University Project, Interaction Design, Video Games

Mekanism is the 8 week long thesis project I conducted for my masters in Interaction Design at Malmö University.

Mekanism is the name of the project. However, the thesis itself has the title: “Analog input in gaming: Investigating the possibilities of new controller affordances in video games” and can be found in the Malmö University Electronic Publishing repository.

In this project I investigated the possibilities of using a different type of controller mapping that would take advantage of the analog input abilities of controllers. The Steam controller that was explored offered an alternative to the button style control of character movements and actions in a fighting game. By mapping fine motor movements on the controller to character movements in different ways and testing them with users who control an animated character, I evaluated the character performance in potential fighting style games. The findings show that the speed of the game needs to be slowed down to perform the same movements that can be performed through buttons. Furthermore, gameplay needs to be changed and focused on performative and expressive actions – simply because the analog input controller enables a player to obtain skills and mastery of movements. This shifts the focus of gameplay design from being solely a question of timing and pacing to include various fighter styles and coordination of movements. With this thesis I want to present a new design opening for fighting style games that involve skill development and expressivity.

On the practical side of things, I created a prototype using a Steam controllers touchpads as the input, directly controlling the characters arms. The prototype was created in Unity 3D. One of the playtests can be viewed down below. The repository for the prototypes code can be found on my github page. It links to the version of the prototype as described in the thesis as I will continue development in another branch.

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This video is a full usertest and very long. I decided against cutting it up in smaller chunks and making it into a smaller film because it removes all nuance and context from what the user is saying. This would defeat the purpose of having such an discussion based playtest.