Category Archives: Complex State

Cross-platform Action RPG Controls

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.

Blended map textures for Complex State

Today I’ve been working on the map textures for our Action-RPG Complex State.

The game is largely inspired by some of my favourite games, Zelda: A Link to the Past and the Baldur’s Gate. The game maps are built using a grid, so maps can be designed easily or created procedurally during play. However, player and NPC movement is free like Baldur’s Gate, not along the grid like Zelda. My goal with the map textures is for it to work like a simple 16-bit style RPG, but have a unique more realistic look. I’m doing this by random variations of each map grid texture and with blended edges.


This creates a varied texture for outside grass.


Today I am working on the look of the space station and space ships. It’s not quite finished.


I also just implemented how NPCs will talk, I am testing it by having them say “moving,” while moving in their API loop. The game will support couch multiplayer, trying to reproduce some of the funnest times I’ve had played Baldur’s Gate and more recently Diablo III with friends. One thing that always bugged us in those games — when one player talked to an NPC the dialogue took over the screen and paused everybody. In this game players will be able to walk around freely, and NPCs will respond with un-disruptive speech bubbles.

Complex State is a game we are working on, it’s an Action-RPG for tv consoles and mobile. The game has a sci-fi theme involving artificial characters.

I’ve been working on the logo and over all brand the last few days. Here is the work-in-progress logo: