‘Sup? I’m called James Parker, I’m a designer here at FluffyLogic and I’m working on Eat Them!, which Ana has been telling you about recently, and I’m here to say a few more extra in-depthy words about how making a game like Eat Them! actually happens on a day to day basis. Today – CONTROLS!
A game can have the greatest technology in the world, the most incredible art assets, and USPs that would have marketing people salivating into their espressos, but if the controls feel wrong – if the player isn’t properly connected with the game – then everything else will be wasted.
One of the first things you do when designing any game is download a picture of the DUALSHOCK 3, cribbed from Google images, fire up your favorite drawing package, and put little lines all over it connecting buttons to boxes that describe their functions. At this stage, as an experienced designer, you make an educated guess at what’s going to work for your game. The reality is, until you get the game on the Test Kit, the controller in your hands and you actually try the thing, you may as well have been drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa.
Because customisation is a big factor in Eat Them!, each monster’s capabilities are going to be slightly different – and with four possible weapon positions on each monster, as well as kicks, grabs, jumps, and stomps – mapping all the controls, and all the while keeping things simple and intuitive, is quite challenging. Those things, however, are easily tested and changed, tweaked to accommodate new functionality and swapped to satify people whose fingers are the wrong way round – that’s the 80%.
The more dificult thing to get right is the 20%, that ever nebulous factor of whether the controls “feel” right. And that’s more than just where you hands sit – it’s how fast the camera rotates, it’s the timing of the build up to a punch, it’s the relationship between the press of the button and the action happening on-screen.
No one wants to play a game where they feel they are out of control, and the very best games make you feel you are being more than just a player sitting on the sofa mashing buttons; they put you in the shoes of a pro skateboarder, or a cage fighter, or a superhero… or in our case an ultra-destructive five storey monster.
We’re getting there – we’re now at the stage where it’s almost impossible not to indulge in a spot of destruction when loading up a level, even if you were just there to check the latest exports. It feels good to simply tool around smashing things and eating people, even without the rest of the game content layer in. That’s a very good sign that things are going in the right direction. But we will continue to refine and polish and tweak to ensure that it feels even better before release. You don’t see Godzilla struggling to unleash his atomic breath, so why should the player?
Anyhow these are the current controls for the game – let us know any thoughts: