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Member Since 26 May 2012
Offline Last Active Feb 03 2013 10:14 AM

Topics I've Started

Controls for intense "beat-em-up" mobile game

02 February 2013 - 05:01 AM

Hello there, guys and gals!

I want to discuss a rather interesting issue that I troubled myself with recently.

Let’s say that we want to make a super intense top down "beat-em-up" game for touch devices  "Hotline Miami"  style, where every missed attack would be really costly for the player and his reflexes have to be top notch to succeed. 


What control methods would you use for such a game? 

Let’s think about it together:


1) Movement

We need an ability to move character around in all directions AND ability to rapidly change the vector of his movement in precise needed direction, to avoid attacks and evade from explosions/projectiles. 

This problem was already “kind of” solved in multiple top down arcade shooters. Let’s look at  “Call of Mini” for example:


Character movements controlled by the “joystick” circle – player “pulls” the dot across the circle to change vector of character’s movement.  This gives rather swift and accurate control at character’s movement. 

But it have its drawback - player’s finger covering part of the screen all the time, and if it’s not so crucial for tablets, on smartphones you basically black out corner of the screen, where enemy, power up or any other important visual information might hide.  Plus it looks like trying to force “analog” controls inside touch devices. 


What other ways there could be to control characters movement? Here is some thoughts on this matter:

Using accelerometer – While it is a relay responsive type of controls it can be really tricky to make them work right (especially if we have 3 dimensions). It might be hard to compensate for all possible angles of holding the device, so character won’t “stuck” running up or down all the time.   But what if we add “walk” button and control direction in which character will move by tilting the device left and right? That might work…

Using tap controls – It’s a touch device right? So let’s just tap where we want to go to move around, right? While it is good for slow paced games, this approach might not work with “intense” approach we want to achieve. Path finding might get awkward and moving player not the way he intended to + it would be a lot of pain to code it the right way (with walls and obstacles in mind). Though I see a chance for this control type if we only move character “one step” in direction of the tap, but then the trivial task of walking to the other end of the room will lead to furious  taping every time. Another option is to create tile based world to make tap path finding smoother, but that might simplify gameplay too much, decreasing the number of possible maneuvers for the player and enemies.

2) Rotation and Melee combat

This is the reason why I started to think about whole thing.  How do we control player’s character rotation? Adding second rotation “joystick” like in example above, might work if we want our character to constantly attack the direction he is facing (like firing an automatic weapon or activating a chainsaw).

But what if we want to let player deliver accurate single hits? What if we want player to tap for his every hit? How do we achieve that “manual” melee combat feeling from PC and Consoles?  To do that, we have to separate “rotation” and “attack” actions. We may rotate player character in the direction of movement, but how do we control attack action?


Here are options I could think of:

“Attack wheel” – Instead of joystick we use circle of 4 segments (“Up”,”Down”,”Left”,”Right”). 
​Taping on different parts of the circle will make player’s character to attack in corresponding direction.  Minuses of this method, is that it decreases possible amount of attack angles to four and removes no brainer attack forward button. Though this type of attack controls proved them self in “Binding of Isaac” they still wouldn’t give that “Hotline Miami” accuracy we are trying to achieve. Of course we can use circle of 8 segments or more, but that will drastically complicate controls on small screen of the smartphone.


Swipe attacks – Why implement additional GUI elements, when we can literally “draw” direction of the attack with simple gestures? Swipe direction = attack direction  sounds simple and easy (worked god for fruit ninja at least=) ), but let’s think of a case when we have to “bash” same spot multiple times. Swiping several times in one direction might be not as easy as taping out attack button, plus it wouldn’t work for ranged automatic weapons if we will add them to the pile.



If anyone have anything to add I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this issue.

Turning endless runner into adventure game with level progression

26 May 2012 - 08:39 AM

Hi there!
I am currently working on a simple iOS game with small team (my first real game designing experience aside from some mods).

We started with idea to make a simple runner game with smooth controls and good dynamics like Jetpack Joyride or Temple Run.

Backstory is pretty simple: you are super bird Swift who must chase evil Raven to bring him to justice and stop his reign of terror and stuff.

The concept of the gameplay is pretty much your basic endless runner stuff: you fly down avoiding or destroying obstacles on your way.
Controls based on tilting for evasion and taping for using your powers.
The pitch is that you have multiple weapons and that after some time you get to Raven and have to beat him in various boss fights.
After that you warp to next world with new art and harder challenges.

Now when we have alfa on our hands there are couple problems that we are trying to solve:

Problem 1: People don’t want to lose progress.
Although game designed as endless runner it don’t quite feels as one. All testers expected to keep their progress after reaching world 1 (in current build all progress wipes after death and you start over) . I guess that happens because we focused on travel between worlds too much with boss fights and warp zone.

Problem 2: Wrong genre
Nobody really wants to release endless runners right now. We knocked couple of doors, but all publishers told us that although game looks pretty good they don’t need even more endless runners.

So instead of falling into desperation I came up with cool solution Im not quite sure how to pull off =)

I want to turn this endless runner game into game that will play and feel like adventure game with level progression. Each world will last for 5-10 minutes instead of 1-3, there will be checkpoints inside and between worlds and everything will be nice and dandy right?
As soon as we prototyped first world with checkpoints new problems emerged:

Problem 1: Game became boring.
Since we cant use pace of difficulty progression from before, we had to slow it down. Now what was first 20 seconds to “warm up” is 5 minutes to bore you to death.

Problem 2: Not enough content.
We have breakable obstacles, unbreakable obstacles that kills you, moving breakable obstacles and rotating unbreakable obstacles + we have “enemies” that add difficulty by blocking safe passages.
And that’s about it. Though we can draw new versions of this objects fort each world im not quite sure it will be enough. And there is only so much things you can add into game with only one axis for player to move. (if anyone have ideas on new obstacles or events I would be enormously grateful!)

Only solution that comes to my mind at the moment is to make powers more interesting to use, by changing controls from taping to swiping/holding etc. But im not sure that would be enough.

Im kind of lost here. What do you think people?