Deflectus postmortem.

After experimenting with various control schemes for Deflectus, I decided it just wasn’t working. I mean, the code is fine, the controls are smooth, I could probably turn it into a playable game eventually. It was an interesting and basically successful experiment, and I may re-use ideas from it elsewhere. The visual style is kind of cool.

But I envisioned Deflectus as a cross between Pong and Tempest, both games that are designed around knob-style controllers. A traditional Pong paddle controller is like a big volume knob. A tempest spinner is similar, but loose and heavy so it really spins. These days, most of us do not own any knob controllers, except maybe the scroll wheel on a mouse, which is too stiff for Pong. (I tried it first, for Deflectus.) None of our standard modern controllers really come close to the experience of these vintage control schemes.

Since I intended Deflectus to be just as much of a visceral knob-based game as Pong or Tempest, in practice it would always have been a compromise. I’m not such a huge fan of Pong that I wanted to keep struggling to fit this round Pong into a square hole. Good game design involves many quick experiments that teach the designer something but don’t turn into games, and Deflectus is one of those.

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