Eat Them! Developer Diary: Week Three

‘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 stuff 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!

Eat Them!

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 DualShock3, 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 the game, 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 difficult 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:

Eat Them! controls

3 Comments
1 Author replies
1

Personally I’d swap head weapon and backpack weapon. Also I think my instinct for ‘grab’ would be to press circle. However, it totally depends on how frequently you’re going to use each move, with less frequent moves being mapped to the shoulder buttons (love you Sony but the triggers aren’t great).

1.1

Hi Darklemonily,

Thanks for the feedback.

One of the important things to consider was which attacks are most likely to be used simultaneously, and the backpack weapons tend to be more fire-and-forget, whereas the head weapons will often be used in parallel with other attacks. With the controls configured as shown, you can deal more damage at once, which is more fun and more effective!

Carnivius_Prime 30 November, 2010 @ 20:30
2

if you don’t like the triggers just get clip ons. I actually prefer the triggers as they are but I had to put a clip-on onto L2 just so that when I put down the joypad during an online game of Uncharted 2 to go for a quick pee or answer phone I don’t accidentally lob a grenade at my teammates.

Funny you mention clip ons for triggers. I just bought a blue Sony controller, and clipped the clipons off my older Sony dualshock black controller, only to find Sony have made the L2 and R2 buttons slightly smaller on those coloured Dualshock controllers, so I’ll have to glue the trigger clipons on this time. Viz. button layout. The head weapon might go better on triangle. x is good for kick. left and right on d pad should be track selection for custom music off hdd

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