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Converting Z-Exemplar to mobile devices required some tricky touch-screen optimization. If it wasn't done right it could make the game unplayable.

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Hello everyone and a Happy New Year to you all.

After a brief break over the festive period I returned to the serious work of converting Z-Exemplar to mobile devices.

If you've played Z-Exemplar (or games of its type) then you'll know that control of the player ship is everything. When the bullets are raining in and you're trying to squeeze through narrow scenery gaps while collecting clouds of zogs there's nothing more frustrating than unresponsive controls. They can make or break a game.

So optimizing the control scheme to touch screen posed something of a problem.

I've played many games before where the controls are replaced by on-screen joysticks or D-pads but frankly, they just don't do it for me. Without the tactile feedback of a pressed button or pushed stick these games inevitably suffer and that was something I wanted desperately to avoid with Z-Exemplar.

After a fair bit of experimentation I found a solution that feels right and retains the level of maneuverability required to navigate even the most hostile of Hewson Nebula's planets.

One thing in my favour was the fact that Z-Exemplar sticks to a 4:3 ratio playable area which leaves a decent amount of space at either edge of a standard, landscape-oriented touchscreen. I was able to use most of the space to house the new touch controls and thus leave the important gameplay area relatively unobscured.

The fire button was a simple addition - it changes functionality depending on context and can be held down to trigger power-upgrades but generally it acts as you would expect.

Movement is achieved using a D(rag)-Pad that is dragged around the screen. The Ship moves relative to the D-Pad (with some intentional lag) and with a bit of practice it becomes almost second nature. Yes, the D-Pad obscures some of the bottom left of the screen but in play that doesn't tend to pose much of problem - at least there have been few complaints thus far :)

The various inter-level screens such as the galactic map, shop and debrief screens all benefited from touch screen modifications also with the occasional (not-so-subtle) hint for those unaccustomed to such things.

In the end the conversion took a few weeks but the end result is something I am really pleased with. Z-Exemplar feels fast, responsive and most importantly, fun. Yes, it's challenging (some might even say hard) but it was always intended to be that way.

Z-Exemplar is available now on Google Play and I really hope you get a chance to check it out.

By for now and keep conquering!


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