Archers Vs Zombies - Dev Log - Controls

This post is an introduction and analysis of different type of game controls I am working in order to improve the game playability.

To control the bow I need to know basically the next stuff:

  • direction or angle of the shot
  • power
  • if it is being charging or not
  • if should fire or not

Each proposed bow control provides this stuff in its own way (using one or multiple touch, using the keyboard, etc). I will explain how each one achieve that, and comment some pros and cons I think they have as controllers.

Type 1

Archer vs Zombies - Control type - Example 1

Control type - Example 1

The player presses one position in the screen, drags the pointer to another position and then releases it to fire the arrow. The angle is calculated by the difference vector between the pointer pressed position and the pointer released position and the power is calculated by the length of that vector.


when pointer released:
vector p0 = pointer.pressedPosition
vector p1 = pointer.releasedPosition
diff = p0.sub(p1)
angle = diff.angle()
power = diff.length()

Pros

  • It is supposed to simulate the movement an archer does when he fires a real bow

Cons

  • turned out to be non-intuitive

Type 2

Archer vs Zombies - Control type - Example 2

Control type - Example 2

The player presses some point in the screen, drags the pointer to the position he wants and then releases it to fire the arrow. Optionally, the arrow could be fired in the moment the screen is pressed instead when it is released. The angle is calculated by the difference vector between the pointer position and the bow position, and the power by its length.


when pointer released:
vector p = pointer.releasedPosition
diff = p.sub(bowPosition)
angle = diff.angle()
power = diff.length()

Pros

  • Easy to control and provides a way to shoot really fast

Type 3

Control Type - Example 3

Control Type - Example 3

Similar to the others, the player pointer is pressed, dragged an released to fire the arrow. The angle is calculated by multiplying the y coordinate of the pointer position by a factor, and the power is calculated by the x coordinate multiplied by a factor too.


when pointer released:
vector p = pointer.releasedPosition
angle = p.y * c1
power = p.x * c2

Pros

  • Easy to control too, when you want more fire power you move to the right, when you want less you move to the left. In a similar way, if you want to increment the fire angle move the pointer up, if you want to decrement it, move the pointer down.

Cons

  • It is not clear the relationship between the angle and the y coordinate and between the power and the x coordinate

Type 4

It is similar to the the first type but both positions are specified by two different pointers of a multi touch device.


vector p0 = pointer0.position
vector p1 = pointer1.position
diff = p0.sub(p1)
angle = diff.angle()
power = diff.length()

Pros

  • We are taking advantage of multi touch device capabilities
  • It is supposed to simulate firing a real bow
  • By holding one touch you could press and release the other to fire arrows quickly

Cons

  • Requires a multi touch device
  • Multi touch feature doesn't work so well on some multi touch devices
  • In devices with small screens using multi touch could require a lot of screen space, that means less space to see what is happening in the game

Type 5

The idea is to modify the angle of the bow by touching up/down keys and control the bow power by holding space key, the arrow is fired after space key was released (could be another key mapping).


when up pressed:
increase angle
when down pressed:
decrease angle
when space pressed:
increment power
when space released:
fire and reset power to 0

Pros

Cons

  • Hardware keyboard is required, it will not work on common android devices
  • Could be a bit slow for the game I have in mind

Conclusion

After working on different types of controls, I realized that the needed stuff to control the bow could be separated in sub controllers, one for the angle, one for the power and others. Using this approach, it will be easy to create mixed controls like, for example, angle is modified by the arrow keys and power by a relative pointer position to the bow, or make a controller like type 2 where the power depends on the pressed time instead the distance of the pointer position to the bow.

For touch devices, I want to try also HUD elements like slide bars and buttons to control the bow as some games does (Minigore).

Game mechanics are not defined yet. One thing to notice is that some controls will not work with a fast paced game where you have to shoot several arrows to kill incoming enemies, other controls will not work with slow paced games where you have to aim exactly where you want each arrow and more strategy is needed like, for example, deciding which enemy to kill first.

Some of the listed types will be implemented, plus an easy way to switch between them, so they could be tested. After that, I hope you could give them a try and tell me what do you think.

Thanks for reading.

UPDATE:

I added to the latest development version (probably buggy) a way switch between different bow controllers by touching a button on the top right corner of the screen. For now, you have to discover yourself each controller :D (I forgot to put some controller label in some place).

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  • http://twitter.com/randomtower Random tower of game

    always interesting posts :D

    as pc user, keyboard is a must, but why not consider mix between keyboard and mouse ?

  • arielsan

    Could be, what do you propose to control the bow?

  • http://twitter.com/casvicente Vicente Castelló

    Thinking of multitouch devices, the first thing I thought for this game is to have two controls.
    One for power and one for the angle. I'm not sure that the controls such as Minigore are best because they give the idea of being a joystick.
    I would think having a simple control over the archer on the left, that when I press he pulls the arrow.
    On the right, another control in the form of vertical bar to indicate the angle.
    Angry birds solved this with a single control and it's very easy to play on a touch screen, but I think that is not very good for a quick game as we want.