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Mobile Gaming and the War On Fat Fingers

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the two-thumbs-up dept.

GUI 28

Gamasutra reports on a talk at this year's Game Developers Conference by Mike Pagano, game producer for EA Mobile. Pagano brought up the difficulty in designing games for devices like the iPhone, where screen real estate is already limited, and a poorly implemented UI will result in players' thumbs and fingers blocking crucial parts of the action. Quoting: "Pagano recommends button maps on the bottom of the screen, finger-sized, whenever possible, keeping interface away from the play area. 'Apple puts the main interactions on the very bottom of the screen,' he said. 'When you're unlocking for example, you know you can read what's on top. That's a huge thing, especially when you're designing games.' ... For accelerometer input, 'we did a lot of tuning with this SOB,' Pagano said, referring to Spore Origins. Pagano stressed that games using the accelerometer should have a mechanism to allow players to change their zero positions, effectively letting them play in a variety of positions — sitting in bed, leaning over the device, or holding it up. Early in development, Spore Origins had a touchscreen control scheme. 'Where it started to fall down was, again, sausage fingers.' Said Pagano. 'We made our decision right there to flip to the accelerometer.'"

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Learn from the Wii (4, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308971)

The accelerometer can be a very immersive addition to gameplay, but it needs to be used with great restraint. You should always ask "would having a button be simpler and less frustrating?". The vast majority of times it seems to be a tacked on, frustrating, gimmick.

Still, the potential is excellent, and when used well it can open up a whole new style of gameplay. I'd like to see some learning routines implemented. Have the player 'dodge' a few times, for instance, and have the computer learn what movements on the player's part constitutes a dodge. This would be similar to training a speech recognition program.

Re:Learn from the Wii (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27309077)

Overuse of an accelormeter for gaming is akin to a website filled with animated gifs. Case in point: red steel.

Developers: just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

Re:Learn from the Wii (1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309629)

The complete device has to reflect the average nerd's micropenis: this is the only device known to existence that these huge obese fucks manage to manipulate in a way that satisfy them.
don't use buttons, just a minuscule, wet joystick and they'll feel right at home.

Re:Learn from the Wii (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310461)

Have the player 'dodge' a few times, for instance, and have the computer learn what movements on the player's part constitutes a dodge. This would be similar to training a speech recognition program.

Unfortunately, this functionality belongs in the operating system, and it doesn't seem to be there. Sure, you could add it to some games, but it needs to work for all games. Without it you have to count on the game makers to get it right, which is futile.

Re:Learn from the Wii (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27312141)

I like your train of thought, unfortunately I have no more points to assign....bummer

As an alternative, (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308981)

Developers can always design games around players' actual physical usage patterns, even if that means dealing with a bit less real estate pixel-wise. What a crazy idea, designing games to fit real people and real devices.

Re:As an alternative, (1)

Fumus (1258966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27314213)

What happened to the stylus? It's thin, allows for better precision, and is added to every touchscreen product.

Re:As an alternative, (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27319649)

That's a really good point. The Nintendo DS uses one pretty effectively, what about other mobile devices?

Let's see (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27309081)

Yo momma is so fat, she was the motivation for a new game control paradigm.

health (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27309329)

Why not be healthy and have normal fingers in the first place? This is not the same thing as disabilities like no hands, hearing, eyesight, etc...

harness some of that positive UI design genius (4, Funny)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309345)

Wait, this is thie iPhone we're talking about, right? Made by Apple with the geniuses who pioneered the one-button mouse? Surely they can harness some new synergistic paradigm and market it differently so it works.

I mean, the iPhone already has one button. How many more do they need, anyway?

Re:harness some of that positive UI design genius (1)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310355)

I dunno...looking at my iPhone it has 4 buttons and a toggle switch.

Re:harness some of that positive UI design genius (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310551)

Upcoming /. headline: Apple game designers develop the first "no controls" game.

Re:harness some of that positive UI design genius (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27310753)

there's this place called a movie theatre where you can play those already.

Re:harness some of that positive UI design genius (2, Informative)

FrostDust (1009075) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311035)

Progress Quest has already beaten them to it years ago.

Re:harness some of that positive UI design genius (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#27315113)

Surely they can harness some new synergistic paradigm

Don't forget the turn-key social on-demand leverage.

Inherit problem of touch screens (3, Interesting)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309485)

You will always have this problem where input and output share the same space. The obvious solution is to separate input from output.

Re:Inherit problem of touch screens (2, Informative)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309863)

Very obvious, perhaps, but not at all a necessity. Great iPhone games like Dropship don't suffer from the touchscreen controls in my opinion.

Re:Inherit problem of touch screens (1)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309865)

I sense the creation of a paradox...

Re:Inherit problem of touch screens (2, Funny)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310341)

Most females will agree with this statement.

Re:Inherit problem of touch screens (1)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311223)

Depends on your selection of females.

Re:Inherit problem of touch screens (1)

drerwk (695572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310635)

In writing Repton - I worried about this. But I put the controls away from the map center and entirely off of the main view. So if you are in the action you would not want to pick up your fingers and other wise it is OK to do so.
So far the uses seem to like it.
I also think that the accelerometer is easy to overuse.

Bluetooth joystick? (2, Interesting)

Crookdotter (1297179) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309529)

What about a folding bluetooth joystick? I've wanted one of these for years and that would eliminate any need for buttons and touchscreen use, AND it's another peripheral to sell to the gamers out there. With MAME being enabled for pretty much any device these days, I want to see a standard bluetooth joystick (or joypad for the young uns) that you can fold up and put in your pocket.

Re:Bluetooth joystick? (1)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310327)

Like this one:
http://www.gadgetizer.com/2005/10/15/gamepad-wireless-fold-up-game-controller-with-bluetooth/ [gadgetizer.com]

Sony has one for it's phones:
http://www.obsessable.com/news/2008/08/04/zeemote-js1-bluetooth-game-controller-released/ [obsessable.com]

But honestly, it's bluetooth and I can't wait to play with a wii mote or classic controller.

Your fingers are too fat... (3, Funny)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310035)

Please order a special dialing wand by mashing the keypad.

The fingers you have used to dial are too fat. (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311569)

To obtain a special dialing wand, please mash the keypad with your palm now.

If you are gonna quote, quote it right! The on-topic variation, of course is:

We are sorry. The fingers you have used to play are too fat. To obtain a special players wand, mash the touchscreen now.

And yes, this is the first thing I thought of too.

iPhone 3 and the dock connector (1)

Spencerian (465343) | more than 5 years ago | (#27311641)

Now that Apple is allowing developers to create apps that can use the dock, expect all manner of options for non-screen input.

It's likely these games won't be very cheap but they certainly will be richer. There's still a problem in how to hold the iThingie with the game input.

A good (and fun) example of a sausage-finger-compatible game is Zombieville USA.

Just bitter of the competition! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27314419)

For the record, anybody with the "pro" versions of the mac can develop. I, as a developer, don't mind the competition. Figure out a way to deal with fingers over the screen or others will. I welcome the challenge! I'll help any way I can!

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