Gendered gaming
April 9, 2007 1:10 AM   Subscribe

Do you know of a simple (say Flash) game where the map rotates rather than the character changing direction?

I'm working on an assignment. Being the typical overachieving mature age student that I am, I wish to address gender issues at the same time. So far, my research has shown me that in general girls tend to prefer puzzle games rather than combat, they'd rather help a character or play with narrative than have to rely on eye-hand coordination. And the coolest thing I've found so far: the map stuff here. Which explains why I turn the map upside down.

So I thought I might have my main character in the centre of the screen, and turn the map around her, rather than having her turn right and left. That is, when she turns left, the map rotates in a clockwise fashion 90 degrees.

I've mocked this up with a bit of transparent plastic with the character drawn on it and the map on paper which I'm rotating but I was wondering - is it out there already? What does it look like? Is it annoying or great? Is it worth exploring? Or should I go back to the drawing board?

So, please, a link to a free game or animation where I can explore rotating the map rather than the character. This would be excellent. I do not require access to code. Thanks.

If this is really really obvious, do humour me. I'm twice the age of my fellow students, and the last time I played Simcity was last century. This is a required course in my multimedia degree.
posted by b33j to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure if this is quite what you're looking for but a lot of games these days (and by these days I mean I'm familiar through Dreamcast) have a perspective where the "camera" is behind and above the character, mostly always. So the game moves around that viewpoint. Here's an screenshot from one of my favs, Rayman 2. Does that help at all or are you looking more for something like the classic RPG games where the view is from straight above the character? Or something else?
posted by 6550 at 1:25 AM on April 9, 2007

This is effectively what all the first-person shooters do.

You might care to look at Runescape, too, which gives you independent controls over character movement (via mouse clicks) and map/camera angle (via arrow keys).
posted by flabdablet at 1:27 AM on April 9, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for your quick responses, but I'm particularly looking for simple examples as that is all I'll be able to create by the end of semester.

It looks fine and dandy for a first person shooter in a 3d game, but does it still work for a 2d ant in a maze?
posted by b33j at 1:31 AM on April 9, 2007

As well as the 3D view, Runescape has a 2D map that keeeps itself oriented to match the camera, so that straight ahead = up.

Clearly creating a MMORPG is more than one b33j-semester's worth of work, but at least you can look at the map to see if you think the idea's worth coding up or not.
posted by flabdablet at 1:44 AM on April 9, 2007

if you're asking if this is possible in a 2D maze in flash, yeah, sure it is. probably the biggest issue you'd have to address is how different parts of the maze would load, either all at once or in some kind of modular "flashlight in the dark" kind of method. so as not to overly bog down processor speed.

if you're trying to assess the useability of a maze, or whether or not it meets your philosophical objectives, i'd have to argue without evidence that most people would find your model disorienting - if you are talking about a totally flat 2D "eye in the sky" environment.

there is, of course, the over the shoulder pole position.
posted by phaedon at 1:48 AM on April 9, 2007

Response by poster: Nope. This is not my game, but it will do to explain it. Imagine you have a map of your suburb and you want to move from place A to place B. As a male, you notice the direction you want to go and travel that way. As a female, you might turn the map, or yourself to orient. So imagine that map, and imagine, hmm, a red dot on top of that map. The player can control the red dot. When the player presses the right arrow to turn right, the right hand turn re-orients so that it is now directly ahead.

My hypothesis is that this would be very disorienting for males, and very satisfying for females. I just want to see it, if people are already doing it. I'm looking for a map that looks like a map, no 3d, not over the shoulder, that turns with a change in directions so that the player is always apparently forward.

With the technical issue of the maze, I plan to preload the entire maze. I'm not worried about that.
posted by b33j at 1:55 AM on April 9, 2007

Contra 3 for SNES has levels exactly like this.

I don't know any girls who play Contra 3.
posted by tumult at 2:01 AM on April 9, 2007

well since my 2am google-fu is failing me, i'll just add that you will find what you are talking about as a supplemental mapping feature in a lot of 1st person shooter video games - as a way of declaring "enemy targets" within a given radius. halo comes to mind.
posted by phaedon at 2:02 AM on April 9, 2007

Er, I guess I should note that Super Contra (Super C) also has levels like this, too. It was released in 1988, so this type of gameplay isn't exactly a novel concept.
posted by tumult at 2:07 AM on April 9, 2007

Marble Madness and Super Monkeyball do this kind of thing.

I think I've seen this with some (Japanese?) indie game I can't remember or dig up on google, but the crux was that the avatar was absolutely centered and the controls moved and/or rotated the background. Hopefully it'll trigger a firmer memory for someone else.

Some of the map modes in more complex games operate like this. Your avatar == usually a triangle, and the outline of the level spins around it as you move. The controls would have to be reversed to really make it seems like you were moving the level and not the (visually stationary) triangle, but it's close.

I think given your thesis it might be neat to make a game works both ways. Position the character absolutely and then offer an option to switch the effect of left and right, which along with an appreciation of the different metaphor would amount to moving the background rather than the character. If the avatar was flying you could do the same with up and down. I think this is how the game I can't find worked, with the added complication of being able to rotate the level, which only really has an analog in control-the-avatar mode from the top-down or in zero gravity.

I used to play through Mario World with the controller upside down to achieve a similar effect and because I was brash and overconfident after mastering Tubular, but Mario's not centered well enough to really sell the moving-the-level metaphor.
posted by moift at 2:40 AM on April 9, 2007

I'm thinking of something like the map inset feature in Grand Theft Auto.

It strikes me that what you're trying to create is something like Repton?, but making the map rotate? Even bearing in mind that the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data', as a girl that sounds a confusing concept. Repton was a simple and intuitive game to master, even as a girl, because the direction buttons stayed the same no matter which way the little green man was facing. Left and right are always the gamer's left and right, and not Repton's left and right. Games which require me to shift my perceptions of direction into which way the character is facing are impossible to me, but absolute directions are easy to pick up.
posted by talitha_kumi at 3:37 AM on April 9, 2007

Best answer: Probably the most famous game that works this way was Namco Assault. Here is a video of the game. If you're interested, you should be able to get hold of it and run it under MAME.

Try out Hellcarrier (scroll down), it's a free top down game that rotates the environment around the player.
posted by teleskiving at 4:08 AM on April 9, 2007

Nitrome's Roly Poly is a Flash game with a different take on "map rotates".
posted by mendel at 4:32 AM on April 9, 2007

Here is another different kind of rotatey game from Orisinal (Flash).
posted by teleskiving at 5:18 AM on April 9, 2007

I recently saw a flash game that rotates the map, although the map rotation is a scheme meant to confuse the player.
posted by the dief at 6:10 AM on April 9, 2007

Super Mario World plays like this, as do the tomb raider series. I know that they are 3d, but they are very popular games with males, and less so (but more than most games) with females.
posted by Four Flavors at 9:51 AM on April 9, 2007

Along with Contra 3 and Namco Assault, another MAME game, Camel Try, is a good example and has the added bonus of being a nonviolent maze-based game.

I think whatever insights you glean from map-rotation studies should also apply to any example of absolute (press right to move right) vs. relative (press right to rotate clockwise) movement. Asteroids and RC Pro-Am spring to mind as good old-school examples of the latter. Some people have trouble wrapping their heads around this because sometimes you have to press right to turn clockwise to move left, and that seems counterintuitive.

Unfortunately for your research, this is a skill that can be learned, so any predispositions stemming from gender will be skewed by the subject's experience with such games (more boys than girls, I bet, have played Asteroids).
posted by squidlarkin at 6:17 PM on April 9, 2007

Here's a game in which the map rotates and the character doesn't really change direction - hope it helps!

posted by perpetualstroll at 1:33 AM on April 10, 2007

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