Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

LtKicker

Button Madness

Recommended Posts

Buttons. They''re driving me nuts. Games now a days have so many buttons that you have to spend a hour just to figure out what they do. Not only that you also have to learn button combos which in is just memorization of button lists so you can exicute a special death move that utterly destroys the opponent. This is not because of skill but because of memorization. And top it all off most of the time you are just senselessly jamming at the buttons so you deal more damage than the opponent because you have the faster trigger finger. I''m not saying that a game that has these things is bad. I''m saying that it could be improved by removing these useless complications. Examples in MegaMan series can show why this would be nice. First off if you''ve played megaman you''ve noticed how most of the time you are to certain extent jamming or holding a button to either attack or charge. Couldn''t this be automated? It wouldn''t take to much of an effort to add an automatic attack system which would keep the focus on where it should be, evasion. Mega man definition of gameplay is evading enemy attacks so you can last long enough to pull off your own attacks and destroy your opponent. You notice that evasion makes up the first and formost thing you should do. Talking about evading, dashing has now became a very important thing in thwe megaman series. What is dashing? It just activating rockets on your boots so that you can move horizontaly quickly for a short amount of time. While this is useful does it really a button devoted just to it? Couldn''t it just be activated when there''s a circumastance that calls for it and when that happens you just hit right or left. Or is it even needed? Also the question on the weapons you earn from bosses, how should they be activated. They should be activated automatically whenever they would be most useful. Such as if you were attacking a boss or enemy with a weakness to the weapon or maybe because of the positioning of the enemies would make the weapon useful. Any comments or ideas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I''m in 2 minds about this. On one hand, I find it unfortunate that there are so many keypresses to remember these days that anyone new to a first-person shooter game is unlikely to learn them all. I know I certainly never used all the keys in games from Quake 2 onwards. But on the other hand, a game like Thief couldn''t be so rich without controls for several different movement speeds, crouching, jumping, attacking + blocking, zoom in and out, etc. In a fast-paced game a menu system is too slow and in a fairly non-linear game you can''t make decisions on the player''s behalf about how they want to act.

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I reckon you have a very fair point, although perhaps a badly delivered. I too feel an awful developers are becoming reliant on adding another button/command because the joypad allows them to do so. However, just automating things isn''t necessarily the answer.

You seem unhappy about the amount of overused buttons but I feel you''d be just as incensed when a game switches weapon for you when you didn''t want to.

Now I''m not too familiar with the megaman series but you suggest the gameplay is about evading attacks allowing you the opportunity to pull of your own. Yet, at the same time, you suggest making attacks automated. I don''t see removing chunks of the gameplay as an answer to too many commands available.

You then mention that the dash ability could be automatically activated when needed. Well, why bother having them then?


Games are about testing your reflexes and abilities against challenges set by the game. Overcomplication can get in the way of this and should be avoided. However, I feel you are just asking for basic elements to be removed. Basic elements that are part of the whole dynamic - do I shoot? do I dash? Can I make that jump? etc etc.






Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by LtKicker Couldn't this be automated? It wouldn't take to much of an effort to add an automatic attack system which would keep the focus on where it should be, evasion. Mega man definition of gameplay is evading enemy attacks so you can last long enough to pull off your own attacks and destroy your opponent. You notice that evasion makes up the first and formost thing you should do.


But what if your automated system decides to attack, when you want to evade?


quote:

Talking about evading, dashing has now became a very important thing in thwe megaman series. What is dashing? It just activating rockets on your boots so that you can move horizontaly quickly for a short amount of time. While this is useful does it really a button devoted just to it? Couldn't it just be activated when there's a circumastance that calls for it and when that happens you just hit right or left.



What happens if it dashes you when you wanted to stay still? What if your algorithm determines you need to dash while your standing on a platform and throws you off the edge?

quote:
Also the question on the weapons you earn from bosses, how should they be activated. They should be activated automatically whenever they would be most useful. Such as if you were attacking a boss or enemy with a weakness to the weapon or maybe because of the positioning of the enemies would make the weapon useful.


Then there is very little point in giving your bosses weaknesses to particular weapons, and the player will never have to find out for themselves what those weapons are.

I think it was Sid Meier who said "A game is a series of interesting choices". If you automate the player's choices, then they aren't interesting anymore - you end up with something like Progress Quest. If you're going to automate attacks, might as well automate evasion too, after all, why wouldn't you want to evade an attack? So really you're just guiding the player through the map. But hey, the maps are linear, or at least have a fixed solution, so why not save the player the bother of navigate it? That could easily be automated. At this rate you'll end up with a single 'complete game' button.

Conclusion: Automate only the mundane choices that aren't interesting. As for reducing buttons, that is a UI design thing - if you are smart you can keep it down to a sensible minimum without crippling your game in the process.

[edited by - Sandman on July 2, 2003 10:14:19 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sorry. I did go a little of the wall. I was just trying to find an example I could use. Maybe I could give a better example such as in Megaman Zero. I have only played it a little bit but one of the things I notice and hate is that there is two different attack buttons. This is suppose to allow you to handle two different weapon systems. The example is the z-buster/z-saber combination. One is ranged and the other is for close combat giving them very specific purposes in the game. Wouldn''t it be better to have the weapon automatically switch depending on the range of your opponent or just have the button shoot your gun and when your near to touching the opponent automatically swing your sword. Comments?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To a certain extent you can see that in some games already. The metal slug series are about shooting with guns but should you happen to press fire while near an enemy you''re character whips out a knife and slashes them real quick. It''s a nice touch and it doesn''t hinder gameplay.

However, in the case of megaman I''m guessing there''s a certain trade-off (I''ve not played the game). Something like the short-range weapon being stronger thus forcing a player to decide whether or not they wish to risk going in close for more damage.

Thats the whole point of games - decisions, actions and responses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think more players would like to be able to control which weapon they use rather than let the system decide. Then again, it could be an option in the config screen (auto-weapon YES/NO), just like Descent allowed auto-aligning, which I turned off as quickly as I could.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by LtKicker
The example is the z-buster/z-saber combination. One is ranged and the other is for close combat giving them very specific purposes in the game. Wouldn''t it be better to have the weapon automatically switch depending on the range of your opponent or just have the button shoot your gun and when your near to touching the opponent automatically swing your sword. Comments?


but that removes the whole skill aspect to the game. Auto-Switching Weapons in quake 3 is find because it changes when you pick a weapon up, not when you want to use it.

the whole point of having a long and short range control system is that YOU LEARN when to use both, YOU LEARN their ranges, and YOU LEARN to deal with 2 attack buttons.

Hell, street fighter has 6 attack buttons (weak/medium/strong punch and kick) which works perfectly together, as the whole point of the game is to test you reflexes, timing and co-ordination. if you don''t like it, don''t play the damn game. MegaMan is a game of SKILL, so why take away this aspect?

Another good example of this is metal slug. The action is absolutely frantic on screen and you can only carry one weapon (which can be changed) and some grenades (so much for halo being the first in that department ). Now, the skill of the game is knowing exactly when to fire, where to fire, and which weapon to have equipped. There''s also a heck of a lot of jumping and dodging of bullets going on.

I have my own way of playing metal slug, and I know other people that have theirs too. But we all agree that the fun is building up your skill so you can tackle any situation in the game, otherwise there''s no point to it, or any game. Games are about skill. If you want boring automation, go play windows solitare.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have to agree. I recently rented out Medal of honour and Ghost Recon, and was overwhelmed by the amount of buttons that come up in the loading screens! All I wanted to do was shoot stuff, but here I had buttons for duck, crounch, throw grenade, bring up map, change map, change map while selecting team, pick nose..

I think that it does go a bit overkill sometimes. I remeber hearing on the radio (Triple J if anyone knows what that is) where they were talking to a guy who just spent about 10 years or summin in jail. When he came out was when playstation 1 just got released. He said he remebers before going to jail of going to bars and having one stick to move, and one button to fire a ship. Now he says that there are so many buttons, he feels like everyone has become almost superhuman to him. He was saying that all those buttons confused the heck out of him (R1, L2, select, triangle), and that they change each and every game blew his mind. He thought that games just need to be simpler and thought it was all very over the top.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you automate all the actions, then what''s the point of playing the game?

For example, part of the challenge in playing the megaman games is finding out what weapons beat which bosses and where they can be cleverly used to activate certain secret areas. If the game automatically switched to the weapon for you, you would be completely removing the puzzle element of the game.

Also, you say you should automate the attacks, aside from the fact that I would not personally enjoy the game if this were removed, this is a fair enough statement because it does allow the player to focus more on evasion. However you also said features such as dash should be automated, in which case the player can''t control either the attack or the evasion, leaving the game to play itself.

As a side note, if one (or both) of these systems were automated, you would also have to spend A LOT of development and testing time making sure these features worked perfectly, since nothing would be more annoying than inconsistent controls. The player shouldn''t have to press the right arrow trying to dodge a bullet and say to themself "I hope the game uses dash for me this time". For this reason alone, it is probably better to leave the control to the player because there is no way to calculate the limitless possibilities that the player may want to use dashing for.

Finally, I would like to point out that not many games that I know of use buttons on the controller just because they''re there. Some games do add controls because they have buttons left over, but these controls are most often quick access to things that are tied up in complicated menus, simply making the experience more stream-lined for the player. And, if you''ll look at the controls for a game like megaman, I think you''ll realize that there really isn''t anything that can be taken out without majorly imapiring the feature set of the game. THe controls included are as follows:

- Jump (Essential to a platform game, unless you''re planning on having a completely flat level)
- Attack (If the player is hurt by touching an enemy, like you are in the megaman series, then I don''t know how this can be automated)
- Attack with sword (Ok, this one can be removed because you already have another style of attack, but your getting rid of a major feature here)
- Dash (This game relies on evasion, so you can''t do without this one)
- Select Weapon (Done through a menu, and therefore eliminates a lot of buttons anyway)
- Move (Self explanatory)

So, I don''t know what can be removed from that list, but that''s all there is to any given megaman game (Some have even less than this!). In any case making basic controls like these automated only detracts from the gameplay experience in my opinion. But that''s just my thoughts.

Wow! This is a long post (Sorry about that to anyone who actually took the time to read it ).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The point is not to remove control from the player. What is required to be on the controler consist of a movement pad then a primary and secondary button. In the case of Megaman the primary button should control jumping, secondary attacking and the Movement pad should move your character. Jumping and movement are the most important things then comes attacking.

The problem is when you add extra weapons and dashing. If you add extra weapons to the character the should serve a purpose specific only to itself. Megaman 2 is good example of this. Every weapon did something unique and benificial that made it useful. Whether it was to hit hard to reach targets, destroy a line of enemies, defense or just to plain obliterate the target at hand each one was useful in its own way. That way you don''t have needless repitition found in most games and if you where to make the controls have very simple ways to activate them without the need of a menu. This could allow us to quickly change the weaponry through input that can be identified for the situtation.

Also on dashing, this is a completely needless complication to the gameplay. We already can move from side to side.

And on Automation, I understand some aspects shouldn''t be automated but we also must understand I am trying to make games playable by everyone. To many people try and make games for us elite few and that is wrong. Comments?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Also on dashing, this is a completely needless complication to the gameplay. We already can move from side to side.


Yeah, what was Sony thinking when they made - (not one) - but *two* analog control sticks?

Personally, I think games should have more choices the player can make and techniques the player can use. I like the fact that gamers can now complain about too many features in their games. Granted, complexity begets misunderstanding, but then again, has anyone ever played a MechWarrior game on PC? You practically have to have 20 fingers - but I love the game.

Here''s a simple solution: Double-tap a direction for dash. You don''t like dashing? Don''t use it. I will.

printf( char *MD.LeadG->GetSignature());

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
uhmm well if you want automated attacks in megaman and auto jumping etc. You might as well just make a game with flat ground in which u jump around stuff.. Basicly the points of having attacks is that u have to decide whether your going to spend those extra 3 secs charging to kill the guy coming at you in 1 hit or if your just going to try to kill him by shooting 2 regular blasts and which will work before he get to you. Half of the challenge of the game is having to make decisions on attacking. If you dont like buttons go play pong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree that games can be complicated. I don''t agree that this is a bad thing. Developers can use techniques like double tapping buttons (directions as well) to accomplish certain tasks. This way, no more buttons will be taken up, and people can choose when they want to use a certain feature (like dashing) when they are ready without worrying about button configurations.


printf( char *MD.LeadG->GetSignature());

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think that the solution is not removing the level of control but providing settings in the game that allow you to turn up the level of interaction available.

I would personally hate a game where the controls were limited just because someone else couldn''t handle the system.. if you are looking for games that are easy to control start porting & updating old NES games (d+4 buttons), or even better, Sega Master System (d+2 buttons, controller compatible with the Commodore 64!). I agree that some controllers are outrageous, but that was done from player demand; if people did not want more control and a more interactive experience games would not have progressed.

Thinking about this I actually remember how many more games I played and enjoyed when games were simpler, but the quantity of the experience does not make up for the quality. The original Metal Gear was a crazy game when it first came out, but when I played MGS for PS1 I realized that I could never go back to having less control.

When the biggest thing that people demadn from games are options and interaction the only solution is extension of the input system. A million commands on a keyboard is not so bad because you can bind the important ones to a few keystrokes, but try porting Civilization to Super Nintendo and you run into some limitations.

As for the dual analog controls I didn''t play enough games that used these so I dont know if this was done, but I think it would have been a brilliant interface for a space based combat system; one controls your heading, the other your bearing, and you would still have 2L + 2R buttons for other controls.

/me pulls his PS1 out of a box and plays some MGS.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Buttons. They''re driving me nuts. Games now a days have so many buttons that you have to spend a hour just to figure out what they do. Not only that you also have to learn button combos which in is just memorization of button lists so you can exicute a special death move that utterly destroys the opponent. This is not because of skill but because of memorization.

It most certainly is skill, but in games like those - (I assume a Mortal Kombat-esque variant, although it doesn''t really matter) - you have to get to know your character, which involves memorizing your moves. You also have to memorize your opponents moves. Think real martial arts for a second ... once you know Jeet Kun Do, you can then proceed to kick some ass. But how can you kick ass if you don''t know Jeet Kun Do? Once you do this however, the memorization game becomes a game of skill for you. It''s no longer a mindset of "memorization", rather, you decide which move to make where and when. If there was no skill involved, a complete ameteur pressing random button combinations would fair equally well against a player that has 5 years playing experience.

quote:
And top it all off most of the time you are just senselessly jamming at the buttons so you deal more damage than the opponent because you have the faster trigger finger.

For people who play these games, it''s not a matter of senselessly jamming some buttons. I''m one of those "always has to get another trick" people when playing Tony Hawk. I think if it is a competitive game, then the player *should* do anything and everything available to win, whether it means using dash effectively, or being the fastest to press the B-Button. If you can''t fire as fast as your opponent, then you aren''t good enough. It''s pretty much that simple.

from ChaoticCanuck:
quote:
When the biggest thing that people demadn from games are options and interaction the only solution is extension of the input system. A million commands on a keyboard is not so bad because you can bind the important ones to a few keystrokes, but try porting Civilization to Super Nintendo and you run into some limitations.

Yes.


printf( char *MD.LeadG->GetSignature());

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There is definitely a need for balance, but complex controls are not inherently evil. My rule of thumb: if removing a control will remove a valuable choice from the player, the control needs to stay. Two games which I feel did this very well were Jedi Outcast and RTCW. In JO, you could accomplish all kinds of slashes, spins, flips, and stabs with the lightsaber depending on what keys you pressed while attacking. There are only really a few controls for moving: strafe left, strafe right, walk, backpedal, jump, and crouch. It is the combinations that make them powerful, for example crouching and strafing to accomplish a nifty somersault. All of the controls can be accessed with one hand, and they feel natural. JO''s controls are Good.

RTCW is similar, but with some extra controls, namely lean left and lean right. There aren''t any of the flips and acrobatics from JO, because RTCW is not JO. Peering around corners, however, is central to the RTCW gameplay.

The point? Every game is different. Yes you could automate things in Megaman, but it would no longer be Megaman. You could remove all of the saber attacks and acrobatics from Jedi Outcast, but then you may as well be playing Quake III with different guns. Changing the controls deeply impacts the feel of the game, and if the game''s characters are supposed to do complicated things, then complicated controls are a must.

However, I do agree that it can be overdone, as in Ghost Recon. I only had to try it once to know I''d never enjoy trying to remember what to press just before I got shot in the head.



Finally, automating things in a game is a deadly idea. As someone mentioned, Metal Slug has an automatic knife mode for when you are close to enemies. I think this works for two reasons. First of all, the stab is little/no slower than using the gun, so it has no disadvantage of inconveniencing the player. Secondly, it fits with the feel of the game overall.

Conversely, in Megaman Zero, having the saber really added an element of choice to the game. I saw three styles when watching people play -- favoring the buster, favoring the saber, and mixing them pragmatically. This choice is crucial to the feel of the game. Removing a choice that affects play style is a bad thing. So the rule of thumb for automatically doing things: if it affects the way the game is played, do not do it -- or at the VERY least let the player turn it off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You can''t automate the saber/blaster in Mega Man anyway. There are times in MMX when you want to use the saber, even at long range. Like to destroy enemy bullets.

One can make a valid argument about simplying games these days, but the Mega Man series is definitely *not* one that needs simplifying. If you can''t handle run, jump, shoot/slash, then you shouldn''t be playing games period.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Interesting thread. We often talk about a game''s control system being either ''too hard'' or ''too simplistic'' but of greater importance (to me anyway) is how intuitive the controls are. Defining ''intuitive'' is very difficult and quite subjective so here''s an (entirely subjective) example of what I mean.

Tekken 3 and SF2 in its various guises are both great fighting games that I really enjoy. Both games offer instant playability through ''button mashing'' as well as providing highly advanced moves and combos that are complex enough that very few people will ever master all of them. This is where Tekken gains its edge.

SF special moves are fairly arbitrary and the only way to find them is through trial and error. In Tekken on the other hand, the four buttons = four limbs system means that the advanced moves can be found by mimicing other players. For example when you see the CPU making Heihachi do his double handed punch thing, you can be pretty sure that this is done by hitting the two hand buttons together.

Similarly with the combos. When one of Gun Jack''s punches leaves him standing with his right arm raised above his head then you instinctively press triangle to swing it down and continue the combo. This leads to those sublime yet elusive gaming moments where you stop thinking about the controller, sometimes stop thinking entirely, and ''become'' the character on screen.

Sorry about the long post! In summary, control complexity (or lack of it) is not the problem. A highly intuitive system that responds in a predictable way is the key to reducing the barrier between the player and the game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think LtKicker has a point but he went too far with it. I remember times when my character does automated things and even tought I found new uses for it, since my character can only do it in exact circumstances under the supposedly apparent fact that it will be needed only at that time.

With the dash thing, when playing megaman most of the time I don''t jump, I dash then jump, unless that large jump is going to make me hit against spikes or something like that so in those cases I do the normal jump.

You are right, the memorized button combination is not suitable for many situations, but when you have more than 8 or so moves and not so many buttons, they are probably the best way to go. Besides, all that memorizing might be part of the challenge. The better your memory, the bigger the number of moves you can perform.

And abot the carging thing, I find it really annoying to keep presing the button... until it became necesary to shot a little bullet because otherwise the robot with the ice spike won''t let it fall so you can get on the plane side and jump to the other side, because if you hit him with the charge, it blows the ice too...

I think the buttons used in games like megaman could be designed in a more clever way but its okay like that. I have found times when buttons are unnecesary, and times when I think, it would be a lot better if you had a button just for ''that''(replace that with some simple frecuently used action that instead is performed using some complicated procedure), like some article I read, but can''t remember the name, you should have extra stuff just to make the game cool, it will just ruin it.

The last thing is just to make sure the player has easy access to the most used and basic moves. ;D

---------------------->
Nothing in the world is the way it should be; that''s why we, the champions, exist and live for: HOPE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites