Controls on Android - Field Trials in Tanzania

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lordfingle
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Controls on Android - Field Trials in Tanzania

by lordfingle » Thu Oct 13, 2016 22:54

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A partner organisation has done some initial field trials with children in Tanzania. This is using the vanilla minetest control layout.

I thought you might be interested in some videos of the results:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cU12Arsi5M (31 secs)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq0x08saPZc (17 secs)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Taf1O6EKFCA (50 secs)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWk4TjGepB4 (53 secs)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9ruKk8Qvls (53 secs)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jpGwD7P-h4 (1:45)



Key Take-aways
  • They seemed to like the animal sound in the background of the game. It made them smile.
    None of the children understood that it's necessary to touch and drag the screen to move change angle.
  • When they moved with the arrows, they used only on direction at the time. Pressing 2 controls at the same time seems to be a big challenge.
  • The direction controller might be too sensitive. It's hard to change the angle for most of the children. I think even for adults, even MineCraft is really hard to control the first time they use it.
  • Length of load time (minute best case) means that kids rarely wait - doing lots of culling right now on my version to fix this.

Here's my initial attempt to update the UI:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caiJpLaeVaY
The idea behind this is to encourage the kids to only press the forward button (this the strafe and back arrows are made less important) and to "steer" via screen touches.

Source code changes are (temporarily) available at this branch:
https://github.com/dgt0011/minetest/tree/eidy

Interested in some feedback on the Android UI general. I haven't seen a voxel style game on a tablet which works really well. (Although I heard that Western kids seem to use Minecraft successfully)

I think there's an opportunity here to create the best voxel ui experience on Android.

I'd love to hear your ideas. I may even be able to implement some of them. :)
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Re: Controls on Android - Field Trials in Tanzania

by MineYoshi » Thu Oct 13, 2016 23:11

Try to make the minetest UI be like a Nintendo Controller, not so much buttons, but easy to use!

I think that actually a good idea can be try to handle the game with only a finger, likely where you press the character goes(If you press in the up side of the screen the character goes up, if you press in the left side of the screen the character goes to the left, i think you understand me)... Afterall, looks like the kids don't need so much to change angle of view sometimes, but if they need that, i guess that with a second touch they change angle,,,
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Re: Controls on Android - Field Trials in Tanzania

by twoelk » Fri Oct 14, 2016 00:02

I don't think that controlling the avatar should be adjusted too much to be usuable with only one finger. The problems the kids have are not unique to Minetest but to everything they encounter at that age. (Actually anybody of any age will have similar difficulties when encountering this type of controls for the first time, just as when trying to ride bike or use a scateboard for the first time ;-P) Most people start with eye-hand coordination with one hand and even one finger only. Think of typing on keyboards or playing the piano or watch them try to shoot with bow and arrow for the first time. Using both hands to do different things at the same time is a skill they will have to learn anyways. The sooner they get more practice the better. This is where I even think that Minetest is more fun to practice that with and gives earlier rewarding experience then trying to type or playing the piano. Minetest could be regarded and used as enjoyable entrypoint for these type of controls.

When my niece (6) and nephew (7 at the time) played Minetest or Minecraft for the first time they also only used one hand. They used the mouse to aim, then took the same hand to use the w key to go forwards to the desired point, picked up the mouse again, adjusted the aim for the next part of the journey, abandoned it and used the w key only to move on again never ever using the other hand for anything game related. They also rather started using the number keys to choose from the hud inventory than the mousewheel. All in all I think it took them some twenty hours of playing until they got somewhat fluid basic movements. I must admit though that they where not used to this type of video game at the time.

A long time ago when my mother started using the computer I taught her the soliter card game that shipped with windows. It was the best way to practice aiming, clicking and dragging something around on the screen. It was a game, it gave fast rewards and she wasn't afraid she would "break" anything. Dragging something over the screen is still something many people that don't play computer games find difficult to control. Touchscreens are just changing this at this very moment. Remember they haven't been an every day gadget for that long yet.

That said I am pretty clueless as to how them kids on mobile devices manage to get along in the game. I find it extremely difficult to build something with them controls. Yet according to these recent statistics most Minetest players use a mobile device presumely controlled by touchscreen. So yeah, controls could be better or more intuitive but I don't think a one-finger-control-system would be a solution.
 

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Re: Controls on Android - Field Trials in Tanzania

by MineYoshi » Fri Oct 14, 2016 16:02

Well, then i don't know... If you're tryin' to make they justly have hand-eye coordination, make a UI that actually make it easy...
I think that maybe some change in the "jump" and "sneak" button can make it a bit easier :)
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Re: Controls on Android - Field Trials in Tanzania

by lordfingle » Sat Oct 22, 2016 11:51

Thanks for the comments.
I put some of these ideas into account when creating a (very clutter free?) hud.
Here's what it looks like right now:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhvS39dkoUI
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Re: Controls on Android - Field Trials in Tanzania

by TheReaperKing » Sat Oct 22, 2016 14:24

I think maybe it'd be good to mimic the setup of the computer with a keyboard and mouse. So the "arrow" keys for movement would be placed up just high enough to hit the spacebar with the thumb and then of course you can put your right finger on the screen to simulate the mouse. Perhaps the "spacebar" could be placed under the inventory bar? Also your work on this is so awesome! It is so great to see you getting minetest into the hands of kids that probably normally wouldn't have gotten a chance to and now get to be opened to an entire new world of computers, games, and thinking.
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Re: Controls on Android - Field Trials in Tanzania

by ExeterDad » Sat Oct 22, 2016 15:21

lordfingle wrote:Thanks for the comments.
I put some of these ideas into account when creating a (very clutter free?) hud.
Here's what it looks like right now:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhvS39dkoUI

Nice vid!
I really liked the "feet" icon. It's cute and intuitive. I do think the semi transparent directional indicator should have some sort of pointers indicating direction. Maybe a couple of directional chevrons within that area.
 

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Re: Controls on Android - Field Trials in Tanzania

by lordfingle » Sat Oct 22, 2016 22:29

TheReaperKing wrote:I think maybe it'd be good to mimic the setup of the computer with a keyboard and mouse. So the "arrow" keys for movement would be placed up just high enough to hit the spacebar with the thumb and then of course you can put your right finger on the screen to simulate the mouse. Perhaps the "spacebar" could be placed under the inventory bar? Also your work on this is so awesome! It is so great to see you getting minetest into the hands of kids that probably normally wouldn't have gotten a chance to and now get to be opened to an entire new world of computers, games, and thinking.


As you probably guessed, I was trying to make up a ui with one handed operation to start with.

I like your thinking about somehow replicating the control experience on computer and mouse. We this control regime works for us on PCs.

Are you suggesting something like this?

Image

In the Android version of minetest, the truth is "jump" is required as much as the PC. Moving up against slopes tends to "jump" automatically. So I'm hesitant to emphasize unless I have to. (Although drowning IS an issue....)

Thanks for the support :)

Would love to catch up and chat again sometime. #minetest-edutech channel?
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Re: Controls on Android - Field Trials in Tanzania

by lordfingle » Sat Oct 22, 2016 22:36

ExeterDad wrote:
lordfingle wrote:Thanks for the comments.
I put some of these ideas into account when creating a (very clutter free?) hud.
Here's what it looks like right now:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhvS39dkoUI

Nice vid!
I really liked the "feet" icon. It's cute and intuitive. I do think the semi transparent directional indicator should have some sort of pointers indicating direction. Maybe a couple of directional chevrons within that area.


Something like this?
Image

If I start having directional arrows it will be expected that I have major ones for going forward (so I may as well not have the feet)

The reasoning (being field trialed) behind the rather goofy "T" control, is that I want kids to discover "moving forward" first, then discover the ability to "strafe" and go backwards later.
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Re: Controls on Android - Field Trials in Tanzania

by lordfingle » Thu Oct 27, 2016 12:12

Here is an implementation similar to MultiCraft's I am trying this week:

Image

More traditional, but maybe it's better than what I had.
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Re: Controls on Android - Field Trials in Tanzania

by TheReaperKing » Thu Oct 27, 2016 19:29

I'm so sorry I didn't see you had written a response in this thread. I'd be more than happy to meet up to chat sometime especially on the weekend. Let me know when is good for you and I will try to accomidate and the first image is similar to what I had in mind except I was thinking an actual bar that went at the bottom of the HUD much like the size of an actual spacebar.
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