RPG Design: Take and Use

Here’s a somewhat interesting conundrum I’ve encountered regarding controls.  I’m hyperaware of what is intuitive to the end user (not to mention the fact there’s already the Options menu letting the player assign their own controls).

This may actually be a moot point when the game gets closer to finished and I see more of these design “problems” in action only to realize I don’t actually need their implementation.  But the main issue is the console game design principle that the “A Button” is the default action in any situation.  But what is the default action for an item that can be collected, but can also be used (for example, a lantern or trap?)

Right now Shadowdawn Genesis is programmed to support both actions in two different buttons, but assigning one as the default is still tricky.  Not many games allow too much interactivity so it’s hard to find a reference point.  The most interactive game I know, Ultima VII: The Black Gate, has an entirely mouse driven interface, but it has the advantage of mouse-dragging to take items or move them and double-clicking to use them, where a controller needs to have each action broken up into seperate button presses.  But double-click in PC terms means “default action”, so in this case, the default action is to use the item.  That fits in with slightly less interactive games like Deus Ex where a single left-click uses items… but it also prioritizes taking collectible items.  The difference in Deus Ex is the player can’t use a collectible item until it is equipped, which makes a degree of sense on one hand and not so much sense for other items, but so far Shadowdawn has this design implemented as well.  I’m just giving the player the additional ability to use an item that is lying around rather than go through the interface of equipping it and then using it…

So I ask you, the game players, what do you think is most intuitive?

In other news, I’m simply working on Arashi’s many elaborate animations, chugging right along.  As they get closer and closer to done, I get more and more motivated seeing her actually move around the screen… rather than sliding in place.  This definitely should have been a 3D game though, drawing so many actions in 4 directions is far more complex than even the best indie 2D animated games simply because those games rely on side-scrolling to cut down the directions of movement and thus amount of work needed.  They can get away with more interesting looking moves at the cost of freedom of movement and exploration… and they call themselves RPGs, pshaw!

About Nightfox

A long-time independent game developer that was lucky(?) enough to have grown up with the gaming industry. I am a programmer, a game designer, a concept and pixel artist, a music composer, and a novelist. This has been my dream for as long as I can remember, and I am determined to take advantage of every talent I hope I have to make it happen!

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