Customizable Control Schemes

I’m very open to new control schemes, especially with games that try to innovate or re-imagine how we play certain franchises, and even more when those games are in 3D. Resident Evil 4, Windwaker, most first-generation Wii titles … I get that. But there are a few things that are worth discussing:

Button re-mapping:
This one belongs in every game, within reason. Obviously, it’s impossible to assign pressure-sensitive actions to basic buttons, but if I want to use a trigger button to move forward and the start button to fire my primary weapon, I should be able to. Reinforcing particular button layouts has nothing to do with creative intent, but I do understand reinforcing an overall control scheme. The Wii remote is far too complex to assign certain ‘movements’ to buttons, so that’s definitely a no-go. Additionally, designers do have to consider the context sensitivity of their buttons. It makes sense that an R trigger by default might make someone sidestep to the right, but if designers also decide to map that button to an ‘open door’ action, it might bother a player that never sidesteps to the right and thus would not consider assigning the action to a more accessible button.

Inverted Camera Control:
There is absolutely no reason to not have this in a game. Reversing the X and Y axis does not break or change the gaming experience. In fact, not incorporating this into a title changes the experience even more for the playerbase since not everyone aims and controls the camera the same way. Nintendo is notorious for this — I struggle all the time because I favor a non-inverted Y-axis (up means shift the camera view up) and a non-inverted X-axis (right means turn the camera to the right). It doesn’t outright ruin an experience for me, unless it’s a competitive shooter or something, but it does require some adjustment time, both when I start and stop playing the game.

Southpaw Controls:
This is a hot topic. I know plenty of left-handed gamers and most of them cry foul when the latest AAA title (again, usually from Nintendo) comes with absolutely no way to change aiming and movement. It’s harrowing, even moreso than trying to play on an alternate axes. But with the way some controllers are set up, I can kind of understand. The Dualshock is an excellent controller for Southpaw support; it’s perfectly symmetrical, the number and layout of the d-pad and face buttons are equal, and each pressure sensitive button on one side has a corresponding pressure sensitive button on the other. That makes the swapping of sticks simple. Take the Gamecube controller, however, and you have a problem. For one, the face buttons are not even placed in a manner that could be representative of a D-pad, and there’s an extra shoulder button (Z) on the right side. In its defense, however, the Gamecube controller is resilient and comfortable to hold. Unfortunately, without a perfectly symmetrical controller like the Dualshock, Southpaw layouts may not work as effectively as one would hope. I’m sure it’s much better to play with gimped buttons than gimped sticks, though.

Full-customization is ideal in a bug-free environment, but it’s not realistic. Still, reasonable concessions can and should be made by developers to improve accessibility.

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