Two is always better than one — except, of course, when it’s not. Whether it actually is or not in developer Demiurge’s Shoot Many Robots is a topic that is open to no small amount of debate. In fact, there is so much disagreement as to whether the game’s current single-stick controls or a more modernized dual analog scheme — which is not currently an option available to players — is best, that the Boston-based studio has decided to host what it’s dubbing the “Control Scheme Throwdown” at PAX East in April.
A special build of the XBLA title will be playable at the dev’s booth during the show (April 6—8) that is going to enable play with the power of not just one but two analog sticks. Attendees who wish to participate will be pitted against players using a single stick in a competition to help Demiurge decide whether or not to patch in support for the additional stick. Should the team reach the decision to do so , the control style employed by the PAX competition’s winner will become the standard once the option is added. The gauntlet — it has been thrown down.
Interestingly enough, the developer said in its blog that the designer who pitched the project had a dual analog setup in mind all along. “Apply a new control scheme to a classic genre… It is a side scrolling shooter like Metal Slug or Mega Man X that utilizes the dual analog stick movement and shooting controls of games like Geometry Wars,” reads the original design document.
Demiurge claims to have “user-tested the crap out of [its] control schemes early in development.” The team then continued tinkering throughout the development process, but ultimately found that single stick was the scheme that would please the largest audience possible. “When coupled with left-trigger aim-down-sights and jetpack abilities, single stick controls felt better to most players and enabled users to play more effectively (i.e., shoot more robots).”
Where the designers went wrong, was assuming that the remainder of players would form a sort of silent minority. Things haven’t quite played out that way. The testing failed to give Demiurge a clear picture of “how strongly the minority would feel.” Since launching the title, however, the studio has taken some backlash from the twin stick crowd. The dev likened the oversight to how disgruntled a slice of the FPS community would be if a shooter released without the option to invert the vertical aiming mechanics.
What say you, XBLA Fans readers? Should one stick or two reign supreme?