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iPhone: App suggestions

10-09-2008, 09:17 AM
Senior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,404
Suggestions for iPhone apps / games developers

Hi all,
This is my first post here. It's a list of suggestions for iPhone apps / games in general. Everyone can add his/her own.

I'll start off with virtual d-pad.

1. Virtual d-pad:
Virtual d-pad can be frustrating as it's not as accurate as physical d-pad. We don't really know whether we're pressing 'up' or 'right', and how far should we move to press 'left' or 'down'. Often, as we focus on the game and our fingers slip, we end up not pressing any button at all.

My little suggestion is to use swipe gesture.
For example, on the left, we see a virtual d-pad with a dedicated area on the bottom of the screen (similar to NES emulator and Trace). Then in the middle we see an overlay virtual d-pad (a la Real Football).

Now on the right, you'd see my idea. Instead of having arrows and buttons, we can just leave the screen empty without any clutter. To move the character left, swipe to the left. It doesn't matter where you start swiping as long as it's in that area. The character will keep going in that direction until you let your finger off the screen.

To change the direction, you don't have to let your finger off the screen and swipe in straight line. You can just continue your line. so if you're walking to the left and now you want to dodge, you can just swipe down from the end of your previous swipe. It's like drawing continuous line.

For the A & B buttons, they can be huge, or at least the hit area can be huge. Therefore, people can roughly guess where to hit. If they wanna hit A, they can move their finger a bit to the left then hit it. A little guide to tell where A stops and B starts would be helpful, but it certainly doesn't have to be a tiny button image.

Now I'm not sure if I'm making sense, but from what I imagine, this can work pretty well for Real Football and Trace. We don't have to keep looking where the buttons are and where to press. Of course there must be tutorial for new users, but in the long term it can proly be an easier and more enjoyable solution?
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Last edited by don_k; 10-09-2008 at 09:25 AM. Reason: title edit
10-09-2008, 09:24 AM
Senior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,404
Now the more general suggestions:

2. Orientation lock:
As much as it is good to have auto-rotate feature, it's better to offer users option to lock the orientation because some people might use it while laying on bed. eg: Galcon is still ok, Vegas pool is a bit annoying.

3. Neutral position
If your application is using accelerometer as its main control, let users set their 'neutral position'. Not everyone wants to sit straight just to play your game, especially when relaxing on couch. eg: Moto chaser is unplayable when laying on bed.

4. Users' own music
Let users turn off the volume and listen to their own music

5. Rewarding experience (for games)
Your game doesn't have to be visually wow, but it should at least give a rewarding experience when users accomplish a mission or finish a level. A happy tune or stock fireworks image would be better than skipping to highscore list or, even worse, the beginning of the game.

Maybe that's enough for now. mmm... are they any good or silly?
I initially didn't want to post it as I believe someone else must've thought about it, but in the end I decided to put it here in case it can be of any use for any developers.

Well.. hope it can indeed be useful

10-09-2008, 09:34 AM
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Berlin/Germany
Posts: 949
Don't call this "app suggestions", but "app requirements". It's a shame that Apple did not define this somewhere.

1. Bomberman uses your third variant and it works. But if everything becomes a bit more hectic, it does no longer work. There are also some games which use the first variant, but transparent and with large fields, like ZEN Rollercoaster, where you can tap on the left and right side of the screen. I don't think we can offer a variant which matches all games. It depends.

2. Yes! But I think that this should be a system wide setting which then just does not give the orientation change to the app.

2b) There should also be a system-wide option where you can set in wich direction you want to play landscape games.

3. Yes

3b) And you should also be able to control the sensitivity for every axes.

4. Well, there are several things to consider:
4a) Support the mute switch on the iPhone: Completely disable the game sound and music, when the switch is on. React "live" to changes of this switch without restarting the app.
4b) Only start the game music, when the iPod is not running or ask on startup, if we want to listen the game music or our music
4c) Offer volume control for the game music and game sound effects.

5. Yes

6. Pause/save the game when pressing the on/off-button

7. Save the game, when going home.

8. Save the game, when being interrupted by external processes like calls.

9. When there's a saved game, offer a quick start. Don't open all logos intros, animations, videos, menus etc. Just go directly into the game in the paused state (Puzzloop is a great example for that).

I think, that these features should all be respected when developing, testing and REVIEWING a game.

Last edited by Oliver; 10-09-2008 at 09:50 AM. Reason: typo
10-09-2008, 09:53 AM
Senior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,404
1. I thought it was like a virtual joystick so we can't really swipe anywhere. But if that's the case, then sorry for sounding like I have a new idea, heheh.
I agree we can't only have 1 control type for all games (imagine all the different genres too), but some games can definitely be improved.

2 and 3.
Yes, they should actually be a universal setting from Apple. But the chance is very slim for Apple to give these options. They don't even give us option to turn off auto-correction!

The reason might be to push sell that feature. And in a funny way, I feel Apple even pushes developers to use the accelerometer whenever possible to the point it feels gimmicky (eg: throw-in in Real Football). So yeah, we can stop dreaming about it

Yes, they should've been standard requirements!

9. not too sure about this though. Even on other game consoles (Wii, DS, PSP), we should press 'load game' first. I wouldn't mind the intros as long as we can skip them.
10-09-2008, 09:58 AM
Joined: Jul 2008
Location: Boston
Posts: 1,268
what needs to happen, now that the NDA has been lifted for certain talking points

a group of developers need to get together in an open source project style

write up the code templates for such suggestions so that other developers can utilize and leverage the standardized code under a commons law thingy

i'd be willing to join such a group

on a side note, i started toying around with the development of a TouchArcade rss reader application...its slightly functional, hideous in all aspects of design...but it would be cool to organize a group of developers to do that open source project and then hand it over to Arn a.k.a Normalkid LLC
10-09-2008, 11:23 AM
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Berlin/Germany
Posts: 949
9. No, on the DS you just open it and it's there, waiting for you, in pause mode - if you closed the DS while the game was running. Which, since the DS is only single-tasking, is the nearest equivalent to jumping to another app using the home-button.
10-18-2008, 02:32 AM
Senior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,404
Oliver, I don't know if Pac-Man uses the same control method as Bomberman, but if it does, then it's not quite what I mean. I just tried Pac-Man lite and the main difference with my idea is we must swipe it from the middle, whereas I was thinking we should be able to swipe anywhere.

Hopefully they release Bomberman lite.

10. For landscape-oriented games, please make sure it can turn the other way around like when watching Videos. Each game with each orientation = no good.
But still better than not offering orientation lock, because this way I can use it on bed
10-18-2008, 04:51 AM
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 535
There's a fourth method of directional control - Mouse About uses it - the slide anywhere mechanic. Perfect for RPGs where buttons aren't really needed - you could then double tap to bring up a menu, for example.
10-18-2008, 03:15 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 174
3. Neutral position

That one is a must. I love the feature on Bugdom 2. Now I just wish they'd add better save options! :/