In Control: I Must Run

Controls in video games have always been an important area of focus for me as a game developer. Maybe it’s the countless hours of gaming over the years that have molded my idea of how games should control, but to me it is intuitive. The idea when programming controls is to understand what the player wants to do based on the input you are receiving from them. Controls are a fundamental part of video games and should be well thought out.

I was recently looking around in the Nintendo eShop and came across a game called I Must Run. It looked like fun, and for a couple of bucks I figured it was worth the gamble to try it out.

I Must Run is an auto-run platformer similar to Canabalt and BIT.TRIP RUNNER. Your character automatically runs and you have to react in various ways to keep from getting killed. You have the ability to jump, punch, and slide, and you will need all of these moves in order to survive.

The game is pretty good, overall, but there is one very annoying issue with the controls that keeps me from thoroughly enjoying the game: when I press the slide button, it only slides if I happen to be on the ground before the button press occurs. The entire design of the game centers around anticipating what’s going to happen next and reacting quickly. Having to focus my attention directly on the character sprite, waiting for him to land before giving him the next command is a serious design flaw.

As a player, my intentions are clear. When I press the slide button, I want to slide. There is no good reason for the game not to recognize this fact and act accordingly. From a programming perspective, it would only take, at most, a few lines of code. This leads me to the conclusion that the developer didn’t consider player intention when programming the controls. By not doing so, the developers held this game back from being great.