With the iOS version of Creatures & Castles, the control system was pretty much decided from the start. As I mentioned previously the high concept for the game was “Flight Control in a maze” so it was clear from the outset that the game would involve dragging a path for the main character to follow. And so it did, with some additional refinements added later due to beta tester feedback (such as restoring the last drawn path if the player died, and allowing players to undo a portion of a path).
The Web version presented a different challenge. I’ve covered this in a prior post, but to recap; clicking and dragging a mouse pointer is not a comfortable control method for an entire game. For this reason, I chose to have the player click and set waypoints along a path instead of having to drag out the entire path.
This process worked pretty well, but there still seemed to be something missing compared to the intuitiveness of the iOS version. In order to remedy this, I asked my artist to create some context sensitive icon overlays for display over the cursor when certain actions could take place.
From left to right these are: Cancel Remaining Path, Set Waypoint, Use Object, Take Object, Emergency Stop and Go. Of these, the only one that has no corollary in the iOS version is the Emergency Stop. For some reason, when designing the iOS version, I had it in my head that the player should – for better or worse – be forced to continue on the path once they have started it. With hindsight, this was a mistake; it served no purpose other than to prolong any mistake the player may have made and force them to quit and restart the level. Better instead to give them the additional option of performing an emergency stop and then continuing the path with the ensuing ten-footprint penalty. As such, I will be back-porting this feature into the iOS version forthwith.