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Dream Land Java :: Development Logs :: Keyboard Controls

Keyboard Layout

Movement (Arrow Keys & ASDW): Move your character in one of the four directions.

Action (Space Bar & Z): Attack using your currently selected ability. Different states (such as ducking or flying) may change which action is used.

Cycle Abilities (Shift & Control): Change the ability your character will use when pressing Space or Z. Some characters start with only one ability and therefore have no choices to cycle through.

Base Action (X, V, B, N, M, <, & >): Most of the bottom row of keys allow quick access to a character's basic attack without first having to cycle to it. The Base Action is that associated most with the character.

Copy Action (C key): For most characters, their Base Action is the same as their Copy Action -- an attack which allows them to learn new abilities from enemies. For those others, the C key can be used for quick access to the copying attack without having to cycle to it.

Pause (P key): The game automatically pauses whenever the applet loses focus; you can use this, too.

Skip Dialog (Enter/Return): Whenever a story sequence is occurring, pressing Enter will progress the dialog to the next speaker more quickly. Dialog automatically progresses after a short time for reading.

Every character in Kirbj controls differently, adding to the cast's uniqueness. While the amount of actions are impossible to enumerate here, the Movement controls follow some simple motifs:

  • Left (A) & Right (D)
    • Walk (when on the ground)
    • Run (when pressed twice in rapid succession)
    • Guide certain attacks horizontally
    • Hold when attacking at close range to perform an alternate move
  • Up (W)
    • Jump
    • Fly (character may be required to be airborne first)
    • Enter a door (when positioned over it)
    • Guide certain attacks upwards
  • Down (D)
    • Duck
    • Swallow a devoured enemy
    • Deflate/Cease flying
    • Activate a plummeting action (when airborne; most activate automatically)
    • Guide certain attacks downward
    • Tag-Out to a different character (when positioned over them)

Not every character can perform every action (for example: Flying, Ducking, and Swallowing), but if a character is capable of such an action, it is most likely done as explained in the above.


Java's virtual key codes are designed mostly for American English keyboards. I have quite obviously designed the controls around my own keyboards, and I have no way of testing international hardware. Sun very wonderfully claims that they attempt to make compatibility, but I have no idea how this might play out.

If you are a foreign user, you can let me know whether or not you are having any problems.

Because of Java applet's hyped security, a customized control would be next to worthless; there is no (simple) way to remember this customization, and the controls would need to be re-entered with every play.

UNIX Keyboards

When debugging Kirbj on UNIX machines, I have noticed that some have problems registering key-ups correctly. When a key is pressed down, the repeat rate sends multiple messages -- as it should. Problem is, multiple key-ups are sent with the key-downs, which is not supposed to happen.

When this problem occurs, jumping becomes difficult or even impossible, and a player will instantly inflate if capable of flight. I do not know how to combat this issue as it is a hardware problem -- not software. I do not think I have many visitors using Solaris, however, so I am not overly concerned.

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