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direct control vs. point and click

posted by Emily on - last edited - Viewed by 689 users

Some discussion about a direct control interface vs. point and click sprouted up in this thread and it made me wonder which direct control adventure games you guys have played, and what your experience was with them.

The first one I remember playing was Gabriel Knight 3 (well, not counting the old King's Quest games where you walked around using the arrow keys :D), and I had a terrible time with it because I don't have a very good sense of direction and had a hard time figuring out where the camera was pointing and which way to walk to make Gabe go where I wanted him to go. In that game you can actually set the cameras to behave in different ways and I finally figured out some settings that worked a lot better for me.

It's funny though, because right around the same time I played Final Fantasy 8 on PC -- which had a very complicated keyboard system -- and it wasn't so bad. It may have helped that you could remap the keys. I don't remember if GK3 allowed this. Shadow of Destiny is another one where I got the hang of the controls pretty quickly, although I do remember the cameras behaved differently when you were inside than when you were outside, which was confusing.

A few years ago I got a gamepad and I was amazed at how much more fun it made direct control games for me. It also seems like people who are more comfortable with action games have an easier time than people who aren't. I usually play adventures with the occasional RPG thrown in, so I think that's why it took me a while to get the hang of direct control.

Anyway - that's my (longer than originally intended) story. I'm curious to hear some other opinions...?

41 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • Maybe you should make it an option, so that the user can choose point and click or direct control. I understand that this would require more work, but it's just a suggestion.
    Personally, I'm neutral on the topic. I've played games that were point and click and loved them and direct control games too-- although, the direct control games mostly had fighting in them. For some reason, I hated Escape From Monkey Island, but it's probably not the controls that I hated, even though it was hard to get used to them.
    If you do decide to go with the direct control, I reccommend that there be an option to change the keys so that they're easier to get used to.
    Well, there's my opinion. Hope it helps somewhat.

  • The main reason I prefer point and click on the PC is one of the reasons ShaggE pointed out (punny, haha). I like to often just sit back, relax, and maybe have a drink or food in the other hand.

    While I have had no real qualms with direct control, there are some issues with it. When not using a gamepad, it is not quite as intuitive (the gamepad's extra degrees of freedom over a keyboard are immediately useful). Also, character interaction with in-game objects needs to be handled well (sometimes it is hard to position the character well enough to interact with an object). Also, it takes more time to run around the screen to see if objects are interactable or not than it does to sweep a cursor over them.

    There are some positives to direct control, however. It does add an extra layer of immersion. It also helps navigate around objects easier than in point and click games where the path-AI sometimes goes bonkers. Further, it is worthless to try and implement point and click on anything other than the PC and Wii currently.

  • @tabacco said: I actually thought Broken Sword controlled pretty well in 3D for example, with the exception of forcing me to watch an 'ouch' animation whenever a character ran into a wall :)

    One could argue that if the controls are implemented well, you shouldn't be running into so many walls. :D

    Now that you mention BS3, I'm remembering that's the game that made me go out and buy a gamepad in the first place. I really wanted to play it but had seen a lot of complaints about the keyboard controls, so I decided to use a gamepad instead. Indigo Prophecy is another game that got a lot of complaints for its keyboard controls, but I only ever used the gamepad and it was smooth sailing.

    I haven't played Monkey Island 4. I did play some of Grim Fandango and remember finding the controls challenging, but the thing I remember most about that game was having to scroll through inventory items. I could never remember which slot each thing was in and Manny would take out and replace just about everything before I could find what I was looking for. Ahh, the memories...

  • I played Monkey Island 4 on the Playstation 2. Using a gamepad, it played fine. I think the biggest thing that helped was the little menu to select what item you were to interact with. In Grim Fandango (which I only played the beginning of, on PC) it was very difficult to tell what object you were "looking at."

    I'm very used to 3D platform games and action-adventures since the N64 era, and realistically, there's no reason why that kind of engine couldn't work for an adventure game. Dialog trees work exactly the same way, and picking up or using items is generally as simple as walking up to something and pressing a button... it's really only in the cases of inventory management and dealing with multiple items in the same rough location that Point and Click has a particular advantage, and I think as long as the game designers are smart about it, it can work fine.

    That said, if you're going to make a PC version, make good use of the mouse. Don't let it go to waste just for the sake of being consistent with the console version.

  • @Derwin said: The main reason I prefer point and click on the PC is one of the reasons ShaggE pointed out (punny, haha). I like to often just sit back, relax, and maybe have a drink or food in the other hand.


    True.

    Also, it takes more time to run around the screen to see if objects are interactable or not than it does to sweep a cursor over them.


    Very good point.

    There are some positives to direct control, however. It does add an extra layer of immersion.


    I'm not sure how this works? Well, it might be true for some people but I don't feel more immersed by having to keep keys pressed to make my character walk around.. it only adds unneccesary stress, in my opinion.

    It also helps navigate around objects easier than in point and click games where the path-AI sometimes goes bonkers.


    That's true, but this is very rarely a problem.

  • I have played a lot of RPGs from the SNES era that coudl easily have been "point and click" for many puzzles. There is a time and a place for everything. I agree above where they mention the Path AI can have brainfarts at times (worst is a fence with one open gate, you ALWAYS run into the gate and walk against he gate at a slow pace for 10 minutes to get to the gate... and then you get stuck on the post next to the gate...)

    I really dont like dirct control. It's great for Halflife and Portal; action games, but I really dont like it in adventure games...

  • This subject has kept me confused for a few years now. I remember first firing up Grim Fandango, and going like "F*** you, Lucasarts, where IS my mouse???". I was even checking on the config files if there's a hidden mouseEnable option somewhere, but no luck. I was sulking for days, then I of course got back to the game and learned the new control scheme. It didn't took long, and after that, I never really felt a very sore lack of the mouse (being able to run instead of walking was definitely helping), but I didn't experience any advantages either - not until Year 2 at least. Then, those midnight locations, like the alley behind Manny's bar, the Blue Casket or the lighthouse seemed to cast a spell on me, and I was suddenly enjoying moving Manny around a lot in the moonlight.

    That's the part immersion plays, I guess - let me try to explain it. The point and click method places you outside the characters and the action, and the p&c adventure games with good stories always put me in a mind of a good storytelling movie where I get to do a lot more thinking and some meddling. Then, the closer you get to your character, the more you see the world through his eyes - direct control is a relatively small step into the direction where at the far end the first person perspective is.

    Indigo Prophecy was mentioned earlier - it was definitely an interesting attempt to involve the player more in the actual mechanics of the character's actions. Going further down this road, I heartily recommend the Penumbra series - you may hate it, but if you don't, then you're in for one of the best immersion experiences in any computer game, ever. Play it in a dark room and a change of underclothing nearby :D

    In the end, I think both control methods can fit a game - it's up to the game designers to implement the game in a way that the control method feels natural. However, for me, it's hard to get used to the thought of a keyboard controlled adventure game on the instinct level - after recently completing The Longest Journey, I was taking a look at Dreamfall, and was like "Oh no, not this s*** again", then I wondered why I was thinking that. :confused:

  • Really, the difference between direct control on a gamepad and direct control on a keyboard is night and day. A good control stick has all the analog precision you'd expect from a mouse, as opposed to clunky directional movement you get from arrow keys.

    That, combined with developer inexperience and the newness of 3D at the time (over ten years ago, mind you!), is why I think a lot of adventure gamers have a negative impression of direct control (and of 3D games in general...).

  • @Armakuni said:
    I'm not sure how this works? Well, it might be true for some people but I don't feel more immersed by having to keep keys pressed to make my character walk around.. it only adds unneccesary stress, in my opinion.

    I think what Pantagruel said (quoted below) is what I was trying to get at with my brief comment. It is a very subtle difference, but one I feel when playing a direct control game. In point and click, you TELL your character where to go. In direct control, you MAKE him go there. With point and click, I feel like I am watching a story, and there is always a barrier separating me from the character. Not always true with direct control.

    I should add, though, that the level of immersion drops drastically when using a keyboard for input versus a gamepad. Telltale needs to realize that most of its core audience will probably use a keyboard for input, which (like you said) can sometimes add undue stress.

    @Armakuni said:
    That's the part immersion plays, I guess - let me try to explain it. The point and click method places you outside the characters and the action, and the p&c adventure games with good stories always put me in a mind of a good storytelling movie where I get to do a lot more thinking and some meddling. Then, the closer you get to your character, the more you see the world through his eyes - direct control is a relatively small step into the direction where at the far end the first person perspective is.

  • That's a nice explanation, I understand what you mean. I don't feel that way personally, though.. I still feel like I "am" the character in adventure games when using the mouse.

    But I fully understand your point.

    And yes - most PC gamers don't have gamepads and will end up having to either buy them (which I doubt a lot of people will bother to do) or play using the keyboard. And it's more "work" to play that way than to just use the mouse. I think mouse controls are near perfect for adventure games, so relaxing and easy to use.

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