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Opinions on control scheme

05-04-2012, 06:42 AM
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 57
Opinions on control scheme

Hi all, I'm new to these forums and to iOS gaming in general (only got my iPad a few months ago).

I've started learning iOS development (I already did some Cocoa programming a few years ago for OS X) and I'm having lots of fun.

The one thing that is totally different from the desktop to the iOS devices is the touch controls (of course!) and it's really cool to play with multitouch...

I'm starting with a simple "Space War" type of game and so far is not looking bad... After I saw Jeff Minter's games for iOS (been a fan of his since my Amiga days) I gave some thought to the issue of touch control and decided to go for a system without an on-screen joystick.

After some experimentation I think I've settled for a one finger system for moving and turning the ship (left/right swipes turn, up swipe thrusts). If you hold the touch, the ship keeps turning or accelerating until you release it.

I think it works pretty well, but of course, you can't turn and accelerate at the same time which is not perfect. When I let the player combine both into the same touch, it made it quite difficult to accelerate without the ship starting to turn (or viceversa) ... and if I set a minimum amount of movement needed to start an action, sometimes it feels like the controls are not responsive... maybe I should experiment with the threshold...

I don't want more than two areas of control for each player (players face each other and use the short side of the device to control), and I think auto fire won't work well with this game, so that is a big constraint because maybe the best option would be to have turning separate from accelerating...

So, any opinions or ideas would be great.


- makaGeorge (www.makasoft.net)
05-04-2012, 11:43 AM
Joined: May 2012
Location: São Paulo - Brazil
Posts: 9
I appreciate your concern about not letting the controls displayed on the screen and going for something more gestural

But I wish I could feel the controls rather than read about them.... you should totally give the device in the hands of other people and hear what they have to say!

Maybe if the ship just decelerate after you release the finger to turn, people wouldn't realize that you can't turn and accelerate at the same time.

(actually I don't know if I undestand it right)

05-04-2012, 02:04 PM
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 57
Thanks! I guess that'd be the best. Right now I've given it to my son and my girlfriend and she likes it, but he's too young and doesn't understand the rotate/thrust mechanics too well... When the game is at a more developed stage I'll start to at least test it with friends.

About the system, maybe I wasn't clear... Right now, you touch the screen and drag either horizontally or vertically. If horizontally, the ship starts turning and it stops when you release. So, for example: you touch and drag left, then you stop dragging but keep your finger touching the screen and the ship keeps turning until you release it. Any vertical movement at this point won't activate the main thrusters. The same for the vertical direction.

The idea is also that the ship drifts forever if you give it some acceleration. To stop you've got to turn around and accelerate in the opposite direction. So you can move and turn at the same time: You get your velocity up and then turn around to shoot or move in a different direction (just like the old Asteroids).

I think I'm just making something simple into something complicated with my explanations sorry...

- makaGeorge (www.makasoft.net)
05-04-2012, 04:19 PM
Joined: May 2012
Location: São Paulo - Brazil
Posts: 9
uhhh.. I got it all wrong then!

I think I understand now..
(but stopping the ship seems a little tricky)

so it will be a multiplayer up to 2 players at the same screen, right?

I would try to simplify the controls as much as possible, maybe auto-fire wouldn't be that bad... you could add some power-ups to make it faster (like, in the begining you shoot 1 missile per second, then 2 per second etc)

(and maybe other power-up to shoot them in different angles)

(I think I wanna play it)
05-04-2012, 06:28 PM
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 57
yes... there will be power-ups for sure I still haven't decided yet how to get them... one idea is to get them by shooting asteroids ( not that original, I know...)

I love auto fire in some games, but I'm not so sure it's gonna work well here... many times the ships are going to get pretty far away from each other, and I also like the feeling of waiting to fire at the right moment... but still... I'll test all the options...

For now, it's just for two players... with auto fire I guess four people could play on an iPad with a one finger control... it could be a fun option...

- makaGeorge (www.makasoft.net)
05-04-2012, 06:37 PM
Just an idea...

Ship would turn with the swipe as it is now but for acceleration just detect the existence of 2nd touch instead of swipe up...

So, one finger swipe turns the ship, two finger swipe turns & accelerates...

If it's already turning 2nd finger touch should add the acceleration until it's lifted...

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05-06-2012, 12:21 PM
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 57
hmmm.... interesting.... the thing is, if there's two ways of accelerating, it can be confusing, but I do like the idea of a control method that takes into account second touches. reminds me of Minotron... (which I still have o get...)

- makaGeorge (www.makasoft.net)
05-06-2012, 01:06 PM
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 3,704
There are ton of games with just thrusting and turning out there, and usually the ones that try to be creative and original with the controls are, well, just bad. You might want to check out the existing control schemes out there to get some ideas. As a player, I will always prefer visible controls for this type of game, clockwise/counter and thrust button, or better yet, virtual stick and thrust button (an option to link thrust to the stick also seems to be a popular option). If you must have no visible controls, why not just have an invisible floating stick, and second finger tap for thrust?
05-06-2012, 06:07 PM
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 57
i see. i did implement a separate button for thrusting and gave it a try too (with autofire) it works quite well, so I'd possibly leave it as an option. But I don't think it would work well with more than two players. I don't mind virtual stick so much if the center is placed where you touch first, but fixed visible controls are hard for me because of the lack of tactile feedback...

I will give the floating stick a try, though... It would be cool if both thrust and rotation could be controled with the one stick...

- makaGeorge (www.makasoft.net)
05-11-2012, 08:04 PM
Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 57
Ok. So I decided to give the floating stick a try. It's still not visible, but I'm finding it works quite well... The good thing is, the same flicking motions still work, so you can just flick and hold to turn/thrust and release when you want to stop. Or you can keep your finger touching the screen and drag in another direction so you can turn and thrust at the same time, etc... I'm still tweaking the "dead zone" but it works quite well...

- makaGeorge (www.makasoft.net)