Picture a yellow ball bouncing on your screen. You tap to try and catch it.
Whoops, you missed. Try again.
This doesn’t sound fun, but it really is.
Catch is a new iOS game by data visualization guru and CNN Executive Creative Director Andy Bergmann. Its premise is simple. There’s a yellow ball bouncing on your screen and you have to catch it three times before time runs out. As levels progress, more obstacles are added to the mix, like blocks that bounce the ball around unpredictably, donuts that grab the ball to play keepaway, and, my personal nemesis, a spike that if you’re so unlucky to touch is an automatic game over.
"I originally came up with the idea as sort of an art project. I imagined hands coming through some type of viscous fluid as you tapped a screen," Bergmann tells Co.Design. "In the early sketching phases, I quickly realized that it would be a lot more compelling if the hand had a purpose, and catching a ball seemed like the perfect device. Once I landed on that, it was clearly going to be a game."
So how is this actually fun, you ask? Well you can’t just touch the ball to catch it. Even though the game is rendered in what appears to be a stark 2-D style, when you tap the screen, a hand appears that reaches up through 3-D space to grab the ball. Each grab is like a miniature crane game, requiring precise timing to snatch your prize.
"Since the concept of catching a ball is organic in nature, it was key that the movements all be extremely fluid," Bergman says. "Getting the motion and timing correct was by far the most time consuming part of the process. I redrew the entire hand animation five or six times, and continuously tweaked the code until the mechanics were smooth."
The results were worth it. Not only does Catch just feel good, its graphics, animation, and physics combine to create an alchemy that’s completely intuitive. The game comes with no directions or tutorials, but within just a few seconds of playing, you go from trying to swipe or tap the ball, to your first giggly-satisfying "catch."
Best of all, the app is free for a limited time in the App Store.