Game Development Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional and independent game developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am developing Android an game. It's going to be a top-down shooter with stealth features. I am now thinking about how to the make controls. Most top-down games are now twin stick (joystick on the left and right sides) but I need more buttons (for choosing weapons, commanding your squad, and using skills).

So here are my ideas:

  • Two (virtual) sticks like in other games, when you tap somewhere on the display, a circle with buttons appears, where you can choose abilities or weapons.
  • One stick on the left side for walking, shoot where the second finger is pressed, weapons and skills on the right side.

What do you think is the best? Or do you have any other idea? I want to choose the most intuitive and simplest.

share|improve this question

closed as primarily opinion-based by Josh Petrie Oct 17 '14 at 20:19

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Mouse and keyboard, I love you!

Look at the competition, that has got to be as good as any advice you can get here. It sounds like you have put good thought into it, all the options you mention sounds reasonable. But a lot of it is down to testing. You might spend a lot of time redesigning the interface, but it's a crucial element, so it's worth it, despite the lack of tangible content to show for the time spent.

The best advice I can give:
You can adapt the interface to the game, or you can adapt the game to the interface. There is only so much you can do with a phone as the interface, and while exploring the options is certainly worth it, at some point you have to face the fact that certain game concepts are too complicated for the interface. Is the squad really that important for the gameplay? If you can't make it work well, maybe you should just drop the feature.

share|improve this answer
+1: for adapting the game to fit the interface. Never make a game more complicated than the controls for it. – Nicol Bolas Jul 11 '11 at 2:29

As it stands, your game may be too complicated for a touchscreen phone.

Dual virtual sticks barely work, and most shoot-em-ups on phones have been moving away from them, switching to auto-fire and drag-anywhere to move. (We've had a question about this in the past, and Cave, Taito, and everyone else have only continued down this path since it was asked).

Shooting where the player is pressing does not work. Fingers are too big and completely cover targets.

That being said, here are some basic suggestions:

  • Move or aim via the accelerometer. If movement, probably clamped to e.g. 16 directions; if aiming, probably with some auto-aim adjustment.
  • Tap to target, and weapons automatically track the active target.
  • The player can move or shoot, but not both.

These all require planning ahead in your game design. You can't just bolt them onto a standard twin-stick shooter and get a good game. As a result, you probably can't just bring a standard twin-stick arena shooter to a touchscreen mobile device.

share|improve this answer

This may not be the answer you're looking for, but to be honest different people find different control schemes comfortable. Many iOS games I've played allow the user to select a control scheme from many different available ones. I believe you should implement the most common control schemes for top-down shooters and allow the player to choose the one he's more comfortable with.

That said, my favourite control method for these kind of games is the traditional "two sticks" setup.

You could also try using motion control (if your phone supports it) instead of buttons to activate special abilities. A fine example is using the "star power" in Guitar Hero by raising the guitar controller.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.