Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.

Give me control

I've finally done enough non-game related stuff during the last couple of month that I really want to do a game now. Fiddling with easier concepts at first (read: the odd quick-money-game-in-a-day), I realized that's not what I want. There is a game that I'm thinking about for ages, which I have planned through in various stages - just to abandon it for something that promised to be done much quicker.

There is a certain pride to swallow when going down the quick money way and right now I'm not in the mood to do so - I want the real deal, a big game.

Walking down memory lane to the point when I went away from VB to make games - flash 5 was just released - there were a few holy grails for the game making flash world, the full blown RPG (only 2 kingdoms from our mate Lux I can remember to have played more than just a minute) and of course the odd Zelda(tm) clone (yet again only a handfull have seen the light and I can't remember to have played a single finished one).
Mine has been an "exploration game with random levels" (but you might have guessed that from the rnd level generation articles a damn while ago).

I'm quite confident that this time ... well we'll see.

Anyway, back to the title of this post - control.

I think one of the ways a player connects with the game is the control scheme - if the player doesn't like the controls, the game has to offer a lot more to make him want to play it. So let's have a look of what options there are.

But before I go into detail, a quick description of the game this controls are for:
  • the player moves his character around a map
  • the player needs to be able to shoot and/or attack enemies
  • the player may need switch between "weapons" (or alternate attacks)
  • the player needs to access some sort of inventory and interact with the game's menu

mouse control only

There are not many ways to imagine how this might work out, but here we go. Point the mouse to a spot where the character should go and click. OK, so far it works, IF we had a second mouse button (like the right click) we could assign firing a weapon to it. We cannot use right-click in flash (at least not for this purpose) so either we use a key for alternating click actions (space, ctrl or shift come to mind) - but that kind of defeats the idea of using a mouse only control. Though we could use icons to switch between modes (walking / firing), I doubt it'll really add to the experience, as it trades ease of control with rather complicated handling.

keyboard only

At a first glance this might be a good way to go, but I'm talking about real keyboard only control, read: not even using the mouse for menus ... and that's as much fun as it gets. My Virus game did that - and it worked surprisingly well, but consider that for navigating through a shop or your inventory. Yeah, fun - right.

moving with keyboard, aiming with mouse

Honestly I hate that. I know I'm in the minority here, but for me this only works well for "real" ego shooters (the good old Quake for instance and then I do prefer playing on the 360 using a controller), for a top-down view game it really turns me off. The first reason is that usually A,W,S,D is used, which I can use to move back, forth and strafe in something like Quake, but moving a character with that - I'm way to slow to dodge bullets or move precisely. Using the cursor keys is not my cup of tea either because they are too far away from any other key and it just feels not confortable to play this way (using the left hand to use the cursor keys). Still I have to consider this as alternative (and need to think about making the enemies harder then).

moving and aiming with keyboard, using mouse for interaction

Yes, that's something I can work with. My idea right now is that you use the cursor keys to move your character and just shoot in the same direction you're walking - pretty old school. In an early (and infinished flash 5 game I found on my hdd) this worked well when adding some sort of "lock" to the firing direction, so you could fire single shots into the moving direction or hold fire for a half second to "lock" the direction and then move freely while still firing into the locked direction (as long as you hold the fire button).

If you have your own arguments about how to control such a game, well just leave a comment.


ps: Today is also the first development day, I hope to get the basic viewport coded using two tile based scrollers and a few distorted bitmaps - if things go well and I don't forget it there will be something like the x development diaries.

Comments (6) -

  • Lux

    3/2/2010 7:23:59 PM |

    you may want to talk with Squize - we may have a good project for that random level generation :)

  • nGFX

    3/3/2010 8:29:06 AM |

    I have to talk daily with Squize ...

    But yeah, it seems quite a good idea to use the routine a second time.


  • Colm

    3/3/2010 10:34:19 AM |

    I think Arcuz got the controls really right for a top-down fighty Zelda-like game with WASD movement and J/K attack/jump. Check it out if you haven't seen it already.

  • tonypa

    3/4/2010 7:38:19 AM |

    Are you serious about "moving and aiming with keyboard, using mouse for interaction"? Thats got to be the worst idea of the bunch.

    I would probably say mouse control all the way, changing the action depending whats under cursor or mouse + 1-2 action keys.

  • nGFX

    3/4/2010 10:25:41 AM |

    Thanks tony for the encouraging words ;)

    Yep, I'm serious, although it just moving with keys (while aiming into the walk direction) so it's just cursor keys (or the alternate buttons) plus two fire buttons (and a bunch of short cuts).


  • nGFX

    3/5/2010 9:21:51 AM |

    Oh, I re-read the post and noted that I need to clarify "interaction", which not meant interacting with the enemies / objects on the mab, bat rather with the menues / inventory.


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