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Input Devices Entertainment Games

In Defense of the Classic Controller 251

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-buttons-less-hand-waving dept.
Kotaku has an opinion piece by Leigh Alexander singing the praises of classic, button-rich controllers for the level of precision and complexity they offer. While the Wii Remote and upcoming motion-control offerings from Microsoft and Sony are generating a lot of interest, there will always be games for which more traditional input devices are better suited. Quoting: "With all this talk about new audiences — and the tech designed to serve them — it's easy to get excited. It's also easy to feel a little lost in the shuffle. For gamers who've been there since before anyone cared about making games 'for everyone,' having that object in our hands was more than a way to access the game world — it was half the appeal. Anyone who's ever pulled off a chain of combos in a console fighter can tell you about the joy of expertise and control. ... Gamers may suffer some kind of identity crisis as the familiar markers of their beloved niche evolve — or disappear entirely. The solution to that one's easy: Get over it. Like it or not, it's clear that gaming's not a 'niche' anymore, and its shape will change. The more pressing issue is whether or not controller-less gaming will truly make the medium richer. Making something 'more accessible' doesn't necessarily make it better."
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In Defense of the Classic Controller

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  • by emocomputerjock (1099941) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @08:38AM (#28526707)
    I have always maintained that the original SNES controller is the best gaming controller ever developed. It has the right feel, just enough buttons, and great responsiveness. I haven't seen a better pad in 20+ years of gaming.
    • by sys.stdout.write (1551563) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @08:42AM (#28526753)
      So this quote doesn't fully address the One True Controller debate, but I think it's important to realize that we were all children when this equipment came out and we may have a bad case of rose-colored glasses.

      In the words of Douglas Adams:
      • everything that's already in the world when you're born is just normal
      • anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it
      • anything that gets invented after you're thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it's been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.
      • In the words of Douglas Adams:

        • everything that's already in the world when you're born is just normal
        • anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it
        • anything that gets invented after you're thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it's been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

        That is so true.

      • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @09:32AM (#28527331)

        So this quote doesn't fully address the One True Controller debate, but I think it's important to realize that we were all children when this equipment came out and we may have a bad case of rose-colored glasses.

        You raise a good point with the curmudgeon angle. I can't stand playing shooters with a console controller, I need a mouse and keyboard. But this does not discount that there are people very, very good with the console controller. You probably can't argue the inherent superiority of one over the other but you can certainly see how personal preference can enter into it. I grew up on mouse and keyboard control for shooters so it feels more natural.

        There's probably still good room for controller innovation and it would also depend on the kind of game you're playing. Digital controls suck for racing. The analog sticks are ok but you really need a wheel for it to feel right. Likewise, flight sims don't feel right with anything other than a proper joystick to control the aircraft.

        I think there's a lot of room out there for controller innovation but the downside is that it greatly increases the cost of the game. I was skeptical about the potential for Guitar Hero due to requiring an expensive guitar controller for the full experience. I was extremely skeptical about the equipment cost for Rock Band. Turns out those games were popular enough to support it. The Wii motion controller is great for games designed with it in mind but there are many genres where the motion controller just doesn't cut it, you need a traditional gamepad.

        We've traditionally seen more innovation in the arcade game market since the special hardware development is simply part of designing the game and it all comes with the cabinet. As electronics become cheaper, we might end up seeing more customized controllers for specific games.

        • by hedwards (940851)
          Well, I can't stand playing shooters with a keyboard and mouse, I'm only willing to use a keyboard.

          Or in other words, get off my lawn. This new technology of a decade ago both confuses and infuriates me.
        • by Hatta (162192)

          I can't stand playing shooters with a console controller, I need a mouse and keyboard.

          What would you use a mouse for? Shooters are best played with an arcade stick.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Glonoinha (587375)

            Hokey religions and arcade sticks are no match for a good keyoard and a mouse at your side, kid.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by WillAdams (45638)

            Apparently you never played Barbarian or Obliterator (classic games for the Commodore Amiga and certain other 8-bit systems).

            They used a joystick for movement, the mouse for targeting long distance weapons and the keyboard for all other functions.

            Very well done and most importantly a lot of fun and incredibly immersive.

            William

            • by Hatta (162192)

              Ah, no I haven't. Shame there doesn't seem to be an Apple II(gs) port, that's what's on my desk right now. I'll try and remember that for when I pick up an Amiga.

        • People playing on consoles get auto-aim to some degree. Mouse and keyboard is more accurate and much faster. They are given a handicap to compensate....
        • I can't stand playing shooters with a console controller, I need a mouse and keyboard.

          By "shooter" do you mean only first-person shooters, or do you also mean shmups like Galaga, Zero Wing, and Ikaruga?

        • by COMON$ (806135)
          You probably can't argue the inherent superiority of one over the other

          Actually you can to a degree. I enjoy playing with both, however for a long time I couldn't put my finger on why keyboard and mouse was better, I thought it was just preference. But then I started looking at it objectively. The mouse responds to a larger variety of inputs than my sticks do. I can gesture, and based on the speed and motion of my wrist I can control how fast I move. With the digital sticks, while fast, I cannot take

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Swordsmanus (921213)

          You raise a good point with the curmudgeon angle. I can't stand playing shooters with a console controller, I need a mouse and keyboard. But this does not discount that there are people very, very good with the console controller. You probably can't argue the inherent superiority of one over the other but you can certainly see how personal preference can enter into it.

          Actually, you can. Keyboard and mouse is superior compared to a game pad. Complex moves are easier to do with a keyboard and mouse, and the m

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Bakkster (1529253)

            You raise a good point with the curmudgeon angle. I can't stand playing shooters with a console controller, I need a mouse and keyboard. But this does not discount that there are people very, very good with the console controller. You probably can't argue the inherent superiority of one over the other but you can certainly see how personal preference can enter into it.

            Actually, you can. Keyboard and mouse is superior compared to a game pad.

            Let's be fair. The Mouse is better than a thumbstick for aiming, but a thumbstick is better for movement, especially in games involving stealth or other minor movements.

            That said, the keyboard has more buttons and is more configurable, but it's definitely a tradeoff with the analog input on a controller.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Spit (23158)

          I've played keyboard/mouse since inception, but I now prefer the dual-stick controls. Extended play is far more ergonomic and the dual-stick feels more natural for FPS. It's just a matter of getting used to it.

      • by pizzach (1011925)
        I do not agree. The SNES controller never felt that comfortable until about 10 years later because it was too big for my hands. Not everyone sees through rose-colored glasses. I also loved the N64 controller over the PSX one back in the day. But for some reason, it feels much more comfortable than it did. I don't have my N64 anymore, so I can't double check that.
        • You've gotta be kidding. The N64 controller sucked! Unless you were very very gentle with it, the control stick would grind down and the plastic parts would jam up in short order.

          Do you not remember seeing the games on display at the store and not being able to play them because the display controller was worn out?

    • by Mushdot (943219)

      It was the SNES controller that sprang to my mind before seeing your comment. That and I think the Gamecube controller are probably the best ones. I find that the PS/Xbox controllers always make my hands ache after playing for a while and I can never use them as instinctively as the Nintendo pads.

      • While I'm completely with you on the SNES controller, I do have a one beef with the Gamecube controller.

        I remember always having a problem with realizing the Z button was there just above the right trigger. Sure I'm now used to the X360 with the buttons above the left and right bumpers, but for some reason only having one on the right side felt weird at the time coming from the N64 controller where the Z was on the bottom like a trigger.
    • That, or the Sega Genesis controller. Every controller to come out after those two has been a real pain in the ass to use.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hubbell (850646)
        The XBOX 360 controller imo is the best one to ever come out. Could you perform the dozens of different actions/moves in modern games with a snes controller? No. The 360 controller has the sticks offset which is MUCH more natural feel and orders of magnitude better than the Playstation design, the 2 triggers, 2 bumpers, and 4 buttons are also setup in a way that is extremely easy to use and very intuitive.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mrchaotica (681592) *

          The XBOX 360 controller imo is the best one to ever come out. Could you perform the dozens of different actions/moves in modern games with a snes controller? No.

          Only if you think thumb joysticks were ever a good idea to begin with. Everything that the Xbox 360 controller can do that the SNES controller can't is done better by either a mouse or a real joystick, thankyouverymuch!

      • Having owned both consoles back in the day (actually, I still do own them, come to think of it...), I have to say that the SNES controller was superior to the Genesis one. First, it managed to be just as ergonomic to hold even though its roundness was considerably less prominent -- it's a tie in that regard. Second, and more importantly, the SNES controller had both more buttons and had them in a better layout. The Genesis's A-B-C arranged linearly meant it was hard to hit A then C (or vice-versa) in quick

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Have you used a Saturn pad? 6 buttons on the face, 2 shoulders, a great d-pad, and really crisp response. It's particularly loved for fighting games, where 4 face buttons just aren't enough. It's actually in such demand that Sega released a new USB version.

    • Don't forget about the "super action controller" for the Colecovision. It was the pistol grip-style, four buttons on the grip, a joystick, a dial-like thingy, and a keypad. Hell, I bet you could play Guitar Hero with it...
    • I have always maintained that people have unrealistically positive judgment about artifacts of their youth. Like you with the flat brick, too few buttons and purely digital goodness of the SNES controller.

      Like me with Dual Shock. Though in this case...for some reason every next generation of classic controllers from competing manufacturers were becoming closer to Dual Shock, even though they really tried to be different at first. DS otoh - virtually unchanged since...1996? (Dual Analogue Controller, Japanes

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Bah! Classic six button Sega Genesis was the best! You wimpy Mario boys could only wish to play SF2 Turbo with the Sega controller! Boy those were the days, with endless arguments over blast processing VS Mode 7. I went back to being a full time PC gamer when it was obvious they were going to overload the games and controls with buttons, which they did. It just ain't as fun to me when you have to keep up with huge lists of moves like with the newer Madden games.

      So I will stick with my nice PC FPS, where t

  • sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cowscows (103644) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @08:39AM (#28526729) Journal

    Anyone afraid that buttons are going to disappear is just getting upset for no good reason. There's bazillions of hours invested into buttons, programming buttons, and designing game interfaces around buttons. Everyone isn't going to just up and abandon all of that investment and knowledge just because something new has appeared.

    You'll just have to live with the fact that your beloved button based games might have to sit next to some motion control games on the store shelves. But that's not really something worth whining about.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Punch Out for the Wii has both motion based and button based control schemes. Very few people use the motion based controls after the first few levels, because, let's face it, we're not real boxers and most of have no desire to be.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cflannagan (870780)
        Very few people use motion based controls after the first few levels? I'm in the middle of title defense series and am still using motion based controls, and don't see any issues with it (yes I'm familiar that motion recognition can and do suck for other games, but not this one for me at least). How did you determine that very few people were using it after the first few levels? Not doubting you, I just wanted to make sure you reached that conclusion through some polls or some scientific means.
    • I pretty much agree. The old button controller isn't going anywhere soon. Some games are much better with the standard button controller. Some games are much better with a keyboard. The Wii-mote and other devices are just adding to the gaming experience by offering another input device. I don't see any need to be concerned about the death of an input device just because it is the cool thing d'jour.
  • Mouse and keyboard (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Engeekneer (1564917) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @08:41AM (#28526745)
    For most non-simulator games, I'd stick with mouse and keyboard any day! Try to sniping someone in the head in a fast-paced game with a traditional controller without any auto aims, and then talk about "precision".
    • by tverbeek (457094)
      I always found games that actually took full advantage of having a whole keyboard were the most satisfying.
      • by drsquare (530038)

        On the contrary, the best games are those that don't use a button just because it's there. I still don't see why a controller needs four shoulder buttons.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      You know, there are other games besides simulators and first person shooters. Try playing Street Fighter, Ikaruga, or MegaMan with a mouse and keyboard and let me know how that works.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Draek (916851)

        Pretty well, actually. Its easier, in my experience, to input those long chains of commands for special moves with a keyboard, 2D platformers like Megaman work just as well with an "old-school" keyboard setup (read: arrow keys instead of WASD), and if you want to see how incredible playing a vertical shooter is with a mouse you should go and play Chromium B.S.U., available at your nearest Ubuntu repository.

        About the only genre I can think of where a controller is noticeably superior to a keyboard and/or mou

        • by Hatta (162192)

          2D platformers like Megaman work just as well with an "old-school" keyboard setup

          I dunno, I just can't do it. Rocking my thumb slightly back and forth across a D-pad is much easier for me than using the arrow keys. I even grew up playing Sierra AGI games where the arrow keys were the only way to move around.

    • Yeah, I tagged the story "keyboardandmouse"

      I recently picked up Armored Core 4 for the 360, and if I can't figure out a better way to map the buttons, I don't think I'll be playing much of it.

      You've got auto-targetting (makes sense, you're in a high-tech mech thingy) but it gets knocked out all the damn time by one thing or another. You're left trying to aim and fire with the same finger (right thumb). If the the target is moving at all, you're pretty much fucked unless you get lucky. Worse, I'm not sure

      • by sznupi (719324)

        Just because joypad isn't good for mecha game, doesn't make keyboard + mouse that much better...

        Behold the perfection: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steel_Battalion [wikipedia.org] (the only downside of that game was Xbox 1...) There was also a bit less extreme dual joystick for PS1.

        PS. And pleeeease, cut out the "console games are dumbing our games" crap, you elitist #$%&. Those games you are mumbling about are hybrids, aiming for middle ground (it's "sensible" since the times MS made developing for consoles very close

    • by sznupi (719324)

      sniping someone in the head in a fast-paced game
      You're thinking here "Quake-style FPP" only, not "fast-paced game". That you consider this style of game as representative of "most non-simulator games" shows only how you limit your horizons

      Mouse is appriopriate only in two types of games: those that have GUI-style controls (and that includes, surprise, some simulators. Of cities, for example) and those that are build around pointing things (not shooting; lightgun games do that)

  • by Spyware23 (1260322) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @08:47AM (#28526797) Homepage

    D-pad: SNES
    Analog: Gamecube.

    Why? Go play some SNES/Cube games. I'm not sure which guys in Nintendo are developing the controllers, but they used to do a very, very good job. Too bad they kind of screwed up the Classic Controller for the Wii. They should have gone with the SNES controller, without editing too much, just new start and select buttons.

    • by Logical Zebra (1423045) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @09:02AM (#28526949)

      To this day, I think of the buttons on my PlayStation or XBOX in terms of the SNES layout. "Hit the Y button! I mean the Square one!"

      • by _xeno_ (155264)

        I find that the symbols on the PlayStation controller prevent me from confusing it with the SNES controller. It's the Xbox controller that kills me, because it uses the same letters the SNES controller uses, just backwards.

        "OK, so now I just need to press A... oops, that was B because B is A and A is B and X is Y and Y is X and ... AAAAAGH!"

      • To this day, I think of the buttons on my PlayStation or XBOX in terms of the SNES layout. "Hit the Y button! I mean the Square one!"

        Some of my friends have played games on PlayStation, Xbox, GameCube, and Super NES. The X button is in a different place on every controller. In fact, it has shown up in all four positions [pineight.com]. So when I tell them what button to hit, and it's not the one on the bottom, I tend to say triangle, square, or O because they're less ambiguous than A, B, and Y.

    • I think that the classic controller feels very much like a slightly thicker version of the SNES controller. And if you want a SNES controller for the Wii Nintendo made some in Japan and you can probably get them on e-bay or similar.
    • by brkello (642429) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @04:14PM (#28534021)
      I wonder if I am the only one in here that thinks the 360 controller is great. It fits comfortably to where I never have had a cramp or pain after extended play, it has analog sticks in the right place, and plenty of buttons that are all intuitive and easy to reach. Plus, I like that it is wireless and has the ability to shut down itself and the console. Really, they did a fantastic job with it. If there was a standard controller for all consoles, I'd much rather it be the 360's than any previous gen consoles or a Wii-mote.
  • I said that (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @08:53AM (#28526837)

    Making something 'more accessible' doesn't necessarily make it better.

    I said that when they paved over paradise and put up a parking lot.

  • For short (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @08:53AM (#28526839)
    For short : diversity is good, no one size fits all solution, to each his own, etc...
  • The gamecube controller is the best ever, imo.

    The stick is in the upper left and not in the odd uncomfortable position of the dual shock stick.

    The right button placement is great. Large A button in the middle. Small B button to the left. X is above the A and Y is to the right of the A. The buttons all have different shapes so you can feel what button your thumb is on without having to look.

    And of course, the *epic* analog shoulder buttons. The buttons have a huge range of motion; I'm pretty sure they depress over half an inch, and they 'lock' at the bottom. I've never seen another controller with such awesome analog buttons.

    • by JCholewa (34629)

      Gamecube's Z button is horrible, you have to keep your hands close together when using the controller. That last one is sort of a PC/Wii thing, but it's turning into a game breaker for me lately. A controller feels annoying to me nowadays if I can't just dangle my hands at my side or have them both resting on the arms of my chair.

      But that aside ... yeah, the Z button. Breaks easily (on some controllers I've had, you have to press the fuck out of the button to get it to register, set on a weird hinge that

    • by Reapy (688651)

      Gamecube is decent, but the game really has to be tailored to the controller to work well. Combos like b + x or y or the z button really become awkward. I also disliked the huge shoulder buttons as they took a lot of weight to push in, and usually resulted in cramped fingers for me after playing games like rogue squadron where I had to keep the button depressed for a long while.

      I liked the dual shock ones when they came along, just for having the analog sticks there, but later came to like the xbox's analog

  • No (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sesshomaru (173381)


    Gamers may suffer some kind of identity crisis as the familiar markers of their beloved niche evolve or disappear entirely. The solution to that one's easy: Get over it.

    You know, I always think it's great when people say this, but they always forget the alternative... I don't have to play video games if I don't think they are fun. There are tons of other things to do in this world. In fact, I'm actually not going to play video games if I don't think they are fun. I have something called a job for when

    • by Hatta (162192)

      More importantly for the people who say, "Get over it," if I find that the new video games aren't fun, I'll stop buying them and wait until someone produces some that are worthy

      There are enough great classic games available that you should never need to wait. If they stopped making video games today, I don't think I'd even notice.

      • Yeah, at my rate of playing through games (which is moderately quick) I think I could be satisfied playing my massive to-play back-log of console RPGs, re-playing my favorite games, and playing mods to games I like for upward of a decade before I started to really need new content.

        That's not even considering the existing material in other media I'd like to get through--using movies as my sole source of entertainment, I could probably stay busy watching classics and foreign films that I haven't seen for 5+ y

  • "Making something 'more accessible' doesn't necessarily make it better."

    Well... it does make it better for people who previously found it less accessible.

    It's interesting, though, what you can acclimate yourself to. Back in the day, when I was a young buck, I had no trouble memorizing the completely keyboard-driven controls for PC games like the Ultimas I-V, and I found the simplified, mouse friendly interface of Ultima VI maddening. That said, despite my familiarity with not necessarily user-accessible con

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @08:59AM (#28526901)

    Give me motion control on my portable systems. I want to look like a complete idiot in the waiting room. "Sir, Mental Health is down the hall."

  • Seperate the hands (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If there is one thing I wish all consoles would adopt from the Wii it's not the motion controlls but the ability to hold your hands independently.

    Playing Zelda on the Wii was the most relaxing way to play a game I've experienced to date. I could just sit back, put one hand behind my head while the other rests comfortably on the couch. I want to do that on the other consoles, too.

  • Bah; kinesophobia (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Millennium (2451) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @09:00AM (#28526919) Homepage

    The alleged "greater precision" of button-mashers is imaginary; a side effect of someone afraid to learn a new skill. People said exactly the same thing about analog sticks, and D-pads before them, and both times they were wrong. They are wrong again.

    As for gratuitous complexity, which the author (like many others) have mistaken for "depth," this is a harmful thing. It has driven far more people away from gaming than it ever attracted, creating shallow and unrewarding experiences for most with very little actual gain in game quality: a childish domination fantasy, nothing more. This is just someone who wants to keep people out of gaming, and like other kinesophobes he deserves exactly two options: take the plunge or don't play. His attitude is harmful to the industry and ultimately, it's unhealthy to himself. He doesn't need more games; he needs professional help.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      The alleged "greater precision" of button-mashers is imaginary; a side effect of someone afraid to learn a new skill. People said exactly the same thing about analog sticks, and D-pads before them, and both times they were wrong.

      No, they had a point. Some games just don't fit with analog sticks. I know I can't play shmups with an analog stick, and it's not for lack of trying. A d-pan is better but the precise click of a good arcade joystick is superior for many types of games. Analog sticks have their p

  • by wjousts (1529427) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @09:01AM (#28526939)

    Model M [wikipedia.org].

  • by jfbilodeau (931293) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @09:04AM (#28526963) Homepage

    I've enjoyed Wii Sports, Warioware Smooth Moves and the likes. They are a lot of fun and burn calories. However, I find I spend more time on the couch playing games like Metroid Prime 3 or Resident Evil 4 which make great use of the Wii Remote, but don't require to turn a game session into aerobics. This is why I don't see classic controllers being replaced by the likes of Natal anytime soon.

    There will be a lot of impressive tech demos with Natal and probably a couple of fun games with the Sony controller, but I'm of the opinion that Nintendo achieved the best balance of motion vs classic controller.

  • by hotdiggity (987032) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @09:10AM (#28527029)
    The original Atari 2600 joystick. Which, I believe, was also the de facto default joystick of the Commodore 64. One button. One stick.

    And did anyone else take it apart to press the "left" and "right" contact points simultaneously? Jiggling the joystick back and forth in the track events of Summer Games was for suckers.

    Good times.

    • by Minwee (522556)

      Screw that. If you were serious about gaming you would have had the Epyx 500XJ [vintagecomputing.com]. And you would use it until the red plastic stick broke off and your left hand curled up into a ball from the painful cramps, and then you would keep on going -- pushing the steel rod around with your right hand and pushing your knee against the button until your power supply overheated and you just couldn't play any more.

  • I never grew fond of these so-called controllers where I have to use my left thumb for steering because someone thought, hey, screw those righthanders by putting the movement control on the controller's left side.

    I was perfectly happy with the old (digital) joysticks like the Competition Pro or some more robust joyboards which could be fixed to the desk using suction cups, and also offered automatic fire triggering.

    Where I can see a use of the WiiMote for more lifelike gameplaying (e.g. Golf, Swordfight, Te

  • No, gamepads suck (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tridus (79566) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @09:22AM (#28527199) Homepage

    Gamepads, or the "classic" controllers he's whining about, actually suck quite a lot. They have terrible precision when compared to a mouse, don't work that well for things like Flight Sims when compared to a flightstick, and don't offer accessability over motion controls.

    I've never understood the appeal. Playing console shooters is like steering a drunk camel compared to on the PC. Good RTS with large numbers of units is pretty much a joke. Trying to explain to a non gamer how to play is an exercise in futility compared to the thirty seconds it takes to understand the Wiimote.

    The only real upside to the things is that they're generic. You can shoehorn a lot of game types to work on the thing, no matter how badly it works for most of them.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Gamepads, or the "classic" controllers he's whining about, actually suck quite a lot. They have terrible precision when compared to a mouse, don't work that well for things like Flight Sims when compared to a flightstick, and don't offer accessability over motion controls.

      Gamepads suck for first person shooters and flight sims, obviously. But mouse and keyboard sucks just as badly for 2d platformers, shmups, fighting games, etc. Go play Sonic 2, Marvel vs. Capcom, Radiant Silvergun, Metal Slug, Double Dra

    • Like any tool, the more you use, the better you get at using it. I too had your same skepticism when it came to playing console FPSers after playing computer FPSers for so long. It takes a while, but after a few months, you get good at using the analog sticks to aim. Really good. Then you realize you have a lot more fun playing on your couch, reclined, with one controller in hand than you ever did sitting at your computer, back straight, staring at the comparatively tiny screen, using a few keys on one i

    • I can see one with a built in motion pointer like the Wii. That's would be kick ass.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fumus (1258966)
      Try playing a fighting game with a keyboard and mouse. As much as I like that combo for shooters, I cannot imagine playing a game like Devil May Cry 4 or even Prototype without a gamepad. The xbox360 one is rather clumsy and doesn't fit my hands, so maybe try some other ones if that's the only one you tried? My Thrustmaster Dual Trigger 3-in-1 is stunning compared to how the xbox one feels.
    • Gamepads, or the "classic" controllers he's whining about, actually suck quite a lot. They have terrible precision when compared to a mouse, don't work that well for things like Flight Sims when compared to a flightstick...

      You need to make a distinction between thumb-joystick controllers and actual "classic" (non-analog) controllers. Regarding thumb joysticks, I agree with you: they're simply too small (and therefore too sensitive) to even begin to compete with a mouse/full-size joystick/whatever. But class

  • by hal2814 (725639) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @09:52AM (#28527609)

    Motion control is useful in and of itself but more importantly, it has the potential to be a universal control system. Ideally any sort of control scheme could be emulated through a sufficiently sophisticated motion control system. Analog controllers, steering wheels, fishing poles, even d-pads and buttons. Are we there yet. Hell no. It's even still easier to use an old-fashioned controller than it is to use the steering wheel option in Mario Kart. But it's not exactly an impossible dream. Right now, there are several forms of control that can be successfully emulated by the Wiimote. I don't think the Wiimote will carry us to the end game of motion controls but it's not like the PS3 uses a one-button digital joystick made for left-handed people.

  • by Delusion_ (56114) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @09:59AM (#28527699) Homepage

    It's the interface. A controller is only half the story, and usually a lot less than that.

    I'm not suggesting we go back to the Atari 2600/C64 era joystick, but it does have some lessons we should learn from. Some of the best interface design comes from embracing the limitations in the format. There were many C64 era games that, if they didn't use the keyboard at all, had to be somewhat creative on the control side. Four directions, one button, make it happen. Now, the trend seems to be that we need a discrete, separate button for every function a game has, and button combinations that are completely unobvious and arbitrary are a good thing.

    As the Atari 2600 was my last console, after which I got on the 8-bit computer bandwagon, I say the following without any platform bias: The Sega Genesis system had it right in the first generation: stick and three buttons. http://www.thosewerethedays.de/items/joysticks/sega_genesis/fighter_stick_md-6_asciiware.JPG is similar, but is the 6 button version. I used this on the Amiga (which only supported one button, but very few games were programmed to use three, since the Atari and Sega joysticks had compatible connectors and pin layouts). It had heft, it was accurate, it was solid. With three buttons, you had to create a control mechanism, but you couldn't go down the road of arbitrary button hell. That's what the modern console controller feels like to me: hell, and inaccurate to boot.

  • Everyone nodding their heads in agreement should read Malstrom's articles [50webs.com]. Pre-1985 everyone knew the standard controller was a joystick. Then Nintendo released the button controller, and it became the standard. The joystick is still around for some specialist games like flight simulators, but new games have replaced it. Ironically, buttonpad games may soon be confined to the PC.
  • by BetterSense (1398915) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @10:44AM (#28528279)
    It's a legitimate worry. People keep assuring gamers that the two control systems will exist side-by side. They have a right to be skeptical.

    Once upon a time, all movies were silent, and then someone invented the talkie. Great, now we can have silent movies AND talking movies! No, the reality is we only have talking movies. Eventually nobody makes silent movies anymore.

    Same thing with black and white. Someone invents color film, and people thing WOW, great more options! Now we will have black and white and color movies! But the reality is we only have color movies after all. If you want to see a black and white movie you have to watch on old one or an independently produced one. Nobody makes them because nobody thinks they will sell, and only weird hardcore artsy people would value such an obsolete aesthetic on purpose.

    Same thing with 2D sprite-based games. 3D comes along, and people at first thing Great! This 3D stuff is neat, now we can have 3D and 2D games. And good thing, because entire genres of games and styles of art are built around 2D graphics. There's no way people will just stop making 2D games. But the reality is that they do. After a while we only have 3D games after all, and 2D games are not taken seriously anymore.

    I think that gamers are entirely justified in worrying about losing button-based gameplay when they see the hoards of casual gamers and advertising hype around motion-based control. In technology as soon as something is viewed as old-fashioned the perception is that it won't sell, whether it's black-and-white film or 2D graphics or button-based gameplay.
    • Same thing with 2D sprite-based games. 3D comes along, and people at first thing Great! This 3D stuff is neat, now we can have 3D and 2D games. And good thing, because entire genres of games and styles of art are built around 2D graphics. There's no way people will just stop making 2D games. But the reality is that they do. After a while we only have 3D games after all, and 2D games are not taken seriously anymore.

      Gotta disagree with you on the point of 2D vs. 3D games. Just off the top of my head...

      I could go on and on, but the point is that there are still plenty of great 2D games being made in recent years. 2D games most certainly are "taken seriously" (whatever that means—I mean, we are talking about games here).

      • I think GP was referring to the period when 3D console games first reared their blocky heads (circa Playstation 1, IIRC). 2D graphics still hadn't reached their peak, but ugly, gimmicky 3D junk flooded the market and (a paltry few exceptions notwithstanding) 2D was relatively done.

        And it wasn't as though it was just a graphical shift. Compare Street Fighter EX Plus alpha to contemporary 2D versions, for example. Whereas it took stunning graphics and tight gameplay to make a standout 2D game at the time,

  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:05PM (#28529647)

    Here's how it works. . .

    The system you grew up with has a life span which will end at some point and you will be left feeling either bitter or so old you just don't care. --Either that, or evolution will reach a plateau of suitable perfect-ness in bio-feedback device and stay there for 20 million years. I doubt even the Mouse, Screen & Keyboard will manage this, though as of yet, nothing seems to match it for getting yourself from one end of an Operating System to the other.

    For games. . . Any controller which has a limit to its usefulness in moving stuff around on screen, and all controllers seem to, will irritate some engineer/designer somewhere enough to spawn some new brand of tool. The kids new to video games will be more than willing to train themselves on whatever cool new system is offered so long as it activates all their happy circuits, and whatever solution you were content (ecstatic) with while growing up will have to shuffle over to make room, and will eventually find itself relegated to a niche market. And you won't understand what your kids are talking about half the time. Welcome to parenthood. You're not cool anymore. Laugh at it. The other option is to wear leather pants and buy a sports car and look really sad and desperate.

    Best to age with a little grace. Let the Nintendo button thingy go. You don't want to be the old guy saying, "When I was young, we had to play our games with a STICK! In 8 bits! And we LIKED it!"

    Hm. Actually, it might be kind of fun to be that guy.

    -FL

  • by adavies42 (746183) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @09:46PM (#28537559)
    Combo-memorization is the antithesis of my ideal gaming experience. To me, the ideal game is one where I never have to think about the control system, only about the content. The Myst games are probably the best example--they'd be wonderful if I could actually spend time solving puzzles, instead of rastering the mouse across the screen, checking for cursor changes, trying to find puzzles.

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