This week’s Intel Developer Blog takes a close look at how developers can best utilise the power of touch-screen in the world of gaming.
As touch-screen continues to expand across all manner of mobile devices, the Intel Developer Blog examines the ways in which developers can utilise this tool to full effect…
There is certainly no shortage of Android devices in the market at the moment. Whether it be the latest and greatest smartphone or a wrist-watch, Android is fast becoming one of, if not the, developer platform of choice thanks to the mass migration of mobile manufacturers towards the operating system.
Touch-screen is now making its way to other portable devices such as laptops. It is becoming increasingly important that developers utilise its potential to full effect – especially when it comes to games. There’s a useful blog on issues developers are likely to face in coding for touch, such as hardware variations, button tactility and so forth that you may find useful.
Developers have been given the opportunity to go beyond the gaming parameters set by traditional input components, namely buttons and joysticks. The good old ‘A-B-C’ functionality of a Sega Mega Drive or SNES (XY / AB) control probably springs to mind. Touch-screen allows developers to think about the way they design and develop games in a very different way, just as virtual reality will do in the future (distant future, sadly!).
Is this a good thing? Opinion is divided. In business terms it’s a good thing; the market and target demographic has expanded considerably ranging from your 55 year-old commuter to primary school kids. Think of Angry Birds (free on Android in case you hadn’t noticed - there’s also a Star Wars version out...). It’s simple, fun, abstract, and ultimately designed to be won. Compare this to say Diablo 3, one of the hardest of hardcore games – in fact so hard testers described it as ‘unbeatable’! (Although someone somewhere recently beat it on ‘Inferno’ mode, I’ve heard).
It's clear games aren’t what they used to be, they’re no longer designed with quite the same audience in mind.
The hardcore gamer may disagree. Touch-screen isn’t necessarily a good thing for your dedicated gamer who will feel a pang of rage like no other should you lose (die) due to an unresponsive input system. The accuracy and responsiveness of touch-screen isn’t yet comparable to that of the classic mouse / keyboard combo. This isn’t a major issue right now as the majority of big games are a) incompatible with mobile devices, and b) incompatible with touch screen, but it’s worth bearing in mind.
Touch-screen will cater for both the non-traditional and traditional gamer. The potential to capitalise is huge! Yet not all developers are doing so. Various games still present users with an on-screen virtual joypad – a move that basically undermines the point of having touch-screen in the first place. They’re horrendous and hard to use, I like to know the analogue radius of a control, and feel the buttons as they depress.
If you’re an app developer avoid this tactic at all costs and focus on the strengths offered by touch-screen. Innovative controls are not bad control. A swipe or a tap can go a long way as a control-model for physics based skills and puzzle games. The mass user acceptance of this as an input mechanism will take time before it’s universally accepted though.
As touch-screen improves so will (hopefully) its capacity to become integrated into higher-spec games, which in turn will undoubtedly becoming increasingly played on mobile devices. The fact that smartphones are now running on the latest processors which are more powerful than some PCs is testament to how soon this will be. Don’t get left behind!
• This blog post is written by Softtalkblog, and is sponsored by the Intel Developer Zone, which helps you to develop, market and sell software and apps for prominent platforms and emerging technologies powered by Intel Architecture.