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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperDesignAbout virtual joystick for mobile games.
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alvarop
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« on: February 05, 2014, 05:20:48 PM »

I had written my opinion on this matter but it got lost somehow, so I'll give you the TL;DR version right away.

I haven't found any mobile games that integrate virtual joystick well. I'm wondering if there is another way to go about this, about game controls in mobile games. I'm not talking about Angry Birds, in which you interact with the game elements themselves, but a game in which you control a character and that a joystick/gamepad would usually be needed.

I'm trying to find games who make a different use of the mobile space and that do it well. I might not have tried enough games to give such a judgment, but I haven't found any games that do it well OR that are console ports to a mobile device that have good controls.

To me, this looks and feels horrible :


I know it's the best solution for now, but couldn't there be another way to use the game space to allow you to control the character?

I'm leaving the discussion open and I'll listen to your ideas and game suggestions.
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Gregg Williams
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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2014, 07:09:30 PM »

Mirrors edge controls alright without a virtual pad.

That said I think virtual controls still tend to work better then alternate control schemes. It just takes time to get use to them. That and well 4/8way dpad is kinda harsh in a platformer, yet ones that just need left/right and 1-2 buttons can work well. Check out Pizza Boy, League of Evil, and even the updated Sonic 1 or Sonic CD, they all control pretty well.
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Uykered
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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2014, 09:00:22 PM »

The more focus you put on the execution ability or dexterity of the player, the more vague you need to be about where specifically the player should touch the screen (i.e., not in tiny confined "buttons" like the example you gave cause that's unplayable, more like what canabalt and co. are doing).

Whereas with turnbased/strategy/games you can allow for actual buttons to be pressed as they work really well with touchscreens (i.e. Outwitters, Lords of Waterdeep, Agricola, Eclipse and so on).
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oodavid
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2014, 09:27:24 PM »

Oh god this drives me nuts. I almost threw Anodyne out the window at one point.

This is how I reckon you should do it:

100% Invisible UI, Show an overlay for the first minute of gameplay or on help.

LEFT SIDE
Wherever you put your thumb down becomes the centre of the pad.
As you move your thumb relative to that point is your direction.

RIGHT SIDE
EXACTLY the same, however the swipe direction should be a button click (instead of longpress)
Swipe-up = jump
Swipe-right = punch
Swipe-down = kick
Swipe-left = magic
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alvarop
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2014, 09:29:47 PM »

I agree with the invisible UI, but having it on the first minute of gameplay to me, means that it's not invisible. If only there was a way to make it REALLY intuitive and make it all work with gestures that are "obvious" and that become a standard... (lol, ok, maybe not).
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moi
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2014, 10:31:37 AM »

unless you enjoy looking at your fingers over 75% of the screen space, virtual joystick sucks.
Interacting with game elements like angry birds is intrisincly limited and makes for dumbified casual games.
accelerometer is for tards
IMO there might be a third way that would probably consist of a customized interface and, maybe, delayed orders of some sort, but it still remains to be invented.
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rundown
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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2014, 06:10:02 PM »

Every mobile device should be able to plug a gamepad in.
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WaywardEmcee
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« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2014, 09:34:06 PM »

If your game needs a joy-stick to play correctly, you probably shouldn't be releasng it on a touch-screen device, imo. With the exceptions of a few select mechanics (eg twin-stick shooter) that actually feel good on a touch-screen, I see no reason to actually force it down that platform other than to attempt a quick cash-grab from the market.
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Bandreus
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« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2014, 04:33:48 AM »

I agree with the sentiment. If your game needs a virtual joystick, you're probably developing for the wrong platform. Or you're being too lazy, or you're trying to go for a quick and easy cash-grab.

The virtual joystick was much more prominent when touch-enabled devices were still relatively new to the market. Developers had a hard time developing for the newer natural interface, and had a very hard time working out of their comfort zone.

That being said, this is not the first time developers forced the round shape into the square hole. Think RTS or FPS games on consoles. At first, they tried for a 1:1 transposition, but it was clear that approach was a failure. Then they slowly adapted both the game design and the control scheme in order for the port to work right.

IF you're trying to port a genre which is extremely popular from one other platform to a touch device, and the joystick interface is critical for that genre to work right, than I can somewhat understand the need for a virtual substitute.

Try working with whatever input device is natural on the platform you're working on. Also, try supporting any external peripherals (thinking about the iCade) if that can benefit your game.

Chances are you will have to adapt your game design in order for it to work well with the input method. Nothing wrong with it, it simply is the way you should go.

TL;DR; virtual joystick on a touch device is a last resort option, not the preferred way to do things, even when your guts might tell you otherwise.
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JasonPickering
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« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2014, 07:24:04 AM »

I agree that virtual joysticks are not done all that well. But the best I have seen has probably been slayin. It has only left and right movement and the player can't stop. So there is not much precision needed. Also the only other command is jump and the button is huge. There was also a bunny game made for iOS and it had an interesting control in that it was two buttons. One made the character run and one made the character jump. This was a Mario style game as it focused on only running right. I have also done a test of just movement that pressing in the left side of the screen was left and right was right. Be warned about fingers though a lot of these games divide the screen in half putting controls on the bottom and all action on the top.

It might be easier to figure out what actions you need and the look at inplementing them. Good examples on iOS are slayin and rayman though.
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