My Action RPG game Complex State will be playable on everything: gaming console, smart tv, phones, tablets, and PC’s. Players will play together on tv consoles using gamepads in the living room… and continue grinding by themselves on their phones.
To achieve this I’ve been designing control systems for each type of platform to be as consistent as possible. This is what I’ve come up with.
The basic in game controls are movement and actions (ie. weapons). Movement is controlled with a joystick, arrows, or pathfinding to a selected spot on the map. On all systems the player is given 4 actions in the form of 4 weapons slots (could also contain equipment, potions, magic). These correspond to the standard A, B, X, Y buttons on gamepad, or are toggled. Aiming ranged attacks works differently on different systems. NPC interaction will be initiated automatically by going close to an NPC.
Here’s an outline of the 3 platform control methods.
I’ve yet to find Action RPG controls on phones that I love. Originally I tried out more complex swipes and gestures, but they were difficult. Instead I’m simplifying phone controls to single-handed tapping. This will lift attack combo versatility compared to gamepad. Gameplay will have to address this somehow.
Keyboard and Mouse basically combines the other two control methods.
This is my solution to the problem of supporting a console action game on mobile. I don’t completely know yet how simplifying the controls to just four actions will affect game design.