Ben Cousins, who left EA to join up with Ngmoco/DeNA in mid-2011, is currently heading up Scattered Entertainment, a Sweden-based studio that falls under the DeNA umbrella. Cousins himself has a background in the Battlefield series, and he's assembled a team at Scattered that's comprised of people with similar backgrounds in big name video game series, like Far Cry, Crysis and Halo. This team at Scattered Entertainment has one goal in mind: make a touchscreen first-person shooter with controls that don't suck.

I guess you could say that's the goal of anybody making a touchscreen video game, but first-person shooters in particular haven't really had their breakthrough moment when it comes to controls. You're either comfortable with virtual analog sticks and have no problem playing a game like Modern Combat 4 [$6.99], or you aren't – and likely just skip the genre altogether.

Scattered's idea is to rethink the whole control scheme from the ground up for a touchscreen, and after talking about it for the last few months they've just released a video which shows how the basics of their new control scheme will work in their upcoming game The Drowning. Give it a look.

There are some interesting ideas surrounding the controls in The Drowning, but I have to say I'm not really convinced yet. I have yet to play a game with a tap-to-move system that isn't annoying, and especially in a fast-paced shooter I can't imagine how that's going to work. Also, using the space in between your two fingers as a sort of "gun sight" in order to shoot is really a neat idea, but it looks no different than a typical tap-to-shoot gallery shooter which takes all the fun out of actually needing to aim. Remember how well Metal Gear Solid Touch [$0.99 / Free] was received? Yeah me neither.

I would absolutely love to be proven wrong though, and I'm holding out hope that this whole control system is something that will totally click once you actually get your hands on it. Also they do state that there's more to it that they aren't showing quite yet, so we'll see. At any rate, solving the touchscreen FPS control issue is a noble endeavor and I'll definitely be interested to see how it shakes out.

Beyond the controls, The Drowning seems like a pretty cool horror-themed game, with a story and a world that I'd like to explore. It starts off with the real-life event that actually happened in late 2011 when thousands of blackbirds suddenly died and fell from the skies over Beebe, Arkansas. Similar events started happening around the world, without any rational explanation. The Drowning takes this and runs with it, and throws a strange oil spill into the mix that suddenly sets off a chain reaction of zombie-like infections and eventually a full-blown zombie apocalypse. Here's the original announcement trailer for The Drowning that was released in December, in case you haven't caught it before.

Oh, and here's another thing: The Drowning is going to be free-to-play. Not surprising given that's DeNA's fortay and Cousins has worked on many free-to-play titles in the past. But seeing as that's the controversy of the moment surrounding Real Racing 3 and its decision to go freemium, I can't wait to see what sort of drama this will drum up. (I'm just kidding, I'm not looking forward to that at all actually.)

The Drowning is scheduled for release sometime in "early 2013" so we should get answers to many of these questions then. In the meantime stop by the discussion thread in our forums and let the world know your own opinion on this new fist-person shooter control scheme.

  • James Fletcher

    I seem to only be involved in making dorky platformers so im not insulted but....
    When you call everything else horrible in a large genre you better bring it.
    Just sayin.


    • Johnny101

      I prefer the standard touch controls. I actually like to be immersed in the game. His control system seems to take involvement out of it to an extent. I agree with you, and although the game looks good. This game doesn't bring it like Modern Combat 4 or Dead Space.

  • poorwealthyman

    Often when I play FPSs, I run backwards whilst shooting so I don't get caught.. Doesn't look possible here!

    • Karzay

      I suppose you might have to turn around tap off into the distance, then spin around and fire as you move away.

    • knowledge3754

      I also wonder if circle-strafing is going to be possible. Tapping to move maybe would work better in a cover-based shooter like gears of war

  • iammane

    I dunno, looks good to me!!! But shooting and running backwards is an IAP. I jest, I jest...



  • xhoffzillax

    Game looks good, I'm just not sure about the touch movement. I just wouldn't like having to think of where I want to stop then turn around to shoot the hoard coming at you. So there is not a real walking backwards. I guess we will see when it comes out.

  • jeffyg3

    I'm guessing this is just more of the Dead Trigger arena style of shooter without any real campaign substance, free to play junk. Graphics look good tho, not sure either how well that control scheme will work for a FPS, but I'm excited to try it. Sigh, maybe one day we'll see more good FPSs on the iPad with good single player campaigns, so no matter how much *****ing some people do to Gameloft, at least they give us that. This game might be a nice try and move along to something more substantial though, I'll reserve judgement tho

  • mrTofu

    I have to play it. It seems it's putting strain on 1 hand now :). Needs like an evade swipe movement with this type of setup. Or really good enemy pacing/setup. It would make a really good shooting mechanic for an adventure game from the video....but I would have to try it.

  • B3nlok

    I love how they try to make Nova 3 controls look as bad-clunky as possible. Is that really how an average skilled player would do?

    Looking around -----------finds a bunch of enemies---stop swiping-----hit the shoot button-hit the shoot button-hit the shoot button-hit the shoot button--------stop hitting the shoot button--------moves to the next target,Etc...

    • Retero

      Ya maybe they'll have an option for on single stick

  • istako

    This is going to suck SO BAD!!!

  • Dylan Praesto

    first off, YES, fps games on ios needs new controls. so it's really nice to see someone trying to make it work. but i just cant stand tap to go controls. never liked them. not even in 2D games. so not too sure about that. and free to play don't sound too good. but I will definitely put it on my watchlist and see what happens 😀

  • Der-Kleine

    I think I'd rather stick with my virtual sticks and buttons, thank you.

    • B3nlok

      If only game developers allowed you to map those physical volume buttons so that you could use them as trigger buttons...This would the definitive way to play FPSs on mobile devices.

      • handhoney

        A million times yes.

      • Der-Kleine

        You mean if apple allowed developers to let you use those buttons...

        What I think apple should do is release an iPhone with tiny shoulderbuttons on all 4 corners.

      • knowledge3754

        Yes yes yes!

    • B3nlok

      If only game developers allowed you to map those physical volume
      buttons so that you could use them as trigger buttons...This would the
      definitive way to play FPSs on mobile devices.

      • B3nlok


  • thomin

    It was all going so well...until he said those ugly words "free to play". I so want this fad to go away, as it makes developers design their game to be frustrating on purpose so that you sink tons of money in it. I much rather have an honest asking price that gives me the best possible experience...

    • REALdisappointed

      Funny I thought the exact same thing.

    • KenGriffeyIII

      I agree but unfortunately we seem to be some of the few people who will pay for iPhone games. Maybe it wasn't us individually that did this but as for iPhone users as a whole - this is the monster we created.

      • dmarcoot

        No, it was the people who won't pay or would steal. I suspect most of these user are under 24. I have paid out over $1000 in apps since the app store went live.

      • jeffyg3

        It's also the large amounts of developers themselves who are to blame. Too many idiotic 99cent deals, high premium games dropping down to there are too many users because of this who will wait for that 99cents deal or just wait until it's free. I too am victim to this recently with certain games...there are some games I may have paid for, but now I just think, wait until it's free and it has saved me a ton of money. If an army of developers didn't drop prices so easily then mobile users wouldn't have this attitude.

        Really sad though, who's to blame? Both developers and gamers. Now we have crap like Real Racing 3 and other lame free to play games that would have been a great game but fallen victim to this idiot cycle. Very sad what's occuring.

      • systemx78

        YES! Nail on the head.
        It frustrates me that people keep saying except for Minecraft FtP games always hold the top of the charts. This is the proof right there. Minecraft has never gone on sale and everyone knows it never will. So everyone that wants to play Minecraft pays full price. This is why they sustain the top charts.
        It doesn't apply to just games either. Apple also has this business practice. Pages, Keynote, iMovie, etc have never once been on sale. If you go look at where those apps are ranked on the App Store charts, they are all in the top 20. Pages is actually #3 on Appshopper rankings ahead of Angry Birds Starwars!
        The very people that created the App store do not have sales on the App store. That's saying something.

      • KenGriffeyIII

        That's what I meant by "iPhone users as a whole".

  • Linuxuser1

    Looks very good. Controls is what keeps me away from iOS FPS games. This game could change it 🙂

  • LM10

    this just looks idiotic

  • MrSpud

    He does raise a few good points, and I like the mix of gallery shooting and FPS. At least it looks like something new, something different, I can't wait to try it to be honest!

  • Stephan J. Müller

    Isn't this already an option in the Epic Citadel demo? I think it is terrible… I need to feel like I'm controlling the character more directly.

    • Patrick Allen

      then play Xbox, PS3 or gameboy or something. Do I have to remind you it's a touchscreen phone?

      • Stephan J. Müller

        Don't put words into my mouth. Epic Citadel has both options, the "traditional" one and one that I think is similar to the one proposed. In my opinion, the traditional method is superior.

  • Adams Immersive

    Love FPS games... love iPad games... would love to see the combination improve! I have some ideas I've experimented with, but nothing that far off from the approach we've seen with NOVA etc. (And I think that's already pretty good... just not great.) I'm not sold on this new approach, but I'm sold on the idea of making these kinds of experiments until something clicks!

  • JRaynor

    am i the only one that hates that he uses a bazooka so close and doesnt die or even take some damage?

    Also this "innovative" it may work on the ipad but the iphone is a different story since your fingers will be all over the screen, i dont know what is the problem with give you other controls scheme

    • SporadicMovement

      Probably in God Mode 😉

      • JRaynor

        mmm i didn't think of that lets hope you are right, its just a game with some weird monsters but still

  • DizzyNBG

    erm...a FPS without strafing? oO
    The touch-to-shoot mechanism is quite good imo, but needs definitely a virtual stick for movement. I liked it very much in NY Zombies 2

  • Skullinton

    The best touch FPS controls I have experienced were the CoD WaW Zombies. By using the dual fixed analog with some aiming assist, they made slaying zombies very fun!

  • cclogg

    I'm glad someone (big) is trying to find a way around virtual joysticks; in my opinion, virtual buttons do suck and it's why I can't get into FPS's on mobile. But yeah, going backwards and strafing are also a big part of the brain->device connection, so we'll have to see how this goes.

  • SporadicMovement

    Something that wasn't mentioned here (it was in the last issue of Game Informer) is that there's going to be a weapon crafting system. Also, it's supposed to be more "open world", more NYZ2 and less Dead Trigger.

    I'm excited for it.

  • lewsheff

    If apple bring out a controller then ios gaming would step up a notch or two in my book

    • B3nlok

      Or maybe they could let developers have the ability to access and use the physical buttons (i.e. volume up-down) in game scenarios.

      • Skullinton

        There isnt much to do with these two buttons since they would be misplaced for many games...

      • B3nlok

        Im not saying that any game could take advantage of this. Not Angry Birds for sure But i can tell you the volume buttons would be perfect for FPS type of games.

      • Travis Hidden

        Imagine the impact this would have on the volume buttons. It's probably not in Apple's best interest to have developers have consumers degrade their hardware. Game controller buttons are engineered with gaming in mind; in other words, game controllers are designed with the user pressing the buttons extensively. However, in Apple's case, the iPhone was not designed to have the buttons pushed extensively.

  • Matthew Rossman

    I can imagine this sucking on smaller screen devices. Also, no strafing or walking backwards is never good... I'm liking the shooting and zoom controls, but there better be an option for a virtual joystick.

  • kyle_mccall

    Looks cool, controls ... well, not sure about that

  • JosephmWood

    I like this. I'm ok with on screen controls, but this is great.

    I remember when I first started playing Lili with the touch to walk controls and i knew they were on to something. They have it on NOVA 3 if I'm not mistaken, tap twice to run.

  • BluClaymore

    NOTE: that thing that tried to get on the boat near the end looked like the monkey monster in the first temple run that chase you.

  • WarMachine

    Or maybe create a new type of game that's independent of console controls. Hell create a new type of genre. Think outside the box maybe...

  • decabao

    For me the story sounds way more interesting than the actual gameplay

    I'll download the game then just to see what happened to the poor black birds :'(

  • Aaron Sullivan

    Strafing and shooting while moving backwards is not only easy to understand given these controls but is demonstrated in the video. How come people aren't noticing this. The problem is that you need to face the direction you want to move first, tap the ground then swipe back. It's actually kind of what people do in real life, but it is an extra step compared to traditional controls.

  • Travis Hidden

    Honestly, the eliminate pro controls are probably the pinnacle of touch screen fps gaming. Instead of floating analog sticks though, the movement should be more free to swipes. Also having a virtual button on the screen to shoot is a terrible idea, almost all Gameloft FPS's have adopted this. If you need to move your aiming thumb off the screen and press a virtual button to shoot, strafing against the enemy renders much more difficult and redundant.

  • ImJPaul

    Despite all the controversy and disappoint that culminated with Dead Trigger, I still thought it had the best FPS controls. It's one of the only shooters I didn't have to really think about how I was going to control. If other developers would just adopt the sensitivity and simplicity Madfinger did with that game I wouldn't have such a problem playing FPS' on my iOS devices.

  • ImJPaul

    Also, in the title, replace "reinvent" with "ruin". Seriously. Besides the pinch to zoom thing which should have been implemented in every shooter YEARS ago they're kind of going backwards. Maybe ill eat my words? Who knows?! All I know is from watching them, they looked haggard.

  • mguniverse

    Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter has some of the best first person controls I've seen on iPad.

  • Farfield

    I love when the developers try to innovate. The controls seems great, I'd like to try it, but the only thing I wonder is if I can move and shoot without stop, that would be handy

  • Sean Bynum

    Can't move and shoot. Sorry that's just not acceptable.

  • regkilla

    I will try this out

  • Mister Bump

    No strafing, no run and gun = fail. Sorry guys, try harder.

  • dmarcoot

    Doesn't look much better than ID's Rage or Doom 3 for iOS

  • Frank Hopewell-Smith

    Fortay...? correct to forte. Sorry to be a pain.

  • caomhan15

    Modern combat 2 had the smoothes, least cluttered controls as well as being the a quality fps. If you have trouble with controls i suggest you start there

  • Jan Jørgensen

    I'm one of those guys that love a good FPS on my PC, but can't stand the touch controls implemented so far in any game for iOS that I've tried, and I've bought quite a few.

    I really look forward to this game, it looks very interesting indeed.

    • themostunclean

      Guess none of those games have been racing or flight combat. 2 genres that the controls are as good, if not better than, their console counterparts. Of course tend to be more tilt than touch based. Arc Squadron has a responsive and fluid single finger control scheme though.

      Many platformers on iOS have magnificent controls on a touch screen. As do puzzle games, single tappers, endless runners, point-and-click adventure, and physics/motion based. Your comment is probably too sweeping a declaration. If you'd said no FP/TP shooter or console clone on a touch screen has good controls I'd be more inclined to agree.

  • AlvaroALorite

    It would be perfect if movement was controlled by a joystick

  • WeezeMatic270

    Can't wait. Looks great

  • James Cameron

    Bad idea clicking in scenery to move. Fingers will be blocking the screen. The best control scheme on ios is Dead Space

  • Johnny101

    Actually for an Fps game, this system does not work. I prefer total control when playing shooters. I actually like pressing the shoot button and in combat games, especially with MP. You need full control. Moving backwards, sprinting, in close combat. I can't believe this developer said those manual controls on other Fps games are horrible. Playing Gameloft's Modern Conbat series is an example of Fps controls on iOS done right.

  • Tone Hinrichs

    The cinematic "video not working correctly shaky shaky" thing really made the trailer seems cheesy to me and put me off. Plus, how did the creature from Temple Run get in there?

  • VirtualAlex

    But how do you go backwards?

  • doehero

    When it will be released?