Community Debate: Best Cycling Game Control

What's the best way to simulate riding a bicycle in-game?

Photo: Gideon

Before Mark handed over the Golden Key Of Kotakutude (™) to me*, he told me to " feel free to mess around and do whatever the hell you like" and to come up with "new ideas, crazy shit". He also told me I could write as much about Bubble Bobble as I liked, and I'd like the jury to note that I held back and showed restraint in this regard.

But here's an experimental idea, that just might work, thanks to the strength of the Kotaku community. Or it could, you know, die completely flat. If so, blame me. I can take it.

Anyway, the other day a friend of mine was extolling long and deep about the Tour De France. I'm not much of a sports watcher, but I couldn't recall an actual Tour De France game to speak of.

It turns out I was somewhat ignorant in this regard. There have been games with the official licence, as well as a number of enthusiast games that cover the topic. But having thought about it, I started thinking about game design mechanics as they relate to cycling in games.

It strikes me that cycling isn't an easy thing to represent well in game form. Motorbikes, sure — you push a button and go, but cycling is a different kind of motion and endurance spectacle, whether you're going for strict mechanical accuracy or just wacky physics fun.

And that's when I thought that it might be a good (and even interesting) thing to plumb the depths of Kotaku Community Knowledge, and discuss game mechanics. In this case, what the best method for representing cycling in a game should be.

It doesn't have to be a cycling game per se; just the way you reckon you'd have the most fun with a cycling game part of a game.

To throw out a few feeder ideas, there's the way that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas handled cycling. Or Matt Hoffman Pro BMX. Going back old-school, there's California games. Is a steady tap-tap-tap the best, or should it be on sticks, or somehow mouse controlled? Could motion controls work well for cycling motions, or is that an idea that's doomed to exhaust?

The rules of debate are simple: Be civil to each other, cite examples where possible and remember that people are entitled to different opinions.

*Before you ask, no, the key doesn't contain chocolate.


    Seems like a pretty boring game. Would be more fitting to have it on mobile. You tap L and R in time with the riders feet moving. A simple 3-gear mechanism for going up /down hill. A moving gauge that shows how fast you need to tap to stay in the optimum rhythm.

    Nothing to do with bicycle mechanics.... but I loved playing ESPN Extreme games on PC. You'd basically just roll down a hill on a bike/rollerblade/street luge and hop through doorway things while punching your opponents.


    are we expected to like fill up pages about this


    anyway the obvious idea is to do it qwop style.

    Last edited 19/07/13 2:30 pm

    Xbox 360 controller:
    - Left and Right triggers as left and right paddles
    - Left and Right bumpers as front and back breaks
    - X and A as gears up and down
    - Left stick maneuvers bike\rider leans left, right, forward and back (similar to something like MotoGP series, so when stick is pulled back the rider sits up).
    - Stamina\Rider Energy\Bike management between stages similar to Colin Mcrae series
    - Timing bar involved to get maximum speed when paddling, timing bar length changes depending on gear selected and angle of climb or descent, buy parts for your bike to increase sweet spot on timing bar (can easily add other aspects like food you eat before races)

    Thats all i got for now...

    This doesn't exactly answer the question, but my main problem with previous Tour de France & road cycling games in general, is the fact there's nothing to really do but button mash repeatedly. It's as good as a Mario Party mini-game, or one of those old school Track & Field titles where you would just press the same button over and over again (- and over long periods of time this isn't exactly a fun thing to do).

    In the context of the Tour de France video game that means you're just button mashing over 21 stages while you ride through the French countryside. I know there can be a lot of micromanagement in road cycling games, as there is in real world cycling, but sadly that can't hold attention as much as BMX titles where you link tricks together as you ride (unless you’re like some die hard road cycling enthusiast or something).

    Road cycling just doesn't convert into a videogame format very well. It's like rock climbing games for example - why don't we see more rock climbing games? We don't, because sadly rock climbing is a boring game when translated into a videogame. Scaling a wall up and down, with a few button presses in between for foot and hand placement wouldn’t be the most exciting of experiences.

    Rock climbing is probably at its best when placed in the middle of a platform game with a few enemies or obstacles, examples being - Tomb Raider, Uncharted, God of War, and Zelda.

    On another note, it’ll be interesting to see how Rockstar adapt road cycling to the world of GTA (as I’m pretty sure I caught a glimpse of Road Cycling, Tennis and a few other sports in the latest dev walkthrough of the upcoming GTA). If anyone can make road cycling appeal to the videogame masses, maybe it’s Rockstar. They’ll “gamify” (gamification) it as such.

    Rotate the thumbstick to spin the wheels.
    Expert mode: One thumbstick per wheel.


      Super hardcore expert mode: Use Kinect and windmill both arms to represent each wheel.

    we've surely lost the battle with laziness if we need to discuss the best mechanics for simulating a bike ride.

    I remember playing summer games on the Amiga 500. The whole desk would shake when two player cycling happened - it was intense!

    I'd have to say the best control method would be a manager mode where you view rider stats such as climbing and sprinting ability, energy levels, etc and call the shots as team boss.

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