The controls of Oceanhorn 2: delivering a console experience on touchscreen devices
A good action RPG game lives or dies by the quality of its controls. That's why we took the matter to heart – Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm will play great independently from your device of choice. Our plan has always been to account for three main input methods: touch controls (iPhone and iPad), supported controllers (iPhone, iPad, Apple Tv, and Mac) and keyboard (Mac). Not an easy feat when you want to be the best in class, so how did we go about it?
The first Oceanhorn featured a fixed camera. This sequel, having moved to a full 3D space with 360 degrees of freedom, requires a different approach – namely a way to control the camera. We decided to have the player use the left hand to control the character and the right for the camera. However, according to the device, things have been handled in slightly different ways. We use a classic configuration for the controller: left stick for the character and right for the camera. On a keyboard, we comply instead with a traditional WASD and mouse configuration, while on a touchscreen, the left thumb controls the character, and the right one moves the camera. There's no fixed position where thumbs rest, but most players organically go for the left corner and the right side of the screen, just above the action button.
The action button is perhaps the most significant difference between touch controls and other ways to play. While on controllers we split actions across various buttons, the action button has multiple contextual uses. For ease of access, it's placed where you'd typically expect to see "X" on a Playstation gamepad or "A" on an Xbox controller. Actions that require a different button on a gamepad, such as slashing, object interaction, and throwing things, are therefore all aggregated on the action button on touch devices. The reasoning behind this decision is simple: controllers have a long tradition of popular button configurations, and this approach allows us to fulfill each audience's expectations.
Getting touch controls as close as possible to physical controls is not an easy task. While there are undoubtedly 1st and 3rd person games out there that come close, we believe that Oceanhorn 2's controls are a step forward for the whole category. To achieve this effect, we have worked tirelessly on sensitivity and dead-zone reduction. We're confident that what you'll try in Fall 2019 will be positively surprising.