Thursday, October 14, 2010

Inverted Y-Axis Option And A List Of Games Without Y-Axis Support

'Normal' mapping is the case where moving the joystick/mouse/analogue stick 'up', results in the game point of view shifts 'up'. The y-axis inversion control scheme is basically the inverse of this. 'Up' points the camera 'down', and 'down' points the camera 'up'. Y-axis inversion is the way that I've learned to play any game that requires change one's point of view.

Inversion of the y-axis was never really a choice me. Like many, I learned to play like this because the first games I played were flight simulators or space combat games like Wing Commander. In real-life, airplane joystick controls by default are 'inverted'. When I transitioned to first-person shooters, the mentality of the flight simulator stuck with me through the first-person view point (as well as third-person view point games).

The way that I see it, y-axis is a valid way of thinking about pointing a camera. If you imagine your virtual character as a puppet facing away from you with a pole sticking out of its head horizontally, you can make the puppet look up by tugging the pole down, and vice versa. And a similar logic applies to the flaps of an airplane, where one pulls the joystick downwards in order to 'pull up' the plane.

Inverting the y-axis doesn't really offer an advantage or disadvantage. Rather, it's just a way that some people expect controls to work in a game. And developers know this: almost every single game that has come out in the last 10 years supports y-axis inversion. However, there are a select few titles which do not, and this is why I've created the list. I hope this is a useful resource for you. Inverted gamers unite!

List Of Shame:

Beyond Good & Evil
Inversion option inverts both y-axis and x-axis, no individual toggle. Therefore if you choose to invert y-axis, it will also invert the x-axis (which is not flexible enough for most of us y-axis players). Luckily there is a 'HD' re-release to this game being brought out soon for XBLA and PSN, and will hopefully patch in inverted y-axis control option. I am glad that Ubisoft are releasing this game again because Beyond Good & Evil was one of the most critically acclaimed games to come out in 2003, and I never got a chance to really experience it because of the dizzying control scheme.

Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus
Gameloft are appalling at updating their games properly with y-axis inversion. Their FPS released last year called NOVA for iOS took months to patch in y-axis inversion. It's shocking to see that their implementation is also extremely flawed on release. Y-axis inversion works for camera controls, however as soon as you start to fire your weapon and want to adjust, the controls will not be inverted. This is a very unprofessional and inconsistent approach to controls.

I created a thread about this on Touch Arcade here.

Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones
Like Beyond Good & Evil, another Ubisoft title and a console port that does not support y-axis inversion correctly. Reports state that whilst the y-axis inversion option exists in the settings, the implementation is bugged and has no functionality within the game.

Silent Hill: Homecoming
This game does not have an inverted y-axis option. I've not had the misfortune to try this, but there is a good account of one inverted gamer's experience with it here.

In its second stage (the 'tribal' stage), the world view changes from a flat 2D plane to a 3D globe. At this stage, you control your creature from a third person perspective, however you cannot adjust the y-axis inversion of the camera control. This makes it completely unplayable for me at this stage, and is just another reason (on top of many) why Spore was not a well-received game. I also find it very hard to believe that a developer as big as Maxis published by the behemoth Electronic Arts didn't have the QA department to realize that there would be a serious usability issue for y-axis inverted players. And for a game that has a strong online component, I am surprised they have not patched this in, especially after all the clamoring in their forums.