Key Mapping Research for Combat/Gathering

With the combat, I felt it would be useful to have a look into what sorts of keys are typically used in PC games as we have been thinking that we will have the option to play with an Xbox controller or play with the keyboard. After the success of SOUNDeSCAPE with the controller, we felt that this could be a good idea to make it optional. Also, as we have a younger target audience, it could help them get a better experience as they may find a controller easier.
On the other hand, for the older target audience, they have a choice too so if they’d rather have a more laid back experience they could use a controller. Or if they’re more traditional and prefer to use a keyboard, they can. We don’t want to restrict our target audience, we want them to be able to play whatever their experience. 

I did some research by looking at Reddit forums as I’m not a PC gamer and wanted to have more insight into the sort of key mapping players are used to. This way, I could key map the actions to what players are used to so it’s easy to pick up and play.

Reddit Forum

[–]rarelypost 1 point 1 year ago 

The more you play games in the same genre the more you’ll see that they tend to share the same control scheme so they’ll all start to feel more familiar the more you play. For example, using a 360 controller and a platformer, A will be jump and X will be attack in most of those games, and the other buttons will be mapped for whatever action you might have to use besides those. Same with most FPS games using a controller (like Borderlands), left trigger will be aim, right trigger shoot, RB is the grenade, A is to jump, X is to reload, etc. The same thing applies if you’re looking to use the keyboard, Ctrl is crouch, Shift is run, W is forward, A is left, S is backwards, and D is right, E is interact, R is to reload, spacebar to jump, etc.

Usually, the tutorial will help you out when you start a game and you can always look at the in-game control layout if you forget what button does what and need some refreshing.

This player, in particular, was really useful. I’ve quite a lot of experience with controllers so I’m quite confident on that, yet with the PC, the above controls they listed already has helped me to think about what sorts of key controls I could use.

Another forum I looked at was the Steam Community. It would make sense to look at a PC game site to see what the players thought. Due to time restraints, I haven’t been able to post a thread personally yet this will be part of my next steps process in order to check how players feel about the keys that I’ve assigned.
(Also below, IMHO means in my humble opinion… I had to google it)

Steam Community

Linkk 12 Nov, 2014 @ 9:48pm 

Many games are IMHO just more fun with a controller. I think especially jump ‘n’ runs and third person games are better with a controller.

Since most of the PC gamers have one, why wouldn’t they develop games for controllers? They aren’t that expensive and they make a lot games much more fun. You can lay back and easily access the buttons and have sensors for the pressure on some buttons, which brings variety to the gameplay.

On the other hand, I think every PC game should have the possibility to change the bindings. So that everyone can make whatever control he likes to break his fingers.

It was really useful to take some time to look at what PC players think about key mapping and it has certainly given me some ideas. For example, above, Linkk has mentioned how it would be great for players to change the key bindings so that every player can play how they want to and which way is easiest. After reading this, I will be making a basic form of key mapping and then if players want to change some of the key bindings, I want to make this possible so that it’s playable for our target audience.
I also had a look at some games that PC players thought had really great, simple controls
By accident… I may or may not have just bought a couple of these in the Steam Sale so I will be playing these later to test how the controls feel to me, a novice:
One Finger Death Punch:
One Finger Death Punch Screenshot.pngThis combat, as aptly named in the title, is one finger combat. You use the left click and the right click on the mouse in order to play. As it looked very simple, I downloaded it straight away and had a play myself… See the video below for how it went.
Please excuse the music in the background, forgot that recording the screen would also record audio…
The controls were so simple and yet so much fun to play. Maybe this is the key to creating a fun combat system. Maybe if we did something similar in BellJar, you only have to press the one button to make an attack but maybe the animation will be different each time? Having a range of animations for the attack made the game more fun as it made it feel like you were doing more than just pressing the left click and right click down. Maybe this is something to consider for Bell Jar.
hotline-miami-screenshot-of-gun-use
This was another game that I downloaded, however, I wasn’t able to record myself play due to my recording application not working which was annoying. Therefore, I’ve linked a Let’sPlay that I found on Youtube to help describe the controls.
As I didn’t have an actual mouse and was just using the mouse pad, the controls were a lot more difficult than I felt they should be. With an actual mouse, it would have been a lot easier to control.
The controls were:
  • WASD keys to move
  • Left click mouse to punch
  • Space bar to finish
  • Use the mouse to direct your aim
  • Right click to pick up weapons

The use of the mouse to direct the Player was something that I’d been thinking about for the combat system if the player would not be using the controller. It would be relatively easy to do and then use the WASD keys in order to physically move the player.
Another element that I need to think about is the gathering the character will need to do. I feel that it needs to be easy to do as the Dungeons will be full of enemies so it would need to not be too complex. For the controller, I was thinking about using A to pick up loot as this is super common in games using the controller. For the keyboard, I’m not entirely sure but I may make it the space bar as there will be no need to jump in the Dungeons and it would be an easy button to press. I’ve been thinking that it would be an idea to have prompts pop up in the game so that the player is aware of what they need to do due to the varying target audience age. We don’t want to make it too hard or too easy for the player so maybe there could be an option to turn off prompts?

Broken Age:

I stumbled across this game whilst researching for examples of good controls in PC games. I really liked the simplicity of the controls. In order to move your character around you use your mouse to click an area or item to which your character responds by walking over to it and commenting on what you clicked. We did have some thoughts about how we may make Belljar a point and click and this game certainly showed off how well it worked. 
See 00:20 seconds – 01:02 to see how the character moves in response to the player clicking.

This research has helped me to get some good inspiration for how the combat system could work within Belljar. I will now go forward in sketching and trying out what the combat system could include and what buttons could be assigned.

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