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A variety on the permanently visible theme here, the VJR has a small core which is permanently visible, then it expands when touched.
The main problem with their implementation is that when you lift your thumb and reapply it, you'll almost certainly start moving in a random direction.
The reason for this is that the sensitivity of the small core at the centre of the VJR is too high.
To solve this issue, a small "dead zone" (inactive region) region around the permanently visible core would have allowed players to tap the screen without moving unintentionally.
These controls feel great, using dynamic VJRs which are hidden when not touched make for smooth and intuitive gameplay.
This combination is almost ideal, but not quite. As the controls don't let the player tap close to the border without moving/shooting in that direction, means it's still possible to move unintentionally.
The controls for the iPad version of Geometry Wars are quite simply divine. They apply best practice in each of the four components to deliver a smooth and satisfying player experience.
Incidentally, the iPhone version uses a variation on a static approach, nowhere near as polished as its big brother on the iPad.
As a result of analyzing a number of the current twin stick shooters, it emerges that the best combination of the 4 design components in terms of both usability and user experience is:
Advantages of this component combination:
Now, we're not saying that this is a hard and fast rule, but you'd need to have some pretty good reasons to not design your twin stick shooter with this component combination.
I'd like to thank Seb Long and Pejman Mirza-Babaei for their invaluable feedback during the writing of this article.