Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Keyboard command design

I've tried to follow a plan in keyboard command design where keyboard commands have some kind of logic in them. Lower case letters are for commonly used commands and upper case letters for less used, but also some letters have similar kind of action with lower and upper case forms. This is done in some roguelike games, but I think it could be extended as much as possible.

For example I had 'q' to quaff as usual, but previously I also had it search for water sources from the environment first and if they were skipped then drink something from the inventory. However I started to think it was confusing and added a new command to drink from environmental sources with 'Q'. Even that command is often 'quit' in roguelike games it doesn't take a long time to adjust to that. There are also some other keyboard combinations in the same key with lower case for items and upper case for environmental sources. It's a nice, logical arrangement and easy to remember.

It's not particularly useful trying to cut down the amount of keyboard commands, because you still need some kind of way to activate commands. Menus can be ok in some situations, but worse in others. The design of keyboard commands actually takes some consideration that I believe developers of older roguelikes never did. That was the case with many other areas of design as well.


  1. Doh, it didn't allow me to edit a typo in my comment (logged in from Google Account), so I copied the old one, removed it and tried to paste the old version, only to discover, the paste was lost and moreover the deleted comment is still there, marked as "removed by the author". Could you recover the removed comment somehow?

  2. Anyway, here's the executive version: I use lower case letters for verb-noun and upper case for noun-verb, as in the following page from in-game key help:

    Item use.

    keys command
    f fling projectile
    C-f fling without aiming
    a apply consumable
    < or g grab items or ascend
    > or d descend or drop items
    e equip item
    p pack item into inventory
    s stash and share item
    E manage equipment of the leader
    P manage inventory pack of leader
    S manage the shared party stash
    A manage all owned items
    G manage items on the ground
    @ describe organs of the leader
    # show stat summary of the leader
    q quaff potion
    r read scroll
    t throw missile

    BTW, it's this game: https://github.com/LambdaHack/LambdaHack