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Poll: Getting around the 7800's sole 2-buttons


Propane13

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Hey there 7800 fans,

 

So, I was thinking about one of the great flaws of the 7800-- the lack of a thrid button. If someone were to write new software for the system, there'd be a small inconvenience that limits the gameplay as opposed to the games of today--. A third button (akin to Nintendo's start & select buttons) would allow access to such features as an "options screen" during play. Such examples would be a Megaman-like game, or a Zelda-like game, where button 1 is your main attack, button 2 is your alternate attack, and button 3 (which does not currently exist) would take you to an options screen in order to select your button 2 weapon.

 

So, here are the options I could think of that people could play with:

 

1) Create a controller interface for a Nintendo controller, or develop unique hardware for the new 7800 game

 

2) Make it so if you hold down button 1 (attack) for a few seconds, then the option screen comes up

 

3) Have a "special spot" on some map screens where you can go to change button 2's item

 

Each has their own quirks and advantages:

 

1)

Advantage = fastest response

Disadvantage = consumer must buy special peripheral hardware with game

 

2)

Advantage: no extra HW needed

Disadvantage: slow, and could cause controller confusion (accidentally holding down the button brings up the status screen)

 

3)

Advantage: no extra HW needed

Disadvantage: slow

Bonus: changes element of gameplay... you can only force a player to have to use a single element for a certain time (screen 1 has powerup spot, screen 2 has enemy that can only be killed with special weapon, so you must select it in screen 1, and screen 3 has another powerup spot).

 

Of the 3, I like the third the best, because of it's dynamic and unique twist to gameplay, and because the cost of hardware is zero.

 

Are there any other methods that anyone can think of? Which would you vote for (1,2, or 3)?

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Umm...I have a question.

 

I totally understand what John is saying...but this is already possible in some respects on the 7800. What is wrong with using the difficulty switches to turn this options screen on? Shuttle on the 2600 did this...so did several other games. It always worked for me...and my 7800 is never more than an arm's length away anyway.

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all that has to be done in any new 7800 games for a third option is to program it so pressing BOTH buttons at the same time has a different response than pressing just one or the other...plain and simple. A brain is a terrible thing to waste...

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quote:

Originally posted by -^Cro§Bow^-:

What is wrong with using the difficulty switches to turn this options screen on?

 

Well, the same problem is going to occur with the difficulty switches or the Pause button... you're going to have to lean forward, or keep the 7800 on your lap when playing such a game. In a game like Mega Man, you usually change your "powers" by hitting start, and choosing on the status screen. Usually, you do this quite often (up to a few times per level). I for one, would find it inconvenient to lean over and toggle a switch, especially if it was something that would be used often throughout a game.

 

Rewiring a console is an option (take pause or select and wire it to a controller), but the problem with that is that a homebrewer who makes the assumption taht a gameplayer is going to do that is expecting a little much from the customer, especially when delivering a game that is meant to be enjoyed.

 

I guess I should modify my question a bit:

 

If a homebrewer had the option of doing any of the above 3 options for a new game that was being created in order to appease the game-playing community, which of the above 3 would make you the most satisfied?

 

I'm also making the assumption that the idea of the homebrewer would be to promote gameplay, and not to create a collector's item. A collector's market would probably favor option one, as it would be a "new" joystick, and one more item to obtain.

 

I think that if a homebrewer made an expensive joystick mod, or had some funny way of triggering the status screen, that could be accessed by accident, it would 1) make me not want to buy the game, and 2) probably decrease my desire to play it.

 

So, difficulty/pause are an option, but would you prefer them to 1/2/3?

 

-John K. Harvey

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Well in that case...you do this:

 

Set the options screens or inventory...whatever to be activiated via something similar to what Ace of Aces does. Basically in that game when you want to see one of the views I believe you press a button twice followed by the direction you wish to look out of.

 

You could do something like this...or make it where you press the fire button and then press up twice or something like that. To make it easier to execute this...you basically set the game play to pause while your in the options screen or whatever. This way you don't have to worry about getting tagged while your fiddling with the controller.

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quote:

Originally posted by d8thstar:

why not just suggest a genesis pad as the primary controller? you can find those cheaply and they work on a 7800.

 

A genesis pad works, but only one button unless it is modified.

I still say it's just a simple matter of programming the buttons so that pressing BOTH at the same time has a different effect than one or the other...is this too hard for you guys to comprehend? Or too simple?

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I'm not sure I understand your post John.

 

Whilst the 7800 has only 2 buttons only one of your suggestions actually raises any issues around this - the new hardware.

 

The other options seem standard "design" choices you may or may not make based on the required content, interface complexity or game design.

 

Most modern games utilise context sensetive controller layout modifications - in one part of the play the pad works like X and in another area Y. The age and complexity of 7800 games leans them towards the simple button A and button B discrete functions.

 

The two examples you cite, are both valid, but totally dependent upon the application being developed. A hard line of establishing a defacto standard for a control system across all games is a lesson long ago learned by the games industry.

 

For instance whilst now SONY prefers you to use X as a primary action button on US developed PS2 games, its not a must do rule, and SONY Japan prefers the O as the primary input.

 

Each game's controller needs should define the required input method and the way to create "more" input possibilities from the controller..

 

sTeVE

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A standard 2600 joystick has 5 buttons because that's all a digitial joystick is, 4 buttons for 4 directions. With two controllers plugged in you have 10 buttons.

 

Just use a second joystick for extra buttons. That's what Raiders of the Lost Ark and Stargate did.

John

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Mousetrap on the 26 used the second option. A light tap on the button turned you into a dog, and a longer press opened the doors. It was an elegant solution for the game, and actually made the game a bit more fun than the Colecovision version.

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Well, the only one I don't like is option one. What would probably work the best would be a combination of several of the methods mentioned used at different points in the game.

Incidentally, didn't the SMS only have two buttons? Does anyone remember how the RPG's for that system handled this kind of situation?

 

Mitch

http://atari7800.atari.org

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quote:

Originally posted by Mitch:

Incidentally, didn't the SMS only have two buttons? Does anyone remember how the RPG's for that system handled this kind of situation?


 

The SMS RPG's -- Phantasy Star for one -- used the pause button on the console to access additional items.

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quote:

Originally posted by John K. Harvey:

Well, theoretically this is good, but there are game genres that would not support this very well. Something like Mega Man, for example. A = Jump, B = fire weapon. Holding down B charges the weapon. There are many times when pressing both at the same time could occur, and the status screen could come up purely by accident. If something like this were to occur a lot, it could be detrimental to the fun and quality of gameplay. This is probably why Scrapyard Dog allows for multiple wapons (magic cans and bombs) with an up+B or down+B combo, instead of using a Status Screen ideology.

 

In a Zelda-like game, there is a lot less likelihood of this problem occurring, since most people would probably not use the sword and their B item at the same time. Usually, you would do one or the other (stun with boomerang, then stab). So, for a game like this, this could be an acceptable solution. However, is this something that you'd have to think about too hard in order to do it, or do you think it would be natural, after a bit of playing?

 

Point taken. O.K., so maybe it wouldn't be the best answer for every type of game, but I think it's simpler and better than most of the other options I've seen, Except maybe Harry's suggestion of using the 2600 button too, but I'm not sure exactly what he means...a 2600 controller in port 2? Harry? If that's the case I think that might be a bit cumbersome trying to deal with two controllers...

But, yes, I do think it would/could become second nature very quickly to press one or the other or both...IMHO.

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John,

 

You said "I think it would be better to answer such programming-constraint questions in advance"...

 

I think this is a misnomer, its not a programming constraint but a design constraint.

 

The fact the machine has two buttons would not hinder the 7800 doing an RPG like "Breath of Fire", just released for GBA, for instance as it uses menu/turn based combat and a realtime one button exploration of the world.

 

Remember - Sonic only needs one button!

 

If doing a Street Fighter like game was desired then a good pattern for control would be the system that SF uses already - except you would have one punch and one kick button, and all the combos could still be worked off those buttons and the dpad...

 

To open an on screen menu in a game that required the two buttons (jump and shoot)could be organized in several ways. Design the requirement to use the menu to not be in frantic action sequences, place objects in the world to open the menu that the player interacts with (like Forgotten Worlds shops). If the Menu is needed when the player is madly leaping and firing I would say - bad game design...

 

sTeVE

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If you wanted total control over the 7800, maybe someone could modify an Intellivision controller and you'd have like 12 buttons...if you had both controllers, you'd have 24 buttons to choose from. That would be equivalent to what's needed for most PC flight simulator games these days...at least 7800 Super Huey and Ace of Aces would be somewhat playable...

 

[ 02-04-2002: Message edited by: utamav91 ]

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quote:

Originally posted by Gunstar:

I still say it's just a simple matter of programming the buttons so that pressing BOTH at the same time has a different effect than one or the other...is this too hard for you guys to comprehend? Or too simple?

 

Well, theoretically this is good, but there are game genres that would not support this very well. Something like Mega Man, for example. A = Jump, B = fire weapon. Holding down B charges the weapon. There are many times when pressing both at the same time could occur, and the status screen could come up purely by accident. If something like this were to occur a lot, it could be detrimental to the fun and quality of gameplay. This is probably why Scrapyard Dog allows for multiple wapons (magic cans and bombs) with an up+B or down+B combo, instead of using a Status Screen ideology.

 

In a Zelda-like game, there is a lot less likelihood of this problem occurring, since most people would probably not use the sword and their B item at the same time. Usually, you would do one or the other (stun with boomerang, then stab). So, for a game like this, this could be an acceptable solution. However, is this something that you'd have to think about too hard in order to do it, or do you think it would be natural, after a bit of playing?

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quote:

Originally posted by liveinabin:

Ah, 2 buttons is enough. its not like anyones gonna be releasing Street Fighter 3 on the 7800 anytime soon.

 

Well, I think it would be possible! I look forward to new homebrews for this system, since I know the 7800 has a lot of potential.

 

Besides, I think it would be better to answer such programming-constraint questions in advance, in order to help the programming community realize that a 7800 is not a limited system, and could've actually been strong competition for the Nintendo.

 

-John K. Harvey

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Okay...we have at our use at least two very good solutions that I have seen.

 

If the original SMS used the Pause button for accessing additional screens...then this goes right up there with what we already mentioned about using the difficulty switches or select, pause...etc on the 7800 for this. The other solution is to follow an Indy 2600 way in that you could program the console to use a second controller in port 2. Basically you could set it up so that if you just move the stick at all or press the button it would bring up your options. Then you select what you want/need with the either the primary joystick or secondary and then make your selections with either the fire button on the secondary or primary joystick. While two joysticks may seem cumbersome, it is at least easier to keep a second controller nearby rather than the whole 7800 console itself.

 

BTW, I suppose you guys never got very far in F18 and F14 as both of those use combos of the various 7800 switches to access or do certain things in the game. F18 requires you to always be at arms length of the console since you dropped your bombs with one difficulty switch and lowered the gear with the other.

 

I still had fun playing those games regardless of whether I had to have two controllers or use the console switches. To me the fact that it is possible at all on the these vintage machines is "magic" to me.

 

If you have to insist on only using one controller then you are actually limiting yourself quite a bit. Afterall you could really go gung ho and make a game that uses a 7800 proline in port 1 and a keyboard controller/touchpad in port 2 to access things. Star Raiders did this...and while I am not a fan of the game simply because I feel the keypad doesn't work well enough for this it still sold pretty dern well and is a very decent game to boot.

 

Limit you imagination of the use of the console...and you will limit the quality and effort that can be put into a program for the console.

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