UT students develop app featuring pizza, Christian rap duo

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of GameSalad Arcade

Even the best class assignments don’t usually go viral — but that’s exactly what happened to management information systems senior James Rauhut, who saw his assignment turn into a successful app that was downloaded more than 5,000 times over the course of a week.

Rauhut and his classmates, computer science senior Navin Ratnayake and radio-television-film senior Patricia Humphries, created Pizza Party Tour, a mobile game featuring skateboards, pizza and Social Club, a Miami-based Christian rap duo. In the game, players skateboard through a city and deliver pizzas while avoiding obstacles in the street.

“The concept of the game seemed simple enough to pull off in one semester,” Ratnayake said.

To divide the workload fairly, Rauhut and Ratnayake primarily focused on the programming of the game, while Humphries was responsible for the game’s visuals. Ratnayake said the programming tasks involved creating collisions and power-ups and adding randomization and progressive difficulty as the game advanced.

Since Pizza Party Tour was the first mobile app Rauhut ever released, he and Ratnayake used a programming platform called GameSalad, which allowed them to program the app using the English language and pseudo-code, rather than a traditional programming language. While using the platform simplified the game’s development, Rauhut said it limited them from creating anything too complicated. 

“The biggest challenge was finding work-arounds for the simplicity of the program,” Rauhut said.

Rauhut said he expects to see at least one more wave of downloads of the app following the update they will release at the end of this month. Users have left comments with feedback for Rauhut and his team in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

“The biggest thing for me was not being used to immediate feedback from thousands of users,” Rauhut said.

Along with incorporating user feedback, Rauhut said he also has plans to work with Social Club. Rauhut said he gained inspiration for the game from the group’s music. When the team completed the project, Rauhut presented it to the rap duo. 

“We worked on the game with the intention of reaching out to them,” Rauhut said. “They loved it and even paid the publishing fees to get it on the App Store and Google Play.” 

The rappers will be recording custom sound bites specifically for the game and will allow Rauhut to use music from their upcoming album.

Rauhut said the game is easy to pick up and play and emphasized that users can tweet their high scores to Social Club on Twitter. 

“I hope people download the game,” Rauhut said. “It’s free, and people have a lot of fun.”

Click here to play Pizza Party Tour.