Is there a preferred device orientation for iphone games?

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by codeb0t, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. codeb0t

    codeb0t Active Member

    Oct 31, 2011
    I'm in the design stage of an iphone minigames collection, and I haven't made a firm decision on the device orientation yet. Some of the ideas would seem to work better vertically, others horizontally.

    All else being equal, is there an objectively better orientation for games? I'm wondering if there has been any user testing or even polls that might indicate which is preferred.

    My personal take is that vertical is less 'fiddly' as it would be the natural position for the device to rest in your hand (and the placement of buttons and jacks is also oriented to this position), but it could also be that gamers are more comfortable with a horizontal position (mimicking a familiar gamepad orientation).

  2. David Phan

    David Phan Well-Known Member

    Feb 27, 2012
    President & Producer
    If you're making a collection of mini-games and some titles work better in portrait mode and some better in landscape mode then make your app flexible to support both modes. In my opinion, it's not worth it to force a portrait mode friendly game to be landscape mode and vice versa.

  3. Eoghann

    Eoghann Well-Known Member

    May 29, 2012
    IT Guy/Graphic Designer/Gamer
    New York
    Really depends on the type of game you're offering. There are just some genres that just click on certain screen orientations. Like FPS games, that would just look weird in portrait. Endless runner games seem comfy in portrait coz of the draw distance. Same for endless vertical jumpers.

    I think you should decide what orientation works best for each of the mini games and lock each of them in that position. I would suggest grouping them though; vertical games in one side and horizontal games on the other. Because having the user rotate their phone per game would most likely provide a negative user experience.
  4. codeb0t

    codeb0t Active Member

    Oct 31, 2011
    I was originally considering having both, but I decided against it as I felt that would annoy the player. Even grouping them together, how would you indicate to the user that they should switch orientations in a non-clunky fashion?
  5. MidianGTX

    MidianGTX Well-Known Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    London, UK
    If your game has a tutorial you could mention that the games make use of both orientations, then have a quick splash/loading screen before each game with a circular arrow and the text "This game takes place in landscape orientation!" or something.

    You could even display the screen and then only have the game begin once the device confirms it's being held the right way up. That way it'd display long enough for the player to read it, but no longer than necessary.
  6. Justin@PhykenMedia

    Justin@PhykenMedia Well-Known Member

    Aug 31, 2011
    Project Manager
    Those are great suggestions MidianGTX!

    Also, check out this video of Wario Ware Smooth Moves (it's the japanese version but you should still be able to get the idea). They have a bunch of different ways to use the WiiMote (they call them Forms) and before each mini game they show you which way to hold the controller.

    If you did something similar to this it would also allow you to have minigames that use the accelerometer as well as tapping the screen, swiping the screen, etc. As long as you explain what each "Form" does then I don't think players would get too annoyed. Of course, that's why playtesting is also important!

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