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New Grasp on Old Controls
March 11, 2014 - The Working Parts
One of the first things I would hear at every Residue playtest ever conducted was this: ”why do you need to hold down space to climb ropes?” To finally answer that, and why we are now changing it, I need to tell you a bit about myself.
Every director, regardless of their medium, has their own hang-ups. Mine is physicality. When I close my eyes, I see a 3D platform game where two feet can be controlled independently and where it really matters where you set them down – it would be simple and understandable (somehow), momentum-based and it would feel just like jumping around on the hills and mountains and forests where I grew up. I want players to move in ways that correspond more to motions I remember from my own life, and less to old-school platforming conventions. So even when I make games where story and atmosphere is king (as I most often do), I still seek that sense of bodily connection between player and player character, that physical sense of immersion.
That is what tempted me to put Emilio's dive in the game. By holding space in mid-air, Emilio rotates ever forward, throwing himself into the air in the hope of reaching something to grab onto – or land face-first on the ground. I wanted the player to embrace Emilio's careless nature, taking all these chances and ignoring the bruises that come with them. And with that, I wanted my player to hold on to the space bar for dear life, just as Emilio was holding on to whatever he was holding on to.
It would have worked in another game.
My games have often suffered from me trying to do too many things at once. And while the concept behind Emilio's controls is neat, in the context of Residue it really distracts more than it adds. For every player that gets into Emilio's mindset, there are two who are distracted from the story because they're too busy wrangling with the controls. Players who get stuck, fail crucial jumps because their feet don't work the way they're used to. I see that now. And the Steam release has given me the courage to go in and change it.
In the Final Cut, space is the jump button. There is no grab button, Emilio will dive automatically whenever he is in the air, grabbing anything he touches. Once grabbing, he will let go at the press of a jump button. It is more like classic platformers and less like Shadow of the Colossus. I find it's slightly less interesting this way, but it allows Residue to focus on its true strengths, and so the darling must die.
Hugo Bille, game director