Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A sensitive area

There's an article on Eurogamer about the new Splinter Cell, where the too-complicated controls of the previous games in the series have been simplified down to three different button presses (and probably some analogue stick wiggling too).

I'm not convinced about going very context sensitive - I like it when a game character responds in a predictable and timely way to my input (though admittedly many games manage to cock-up on this front without any context controls). Unless all of the possible 'aggressive' options take the same time and have the same effect, how does the game know if I want to tip the table over, over throw a scalding cup of coffee at my attacker? Especially now that physics engines are making everything in game worlds movable, the range of possible aggressive actions in a scene should be huge.

Gears of War is just one recent example of context sensitive controls often causing your character to do exactly the wrong thing (the game thinking you want to take cover instead of run away, or vice versa), and also causing a lack of mobility (you can't jump over an obstacle without taking cover behind it first).

I'd also recommend having a quick look through the comments to that article, and keep an eye out for Jachap's post.

1 comment:

Bez said...

It can work if the context is consistent enough, and telegraphed well enough too. But that's a big challenge in a realistically themed area.

My problem with the splitercells wasn't so much the complexity of the controls (well... maybe a bit), but the bloody mindedness of the animation system, forcing you to wait forever for animations to end. Just felt unresponsive.