I am trying to implement a twin stick shooter game, sometimes referred to as dual stick shooter where the left stick controls movement, and the right stick aims a gun.

What I do now, is directly map the stick angle to the gun angle, if the deflection is large enough. In pseudo code:

// jx in [-1,1]
// jy in [-1,1]
if lenght (jx,jy) > 0.5 :
    gun_angle = toangle( jx, jy )

This gives a very unsmoothed, twitchy signal for the aim.

The gun can flicker in any direction in a single frame.

In theory, the most responsive scheme, but on-screen looks far too twitchy.

So I wonder: should I sacrifice some responsiveness for a smoother signal?

Should I make the gun swivel around as I reverse the direction of the joystick, or just set it hard, like I do now?

I've been considering using the stick signal as input to a PID controller that does the actual gun rotation, but would like to know whether that's an appropriate solution for this application.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I've played dual-stick shooters where the rotation is instant as you describe, and other dual-stick shooters where the character/barrel has a maximum turning rate. Both seem to be viable ways to make such a game. So the route you choose may just be up to your own player experience goals and design judgement. Which is more important to the specific game you're making - responsiveness or smoothness of animation? Or are you willing to sacrifice a little plausibility to get both, showing smooth rotation while changing the direction of shooting instantly? \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 11:55

2 Answers 2


The general rule of thumb in game design is that it is better for a game to feel right than to be right. So smoothing out the gun movement can be a viable method to make it appear less twitchy. I am not sure, though, if using a proportional–integral–derivative controller is the best technique here. Have you considered just taking the average of the past few input measurements? However, without actually playing or even seeing your game, I am just guessing here.

Another thing you might want to experiment with is the size of the deadzone of your firing thumb stick. When you give a shooting signal even if the stick is just moving a tiny bit away from the center, you will get a lot of unintentional "phantom shots" in random directions even if the player's firing finger is just resting. So you might want to define a minimum distance from the center which is required to trigger a shot. Keep in mind that not all gamepads are the same, so you might want to make the deadzone size configurable.


You always have the option of slowing down the responsiveness, by limiting hte speed at which the character can turn as you mentioned; but there is also another possibility if the game play is feeling 'perfect' with the current responsiveness: You could instead slow down the animation to blend better while maintaining the game play responsiveness, for example by having the body of the character turn at a maximum speed while the arm holding the gun could swivel past that and effectively cover the full range when both are used together.


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