Not too long ago I watched a “post-mortem” of the game Robotron:2084 and started wondering about writing a touch-based version of that game for mobile devices.
But then I realized I didn’t want to do a clone, I wanted something that was inspired by Robotron but was its own game. And so, Robotronish was born. (Yes, some lawyer will probably send me a cease and desist about the name but I’ll deal with that if it happens.)
I started making some notes on paper and then put something on the screen so I could start messing with the play mechanics. Because the big deal about the original Robotron was that it had dual joysticks — one to control the player movement, and one to control the shooting. So you could run the guy left while he was shooting right. Or up, or down. It might have been the original strafer.
So the “lowest common denominator” kind of controller would be a d-pad on the lower corners of the iPad screen — move them with your thumbs to control the player and shooting. But the problem with that is I despise d-pads on touch screens. In most cases it feels like the game designer put ZERO thought into player movement.
In the “olden days” they didn’t have touch screen. Joysticks were state of the art. But is that really the best way to move a player around the screen? It’s possible, but I think many times that”s used simply because it’s what we’re used to. It’s the status quo.
But I’m trying something different. Actually, I’m trying many things, but the one I have up and running right now works like this:
Swipe anywhere on the screen and the player moves in the direction of the swipe. He keeps moving until you swipe in a different direction. While he’s moving you can tap the screen and the player will shoot at the point where you tapped (although the bullet keeps going through the tap point).
So it’s swipe to move, tap to shoot.
I’m not sure yet whether that mechanic will stay, but it is playable. The one bit of weirdness about it is the swipe and tap signal different directions. For example, if you swipe on the left side of the screen, but you’re swiping to the right, the player moves right. But if you tap on the left side of the screen, the player shoots at that point.
I haven’t played with it enough to know whether the brain will be confused by this. 🙂
I’ve also put an “electrified fence” around the play field and if the player runs into it he’s automatically transported back to the center of the screen. This can be a cool way to get to the other side of the screen faster, but if there happens to be bad guys in the center of the screen you could be transporting right into your death.
That’s a play mechanic I like, it’s as it’s so early in the design of this game, that may very well get pitched at some point.
I don’t have an ETA for this game, it’s something I poke at when I can — it has about zero priority on my schedule. But I’ll keep playing with it a bit at a time and we’ll see what happens.
Back to the Robotronish Dashboard