Manta and Glass Joysticks

Manta screenshot from Unity dev environment
Manta screenshot from Unity dev environment

I’m finally getting close to releasing Manta and one thing that has somewhat surprised me is what a fabulous gaming device the iPad is. For example, while I’ve never been happy with any “glass joystick” games on the iPhone, I’ve found several on the iPad work just fine — including Manta.

One of the things I was determined to do with Manta’s touch controls was make them “relative”, and this is something the games I’ve liked have in common. In other words, the point you start touching the screen becomes your origin. Most “glass joystick” games on the iPhone combine (a) absolute controls and (b) no central visual feedback. The first means (a) it’s critically important that you put down your thumb in exactly the right spot or you’ll do something weird and (b) you can’t immediately tell by looking at what’s going on in the game where you’ve actually put your finger down — this proves a fatal combination, even for otherwise very polished games such as Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.

With Manta, your “ship” quickly (not instantly) snaps to a heading based on your thumb position, and your initial point of contact is always the origin. It certainly works well for me (and no complaints from my testers) but we’ll see what the reviews are like when and if it appears in the App Store.