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Zelda-Diablo Input

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without further ado, lets get back to the nitty-gritty.

i've been thinking lately on how to do the belt and spellbook hotkeying, and i've realized that i don't exactly know how i've got the joystick set up.

let's start with the basics: gameboy advance button setup. i've got a ps2 joystick hooked to my pc through a to-usb converter. the button mapping may not be obvious, so let's go over how i'm doing that.

basically, the L and R buttons map to L1 and R1. i stick with the d-pad, start and select. then we have B and A, which are mapped to X and O. its a comfortable way for me to lay my thumb across buttons, like i have since the NES joystick was around.

from here, the d-pad moves the player. obviously.

select will toggle the automap on and off.

start will bring up the inventory screen. from the inventory screen, L and R will move through the various other screens (charsheet, spellbook, quests) and wrap back around to the inventory. select could bring up the main menu from here. i'll go into detail on these screens after i've looked at the four other buttons.

L is probably best used as the item pickup button. while in the item pickup selection menu, pressing start should allow you to open the inventory so you can place the item manually if you choose.

R is likely to be used as the quick-select toggle. this part is where things might seem a little complicated. so far the idea is to press R to bring up a small menu, and you select from belt, spellbook, or weapons using one of three directions on the d-pad. if you've picked the belt, you use the d-pad to move along the belt that just popped up and press either A or B to use the item immediately. if you've picked the spellbook, you use the d-pad to move amongst the spells/skills you know and press A or B to set it to that button. if you've picked the weapons, you then pick one of the two weapons sets you've got equipped. you press either A or B and it gets set to that button. at any time during the selection toggle, you press R again (or release R? give this as an option) to get out.

at this point, its probably obvious that A and B simply perform the action you've set to them from the R button screen. if i were to go with the above setup, i'm going to make sure everything is obvious to the user. what needs to be obvious? for one, what the buttons all do. in zelda, the buttons are mapped out somewhere on the screen, and what you've got things set to are shown on the button. in minish cap, the R button had a word over it that told you what you'd do if you pressed it. the other two would have the item you had selected, hovering over the button. it didn't show L or start or select, but those weren't important enough and would likely have just cluttered things.

so its important that we have the UI show us what the important buttons are going to do. in diablo, the skills were shown at the bottom. the belt was too, but the hotkeys were ready to go - in this case we don't have hotkeys to the belt, so we don't need to show it at all times.

imagine if, when we pressed R, a quicky menu dropped down at the top of the screen:

| |
| [weapon sets]-o-[spellbook] |
| | |
| [belt] |
| |
| |
| ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |

it would probably be a little more graphical than that, but it shouldn't be a stretch for you to get the idea. from there, you'd move the d-pad to the option you wanted, and pressed either A or B to move into the option (alternatively, just pressing the direction could select it?). the quicky menu would go away, and depending on which one you picked, you'd get one of the menus to slide on. pressing down would get the belt to slide up. i've already discussed this.. but we would probably want to have a message just over the belt to tell the user to press A or B to use the selected item. if there's empty slots at the start of the belt, the cursor should be moved over to the first item available.

pressing left would have the equipped item screen come up (on the left?) and the cursor would only be able to move between the weapon set tabs. we'd need to indicate for you to press A or B to set it - perhaps even darkening the whole inventory panel except for the weapons and set tabs. a message somewhere nearby (just above or just below), in the darkened region could tell you just that "press (A) or (B) to assign".

pressing right would have the quickspell menu come up (diablo1).. what about in the case of diablo2, with the skill tree? it wouldn't be particularly quick to have to use the tabs to pick between the skill sheets and then go onto the sheets and nav to the skill you wanted. it wouldn't be especially quick to nav through the quickspell menu in diablo1 either, if you had all the spells available. this one needs even more thought. i'd guess we needed to have a special 'spell belt' setup for this one, that mimics the simplicity of the belt interface. you were allowed what, 8 hotkeys for spells, and later in diablo2 - 12 hotkeys. a 2x or 3x 4 slot array would be pretty quick to select from.

now that i've gone through this some, i've got some changes to make. for one, the starting R-menu should probably look more like:

| |
| [quickspells] |
| | |
| o-[weapon sets] |
| | |
| [belt] |
| |
| |
| ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ |

where the quickspell array will drop from the top, and the inventory will slide on from the right side, as all subscreens will likely do. that would feel more natural, i think.

holding in R for the quick menu and then pressing a direction, then having a panel slide on - you wouldn't want to have to hang onto R to go through your selection process from there. having to pressing it again to close the panel.. that seems to make the most sense to do.

i have to have to drop this here, but i've gotta get some sleep for work tomorrow. i'll go over the subscreens in my next entry. we've pretty much got the whole UI set up now. the subscreens are pretty straightforward, i'm pretty sure.
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