Sunday, July 14, 2013

Editorial: Inverted Axis and Inverted Choices

My wife humors me and plays video games with me sometimes. She's pretty good at them. But there's one setting she always needs to change immediately, and that's to turn on the inverted Y axis.

It's not often you meet someone that prefers the inverted axis. I know only three people that prefer the inverted axis, and two of them are in my wife's family. It seems to be a relic of the Flight Simulator days, or at least that's where my wife traces it back to.

There are times where she plays as the first player, saves the inverted setting, and the next time I pick up the controller I find I can't hit the side of a barn. And sometimes its not immediately apparent what is wrong. I'll play ten minutes just thinking I'm having a really off day before I remember that my wife had the controller last.

It's just strange how some settings are just assumed now and when a developer does them differently, it can really mess up your life.

Remember during the Playstation 1 era where many Japanese developed games had "O" as the select option in menus and "X" as the cancel option. (I'm looking at you Konami and Square)

I can't tell you how many times I spent five minutes stuck on the title screen of Metal Gear Solid because I would press "X" to load the game.

Or when you try to play Halo and end up throwing grenade when you really just want to aim down the sites.

Things that seem to have been ingrained into our gaming DNA by large adoption of standard settings. Call of Duty and Battlefield have taught us that the left trigger should aim down the site and the joystick-less games of the present just about shun the inverted axis.

I wonder if research and development studied the best way to handle these settings or if a few guys on the development team picked up a controller and found their preference, forcing it on the masses.

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