Today’s high school students are busier than ever with the extracurricular activities, and students at Riverside-Brookfield High School are no exception.
However, while many of their peers are participating in sports and after-school clubs, RBHS juniors Jakob Nordenstam and Nick Mascitti have been busy developing and advertising their very own phone app called Tile Tally.
Tile Tally is a game that can be played on mobile devices. The game tests how many digital tiles a player can press in a short time. The object is to see how many green-colored tiles a player is able to press without hitting the wrong tile or running out of time. For each correct tile pressed, the tally increases. When the wrong tile is pressed, the round is over.
If players choose to select the “quick game” mode, they are able to play against other users across the world who have downloaded the game to their mobile devices. Tile Tally is a free app and is available in English, German, Swedish and Latin. Right now, the app is only available to download Google Play for accessibility on Android devices.
Nordenstam originally created the app with the help of Johannes Gundlach, a German student who lived with Nordenstam and his family in 2014-15 year while attending RBHS.
“I hosted Johannes for a year and we were both into programming, and we just came up with the idea to create an Android app,” Nordenstam said.
The students created the first version of Tile Tally in December 2014, spending two months coming up with the proper computer coding and development.
“The first version was released in February 2015, and we did most of the developing during our winter break,” Nordenstam said. “We did probably 70 percent of [initial development] during the first version.”
The goal for the game was to create an app that would be easy yet fun to play.
“We were trying to do something that was captivating and something you can do when you want to pass the time, but at the same time, wasn’t way too difficult for someone who hasn’t done it before,” Nordenstam said.
They initially made the app only available for Android because there was no startup cost and the two of them already had familiarity with Android’s software.
“Android uses Java, which we were a little more familiar with,” Nordenstam said. “Apple uses Objective-C, which we could’ve done too, but it would’ve been another hurdle to learn and get familiar with. Also, Apple has a little more of a fee you have to pay and a few more barriers to jump through to work with them. It was just kind of easier to do Android to start with.”
Nordenstam said he and Gundlach learned the basics of computer programming on their own and then took a computer science class at RBHS to understand concepts further.
While Mascitti did not help with the initial development of the app, he came into the picture to promote the game after Nordenstam said he needed a friendly face to help with publicity.
“I knew about the app since its creation but was never really part of the team until [Nordenstam] told me he needed somebody to help market it and spread the word,” Mascitti said.
Mascitti spread the word at RBHS by showing off the game to classmates, creating a Twitter page and contacting local media outlets, including the Landmark.
“I think what they created isn’t really basic,” Mascitti said. “It’s pretty complex, especially the process of making it. The challenging part for them was they have to be constantly writing code and figuring out their issues, because they’re not using basic programs.
“I figured they’re working pretty hard on that and they have school, so I figured I’d really like to help them.”
Nordenstam says so far the reception has been good from their peers and players online. Eventually, they will make the game available on Apple devices to reach a wider audience.
“We got people wanting us to add more levels and online features to add your top scores and compete with other people on the Internet, so we’ve kind of been tweaking that because that’s what people want,” he said.
Nordenstam and Mascitti said they still keep in regular contact with Gundlach via Skype and hope he promotes the game at home in Germany.
Mascitti says he is working to learning computer coding so he can create future apps with Nordenstam.
“It’s a really big learning process. You’re not going to become an expert right away, but I’m learning so that I can become more involved with developing,” Mascitti said.
While the boys aren’t sure about what the future holds career-wise, they say they are having a great time exploring their tech hobby.
“I don’t find myself doing computer programming later in life,” Mascitti said. “I have interests in health care and history.”
“I don’t know for sure yet exactly what I’m going to do, it’s sort of a gray zone for me,” Nordenstam said. “Computer programming is definitely an option because I like that kind of stuff. [Now], we think we’re doing something productive and fun.”