Mouse Control can destroy gameplay balance

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Leper, Feb 13, 2006.

  1. Leper

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    Well, I've played a few recent shmups lately, and reflexive tends to put some good shooters on there. My main issue with new shmups is just how easy (and boring) shmups can be with mouse control. Maybe I'm one of those rare peeps that can pwn a game with a mouse as opposed to keyboard and gamepads (even though I grew up on keyboard and gamepads). BUT, I've found games to be almost 300% easier with the mouse (take Absolute Blue for instance)

    In Absolute Blue, it is very challenging and adrenaline-rushing in the NORMAL difficulty level to play with a gamepad. If I play Absolute Blue with a mouse, I am so capable of dodging everything and flying around obstacles that I beat the game in a few hours in the HARDEST difficulty level. Even with 9+ lives remaining!!! My take is that mouse-control can completely ruin a game, and cause it to be way too easy.

    However, with the casual market being completely handicapped to the mouse (in majority anyways) I've put mouse control in my game. Here's my take on it: Instead of building the game around keyboard/gamepad controls, I will build the game around the mouse. Thus, the game will be challenging WITH the mouse, but even more challenging (and insane) with gamepad and keyboard (atleast for me)

    Does anyone else notice that the mouse can make a game TOO easy? It even makes games boring!!! I played "Turtle Bay" with the mouse and it was SO boring that I almost uninstalled it. But then I used gamepad isntead (the game got a LOT harder, and FUN!!!) Again, the mouse made my turtle capable of spinning or flipping on a dime (with easy control) where the gamepad or keyboard I actually TURNED (remindimg me of the good ole SNES days)

    GEO Wars would probably be way too easy with a mouse (sidelining a little) so I would recommend Wiebo not to add mouse despite what some peeps say.

    Crimsonland is a game that was designed FOR the mouse, you can tell because how challenging it is WITH the mouse. Even so, I managed to get to it's last episode (halfway through) in a few hours. I really wish the casual market was more challenging.

    I dont really mind paying $20.00 for a small game. But it does get discouraging to pay $20.00 to beat a game in a few hours!
     
    #1 Leper, Feb 13, 2006
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2006
  2. ggambett

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I think the problem is that with the keyboard you can't really regulate the speed and acceleration of the movement, but you can with the mouse. What about having a different mouse control? Such as making it sensitive to direction (left or right) but not making the ship behave like a cursor. Or moving at different speeds depending on the distance from the pointer to the ship. Or is this too Cas-esque? ;)

    Disclaimer : I don't play shoot-em-ups so it's possible that what I'm saying is entirely redundant and it's what every game does already.
     
  3. princec

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    Spot on. The problem is when you try to write a traditional game and then shoehorn a controller onto it that was never part of the traditional design. Once upon a time games were as much about mastery of the controls as they were about the games themselves. In the casual games market the controls are simply removed from the equation.

    Cas :)
     
  4. Leper

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    This is actually how I have my ship controlled in my game, although at first I had too much intertia which some complained about. I think it does fair well, but you still get a heck of alot more precision then with a keyboard. Since I'm building the game around the mouse, I feel that it will fair well as a challenging game. I plan on appealing to the casual market with easy levels at first, but the game will become more hardcore later because I can't stand it when I beat a game in 5 hours or less. I feel that a game should last atleast 20 hours if not more.

    I also plan on addin precision controls in regards to gamepads as well, with keyboard being the last thing I add to the game. I suspect most people will use the mouse, because you already have your hand on it when you double click the exe file (and use the GUI)
     
  5. Midnight Synergy

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    I think it simply comes down to how the game was designed, and whether or not it was designed with a particular controller in mind. There are plenty of easy mouse shoot-em-ups, and there are plenty of easy (and boring) keyboard shoot-em-ups.

    Check out Steel Saviour for a tough-as-nails keyboard controlled game.

    On the other hand, my own Intensity XS is mouse controlled, and I dare anyone to beat that in a few hours. :) (I actually recently played it again after not having touched it in a while, and was surprised at how tough it is)

    So, whatever control method you choose - design and playtest and balance your game with that mehod in mind. There's nothing intrinsically bad about any control device.
     
  6. Phil Steinmeyer

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    Yeah - the basic problem is that it's very hard to balance a game such that keyboard control yields equivalent results as mouse control. Whichever one the game is primarily balanced for, the other one will likely be too hard or too easy.

    If you're developing primarily for casual portals, I'd suggest doing mouse-only and ditching keyboard controls altogether.

    If you're designing for a more 'core' audience, then focus on keyboard controls if you like. I'm not entirely sure if it's a good idea in this situation to have mouse controls as a backup (i.e. Titan Attacks). May be better just to pick one and go with it, to avoid frustrating the player who doesn't know the 'good' controls and inadvertantly picks the wrong one.
     
  7. Pyabo

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    How do the controls differ in Absolute Blue or other games, when you use the mouse? I'm curious now. Is the acceleration and/or max velocity changed? That seems to be a fundamental gameplay issue, not a controls issue.
     
  8. Jason Chong

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    Can anyone tell me how do you implement mouse control in a jump/run/shoot side scrolling mario style game ?

    For the life of me I still haven't figured out an easy way to do that. Any example of games on the net I can refer to ?
     
  9. Anthony Flack

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    You could wait and play my game, which isn't ready to show just yet, but it is a run & jump-style game, and it has mouse control. It's implemented in a similar way to Retro64's Best Friends, although it's tweaked slightly differently, and it's strictly digital (no variable speed).

    It works fairly well, but it is still an imperfect compromise, and keyboard is easier I think. But that's only if you're keyboard-capable - people who struggle with keyboard controls should find the mouse more to their liking.

    I have actually put something on the control select screen that says "Mouse: for novice players" - "Keyboard: for expert players" and "Joypad: If you have one, use it!". Mouse control works fine on the easy skill level, but the harder, more frentic settings are better suited to the keyboard.
     
  10. Sharkbait

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    Here's a tentative system:
    • Have the character walk towards the mouse cursor.
    • Clicking the left mouse button with the cursor anywhere above the character triggers a jump.
    • Clicking with the cursor below the character causes a crouch.
    • Use the Right mouse button as a Firing control.
    If you need to distinguish jumping or crouching direction (say to trigger a roll), then the cursor must be within a horizontal range, or beyond it either left or right to distingish the three 'directions' left, neutral and right. Implementing the same range checking for the vertical direction could allow you to do away with the Right mouse button for Firing. For example, clicking the Left button to the Left or Right of the character makes the character fire, clicking directly or diagonally above th character causes a jump, clicking and holding the cursor immediately below causes a crouch etc.
     
  11. Anthony Flack

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    Um, yikes! Is that supposed to make things easier? Still, it would be interesting to see this idea prototyped, to see if it really is as complex and fiddly as it sounds...
     
  12. Bmc

    Bmc New Member

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    download Snowy: Treasure Hunter 2, has nice mouse control

    also Brave Dwarves 2 (although I find the controls too sensitive)

    Is this for a casual game, a hobby project or?

    Either way you can always just use keyboard control, just make sure you demonstrate the controls clearly.

    as for mouse control in a casual game try

    click a bad guy when near it to jump on him
    click a ledge you're under to jump on it
    click a floating brick to break it etc...

    basically the player clicks and you determine what they want to do, by where they are clicking.
     
  13. Sharkbait

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    It's actually simpler than it sounds.. try to picture a 3x3 grid with the middle cell centered on the player and the outer cells extending all the way to the edge of the screen. Each cell represents a position equivalent to a joystick position, that is, neutral and the eight directions. Moves are then the result of placing the cursor in the appropriate cell and clicking. It might help to have the mouse image change to a corresponding arrow to indicate the direction. Having said that, it is a generic control system so it's unlikely to be the most intuitive.

    I actually like BMC's concept although it entails implementing a degree of intelligence in the player character. For example, clicking on a ledge forces the player to move to the edge of the current platform before jumping and calculate the jump accordingly.
     
  14. Nikster

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    This should be considered as extending the level dificulty, start with a mouse, easy level, use a keyboard, normal mode, then try with a steering wheel :D
     
  15. Anthony Flack

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    I like that too - but only for a game that was designed from the ground-up to be played like that. Not as an alternative control method to keyboard/gamepad. I actually have a game design idea built around that; making the player character move appropriately would be a fun challenge. Although I don't think it would suit a heavily action-oriented game - too fuzzy.

    Player character intelligence is a good thing though, I reckon, and kind of necessary for any complex, modern-type game character who does a lot of human-like actions (as opposed the sort that runs left and right, and sails into the air with a "booop!" sound). I've overloaded my fire button quite a lot, and although it can never know perfectly what was intended, it's pretty good at guessing whether you wanted to punch, fire your gun, pick up a box, or pull a lever when you push the button. I basically built it around the idea of following the safest option (if there is any doubt whether to shoot the gun or pull the lever, it should shoot the gun first)
     
  16. dislekcia

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    Sharkbait, I understood your mouse positioning idea straight away. That's exactly what I ended up doing for a Sopwith clone I'm building for another forum I frequent. It's surprising how intuitive that type of thing can really be, if you do it right it's as though the character tries to get to the mouse cursor when you hold down the button. But you still see and have control over the mechanics that govern it's motion, it's not all precalculated. You need a bit of planning and skill to make the right things happen on screen.
     

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