Wednesday, March 25

Wolfenstein 3D iPhone control scheme

John Carmack’s excellent Wolfenstein 3D Classic developer notes led me to check out the game on the iPhone. (app store link)

The writeup is a great read. Carmack obviously excels at writing video game engines, so it’s interesting from a programming standpoint, but I was pleasantly surprised by his game design insights. (Also, his bit about starting up quickly should be adopted by every iPhone game developer. Your stupid intro logos waste my time.)

The game itself is enjoyable, even though I don’t have any particular nostalgia for it. I’m only about three levels into it, and have been enjoying this look at first-person shooter roots.

What took a little while, though, was finding a control scheme that I was comfortable with. Wolf3D on iPhone began, as Carmack says in his notes, as a proof-of-concept for shooter control on the iPhone, so they offer a fair amount of customization.

As I don’t have prior familiarity with Wolfenstein, I’m not sure how it’s “best” to play it, but for my FPS comfort I was basically looking for a way to circle-strafe reliably.

I think the ideal layout would be a forward/backward and turn on one side, and a strafe (with fire icon?) on the other side. Since that’s not available, I came close by turning on tilt-to-move (and cranking it up all the way to 100%) and upping the thumb sensitivity a bit to 60%. This got the strafing and turning speeds about in line for a circle-strafe.

Nevertheless, the controls still don’t work for longer than maybe 15 or 20 minutes at a time before my hand needs a rest. The gripping and sliding on the glass just wears my thumb down too much before long.