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Optimizing onscreen controls - too many buttons...

10-11-2011, 04:48 AM
#1
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Flensburg, Germany
Posts: 70
Optimizing onscreen controls - too many buttons...

Hi everyone,

I am working on my next game and I try to optimize the controls - too many buttons at the moment and I am out of ideas how to optimize them :/

I have a little wizard - he can:
  • walk left/right = two buttons
  • jump = one button
  • fall = no button needed
  • make/break a block = 2 buttons ( at the moment )
  • shoot = one button

Controls look like this:


The problem with building blocks is, that he can make/break the block in 3 different positions:


My first attempt was to use one 'make/break block' button in conjunction with a jump and a duck button ( classic d-pad ). So the player needs to press:
  • jump + 'make/break button' to modify the block at pos 1
  • 'make/break button' for pos 2
  • duck + 'make/break button' for pos 3.

Works great with the iCade but with on-screen controls it turns out that is it too annoying when the wizards builds up a floor to walk on:
duck + make/break -> walk -> duck + make/break -> walk ...

My current approach is:
  • one 'make/break block' button for make/breaking blocks at pos 2
  • one 'make/break' button for pos 3
  • jump + 'make/break' build a block at pos1.

This is quite OK because pos 2 and pos 3 are the most used positions to make/break blocks. Nevertheless it's 3 different button combinations for basically the same action. It would be more consequent if there would be another button to make/break a block at pos 1 - but that's another button :I

I also experimented with gesture controls - works great but if the player needs to be really fast it fails.

Any inspiring thoughts would be greatly appreciated =)

preussie
10-11-2011, 08:52 AM
#2
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: ΖΞN
Posts: 304
You could have just one build button, which could be tapped or flicked up/down. Imagine an unlock slider set vertically with default position in the middle. Though shorter, with a size ratio of 1x3.

10-11-2011, 01:59 PM
#3
The move controls look awkward. You need to have the left and right move at least on the same horizontal plane, ideally with a space between them for the neutral position. Then allow the player to just slide his/her finger from left to right to move left, stay put, move right... without having to tap the buttons.

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10-11-2011, 03:39 PM
#4
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Flensburg, Germany
Posts: 70
Thanks for your reply...

Quote:
Originally Posted by blitter View Post
You could have just one build button, which could be tapped or flicked up/down.
Great idea. If the 'touch up' event triggers the make/break action there could be a kind of 'build-stone-here-preview' while sliding - thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienSpace View Post
The move controls look awkward. You need to have the left and right move at least on the same horizontal plane, ideally with a space between them for the neutral position.
Hmm - at the moment I work on the iPad. If you hold the iPad in your hands it is easier to move the thumb radial than linear left/right - I had it horizontal aligned before but IMO it is more comfortable this way...
10-12-2011, 03:09 AM
#5
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Berlin, Germany
Posts: 1,674
Quote:
Originally Posted by preussie View Post
Thanks for your reply...


Great idea. If the 'touch up' event triggers the make/break action there could be a kind of 'build-stone-here-preview' while sliding - thanks


Hmm - at the moment I work on the iPad. If you hold the iPad in your hands it is easier to move the thumb radial than linear left/right - I had it horizontal aligned before but IMO it is more comfortable this way...

your controls are at the moment (from the look of the partial screenshot) place at the bottom.. which is odd for an ipad game.. since usualy if you have a strong grip on the device the thumbs usualy end up somewhere mid screen and not at the bottom

and you said it yourself a radial placement is more comfortable.. so why not give it a try to move the buttons away from the corner into a more higher position and arange them in a slide arc on the side of the screen.. ) (


and blitter idea about the "slider" is actualy quite interesting.. maybe even expand that idea to not only be able to build into the facing direction but "turning" the block button into some sort of analogue stick if pressed

using a num block as an example the button itself would be #5 and you could place blocks at position 7,4,1 or 9,6,3 depending on your facing

but it could even improve the flow a bit if you face the wrong direction but select a building spot on the opposite site the wizard turns around on his spot todo so.. a bit like in turrican where you could steer the laserbeam in whatever direction you wanted
10-12-2011, 03:52 AM
#6
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Flensburg, Germany
Posts: 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.Ugly View Post
which is odd for an ipad game.. since usualy if you have a strong grip on the device the thumbs usualy end up somewhere mid screen and not at the bottom
Yep, you are right. The buttons might 'hide' a bit more of the game map up there, but I think it does not matter that much...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.Ugly View Post
and blitter idea about the "slider" is actualy quite interesting.. maybe even expand that idea to not only be able to build into the facing direction but "turning" the block button into some sort of analogue stick if pressed

using a num block as an example the button itself would be #5 and you could place blocks at position 7,4,1 or 9,6,3 depending on your facing
Hah - sounds great! . I give it a try...
10-13-2011, 04:07 AM
#7
Joined: Jun 2011
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 286
I agree with the walking controls, they def need to be at the same level.

As for the block and fire controls, why not use swipe gestures to do the block actions and have a fire button? That will drop 3 buttons from the screen, and turn the 2 direction buttons into a joystick.

Should clean things up a bit, and simplicity is key when it comes to touch controls. If you can do without some buttons then do without them :-)
10-13-2011, 06:59 AM
#8
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Flensburg, Germany
Posts: 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luke Kellett View Post
I agree with the walking controls, they def need to be at the same level.
Hmm OK, maybe I have a 'weird thumb' but I still think a radial placement is more comfortable - but this seems to be a point that should be player configurable in the game...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luke Kellett View Post
As for the block and fire controls, why not use swipe gestures to do the block actions and have a fire button? That will drop 3 buttons from the screen, and turn the 2 direction buttons into a joystick.
I am not sure if doing different movements with the hands ( one hand tap, second hand swipe ) will work well and in some situations the player has to be _really_ fast. I tested 'swipe controls' for the movement ( left/right/jump ) and it was definitely too slow. Nevertheless it could work for building blocks - I will test it
10-13-2011, 07:12 AM
#9
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: ΖΞN
Posts: 304
A game which has a simple config for walk controls in Mos Speedrun. It was free recently, but there is a lite version if that's changed. Just pause the game and the option is in the list. I gave the game a try on iPad and initially thought the controls were slightly high. Though I adapted before needing to change them.

Actually what attracted me to that game was the ghost player!
10-13-2011, 11:31 AM
#10
Joined: Mar 2009
Location: Oslo, Norway
Posts: 731
Without any knowledge about the particulars of your game: do yo need the left/right buttons? Would it perhaps work just as well if the player simply tapped the position the wizard should move to?