Invert-Z

Vulnerable iPhone

First person shooter video games often have the option to “invert Z axis” as part of the controller scheme. Normally when you press down, the character’s gun points down. When inverted, the camera will look up when you press down. Inverted Z movement was actually the traditional behavior in games. Players using joysticks with flight simulators would naturally pull back on the stick to bring the nose of the plane up. It was when gamepads became more abundant that regular Z movement became standard. The stick/pad is much shorter and you just point where you want to shoot. That doesn’t mean inverted Z is “wrong” in newer games. The game is showing you the perspective of the player. If you think of the view being generated by a camera on a tripod you would push down on the tripod’s handle to make the camera look up. I used to play with Z inverted, but I’ve learned to play normally with recent console generations.

Right now I’m typing this on a MacBook. I use two fingers on the trackpad to scroll. As I sweep down, the text on the page goes up. Sweep up, and the page text moves down. When I switch to the iPhone or the ADP1, my fingers and the text move in the same direction. On these devices, the direct interaction with the text “makes sense”, but going back to standard scrolling on a computer just seems odd.

I wonder if we’ll start inverting Z again.

One Response to “Invert-Z”

  1. eliot says:

    Just realized I wrote this entire post ignoring that the ADP1 has a built in trackball.

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