Point Park students develop iPhone game app

Written By Margaret Davis

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photo courtesy of Mike Cooknick
“Thickit” is an interactive gaming app with the goal of “tagging” friends in a competive photo game. The team of Point Park students created the app and planned a launch party on Mar. 20 from 5-7 p.m. in the Lawrence Hall Multipurpose Room.

A team of six Point Park students created a new social media and gaming app called “Thickit.”

The current development team is comprised of Mike Cooknick, Maggie McCauley, Dan Helbling, Nico Vescio, Mark Gazica and Hailey Turek. The developers are not all programmers; each had something different to contribute to the project.

Cooknick, “Thickit’s” primary programmer, began writing the code in November of last year. The inspiration came from a game between his friends.

“Nico Vescio, my roommate, started taking pictures of people while they were walking down the street and posting them on Facebook,” Cooknick said in an interview Thursday at the Starbucks on Wood Street. “And we all said, ‘Hey, wouldn’t that be cool if it was an iPhone game?’” 

The app is “a competitive photo game between your friends, with the objective to catch them before they catch you,” as described on its website, thickitapp.com. 

“Thickit’s” gameplay is similar to tag, and played within a group, or “camp,” of five to ten friends, known as “campers.” Players earn ten points for each picture of a fellow camper they snap and post, and the caught camper loses ten points. 

Catches can be up-voted or down-voted by other members of the camp, with one point being added to the uploader’s score for an up-vote, or added to the caught camper’s score for a down-vote. This brings in the community aspect of the game, because campers can be involved in other people’s captures.

The app was approved under Apple Review, putting the game in its beta-testing phase. 

“Where we’re at right now is seeing how people use it, what different features people take to, so we can add things and expand things and take things away,” Cooknick said. “The current users are going to see some new, hopefully better things we’re trying out in the next build. Maybe a new scoring system, because we acknowledge that has been confusing for people.”

The development of “Thicket” from here is determined entirely by user feedback. 

“I really like that people are interested in it and the feedback is that it’s fun. I like what the users like. Whatever people give feedback for, that’s what the app will become,” Cooknick said. “It’s almost as if this is your app. In the beta phase, we are looking at the testers as people who are creating the app along with us.” 

The developers hope to have the beta-testing phase complete within a month or two, but the time frame for “Thickit’s” official release is determined by the number of testers and amount of feedback they give during the beta phase. 

“They’re as much a part of it as we are at this point. They are giving us the feedback that we are turning into actions. It’s definitely a large group effort. It takes all of us to make this into something that’s going to be worthwhile,” Maggie McCauley, Thickit’s public relations and external marketing manager, said in an interview on Thursday at the Starbucks on Wood Street. “We’re putting together a Facebook group to moderate feedback so that everyone is aware of what this is and that it’s not yet a public, casual-using app. We’re looking for feedback, for people who can tell us what they like about it, what they don’t, where it should go.”

Senior cinema major Colt Guthrie is a beta-tester for the app.

“I think ‘Thickit’ is a lot of fun and I love the simplicity of it,” Guthrie said in a phone interview Friday. “One thing I think would improve it is if the app opened to the camera instead of to the feed — that way, when you see someone in your camp and you watch to catch them, you can snap the picture more quickly.”

The “Thickit” launch party will be held Mar. 20 from 5-7 p.m. in The Lawrence Hall Multipurpose Room for students to come learn about the app.

“We play it, and it still makes me mad when someone catches me,” McCauley said. “It’s funny to hear people say things like, ‘We’re going to have a rule that we can’t play this in our apartment because it’s going to get too out-of-hand.’ It’s great to hear that kind of chatter and that it’s already becoming a buzz on campus when we’ve only just started talking about it.”

In the meantime, anyone interested in getting involved can like “Thickit’s” Facebook page for updates and sign up to be a beta-tester by applying on thickitapp.com.

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