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Input Devices Entertainment Games

In Defense of the Classic Controller 251

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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  • Seperate the hands (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @08:59AM (#28526913)

    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)

    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 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 cflannagan ( 870780 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @09:19AM (#28527147)
    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.
  • Re:sigh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Steve525 ( 236741 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @10:47AM (#28528345)

    Use the right tool for the job.

    I agree -
    2-D Platformers and most classic games -> d-pad, joystick, or keyboard (my preference is joystick, but I'm an old-timer)
    3-D Platformers -> modern console (except Wii)
    First person shooter -> mouse and keyboard
    Real time strategy -> mouse and keyboard
    Flight simulator -> joystick and keyboard (unless you spring for a more involved setup)
    Driving -> steering wheel and pedals.
    Rhythm -> unique controllers - here the controller basically is the game, and the games are differentiated primarily by the controller.
    Wii -> Motion controllers like these are still in their infancy. Wii Sports, etc., hints at what's to come.

    I second another post that comments that modern console controllers (Wii, not withstanding) are jacks of all trades, masters of none. They work reasonable well for a huge gamete of game types, but I think 3-D platformer is the only game type that I think they are the best choice for.

    I also think that for most games, simpler controls are better. Fewer buttons, less complicated maneuvers all allow the game to picked up quickly by a large number of people. Some people really enjoy mastering complicated controls, and that's fine. I just don't think that complicated controls make games fun for the majority of people.

  • For most non-simulator games, I'd stick with mouse and keyboard any day!

    Then what will players 2, 3, and 4 stick with? Yelling at you to finish playing already so that they can have a turn? That's why the kids I babysit prefer my Wii game console over my PC.

  • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:31PM (#28530115) Homepage

    Have you really read what I wrote?

    Console games are not dumbing down your PC games. The things you talk about are hybrids. They are also awfull from the point of view of old console gamers - they might just as well call them "PC games", because their awfullness stems directly from the fact that they are targeted for the simultaneus release on a PC. But you wouldn't agree that's an accurate description of reality, right?

    Just so it will be more clear, let me rephrase what you wrote from the point of view of consoles:

    Mind you, PC games are fine, but I wish more dev time were spent on true console games. I feel that gaming as a whole is suffering a bit right now, between the shift of focus to primarily PC-style games, casual games, Peggle, and (especially) the cancer that is DLC (//FFS, MAN, YOU REALLY THINK THAT CONSOLES BROUGHT MODS/DOWNLOADS/PATCHES TO GAMES?! REALLY?!?!). In the long run it'll probably be fine, but I'd love to see what would happen with more (not all, just more) titles being aimed at the platform that brought us so many amazing, deep games.

    I know it's a futile wish, but it's what thing would be like in the world in my head where we all ride unicorns that fart rainbows and shit gold. Anyway, like I said, I'm not worried about PCs killing deeper gaming long-term (hell, my recent purchase of gaming PC has shown me first-hand that consoles and PCs aren't so different any more--I had to put the fucking DVD into the drive each time I wanted to play!)--DLC might do it, but PCs themselves won't.

    ...and it's still BS

    Games have become less "hardcore" (whatever that means...) simply because they are not driven anymore by wishes of early adopters - they've become mainstream on both consoles and PCs (because the platforms themselves have become mainstream), so the gameplays is obviously also more mainstream...

    Plus, thank MS for bringing development of games for both platforms much, much closer - PHBs running game publishing companies think it's "obvious" to target both platforms. When in reality it's a horrible idea. You end up with...hybrids that are a product of compromise, that loose strong points of both platforms.

    Speaking as a long time gamer on both types of systems (I care about the game, not so much about on what it runs), so I might have a better grip on reality... (if you wonder - nowadays, on PC, mostly Galciv2 and Stalker, also constant addiction to Fallouts, Diablos, *shocks)

  • by PeanutButterBreath ( 1224570 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @01:06PM (#28530969)

    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, people seemed willing to suffer through awful looking and playing 3D games because their very 3D-ness was novel.

    Moreover, 2D and 3D are suited to different types of games -- hence the popularity of simulators and then FPS over platformers and arcade style fighters (possible chicken v. egg there, but that's my opinion anyway).

    If you think that 2D games are taken seriously, you probably weren't seriously gaming 15 years ago. Nothing wrong with that -- just sayin'.

    3D games have more than come into their own at this point, but I have to agree that they came at the expense of 2D gaming.

  • by Swordsmanus ( 921213 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @01:14PM (#28531145) Homepage

    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 mouse is able to track more precisely and faster than an analog stick. Why do you think console games have some degree of autoaim built in while PC games do not? But the hard evidence came in when Quake 3 arena for the Dreamcast came out. It allowed Dreamcast players to play online with PC players. The best Dreamcast players got trashed by average PC players, even when controlling for ping/latency. This came up several years ago but there should still be a decent amount of info on the findings available via google.

  • by rxan ( 1424721 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @02:48PM (#28532833)
    There is room in the gaming market for both casual and hardcore players right now. It's probably not going to change anytime soon. The casual market is still being saturated, so there's plenty of room for growth. But that doesn't mean hardcore button gamers will be out of the loop. The game makers know that hardcore players simply buy more games on average than causal players. I would cite that but I can't remember the link I read it from.
  • by Bakkster ( 1529253 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nam.retskkaB.> on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @03:55PM (#28533737)

    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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by Spit ( 23158 ) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @04:07AM (#28539605)

    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.

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