Keyboard controls are a death sentence

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by hddnobjcttmmngmntmtch3rlz, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. hddnobjcttmmngmntmtch3rlz

    hddnobjcttmmngmntmtch3rlz
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    Sorry if this has been discussed before, but I couldn't find a thread when I searched for it. A standard line I give developers is that keyboard controls can kill a casual download game. If a game comes in that has keyboard controls only, we almost never take it.

    Is this pretty much taken for granted by everyone here? Or is there anyone with a differing opinion?
     
  2. KNau

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    That's pretty much a given for casual games here, along with the use of the right mouse button.

    For hardcore action or strategy games obviously the rule doesn't apply.

    Strangely it doesn't seem to apply for Flash games either. I recently converted one of my downloadable games to Flash and in the process I dropped the keyboard controls in favour of the mouse exclusively. Now I'm getting e-mails from sponsors asking if I could put keyboard controls back in.
     
  3. Ratboy

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    I seem to recall someone saying that you should plan your game's interface assuming the player has a baby in her lap...
     
  4. Maupin

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    Agree completely, but I think casual games should have optional keyboard controls if it's the type of game that lends itself to the keyboard. For example, a platform game like Super Granny or Supercow. Don't make me suffer through trying to play a game like Snaky Jake without the keyboard.
     
  5. hddnobjcttmmngmntmtch3rlz

    hddnobjcttmmngmntmtch3rlz
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    I'm curious if anyone has anecdotes of their games doing well with a primarily keyboard control mechanic. How about word games?
     
  6. Applewood

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    nm, misread the question.
     
  7. Grey Alien

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    If you have a keyboard based game (like a platformer) at least have mouse based controls on the menu system! (so many people don't do that and it's annoying). For a 2D space shooter you should probably support keyboard AND mouse. Alien Shooter had both controls and rocked.
     
  8. Uhfgood

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    my game is going to be keyboard + mouse -- it's sort of central to the game, you aim with the mouse (ala abuse)... (or optionally using an xbox 360 gamepad).

    is this keyboard+mouse thingy going to ruin things for me? My game isn't a casual game though, so sorry if this seems like a partial thread hijack.
     
  9. Grey Alien

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    Keyboard + mouse is fine for non-casual. I prefer aiming with a mouse and moving with keys anyway and I'm sure most core gamers do.
     
  10. charliedog

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    What do people think about user defined keys? My view is that if you are going to use the keyboard as a primary input then you need to allow people to define their own keys. That's quite a lot of extra work for an indie title.

    I regret not having key input for some functions on Snaky Jake now. I had them originally then removed them because I didn't think it was casual enough. But in the end the game didn't do well in the casual space and didn't do well as an indie title either partly because of the controls I think. Oh well we live and learn. Go Ollie is doing OK at the moment though and it's basically SJ with a few tweaks (I think I added some basic keyboard support to it but can't remember)

    I'm intrigued as to why the right mouse button is so taboo? All mice have it, it's easy to use, doesn't stop someone playing the game one handed with a baby in their lap and all Microsoft applications support it as standard. And yet users seem really reticent to use it. I recently made an indie/casual game which uses the mouse wheel and that also got some negative feedback because, apparently, the average user can't use the mouse wheel. Yet again it's standard on virtually all mice and commonly used in MS applications. I think developers who ignore how users want to interact with their games do so at their peril but it intrigues me as to why players are so conservative on the PC in this regards. It doesn't seem to be the case so much on consoles where users are happy to experiment with different input systems.

    regards,

    Tony
     
  11. JeBuS

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    I can't answer for the right-click, but I've been in plenty of offices where the mice don't have scroll wheels, or the scroll wheels are gummed up and completely useless. So, if it's casual enough that an office user might play it, there's plenty of places I've seen that wouldn't be able to play it effectively.
     
  12. Midnight Synergy

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    Keyboard only is probably not a good idea for true-blue casual games (I don't know for sure though, I don't make 'em).

    I will say that with the Wonderland games I actually met quite a bit of resistance from players when I first announced that the Wonderland Adventures titles would be mouse-controlled (that was until they realized that the game mechanics was quite different compared to the first 3 Wonderland games). Players really liked the keyboard-only controls of the original games, and I would agree with them - playing the first three games with a mouse would be awful.

    My point has always been to design the games with the best controls to make the game as playable as possible, not try to force an arbitrary control scheme (e.g. mouse) on a game.

    (And on the flipside, when I first released Intensity XS (in 2001) a lot of reviewers threw up their arms saying "ohmygod, a shmup with mouse control, how could you?!?!?". It fit the game best, and that's why it was there. Now, almost every PC shmup has mouse control.)

    So what am I saying? :D Limiting a control scheme automatically limits the types of games you can have. Saying "no keyboard" will either disqualify some types of games altogether, or force designers to come up with less ideal mouse control options. Of course, most games on portals now come from a mouse control perspective (hidden object, match 3, etc)... so a keyboard only game would definitely stand out (and likely sell less). It's a chicken and egg thing.
     
  13. CousinGilgamesh

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    There is definitely a steeper learning curve for using a keyboard in any given game. The player must either press all of the keys to see what they all do or go through a list of commands or a tutorial in order to learn the game. With Mouse games, everything is on the screen, and the mouse is very intuitive with respect to its use as well as its user feedback. I think of examples like World of Goo (this game ends up being my example for everything awesome), where you're just dropped into the first level with a quite responsive and compelling cursor, and you feel compelled to click on the goo balls because they respond when you hover over them. Within a few minutes, you have the basic feel of the game without ever having someone directly tell you how to play, mostly because it's just so much more intuitive, especially thanks to its effective use of the mouse.

    Of course, you can't make "every game anyone would ever want to play" using just a mouse. Sometimes a keyboard or other input device is simply a better fit for your game, and it's better to just use that instead of making a clunky mouse interface that won't feel right.

    As an aside, does anyone remember way back when people made keyboard interfaces for simulation games so complicated that they came with keyboard overlays that you could put on your keyboard to tell you what each key did? I think that's the kind of thing that's better as a mouse interface with buttons on the screen.
     
  14. GolfHacker

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    There's no reason you can't release an update that puts that functionality back in. Just because a game is released doesn't mean it is done. I'm frequently releasing updates to my games with new features. Customers really appreciate it, because it keeps the game fresh and interesting and they perceive a lot of value for their money (which does wonders for repeat sales when your next game comes out). And it keeps bumping the game to the top of the new/update lists on various sites where people can see/find it.

    I don't get that either. I use the right-click in Fashion Cents Deluxe, and customers don't have a problem with it. The only players I can think of who might have a problem with it are Mac users who are using the one-button Apple Mighty Mouse. But the right-click is easily simulated with Ctrl-leftclick (unless you have a baby in your lap). And besides, some Mac users do use standard USB mice - I actually use a Microsoft mouse on my Mac.
     
  15. CousinGilgamesh

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    definitely. I've watched people testing my games struggle through a simple menu just because of an up/down/enter/esc control (instead of a mouse control). It seemed intuitive at the time, but it turns out I was wrong.
     
  16. GolfHacker

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    Not if you're doing a flight simulator with 50 different commands. You don't have room on the screen for 50 buttons, unless you take away the view and give them nothing but a dashboard. Or you make the buttons so small that the player really has to concentrate to be sure to click the right button. Also with a keyboard, you can have 10 fingers on 10 different keys and react very quickly to anything you need to do - with 50 buttons and only one mouse pointer, you could only issue one command at a time. That wouldn't make for a very responsive flight simulator. I just don't see how anything other than a keyboard would work for something like that. The keyboard definitely has its place. While it isn't an ideal user interface, it can be useful.
     
  17. Executrix

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  18. GolfHacker

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  19. Ratboy

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  20. Acord

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    Keyboard controls are acceptable if your game doesn't require precision or quick reactions. Otherwise, it's very easy to run into cheap keyboards which don't work when certain button combos are pushed.

    Being an FPS fanatic, at some point I just broke down and bought a Nostromo. I consider it one of my favorite pieces of hardware. It's essentially a dedicated ergonomic keypad that doesn't care how many buttons you push at once, and even has a d-pad on it.

    But most people... Well, just assume they have a cheap keyboard that is designed for lame business types - and use the mouse instead.

    I've actually simplified the design of two non-BF game concepts in progress because of these limitations, and I feel it works well. The fewer buttons there are, the better.
     

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