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

Following part one of his feature for Gamasutra's sister mobile gaming site GamesOnDeck, legendary games developer Steve Wetherill (Jet Set Willy, Command & Conquer
Following part one of his 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 AI, controls, and rejected ideas. In this excerpt, Wetherill notes that even in a game that uses only one button, care has to be taken to explain and create intuitive controls, as even then there's a chance for misinterpretation: “Although much time and energy was devoted to creating an intuitive control system, in practice there's one issue that people seem to trip over. The idea of pressing and then holding the OK button to take your shot seems to trip some people up. When the controls are explained to people, they understand it quickly enough, but people, especially non-gamers, seem to intuitively press OK and then immediately release the button. In retrospect, this is understandable because that's what you do in regular use of the phone, dialing numbers, sending a text message, etc. As a direct result of this, I ended up implementing a fairly extensive tutorial system which aims to train the player to hold the button down for longer shots. It was interesting just how much the use of a single button could be misinterpreted - but since there is only one button, it's really an all-or-nothing proposition in some ways!” You can now read the full GamesOnDeck feature, including more from Wetherill on EA Air Hockey's one-button design, including more on the creation of its AI, and screenshots of rejected designs (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).

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