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Log: Designing controls that can express emotion
by Marius Holstad on 12/05/13 05:41:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

As noted in the last log on this topic: we have no way to effectively tell the computer the meaning of our actions.

 

Many people who are new to gaming find the controls intimidating (they don't know how to speak the game's language.) But we humans are really good at using our fingers to manipulate stuff, so using hand input is right now the most natural way to interact with computers.

 

To be able to express emotions to the computer, you must be able to perform an action with a range of emotional modifiers. And this needs to happen in real time. So before we come to a temporary solution, let's review our most common input methods:

 

A keyboard is best suited for typing.
A mouse is best suited for pointing.
A touch screen is best suited for pointing.
A game pad is best suited for gaming.
This is not to say that these input devices can't be used for something they are not designed for, but these are the facts. The game pad is the input device that handles these other tasks worst, but it has one big advantage: joysticks. 
 

Traditionally the joystick has been used for movement and camera controls, but they have so much more potential. That is because they can blend between two values, let me explain:

 

If we assign actions to the Y-axis of the stick and modifiers to the X-axis of the stick, we are suddenly able to specify the meaning of our actions. This opens for new gaming experiences that revolves around character interactions.

 

And best of all, it is an easy concept for new gamers to pick up; "Don't worry about all the buttons, you'll only be using the two sticks."


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