Android,” Cooper said. “There is no scheduled release date, but hopefully [it will be] around the end of the semester.”

Forrester said that the developers do plan to make a payment-required version of the app with no ads and more content sometime in the near future.

A Facebook event created by the developers sparked some buzz about the app around campus.

“I really enjoyed the game. It really adds a new level of strategy to Connect 4,” said alumnus Matt Schwab, who was an early tester for the app.

He is confident that the app will continue to improve over time, especially when they offer a paid version.

“I think it [will] definitely [be] worth your money. There’s a lot of other games out there that are paid and aren’t nearly as fun, and I think if it is paid it could improve a lot in terms of online play,” he added.

Encouraged by the app’s success, Forrester and the other co-founders hope to continue to expand Titikak Apps LLC.

“We’re planning on making more apps. We want [Tikitak Apps LLC] to be a sustainable company,” Forrester said.

  • Joey Woodson

    Yes but you will never win, just draw.

  • Matt Goldwater

    Couldn’t you just repeatedly take out pieces?