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The Mouse as a game controller

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I''d like to hear some opinions on games that use mouse input vs. games that use keyboard/gamepad input. Most games that come out on pc use the mouse as input, and I guess it is kind of an obvious decision for the game developers, since all pcs have a mouse. However, in a lot of games I find that the mouse can make games feel like the player has little control over what actually happens in the game. The best example I can think of right now is Dungeon Siege, in which all you need to do is click to move and heal your party. Even the battles are automatic! Some may enjoy this, but I find this pace to be rather slow since I get to actually do few of the parts of the game that I find fun when using a gamepad as controller. An example of a game that uses a gamepad to contrast with dungeon siege is Secret of Mana. I found the fighting to be really fun in this game! I do find the mouse much better for certain other types of games, mainly strategy. In strategy games a gamepad is usually not accurate enough or less efficient than a mouse. But for RPGs, action games, fps, puzzle games, racing/sports, etc. I prefer gamepad. Please post your thoughts/opinions. Thanks!

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stretegy: mouse
fps: mouse and keyboard, targeting with gamepad is too slow!
rpg: isnt needed but with great tables of numbers and for searchingfor an item on the screen->mouse
action games: mouse optional, mechwarrior is a good example of this! you use it for fast targeting and zooming
puzzle games???? : 3
racing sports: defnitly not, but football(soccer) in diablo style, dribble: left mouse button, shoot, right mousebutton sound interesting
in the space shooter i create, mouse is used to look around and to target...

[edited by - MadKeithV on August 20, 2002 5:01:15 AM]

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The mouse should be used with the keyboard. That way you get better targeting control with the mouse and more steady movement with the keyboard.
Even Diablo 2 made good use of both, playing without hotkeys would''ve been hell (no pun intended ).

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Actually I found a joystick easier to use in mechwarrior than mouse and keyboard, but I agree the mouse made some fps games easier to play. I still don''t mind the gamepad in goldeneye on n64 though.

What do you think of final fantasy style menus? I can see the mouse working well in them, but I didn''t find a gamepad too slow in them.

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quote:
Original post by Taiyou
The best example I can think of right now is Dungeon Siege, in which all you need to do is click to move and heal your party. Even the battles are automatic! Some may enjoy this, but I find this pace to be rather slow since I get to actually do few of the parts of the game that I find fun when using a gamepad as controller.

Isn''t this more about the game than the control method though? I mean, is it really more fun to hold down a directional-button for 2 seconds than it is to click once and wait for 2 seconds? I don''t think it makes a difference, personally.

quote:
An example of a game that uses a gamepad to contrast with dungeon siege is Secret of Mana. I found the fighting to be really fun in this game!

How was the gamepad used in this game, for those of us that haven''t played it?

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost | Asking Questions | Organising code files | My stuff ]

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Secret of Mana was a top down action rpg. You used the game pad to maneuver around the map/outmaneuver foes. Too me, there was finer control with a gamepad than with a mouse (easier to dodge if an enemy lunged at you). Also used for inventory, magic, talking, etc.

I think it would have suffered somewhat without directional movement (point and click movement just wouldn''t have had the same feel) - but that could have been accomplished as a keyboard/mouse combo.

The best thing about the game was multiplayer - gamepads are a must in that situation. It wouldn''t have had the same feel as a networked game.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
i generally prefer a combination of mouse and keyboard, ie, quake style movement with the wsad keys and the mouse for l/r/up/down aiming.
however, in some games, its fun to use solely keyboard, but i would not suggest it.
more people will have access to a mouse and keyboard than a joystick or gamepad, so i would tend to stick with these, at least until other options are more common.
of course, you can always allow both, and let the user choose.

-geo

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by Kylotan
I mean, is it really more fun to hold down a directional-button for 2 seconds than it is to click once and wait for 2 seconds? I don''t think it makes a difference, personally.


A directional button gives you direct control over a character''s actions. Clicking on a go-to spot with the mouse is more like giving orders to your character.

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The difference in mouse and contol pad are often psychological.

Mouse is usually less personal. Clicking to target, clicking to move. It is studdering... even the keyboard is rigid, both in shape and in in response. ASWD for movement is accurate but really limits motion to 8 directions. The keys offer a lot of possibilities, but this adds to a harder learning curve. Is strategy games, the A.I. plays an intermediary. These elements make no sense for games like racing, where smooth movement is needed for every element, steering, braking, gas... The rigidity of mouse/keyboard is the antithisis of what is desired.

Analog control pads are continuous in imput. You are contolling every moment of the character. IT FLOWS. This smoothness is great for a more viceral feel for what the character is doing/feeling.

It is always up to the game designers to make good use of these properties from either control format. Anything that requires browsing deep menus or selecting units for games that allow players to control more than one character at a time, then a mouse is much easier. For a simulation, only a keyboard offers enough raw possibilities to simulate operating complicated systems or events. That is, unless, the sim is to simulate the FEEL of doing something (driving) rather than the results (war sims). FPS games can go either way... You control only one character at a time, and while movent via the keyboard is mildly rigid, the mouse is unmatched in its versitility of precise or very fast motion. Alalog control pads close the gap well. If the FPS is limited in the necessary control elements, a pad is great. Halo is the prime example of simple beauty in a game.

And of coarse, any game that necessitates coversations through text... you have no options but a keayboard.

There are some games that try to break the rules, which is always good to see. The deceased Crackdotcom had made Abuse. This side-scrolling platformer game used the keyboard to control moventent and the mouse cursor to direct the player's direction of fire(and very quickly!). Like Contra, but with true 360 degree rotation rather than 8 directions It had a lot of strategic elements rather than Contras total run-and-gun style.

Don't break rules just to break them. When an established control system does the job just fine, USE IT! No need to confuse the players for no benefits.

CDV

[edited by - Warsong02 on August 17, 2002 3:30:12 AM]

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
A directional button gives you direct control over a character''s actions. Clicking on a go-to spot with the mouse is more like giving orders to your character.

You don''t have to click... you could drag the mouse over the path you wish to take, or have it so that holding the mouse button down moves the player towards the mouse cursor (much like Diablo 2 and Ultima 7, to an extent).



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Yeah, making the player walk in the direction the mouse is pointing makes it better. I think path-finding makes rpgs too easy. Like in Bladur''s Gate or Darksstone: If there''s somewhere I don''t know how to get to, I just have to click it instead of exploring and the computer finds the way.

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I personally like the feeling of top-down type games, like diablo 2, where you click and the character(s) move to that position. It gives you a great feeling of command and control, and it''s so much easier to react to any given situation.

However 90% of First Person Shooter players play with Mouse + Keyboard (either arrow keys or WASD).

Really it doesn''t matter what control config YOU like, it matters what control config your PLAYERS like.

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I think you should always first try to imagine just exactly what actions you need the controls to be able to handle.

As Warsong02 mentioned, each control device has its own pros and cons. The pro of the mouse is quick movement. The pro of an analog control pad is accurate movement. The pro of the mouse is that it only requires one hand (leaving one hand available for the keyboard).

The con of the mouse is that it only has a limited number of buttons (2-4, plus optional scroll button). The con of the control pad is that it has a set number of buttons (which can be combined to some degree). The con of the control pad is that it requires two hands (good luck trying to type messages while playing).

The keyboard has pros and cons as well, as do all other controllers.

Find out what exactly you need, and then go searching for the perfect input device. You might need to adjust your original game design in order to fit it with your final choice of controller.

My personal favorite has always been the mouse/keyboard choice, but I am more and more starting to like the analog control pad (especially with dual-joystick). The design I''m currently working on seems to be perfectly suited for the control pad. But the control pad is limited to a certain number of control inputs. If my design requires more, I will either have to switch to a different control device (keyboard, with its many buttons, is still probably the best control device if you want to have many, many different control inputs) or I will have to give up some of the desired control inputs ("Darn, I don''t have any buttons available for weapon 5... Scratch weapon 5!").

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With a mouse you generally specify locations, whereas with a gamepad you specify movement as a way to get to a location.

Is pressing on a gamepad different than using a mouse? Of course! Play Secret of Mana, then play Diablo. Or imagine playing a Final Fight type game with a mouse.

Mouse is good for a first person game, or a game like an RTS. (In an FPS you don't move just with the mouse though) Think about where the mouse came from, the OS need. And RTS is a lot like an OS, you have a lot of different things you want to click on, move around, etc.

However, for controlling a single character a mouse is usually terrible compared to a controller. A controller makes you do the work yourself. Choose your own path, dodge things, etc. For controlling one character it is generally much more interactive than "go here." Mouse is great for those types of commands but lousy for things like "dodge left, creep right one step, now run real quick!"

Edit: Dragging out a path or moving towards the mouse cursor is still not the same effect. Imagine playing Super Mario Brothers 3 by dragging out the path you want Mario to take.

In general IMO if you are controlling a single character and controlling that character is one of the major focuses of the game a pad is better. The Diablo games would be more fun if you actually controlled your character directly. (It might not be possible since you need the keyboard for hotkeys and need to manage inventory and such, but if you could make it work it would be better) Again compare say Zelda to Diablo, in Zelda you feel like you are the character rather than commanding one.

[edited by - AnonPoster on August 17, 2002 9:36:50 PM]

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quote:
Original post by Taiyou
Yeah, making the player walk in the direction the mouse is pointing makes it better. I think path-finding makes rpgs too easy. Like in Baldur''s Gate or Darksstone: If there''s somewhere I don''t know how to get to, I just have to click it instead of exploring and the computer finds the way.

Yeah. And in Baldur''s Gate, if there''s somewhere you do know how to get to, just click it and the computer will find the most dangerous and long-winded path to get there



[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost | Asking Questions | Organising code files | My stuff ]

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quote:
Original post by AnonPoster
Is pressing on a gamepad different than using a mouse? Of course! Play Secret of Mana, then play Diablo. Or imagine playing a Final Fight type game with a mouse.

[...]

Edit: Dragging out a path or moving towards the mouse cursor is still not the same effect. Imagine playing Super Mario Brothers 3 by dragging out the path you want Mario to take.

For SMB3 and Final Fight, you''re right. Aren''t these both side-on games, though? It doesn''t have to be the way you describe. The standard control system in Ultima 7 worked in much the same way as a gamepad in that you steered the character in one of 8 directions.



[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost | Asking Questions | Organising code files | My stuff ]

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Ok, I''m glad to hear that some people actually do like using a gamepad in some games.

I was also wondering, on a computer, is the keyboard an acceptable replacement for those who do not have a gamepad?

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For a game that was designed to use a gamepad, I find that the keyboard to be a terrible substitute. Tried playing some classic console ROMS on a keyboard? Can''t stand it. Won''t do it. Using a gamepad is the only way for me. Fighting games, action games, platformers... not many translate to keyboard very well.

CDV

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It's really all a matter of personal preference as to what you find most comfortable. Personally I not a fan of gamepads, but then I don’t use them very often, partly because I don’t own a gamepad (or a game console for that matter). Other people have different views and that’s fine .

Going back into the mists of time, when I first played doom (original not long after it came out) I used solely the keyboard. As the FPS’s have become more complex I’ve used the combination of mouse/keyboard. The mouse gives me more finite control over targeting, plus it frees up more keys for me to utilise for the myriad of other actions performed by FPSs’. For example in AvP2 I confined the entire key options to the Keypad and the six extra keys (INSERT to PAGE DOWN) and used the mouse for targeting and turning.

Other examples –
Strategy games, thousands of options and checkboxes, mouse is better.
RTS, Many units spread over a wide field of battle. Mouse combined with Keyboard
Flight Sims, of course a combination of joystick and keyboard.

My point is that the number of options of actions that can be performed in an instant is relevant to the type of input you use. Therefore because games are becoming more complex and the number of actions you can use at one time is increasing I find that I use the keyboard now ALWAYS in combination with another input device. Therefore the mouse is just a secondary choice of input for me, its just a convenience, it’s the keyboard that’s the star.


[edit for bad english]

"Making it up! Why should I be making it up. Lifes bad enough as it is without wanting to invent more of it."

[edited by - Zarquon on August 20, 2002 4:20:10 AM]

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I don''t have much to add to this discussion except to make a small advert for my asteroids game in my signature

Take a look at it if you want an example of a game where you control with the mouse without being "inpersonal".

My Stuff : [ Whispers in Akarra (online rpg) || L33T WAR (multiplayer game) || The Asteroid Menace (another game) ]

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