Weird Controls or Reinventing the Wheel

This is a happy coincidence, since I’m trying to make this exact point about touch interfaces. This post puts interface change and its detriments in terms of game design, and the parallels with software design are many and obvious.

Some developers have even taken to messaging the player at the start of the game asking them to play without preconception (such as Amnesia begging players not to play game to win). Players can’t really be expected to do that. They bring all the games that they have maximally mastered with them when they play a new one, and indie audiences in particular tend to have played many more games than the average muggle.

Muggles buying a Kinect might approach it as novices, but players who buy the new Battlefield or Call of Duty don’t approach a new game set in that perspective with fresh eyes. They immediately sense when the controls are weird and the feel is wrong and they judge it there and then. Some players (particularly self-conscious types like bloggers, other developers, reviewers or students) will push through that feeling, but many won’t.

Experts want the skill that they already have to be enhanced, to gain new mastery in dynamics with which they are already familiar, and to enjoy the experience on a higher level. They have expectations.

You can easily substitute a few specific words and get the same message for new touch interfaces.

Weird Controls, or Reinventing the Wheel [Indie Games] – What Games Are




  1. Of course, I enjoy reading your blog. Enterprise software can learn a lot from game design. More specifically, this recent post hit many of the same points I’ve been hammering about the lack of consistency between touch interfaces.

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