Should I Have Mouse Or Keyboard Controls In My Game?

There are times when you seem to have to pick one of the two possible options. One such issue is the controls of the game. You might wonder whether you should have mouse or keyboard controls in your game.

The answer I recommend: Have both. If possible, set the controls so that players can use mouse or keyboard. Let them choose. I found this way to sort out issues very useful. Sure, it’s extra work (at least some extra work), but that put player in the position to decide.

It’s not always useful, but think about it. Don’t automatically assume that you have only two options: A and B. Sometimes you can have A, B, and A+B or even new option C. Expand your thinking.

4 thoughts on “Should I Have Mouse Or Keyboard Controls In My Game?

  1. “Keep in mind:
    If the player decides to use keyboard only, make everything accessible via keys or shortcuts. If the player decides to use mouse only, make everything accessible via mouse buttons. And if you implement other input devices such as gamepads, make sure everything can be accessed with that device – up to the extent of exiting the program.”

    @Jan: very good reminder!

  2. Jan Petersen

    Very important: Watch your input flow.

    Negative example: “Trackmania Nations”, a 3D-arcade-racing game from “Nadeo” studios, France. When playing with gamepad, you have full control of the game – except one thing: exiting a running race and return to game menus. In that case you have to hit the “ESC” button of your keyboard. That can be very unhandy if you’re lying relaxed on your couch or bed playing the game.

    There are plenty of such flaws in many games (and utility programs, too).

    Keep in mind:
    If the player decides to use keyboard only, make everything accessible via keys or shortcuts. If the player decides to use mouse only, make everything accessible via mouse buttons. And if you implement other input devices such as gamepads, make sure everything can be accessed with that device – up to the extent of exiting the program.

  3. You can constrain the controls only on mouse or keyboard… but that’s the point: let user to decide which one to use. And maybe customize them.

  4. This is true for most circumstances. Though, the control-dilemma isnt present in every game or application: when you take games where you have to move in 3D space the mouse is designed for intuitive movement and player rotation and fast user input (mouse buttons for shooting, etc.) whereas the keyboard is meant for fast commands (shooters). We discovered during project planning that for _casual games_ you have to do this decision wisely. I mean, casual games should be playable for every dumb person out there, so to say. So sometimes you should think if you focus on constraining the controls ONLY on mouseinput OR keyboardcontrol (secretly, we binded 2 keys max. to enhance the playability for more advanced features who tend to use standard key bindings like the horizontal arrow keys to move the camera/player left and right, although the main gameplay comes with the mouse).

    Important is, that the relationship and easyness of mouse and keyboardcontrol must be balanced and _smooth_. Those ones who ever player Gothic 1 from Piranha Bytes know what I mean.