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1 button or 2? Answer: No buttons
October 17, 2011 1:14 PM   Subscribe

"What kind of a**hole enters his game in the IGF before it’s done and then decides to delay release for 2 years?" The creator of Monaco discusses the philosophy of one or two buttons in gaming. His answer: None. (NSF People who don't like Penny Arcade.)
posted by hot_monster (40 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm still waiting for Fez. *sigh*

It's now set for early 2012, but I've been hurt before.

Also, Atari Jaguar owners, don't hold your breath.

15 16 years in the making!
posted by kmz at 1:42 PM on October 17, 2011


> What kind of a**hole enters his game in the IGF before it’s done and then decides to delay release for 2 years?

This is hardly the main point of the article, but delays between IGF and release seem common. I haven't followed the IGF that closely the last few years, but there have been a bunch of games entered that didn't come up for any form of puplic release for a long time after it. For instance Braid won awards in the 2006 IGF and was released late 2009 for consoles and 2010 for PC. That's just over four years to go from IGF to PC. Fez won an award in 2008, there is no release date set as far as I know. Two years doesn't seem too bad (but the game isn't released yet, so ... we'll see).
posted by bjrn at 1:44 PM on October 17, 2011


I'm perplexed by his assertion that gaming only became accessible again with the resurgence of 2D. Did he completely miss the DS and the Wii?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:48 PM on October 17, 2011


I get where this guy is coming from, and I agree with most of it, but Monaco is not what I'd consider to be a zero-button game. Not even a one button game, in fact, because he says (in small writing):

OK, there’s one button. I call it the “oh shit button”, and it triggers whatever gear you are carrying, such as a shotgun, a smoke bomb, or C4. You use it sparingly, like bombs in Geometry Wars.

Tiny Wings is a one-button game. You don't have an analog stick or a d-pad, you can just press the screen or not. Ditto for Canabalt. Doodle Jump is sort of zero buttons, but you still have the whole tilting thing.

This is not a criticism of Monaco - it looks totally awesome, and I hope there are more games that are much more accessible to non-gamers. Wii Sports in particular should have made it clear there is a huge market for this. I still find it difficult to play stuff like Deus Ex on a console. But I think he is overreaching a little with his claims here.
posted by adrianhon at 1:50 PM on October 17, 2011


@bjrn: of note - the creators are attempting to enter Fez for IGF 2012 as well.
posted by GenericUser at 1:55 PM on October 17, 2011


There was a minor hullaballoo in the indie-game twittersphere over the weekend when it was learned that after winning the IGF competition 4 years ago, Fez was entered again for the 2012 competition.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 1:59 PM on October 17, 2011


I like the control concept in Monaco of using the mouse in a physical way, to push and pull, yet I find touch screen gaming on the DS or iOS/Android platforms (the traditional "button-less" gaming) to be incredibly tiresome.

I find myself thinking phones need at least a d-pad and two face buttons if they intend to be gaming platforms, while console controllers should have about 4 more face buttons. I guess I am the hardcore.

There was a minor hullaballoo in the indie-game twittersphere over the weekend when it was learned that after winning the IGF competition 4 years ago, Fez was entered again for the 2012 competition.

In the non-Indie gaming shows (corporate games?) there have been a few cases where the same game won "Best of E3" or something two years in a row, too. I'll try and dig up those games. It's a problem.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:03 PM on October 17, 2011


Ah! I thought you meant One or Two Buttons.
posted by alasdair at 2:08 PM on October 17, 2011


I find myself thinking phones need at least a d-pad and two face buttons if they intend to be gaming platforms, while console controllers should have about 4 more face buttons. I guess I am the hardcore.

O_o Where would you even fit more buttons on a 360 or PS3 controller? It's hard enough sometimes just dealing with the left stick and the dpad at the same time, or certain combinations of the triggers and X/Y/A/B.
posted by kmz at 2:08 PM on October 17, 2011 [2 favorites]



I'm perplexed by his assertion that gaming only became accessible again with the resurgence of 2D. Did he completely miss the DS and the Wii?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:48 PM on October 17 [+] [!]


To be fair, most popular DS games are 2D, and most popular Wii games don't require any 3D interaction - tho they may be 3D rendered, the gameplay is distinctly 2D.
posted by jaymzjulian at 2:19 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Super Mario Galaxy 1&2? Mario Kart Wii? Wii Sports and Wii Fit have 3D interaction too, if I remember right.
posted by kmz at 2:23 PM on October 17, 2011


If you want to credit someone with the ability for a casual game to present a one-button interface and be taken seriously, the credit should probably lie with the millions of flash games that run off the left-click, not Jobs's philosophy of crippling user input.
posted by kafziel at 2:24 PM on October 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Did you read the (short) article? He's talking from his own game design experience.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:29 PM on October 17, 2011


I'll give you mario galaxy, but point out that new super mario bros wii was way more popular with the casual gaming crowd. Mario Kart is really a 2d racer projected into 3d, and I don't remember anything but timing games in wii sports.
posted by jaymzjulian at 2:32 PM on October 17, 2011


Where would you even fit more buttons on a 360 or PS3 controller?

Most people are still only using 2 thumbs and 2 index fingers. A 360 controller has 2 analog sticks, a d-pad, and 12 buttons divided between 4 fingers. But probably there's research showing we aren't good in with video games using the other 3 fingers. I certainly think it feels awkwark to put my index fingers on the shoulder buttons and middle fingers on the triggers of my 360 controller. Triggers are for index fingers in my book.

I think you could have some other buttons lower down on the handles of the 360 under where one's pinkies and ring fingers naturally rest. And maybe the meaty part that rests in the palms could be turned into two pressure sensitive squeezable handles. Throw in the twist from the NeGcon and 3D spatial positioning and I think that'd be about the limit of hand-held video-game-controller style input devices.
posted by Edogy at 2:32 PM on October 17, 2011


Needs less yo, yo.
posted by hanoixan at 2:33 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Best one-button wai wai world action game: Tomena Sanner. I'd love to have more information on this game, developer interviews and such. It's available for iOS, but the WiiWare version (which is what I've played, and played, and played, and played) is a lot more stable/less finnicky from what I hear.
posted by curious nu at 2:34 PM on October 17, 2011


Casual Flash games are real big on the one button thing... just sayin'.

/whistles innocently.
posted by Artw at 2:36 PM on October 17, 2011


(Or what kafziel said, heh.)
posted by Artw at 2:36 PM on October 17, 2011


hanoixan: "Needs less yo, yo."

It was a self-deprecating reference to Breaking Bad, which along with most games these days, you would need a TV to know about.
posted by danny the boy at 3:41 PM on October 17, 2011


I've played heaps of 1 button games on the iPhone that work well. Tiny Wings and Jetpack Joyride are the latest
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:00 PM on October 17, 2011


Once again, my expensive trips to the GDC pay off for a mefi comment.

I have played Monaco and it was pretty fun. Really. I wanted more than one play session to get used to it, and three other friends to play with rather than conference-goers. It was abstract fun back in 2010, and I was surprised to see him in 2011 with him still working on it, as I thought it was pretty finished in 2010.

and speaking of not done and the IGF, one guy is taking unfinished games and putting them into the IGF Pirate Kart. One of mine is in there, along with hundreds (yes) of others.
posted by hellojed at 4:07 PM on October 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is "none" a kind of asshole? I'm totally lost.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:31 PM on October 17, 2011


Mario Kart is really a 2d racer projected into 3d

By that measure, so are all other land vehicle racing games. Mario Kart (for the Wii at least, which is what I assume you mean) is exactly as "3D" as Gran Turismo, if not more; jumps are a big part of the game, and you can even subtly control jump trajectory in the air by pushing up or down, Excitebike-style.
posted by JHarris at 5:34 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


F Zero X!
posted by Artw at 5:43 PM on October 17, 2011


If you're tired of waiting for Fez, you can play a knockoff that scooped them.
posted by Jpfed at 6:25 PM on October 17, 2011


If you're tired of waiting for Fez, you can play a knockoff that scooped them.

I had the chance to play the latest Fez build at IndieCade and let me tell you: That game is a work of art. It's one of those titles where even the tiniest details are so perfect, so immaculate, that the entire thing is elevated. Ain't nobody got scooped here
posted by GilloD at 6:40 PM on October 17, 2011


JHarris: "By that measure, so are all other land vehicle racing games. Mario Kart (for the Wii at least, which is what I assume you mean) is exactly as "3D" as Gran Turismo, if not more;"

If you've never watched your roommate's 65 year old dad try to play Halo, looking straight up into the sky and spinning out of control for 10 minutes before giving up, I can understand how you'd think racing games are "3D".
posted by danny the boy at 7:15 PM on October 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


So basically "3d" is defined as "how much camera control you have"?
posted by kavasa at 9:40 PM on October 17, 2011


The camera control takes it into the Two Point Fiveth Dimension!
posted by Artw at 9:46 PM on October 17, 2011


I've got a racing game called Pure, and it seems pretty 3D since its mostly about jumps and ramps.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:50 PM on October 17, 2011


The useful definition here isn't a technical one. The big difference I notice between games that are "hardcore" and games that non-traditional populations can play, is in how much arbitrary design language the player is presumed to already know.

You should watch someone who has never used a console try to play a FPS. It's completely fascinating. I've been playing games for two and a half decades. Our hands have been knurled into these crazy shapes by our tools--the multiple generations of abstraction layers between us and what is happening in the game--that we don't realize just how fundamentally arbitrary (and strange) the mental models our games require are.

It's been written about at length, but the one button mouse and modern touch interfaces are deeply connected. This is why babies can use iPads. They point at what they want, and something happens.

I was working on a product, and of the several dozen users I observed and interviewed across three continents, not a single person had ever tried using the right mouse button. These were all accomplished, smart professionals, who spent the majority of their day, every day, in front of this product.

This isn't an argument against multi button mice, or complicated 3D games. Hardcore gamers and developers and designers and geeks are these isolated, minority populations, and we have very weird ways of doing things that are totally alien to everyone else. Not realizing this has been the cause of much suffering in the modern age.
posted by danny the boy at 10:57 PM on October 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you've never watched your roommate's 65 year old dad try to play Halo, looking straight up into the sky and spinning out of control for 10 minutes before giving up, I can understand how you'd think racing games are "3D".

My point is that if you're going to say Mario Kart isn't 3D, then no racing game is 3D, unless maybe it plays with time travel in some way, and picks up its third dimension from that. Technically Super Mario 64 is 2D in a way; you run around on flat surfaces, don't you? Neither are first-person shooters; even if you have a jump button, you don't really move around vertically that often. A mere gimmick!

If you're tired of waiting for Fez, you can play a knockoff that scooped them.

No to mention Super Paper Mario.
posted by JHarris at 1:52 AM on October 18, 2011


I've played heaps of 1 button games on the iPhone that work well. Tiny Wings and Jetpack Joyride are the latest

Holy crap what have you done to my productivity
posted by Ritchie at 3:52 AM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've found that non-gamer friends and family members pick up third-person 3D games with single-stick control, like Mario or most driving games, much faster than dual-stick control third-person games like Gears of Manliness. Resident Evil 4, with its single-stick control (you can't move and shoot at the same time) is a good gateway drug.

One of the biggest problems in the way of expanding the reach of "hardcore" 3D games is the lack of awareness that dual-stick 3D control is an acquired skill, but it's hardly a difficult one. Just about everyone with a car learned to drive as an adult, a task that requires a similar level of abstraction but is considerably less forgiving of mistakes and requires far more overall awareness.

I wonder if every console should come with some simple learner games built in: I imagine a Mario-style 2D game teaching basic controller use, and then turning into a simple 3D game when the player is ready, and then adding camera control after a while. Giving someone a controller and throwing them into Vanquish or Halo is a great way to turn them off 3D games forever; gently coaching them through increasing levels of complexity would probably work a lot better.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:58 AM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Heh. "Gears of Manliness" is great. I am so going to steal the hell out of that, AofK.

You should watch someone who has never used a console try to play a FPS.

This is so true. The camera/move/shoot dynamics are very much a learned skill.

I have played tons of console games but not many computer games at all. When I joined Mefightclub (A+++ community, recommended, would join again), I was really worried about gaming with the pros over there because of my lack of PC/Mac gaming experience.

And I am still too intimidated to try multiplayer TF2 (bees? rotatoes?!) but I practiced some single-player Steam games and Wow, it is EASY to shoot someone on a computer!

Sure, you can still (and I do) get lost in a level or forget to equip a new weapon, but the learning curve is NOTHING compared to the first time I played Halo on the Xbox360.

Even now, on the 360, I'll still panic and mess up my camera view (hello sky! Hello feet!) when my gaming-god teens are converging on me to kill me for the umpteenth time. I tend to do best as a sniper in games with anyone younger than I am. In melee they're all impossibly fast, even though there's a handful of buttons and triggers involved in every move.

But on a computer? All you have to is point, click, and BANG! Bob's your dead uncle.
____________
*Typical dialog:
Player 1--Finally! I can't believe it took me so long to win that match, I sucked. I died like, 10 times.
Player2--yeah, I only got like, 5 headshots?
Player 3-- I got 2 kills.
Player 1 and 2 (kindly)--that's really good, Mom!
posted by misha at 9:00 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most people are still only using 2 thumbs and 2 index fingers.

* PC Gamers Do It *
With All Their Fingers.
posted by straight at 10:47 AM on October 18, 2011


Giving someone a controller and throwing them into Vanquish or Halo

I'm an FPS/action gaming vet and Vanquish confused me until I learned to control it. I beat it and I'm still not sure I understand it
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:17 PM on October 18, 2011


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: "I'm an FPS/action gaming vet and Vanquish confused me until I learned to control it. I beat it and I'm still not sure I understand it"

The secret to Vanquish is to know that in any given situation the solution is to SACRIFICE YOUR OWN MEN! ALL OF THEM! EVEN THAT GUY! THEY KNEW THE RISKS! NO, DON'T SAVE THEM-- Oh hi, men.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:37 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The trick is to realize that it really is the best of all possible worlds.

That and to jump up and use the heavy machinegun.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:41 PM on October 18, 2011


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