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Making the best Virtual Joystick on the iPhone

02-07-2010, 09:54 PM
#1
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Towson, MD
Posts: 133
Making the best Virtual Joystick on the iPhone

Hi Everyone,

I'm writing this article partly to help show developers what I think is better way to do joysticks on a touch screen and partly to spread the word about our new game Bella Boo, coming out in mid February 2010.

There are two common usability problems with the Virtual Joysticks in iPhone games.

Problem 1: Not allowed to drag thumb off of the stick - This is the worst problem, but luckily it's getting rare nowadays. What happens is when you slide your thumb off of the stick, it either detaches completely forcing you to pick up your thumb and reclick on the joystick, or has other unwanted behavior, like getting stuck. One example is StickBo. If you drag your thumb outside off of the joystick area, it gets stuck pointing in the direction it was pointing the last time you were touching the joystick area.

Problem 2: Can't activate the joystick unless you click directly on it, or the joystick circle area - This is the most common problem. If you try to click the joystick, but miss by a little bit, then will not activate it. So it acts just like any other button that you missed. However, a joystick is not like any other button. You're sliding your thumb all over the place when you use a joystick. And if you let go, you have to re-find the joystick, and meanwhile every second counts while playing most games. Almost every joystick game I've played does this, including Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, and alive4ever.



Special Case: Minigore - Minigore has one of the best joysticks out there, but it's not perfect. They don't have Problem 2. In Minigore, you are able to click about a half inch away from the joystick area, and still activate it. You are also able to slide your thumb off of the stick area and still have it attached to the stick, and the stick will point in the direction of your thumb, wherever it is. However, the thumb becomes detached if you slide it too far. And anyone who plays Minigore can tell you that if your left thumb detaches from the joystick because you slid it too far, you are in for a world of hurt. So it addresses Problem 1, but does not go all the way like almost everyone else does.



The Best Joystick: Bella Boo (coming soon) - In Bella Boo, the joystick lets you activate the joystick by clicking on or near it AND lets you drag your thumb as far off the stick as you want and still be attached unless you actually lift up your thumb to let go. If you do drag your thumb off the stick, the stick will continue to track the thumb's position and keep pointing to the thumb. This makes it the best joystick on the iphone, and I hope other game's will adopt this style to improve their playability.



See the video here:
http://forums.toucharcade.com/showthread.php?t=43337

Enjoy,
Randy Solberg
Half Fast Games
02-07-2010, 11:17 PM
#2
I think a "sticky joystick" that would allow you to perhaps double click a direction and have it lock until you reclicked it[the joystick] would be awesome in a lot of games. For example, ravensword. It would have the thing you listed as bad in example 1, where it would get stuck (not often but sometimes it did). I would contsantly try to restick it so I could just focus on moving the looking direction.
02-08-2010, 12:55 AM
#3
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Towson, MD
Posts: 133
Quote:
Originally Posted by MexicanJesus View Post
I think a "sticky joystick" that would allow you to perhaps double click a direction and have it lock until you reclicked it[the joystick] would be awesome in a lot of games. For example, ravensword. It would have the thing you listed as bad in example 1, where it would get stuck (not often but sometimes it did). I would contsantly try to restick it so I could just focus on moving the looking direction.
Hey, that could be a really useful feature! It leaves your thumb free to press other buttons. I mean it wouldn't be necessary in Bella Boo, because there arent that many buttons, but in your example its good, or even in some other games where you might want to keep your character shooting in a particular direction, while your thumb would be free to press the grenade, jump, or spellcasting buttons.