Controlling games just with a touch screen is, apparently, not an easy task. Not everybody is getting it right, it’s not only about the programming of the control, it’s also about the design. Direction and reaction speed are key issues to keep gamers playing. Here I have a few examples of touch screen iPhone game controllers.
EA got it right with The Simpsons Arcade interface. The design has a blue joystick that looks like a ball. The good thing is that this touchscreen joystick works perfectly without raising the finger from the screen, just moving it a little bit is enough to control Homer.
On the contrary, this Pacman version got an unhappy design solution. The touchscreen reacts slower than a real button, for this reason raising the finger should be avoided. This virtual joypad forces the user to raise the finger the whole time. As a result, moving the Pacman is slow and difficult.
Dig Dug, such a fun game… Unfortunately, it also got a touchscreen joypad that works very slowly. Most of the fun is gone.
The Commodore 64 emulator for iPhone has another virtual joystick. Probably, designers were focused on making the game look good; and it does look good. The joystick behaves almost like a real one; with it the user has to move the finger too far from the origin (central point) making the movements too slow. Unfortunately, controlling this game is a nightmare.
In my opinion, the reason iPhone games should not be designed to make the user raise the finger from the on-screen joystick is that it is difficult to hold the device. The iPhone is a great device but it lacks the ergonomic features of a real joystick. Maybe that’s why Marware released an [expensive] iPhone game grip.