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GoD: 'Designing A One-Button Mobile Game, Part One'

In the part one of the latest GamesOnDeck feature, legendary games developer Steve Wetherill (Jet Set Willy, Command & Conquer) discusses the development of a one-butt
In the part one of the latest feature for Gamasutra's sister mobile game news site GamesOnDeck, legendary games developer Steve Wetherill (Jet Set Willy, Command & Conquer) discusses the development of a one-button game, EA Air Hockey, this time focusing on the concepts of one-button design. In this excerpt, Wetherill examines the impetus for developing EA Air Hockey as a mobile title that can be control through the use of a single button: “The primary reason to develop a one-button game for a mobile phone is one of simple practicality: the keypads on most mobile phones are not really very good for playing games on. The trend with phones is always smaller, slimmer, flatter - and of course much of the "size" of a phone device comes from the keypad itself. Keypads are designed to look cool (e.g. RAZR), and so that you can dial a number and (maybe) text a message. Expecting anything much more than that is a luxury for many of the phones out there. Requiring only one button really nullifies this concern - no scrambling to find the right key. The other compelling reason to create a one-button game is to appeal to the so-called "casual" gamers and the non-gamers (the "to be converted") as it's these folks who makeup the vast majority of "mobile phone users". A game that is playable with one button should contain little to scare away or embarrass such a player. I wanted to make a game that the salesperson in the cellphone store could just hand to any customer and say, "just press the OK button to play".” You can now read the full GamesOnDeck feature, including more from Wetherill on EA Air Hockey's one-button design, including examples of how this simple design impacts the title's gameplay (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).

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