This blog post is based on my Master Thesis about how to lessen the differences between game ports. Porting games to different devices affect the core game in many ways, but in this post I will focus on usability. A simple trick we discovered in our research is how to make it easier for players who have learned how to play on one device, to play on others.
Minecraft found a simple and very clever way to reused the mental models that were developed between its different ports. A mental model is basically just an explanation of how something works that a user has inside his head. Normally in PC first person games, the character moves forward by pressing W and runs by pressing shift at the same time. This can obviously not be done on the phone version, so here the player instead runs by double tapping a forward arrow virtual button. To match this mental model, the PC version has in addition added the ability to sprint by double pressing the W button. This is even extended to console, the player sprints by moving the analog stick upwards twice. This is a great use of mental models as it means that a player with only phone experience has an easier time figuring out how to run on the PC or Console. This method is a good thing to keep in mind when designing controls for multiple ports.