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Joyride Laboratories is an independent game development studio, founded in 2009 by Florian Hofer and Sönke Hahn. Our headquarters are located in Berlin, with secret external facilities on the island of Amrum. We made Nikki and the Robots.

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We press them, we jump on them, we push boxes on them. They open doors and move platforms. But what should we call them?

Posted by qubodup on May 26th, 2011

We press them, we jump on them, we stack boxes on top of them. They open doors and move platforms. But what should we call them?

Portal's Switch and Portal's Button
Portal's Button and Portal's Switch: but which is which?
(both modelled by gamerfreaq)

My team has recently finished figuring out the rules for playing levels in our game Nikki and the Robots and for some reason I asked "Is there a reason why we call 'buttons' 'switches'?" - The reply: "Well - they are, are they not?"


Wikipedia says buttons are switches and Giantbomb tells me buttons usually act as switches. I'm confused though. Is the switch castle a translation error? Are the jump-or-place-crates-on-switches puzzles called button puzzles? What should we call them in our game? Or does it not matter at all?

I should have probably kept this to myself. Oh well. Words.. Um. Comments?

Post comment Comments
moci May 26 2011 says:

Switch: switches between states. A light switch turns the lights ON, and if you press it again - OFF.

Button: sends a signal (either short pulse or for as long as you are pressing the button) to another system. The power-on "button" of the computer sends a signal to the motherboard.

I guess...

+5 votes     reply to comment
moutandihami May 29 2011 replied:

Here's mine:
A switch is anything that can be moved into another position to change anything, and can usually be moved back, but won't do so automatically. A button is something you press, but might go back automatically. If it's a button that doesn't go back at least until you press it again, then it's a switch and button. If it's a button that times out or doesn't stay without being held down (most portal buttons) then it's only a button.
Finally: Switch is a name based on function. Button is a name based on the circular shape.

+1 vote     reply to comment
nfojones May 26 2011 says:

A button can be a switch, but all switches are not buttons.

+4 votes     reply to comment
TheUnabridgedGamer May 26 2011 replied:

Exactly. like how a square is both a rectangle and a rhombus, but not all rectangles (or rhombuses) are squares.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Theon May 27 2011 replied:

You mean, like, all thumbs are fingers, but not all fingers are thumbs?

+1 vote     reply to comment
warmasterpit May 26 2011 says:

so a switch seems the best option. right?

0 votes     reply to comment
nfojones May 26 2011 says:

I think I actually meant to say... a button is a type of switch, thus all buttons are switches but not all switches are buttons.

0 votes     reply to comment
mikejkelley May 27 2011 replied:

Not all buttons are switches (see moci). Not all switches are buttons. Buttons can be, but are not necessarily switches (eg a button which alters resistance according to the pressure it receives rather than switching between two states). In the Niki and the Robots example, I would think the proper term would be switch since they are not returning to an "open" state.

+1 vote     reply to comment
anni May 27 2011 says:

Call them alterators. Or alternators. Though I prefer the first one, that seams to not be a real word. Let's make it a real word.
But actually the question you pose is a very good one.

+1 vote     reply to comment
tekkenboy May 27 2011 says:

ahoy hoy everybody
i say they should be pickles

+1 vote     reply to comment
PwrUsr May 28 2011 says:

Definite difference, hence the two names o differenciate them... A switch toggles between two states and remains constant until switched, while a buttom is a momentary input that returns to an original position after being pressed. So yeah as mentionned a button is in fact a type of switch that automatically resets itself.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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