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Telltale’s Discriminatory Control Scheme

December 28, 2012

For the first time in my life, I was able to fully empathize with people who need “universal access” and don’t receive it.  Upon starting The Walking Dead, I realized that the software had not read my global XBox preferences for inverted controls.  I thought that was strange, but I figured I would just adjust it myself.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there are no control options to invert the Y axis.  Gamers must play through the game using “normal” controls only.  Having spent thousands of hours playing with “inverted” controls, it is not a habit that excuses itself for a two hour gaming session.  To play as much as I did, I needed to make a continual, conscious effort to mentally invert the controls.  Fortunately, the game is slow enough that I was able to play through most of the first chapter.  While it should have been one of the most interesting and immersive gaming experiences that I have had all year, it turned out to be one of ever increasing frustration, and by the time I got to the rescue of the girl in the hotel I had had enough.  For those of you who might, even for a moment, think that I am just whining, try playing any FPS/TPS game with the opposite controls.  See how long you last, and how enjoyable it is, and also pretend that there are no options to change it back.  For those who might say, why did you pick “invert” in the first place?  It is because I was given the controls of a Cessna before I was ever handed a joystick.  So, the “normal” settings were counter-intuitive, and against real-life convention.

If there are any gaming conventions that have been established over the past 30 years, certainly the option to “invert” the Y axis on a control stick is one of them.  This is not a programming oversight, or design choice.  This is discrimination.

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7 Comments
  1. December 29, 2012 8:28 am

    Thanks for the heads up. I was thinking about downloading that game and giving it a shot. However, as an inverted gamer as well, I’ll now pass.

    Why would they do that?!

  2. December 29, 2012 2:27 pm

    There is at least one 15 page thread (started back in April) on their own forums of people who complained and said they wouldn’t be buying any more episodes after the first. I have no idea why 8 months have passed and they still haven’t done anything about it.

    It is probably the best interactive storytelling I have ever played or heard of, but there is no excuse for that kind of developer arrogance. I don’t know what it is that leads developers to ignore common sense and the pleas of potential customers, but I have a lot less patience for it than I did before Epic and Gears of War.

    I want to get the series, but I will either wait until it goes on a 3 dollar sale on Steam, or just get it for iOS someday. In the meantime, I am going to speak with my money, and not buy for XBLA, even at half price.

  3. December 29, 2012 6:09 pm

    Btw: I watched a few weeks ago the first hour, then an hour in the middle, and the final two hours. I just enjoyed watching it. However, I didn’t like the ending, so this inverted no show, is all I need to move on.

  4. December 30, 2012 10:35 am

    Inverted gamers unite!

    I tried it out and got to the part where you’re at the farm with Hershel and the gang and just lost interest due to the lack of inverted controls. I mean, I’ve been playing on inverted for at least 9 years ever since Socom 2 on the PS2, and in 2012 a developer can’t put in a simple option?! I mean, come on Telltale!

    I’m happy I didn’t pay for it otherwise I would be very disappointed. Nonetheless, I did enjoy all the combat interactions.

    Great premise, poor execution.

  5. January 1, 2013 8:17 am

    I’ll reiterate what I said in an email. Go PC! It’s the better choice!

    An interesting thing to note is the few times I’ve played console, namely Halo 4 with Bailey, I turned inverted off because after playing PC, it felt odd.

    Sorry to hear all this though. 😦

  6. Lewy permalink
    January 2, 2013 3:08 pm

    I’ve always had to invert my Y axis, as with many other people this is usually due to playing lots of flight simulators on old school joysticks and it just seems to stick in your brain as that is the way you have trained it (plus its far more logical!). Still I played through the walking dead, yes it was frustrating, but please don’t miss such an awsome gaming experience just because of this irritation – that does become minor after a while.

    • January 2, 2013 4:10 pm

      Lewy, thank you for your comment.

      With the exception of the control problem, I really enjoyed the game up to the point I got stuck. I think the game glitched because I tried every option to get the ice pick out of the truck. I spent about ten minutes running back and forth, scanning the entire screen looking for a way past that point and couldn’t find it. That, combined with the frustration of the controls, was enough.

      I would like to play it on XBL or PC with a controller if they patch it. If not, then eventually, I think I will play it on an iOS device which I have been told is the best interface for the game anyway.

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