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I'm making a simple 2D XNA game for Xbox 360. My game can be paused by pressing the Start button on the Xbox controller. While paused, a simple menu pops up with options like Resume and Exit to Title Screen. The way I've currently programmed it, the menu options can only be selected with the A button on the Xbox controller, but I've found that I intuitively want to press Start to resume the action again.

I think it's a given that Start pauses the game and displays the pause menu, but once the pause menu is displayed, I can think of 3 options for dealing with input:

  • Menu options can be selected with the A button. Start does nothing.

  • Menu options can be selected with the A button or the Start button.

  • Menu options can be selected with the A button. Start resumes gameplay regardless of which menu option is selected.

What's the best control scheme to pause a game and accept input on a pause screen menu? Are there any guidelines or standards to help choose between these options?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Microsoft requires the following in XBLA games and should be put in place in an indie game, I know it doesn't answer the question but I thought you might want to know it. > Resume Game >Help & Options [submenu] >> How to Play >> Controls >> Settings >> Credits (if applicable) >Leaderboards (not required on indie game) >Achievements (not applicable on indie game) >Save Game (if applicable) >Exit Game \$\endgroup\$ Dec 3, 2011 at 4:28

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As a gamer, I appreciate it when games use the following conventions:

  • I press Start to pause the game.
  • Unless it has some special function (like bringing up a secondary menu), I want the B button to unpause the game.
  • Same goes for Start button.
  • I want to move the selection with either the left thumbstick or the D-pad, and I want the selection to wrap. ie: If I am at the top of the list and press up, then it should go to the bottom.
  • 'A' button selects menu items.

Also, slightly unrelated, but when the game is paused, keep a timer and if there's no user input after 3-5 seconds or something please fade down the music and other continuously playing sound effects.

Update

Adding Trevor's comment in the answer because it's important:

An extra often-forgotten point: Any current controller vibration should be stopped as soon as the pause screen is opened. The vibration should NOT be resumed when leaving the pause screen.

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    \$\begingroup\$ An extra often-forgotten point: Any current controller vibration should be stopped as soon as the pause screen is opened. The vibration should NOT be resumed when leaving the pause screen. Example: I'm caught in an explosion, triggering a few seconds of controller vibration. Before that vibration ends, I pause to go do other things. When I return and un-pause, I shouldn't feel any controller vibration from the explosion which occurred before the pause screen, but only from the next explosion or other vibration source that I encounter in the game. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2, 2011 at 23:04

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