We all love this game but the last attempt to port it had the sole flaw of an undeveloped control system. Here’s my suggestion for an improved control scheme. If something doesn’t make sense let me know.
Controls are defaulted to lower right because that’s where most thumbs are, especially on modern day phablets.
The center button functions as e, g, ^, c, o, $, <, > it’s context specific. You’re by car controls? You have an option to drive a car. You’re on an item? Pick it up. You’re on stairs? Go up or down them. When you click it, there’s a half second wait period to see if you click a direction. This functions as your e, c, o. Hold it for 1 solid second to sleep.
The arrow keys can still be used to navigate the menu, although all menus would obviously have touch capability too. Same with movement. I kept the diagonal movement keys for good measure.
The top left button is for accessing all interactive menus. You could double and triple click to get to the screen you need and cancel out of it with the fire button. All stats menus (clothing modifiers, factions, etc) can be accessed by clicking the stats. Most people don’t need to use these frequently anyway so it’s okay that it’s kind of out of the way.
Instead of selecting an item in the inventory and then going through a menu to choose whether to eat, apply, wear, cut, cauterize, throw, unload, etc, icons representing all these actions pop up at the bottom of the inventory screen upon opening it. Click one of those buttons and every item that it would not work with is greyed out.
You can also “ready” items to throw and use it like firing a gun. I think it’s good UI policy to have redundant ways to accomplish actions. You should also be able to click the “weapon wielded” text to wield a new item. Similarly, click the style to change your style.
Space can be conserved in the stats window by converting all the text (Str, R ARM, Power, etc) to 1 character symbols, kinda like how the happiness meter already is.
If the lower left button is used for looking and chatting, and the lower right button is a combined mutation and bionics menu, there’s actually a “button object” left over: holding down the bionic/mutation button. This probably wouldn’t be as practical in the top right button’s multiscreen menu system though.
As for the game action screen, I’m thinking a roughly 14x14 grid should be visible. The most highly polished rougelike on the app store right now is Pixel Dungeon, which is most convenient for me to play at a fidelity of 13x13 in a square image. The default game action window for Cataclysm is like 19x19 so I think most would be comfortable with this. Also zooming would be an option regardless.
Theoretically, we could do away with the d-pad entirely (which admittedly touchscreens are not well-suited for) we’d only need five buttons at the bottom and all important info (like nearby enemies outside of the game action window) could be displayed at the top instead. This is also similar to Pixel Dungeon. I’ll make another mock-up of this if there’s any interest.