The Production Blog of Sword 'N' Board
I feel like controls are something that kind of go neglected in a lot of games, especially indie games, and honestly I'm still working on mine, and have been for quite some time. Before I had any real feedback on the game, I thought the four directional thing was fine, it was "retro" inspired and I thought a lot of people wouldn't have a problem with that. Well, I was wrong. 
See, I think when we sit down to play a game, the moment that the game doesn't play how we think it should, it feels bad. Whether that be because we're being made to use a certain control scheme we've never used before, or because the controls are limited in a way we feel they shouldn't be, it doesn't matter. The moment we can't do what we feel we should be able to, it doesn't feel good. 
The movement for Sidd was a bit buggy in the earlier days of Sword 'N' Board. It was constrained to the 4 directional movement like I mentioned before, but if you tried to hold down say the A and W keys to make him move diagonally at any point (which a lot of people did try to do) his animations would act oddly, and just look bad. So, I made it so at any time should someone hit those two buttons, Sidd would stop in place. It was fine by me, because you aren't able to move diagonally any how. Well, people didn't like that either. 
I can't really say I blame them, a lot of modern top down games allow for diagonal movement! Why the hell can't they move diagonally? Well, I honestly had no good argument against it. When I first designed the 4 directional controls, I thought "That's how retro games were, I think it'll be fun" and left it at that. 
Now that the 8 directional controls are in place, the game feels so much better! I will have to add a few more animations for Sidd when he's moving in a diagonal direction, but that's fine. But there was still feedback I could go off of...

Sidd had a very short attack distance, one that I didn't really mind myself, but that came overly apparent watching people play Sword 'N' Board at Casual Connect. See, I didn't mind it because I knew how Sidd handled. I knew just where to stand to not get hit, and how close I could get before I would take damage so of course I was able to run around pretty well without too much trouble because I was the one that had designed it!
However, everyone else that played it ran into issues, and realized quickly that not only was Sidd's collision box just too unforgiving, but he needed a better attack range. So, the night of the first day, I went back to the hotel and essentially added a "band-aid" to Sidd to increase his attack range in the form of a small little "swoosh" that would shoot out when Sidd swung his sword. It was something I never liked, but it fixed a problem at the time. 
I've already taken care of Sidd's collision box, and am increasing his range with his current redone animations to hopefully take out some of the frustration that came from controlling Sidd. While I believe that a player getting frustrated because a game is difficult is fine, that difficulty shouldn't come from simply not being able to control Sidd in the way you intended. 

With the redone animations, I'm also adding multiple control inputs to the game. While the game will always fall on the default controls of WASD and O and P to attack, I'll be offering players various control schemes they can use on the fly. No options menu will be needed to shift your controls, all you will need to do is simply move your hands. You will be able to move Sidd using both the W,A,S,D keys, as well as the arrow keys. You can also attack currently using O and P keys as well as the mouse! So if you decide you want to move to the arrow keys to control Sidd, you can simply move your hand to the mouse, and use that instead!
If it's one thing I've learned, its to never limit a players control. To never make them have to click a button to proceed. If you want to have them click a button to continue, that's fine, but also give them the ability to hit a button on the keyboard as well, or hit enter and have it do the same thing. Your controls should be intuitive and not something you or the player have to actively think about. 

When all is said and done, There will be probably at least 3 different ways to control Sidd and 3 different ways to make him attack, so everyone has a way to control him that they should like. 

It's funny how animations also play a large part in how a character controls, and how often this goes overlooked. For example, Sidd moves the exact same speed in all directions, no matter what. However, if you take one of the animations of his and speed up one of the directions, whenever he moves in that direction it will almost seem he's moving faster because his animation moves faster! The same goes for slowing down an animation. A funny thing happens when slowing down an animation, especially an animation that is used when a character is moving, and it's something I noticed not only while developing Sword 'N' Board, but while playing Ducktales remastered. 
If the character's "foot steps" don't quite match their movement speed when they're walking, either because of the movement speed the character is traveling, or the speed the animation is playing it creates what I've come to think of as an "ice skating effect" where the player seems to slide across the ground, since their feet are staying in contact with the ground but the character is still moving forward. 

This can also make the controls feel a bit off in a way, which is another strange thing to keep in mind. 

When all is said and done, I'm hoping that Sidd will feel as good to control for everyone as I think he will. I think bad controls can sometimes make or break a game, and be that thing that makes people put down the game before they even get a chance to really play it. 


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