Touching your (ShadowNinja)Monkey

by Laurie

So, to follow up on the previous post, what progress have I made with ShadowNinjaMonkey (SNM) so far?

As there is a fair amount to go into, this will be split over several posts.

Control Design

To start with, I focussed on designing the combat in more detail. In the original Game Jam prototype this aspect really wasn’t thought about properly. Along with the shadow based hunting/hiding mechanic, this is the other core piece of gameplay, and ultimately the reason why you are hunting/hiding, so it should hold a certain amount of depth.

Although by no means a Soul Calibur-style fighter, I’m still imagining a back and forth attack/parry system within the combat, where timing is key, and where you have the ability to charge your attack (with a negative effect on movement speed).

The ninja’s movement is another aspect that needs to be polished. The ability to move with precision when hiding is needed, and also the ability to pounce at the enemy when attacking or when jumping between cover.

Basically, the design principle running through the control design is this: you should feel like a badass all the time. To get this feeling there will have to be a lot of tweaking, play-testing, and fine tuning.

Now, the iPhone/iPad touch interface poses some interesting design opportunities and issues. On the PC it is simple – WASD for movement, and a couple of buttons for pounce and attack. On iOS devices movement isn’t too hard – a classic thumbstick can be simulated easily (I’ll post about my implementation one of these days).

For jumping and attacking, however, there are a large number of options, including taps, double taps, two-finger taps, combinations of taps and holds, and gestures. From my experiments pretending to control a game on the iPhone, it seems clear that using 2 fingers on one hand is fairly awkward, and at most should only be used for advanced moves. My initial guess as to the controls is as follows:

  • 1 tap – Weak attack
  • Hold – Charge attack. Attack on release.
  • Line Gesture – Jump (not sure whether the direction will have an effect)
  • Line when hitting wall – Wall Jump (reverse direction, speed up)
  • Shapes (zig-zag/circle…) – Different attacks

(For now imagine the thumbstick on the left half of the screen, with the right half empty for gestures – this should be user-definable)

These moves can be combined, if you are dextrous enough, and there could even be some special-move combos. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway), all these controls may/will change when there is something to play with.

Enough designing – next step… code.