As the user swipes to avoid the perilous ocean, a blocked-shaped penguin jumps frantically from ice sheet to ice sheet. One misstep and he will freeze in the frigid waters below.
Igor Barakaiev ’20 will be releasing his new app, “Icy Bounce,” this Saturday on the Amazon App Store, Android Play Store, and Apple App Store. Inspired by the app sensation “Crossy Road,” “Icy Bounce” challenges the player to jump over sinking blocks. The app currently features five unique locations and thirty-two characters, including a diver, an ostrich, and a crocodile.
Barakaiev, from Kropyvnytskyi, Ukraine, is a self-taught programmer. After attending the Global Game Jam Hackathon in Ukraine, Barakaiev and two of his friends decided to expand the prototype they created at the event. They started working on the app last January using the game engine Unity 3D.
Barakaiev said, “We made a simple game in two days [during the Hackathon]. The idea was much different from the game that is being released this week, but we saw how the audience really liked it because we won the Audience Award, and we were invited to go to Prague for a conference.”
The game has also been translated into ten different languages, with the help of international students from Andover. Barakaiev’s roommate, Charles Yoon ’20, shares an interest in computer science and creating games. Yoon helped Barakaiev by sending emails for business, advising him on certain decisions, and translating Icy Bounce to Korean.
Yoon said, “[Barakaiev] allowed me to download [Icy Bounce] on my iPhone, and it was so cool. It was very fun and unique. It’s a simple and a novel concept, but he really dives into it well… I think he’s pretty much perfected the formula.”
Several students have been added as beta testers for Icy Bounce.
James Collett ’20 said, “The most appealing feature is its simplicity. The app is easy to use and still maintains an engaging nature.”
Emerald Tan ’20 said, “My favorite part of the app is the different characters; they’re all really cute.”
Barakaiev plans on expanding Icy Bounce by updating it with new characters and locations after its release. Robert McCain ’19 often works with Barakaiev on coding projects, including their winning project at the HackNEHS competition and participation in CyberPatriot together.
McCain wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “Igor is one of the most competent and driven people I’ve met. I’m not surprised he made a game as professional as Icy Bounce… Igor does an incredible job making the graphics and gameplay authentic. Like all the best mobile games, Icy Bounce is addictive.”
McCain continued, “[Barakaiev] approaches computer science with the same degree of enthusiasm as he approaches his academics, his personal relationships, and his guitar.”
Though he doesn’t plan on creating a new game after Icy Bounce, Barakaiev wants to work in computer vision and artificial intelligence. He said that though it was diffi
cult to create and publish the app, he learned a lot from the process.
“I learned so many things,” said Barakaiev. “I learned new languages, I learned how to make games, and I learned it’s ridiculously hard to publish them… Computers always inspired me to know how they work because it’s so weird that some box can do a lot of things. So, I decided to go a level deeper and tell computers what to do instead of computers telling me what to do.”