In defence of games supporting only one input method

Discussion in 'General Game Discussion and Questions' started by NickFalk, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. NickFalk

    NickFalk Well-Known Member

    Straw man bashing below:

    "Accelerometer control sucks"
    "Please ad a accelerometer control mode as well"

    I see comments like the ones above made quite often in regards to iOS-games, latest in the Carmack-thread. Personally I find these requests rather odd. Cleary most games are tailored around their central mechanics, meaning that changing a game from gyro to touch control would transform the experience completely. It would this mean that developers should/would have to re-tailor the difficulty levels/design to fit another input method. I also believe that developers focus on playability risk being diluted.

    Now there might be games where including two different control-methods makes sense. In general though I think the two are too different to be comfortably used for the same game. In many respects this is true to my personal belief that more choices does not make a better game. Like in all creative design I find that games are often best when the developer has a clear vision of what kind of game he/she wants to design. This does not mean that developers should avoid input from other parties, far from it, just that following the wishes from everyone might easily lead to a convoluted mess that's no fun for anyone.

    ...or perhaps I'm just stark raving mad(?)
  2. MidianGTX

    MidianGTX Well-Known Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    London, UK
    More choices might not necessarily make a better game, but it'll sure round up all the freaks who want accelerometer control.
  3. NickFalk

    NickFalk Well-Known Member

    Actually I don't think the accelerometer is to be blamed per se. I think the problem is mainly that as the iPhone/iPod lacks physical input buttons, joysticks etc. and people seem to crave traditional playing experiences. it is very hard to make a control scheme that really works for a lot of traditional games.

    When a game is designed with the iPhone in mind from scratch the accelerometer can be used to great effect. Doodle Jump is of course the most obvious example and in my mind it shows not only that accelerometer controls can be effective, they can actually make the game.
  4. ImNoSuperMan

    ImNoSuperMan Well-Known Member

    Jun 28, 2009
    Ya, but I dont really like Doodle Jump. Mostly coz I dont really love accelerometer controls in any game but driving ones (where they are actually better than even physical buttons and joysticks IMO).

    But I think it will change much for me even if they have DJ with some onscreen controls. Still for games which I like, I'd really prefer if there are as many control options as possible. More choice is always good IMO.
  5. NickFalk

    NickFalk Well-Known Member

    While "more choices" immediately sounds a lot like "better value" I think it is a poor design-choice under most circumstances. It might mean more work but I still think it's lazy, at least from a design point of view.

    Any good design should be the result of a clear and strong idea of what the creator wants to achieve. As the control-scheme is such a defining characteristic of an iPhone game it seems odd not to have a clear idea about this from the beginning. Of course this is probably less true with more complex games, as it might be impossible to conjure a truly great control-scheme all together due to the physical limitations of the platform.
  6. sam the lion

    sam the lion Well-Known Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    I agree with you - while some games may adapt well to different control schemes, this is not always the case. If a developer comes out with the PERFECT control scheme for its own game after an accurate phase of design, testing and refining, it's unlikely that the player will ever feel the need for anything else.

    I also don't understand people bashing tilt controls as a whole - there are great games out there which rely on tilt only or a touch and tilt mix and wouldn't work so well with just touch - I'm thinking of tilt to live, homerun battle 3d, doom resurrection and many others.
  7. squarezero

    squarezero Moderator
    Staff Member Patreon Silver

    I generally agree, with some caveats. It's the nature of touch gaming to have input flexibility: unlike consoles, which are stuck with exactly the same set controls whatever the game, touch screens allow developers to customize their UI to fit a particular title. Giving players the ability to further customize to fit their needs (folks with larger hands may want buttons set farther apart, for example) is generally a good idea. iOS gaming shares a lot with PC gaming, where you almost have always been able to remap keys to your heart's content. But the demand for developers to provide more than one conceptually different control scheme (and test it, balance the game for it, etc) has always struck me as pretty unreasonable.

    I don't envy John Carmack having to plow through that thread for any coherent advice about iOS gaming (I envy him for other reasons, of course ;)). Most of the posts seemed to be about pet peeves, personal preferences, and silly arguments about what games "belong" on the platform. I guess he thinks he can make sense of it somehow.
  8. squarezero

    squarezero Moderator
    Staff Member Patreon Silver

    #8 squarezero, Oct 1, 2010
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2010
    Double post
  9. NickFalk

    NickFalk Well-Known Member

    Agreed! Just a couple of pages into that thread I gave up as apparently everything is vastly better and vastly worse than everything else. :D
  10. MidianGTX

    MidianGTX Well-Known Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    London, UK
    I don't see more choice as being a bad thing. So you throw in an alternate control scheme, and maybe it doesn't feel right to you because you developed the game with another scheme in mind, but out there somewhere is someone who thinks it feels totally natural. Everyone else can happily ignore it's existence.
  11. NickFalk

    NickFalk Well-Known Member

    While I think I can see where you're coming from I still disagree. This might sound arrogant but I'm approaching the land of Quasi-philosophical Internet s.o.b's at rocket-speed anyway... ;-)

    To me altering the core mechanic could easily create an experience so different it would become a completely different game altogether.*I'll try to give an example to illustrate why this is a problem:*

    Picture a game with the same control scheme as Doodle Jump but with a more traditional level/checkpoints/progress structure. A large part of the game's appeal would be to reach new levels, experience new aliens, weapons etc. Now if the developer was to add touch-input as an alternative chances are the game would be a lot easier to complete this way. A gamer who actually preferred the intended accelerometer control would easily be tempted to use the alternative controls when the game becomes harder. This would lead to a game that actually offered less value than intended...
  12. Qordobo

    Qordobo Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2010
    #12 Qordobo, Oct 3, 2010
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2010
    When I read OP I quickly felt in total accordance because it's something I always think, controls are the heart of any action game so offering different controls modes is a risk to not have a gameplay adapted to all controls mode.

    But it's also not that obvious.

    The conclusion of your example means that the game is made for players that like tilt controls more than swipe controls, fine but how about those that like more swipe controls than tilt controls?

    This logic will end to make the more popular controls dominate quickly. For some reasons, perhaps good or not, I haven't seen yet a Doodle Jump clone using swipe controls, when this will happen and if the majority of players prefer this controls mode for this king of game design, you'll quickly see tilt doodle jump games disappearing for swipe doodle jump games.

    This remind me Tilt to Live vs Spirit. I don't like much Tilt to Live but its design diversity is impressive. I like tilt controls and for example like play some Brick Breakers with tilt controls despite they also have more efficient swipe controls. But really I wish there was a Swipe to Live game with a deeper gameplay designed for much longer games, yes like Spirit approach, another impressive game and one of my favorite.

    Where this is leading? I think there's the theory, controls are the heart of any action games and the games are binded to their controls so offering multiple controls modes involves many problem like the difficulty level which is a major design element of any game.

    But there's the practice, for action games:
    • Some controls mode will take the lead with a majority of players preferring them for a type of game design,
    • then developers/game producers will notice it and will orientate their game design to match the more popular controls modes,
    • then players will use this controls mode more and more and will be used to them and trained to them much better than controls modes not having the majority,
    • and then this will increase even more the global players preferences to one type of controls mode,
    • and then minority of players will beg that games support multiple controls modes even those less popular and even if the gameplay isn't fully adapted to those secondary controls modes.
    • Then teams that design game frameworks will notice it and will offer more and more "ready to use" libraries allowing supporting more easily much more controls modes,
    • and then more and more games will support many controls modes but will be tuned only for the most popular mode,
    • and then MidianGTX wish will be fulfilled most games will try support as many controls modes than possible.

    I don't see what could break that awfully robotic chaining, and if you look at PC it's roughly what happened and is happening with Doom like controls (or Quake like if you prefer). PC players are so much used to this scheme of controls that more and more games released use a similar scheme and different type of game are starting to adapt to this scheme of controls that is mastered for action games by a large majority of PC players. Those recent years we saw RPG designed for using this sort of controls, Diablo clones are starting adopt it too.

    Interestingly in forums of games from recent years I noticed more and more post that complain not having such type of controls and the argument could be fun sometimes, particularly because the real reason is probably just that players used so much that sort of controls that they feel them now totally natural.

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