You Shoot, You Score!
This augmented reality app is called “The AR Basketball Game — Augmented Reality”, and it was designed by Thunder Games Studio. It’s a fun and simple game where you use your finger to flick basketballs into the hoop. Whether to pass the challenging levels or to just shoot basketballs endlessly to your heart’s content. While you play the game, this app uses your phone’s camera to insert the virtual basketballs and hoop onto your surroundings. Although the title could be a little better, this game is free and can be downloaded and played on any android or apple handheld-devices.
This AR app is intended for anyone who loves basketball, no matter if it’s just watching or playing. Although I don’t think it could keep anyone’s attention for a very long time, it’s a nice little game that gives people a chance to “shoot some shots”, no matter where they are. Especially if the weather is bad for playing some physical-world basketball, or if everyone is stuck inside like we are now due to Covid-19.
This app doesn’t seem to have, or need, a lot of supporting technology for it to be useable. It uses the camera, like I talked a little bit about up above, to insert the virtual balls and hoop onto the physical world. It also uses the camera as a sensor to know when the user has their phone positioned perpendicular to the ground, otherwise it has type on the screen asking you to correct the position of your handheld-device. The last supporting technology is the touch activation to allow the user to move their finger on the screen to shoot the basketballs into the hoop, or at least try to depending how they “flick”.
It’s nice that the app has a button that sends you to a YouTube video on how to play the game. Sometimes when playing any AR game, I get confused on where to find the instructions on how to play, unless the app shows me instantly when I open it. The user-interface is simple to use since there are only three main buttons on the main screen to choose from. The “How to Play” button like I mentioned, and the two other buttons are options for giving the user the choice to just shoot hoops for fun, or to try out the many levels with different challenges. This game has a lot of levels to try and beat, ninety-nine to be exact. It’s especially fun how they get challenging the higher the level you go, and kind of addicting. I ended up playing the game for around 15 minutes because I was focused on trying to get to the next level. There are actually two more smaller buttons at the top of the app, but they are for returning to the main screen, which is helpful, and a button link that leads you to the app store to leave a review or rating.
Being able to “shoot” the basketballs into the hoop was a lot trickier than I thought it was going to be. It was hard trying to get the right trajectory in general when “flicking” the balls into the hoop. It was especially harder when it came to doing the challenges. The ball would either go too high, too low, or just hit the net almost all the time. I also don’t really like how the app requires you to have your handheld-device exactly perpendicular to the ground. Thinking about this app being used in public places, it makes me feel a little weird. Mostly because, from somebody else’s point of view, it could look like you are trying to record them or something which is very creepy. It’s also a little annoying that after each level you pass, or when your done just “shooting hoops” in general, your stuck watching ads. I guess that’s what got to happen though if you want to be able to use an AR app for free sometimes.
S.L.A.M & Tracking Technology
I think, to help this augmented reality game be better than what it is now, it should use S.L.A.M to collect data about what basketball courts, nets, scoreboards and more look like and recreate it for the game to give the app a little bit more of a better design and layout for when you actually play the game. I also that that maybe one of the mobile sensors, depth sensor, could be helpful for finding out, or measuring, the distance of the virtual hoop from the basketball, and there could be an indicator maybe that would tell you the distance like an arrow or something similar.
When I opened the app and used it, overall, it was pretty fun. The user-interface was simple to use, the instructions of playing the game weren’t hard to understand at all, and trying out the various levels was challenging but intriguing. I wish it wasn’t so hard to “shoot” the balls into the hoop, it made the game a little frustrating, although it didn’t stop me from continuing to try. If they could maybe design a “level bar” or arrow of some kind that could point the trajectory of the ball, it would be easier to get the basketball into the hoop. I also feel that having the instructions on the app instead of being linked to YouTube video would be better, just so a user wouldn’t have to leave the AR app in the first place to learn how to play. If the studio who designed this game made some more improvements overall, I think that the game could become more popular than what it possibly is now.