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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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During the Platforms State of the Union at WWDC this week, Apple unveiled a new API for iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 that enables developers to implement an on-screen virtual game controller in their iPhone and iPad games with just a few lines of code.

apple-virtual-game-controller-ios-15.jpg

While many iPhone and iPad games already offer on-screen controls, Apple's new virtual game controller is available to all developers, easy to add, and can be customized on a per-game basis. Apple said the on-screen controller can be adjusted to a variety of layouts, with up to four buttons and a thumbstick, d-pad, or touchpad available per left and right side.

"These new on-screen controls for iPhone and iPad look amazing, and they're carefully tuned for grip locations across hand sizes and for a great responsiveness and feel," said Nat Brown, an Apple engineer working on Game Technologies.

Apple offers a WWDC session and developer documentation with more details.

Article Link: Apple Makes New On-Screen Game Controller Available to Developers on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15
 

TheDailyApple

macrumors 6502
May 30, 2019
356
1,358
On screen game controllers have never worked and will never work. It’s very difficult to keep your eyes on the gameplay and controls at the same time. You need physical buttons.
While I tend to agree with you, this could help with that. If multiple games share the same on screen controls then it will be easier to memorize button location and placement. Similar to how I can type on the 12.9” iPad’s software keyboard without looking just like I do on a real one (albeit more slowly) because the key placement is the same.

Obviously a heavy gamer should buy a real controller just as a coder or writer should buy a real keyboard. But as light/infrequent gamers are unlikely to invest in one, it’s worth optimizing the on screen interface.
 

RadioHedgeFund

macrumors regular
Sep 11, 2018
105
207
On screen game controllers have never worked and will never work. It’s very difficult to keep your eyes on the gameplay and controls at the same time. You need physical buttons.

I don’t know, Caster (http://www.elecorn.com/caster3d/) largely nailed the core aspects of it in 2009 by just using the position of your thumb from the first point it hits the screen. It is entirely possible to use the orientation of your character or vehicle as a visual cue for where you need to go to next. Controlling a camera using the same method is no different to using a mouse.

Meteor Blitz (https://toucharcade.com/2009/09/16/meteor-blitz-dual-stick-space-shooting-goodness/) also showed how you can use orientation and visual cues to make up for a lack of buttons. Geometry Wars 3 on iOS was and still is a fantastic port.

Where touchscreen controls do fall down is when devs tried to port over console titles to a phone and have to shoehorn touchscreen controls into games not designed for them. This does not work.

There are exceptions, for example games with a largely static camera like FFVII but this pales in comparison to proper ports like FFIX which have been redesigned with the host platform in mind. See also titles like Horizon Chase and Oceanhorn 1.
 

munpip214

macrumors 6502
Feb 21, 2011
401
1,033
I wonder if this will tie directly into PlayStation/Xbox controller support? So developers will unknowingly be able to easily support touch and physical
 
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Tymmz

macrumors 68000
Jan 6, 2005
1,539
452
On screen game controllers have never worked and will never work. It’s very difficult to keep your eyes on the gameplay and controls at the same time. You need physical buttons.
True, but the only game I found where it actually works better is Space Marshall. Tried to play it with controller on Apple TV but wasn’t as great as on the phone.
 

nostaws

macrumors 6502
Jan 14, 2006
461
229
On screen game controllers have never worked and will never work. It’s very difficult to keep your eyes on the gameplay and controls at the same time. You need physical buttons.
I think world of tanks blitz generally does a good job of on screen controls. And call of duty zombies was pretty decent too. (That old game Sway was awesome) I’m sure there are others.

if I’m standing in line at the DMV for two hours and want to play a game on my phone I’m not going to pull out an Xbox controller.
 

himanshumodi

macrumors 6502a
May 18, 2012
567
630
India
On screen game controllers have never worked and will never work. It’s very difficult to keep your eyes on the gameplay and controls at the same time. You need physical buttons.

I wonder why people make such absolute statements based on nothing but their own obstinate opinions. On-screen game controllers depend on how they are implemented. Not having a physical controller has not stopped me from enjoying hundreds of games over the last 10 years or so. And I am not talking about fruit ninja styled or angry birds style touch-device native games. Platforming games, FPS games, racing games... they have been fun.
 

BulkSlash

macrumors regular
Aug 20, 2013
210
581
Personally I prefer games that centre the virtual left stick on the place where I place my thumb. It takes a bit of adjustment to not keep your thumb on the screen but I find it’s the best way of avoiding the situation you get in many iOS games where your character doesn’t move as expected because you didn’t put your thumb in the right place.
 
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