All about the different control schemes per device and creature.

There are 3 basic types of control inputs:

  1. Analog Stick
  2. Keyboard
  3. Touch screen

The basics of creature control is to aim, or point in a direction, and propel - make the creature swim forward.

Analog Stick

Left steers the creature in absolute, screen relative direction AND propels it in the direction based on the distance from center.

Right stick is camera controls: Zoom and semi circle orbit.

Buttons invoke songs and other game options.


Same as stick but uses arrow keys and other keys for songs and options.

Touch Screen

I have several ideas, all of which I want to explore. The goal is to give a good feel to the touch screen input. By nature touch is a bit disconnected - its good for buttons but not really good to steer something around. A just a few ideas we will try:

  1. swipe in a direction you want the creature to swim in. The speed and stroke length can be used to control the speed of the creature.
  2. Touch and hold to keep the camera on the creature then with a 2nd finger touch the destination, or direction you want the creature to move in. Basically the 2nd finger is like the carrot at the end of the fishing pole to drive the goat. (Little Rascals reference.)
  3. Touch a creature and swipe away towards the desired direction. The creature continues to "chase" the finger as long as it's held on the screen. The distance from the creature is proportional to the speed in which it tries to swim.

We have to figure out a way to have a touch song mechanic and other game options.

These basic control input devices will drive individual creatures in different ways. Each creature will have its own control scheme. I will add some creature control schemes to this thread.

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  • Will most creatures be able to move in 8 directions like in Ecco?

    If there is 8-directional movement and there is a console release, how will you manage the controls? While the old Genesis and Saturn control pads were ideal for 8-directional movement, I have not really seen anything like them since in newer consoles. Most newer machines use 4-directional pads, such as the Sony controller. It is possible to do diagonals on 4-directional pads, but it's not always ideal.

  • i love how you described the 2D control scheme in the 3D environment on the questions thread.

    is the camera turnable? like 90° each time, so you can move into the depth too?

  • I think the Key is to NOT BREAK the 180 degree rule.
  • Medusa Control

    Controlling a jellyfish has sever limitations wich are designed to somewhat match the limitations of the creature, for example, they are blind. Rather than displaying black on the screen we will move the camera very tight up to the Jelly. It will mostly fill the screen. This means you won't be able to see whats ahead of you or behind you.

    Movement is restricted as well: 2 inputs

    • Aim - Rotate the Medusa
    • Pulse - undulate the Medusa to propel forward.

    What are the advantages of controlling a Medusa?

    • Most other creatures will leave you alone
    • you can swim very deep, there is not depth limit to most Medusas - other creatures cannot dive so deep.
    • They are very poisonus and can be considered a weapon. Their tendrils will sting anything they touch.

  • I approve of the medusa control scheme.

    What happens when they bounce into coral/rocks/creatures? Having the screen vibrate/rumble on the side which the collision occurred on would be pretty great.

  • Swarm Control

    Many fish in the Big Blue will be schooling fish that exhibit "flocking behavior" You'd seen giant flocks or swarms of birds or anchovies. They move together and seem to form a separate super creature. The swarming fish follow these simple rules:

    1. Move in the same direction as your neighbors

    2. Remain close to your neighbors

    3. Avoid collisions with your neighbors

    If thousands of fish follow these rules you get a massive swarm:

    If you are controlling a swarming fish you simply swim near other of the seam fish and they will join your swarm. The more fish you pick up the bigger swarm you can make. Even though you will only control one fish the swarm will follow.

    This control is limited to direction only. There are no other inputs, however you will beable to grow and 'sculpt' a large cloud of fish and in the context of some game quests, the swarm will come in handy!

  • I think I have a great idea for the Song input on touch:

    Do you know Zelda Ocarina of Time? You had to remember Songs you play on an ocarina, and different "arrow" keys made different notes.

    Similar to this, on touch you could have a Song button, when activated you swipe into different directions. With this you could play a full C-major scale for example.

    I would also check out Zelda Wind Waker for this, since it actually has a direction based way of how you "play" the music, because in this one you use a magic conductor's baton.'s_Requiem.jpg

    Kinda like this (I made that real quick with photoshop):


    Or maybe like this:


    I hope my ideas can help you in some way ^^

  • That's brilliant David, I love the idea! It was really effective in LoZ series and I can just imagine how fun it could be with the singers/ dolphins here. Even if your not playing a song to unlock, open or activate something, it could still be fun to play with anywhere in the ocean and see its effects on the surrounding marine life.
  • thanks for the compliment Kyania ^^

    and yes that's exactly what i thought, being able to have 8 notes (c-major for example) with up,down,left,right and diagonal directions would not only make it possible to have an effective song mechianic but also an "instrument" to play around with :3

  • I think one thing that hasn't been super clear to me is this "the control of the creatures will be 2D. Similar to side scroll game and the original Ecco the Dolphin. In this game the point of view and controls are much more dynamic."

    One thing I liked very much about defender of the future was the ability to be SO immersed in the environment on all sides. There were blind spots, nooks and crannies to search, as well as easy aim for jump/attack. I felt like controlling Ecco in the full 3D space added that extra level of reality to things. Even playing DotF now after (13?) years I feel like the game was ahead of its time and is still great.

    I'm still trying to figure out if Big Blue will be purely 2D or also 3D playable in space. 3D playability for a game of this scale and realism would be an amazing experience.
  • The swarm control sounds interesting, and it reminds me of that Ecco: The Tides of Time level where you controlled a group of fish trying to avoid getting eaten by dolphins. That was a great idea so I'm looking forward to seeing this mechanic again.
  • The song mechanic seems pretty interesting.  As long as you can look at a menu of songs for reference, it'll be pretty cool.

    Otherwise everyone will forget everything.

  • @Andrew: if it is done like in the Zelda series, they will implement a short version of the Melodie which triggers the full song (like: ↑, ↑, → , → , ↓ etc) and that Melodie could be looked up in a song memory or something.

    but that was just an idea of mine, maybe they come up with an even better one.
  • I like the idea of the song mechanic, where you can compose on the fly. Did you ever see that old Lucas Arts game: Loom? I did think about making the sinning part more analog so that you control the pitch, maybe with the right stick. What I don't like about this idea is how it will stop the game and present you with a new interface for singing songs. I feel like the pace of the game demands that singing a song just be as easy as pressing the song button.

    I want to keep the game fast and smooth. It's really an action game. One problem I know I need to solve is how to select a song from a list of memorized songs, also how to incorporate some kind of cool down.
  • @Draikin

    Yes the little fish. I LOVED that in Tides of Time. Imagine that but with 1000s of fish all swarming.

  • It was a great addition in the Tides of Time, one of those levels that really put a smile on your face :) Certainly an idea worth revisiting. As for the songs, I'm not sure what's the best way, I guess it depends on how many songs can be memorized?
  • Well i guess there could be some way to implement it on touch so it does not interfere with the game, like the "button" I made in the first picture, what if it would be only that, and act like the thing i made in the second picture, so you can play songs while you still swim? which ultimately would be like one of those virtual direction pads you can see in some touch games.

    and that way you could maybe make the right analog stick on controllers do the same, like you mentioned.

    Maybe all songs are activated with 3 notes you play that way, and this then auto plays the rest of the song? So you don't have to select a song from the memorized list prior to playing it and can just look that list up in order to remember the start pattern.
  • +1 on anything similar to Loom.   That game was excellent.

  • I really like the song idea, too. Another game that used songs immensely and with a unique HUD was Aquaria! You enter the HUD simply by holding the right mouse button and then have a wheel with 8 different sounds that can be combined to a song. Leave the mouse button and you activate that song. Very intuitive and quick, and nothing occupies the screen the whole time.

    Also, I like the idea of those jellyfish. Though I heard the other day that there exist jellyfish with REALLY advanced eyes, up to 8 of them, having a great 360° view! Maybe this could be one of those super secret creatures. Or that giant, red jellyfish from Ecco: Tides of Time! D:
  • Will the PC version have some kind of support for external/USB controllers?

  • I am pretty disappointed reading this. I love the entire Ecco the Dolphin series, in fact I am here because I am playing it right now, from the Megadrive original, and curiosity led me on an internet search to find out if it will ever come back. There really is a hole in my life between the time I first finished Defender of the Future, and right now, that nothing has been able to fill.

    But..... I can't believe you are contemplating making a modernisation of it that doesn't have full 3d control. With all respect to the original games, which in case I have not made clear enough, I am playing RIGHT NOW, 20 years on, I don't think you fully appreciate what the underlying attraction of the original games was. You weren't 'controlling' the dolphin, as if it was some abstract looking pewter token on a monopoly board. You WERE the dolphin. You were free and you could explore any direction, the only limit being the 2d technology of the time.

    That was the fundamental limit of everything from Pac Man up until the end of the 16 bit era, that everything was 2 dimensional, and as we stared at these flat surfaces, we all became masters at convincing ourselves that the 3rd dimension did not exist. But nostalgia aside, 3d gaming has had 20 odd years to crush any of those illusions into dust, and looking at a side on picture of a character just isn't as absorbing as it used to be. I don't want to play a game where I watch fish, there are screen savers for that, not to mention fish tanks. I want the game where I AM fish, where as I glide head first through the water, strange exotic creatures appear through the deep fog and float past all around my eyes ! For god's sake man, don't take a step back from where Defender of the Future left things, or I will have no choice but to drown myself in my local aquarium for a more realistic experience!

    Please don't brush me off. I already have to bang my head against the wall every time a new Sonic game comes out, how little those guys understand their own creation, I am not sure if my walls are going to hold much longer if this is where you are taking Ecco... We're not unsophisticated, us gamers. If we can handle flying military helicopters and jumbo 747's I am sure we can wrap our heads around 3d controlling a fish. The Ecco game that I want to play, the one that only exists in my imagination? Well to be honest, it looks more like Descent than it does Little Blue right now. Pitch, Yaw, Roll, Thrust. The only controls you need. Count them. That's FOUR.
  • Ed has already stated a few times now that it will control differently depending on which creature you are controlling, and the thing supports Occulus Rift, on top of there already been things said somewhere that mention being able to use first person.
  • @Laurie: Ed had nothing to do with DOTF. He also said the reason they're going with 2D is so that you don't get lost, which was a major problem with DOTF.

    You seem to be forgetting that the reason 2D games like Ecco worked so well was because they had super tight control and physics and finesse to the gameplay. Even today 3D games still struggle with the fundamental problem of struggling with the camera and the most basic of problems from the PS1 era like poor hit detection, clipping, texture pop-in, fog, and ragdoll physics. The reason why every console since the Dreamcast has used a two analog stick control scheme is because most developers suck at making 3D games with a decent camera, so instead they give you the second stick to constantly adjust it yourself manually. Limitations breed creativity and frankly I have never seen 3D games with better cameras than early games like the Megaman Legends series, Donkey Kong 64 and Ocarina of Time, which used creative ways to make a good camera without a second stick.

    That aside, DOTF was a train wreck of a game because it was made by people who had no clue how to make an Ecco game, the game lacked direction and it was a nauseating struggle with the camera, controls and framerate.

    Just because a game uses 2D controls or visuals doesn't mean it can't be modern or immersive. Contrary to popular belief, the first 3D games were actually made in the 1980s. Every 3D game is going to have limitations no matter what, there's still going to be invisible walls and stuff that you can not do.

    As for Sonic, that series has been a train wreck for the last 20 years and everything since Sonic 2 has been terrible, which is why it's the game they're always trying to rehash.

    This is just me, but I prefer 2D games because you don't get that solid action from 3D games because every 3D action game today is either a mindless hack-n-slash button masher, a God of War clone or a Devil May Cry clone. There are also old 2D games that would be impossible to recreate in 3D, such as Gunstar Heroes.

  • I agree with some of your points, but a 3D game can work as long as it is on-rails especially if in water or space.  But that is my personal opinion.

  • On the technical level alone, a lot of things about DOTF rubbed me the wrong way. The game felt obtuse with its invisible walls and being constantly repulsed by them when you try to swim to areas that looked like you should be able to reach them. It was a huge pain whenever you had to jump out of the water to grab something, because it was borderline impossible to aim because it was a 3D game. Another part of the problem with having to grab stuff in the air was the frame rate issues and the game had difficulty keeping up with itself. The fog was another problem. It made it incredibly hard to navigate and made exploration a chore. Most of the time I just used the sonar mini map. I'm of the view that if I spend more time staring at a mini map than the actual game, then that part of the game isn't designed very well. DOTF is the perfect example of how great graphics do not make a good game.

    I want LB/BB to be a 2D game because I don't want to have to deal with all of those issues again. It's not 1994 anymore; a game does not have to be 3D to be "progressive". Forced transitions to 3D destroyed a lot of franchises. One of the reasons the Dreamcast and Gamecube failed was because they both abandoned their fans of the 2D games that previously made their respective console makers successful, and they assumed that everything HAD to be in 3D to sell well or appeal to anyone.

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