UCF Alumni’s Polar Hop Hits App Stores
By Katrina Poggio
Polar Hop, created by two UCF alumni, hopped into the App Store and Google Play on Feb. 19, 2015.
Friends since 8 years old, Ryan Underwood, ’14, and Timothy O’Shea, ’13, grew up in the video game boom of the ’90s and frequently played computer and video games together.
The mobile game application is a combination of Doodle Jump and Flappy Bird mixed with the strategic challenge of Candy Crush. The player utilizes a one-touch style platform to travel up the screen with a penguin named Puck.
“Basically, I became very jealous of Flappy Birds’ success and believed I could make a better game if I really put my mind to it,” Underwood said. “So, I mulled over the idea for a couple weeks, then one pleasant Friday afternoon after happy hour at the local UCF watering hole, I decided to call Tim and suggest the idea of developing our own game for iPhone and Android. Thus, Polar Hop was born!”
After Underwood’s epiphany, he and O’Shea consulted a friend, Kirk Henf, to gain greater knowledge in computer science. From that point on, the duo self-taught themselves code for the game, Underwood said. Then, the journey of creating Polar Hop began.
“Developing and coding Polar Hop was kind of like a big game of tug-of-war,” Underwood said. “One side was the mechanical one, the actual process of coding, and the other side was our creative ambition, development. Whenever we would come up with a great idea or feature to the game, we would have to go back to the mechanical end and figure out if it was possible.”
Polar Hop’s 100 levels include a survival mode in which players can earn Polar Points to purchase additional lives and power-ups to assist them through the story mode and make their way to the Polar Palace.
“We originally planned on making a version of the old ‘Winterbells’ game from desktop computers that we would play when [we were] bored in high school, but then decided to expand off that by having the user actually be involved in having to make the character hop on his own by tapping the screen, and then we had the idea of bringing the whole level aspect of it as well,” O’Shea said.
During the process of creating Polar Hop, the duo found a passion for game design and decided to create their very own company, Tall Dwarves LLC.
“After Polar Hop, which if it’s successful we’ll be working full time on it, but we’d like to publish different games that are very unique and try to expand to new and upcoming ideas that people would love,” O’Shea said.
This article was republished with permission from the author. It appeared in a Feb. 20, 2015, edition of Knights News online, but has been slightly edited in accordance to alumni association style guidelines. See original article.