Monday, February 4, 2013

A question of control

I have some kind of brain problem that means when I'm thinking about control schemes I can only envision things on touch screens.

I had been intending to keep it relatively PC based, but considering its going to be a simple game if it is going to be released on anything it'll most probably be mobile. I thought it would be a good idea to think about the control methods and basic interaction to make sure I wasn't backing myself into a corner.

The functionality around the leaping should always remain the same, so a control scheme needs to do at least one thing, and that is provide an angle for the leap. Additionally, it can also provide the power/distance of that leap. I'm refraining from adding in any other direct user interaction, so I can't see what other variables I'd even need.

This is not an exhaustive list of options, but more of a messy collection of notes:

Tap Location  
Leap at angle from ninja to location, possibly distance from ninja to location can factor power of jump
Simple. Obvious. Works well with mouse or touchscreen. Simplicity means it's possibly easy to extend gameplay by chaining jumps with tap timing.
Obvious/boring. Possibly limits angles/power when close to the edges of the screen.

Tap and Drag 
Leap at approximate angle of the drag, possibly duration of touch or length of drag (or some combination of the two) can factor power of jump.
Simple. Intuitive for touchscreens. Gives users a little more sense of where the ninja will go because they are somewhat tracing the leap path.
Feels odd with a mouse. Definitely limits angles and power when close to the edges of the screen. 
Tap Anywhere 
An arrow guide element is visible pre-leap. This either cycles back and forth between available jump angles, or appears and moves when you touch (releasing the touch causes the jump). For power of jump,  duration of touch or some further power gauge could appear and cycle, which is then triggered by releasing the touch.
One button gameplay. Timing adds another element of skill. On screen indicator shows precisely the launch direction/power. No problems when at the edge of levels. No problems with fingers crowding screen space. Could lead to some goofy gameplay. Can be played on a computer without a mouse or keyboard except for some jerry-rigged usb spacebar frankenstien device.
Frustrating to impatient players. Possibly a little complicated for non-gamers. Possibly a little simplistic to gamers. 
A thumbstick is simulated on screen, players drag it within its bounds to determine the direction of the of the leap. Speed of the drag could factor into power of leap.
Seemingly the norm for action based games on mobile now. Could modify the gameplay to take advantage of the fact that you're holding directions before landing to enable instant take offs. No problems near edges of stages.
Disconnect from the ninja sprite. Possibly too imprecise. Possibly too easy to trigger. Would be stupid with mouse. One part of the screen constantly behind finger. 
Players jerk their mobile device in the direction they want the ninja to leap in. Power of leap possibly factored from speed/distance of jerk.
Hilariously derpy gameplay.
Inanely derpy gameplay. I also have no idea how to do it. Not for PCs. 
Accelerometer 2 
Players tilt their devices so that the ninja is always trying to jump straight up. Just not necessarily up the screen, but up in real terms. I dont think I've quite thought this through.
Players yell LEFT or RIGHT and the intonation of their voice determines the angle of the jump. Volume of the yell can possibly factor the leap power.
3 more years of uni. People who can't tell left from right without checking their hands will keep dropping their phones.

So having thought about this some more... I kind of like the idea of having "multiple characters" that control differently but all do the essentially the same thing (with slight modifications of course). I can also just pallete swap them to save animation time, and pretend their some kind of power ranger style tea committee.

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