Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Down is up, BSG & Dexter series 2

So I went down a friends house on Friday evening and had a go of co-operative Gears of War 2 on his Xbox 360, which I actually rather enjoyed. Not being a 360 owner, the gameplay reminded me a bit of a cross between Uncharted and Metal Gear Online (and yes I know that Gears of War predated both of these).

Anyway, there were 3 of us playing, and swapping to take turns playing hoard mode. One of my friends had to play using default controls (where up is up and down is down), where as myself and another used inverted controls (where down is up and up is down). This resulted in a friendly argument into which controller type was right and which was frankly bonkers (default – naturally), but anyway, this got me thinking and I did a little browsing on the internet on the subject.

It was surprising how many sites had tackled the subject and it seems that the split between “inverters” and “defaulters” as I shall refer to them seems to be pretty much 50/50. It could be argued that “defaulters” is not strictly correct, as I’m sure that some games do default as inverted, but it will do for the course of this discussion.

I found one dated blog which I found very interesting, here:

Down is up

Previously I have seen it argued that inverted controls are a by-product of old flight sim games, where the inverted controls match that of an airplane, however this theory does not hold weight with me, as I was never into flight sims in my youth.

This article however, suggests that it is all to do with where the “player put their consciousness in relation to the controller”, and on reading this, I’m probably inclined to agree with this.

It is true that inverted controls only apply to games in which you are looking either from a first person perspective or alternatively from directly behind a character. Either way, it is a matter of you looking directly into a 3D game world, and as such, is relevant to your own perspective of the real world. After all, inverted controls don’t apply to a 2D platform game (Mario etc).

The additional comments relating to extroverted and introverted players hold little weight for me (although I’m naturally introverted so would fall within the category of an “invereter”), but it was an interesting read and also, the comments are also almost endless!

I have also recently finished watching series 2 of Dexter. While excellent, it wasn’t quite as good as the first series (which was exceptional). By far the best episode had to be the penultimate episode, which had some great moments between Dexter and Doakes. Also the scene where Dexter imagines telling his sister his secret had me in stitches. I’m looking forward to catching up on the third series in due course, but at the moment I also have Lost, 24 and BSG on the go, so it’ll have to wait a bit.

Talking of Battlestar Galactic… wasn’t the first episode of the second half of series 4 the most depressing episode ever (although this isn’t too surprising)!

1 comment:

Sinbad said...

Hehe - I still say the default in every game is an indicator of preference ;) I've never come across a FPS / TPS game that was inverted by default - only games where you have flight-stick style controls ie some kind of 'ship' and even then IIRC they needed to be manually inverted.

You might not have played flight sims, but you did play 'ship' games like StarFox, maybe that influenced you.

Mostly though, I think it's a PC / console gamer split. PC gamers had different devices - a joystick or flight yoke for ship games, and mouse for FPS / strategy etc. Both defaulted to the opposite of each other, because obviously flight games work like planes, and games where there's an onscreen pointer worked like pointers, inverting would be nuts. As games became more realtime, the floating pointers became cross-hairs, and I'd say it's more natural with a mouse not to invert, because it follows the same principle of other things you do with the mouse.

If your main gaming interface has been a thumbstick though, there's not the same dividing line and perhaps ALL control feels more natural like a flight stick. Not to me though :)