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Terraria's new iOS controls designed to encourage longer gaming sessions

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Re-Logic's adventure role-playing game Terraria has been given a makeover for iOS with help from studio Codeglue, with new controls adapted for streamlined gameplay and to encourage gaming for longer periods of time, according to producer David Welch.

Players can now pinch the screen to zoom in on their hard-at-work character. Objects in the world that players will interact with, such as chests and non-playable characters, can be activated with the tap of a finger. Players can also use the touchscreen to navigate and organize their inventory, as well as place blocks on the terrain, mine for materials and make other changes to the environment.

Codeglue has also added an auto-jump feature inspired by the jump mechanic in Minecraft, allowing players to move over objects as well as open doors. Welch said these mechanics were inspired by Minecraft Pocket Edition, the success of which also inspired the developer to bring their game to mobile.

"We're really trying to embrace the touchscreen aspect of it and make it feel native and good," said Welch. "It's been such an interesting challenge taking what was essentially a mouse-and-keyboard game and taking it into a controller paradigm that has its own unique challenges. We're trying to really maintain the core Terraria experience.

"We want to make sure that we're getting the user's attention and making sure that they're not getting caught on small pieces of geometry, which is really important for combat and advanced portions of the game."

"We want to make sure that we're getting the user's attention."

Welch said that something Re-Logic learned late in development on Terraria iOS was that direct interaction with the world via touchscreen worked well for short gameplay bursts, like placing items in your house or quick mining. But if players wanted to mine for longer periods of time, constantly tapping the screen to scoop away earth was tedious and exhausting for players' fingers. Re-Logic brought the console version's autotouch feature to the iOS version, which Welch calls a "twin stick approach" — players can place their finger on the screen and pick a direction to mine in, then hold it. This auto-mining also works for chopping trees and any other repetitive activity.

Welch addressed the steep learning curve in the beginning of the game, stating Re-Logic recognized the curve in the PC version of the game and sought to rectify it for iOS.

"A lot of people were really attracted to that, and there were a lot of people in the community helping each other out on the wikis and forums," he said. "That's great and it keeps people engaged, but we knew that as soon as someone had to put down their controller and go to a computer or their smartphone to start looking up answers online, we were dead in the water. We'd lost them.

"We completely redesigned the crafting system [for iOS] and re-built the tutorial from the ground up to make sure people would get over that initial learning curve," he added. "We're just taking it that much further with the mobile version. We want to make sure that players can just pick up the game and walk around."

Terraria will launch on iOS this fall.