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TOM FRANCIS
REGRETS THIS ALREADY

Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint, about rewiring things and punching people, and now I'm working on a new one called Heat Signature, about sneaking aboard randomly generated spaceships. Here's some more info on all the games I've worked on, here's the podcast I do, here are the videos I make on YouTube, here are some of the articles I wrote for PC Gamer, and here are two short stories I wrote for the Machine of Death collections.

Theme

By me. Uses Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox.

A Leftfield Solution To An XCOM Disaster

Rewarding Creative Play Styles In Hitman

Postcards From Far Cry Primal

Solving XCOM’s Snowball Problem

Kill Zone And Bladestorm

An Idea For More Flexible Indie Game Awards

Teaching Heat Signature’s Ship Generator To Think In Sectors

What Works And Why: Multiple Routes In Deus Ex

Natural Numbers In Game Design

Naming Drugs Honestly In Big Pharma

Writing vs Programming

Let Me Show You How To Make A Game

New Heat Signature Video: Galaxies, Suction And Wrench-Throwing

What Works And Why: Nonlinear Storytelling In Her Story

My Idea For An ‘Unconventional Weapon’ Game

From Gunpoint To Heat Signature: A Narrative Journey

The Cost Of Simplifying Conversations In Videogames

What Works And Why: Invisible Inc

Our Super Game Jam Episode Is Out

What Works And Why: Sauron’s Army

Showing Heat Signature At Fantastic Arcade And EGX

What I’m Working On And What I’ve Done

The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote

Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

Improving Heat Signature’s Randomly Generated Ships, Inside And Out

Gunpoint Patch: New Engine, Steam Workshop, And More

Distance: A Visual Short Story For The Space Cowboy Game Jam

Raising An Army Of Flying Dogs In The Magic Circle

Floating Point Is Out! And Free! On Steam! Watch A Trailer!

Drawing With Gravity In Floating Point

What’s Your Fault?

The Randomised Tactical Elegance Of Hoplite

Here I Am Being Interviewed By Steve Gaynor For Tone Control

Heat Signature: A Game About Sneaking Aboard Randomly Generated Spaceships

The Grappling Hook Game, Dev Log 6: The Accomplice

A Story Of Heroism In Alien Swarm

One Desperate Battle In FTL

To Hell And Back In Spelunky

Games Vs Story 2

Gunpoint Development Breakdown

Five Things I Learned About Game Criticism In Nine Years At PC Gamer

My Short Story For The Second Machine Of Death Collection

Not Being An Asshole In An Argument

Playing Skyrim With Nothing But Illusion

How Mainstream Games Butchered Themselves, And Why It’s My Fault

A Short Script For An Animated 60s Heist Movie

The Magical Logic Of Dark Messiah’s Boot

Arguing On The Internet

Shopstorm, A Spelunky Story

Why Are Stealth Games Cool?

E3’s Violence Overload, Versus Gaming’s Usual Violence Overload

The Suspicious Developments manifesto

GDC Talk: How To Explain Your Game To An Asshole

Listening To Your Sound Effects For Gunpoint

Understanding Your Brain

What Makes Games Good

A Story Of Plane Seats And Class

Deckard: Blade Runner, Moron

Avoiding Suspicion At The US Embassy

An Idea For A Better Open World Game

A Different Way To Level Up

How I Would Have Ended BioShock

My Script For A Team Fortress 2 Short About The Spy

Team Fortress 2 Unlockable Weapon Ideas

Don’t Make Me Play Football Manager

EVE’s Assassins And The Kill That Shocked A Galaxy

My Galactic Civilizations 2 War Diary

I Played Through Episode Two Holding A Goddamn Gnome

My Short Story For The Machine Of Death Collection

Blood Money And Sex

A Woman’s Life In Search Queries

First Night, Second Life

SWAT 4: The Movie Script

No-One Drove In New York, There Was Too Much Traffic

Brooklyn Bridge
This one goes out to anyone who ‘cannot wait’. I will help you wait.

Everything that bothers me in GTA IV is a case of the game trying to guess what a I want to do, and failing bizarrely in some really easy cases.

Please look in the direction I am travelling. For a game about cars, you’d think this would have come up. But no, every time I turn a corner, reverse, or stop reversing and drive forwards, I’m left barreling forth blindfold into heavy, cop-ridden traffic. Is it hard to detect which direction I’m travelling? Is it hard to move the camera? Is it unimportant to see what you’re about to drive into? Are cornering, stopping and changing directions quirky edge-cases you hadn’t considered? What is unusual about the way I’m playing that makes this a problem for me?

Please get in the car I am closest to and facing when I press the ‘get in car’ button. This is my cause of death around sixty percent of the time. I’m knocked from my vehicle, I run back to it under a hail of gunfire, and standing in front the door, physically touching the car and facing the drivers seat into which I wish to get, pressing the ‘get in car’ button causes Niko Bellic to turn around 180 degrees, run ten meters across a busy highway, open the door of an ice-cream van, punch the refreshment vendor inside, drag him from his lofty perch and then fall on top of him as the thirtieth bullet he’s taken during this procedure strikes his last functioning organ.

Please target the enemy I am looking directly at when I press the ‘target enemy’ button. Here’s how you can tell which one I mean: if I fired without targeting, which would require me to hold a trigger in some kind of elusive quantum state between off and on, my bullets would hit this guy. That guy. That is the guy that I mean, the guy I am facing and pointing my gun at. And who, by the way, is pointing a gun at me and about to fire, so let’s hustle a little here.

But just to be absolutely clear, I’ll detail some examples of who I do not mean. I do not mean the civilian driving a van in the opposite direction three lanes over. I don’t mean the other gunman fifty feet away and forty degrees to my left, who is completely invisible to me as he has fully concealed himself behind a concrete pillar. I definitely don’t mean the cop, who currently only wants me for a mild traffic misdemeanour and has no intention of firing at me or calling for backup unless I do something utterly, inexcusably, surreally moronic like turn around and shoot him six times in the pancreas instead of defending myself against the armed drug dealer who’s about to murder me.

Brain Storm

Please leave cover when I press the ‘leave cover’ button, the ‘jump’ button or attempt to run, as fast as I can, away from cover. This is where I’m stuck right now. A mission where I get to walk freely around a venue before choosing my moment to attack three people within it. Once attacked, they flee.

The first time I got that far, I’d taken cover behind a wall, and urgently needed to abandon my hole-up-and-let-them-come approach for a run-after-them-and-kill-them ploy. My instinct was to move in the direction I wanted to run away from this wall, hammering the sprint button. This caused me to tango stylishly up and down the wall with my back to it, three times.

Thinking remarkably logically for the circumstances, I tried pressing the ‘take cover’ button, which I hoped might have become a ‘leave cover’ button. Niko span round to face a locked door on an adjacent wall and hurled himself at it, rolling impressively and then gluing himself to it with the same adhesive I was already wrestling with.

By this stage three different men were firing on me not two metres away, but I couldn’t fire back because every attempt to leave cover reset my aim to be parallel to the wall I was stuck to. Clearly the Machiavellian club owner had taken the precaution of coating his walls with a sort of fly paper for gangsters; once touched, forever ensared.

After trying the imagined ‘leave cover’ button two more times, thrashing Niko wildly around in his sticky prison, I resorted to the ‘jump’ button. He left cover, faced the wall, and took a giant leap directly into it, sliding nonsensically down its surface and taking a full second to recover to normal stature. I should say ‘at least a full second’, since at that point, yet again, the last healthy centimeter of me was shot off.

Seriously, I’m asking: is there a button to leave cover? Everything I try works when I’ve glued myself to a plain wall in a sleepy street, but in a tight backroom full of gangsters, every button initiates equally unhelpful, time-consuming actions that leave me facing the wrong way or adhered to the wrong thing. Until I find one that doesn’t, I’m never touching the cover system again.

Fuck Off Brucie

There are other failures, the usual GTA stuff: your moron friend ran out into enemy gunfire and died, mission failed. The cutscene ended with you standing dumbly in the open with four armed drug dealers firing at you, mission failed. You fell slightly behind a fleeing criminal on a straight road with no exits, mission failed. You failed the mission, mission failed and you have to return to your contact, then come back here, then do the three other stages of the mission you’ve already completed successfully three times, then when you complete this part of it using the foreknowledge you gained last time, we’ll suddenly introduce a new arbitrary failure state you couldn’t have prepared for and you’ll have to start again.

But that stuff I can forgive – it’s all about the missions, each of which is finite and most of which are optional. And all could be fixed with a simple ‘skip mission’ option after two failures (or even a cheat – are there any?). The improvements GTA IV makes to the formula more than compensate for the series’ traditional failings, it’s only the infinitely recurring control problems that can’t be ignored. Talking about those improvements would probably help dispel the impression that I loathe the game, but unfortunately I’m out of terrible out-of-focus photos of a low-res screen to punctuate this text, so that’ll have to be another post.

More

SenatorPalpatine: I want to play this game soooo much.

Reviewers see things differently than customers, because they play a lot more games than the customer, I mean they're paid to do it. It's an inherent flaw in the system, reviewers have a different perspective than the average reader perspective. It's not a very pronounced difference though, so it's easily unnoticed. I'm definitely overthinking htis.

Jonty: Couple of things, the simplest first:

1. That mission. You can stab the first guy in the office without raising the alarm. Then I favour shooting the second guy, then running through with a machine gun and dashing out of the back for a car chase. The car provided is irritating but workable. This is a strategy born of experience rather than planning but it has worked for me.

2. I really didn't have much of a problem with the controls. The cover fell down occasionally when there was lots of of it, but pressing the right shoulder button cancels cover and moving the right stick so you walk unambiguously away from it does the same; that always worked fine.

Basically: I've not experienced the problems you describe. Man, what a great telephone support statement that is.

Ooh, also cheats: http://www.gamesrada... ...4323586065

RobotLiberationArmy: Weird experience: seeing a comment by someone you know in real life and talk to nearly every day on the blog of someone who lives on another continent and you only through his writing and realizing how uncomfortably close we've all become.

Anyhow: I'm tempted to say "it's because it's a console game" but I'd really just be being an asshole. Seems fun I suppose, but it's not something I can say I particularly care about.

Jay: Apparently, there are cheats, but they prevent you from getting achievements

Tentaculat: I've found myself wrestling with the way the game handles cover as well. The only reliable way I've found of leaving cover is to just pull down on the left stick, which is obviously how you must be doing it already because I don't think there is another way.

roBurky: I've only ever played the 2D GTAs. Whenever someone complains about having to contrinually redo a 3D GTA mission, it just sounds bizaare because it always used to be that missions stayed failed if you failed them.

The complaints I hear about the 3D GTAs almost always seem to come down to that backwards step of making individual missions necessary for progression.

Pentadact: Yeah, that was ace. In theory, the logic behind insisting you complete one mission before receiving the next is that it allows them to build up a narrative based on what happened. But they don't. The cut-scenes follow on from each other, but you'd get those even if you failed your first attempt. Almost all ignore what actually happened on the mission, because as ever, the legwork they actually have you do is mostly repetitive murder of irrelevant nobodies and anonymous gangsters. "Good job, I have another situation that needs taking care of. But first, watch ten minutes of me bickering with this auxhilary character in exactly the same way we did before your last three missions from us."

ImperialCreed: By a startling co-incidence, the episode of Futurama you reference in the title is the one I have just finished watching before reading this post. Weird.

I have nothing useful to add about GTA4.

Tentaculat: After reading through the other commments again, "Because it's a console game" is probably the most accurate reason you're finding these faults. Blame the consoles, they suck! If only this were on the PC, where issues with targetting, driving camera and coming out of cover would not exist.

I've just learned how to get reliable headshots while auto-targetting, which is satisfying and improves matters somewhat, though woefully inferior to aiming with a mouse. Typing URLs into GTA IVs own Internet browser with the 360 controller is something else that is *really* tedious.

Mind you, the PC controls for San Andreas were a little bit wonky, it was impossible to do certain driving moves (unless you had a really swanky keyboard that allowed more-than-the-usual number of simulateous key presses), or a controller, which was awkward at best, and negated most of the benefits of playing on the PC in the first place.

Crane: I doubt it's just a console thing. Gears of War on the PC had the same problems with making you press your back to a pillar while leaving your soft tender belly exposed to a hail of bullets.

Rob: I have to assume you're kidding about the problems being console specific. GTA works marvellously well on 360 and PS3 (as in car driving, shooty bits, running around bits), and it hasn't played well on a PC since GTA 2 - even given the atrocious targetting system that GTA III introduced on the PS2 (which is finally fixed here), it was cack-handed on the PC and playable on the consoles; best on Xbox 1.

For targeting problems, just turn off the auto-aim. You'll get a reticle which you can point where you want. Auto-aim was introduced for people on consoles who don't know how to use a reticle.

Can't agree with you about the cut scenes, at all. I can't help but think you're being unreasonably flippant. GTA IV has some of the best storytelling in all of games, voice-acting, directing, humour, and the way they use multiple game areas to tell the story (cut scenes, missions, radio and now internet).

Although I agree that a 'skip to mission' seems a natural addition, actually it's more that GTA IV should have finally seen Rockstar attempt a branching narrative in the Deus Ex/Looking Glass aesthetic.. you fail a mission and it opens up the plot in a different way. That's ultimately the major thing holding back GTA. It's 'unrealistic' that someone as good at his 'job' as Niko would fail missions by dying or whatever. Every time I die I'm enfuriated because it's essentially a breaking of the illusion.

I feel this about a lot of games. I shouldn't be able to die, really. I can still fail missions, but failing should only lead me down a different route. Until games do this regularly they're pretty backwards thinking.

Tentaculat: I have to disagree, aiming in the PC version of San Andreas was far, far easier than the console versions. Thumb-sticks are awful for aiming, they just lack precision of a mouse, which is why in those rare online shooters where PC players and console players can play on the same servers, the PC players kick their collective arses. I can only think of Quake 3 at the moment but there are other examples.

Driving is fine for consoles, it's something they excel at, but camera work is also so much easier with a mouse. This is not down to personal preference, this is fact, and I'm trying not to sound like an elitist PC Gamer, but consoles are comparitively crap with shooters, but good enough for the casual masses.

GTA does work marvellously well, which is why it's been praised so highly, but it would work better with a mouse and keyboard, especially the shooty bits. Any problems with the PC versions are down to laziness of the people porting it over.

Dan: I'm not really experiencing these problems. Not to the massive degrees you obviously are.

I've got to totally disagree with you on the "skip mission" feature idea. It makes no sense. Sure in terms of the mission meaning little it does, but in the fact it's a game which you are meant to play it doesn't.

Once you add a skip mission feature you might as well as a "level select" one, as that's basically what it equates to. Plus it seems the only reason you have for skipping is your failure to complete a mission. You wouldn't expect a game such as Half-Life to have a "skip mission" feature so why expect it of GTA? (I do understand GTA is mission based, but all games are mission based in there way. You always have constant objectives all the way through etc.)

Hermes: hmm. really not experiencing any of the problems you seem to be having. This camera issue, completely in your head I think. Let me introduce you to the concept of using the brake, you must slow down before taking corners.

Hermes: honestly while reading this it was as though it were a rant by some Fox News reporter who has never played games before. i.e. the Mass Effect debacle. Try to get off the 'counter-all-reviewers-who-praise-this-game' horse, you look foolish.

Iain “DDude” Dawson: I still want to play this soooo bad. Just not as bad as I want to play MGS4...

My poor, money-less, console-less, life...

Pentadact: The wonky car-cam and horrible auto-aim would cease to be problems on the PC version, as in both cases it's easy to over-ride the game's bizarre idea of what you intend with a quick and precise mouse-movement. The thumbstick theoretically can do the same, but I'm nowhere near good enough with it to aim at someone manually before they shoot me, and trying to use both thumbsticks at once while driving - to keep the camera aligned with the direction I'm actually moving - is nearly impossible. I suspect even seasoned console gamers prefer not to do that, since most reviews mentioned how hard it is to aim a weapon and drive at the same time, which is essentially the same challenge. In fact, I seem to find that easier.

Rob, a lot of people agree with you about the cut-scenes, but I just don't see it. I've watched the same argument between the same two characters so many times in some mission-sets that I've just started skipping them. The story they tell amounts to: person X is hot-headed, but person Y is more calm! Or person X is vain, and person Y is scared of him! This gets communicated to you the same way - an argument - three to five times, then one or more of the characters dies or betrays you, or simply stops giving you missions forever, and you move on to a completely unrelated pair of morons and their own ham-fisted personality clash.

Dan, the difference between GTA and Half-Life in skipping-mission terms is that Half-Life is a linear journey, you're actually travelling forwards. If you jumped ahead, you'd lose your sense of where you were in the world and how you got there, and you'd miss out on all the sights and sounds in between. In GTA, the missions all take place in the city you already know, feature no new elements, seem to have nothing to do with one another and don't advance the plot. You could flag a couple as plot-critical, since one or two have featured actual events so far, but that's out of sixty missions I've done, all the rest of which were to kill someone who's never referenced before or since.

The reason I want a skip mission cheat is only partly due to difficulty. The two missions I'm on at the moment I'm sure I'll complete next time I try them - each failure occurs when the mission parameters change without warning, and now I've memorised those changes and can prepare for them. But I don't want to. They're not challenging skills I have any interest in honing, or presenting obstacles that are fun to negotiate. It's not an interesting challenge to me.

In one of the two, my task is to follow a train. I've failed it twice because I bumped into something I couldn't see, and couldn't catch up before the game pronounced that I had 'lost' the train. IT'S A FUCKING TRAIN. It's on rails. I don't think it ducked behind a bush or switched clothes and doubled back on me. I know where it's going - I could drive there right away, but that fails the mission too because doing so takes me outside the arbitrary 'follow' radius.

Not an interesting challenge.

Pentadact: Hermes, as I say in the post, I actually love the game. And as I said in the last post, I trust most of the reviews I've read. A few of the reviewers are friends of mine whose opinions I usually share. And nearly all the reviews mention more than one of my complaints.

Sir, you have incorrectly identified the horse upon which I am mounted, and I refuse to come down.

Jason L: A link to Quest Que C'Est, a previous discussion of all the mission stuff with regard to San Andreas:

Quest Que C'Est?

Cossak: Definitely in agreement with you over the camera controls; they are fiddly at best and certainly not up to the standard of the rest of the game.

One thing I have found with the game that no one else has mentioned, is how unbelievably dark it is. As soon as the sun has gone down, and indeed well before this point, the light seems to be sucked out of New York as if a lid has been placed over the top of it. This was particularly bad during one mission where I had to kill a house full of people with 'Little Jacob'. After clearing the house, I emerged out of the back of the building and found myself completely unable to see anything, my TV screen was entirely black. After several minutes of trying to escape this light-less prison using only the minimap, I fell off a ledge and landed sandwiched between three walls in total darkness. I could only tell there were walls there because whenever I tried to turn the camera to find an exit it span wildly as it was pushed against the wall. After eventually finding some stairs back up to the ledge and finding the correct path back out, I emerged back into the semi-darkness of the street outside.

This problem may be related to the fact that I am playing on a non-HD TV, but even this is a non-excuse for some truly abysmal lighting in the engine.

Dan: You have a few good points, but at the same time.. you could blame your mistakes on noobness, once you get used to the controls most of those problems go away (bad starting spots and "enemies escaping" is always a problem though)

Alex Holland: Having played much of GTA3 and GTA:VC on the original X-Box (with original fat bear controller), I must say that I find it more natural to aim a gun with a joypad than drive a car with a mouse, so I'd largely dismiss the console vs PC argument. I would say that with each port, more things tend to get fixed - the X-Box ports of the original GTA3 trio were more pleasant than their PS2 counterparts.

There were always crappy missions, mostly of the stupid-bullet-magnet-friendly-NPC variety, but most things I was prepared to accept in the name of amusing randomness - it's not as though dying actually has any genuine consequences, even in gaming terms, and I always made a point of having fun on my way back to the mission (or getting distracted and re-creating my youthful love of Chase HQ in the Vigilante mode).

GTA for me isn't about missions, it's about driving a burning ice-cream van off the top of a multistorey car-park, plummetting straight into the scattering of police cars stuck behind the tanker I abandoned straddling the dual-carriageway. For example.

Pentadact: Jason: ha, roBurky and I said the same stuff back then. It sounds like I wrote that shortly after failing a San Andreas mission where you have to protect the dude loading the forklift - it's a very recognisable level of frustration.

I guess Rockstar read the post, because they added exactly the feature I ask for: the ability to jump back to the mission-giver, rather than skip from there to the mission. They also agreed that death shouldn't be permanent for allies if it isn't for you, but since you still fail the mission when they're hospitalised in GTA IV, it's not much use. READ BETTER NEXT TIME ROCKSTAR.

Cossak: it's been pretty decent for me so far, brightness wise. Lighting has always been a real weak spot of GTA engines - San Andreas is just horrific to look at today. Everything is the same shade of drab, and there's so little shadowing I actually bump into things because I didn't realise they were sticking up. If I were you, I'd crank up the gamma in the options menu even if it makes the daytime scenes more washed out. The sun is sometimes blinding on mine, and I rather like it that way.

Dan: I do suck, no denying that. But there are challenges where I suck and think "Goddamn it, I can do this," and challenges where I suck and think "Goddamn it, I'm not doing that." Aiming with a thumbstick that can only register eight directions and has a maximum tracking speed falls under the latter.

Alex: I'm partly the same, certainly if GTA were missions-only I'd have no interest in it at all. But I can't stay entertained just mucking around for long. It quickly starts to feel hollow, futile, random. It really hurts that respawning at the hospital costs money. Great satire on American healthcare, guys, but kind of discourages the spirit of experimentation and fun your game is built on. Money isn't tight if you're doing regular missions, but I've spent enough time mucking about since I last successfully completed one that I'm actually close to broke now. I've spent something like fifty thousand dollars on medical bills since my last job.

Cmdt_Carpenter: My least favorite part of some games with driving (including some GTA games, I believe) is when you start backing up, and the camera swings around to give a nice view of the front of the car, but takes painstakingly long to turn back around when I accelerate in the forward direction. It really pisses me off when I go from backing out of one wall, to slamming into another.

Rob: We'll agree to differ on the storytelling aspects, then. I just particularly dig the GTA series' story content. I like Niko and I think the whole integration into America arc + random bizarre characters like Brucie is entertaining.

That 'chase the train' mission is a total rotter. It's completely unforgiving, requires failing at least once to learn the route (or lucky guesswork), and is way too short and pointless to merit inclusion (a really half-arsed French Connection homage).

I like that it pops up the VERY HELPFUL 'press B to zoom to train' hint, which basically causes you to crash your car and fail the mission the first time you do it.

It's the epitome of your 'go here shoot X' argument, and I wish it wasn't in the game.

..as for the controller, the whole mouse+keyboard argument is totally moot, and always has been. Yes, a mouse offers more sensitivity of movement by construction, but since consoles games are designed for a joypad, the controller is just as accurate. If you have a multiplayer FPS game on a console using a joypad, there is exactly the same modicum of skill amongst the top players as on CounterStrike on the PC. I know, because I've played both obsessively over the years. It's a different way of playing an FPS, but it's no less skilful or textured.

I don't think you can blame GTA for being played on a joypad, which for those who are used to it, is just as playable as those who are used to the joys of WSAD (and I would say a joypad is more ergonomic/intuitive/pleasurable, anyway).

Tentaculat: A mouse isn't just about sensitivity, it allows you to move in an infinite number of two-dimensional vectors, a thumb-stick has a very finite number of vectors, especially where velocity is concerned.

Jason L: Which is to say, it's just about sensitivity?

Tentaculat: Jason: Technically, no.

I've not developped professionally for XBox 360, but I am familiar with Microsoft's XNA. When you're designing games that can be played with a mouse and the Xbox 360 controller, you have to take into account the the control differences, and when you're actually developing user input you notice the flaws of the thumb-stick system.

It's not about sensitivity, mouse and thumbstick are two different control methods entirely: An Xbox 360 thumb-stick measures input from -1 to 1 on two axes, with 0,0 being the default position. So if x=0, y=1 then you're pointing the stick as far right as it will go. A mouse just measures vectors every frame, there is no limit.

So what does this mean? Imagine what happens with a thumb-stick when you want to change directions very suddenly? You have to move the stick across the graph.. going from 1 to 0.95, 0.90.... etc all the way to the other side of the graph. You're losing tons of accuracy here.

A mouse is always centered on 0,0, direction change is instant and 100% accurate. OK, you will eventually reach the end of your mouse pad - which is where the superior sensitivity factors in, but changing directions is a different method altogether.

Now it is perfectly possible to develop input to detect change in the thumb-stick direction, but because the thumb stick cannot go past an absolute value of 1 (all the way to the right), the amount of sensitivity lost is simply not worth it.

In short, the thumb stick blows for shooters. You can be very skilled at using a controller, no doubt about that, and I've met some very talented players, but they could not compete against a mouse user in a multiplayer shooter and expect a fair fight.

Tom Francis: Interesting stuff. The reason I struggle with it, and this may be repeating what you've just explained, is that the position of my thumbstick determines the movement of my crosshair. I'm used to the position of my mouse determining the position of my crosshair.

Tentaculat: Yes, that's a far better way of explaining it. You should write for a games magazine.

Jason L: There's not really an argument going on here, but I disagree with your language:
a) There is a cap on mouse speed too - on a high-end gaming mouse maybe it's beyond the physically possible, but on a standard Intellimouse Optical or such it just starts stuttering if you move too fast. You have to crank up the multiplier, losing sensitivity.
b) What you're describing is the definition of sensitivity in an input device; how many different levels of input can it describe? That determines how small a movement you can get if you set Vmaxdev == Vmaxgame.

Rob: Well I just find it discouraging to debate controllers, since there's usually some ulterior motive. I'm not saying that's going on here, but some of the comments err on the side of 'if only 'twas on PC like the good old days'.

When there's never any reason why the two should be competing, each platform's controller is 100% accurate for the games on that system. That's why it's moot.

My friend argued this out with me years ago, when I was in the middle of a few years long cycle of FPS games on the original Xbox, and he put it down the fact that the mouse is more intuitively matched to the sense of turning your head left to right. You move your head and your viewpoint changes, just as moving the mouse moves the reticle; on a console you essentially tell your head to move one way at a certain speed until you tell it to stop (by resetting the stick).

Anyway, yeah, moot, but interesting. Still, I think the 360 controller is the most ergonomic gaming peripheral we have at this point. It's a long way from Quickjoys and Competition Pros..

Tom Francis: Heh, you mean the part where Tentaculat says "If only this were on the PC"?

These do too often degenerate into fairly transparent cases of "On the contrary, it is clear that the controller I am more accustomed to is superior! Good day!"

But luckily James commenters are the intellectual elite of the internet, so instead we have a lot of reasonable points, an interesting technical insight from someone who evidently has some development nous, and a rigorous semantic policeman.

My post about what I actually love about GTA is gathering dust in my drafts folder, I want to have another bash at multiplayer before I finish it. In other news, I did that stupid train mission last night, and the new batch of jobs I've been given truly drive home the length and breadth of my suckhood.

Jason L: I actually find the 360 controller to be the second least comfortable controller to date, which almost certainly means it's excellent; disregarding the Wii's lateral exploration, my comfort with a controller and its generally accepted ergonomicity display a correlation near -1. So far, Mad Catz knockoffs have always fit me to a T. It's bizarre.

Tom Francis: I'm afraid it's more serious than we thought, Mr L. You have a rare, non-treatable form of Crazy Hands.

Getting back to the early comments in this epic odyssey, I finally tried those cheats Jonty suggested, and my life is measurably improved. They only disable a couple of irrelevant achievements, one of which I already have, so I'm not being shy about steaming ahead with the plot.

The game is so much more enjoyable when tiny bumps, scrapes and stray shots aren't going to leave you with a health level that might make the rest of the mission uncompletable. I'm only using the health-restore cheat, and in emergencies, the Wanted-level-down one. I think of it as implimenting a much-needed health-regeneration system, and the ability to lean on my 'contacts' as the LCPD to make my problems go away.

You don't have to dial the number each time, but you do have to select the cheat from your phone, which leads to some amusing mid fire-fight phone calls. I only use the cops-B-gone one when they're after me for spurious reasons - last time, it was when gangsters shooting up the car I was hiding behind caused a chain reaction of explosions that presumably killed some nearby peds. This was deemed my fault, and I had to deal with three-star heat in the middle of a huge gangster massacre.

Or when the mission just sucks. I got sick of dying to auto-aim weirdness on Snowstorm, and just told the cops to go home.

Gunpoint problem?

Don't post them here, I'm a useless idiot! E-mail tech support with as much detail about your system and the problem as possible, and they can actually do something.

Question?

There's a page about the games I've worked on, what I use to make them, and what platforms they're coming to.

Formatting

URLs get turned into links automatically. You can use <i>HTML</i> but not [b]forum[/b] code.

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