So I've been formulating an idea for a game the past few days. I don't want to get into too many details, but I mainly just wanted to ask about one aspect of the gameplay.

OK, imagine a game where you're flying a plane with a third-person view as below... enter image description here

Basically the controls would be as follows:

  • tilt the phone (or tablet) left or right to turn
  • tap the screen to drop a bomb

And that's it. I didn't want to add any additional controls as I feel the gameplay should be simple. However, I got to thinking if even this is too much. I mean, when you combine the tilting with the tapping are people going to drop their phones? Furthermore, if I were to do this what would be the best phone orientation for the most natural gameplay? Should the game be in landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical) mode?

  • "Tilt" and "Drop a bomb" is not a overkill for sure ..!! and the best mode is Landscape. I dont have data to back up . .so am just writing in comments . May 17, 2012 at 22:03
  • @Pratheepch - Part of the problem is that I think most of the games I've played on the phone either use the accelerometer by itself or the touchscreen by itself. I can't think of any examples that combine both. And I sort of envisioned a problem where you're tilting the phone to one side then lift one hand to tap the screen, and end up dropping the phone. May 17, 2012 at 22:07
  • try Metal storm game .. !! I guess it has the functionality you are expecting May 17, 2012 at 23:37
  • I would guess that most of the tapping will happen with the thumbs and not require lifting a whole hand off the device. In fact you could probably have two distinct buttons on the bottom corners of the device for different actions (e.g. Bombs/Missiles) without complicating matters too much. May 18, 2012 at 13:14
  • @SteveWortham - Temple Run, Grabatron, Riptide GP, Need for Speed... there are plenty of games that use tilt + touch. The key is to keep it simple. May 21, 2012 at 18:44

2 Answers 2


Other popular games implement this control scheme successfully; the most famous being Temple Run (Play Store | iTunes). Your control scheme is simple enough that I don't think it would cause any issues.

Note also that Temple Run is portrait, and this doesn't seem to be an issue for them. It allows playing the game with a single hand, rather than the two you'd most likely need for most large mobile devices in landscape orientation.

Tablets are another beast entirely though - you're almost always going to be using two hands to hold them. In that case landscape may be better as you can show more of the game's environment to the user (assuming here that there's more going on in the horizontal dimension than the vertical one).

Ultimately different users may want different things. Is there any reason you can't let the user play in whatever orientation they choose?

  • 3
    Most successful accelerometer games keep the tap targets VERY simple. The best strategy is to avoid buttons altogether and use the entire screen as the tap target, as Temple Run does. Keep in mind, also, that different devices vary widely in the precision of their sensors. Make sure to test on different devices! May 21, 2012 at 18:41

I think the best way to approach this would be to ask the question "how will a user be holding the device to play this game"?. I think with this type of game it's safe to assume that landscape would be the best option as it holds more like a wheel (or controller, whatever pilots call this!). Holding it portrait would be a bit difficult on a mobile device.

In terms of tilting and tapping, when you take in to account how the user holds the device when playing the game, the question gets a little easier to answer. I imagine the game being played with fingers behind the device with the thumbs at front. If you had a big button on the bottom right corner of the screen (not to close to the corner as you don't want accidental presses), it would be relatively easy for your average user to tap without dropping the device as this is how they are holding the device anyway!

If you had the button on the middle of the screen that would be a different story as the user would have to lift a hand. If it's in a bottom corner, I think the user should have the device held stable enough to not drop it.

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