Cheeseness

Paddle Controls & Gameplay

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Now that we've got something close to a full game loop in place, and levels exploring different kinds of spaces, we're at a position where we can start meaningfully thinking about paddle controls. I think there's a lot of possibility space to explore here!

As an air hockey player, 2D paddle movement feels to me like the most natural way to give control over hit strength/direction (using impact velocity and vector to influence those).
shufflepuck2.gif.308847dfbd6874be6d6701c9814dbf07.gif

 

@KGuNN is keen to explore paddle rotation as a way of giving more control over direction.
paddleRotate.gif.fe6f12d978ef7ffca689528b60f5b040.gif.05bd58c1957fe93ff5c696f7cbf44eb0.gif

 

@lightsoda has experimented with giving paddles curved colliders so that impact position on the paddle will determine the resulting direction (the closer to the middle of the paddle that the ball hits, the more "flat" it is, and the closer it is to the edges, the more likely it is to deflect in that direction). This is typically how pong/breakout clones work, and doesn't necessarily require paddle to be visually curved.
curved_paddle.gif.b87fc5854240d300df87db95e3b2ad8f.gif

 

@James Marion suggested that perhaps paddles could have flipper-like mechanics to them where buttons could be used to raise one side of the flipper or another, making the timing of the press and position of the impact change hit strength and direction.
james_suggestion.thumb.png.51d81cf8bc9a246e59e7b45671a1c304.png

 

@kednar has suggested that perhaps holding down the charge button (which the slingshot paddle currently uses to control its animations) for longer periods could increase hit strength.
paddle_kednar1.gif.3687b0ada544ffeb5ddd968813d8c31b.gif.8dc26a503f6223ba5866ade56c4e6204.gif

 

I'd also been considering another mechanic, where the player could hold down a button to lock the paddle position, but still be able to move around a "ghost" using normal controls. When releasing the button, the paddle would move to the ghost's location over a set period of time - the farther away the ghost, the faster movement is. Think of it as holding one end of a rubber band, moving the other end around and then releasing when ready. This might not be a good fit for the kind of fast gameplay we're aiming for with Pongball though!

 

If you've got any thoughts or ideas or feedback from playing builds, share them! :D

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My view on the gameplay is that the ball moves too fast (and the defense zone is too large).  Mid-table flippers and the bumpers cause a difficult-to-react-to speed increase near the defender's goal.  And if you can't react to the ball, you are not having fun.  However, this is a multiplayer game so the ball also needs to switch sides of the table fast and often.

My proposal is to add a series of power-ups which help combat the fast ball speed, and cycle through them sorta quickly.  
Examples: 
    1) Drop a Braid style region of slowed movement speed
    2) A breakout style blaster to slow incoming balls or push outgoing balls; disable bumpers
    3) multiple/larger paddles
    
Then in keeping with short reaction times, I'd pick a simple paddle type like lightsoda's.
And for more than 2 players you'd likely want additional balls to reduce downtime.

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Here I am feeling like balls need could be sped up a bit! :D

The original pitch included "player abilities" which would fill the role of the power-ups you're suggesting there.

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I like the air hockey way of moving the paddle over an area. It would give players more control and feeling.

Are you thinking on playing the game with controllers? Moving the paddle over an area with the controller joystick would add a lot. Then, one of the buttons could be used for the "pulse"

Alternatively, using both joysticks on a controller, the paddle could be oriented as in KGuNN's concept.

8 hours ago, Cheeseness said:

the player could hold down a button to lock the paddle position, but still be able to move around a "ghost" using normal controls. When releasing the button, the paddle would move to the ghost's location over a set period of time

That's a cool mechanic, but yeah not sure it fits the gameplay. Maybe cool for a powerup of (read with loud reverb voice) *INSTANT TELEPORTATION*

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Another consideration is keyboard/mouse controls vs gamepad controls.  As kednar mentioned.   I think we should probably focus on full gamepad support for 4-player local coop, with good keyboard and mouse controls being secondary.

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Here's an idea: paddles have 2D movement on a limited area. Combined with bulged table, players can play with the ball and have more control.

softtouch.gif.d2882332664a554e418c5b1774f93b6b.gif

Edited by kednar

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that is really cool

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The paddle feels somehow sluggish, making it hard to control it precisely. I think the acceleration is causing that, which is harder to predict than a linear speed. Is this too late to talk about? :)

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I think there's still work to be done on that front. We'll have to see how things are looking once we've got paddle colliders sorted. Are you playing with keyboard or gamepad controls?

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1 hour ago, Cheeseness said:

Are you playing with keyboard or gamepad controls?

I just played with controller and it feels much better!

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20 hours ago, kednar said:

I just played with controller and it feels much better!

yay!

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I just figured out the games keyboard controls are Y & H?  and I can't figure out what keys like T or J do but they do something.  Usually dropping a grey box or creating a huge BLACK box.  The AI seems to be pretty broken?  

Visually it's amazing, but I feel like I'm doing something wrong?

I have an wireless XBox 360 and the most recent build isn't responding to it existing...

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4 hours ago, Reid_Harris_Cooper said:

I just figured out the games keyboard controls are Y & H?  and I can't figure out what keys like T or J do but they do something.  Usually dropping a grey box or creating a huge BLACK box.  The AI seems to be pretty broken?  

Visually it's amazing, but I feel like I'm doing something wrong?

I have an wireless XBox 360 and the most recent build isn't responding to it existing...

T and J are firing off the powers for you? That should be Z and Left Alt (key bindings are listed in the release notes).

AI seems fine here. Can you describe a bit more what you're seeing as broken about the AI and/or share a video?

If you do two player offline, does your gamepad control the second player by any chance?

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@Cheeseness

 Z and Left Alt seem to giving the powers to Player 2...when in 2 player mode.

while Player 1 is Y & H and the controller is being ignored...the arrow keys controlling Player 2.

So I think the main issue is for whatever reason the game is not recognizing my XBox 360 wireless controller (I know it works... I just finished Edith Finch and found a bunch of things in Everything with it).

In terms of the AI... the ball got stuck and the opponent just stood there hitting it back to himself off the stuck space, creating a stalemate.

One thing I'm noticing is without even pressing anything  a HUGE black box just pops on the screen.  Also sometimes when I trigger a power to the specified key in 1 player mode it triggers on the opponent.  This could be again a lack of me fully understanding how to play though.  

Alot of that is covered in the current notes though... so yeah.  

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1 minute ago, Reid_Harris_Cooper said:

One thing I'm noticing is without even pressing anything  a HUGE black box just pops on the screen.  Also sometimes when I trigger a power to the specified key in 1 player mode it triggers on the opponent.  This could be again a lack of me fully understanding how to play though. 

That box is the "obscure" power. It's meant to make it harder for the opponent to see where their paddle and the ball are for a short period of time (the duration is probably too long). In future builds, it'll look like a cloud.

There are three powers. The slow (blue sphere) is a defensive one, the obstacle (grey block that's meant to stop paddle movement but currently doesn't) and obscure (black plane) are both offensive ones

 

Dunno what's up with your gamepad. Stuff is working fine here and on other people's machines. Is it possible that Unity's picking up other joystick-like devices (some gaming keyboards do this!) and mapping those as the first and second input devices? Single player games like Everything are likely to be capturing gamepad input from all devices and not care about which one(s) it comes from. Pongball can't do that.

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