Mommy's Best Games, Inc. is an independent game developer founded in 2007. Our seventh game, currently in development, is Pig Eat Ball on which we started working in 2013. This is behind the scenes thoughts about game development and marketing.

Nathan

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Illusions of Control

I've been working on a new update to the original Weapon of Choice, which doesn't sound as fun as working on something new like Grapple Buggy, but I think it's necessary. Weapon of Choice is currently still in the Top Rated list, but as other new, fun things become available it might lose footing (rate WoC high if you haven't already, thanks!). To make the most of the higher exposure, I'd like to do as much as possible to continue to refine the demo experience and the game in general.

One area that could use broader support is the controls. I've heard various podcasts, seen forum posts, and gotten emails that wished the controller layout were different. Weapon of Choice uses a modern take on the side-scrolling, "Contra-style" genre in which the left stick controls the character and the right stick controls where he shoots. Since your thumbs are on the sticks, you can't reasonably operate the face buttons for jumping or switching which are moved to the shoulder buttons.

Throughout the post here, I'll show each of the three current layouts planned. I'm certainly open to hearing feedback in the comments on these new layouts.

For me, and thankfully the majority of gamers, this is a perfectly natural extension of the Contra-style genre and works with modern controllers. But since the genre itself is old, some gamers have expected and requested face button controls for jumping and shooting. I'm working on an update that should be available shortly, with these new control schemes.

But why would I have not allowed for such configuration from the start? It seems obvious in hind-sight. The main issue is, I couldn't imagine it any other way! Oh, and probably a dollop of hubris. Yes, some of that too. But in general I think I was standing too close to the painting for too long. To light-heartedly pick on the very snazzy developer Halfbrick, their recent game Halfbrick Rocket Racing seems to have suffered from a similar control issue also, as is evident in these reflections from XNPlay. Though they already did offer several control layouts, it looks like from the comments some people still couldn't find the best fit.

With more time and thought, Weapon of Choice will shortly have more control options, and some new difficulty modes (especially for the masochists out there!)

The lesson here is, if you're pushing a new control scheme, at least offer the original, expected layout somewhere in the game (even if it's buried) to temper the delivery somewhat. Otherwise, you'll end up looking like this.

7 comments:

Geichz said...

I prefer the original controls myself, I caught on really quickly to them & never wished for face button controls (maybe from playing Geometry Wars, GW II and Biology Battle all dual-stick controlled games), however I have a friend that liked the game but wished that it had the classic "Contra type" of controls. So my point is that the new update makes good sense. You should also try to change the Xbox 360 bio info on your game to reflect the new updates changes when they go into effect that is.

Oh but best of all new difficulty settings would be freakin awesome - Maybe a Deathbrush disabler can be implemented as well? (I don't think disabler is really a word but you know what I mean)I don't mean that I think you should take Deathbrushing completely because I think that it's actually a really cool part of the game

Good stuff

Geichz said...

The last paragraph should read:

- Maybe a Deathbrush disabler can be implemented as well? (I don't think disabler is really a word but you know what I mean)I don't mean that I think you should take Deathbrushing completely out because I think that it's actually a really cool part of the game

Nathan Fouts said...

@Geichz
I agree, I hope adding the 'old skool' layout will attract more gamers originally put off by the dual-stick controls.

As for the difficulty settings... Yes! There will be something that involves "no DeathBrushing", but there will also be another surprise as well. Should be able to reveal that soon!

Kris said...

Looking forward to the new update... I really disliked using the right stick to fire, this was easily my biggest complaint about the game. I like to keep aimed in the direction I'm going to be shooting but with this layout, I was forced to always be shooting in order to do that. Besides my Contra roots, I also play a lot of Halo (and other FPS) which use the right stick only for aiming, and this layout just never felt right for the genre.

My ideal WoC controls would be right stick to aim, right trigger to shoot, one of the face buttons to jump (probably B). Since you can aim without moving, I don't think any sort of "keep character in place" button is needed.

Damien said...

This control issue is beyond my understanding. It's now more than 10 years console gamers dualstick their way through games, allowing to shoot in a different direction than your movement...

Only thing I can think of is that the hard mode is not hard enough, but I'd like it to keep deathbrushing, as it's a strong component of the game's identity. Maybe it should be less efficient (the flow of time is less reduced in the harder modes).

Nathan Fouts said...

@Kris
Good thought! I'm going to include an "FPS" control layout similar to what you described. I'll be putting the new update into playtest pretty soon, hopefully.

@Damien
Yes, there will be harder modes, and while Deathbrushing will be missing in some, it will be present still in others.

micheal smith said...

Websites are always helpful in one way or the other, The lesson here is, if you're pushing a new control scheme, at least offer the original, expected layout somewhere in the game (even if it's buried) to temper the delivery somewhat. anyways, ccna a good way to get started to renovate your dreams into the world of reality.
Thanks
Micheal,