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Classic Games (Games)

Whatever Happened To The Joystick? 421

Posted by Zonk
from the please-make-us-another-tie-fighter-title dept.
Ant writes "MSN UK has up an article that looks into the 'downfall' of the joystick: 'Sometimes technology disappears completely, but often it just fades into the background — still existing, still being used and sold and, occasionally, desired, but probably looking wistfully back on past glories. Which neatly described the joystick's steady slide away from its role as THE gaming peripheral to a fondly remembered also ran. But the joystick's tale is a long and convoluted one — and it is worth looking back into its often mysterious and ill-studied history before explaining why it will rise from the ashes like the mythical phoenix.' Seen on ClassicGaming."
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Whatever Happened To The Joystick?

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  • by suso (153703) * on Thursday February 14, 2008 @09:54AM (#22419892) Homepage Journal
    It broke after playing the 100m dash in Summer Games.
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:04AM (#22420028) Homepage Journal
      Yep. The last joystick I owned was one of the popular 'Thrustmaster 3D' joysticks, with the hats and the buttons and so forth. After a particularly intense session of Doom II, it broke. It was the the third one. After that I got a gamepad-type controller and never looked back.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Samster33 (1197779)
        I had a Thrustmaster Fox 2 Pro joystick and man that thing was sweet. It was both the best and worst thing ever. It was the best because it made playing BF1942 sooo much fun at LAN Parties and whatnot. It was the worst because the stock driver was not compatible with Windows XP and would cause the sytem to randomly reboot (no errors, no freezing, just reboot). I troubleshot everything, RAM, Video Card, CPU, hard drive. I determined it was the joystick through process of elimination. I think I still h
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by millwall (622730) *
      The TAC-2 [wikipedia.org] was the only joystick to to make it through a 100 meter relay.

      Ahh the nostalgia... TAC-2 was THE joystick.
    • by bughunter (10093) <bughunter&earthlink,net> on Thursday February 14, 2008 @01:09PM (#22423016) Journal
      The sisters and nieces to this comment really have hit on what was wrong with the joystick in my anecdotal experiences: It broke too often.

      Mind you, the models being praised for durability were indeed up to the task of gaming, but most joysticks sold were not. I went thru three Gravis sticks in two years before giving up and switching to a trackball.

      Generalizing this leverage theme, the length of the lever arm of a joystick poses two problems 1) the mechanical advantage of the users' force leveraged onto the innards made it expensive to make a durable device, and 2) this mechanical advantage also made it difficult to perform precise control movements.

      Starting in the mid-90s, games emerged that required players to do things like select units, lasso groups of units, click on targets and waypoints, aim FPS weapons, etc. The joystick really was not suited to these actions. The much shorter lever arm of a control pad allowed more precise control for aiming FPS weapons, and an absolute displacement interface (mouse or trackball) works better for selecting and commanding RTS units.

      I really have never had better controller than a good mouse. I've used trackballs, control pads, joysticks, touchpads, and wiimotes -- the mouse is still the most natural, least RSI-inducing controller I've used. The touchpad comes close, but it lacks precision and has a higher error rate. Of course, I make exceptions for automobile and aircraft simulators, where mockups of the actual vehicle controls can't be beat.

  • Its easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by arkham6 (24514) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @09:57AM (#22419926)
    The joystick met its Doom
    • We are talking about the joystick, not the boomstick, buddy!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cHiphead (17854)
        Actually Doom 2 was really the last game the joystick was useful for, due to no mouselook system. Quake was the death of the joystick.

        I'd really like a Quake 1 experience in a HL2 engine. With the Reznor soundtrack and all. Mmmmm, grappling hook rocket rape.

        Cheers.
  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @09:58AM (#22419934)

    Today's games require dual analog controllers and about 27 buttons. A decent joystick set that has all that functionality does exist - but it's primarily relegated to the flight sim community.

    To have dual analog controllers in a large form factor, you'd have to have the joysticks mounted on something sturdy. Recall that back in Atari days, you used your weak hand to stabilize the thing while controlling it with your dominant hand. With two sticks, you'd need a base. And that would be big and not very mobile. And you'd still have to have some design where you could easily press all the buttons without moving your hands. Again, like a flight sim system, but those are very expensive.

    So basically, the joystick got shrunk and put on a handheld controller.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:20AM (#22420270) Homepage

      Today's games require dual analog controllers and about 27 buttons. A decent joystick set that has all that functionality does exist - but it's primarily relegated to the flight sim community.

      And that, is why the Wii is selling more games.

      Most of us old geezers don't have the manual dexterity to run those damned controllers. Whereas we can whistfully waggle our Wiis nowadays whenever we wish. ;-) ducks

      Cheers
    • The good old days (Score:5, Interesting)

      by FuzzyDaddy (584528) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:52AM (#22420730) Journal
      One of my favorite games as a kid was Battlezone [wikipedia.org]. It had two joysticks that only moved forwards and backwards. There was something about that huge, wireframe landscape that was really appealing. And the two handed control really worked well.

      Of course, the first really good non-joystick action/puzzle game I played was Lode Runner. You used the keyboard. The left hand controlled movement with six keys, and the right hand controlled actions with six keys. You rested your hand on the keyboard. It worked sort of like xevil [xevil.com]. It was surprisingly easy to get the hang of.

    • "With two sticks, you'd need a base."

      This is exactly correct. I'm a bit of a flight game nut (I hesitate to use the word "sim" because while I do enjoy highly realistic games like Falcon 4, I still play a great deal of Ace Combat). While I've owned a number of sticks over the years, my current favourite is the Hori Flightstick II [toysnjoys.com] that shipped with the special editions of AC5. Before this I used a Microsoft Force Feedback 2 [unc.edu], which had an extremely heavy base. You would use your weak hand for the throttle con
    • And between the "G", "H" and "B" keys on ThinkPad keyboards.
  • Some company makes a "remake" of the famous Competition Pro joystick (complete with micro-switches and all) that has a USB connector.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14, 2008 @09:59AM (#22419952)
    Doesn't each XBox 360 and PS3 controller have *TWO* joysticks on them??
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:03AM (#22420012) Homepage

      Doesn't each XBox 360 and PS3 controller have *TWO* joysticks on them??

      Arguably, they're not joysticks per se.

      A joystick was held in your entire hand, those little thumb-twiddlers are just operated with your thumbs in (in my experience) the most hand-cramping configuration you can imagine. I find them almost unusable.

      A true joystick is much bigger, and is grasped in your entire hand -- usually, fairly comfortably. It is very different from what you see on a modern controller.

      Cheers
      • by Lust (14189) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:11AM (#22420144) Homepage
        > A true joystick is much bigger, and is grasped in your entire hand -- usually, fairly comfortably.

        That's what she said.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by donscarletti (569232)

        those little thumb-twiddlers are just operated with your thumbs in (in my experience) the most hand-cramping configuration you can imagine

        I would conjecture that the one of the key reasons they are so popular (and why the D-pad used to be popular) is that the joints in your thumb and fingers are extremely durable and can be subjected to huge amounts of repetitive movements whereas wrist movements (such as in a joystick) cause the wrist to become very sore, very fast.

        My PS3 causes me no pain nomatter how

      • Arguably, they're not joysticks per se. A joystick was held in your entire hand
        I don't think that's a requirement to be a joystick. At least I hope not, or I'm never going in a plane again.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by petermgreen (876956)
        in (in my experience) the most hand-cramping configuration you can imagine. I find them almost unusable.
        One problem with a lot of console controllers is they have to decide for each side whether to give the comfortable position to a stick or to buttons. The dualshock has the buttons in the comfortable position and the sticks in the uncomfortable one on both sides. The gamecube controller has one side with a stick in the comfortable position and the d-pad in the uncomfortable one and the other side with a gr
    • by DrWho520 (655973) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:11AM (#22420136) Journal
      These thumbsticks bear stronger consideration - although they are reduced to joystick nubs - these have been integral to joypads since the original PlayStation...
      As I recall, my N64 had a thumbstick smack in the middle of the controller before the Sony Dualshocks (or pre Dualshocks, if they had no vibe.) Am I remembering this incorrectly? In additon, I found the article to be a bit pedantic and with littel substance. No mention of force feedback or joystick hats, which are the real progenitors of modern day thumbsticks.
      • by dintech (998802)
        Yes you remember correctly. I have one and a USB convertor to use with N64 emulators.
  • Flight Sims (Score:4, Insightful)

    by m50d (797211) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:02AM (#22419998) Homepage Journal
    Joysticks were always a niche peripheral really - keyboard/mouse is much better for FPS, and though fighting games use joysticks in the arcade, it's a lot easier to combo with a digital pad (dammit Melty Blood, I pushed down three times, why isn't your dead zone large enough to notice?). I think what the decline in joysticks really shows is the decline in first-person flight sim-esque games - remember when X-Wing/TIE fighter/etc. was the big thing to play? What happened to those days? The last decent game of that sort I remember was Star Trek Bridge Commander, and I'll bet many people played through the whole campaign without even noticing the ability to control the Enterprise flight-sim style. It's a shame, because it seems like one of the genres that would really benefit a lot from modern graphics. So, what happened to it?
    • by Xest (935314)
      I've got my old sidewinder pro force feedback stick still and I'd love to play some decent flightsim or spacesim with it again.

      I tried looking for a decent "fun" jet combat flightsim again the other day and the choice is next to nothing nowadays whereas years ago there years to be tons - the Jayne's series, TFX/EF2000 etc. and prior to that my favourite of all time, Dogfight on the Atari ST.

      Outside of flightsims mechwarrior worked well as did the X-Wing and Tie-Fighter series.

      The real problem is lack of gam
    • Re:Flight Sims (Score:5, Informative)

      by zeoslap (190553) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:26AM (#22420352) Homepage
      See it wasn't a niche peripheral, you're showing your age, or lack of it. On the C64, Amiga, Sinclair Spectrum etc in the 80s the joystick was THE way to control things.
    • It is easy to spot the guy trying to fly with a mouse in BF1942. He is the burning wreck on the ground.
    • by KefabiMe (730997)

      What I think is (kinda) interesting is that everyone I've met who uses "Inverted Mouse" in first person shooters started out by playing some kind of flight sim with a joystick. I played a lot of X-wing (I still have my original 3.5" floppies!) way before I started playing FPSes. (Quake II is when I started to get into FPSes)

      By contrast, most everyone else started had never played a flight sim, or at least started playing FPSes on their computer or console first. Many of these people are baffled when they s

    • Re:Flight Sims (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Creepy (93888) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:10AM (#22420990) Journal

      Joysticks were always a niche peripheral really - keyboard/mouse is much better for FPS, and though fighting games use joysticks in the arcade, it's a lot easier to combo with a digital pad

      ugh, no, wrong.
      The mouse wasn't even mass marketed until Xerox Star in 1981. Joysticks (for games) evolved out of paddle technology - basically, they combined two paddles.

      Early FPS's actually did it wrong - there was no mouse look, you'd use the joystick or keyboard to look and target (partially because the mouse was not ubiquitous). 2D games hinted toward mouselook, but it really didn't appear until one of Carmack's games (Quake?). I was essentially using mouse look for a flight simulator I was working on at the time (on a mac that had no joystick) and was already doing that, so I didn't find it that revolutionary (expected evolutionary in my mind), but many reviewers did. Incidentally, anyone that had played Space Battle on the Intellivision would be instantly at home with mouselook.

      The joystick decline started probably with the Intellivision, which used a disc controller, and the nintendo with its D-Pad controller, which were cheaper to manufacture and less prone to stress failure (joysticks are levers, so the smaller the lever, the less the force). ColecoVision used a short lever, but even that had failure problems (I broke mine twice in 6 months and never broke an Intellivision controller). Gamepad controllers do some things well, joysticks other things. I personally find it easier to do rolling actions with a joystick because a gamepad doesn't naturally redirect momentum (i.e. half-circle and full circle moves in fighting games).

      The other problem with joysticks was that flight simulators have much different needs than game controllers, and adding controls capable of yaw, pitch and roll, throttle, and buttons mapped to keys made for a much bulkier and expensive control. Basically, joysticks forked to bulky flight sim controllers and small cheap D-Pad controllers, which are essentially joysticks without a lever.
  • by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:03AM (#22420010) Homepage Journal
    It was an inferior control device for home consoles. The joystick is only an effective controller when it's properly secured into a solid base. e.g. An arcade machine. When translated to home use, it tended to be detached from a solid base and thus suffered. The 2600 CX40s used a wide base to attempt to combat this problem, but a player still applied torque to his own hands when using the joystick. The CX24 Prolines that were included with the Atari 7800 were that much worse. It was physically straining to use the joysticks properly due to the narrow base.

    The only company that produced a worse home joystick was Coleco. Their joystick was so small, you needed to palm it to use it. Palming the stick resulted in even MORE torque, thus making gaming very tiring despite the wide base.

    At the end of the day, the gamepad was a superior control device for home consoles. It met the needs of the average game better, thus relegating joysticks to arcade and flight-sim use only.
    • As an aside... (Score:3, Informative)

      by AKAImBatman (238306)
      ...TFA makes a rather grievous error when it refers to the "Nintendo joypad". The joypad was an early attempt at combining both control methods. e.g. The Atari CX78 was a joypad:

      http://www.atariage.com/controller_page.html?SystemID=7800&ControllerID=24 [atariage.com]

      The NES controller was properly referred to as a gamepad. Modern controllers blur the distinction by having both DPad controls as well as thumbstick controls.
  • What about the controller for the ColecoVision [wikipedia.org]? Now THAT was a controller!

    Now get off my lawn!
  • Qutie simply, the hugeness that was the NES killed the joystick. Gamers found that these controllers gave a better way to to play, even with the nasty "nintendo thumb" that everyone got.
  • I blame IBM. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iansmith (444117) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:11AM (#22420138) Homepage
    The IBM PC had no joystick ports and as it became the dominant gaming platform over machines from Commodore and Atari the inexpensive, simple 8-way joystick was abandoned to be replaced by expensive sound cards and complicated joysticks.

    I find it sad that entire genres of gaming became extinct with it.

    Only now are flash games reviving the idea of simple, but fun games.

    It's funny that in 2008 there are tons of games being developed that play with.... a keyboard!

    ASDF!

    • by rickb928 (945187)
      What?

      Every desktop PC I've ever had has a joystick port on it, either on the serial/parallel/joystick card, or built in. I'd have to look, but I think both my desktops now have them, though they are going on 2 years old now.

      You got cheated.

      Of course, I use a USB joystick, but that's a different tale of woe.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      Back in the '80s, I had an Amstrad PC-1640. This was an 8086 machine which had two features I really missed when I upgraded to a 386. One was a volume control on the internal speaker. For those that don't predate sound cards, early PCs had a very simple buzzer that was used for system beeps and could do single tones and ended up being used for audio in games. While you could control the frequency of this in software, you couldn't control the volume, and having a dial on the side of the case was very use
  • X-Arcade, anyone? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ewann (209481) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:13AM (#22420162)
    I for one love my X-Arcade joystick [x-arcade.com] (link warning: some video game sounds present). Nothing makes for a better MAME experience short of building an entire MAME cabinet.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by iainl (136759)
      I'd very much disagree. I don't like the feeling of the X-Arcade's stick at all, and the buttons are uncomfortably placed.

      I'd much rather have a Hori Real Arcade, or one of their similar sticks. The Dreamcast arcade stick was an absolute masterpiece, and works just fine when set up in MAME via the relevant pad converter.
    • I agree. I have the dual joystick model, and it makes playing Robotron the same as the arcade.
  • Each of my PS2 controllers has 2 joysticks, and the nunchuk controller for my Wii has one as well.

    I guess some would argue that because they're thumb operated they don't count as joysticks (the article refers to them as "thumbsticks"). I disagree with that. We had an Atari 2600 30 years ago (actually, I still have it) and when I played it I'd hold the controller so my right thumb would be on top of the stick (the way thumbsticks are used today) and my left thumb would press the fire button. Since thos
  • Seriously, it's a big freaking lever instead of the grouping of buttons that take less force and less maneuvering to manipulate. Why in the world would I want my whole hand to move a joystick and inch to the right when I can just slide my thumb over a quarter inch to get the same effect?

    And no, it's not a matter of laziness but rather an ergonomic advantage in playing a game. It's the same reason I like keyboard/mouse; I can go from a full run to back peddling on a FPS by simply pressing a key instead of h
  • Yeah I know the first I reach for when I play a flight sim is my keyboard and mouse. Why those stupid real life pilots prefer old fashion sticks and yokes is beyond me.

    Actually a more valid complaint from old gamers like me is how in the hell people play FPSs with joysticks, i.e. those analogy thumb sticks on consoles.
  • Saitek Cyborg 2000: bought in 2002 for £28

    Saitek Cyborg Evo: bought in 2005 for £25

    Saitek X53 Pro: bought in 2007

    Easily the best (and most expensive!) is the X53 Pro. Comes with a throttle with as many buttons as the stick itself. £240 and worth every penny.

  • They're in the same place as the buggy whip, hand cranked Ditto machines, wire voice recorders, the Zune and the Underwood typewriter.

    Let it go. Move on.
  • Joysticks are still around. There are two of them on my Playstation 2 controller. They're smaller than they used to be but that's just evolution.
  • What happened was... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sinbios (852437) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:39AM (#22420526) Homepage
    It got too expensive. I recently looked into purchasing an USB arcade joystick for use with 2D fighter games, and the only ones worth looking at (X-Arcade, Hori) cost about $100, for a single controller. In comparison, a new PS2 can be had now for $130. $100 is just too much to shell out for a gaming peripheral.
  • Lack of games (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThePyro (645161) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:40AM (#22420544)
    Joysticks have gone out of style because we haven't had a new Descent game in almost a decade. Similarly, the last great space combat sim was Freespace 2. There are probably some chicken-and-egg issues as well. You don't buy a joystick if you haven't a game to go with it, and you don't buy appropriate games if you don't have a joystick.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by IdahoEv (195056)

      . You don't buy a joystick if you haven't a game to go with it, and you don't buy appropriate games if you don't have a joystick.

      You won't buy a game you don't already have the controller for? Tell that to the DDR/Guitar Hero/Rock Band crowd.

      People will upgrade their whole gaming rig if there's a good enough game to play for it. If there was a good enough game, I'd happily buy a new joystick. Unfortunately, the last time I was interested in a game enough to buy a joystick, it was World War II Online. (W

  • I'm saying casual now, not the hardcore. I know there are plenty of hardcore sim fans out there. But it seems like the casual market has really gone to crap. Space Sims are fairly dead. The X-Wing series had a great run, through TIE Fighter and X-Wing Alliance. LucasArts wants nothing more to do with it. The last good Wing Commander was II, I was impressed by the FMV's of III and IV but they really weren't very good as games, the hardware wasn't up to the task of pushing polygonal models and the ship design
  • by kieran (20691) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:47AM (#22420640)
    I was at some sort of huge fair along with my air cadet squadrons one summer many moons ago, and one of the other squadrons in attendence had brought along a 3/4 scale model spitfire, you could sit in it and everything.

    There was a breakfast television crew wandering around filming and some hot blonde TV presenter was being shown said spitfire and helped to climb into it. Upon trying to sit down down in the cockpit she suddenly finds her way impeded and asks the cadet sergeant "Oops! What's this between my legs?"

    Cadet Sergeant, with big grin: "That's the joy stick". Cue red-faced presenter and much laughter.

    I don't think that bit ever made it on the telly...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RealGrouchy (943109)
      That must have been a while ago.

      I had the opportunity to tour an aircraft carrier a decade or so ago, and I got to sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet.

      The flight control interface on the jets had recently been upgraded--four fist-size square buttons "W, A, S, D" are arranged in front of the pilot.

      I'm relieved to learn that the gaming industry is finally taking advantage of this advance!

      - RG>
  • by Alzheimers (467217) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:47AM (#22420644)
    There's something to be said about the fine motor control that the fingers are capable of that can't be easily replicated by the entire arm. Joysticks require a steady hand and a working surface you can rest your arms on so they don't tire, while the smaller analog sticks of today only require the thumbs to rest on them. They're best used in situations that simulate Joysticks in real life, such as in flying simulators. They don't translate nearly as well to the (mostly) 2D movement in an FPS as a simple crosspad does because most movement in those environments don't require analog sensitivity. A joystick requires much more of a response to achieve the same results.

    That being said, the immersive qualities of holding the joystick while leading an enemy target is much greater than the simple twitch movements that most games rely on today, as well as improved dexterity when using both large and small muscle groups at the same time (see also: autoaim). If anything replaced the joystick it's the mouse, not the analog stick. It's much more comfortable to use, requires less effort to achieve the same sensitivity, and is much more ubiquitous (imagine trying to use a joystick to move the Windows mouse).
  • I use my retro 80s arcade controller for MAME and I have my flight joke controller for the rare occasion I have time to dive into a flight simulator. I should find one for my PS2 for playing Taito Museum (anyone?).

    Game pads are fine, but those awful thumb controllers in modern games consoles are just plain irritating to me. I've never understood the appeal. Maybe I'm old fashioned?

  • Was just having this discussion with my dad, who is another huge flight sim buff. I would kill for new versions of Red Baron, Aces of the Pacific, and TIE Fighter.

    Sadly, it seems the PC market is in love with MMORPG's and FPS's. Which, I can't blame them too much - that's where the money is. The mass market seems to be all about fast paced, arcadey style games heavy on eye candy and light on realism. Which unfortunately makes producers gun shy about trying something new. And in turn, makes the joystick
  • ... or the reversed T arrow keys layout.
  • (Looks down at lap) Thanks to Viagra, nothing. Same as it ever was.
  • So they are still there, they just aren't the primary controllers any more. They are a little hard to use in some games, but many games use them to great affect.

    Other's use them for crappy camera controls, which is a pain.
  • It was reduced in size and installed on all 3 major console's controllers, in some cases in pairs. We found out that gripping our sticks was less important than easy access to pushing buttons. Not to mention how ergonomically uncomfortable it was for prolonged playtime. That sounds a bit more suggestive than I intended.
  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:17AM (#22421082) Homepage
    Joysticks are still around, but for some reason they are not all left handed.

    8/16-bit era joysticks were operable with either hand, so naturally being right handed I used my... right hand! Then Nintendo came along with the NES and it's left-handed gamepads, and everyone else copied them. Now modern gamepads have analogue joysticks, but they are operated with the left hand.

    Surely since 9 out of 10 people are right handed, and precision joystick control needs more dexterity than simple button pressing, the joystick should be on the right.
  • by swordgeek (112599) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @12:02PM (#22421876) Journal
    OK, everyone seems to be talking about THEIR joystick, and for some people it's "analog" whereas for others its "digital."

    Both have been around since the dawn of modern gaming, and both had their place.

    Digital joysticks, i.e. ones with four (or sometimes eight) discrete position switches, have mostly been replaced by gamepads of some form or keyboards. Really, they were no more than custom-purpose keyboards themselves. Moving in a direction consisted of "hold the button down until you're where you want to be." Most of the continued existence of these 'classic' joysticks is from nostalgia, although modern game controllers certainly can trace their lineage back to them.

    Analog joysticks are a different beast entirely, with either pots or digital encoders on two axes, for continuous range-of-motion detection. These are essential for flight sims, and are not at all endangered. As long as we have (good) flight sims, we'll have analog joysticks.

    As an aside, stick-less joysticks have been around just about as long as joysticks. Does anyone else remember the Intellivision controllers?
  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @01:11PM (#22423062)
    What about the paddle wheel?

    The last time I used a joystick as the exclusive interface for a console was the Atari. Since then, games have grown more sophisticated, and require a more sophisticated interface, not because a more sophisticated interface is most appropriate to the game at hand, but because it's more versatile.

    Take driving games, for instance. Using a steering column is a more natural interface for them. But you can only use that interface for the driving game, not for an FPS. So as a developer, which would you rather code for, a single-use interface, or one that bridges the game universe for a given console?

    Sure, for nostalgia's sake I miss the good ole days of playing Star Command on a joystick. But I would trade that innocent fun for the immersive experience of GTA on a PS?/Xbox*/Wii any day.

    In like fashion I long ago abandoned the paddle wheel used for Pong. It carries fond memories, sure, but after Breakout it ceased to be relevant.

    Fun and playability are the constants, to my mind. Focus on those, less on eulogies for lost interfaces.
  • Get off my lawn (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MorePower (581188) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @01:43PM (#22423608)

    Lack of joysticks these days is one of the reasons I gave up on consoles (until the Wii). Those...things that you control with your thumb are not joysticks. I can't understand how in the hell that was supposed to be better.

    My thumbs are.. all thumbs. I mean seriously, that phrase came about because thumbs just aren't very precise in their movement. But all you kids who had NESes before puberty all have that "mutation" that was talked about here on Slashdot a while back which allows you to use your thumb as a precision input device instead of your index fingers. Which also explains how in the hell you manage to text from a cell phone.

    Oh and what is it with you folks who say FPS games were best used with "keyboard and mouse"? I was never much into FPS games, but the only really usable configuration was "joystick and mouse". You suction-cupped the joystick onto your desk (your joystick did have suction-cups, right?) for your left hand and mapped the trigger and/or top buttons to things like jump or crouch (the buttons on the joystick base were clearly unusable). Then you put the mouse under your right hand, as usual. This way, you had good coarse analog control of your movement with your left hand, and fine precision analog aiming with your right hand.

    Now everyone get off my lawn.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard

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