As gamers, we know how great it feels when a game has great controls. Responsiveness and polish go a long way towards making a good game a great game. Of course when a game has bad controls, it’s just as easy for us to see it. Or perhaps a more accurate term would be to feel it. While we may not be in the situations the in-game avatars are in, simply hearing, seeing, and depending on the way we’re interfacing with the game the way it feels.
I’m not sure how much any of us really pay attention to how the way a game controls changes how the game feels. Immersion’s a weird thing like that. Anyone who’s played games on a regular basis can tell you that the way a game like Call of Duty controls is completely different from how a game like Need For Speed controls, even though those games are on the same console and, barring a racing wheel in terms of Need For Speed, are on the same controller.
Even games in similar genres can have wildly different control schemes. Call of Duty functions completely differently from a game like Counter Strike. Of course I realize that Counter Strike is a wildly different game, and is an environment that is orders of magnitudes more competitive than Call of Duty. However, playing Counter Strike on a controller, or Call of Duty on a mouse and keyboard, is a radically different experience from playing either game on the same interface. And while something can be said for the overall design of the game, I feel like it’s important to realize how important the thing we use to interface with the game environment is in shaping the way we play the games we play.
Imagine trying to play a game like DotA 2 or League of Legends on a fighting game control pad, or Street Fighter on a racing wheel? Think about all those runs of Dark Souls that hundreds of players have done on controllers like the Guitar Hero guitar controller. Heck, the Dark Souls community has actually made fixes for the game because of how poorly the Steam port handled the mouse and keyboard controls for the game.
So the next time you sit down to play your favorite game, stop and think for a second about how the controls influence the overall design, and the overall design influences the design of the controls. It could show you just how much thought and care goes into the creation of these games.
Gamer, musician, hobbyist graphic designer.