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serratemplar

Control complexity (too many buttons vs too few)

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serratemplar    1656
Mechwarrior could have virtually any key mapped to some function, while a nintendo game gets by on eight buttons. A lot of games feature "buttons" on the screen that you manipulate with the mouse. My current game idea could potentially have a pretty complex control paradigm (sequences of some number of keys to get things to happen) and it occurs to me that this may be fun for only a very small demographic. However, if I reduce it to having those "sequences" each just be a button hit, I basically would have Diablo or some MMO without the other players: map your three favorite keys and mash them like Nintendo. My question's not really an easy one to answer: "What would be more fun for the end-user?" I'd really like some thoughts on it and any article links people may have. I haven't found much that's really helped me make a decision yet. Thank you all in advance.

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Sneftel    1788
Well, hold on. How many controls are there, really? Are you planning on adding complexity to your control system in order to ramp up the difficulty?

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serratemplar    1656
Sneftel: Yes, that's part of what I'm thinking. So not only sequence and number of keys in the sequence, but potentially the timing and rhythm of the sequence as well. (NOT a music/DDR game...but I suppose those are an example I hadn't thought of before.)

Sorry I'm being skimpy on details, but the idea is still fledgling and I don't want someone else to pick it up and run with it.

EDIT: As for how many, I'm still not sure; that's part of what this topic is about =) as well as how much work I want to put into this winter project of mine (more key sequences = more things you can do = more content to generate)

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Sneftel    1788
Think REAL hard before doing that. Indications are that outside of a very few niche genres (DDR, Street Fighter) making the game hard by making it hard to control leads to player frustration and breaks immersion.

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serratemplar    1656
That's precisely what I'm worried about. Perhaps making the control interface as simple and dumbfire as possible isn't such a bad idea? More emphasis on contending with the in-game environment (opponents, puzzles) and less on the keyboard.

I think I was already headed in that direction anyway, but I needed someone to essentially say "What?! Are you CRAZY?!!" =)

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Captain P    1092
If it concerns a combo fighting system, for example, then it might work. Personally, I'm usually just bashing some buttons to get some fancy results. Eventually, if the combo's have a proper effect, I'll start using the system better. In other words, it has to be worth it. And if there's timing involved, it has to be really, really worth the frustration it adds.

If this concerns what I consider 'basic' actions, such as movement, selecting and firing weapons, etc, then I'd keep them really simple. I tend to throw away games where basic movement is complicated, and this also means games where every little object in a level blocks movement, etc. Inverting the controls for some reason is also highly annoying, not challenging (it wasted the end of Beyond Good and Evil for me, an otherwise enjoyable game bytheway).


In other words, I believe there's some scaling possible, depending on the frequency of use and function of the action. I'd be carefull with it, though.

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Sneftel    1788
Quote:
Original post by Captain P
Inverting the controls for some reason is also highly annoying, not challenging (it wasted the end of Beyond Good and Evil for me, an otherwise enjoyable game bytheway).

Good God, yes. I eventually turned my keyboard 180 degrees for that bit. Pain in the ass.

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Edtharan    607
I would say the controls need to be as simple as possible, but no simpler. Also they have to be a complex as possible but no more so.

That, I am sorry to say, is not very helpful as it doesn't answer your question.

However, it does lead on to the maxim: "Don't make your players fight the controls. They are there to fight the bad guy."

That is the best answer you can get.

In games like DDR, they did not make the player's fight the controls. They made the controls quite easy to use. The player's co ordination is challenged as it is with any action game, but the controls are not difficult to use, they are not too complex. Anyone can see the controls for DDR and understand almost immediately what to do. They are in fact, very simple controls.

In versions I have seen the actual pad lights up. How much more obvious can you get.

We can;t light up individual buttons on a controller (yet - but that would be cool if we could), so this adds a layer of complexity and abstraction in any DDR like game. This immediately makes any such game on a controller less intuitive and simple. It makes it more complex.

Complexity in controls is not just about the number of buttons you have to press, but mainly about the mapping of the player's intended action onto the controller.

If this mapping is simple (like in DDR), then the controls are simple, if the mapping is complex (like Mechwarrior) then the controls are complex.

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Madster    242
Complex controls mean high entry barrier.

Once someone grasps the complex controls, they'll want return for their investment. They'll want their time spent learning those controls to pay off... so either you can do wicked stuff using them, or you should simplify them.

Also, you could do a ramp.. stratified control complexity, easy to get into, hard to master (key groups, a small core that's required and the rest will just improve your game, ala MechWarrior).

Or... you could make them real easy and focus on in-game difficulty.

They're design choices. I like them all. Tho I did bail out on MechWarrior 3 because I didn't have a proper Joystick with Z-axis, and mouse/keyboard just wouldn't cut it.

And playing Descent 3 with a Strategic Commander + Sidewinder Force Feedback Pro was pure bliss. that is, until I upgraded to XP and Sidewinder's force feedback stopped working and there weren't any driver updates.
I roll with Logitech now. Never looked back.
I disgress.

Control complexity is a design choice ;)

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NIm    210
My personal opinion is that it should be possible to make the charachter do EXACTLY what the player wants them to, with a minumum of difficulty. Obviously this should be within the limits of the charachter. THere should be NO awkwardness in the controls, unless You like games like street fighter, and I don't. I dislike them because You have trouble controlling the charachter.

I'm taking this idea to the extreme in my RTS. I hope to come up with an intuitiv scripting system that allows the player to do almost anyhting within the limits of the keyboard. My hope is that if I design it well to begin with, a playerbase will suggest improvements, and I will add more scripts to make it even easier to control. I don't want the player to get bogged down in micromanagement, so I let them(or thier scripter friends, or me) write scripts to do that micromanagement for them. Let it be about strategy, action, or whatever your game is about.

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OrangyTang    1298
Quote:
Original post by serratemplar
map your three favorite keys and mash them like Nintendo.
...
making the control interface as simple and dumbfire

A minimal control system doesn't imply simple and/or dumb you know. A good control scheme is intuitive and flexible to use, with as few buttons as needed.

My favorite example is Viewtiful Joe, which for the basic beat-em-up only uses three buttons - punch, kick and jump. But because it combines these with context (current pose, previous move, enemy position) and the direction of the analog stick theres a huge number of possible moves to pull off. Because it's initially simple it's quick to get started with. With practice the player picks up on the specific moves and whats appropriate in what circumstances. Timing and rhythm are developed so the player waits until just the right moment to trigger the next carefully chosen attack.

The Zelda games are also a good example of careful control minimalism - carefully using context so that a few semi-generic buttons (action, weapon, item) provide the most appropriate actions for the player at any given moment.

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