The player’s doorway into the gameworld is through the game controller and a poor layout hinders their ability to fully immerse themselves into the experience. When they forget they have a controller in their hand, you know you’ve done a good job.
Over the years, the typical game controller has become more complicated as games add more features. If you want to introduce a new layout using all inputs, you need to recognize if your game falls into a particular genre then maintain the main controller themes that genre shares. For example, dual-analog stick controls for action shooter games almost always have the left stick as movement and the right stick as look.
I’ll admit being a bit obsessive when it comes to input devices and optimum ease and speed. When working on Prey 2, I took some time in my off-hours to think how to satisfy the average game player, while maximizing the unique features Prey 2 offered.
The first thing is I reviewed all games that a Prey 2 player might have experienced in the past. Here’s my break down to recent games between 2009-2011:
Another exercise was to visualize some of those layouts on a game controller. Flip through the next several images to see how games share similar placement, while others swap things around.
Of course, the best solution for any game is to let the player create their own layout. PC Games usually allow this while console games don’t, however. One reason is the sheer amount of testing an unlimited number of combinations would produce. Most console games offer two or three layouts. With Prey 2 I wanted to give the player three options based on three popular games: Modern Warfare, GTA/Red Dead Redemption, and Halo.
My first pass produced these next three layouts the player could choose in the game options.
The control scheme for Prey 2 has evolved beyond this to surface actions we found the players using more frequently during play tests.