The developer behind touch-sensitive kung fu action game Buddha Finger has encouraged developers to avoid using virtual controllers in touch screen games unless absolutely necessary.
During her session on best practices for touch screen titles, Anna Marsh, founder of Lady Shotgun, explained that touch screen games should not be obstructed by virtual analog sticks or buttons.
Marsh showed an example of sprites navigating a level on a 2D map using a virtual joystick that only allowed the characters to move in four directions, with the dead spots visible as the player’s finger moved across the screen.
“It feels much more natural not to confine players to false boundaries,” she said, showing another title that allowed a sprite to move freely in all directions across a 2.5D environment.
Games such as Jetpack Joyride do not need to have part of the screen confined to a button, she said, you can just press anywhere.
She added, making meaningful touch screen interfaces is about rhyme, recommending that developers ensure that their games respond to a player’s interactions on-screen.
Making elements of the screen touch screen triggers for actions such as jumping or crouching can take the away the issues of confining them to the fixed character.
“[This] doesn’t make it point-and-click. Games use a lot of context sensitive elements as it is,” she argued.
She also advised developers that certain gesture controls are off-putting to players: “Swiping down is uncomfortable. We had some set up [on Buddha Finger] where people had to use four fingers at a time, which didn’t work that well on tablets. People didn’t like it. They have to been able to hold the device and they like to be able to play in comfort.”
Marsh concluded that touch screens offer a rich and varied interface, but it is important for player get a very reliable response somewhere on the screen.