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gestures > on screen buttons?

12-15-2009, 11:11 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 501
gestures > on screen buttons?

This is a rough proposal of a control schemes and ideas that attempt to make controls for games like action RPGs, 2D fighters, LMBS, and 2D side scrollers feel right on a touch screen, very easy to learn, lots of depth/complexity and variables; all without using any on screen buttons

This is more of a brainstorming exercise and a fun challenge to test my skills and it should be considered as such; take this with a grain of salt as it would obviously need to be tested throughly (which i haven't been able to achieve just yet) before even considering implementing it into a game.....


The left side of the screen is for movement. Tap anywhere on the left side of the screen and slide thumb in any direction without lifting it off the screen. There easy as that. Your character will begin moving almost immediately after sliding your thumb in the direction you want to go, just hold the thumb steady without lifting it off the screen or sliding it in any other direction to keep moving in the direction your character is currently moving. If you want to change directions slide thumb in a different direction and then hold it steady. If you want to stop moving just lift thumb off the screen.

the above gesture closely resembles that of a virtual wheel but slightly optimized in a way so that more precise controls can be captured more quickly from less thumb movement and of course designed so that it can be done and well understood without the need for any on screen graphics.

double tap is an open function and can be assigned many different doge abilities when in combat, dodge abilities such as: dash, jump, roll, flips, somersaults, teleports ect. just double tap away in any direction to execute the assigned function. the frame of reference will be derived from where the thumb was before it lifted off the screen to do the double tap, this will feel natural and easily be understood enough to where a player will be able to use that same gesture on the field in order execute precise jumps possibly even double jumps and precise movements to get past complex platforming puzzles.

Quick Attack

The right side of the screen is for performing actions. To perform a quick attack just double tap anywhere on the right side of the screen. as your character levels up they may learn new and more powerful quick attacks which can be changed and assigned to the double tap input.


the iphone is a touch screen not a controller no matter how much you wish it was, and as such combos should not be derived from taps of on screen buttons attempting to replicate how they work on controllers, this will never work as fluently as it does on a controller, so therefore dont waste your time trying. On a touch screen device, combos should be executed with an entirely different type of input. I am proposing that input for combos be hotkey based very similar to how tap and slide then hold gestures where used for movement.

for example:

to execute a combo tap anywhere on the right side of the screen and slide thumb in the direction of the combo you want to use (without lifting thumb off the screen), the combo will begin almost instantly after you have moved your thumb (you dont have to move it far at all) once the combo begins you can just hold your thumb steady to endlessly do the combo over and over and over again.

with a hotkey based gesture, combos are not based off of player skill they are based off of character skill and as you level up you learn new combos and a total of 4 combos can be assigned in the direction of your choosing.

*to add a level of complexity you design two types of combos

primary and secondary combos:

-the primary combos are powerful long combos but with a catch; as in once you start the combo you cant switch to another combo fluently, you can only cancel it by lifting thumb off the screen

-the secondary combos are not very powerful and not very long but they are quick and designed in such a way that you can switch between them on the fly allowing you as the player the ability to chain short bursts of combos together by simply assigning combos to a direction on the hotkey, memorizing them, then tap and slide your thumb slightly in different directions to choose combos you want to switch back and forth from.

Strong Attacks

strong attacks are based off of the first attack in the combos that the player assigns to the hotkey. To execute a strong attack simply tap hold then slide in the direction of the combo you want to use then quickly lift thumb off the screen after the first attack is finished and repeat to continue to do powerful single attacks over and over and over again.

*so the gesture is tap slide then lift or in other words a flick, try it on your iphone to move this web page up and down very quickly, it feels very natural doesn't it? and you can even chain strong attacks together to make your own combos with great precision.

Spells and Magic

The input for spells and magic is similar to executing combos and you have to choose between combos and magic spells when assigning your 4 preferred functions to the hotkey.

the main difference between magic spells and combos is that magic spells will have a charge time and to execute the magic spell you must lift thumb off the screen when the charge time is finished. Lift your thumb off too late or too soon and the spell will fail to execute.

for example:

tap hold then slide thumb up to charge fire spell. the fire spell charge animation will begin almost immediately after you have moved your thumb up. continue to hold your thumb steady as the animation takes place. when the animation represents that the spell is ready to execute simply lift thumb off screen to execute the spell. simple as that

Blocking/Guarding & Parrying

Blocking is typically assigned to its own input or a secondary function like street fighter where all you have to do is move back which is what you naturally would do anyways when someone is running at you attacking. I would like to implement the block as a secondary feature when you move back for a true LMBS or 2D fighter, but for side scrollers or action rpgs move back means you turn your back on the enemy and therefore wouldn't be a natural way to implement blocking.

for true LMBS and 2D 1 on 1 fighters (meaning you can only move left or right):

blocking is done by simply moving back which you will be doing by sliding and holding your thumb in the opposite direction of the enemy

for action and adventure games, action RPGs and some 2D side scrollers blocking needs to be assigned to its own input and that input is a pinch gesture. pinch in and hold to block.

parrying is a complex mechanism even for a controller leveraging timing and player skill more then character skill. to parry you first need to block so pinch in and hold the pinch close together. continue to hold the pinch to remain in a block stance, in order to parry an attack pinch out really quickly when the timing is right. simple as that

the gestures of tap then slide and hold to move or execute combos feels natural on a touchscreen and should be easy to implement and register so that the controls are much more responsive then say taps of on-screen buttons. when you want to change movement or switch up change a combo just slide thumb in the direction you want to go or the combo you want to switch to and hold it there to continue the input.

make no mistake about it these control schemes are precise almost instant and require less movement of the thumbs to register input which is ideal for movement and switching from one action to another fluently. i dont know much about the hardware or the software of the iphone, but i can surmise that its more then capable of registering slight changes of direction of slide gestures of both thumbs simultaneously very precise and very accurately which should facilitate tight responsive controls; a necessity for any fast paced action game. However these controls also offer complexity and depth as there is a total of 5 inputs that can be used for attacking, and thats a lot of combinations and variables to take advantage of when developing a battle system.

there will of course be a slight learning curve but once a player is over that the controls for every other game will feel amateur at best. i assure you once a player gets the hang of the controls their thumbs will not wander to far and be more then capable of entering many precise combinations and changes of directions in split secs as easy as second nature.

and thats it for the controls, thx for reading I would love to hear your thoughts, feel free to add some feedback if you want.


I consult with the 7 sages

Last edited by cubytes; 12-15-2009 at 11:23 PM.
12-16-2009, 04:29 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 501
you can also add an additional input for movement to the scheme:

on the left side of the screen pinch gestures could be used for dodge abilities. so you can not only double tap for a dodge ability but also pinch in for a dodge ability and pinch out for another dodge ability with a total of 3 dodge abilities that can be assigned by the player

accelerometer could be used for summons:

as you progress through the game you may find some accessories with sealed entities, special monsters, fairies or whatever they will be; doesn't matter.

when you equip the object or summons it will put a reticule on the screen when your in combat. you can control the reticule with the accelerometer just line it up on an enemy and tap the reticule and hold it for a few secs to charge then lift thumb up and the equipped summon will execute their attack.

I consult with the 7 sages