It is currently Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:28 pm

All times are UTC - 7 hours





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 20 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2016 5:42 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:12 pm
Posts: 18996
Location: NE Indiana, USA (NTSC)
In this post, rainwarrior wrote:
You just need to show that you can make something worth selling, and that you have reasonable business plan for it

Part of forming a business plan is finding a route to market. The developer programs for the major handheld game systems (Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita) appear intended more for a full-time team and a budget upwards of tens of thousands of dollars than for a lone developer operating in his free time after a day job. I'm told itch.io is better suited for smaller-scale projects. It supports PC (Windows, macOS, and X11/Linux), touch-screen (iOS, Android), and web-based products. So for a handheld game with a budget under $25,000, I see three options:

  1. An Android game using physical buttons
  2. An Android or iPhone game adapted to use the touch screen
  3. Skipping handhelds entirely and falling back to Windows plus macOS or X11/Linux, which would require users to sit at a desk or TV to play, and selling on itch.io then Steam

It currently costs about $850 to get started with mobile development. This figure assumes buying hardware for one major mobile platform (iOS or Android) first and using proceeds from that to expand to the other major mobile platform. It should be within reach of a hobbyist who already earns a living wage at a day job. So I'll examine both of these handheld options:

There are several Android handhelds with buttons, including GPD XD, the NVIDIA SHIELD Portable, a JXD tablet, or even a phone and a MOGA clip-on gamepad. But I don't see any evidence that these are in any way popular. Several of these manufacturers didn't publish sales numbers on their websites when I checked, which surprised me because I thought they would be eager to brag to prospective developers about the users they could reach.

That leaves touch screens. I tried playing Pixeline and the Jungle Treasure, a Super Mario-inspired platformer that tried to translate gamepad controls fairly literally using an on-screen gamepad. I downloaded the free subset of that game on Google Play Store to my Nexus 7 (2012) tablet. Control through a Bluetooth keyboard was fine, and I assume control on a device with buttons would be similar. But control with the touch screen was an exercise in frustration as I kept "whiffing", or pressing outside the active area of the controls. The same thing happened when I tried playing NES games in an NES emulator. It was even worse than a Turbo Touch 360.

Really only two kinds of games work well on a touch-only device: point-and-click games, where you're expected to be looking at what you're touching, and games where the whole screen is the button. A lot of platformer franchises that get ported to Android end up watered down to continuous runner games in the latter category. (Video game reviews call these "endless runners", though strictly that should refer to continuous runners with randomized levels.) Flappy Bird, Jetpack Joyride, and Rayman Jungle Run are continuous runners. Compare Banana Kong to its presumed inspiration Donkey Kong Country. I remember reading a bit by Tim Rogers about how Super Mario could be turned into a two-button continuous runner, with one half of the screen being a jump button and the other half for swipes to stop and go. This gets you up to Atari 2600-class control, with one button and one joystick. But I don't see how it'd apply to something like Mega Man that requires both precision jumping and precision shooting in both directions, or to a Metroidvania.

Which jumping games for Android have comfortable touch controls without being endless runners? Or are gamepad-oriented indie games, such as ports from NES, Genesis, or Super NES homebrew, stuck at a desk?


EDIT: A previous version of this post referred to Rayman Jungle Run as an endless runner. It has been corrected to clarify the broad and narrow sense of this term.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2016 5:53 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 9:28 pm
Posts: 3192
Location: Mountain View, CA, USA
My opinion/experience with mobile phones as gaming devices more or less concluded the same thing you did, re: touch screens are really only effective for certain kinds of games.

I wanted to add a point: don't let anyone tell you "just go get a bluetooth joypad and use that!" -- I've tried it (with a Sony Playstation 4 pad). It's exactly as you can imagine: it works, but the latency varies tremendously (up to 0.5 seconds in severe cases), which more or less defeats the point of using a joypad to begin with. I found the same general behaviour/experience with a bluetooth-based keyboard. The situation is worsened by the fact that bluetooth shares an already overwhelmed/exhausted 2.4GHz spectrum with wifi (and despite what people claim, they really do not play nice together), as well as USB 3.0.

Basically my view is: if you have a game that requires decent response time (i.e. non-latent), don't bother porting it to mobile phones. If you have a game that is turn-based, doesn't require quick response time, or could benefit from touch or "sliding/dragging" movements in some way (vs. holding down a directional pad in one direction), a mobile phone would be OK.

That's just my opinion though, which is no more or less valid than anyone else's.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2016 6:02 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2005 10:36 am
Posts: 2945
Location: Tampere, Finland
tepples wrote:
..., and Rayman Jungle Runner are endless runners

Rayman Jungle Run is not an endless runner. All of the levels are deliberately designed. It is watered down from the console versions though, it only has two buttons (jump/fly and punch/shoot).

(It also happens to be one of my favorite mobile games.)

_________________
Download STREEMERZ for NES from fauxgame.com! — Some other stuff I've done: kkfos.aspekt.fi


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 2:09 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:35 pm
Posts: 210
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
I keep bringing up Super Bunny World whenever touchscreen controls for platformers get brought up. In my opinion it does a great job at handling it and I easily get the same kinds of scores I've gotten on PC, if not higher.

I think the big mistake a lot of games make is that they try to implement a virtual D-Pad or a virtual analog stick. This is inappropriate for a game where direction-wise, you're only pressing left or right most of the time. Have three or four buttons (left, right, jump, attack?), and put them at the bottom two corners of the screen. Have big detection boxes on these buttons, bigger than the actual buttons. Moving a thumb left or right a rough amount is a lot easier than when you have vertical movement to take into consideration too.

Sure, this means there's not going to be any ladder climbing or ducking, but you can evidently still make a fun platformer game that's more complicated than a one-button endless runner. Mega Man would work fine with four buttons.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 5:53 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:43 am
Posts: 1589
Something to consider first of all: we complain about touch screens being limitied for games because buttons came first and hence we had designed all our genres around them, so now redoing those on touch is absurdly hard. I bet that if touch screens came first we'd be complaining that buttons are too limited for games instead.

On platformers: one idea (untested though, and assuming landscape) I had was to split the screen in a 3×2 grid like this:
Code:
jump   up   jump
left  down  right

There are two problems though:

  • Only feasible on small screens like phones (imagine doing it on a tablet)
  • You need to put the pause button somewhere

Also there's the problem of touch screen lag, but as somebody who literally cleared all challenges in Sonic Dash (seriously, I got to the "more challenges soon!" message) I can safely tell you that once you figure out how much lag the screen has it's not a big deal.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 6:15 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:12 pm
Posts: 18996
Location: NE Indiana, USA (NTSC)
koitsu wrote:
I wanted to add a point: don't let anyone tell you "just go get a bluetooth joypad and use that!" [...] it works, but the latency varies tremendously

In the past, members of another forum have recommended working around that by using a USB OTG cable.

koitsu wrote:
The situation is worsened by [...] USB 3.0.

How exactly does USB 3 harm things? I thought USB devices were supposed to fall back to full or high speed when SuperSpeed isn't available. I haven't seen a lot of elongated micro-AB receptacles for USB 3.0 on phones anyway.

But the real problem with using a full-size gamepad, whether it connects through USB or Bluetooth, is that it's too bulky to carry along with your smartphone. That's what the MOGA, iControlPad, and other clip-on products were supposed to solve, but a dearth of sales figures makes developing for them more risky, as it's hard to tell whether there's a market.

koitsu wrote:
Basically my view is: if you have a game that requires decent response time (i.e. non-latent), don't bother porting it to mobile phones.

In other words, leave it on PC?

thefox wrote:
Rayman Jungle Run is not an endless runner. All of the levels are deliberately designed.

I was using "endless runner" in the sense where you cannot end your running. For now, I have changed the post to "continuous runner" with "endless runner" as the randomized subtype. Thank you for the correction.

Sik wrote:
Something to consider first of all: we complain about touch screens being limitied for games because buttons came first and hence we had designed all our genres around them, so now redoing those on touch is absurdly hard. I bet that if touch screens came first we'd be complaining that buttons are too limited for games instead.

RTS gamers already complain about that, as the mice used to play them are conceptually similar to touch screens. This despite that RTS arguably originated on consoles with Herzog Zwei and the like, though it was codified on PC with Dune 2, Warcraft, and Command & Conquer. As I said earlier, mouse- or trackball-driven games would adapt well to a touch screen, provided that the publisher doesn't force the developer to make gameplay unbalanced for the sake of extracting payment per play with consumable microtransactions [cough]Dungeon Keeper[/cough].

Sik wrote:
On platformers: one idea (untested though, and assuming landscape) I had was to split the screen in a 3×2 grid like this:
Code:
jump   up   jump
left  down  right

There are two problems though:

  • Only feasible on small screens like phones (imagine doing it on a tablet)
  • You need to put the pause button somewhere

In theory, what you describe could be done on a portrait tablet by setting the dividing line 1/4 of the way up from the bottom instead of halfway up on a landscape phone. But not just pause; where does this leave punch or shoot?

Sik wrote:
Also there's the problem of touch screen lag

I think koitsu was referring to Bluetooth lag when using an external gamepad, which is a bit less predictable.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 7:36 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2008 8:38 pm
Posts: 1516
Location: Fukuoka, Japan
My opinion regarding mobile game since I helped a little bit to create some of the animation with Coco2D on iphone for a project at my previous company is that compared to the beginning of the smartphone market 8 years ago, the market is now saturated by the big players so the chance to make some money on mobile is quite slim. Unless you have quite an amazing game and some good marketing to get it promoted properly... It will ends up with the rest of the shovelware that gets on the market everyday. Mobile is a cesspool so I wouldn't target that.

There is too much crap on mobile. You have more chance on PC to find the proper niche for your software than mobile. My personal opinion after seen how the market is to give up about it. I don't want to make mobile apps anymore ever. ever..


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 8:12 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:31 am
Posts: 256
Sik wrote:
Something to consider first of all: we complain about touch screens being limitied for games because buttons came first and hence we had designed all our genres around them, so now redoing those on touch is absurdly hard. I bet that if touch screens came first we'd be complaining that buttons are too limited for games instead.


I'm of the opinion that touch screens are limited in certain ways by design, and working around that will always pose challenges to developers. I don't think it really matters whether one came before the other. Consider that with touch screens, there's absolutely no tactile feedback. It's easy in some games to miss hitting a software-defined button (for "jump" or "punch", etc) especially if they're too small, or your eyes are too busy looking at other parts of the screen to know where your thumbs are supposed to go. I remember playing Zenonia way back on my iPod Touch and even after 25+ hours I was still missing some of the software-defined buttons. I had to guess where I was supposed to press, and sometimes I'd guess wrong. To be fair, Zenonia is a complicated game compared to others. To me, however, it highlighted the shortcomings of a subset of games with touchscreens.

Another issue when designing games for touchscreen controls is finger space versus screen space. Unlike a controller completely detached from the screen, or a controller located near or around the screen (e.g. handhelds like the GBA) touch screens require parts of the screen to be temporarily obscured by the user. This means dedicating some space to the input UI, potentially overlapping it with parts of the screen meant for gameplay. This isn't much of an issue for devices with large screen spaces (although the larger the actual screen is, the more awkward it may be to hold and play games on, for some users), but proves difficult to work with on smaller ones. Games that don't run on tablets or bigger smartphones definitely have to contend with this problem, and it requires a lot of forethought on the part of developers.

I like your grid idea though. You could generally eliminate the 1st problem I mentioned and get rid of most software-defined buttons, although it still runs into the issue of finger space invading screen space. One solution would be to have most gameplay action happening in the center view, but change it to a 2x3 grid. That way, the user can keep their thumbs on very edge of the screen without blocking most of the view. Probably something like this for platformers:

Code:
UP          Screen Space            Action 1
LEFT        Screen Space            Right                                       
DOWN        Screen Space            Action 2


Optionally, tapping screen space could invoke a pause menu or something.

In my opinion, touch screens like the NDS or 3DS have been the best implementations of touch screen gaming. It avoids both issues I mentioned above more easily than smartphones and tablets, in my experience. The separate screens mean one screen can always be dedicated to action, and the other for input. My fingers or the stylus never have to actually block the main action. Stylus heavy games like The World Ends With You, Knights in the Nightmare, and Kirby: Canvas Curse would have been absolutely abysmal if the DS had a single screen with touch screen functionality (like the Vita's). Your hand is generally flying all over the place. A dedicated screen also means you can make the software defined buttons quite large and easy to hit. Tales of the Abyss, Metroid Prime: Hunters, and any of the Pokemon games since Diamond/Pearl do this wonderfully. I think Nintendo nailed how touch screens can work. Although only a few games are really touch screen heavy, they do use it efficiently.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 12:04 pm 
Online

Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:12 am
Posts: 6173
Location: Seattle
tepples wrote:
How exactly does USB 3 harm things? I thought USB devices were supposed to fall back to full or high speed when SuperSpeed isn't available.
Supposedly, USB3 problematically emits RF noise over a very wideband spectrum, interfering with any RF device that's physically close enough to the cable and interconnect.
Quote:
I haven't seen a lot of elongated micro-AB receptacles for USB 3.0 on phones anyway.
I suspect that USB3 micro-B will not significantly catch on, and for things that need USB 3 speeds will just use USB C.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 12:07 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:43 am
Posts: 1589
tepples wrote:
RTS gamers already complain about that, as their mice came first are conceptually similar to touch screens. This despite that RTS arguably originated on consoles with Herzog Zwei and the like, though it was codified on PC with Dune 2, Warcraft, and Command & Conquer.

Yeah I know, not to mention FPS pretty much having adapted to mouse+keyboard. No matter how hard one tries, a mouse+keyboard player will always trash somebody on a controller.

Also Herzog Zwei (and really, all RTS games before it) solved that by making the cursor an actual mech that has to deal with physics. The speed cap is part of the gameplay and enforced on both players. A bigger issue is the menu for creating units =| (something that'd be a single keystroke on a keyboard on a modern RTS is many button presses to do the same with the controller in Herzog Zwei, and the computer has much faster reflexes than the player here)

Sidenote: Herzog Zwei is not the first RTS ever, but it introduced the concept of a full blown map while earlier RTS games only had a hall, so in some sense it's the first that resembles modern RTS games.

tepples wrote:
But not just pause; where does this leave punch or shoot?

Didn't get around that =D

I came up with an idea but wouldn't work on current phones... You know how the Vita has a back touch screen? It'd make more sense on phones. Use the front touch screen to move around as I suggested, then use the back screen to aim and shoot (when you press on it you start shooting in the direction your finger is). But until that gets added to phones you can forget it =P

tepples wrote:
I think koitsu was referring to Bluetooth lag when using an external gamepad, which is a bit less predictable.

Yeah I know, I wasn't referring to that. If you're going to do anything with tight timing then touch screen lag matters too.

Shonumi wrote:
I like your grid idea though. You could generally eliminate the 1st problem I mentioned and get rid of most software-defined buttons, although it still runs into the issue of finger space invading screen space.

The reason for having two jump areas is in part to solve the finger issue: you tap jump on the opposite side (e.g. if you're running right, you tap on the top left space).

I didn't give much thought to the run spaces because I noticed the Sonic games put your feet at the center of the screen, so you actually get to see a bit more below you than above. So if your game does the same thing that could help compensate that your finger is covering the direction you're running towards - you'll still see when you're moving towards a gap of some sort, and your finger won't cover what's directly in front of you.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 12:17 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:12 pm
Posts: 18996
Location: NE Indiana, USA (NTSC)
Shonumi wrote:
In my opinion, touch screens like the NDS or 3DS have been the best implementations of touch screen gaming.

Hardware-wise, yes. Business-wise, it's not the best fit for sub-$25K games.

Shonumi wrote:
The separate screens mean one screen can always be dedicated to action, and the other for input.

The same is true of a phone or tablet held in portrait orientation, much like an 8-bit Game Boy or a GBA SP. The difference, as you mentioned and as I have mentioned in the past, is inability to find the edges of the buttons by feel; a player has to either look away from the action or risk whiffing. The Turbo Touch had an edge because its D-pad had an edge. ;-)

The method of swipes to stop and go resembles what Nintendo tried to do with Super Mario 64 DS. But players kept dragging the swipe circle around the screen, thinking they had to keep moving the thumb for Mario to keep moving. This is ultimately because the game provided no feedback about reaching the edge of the swipe circle. I have an idea for giving feedback about the thumb position by displaying a translucent ring around the player character, with an indicator for the direction of the vector from the center of the swipe circle to the current touch position.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 3:28 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:37 am
Posts: 179
tepples wrote:
Shonumi wrote:
In my opinion, touch screens like the NDS or 3DS have been the best implementations of touch screen gaming.

Hardware-wise, yes. Business-wise, it's not the best fit for sub-$25K games.

I don't know, have you *seen* the shovelware on the Nintendo 3DS eShop?
A considerable number of them also use stolen pixel art assets to boot.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 3:41 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 9:28 pm
Posts: 3192
Location: Mountain View, CA, USA
Answering these just for clarification, several are mostly off-topic at this phase (but that's maybe my own fault).

tepples wrote:
In the past, members of another forum have recommended working around that by using a USB OTG cable.

Impractical and non-feasible unless the game you're making is specifically targeted at the demographic that hangs out on said forum. Most people (read: the common person who has a mobile phone and plays games on it) are not going to haul around an OTG cable or adapter for this purpose, out of annoyance (example: myself) or due to bulk (like you point out later). One has to know that's the default. If that's still OK and said title/game mandates use of a physical controller through such means, then be sure to state that right up front in the product description and when the player first runs the game.

tepples wrote:
How exactly does USB 3 harm things? I thought USB devices were supposed to fall back to full or high speed when SuperSpeed isn't available. I haven't seen a lot of elongated micro-AB receptacles for USB 3.0 on phones anyway.

I was referring to the fact that USB 3.0 shares the same 2.4GHz frequency spectrum as wifi, Bluetooth, baby monitors, cordless phones, random gadget doo-dads, and anything else you can think of that's "wireless" these days. If you think this is nonsense, check the paper/study Intel did on it. The 2.4GHz band is an absolute chaotic mess at this point.

tepples wrote:
In other words, leave it on PC?

I intentionally chose not to say "leave it on PC" because one can make games that work on PC *and* consoles (XBL tends to be a common go-to), not just PC. My point is that mobile phones are a very different device than our tried-and-true gaming platforms (consoles, computers, and coin-ops).

Also: Sik bringing up touch screen lag is a legitimate point. I have experienced this more times than I can count on a multitude of devices (Moto G first-gen, my iPad 2 Wifi, etc.). The easiest way for me to describe it is that it feels like the kernel is too busy doing "some other crap in the background" and input + input processing + handing that off to the application gets de-prioritised. The experience for me is basically touching the screen and having visual results (i.e. feedback) happen maybe ~0.25 to 1 full second later. It leaves for a very bad experience and the user isn't even sure what to do during that window of time; should they hold their finger on the thing? Should they lift their finger? Should they lift their finger and press it again?

When you have a device that generally lacks tactile feedback, the only thing you can rely on is immediate response/reaction/visual results. Any kind of delay/lag/whatever kills the experience. Joypads/joysticks tend to not have real tactile feedback, instead relying on the fact that the platform they're being used on tends to be "dedicated" (think coin-ops and classic consoles). There's no visual delay because 1) you know how much time you have in VBlank (consistently!), and 2) the system is doing nothing other than running your game (there isn't stuff running in the background).

Here's an analogy: imagine what Thwaite would feel like if the controls were touch-screen-based (i.e. you touched where you wanted to shoot a missile down) but were "randomly laggy" (up to, say, a full second after where they touched for something to happen). The end result is going to be a person saying "f*** this game". I have actually played games on my mobile phone that are like this -- and they're uninstalled immediately.

I actually have this problem on my iPad 2 Wifi where the on-screen keyboard randomly stops accepting key input for up to 5-10 full seconds (not exaggerating!), but if I touch the letters (there's no visual or physical feedback during this time), once it stops jerking off (doing whatever it's doing), it "catches up" and prints all the letters I typed. It's the most nerve-wracking things I've ever experienced. My Android phone does the same on occasion -- and I believe it's related to auto-correct or dictionary lookup. Awful awful awful.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 5:05 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:43 am
Posts: 1589
Yikes, there are devices where the touchscreen lag is not fixed? o_O

Actually, going to bring back Sonic Dash since I mentioned it and it's very timing demanding (and that's considering it uses gestures!). When the phone is off-line, the game runs really smooth and input detection is pretty much perfect (occasional game bug aside =P), albeit lagging behind for a bit - but you can account for this since you can see ahead of you what's coming. The moment the phone manages to connect to 3G or wi-fi though? The framerate gets completely decimated and the game even occasionally locks up for a couple of seconds. It does still attempt to do a good job at getting all input on time, but it becomes prone to outright missing some of it =/

On that note, I got the trial of Sonic 4 ep2 on my tablet. It's... not really playable, and more specifically because of the virtual stick. Not just because of lack of tactile feedback, but also because it seems to lose input every so often even when I'm still holding on it. So not only you have to cope with laggy screens, but with occasionally input getting dropped as well.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2016 4:52 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2014 3:04 pm
Posts: 936
Topic: s/handheld/mobile/ ?

That USB3 interference issue sounds like a problem the FCC would have words about. Do they?


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 20 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 7 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group