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  Free vs Horizontal Only Aim for Shooting in Platformers  (Read 2410 times)
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Offline Rayexar
« Posted 2013-08-24 08:37:01 »

I'm thinking of making a 2D platformer RPG type game, and I wanted to hear you guys' opinions on whether you prefer being able to aim freely to shoot projectiles, or making the projectiles only move horizontally.

With free aim, the player can click on the screen and the projectile will travel in the direction towards the point from the position of the weapon. This method can allow more flexible aiming, but makes it harder.

With the horizontal only shooting, the player can only press a button and the projectile will travel in the direction the player is facing. To aim, the player can only jump. This style feels smoother and easier to use for me, and better matches the style of the game. The problem is the character can't shoot at positions higher than the jump height or lower than the weapon.

What are your preferences and why?
Offline heisenbergman

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« Reply #1 - Posted 2013-08-24 09:16:15 »

Personally, I haven't played a free-shooting platformer that has implemented the free-shooting controls well yet.

An action-platformer that only shoots up, down, left and right feels much better than a free-shooting one; so personally, I prefer that.

Offline namrog84

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« Reply #2 - Posted 2013-08-24 10:08:22 »

I think it really depends upon the game.

If most of the bad guys are horizontally infront of you,  its pointless to have freeshooting.
Are you flying around in space or are enemies coming from many directions?  then maybe its more useful


The one game that comes to mind, that did 'free shooting'  quite well,  was "Soldat"   Pointing
Very fast paced, (many multi direction bad guys)  However typically only 1-4 bad guys you are aiming at
It had a variety of 'fast fire rate weapons' and 'slow sniper weapons'    You needed wasd for fast movement, jumping/jetpacks  and mouse for (360) direction shooting.


Most traditional platformers would not benefit from this mouse based free shooting


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Offline Abuse

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« Reply #3 - Posted 2013-08-24 12:50:53 »

Personally, I haven't played a free-shooting platformer that has implemented the free-shooting controls well yet.

Trine 1 & 2, The Showdown Effect, Abuse.

I'd certainly go with free-aim; the additional control it gives to the player permits a far higher skill ceiling.

What they did with Showdown Effect in particular was a brilliant idea; most weapons are not just directional they're positional too, meaning you'll only hit the target if your cursor is exactly over the target.
If you haven't played it, I strongly urge you to. (unfortunately you've just missed it in the humble weekly sale)

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Offline Herjan
« Reply #4 - Posted 2013-08-24 13:21:47 »

Try (the opensource) Teeworlds : https://www.teeworlds.com/

I play this game a lot, and I like it, free aiming Cheesy

Offline Rayexar
« Reply #5 - Posted 2013-08-24 13:33:07 »

Those game suggestions were good examples. TeeWorlds is very similar to what I had in mind. Free aim does seem to work well if implemented properly.
Offline heisenbergman

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« Reply #6 - Posted 2013-08-24 14:36:15 »

Personally, I haven't played a free-shooting platformer that has implemented the free-shooting controls well yet.

Trine 1 & 2, The Showdown Effect, Abuse.
Yeah... I didn't quite enjoy both of the Trine games.

Didn't enjoy Capsized or Intrusion 2 either.

Haven't played The Showdown Effect or Abuse yet.

Offline Several Kilo-Bytes

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« Reply #7 - Posted 2013-08-24 17:45:20 »

Mouse + WASD works well on desktops. An alternative to both free and fixed angle aiming is the aiming mechanism used in Yoshi games. One button is used to aim/fire and a second optional button can be used to lock in an angle and hold fire. It's still easy to aim in easy levels but is fast paced enough to be used effectively in tougher levels at higher skill levels.

Both horizontal and free angle shooting can be either enjoyable or extremely frustrating and I am not really sure what makes either the case.
Offline Cero
« Reply #8 - Posted 2013-08-25 00:54:04 »

You cant "really" compare it. Those are very very different control schemes. We are making a Castlevania Metroid kinda game right now, no mouse support at all.
But yes you CAN go the teeworlds/SOLDAT route.
But I personally like precise console gamepad controls the most

And hey in super metroid and super castlevania 4 you still have 8 degrees of freedom

Offline StumpyStrust
« Reply #9 - Posted 2013-08-25 02:23:41 »

Again, like people are saying, it depends on style. For a desktop game free shooting words really well. But for a game that could run on say mobile platforms, horizontal also works. I am making one that is free shooting and it feels good to me. Pick your style.

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Offline JESTERRRRRR
« Reply #10 - Posted 2013-08-25 04:01:24 »

I think that hl2 2d side scroller had it. Hate it either way, so relaxing to play a game were I can sit back and just use the keyboard. I find it awkward if the cursor is hidden so I cannot tell how far away the cursor is from the player so the speed the aim rotates at varies; pls avoid if you go with free aim
Offline Rayexar
« Reply #11 - Posted 2013-08-25 04:14:31 »

I guess we can just include both and let players choose. I wonder how free aim would work on consoles or tablets?
Offline Abuse

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« Reply #12 - Posted 2013-08-25 12:21:51 »

I guess we can just include both and let players choose. I wonder how free aim would work on consoles or tablets?

It should be a core mechanic of your game, and thus have far reaching effects on other aspects of the game design.
I think you should decide one way or the other.

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Offline Oskuro

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« Reply #13 - Posted 2013-08-28 14:42:59 »

+1 to the point that both schemes result in very different gameplay.

In my experience, a Gamepad Scheme (Movement Keys + Action Keys) leads to more precise platforming, as precise control of the character's position is the main skill at use.

Free Aim (Mouse + Movement Keys) shifts focus to the aiming, and is better for shooting-heavy games where aim is important, but with light platforming.

Of the games I've tried with both schemes, I've always had trouble with those that either tried to do both things, or had the wrong focus.

As a simple example, I have an easier time platforming in Trine using the Knight (whose mouse controls only matter in close combat, so I forget about the mouse when jumping around) than with the Rogue, who is ironically the platforming-focused character. The grappling hook helps though, and I feel it was a nice addition to alleviate the control issues.


Again, think hard what works best for your game, and go for it.

As for making the control scheme configurable... I'd only do it if the game had the same amount of heavy aim-dependent shooting as tight platforming, so both schemes are at an equal advantage/disadvantage.

Another alternative would be to change the control scheme with different weapons. Say, if the player holsters their gun, they go into platforming mode, where the character can hold on to ledges, Prince of Persia style, and the mouse crosshair is just gone.


I wonder how free aim would work on consoles or tablets?

I seem to recall that there were old games using free aim in consoles. Basically, the up/down d-pad input controlled the firing angle.
Nowadays, the thumbsticks would make directional aiming easier, I think.

As for tablets, you can tap anywhere you want the character to shoot at. The only problem is making sure the player's hand does not obscure the screen. Maybe having the player tap at the screen edges?

It's tricky, but I guess it's doable.

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