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ChandlerT

Control Scheme in a third-person Action game on PC.

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So I'm used to just using one analog stick to move and the other to rotate the camera, but I'm having a hard time thinking about what the controls for that would be on PC. Do you rotate with the with the mouse like most shooters and "A" and "D" are just strafe with "S" moving backwards, using only the mouse to turn your character? Do you bind keys such as "Q" or "E" to a camera rotate function and "a" and "D" now turn your character? The last system I've though is the WoW system where you use the mouse to rotate, but only by clicking does the camera rotate? Is there some more effective system that I'm not even thinking of? I'd prefer to have a more cinematic view, and the problem with the mouse view is that you are staring at your character's back the entire time. Not only that, a mouse means you are going to be clicking... a lot. I feel like trying to click enough to get your combo high would be incredibly frustrating, compared to just mashing a key. But then again, I feel like the "Q" and "E" rotate system, may feel awkward sometimes. So how do you see most action games do this on PC? I don't really play any on PC or know if the ones I'm thinking of are on PC but games like Prince of Persia, God of War, Devil May Cry, etc. Thanks.

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Well unfortunately the hardware used for the X-box and Playstation is better equiped for that type of game. Computers can be equiped with computer versions of those controllers you know. Just like first person shooter games will never be as easy to control on the X-box like they are on the computer.

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Use the shooter UI, with WASD handling movement in different directions and mouse steering (+aiming, if relevant). You'll be glad you did.

You mention WoW's controls as an alternative, but they are really only designed to allow a noob to activate a large range of skills without memorizing them on the keyboard, and are quite unsuitable for an action game, IMO.

It's my experience that good WoW players configure those controls as close to the shooter UI as possible. Right button is almost glued down, so all the mouse does is turning and the odd selection here and there. All actions are performed on the keyboard. In light of the action aspect of the game, it's obvious that even in WoW the default should definitely be turning, and selection should be the special case (for which you'd press right mouse button or whatever). Head over to warcraftmovies.com and get any high-ranked PvP video to verify this.

It's not true that while using the mouse to turn/aim, you somehow must click a lot. Any actions the design calls the player to mash can be bound on the keyboard instead of the mouse. (You also see this from the WoW videos; mashing, when it occurs, occurs on the keyboard.) Alternatively you can design in a way that avoids mashing.

Keyboard camera control is a dead idea. I say either have a behind the back view, or have an intelligent automatic camera (but it better be *very* good if you go this way). Keyboard turning might conceivably work if the design is built from the ground up with a constant rate of turn in mind.

Re: camera, God Hand is regarded as a very good 3rd person action game (PS2, so it doesn't help with your input design question) and it has a constant behind-the-back camera. I certainly wouldn't mind if they pulled the camera back and lifted it up a bit, but the basic idea is sound. If you must add "cinematic" quality, do so in the cutscenes; don't sacrifice controls for it.

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Appreciate the replies.

We have decided on a Mouse-controlled camera, with A and D being turn and run rather than strafe, and after some early testing, it looks really great.

Our current issue is that of actual controls now. We'd like to have some type of combo system in tact, such as a normal attack then a special. So attack, attack, attack, special to finish off the move. Or normal attack and strong attack with attack, attack, strong attack, attack.

We haven't set our mind on the ways combos will work, but we really can't figure out how to execute it properly. If LMB is normal attack, I feel like mashing that to attack will feel awkward, and also likely result in a lot of camera frustration as the clicking will lead to the mouse moving. We've also thought about using space as normal attack, and binding special or strong to the LMB or RMB, and then using Shift to jump, but we feel this is awkward since nearly every games spacebar is jump.

Again, we are very open on actual combo system as long as there are at least two varying attacks and an ability/spell button. It is a real-time, action combat system, so despite the mention of WoW, it's not one where you click someone and it attacks until they are dead, each button press results in an attack.

So if you have any ideas on an effective control scheme, please please please let me know. That part of our design doc is staring me in the face and it is getting frustrating!

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PC gamers are used to clicking... a lot. Also, unless you're targeting a casual crowd, they're used to clicking while aiming with the mouse. This is not going to be an issue. I would go with LMB and RMB for the different attacks, off hand. Other keys you can use frequently with a WASD + Mouse control scheme are the space bar, ctrl, and shift. The letter keys near WASD work well too for more limited use things, such as opening doors or pushing levers. Off hand I would say: LMB for attack, RMB for special, space for jump. For me, at least, mashing LMB is easier than space or anything else. But then again, I might question the need for mashing in the first place.

The real thing to worry about is camera control. This is easy to mess up badly and it can really ruin a game. IMO it's best to give the players more control rather than less on this part.

Also, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is available (and pretty cheap now) for the PC, so I'd give that a try it. The controls are good most of the time, but note some of the mistakes the game developers made. Off the top of my head, the jumping from pole-to-pole and swinging on ropes come up as things which were awkward and inconsistent. Camera control, too, sometimes was problematic.

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