Mouse only controls for casual games?

Discussion in 'Development & Distribution' started by James C. Smith, Aug 31, 2005.

  1. Mike Boeh

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    Here is the platformer i was/am working on, it has mouse controls, but I am not too keen on them... Hero The Dog

    They are okay, but it still (well, to me anyway) feels like it was shoehorned...
     
  2. svero

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    This reminds me of another design conundrum thats slightly off topic, but Ill mention it because it does follow naturally from this comment. I find the same is true of skill levels. I think one of the pitfalls of offering easy/medium/hard to the player is that they may initially pick a skill that isn't fun for them. But then you're of course faced with the fact that different players do in fact have different levels of ability. In Beetle Bomp we dont offer any skill levels except hidden as a feature on the player dialog. However, if you start losing badly the game will popup a message asking you if you want to change to an easier skill level. I think thats a pretty good solution for a game with 2 skill levels because you funnel everyone into the tweaked ideal game (from your own design perspective) and then still give people a chance to switch if its beyond them. (assuming they dont quit really early on but the slight increase in difficulty in the levels mitigates that as the earliest are essentially into levels)

    I wonder if a similar thing could work with mouse controls. Maybe play some little tutorial keyboard control thing and if the player is having trouble getting through it then popup an option to let them use the mouse instread. Im not sure how it would work exactly, and mouse may often just be a preference thing, but .. something to think about anyway. I know my ex girlfriend would never play any keyboard games simply because she found using the keys really difficult. So in her case this sort of solution might have worked.
     
  3. James C. Smith

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    svero: You are right that this is similar to LOD in many ways. But at least most level of difficulty situations involve the user making a choice. I don’t see that decision point happening for the input device. In the situation I am reefing to, the user never knew he had a choice.
     
  4. James C. Smith

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    Actually, I think the “choiceâ€￾ in Best Friends is not plain at all. By that, I mean most users will have no idea they have a choice. Yes, it is very easy to the switch between mouse and keyboard. It is as simple as it could be. But the user is never presented with a choice. I just downloaded it again and played it to me sure. After downloading and installing the demo I was playing within seconds. Since I used the mouse to launch the game I was playing it with the mouse. It seemed like I was supposed to use the mouse. It worked. Why would I go search for keyboard controls? Since I was never forced to select keyboard or mouse, and the mouse was working, I just used the mouse.

    There is nothing wrong with this if you think the mouse controls are good. But if you think the keyboard controls are better, and the mouse is just an option for those who refuse to use the keyboard, then you need to make it more clear that the keyboard is a possibility. I would suggest popping up a dialog box at the start of the game with separate buttons for “Keyboardâ€￾ and “Mouseâ€￾. Force the user to make a conscious decision. Or at least force them to be aware that they can switch controls later if they want.

    I stand by my statement that “Adding optional mouse controls to a keyboard game will likely mean that most users will never try the keyboard.â€￾ However, I think it is possible to improve the situation a lot if you forced the player to make a conscious decision. Best Friends does not do that. I believe it does exactly what I was afraid of. Ite encourages the player to play with the mouse without ever exploring the keyboard possibility.

    I am not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. If the mouse controls are the preferred input for the design of the game then this is fine. Best Friends is probably fine the way it is. I am just making the point that if you think the game is better played with the keyboard, then adding a mouse option could hurt you more than it helps if it is done wrong. Adding “optionalâ€￾ mouse controls could mean the most player will never use the keyboard controls.
     
  5. Anthony Flack

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    Perhaps BF has changed, because in the one I have here (v1.01), after you start, you get three enormous pictures on-screen - a joystick, a mouse, and a cursor-keys-and-spacebar. And you have to click on one of them. I don't know if Mike took that out later, but if he did that's kind of interesting too (Mike?)

    I've put in something similar, with 3 really big buttons and pictures of mouse, keyboard and gamepad. And also a little bit of guiding text describing the different options (mouse for novice, keyboard for experienced gamers, gamepad: if you have one, use it!) - wording will probably change, and the details of how the interface and menus fit together is being hammered out at the moment... but that's the general idea I'm working with.
     
  6. James C. Smith

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    That sounds great.

    I wonder why Mike changed Best Friends or if I am just crazy.
     
  7. Bmc

    Bmc New Member

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    i've downloaded and played it recently and don't recall being told I have a choice either.
     
  8. Rainer Deyke

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    It sounds horrible to me, having to use my mouse to click on a button just to get to play the game with a keyboard.
     
  9. James C. Smith

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    Give me a break. What make syou think you can't navagate the menu buttons with the kayboard? Just press enter and you are playing with the keyboard.
     
  10. Mike Boeh

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    I did change it, quite early on. The screen to pick controls wasn't necessary... Sorry for the confusion :)
     
  11. Drake

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    I know I'm just a new guy here :D , but... I have to say I'm with James on this. An option as important as "what device will I play the game with" needs to be put in the player's face, especially if you're hoping to attract a wide audience (i.e. casual + hardcore). It's just one extra click/keypress, and it could be the difference between them enjoying your game or not.

    The screen Anthony described seeing in an older version of your game sounds exactly like the one I have in my (upcoming) game - big pictures, very obvious, very painless prerequisite to starting the game. I show this screen every time the player starts or continues a game, unless they dig into the input options to set a preferred controller.
     
  12. Mike Boeh

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    Actually james was agreeing with me. All the control options work all the time. If you move the mouse, the character moves. If you press an arrow key, the character moves. If you tap your gamepad, he moves.
     
  13. Drake

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    Sorry, am I really confused? :confused: That doesn't sound like agreement to me. I thought James was saying that it's fine to allow all input methods on the menus, but that the player should be forced to make a conscious choice of input method before entering the actual game. That would be my opinion, in any case.
     
  14. Anthony Flack

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    I'm not so sure he was agreeing either, Mike. It sounded like the opposite to me.

    I think the choice should really be explicit, too. Not to mention avoiding awkward situations like bumping the mouse when you're trying to play with the keyboard. Oh, and I've been very careful to design the interface so there's no bias towards any input device. You can navigate and play entirely with the mouse, or entirely with the keyboard or gamepad if you like. You can navigate with any input device up until the point you make the choice. And mouse control is always enabled on menus, but disabled for gameplay if you haven't chosen to use the mouse.
     
  15. James C. Smith

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    Actually, I was not agreeing with you Mike. I think it is fine that all the controls work all the time.(keyboard and mouse). And I understand that technically the "select controls" menu is not needed. But I think it should be shown anyway. Heck, you could ignore what they click on and still allow all controls to work all the time. But it is still useful to show this option and force them to pick one. Don't display a message and let them just click "OK" to continue. Make them make a decision in their mind. Make them select "Keyboard" or "Mouse". And then, if you want, you can make them both work anyway.

    If you don't force them to make this choice, most users will never know the keyboard is an option and will be stuck in mouse world forever.
     
  16. Mike Boeh

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    I did an a/b with and without that screen for a period of 2 months. The game sold better without the screen. It wasn't by a 2-1 margin or anthing, but it was better. I can't say why, perhaps making them think about the controls isn't a good thing.
     
  17. James C. Smith

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    I think it depends how well the mouse controls work.

    If you have a keyboard game, you may think that adding some optional mouse controls “couldn’t hurtâ€￾ and may appeal to some players. My point was, in some cases I think it could hurt. If the mouse controls are significantly worse than the keyboard controls, and it is not obvious that the keyboard is an option, then the mouse controls could detract from the game rather than adding to it. Apparently that is not the case is Best Friends but I still think it is something you should carefully consider when adding “optionalâ€￾ mouse controls. You may think this is ridicules. Why would anyone add mouse controls if they were significantly worse than the keyboard controls? Well, they may do it because they think it couldn’t hurt. Player can still use the keyboard if they want to. And they may do it because they personally prefer the keyboard, but everyone tell them they are supposed to add mouse controls to make it “casualâ€￾. They may personally hate the mouse controls but hope that they will appease the uncomprehendible player who insists on using the mouse for everything.

    I am a little surprised that the version of Best Friends without the forced option did worse. But I am more surprised that the difference was so great. How could a simple A / B choice make the game sell that much worse?
     
  18. ManuelFLara

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    Actually Mike said the sales difference was not 2 to 1, just that it was better.
     

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