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Epic Sticking With Classic Controllers For Now 64

Cliff Bleszinski, design director for Epic Games, said in an interview with Develop that while motion control schemes like Project Natal look interesting, Epic will probably be sticking with classic controllers "for the foreseeable future." He said, "Microsoft came down a few weeks before E3 and gave us a demo, and they're now shipping out the dev kits; I think it's great. When you start combining the motion-capture, the facial recognition, and the vocal recognition you can create some unique experiences. And of course more accessibility is always a good thing. When you build an interface like that though you need to [specifically] design a game for it. It can't just be tacked on."
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Epic Sticking With Classic Controllers For Now

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  • Good idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShadowRangerRIT ( 1301549 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @11:26AM (#28608775)
    Like the WiiMote, Natal will probably be horribly misused early on. Watching competitors releases and looking for lessons is a good way to approach this. Let the smaller (and sometimes larger) companies flame out on ill-conceived uses of Natal, then avoid the same mistakes.
    • Re:Good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Directrix1 ( 157787 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @11:57AM (#28609247)

      The WiiMote is still horribly misused. I have a Wii, and after my initial wow factor with motion controls, constantly making jerk off motions to do stuff got old. And while I used to postulate about how great motion controls would be with my friends, I never really thought about the accessibility side of things. Because of work video games are often what I do when I'm sick or something along those lines. It sucks having to move all over the place just to do what used to be doable with a standard controller. I'm not saying it doesn't have its uses, but it often does make me second guess using it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aladrin ( 926209 )

        Other than Wii Sports, the only game I've found that uses the WiiMote well is WarioWare. Yeah, a silly mini-games game. I blame this on the fact that the WiiMote is sadly lacking in capability. There is no 1:1 mapping of movement (yes, WiiPlus is coming... We'll see) and pointing at the screen is -not- accurate. With the old light-gun, you could use it like a regular gun and aim from the hip. With the WiiMote, you can't do that... You have to aim in relation to an invisible box... One that changes p

        • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

          From what I heard the actual lightgun games let you calibrate the cursor settings so it actually matches your physical aim. Most games just don't do that because it's extra effort for the user and regular, non-lightgun games don't benefit from it.

      • Re:Good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @12:42PM (#28609927) Journal

        Most developers have given up on trying to do anything clever with the Wii-mote. Most games now use the pointer-function, and then basically map "waggle" onto a single action. If you're lucky, you might get "waggle from side to side" mapped to something different to "waggle up and down" (though the Wii-mote's now-legendary imprecision can make even this annoying). Personally, I felt that Force Unleashed was the moment it was clear that the Wii-mote's impact on gaming had been massively overhyped. People had demanded a lightsabre-fighting game on the Wii from day one and, when one finally appeared, it turned out that the secret to winning fights in it was just to waggle furiously.

        The fact remains that at present, a mouse and keyboard remains the best option for precise control, while a decent, well-balanced 2-stick analogue controller is a respectable second.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I've played some games that I thought did a good job of using the wiimote, and some games that were just crap. I'm thinking that the crap games were crap regardless of how they used the wiimote.
    • Doesn't make sense (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HalAtWork ( 926717 )
      Sure, but one area the Wiimote has always made sense is first person shooters and other games that require you to target objects. Why doesn't Epic think Natal could work in its games?
      • by grumbel ( 592662 )

        Natal isn't a Wiimote like thing. Unlike the Wiimote Natal doesn't have an analogstick or buttons, it has no controller at all, so you end up with not only having to replacing some actions with waggle, but you are being forced to replace everything with fully body waggle, making Natal pretty much unusable for any even half serious gaming.

        Natal at this point in time looks like a solution looking for a problem. So far I have seen not a single half decent game concept or techdemo using Natal and I somehow doub

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @11:27AM (#28608799)

    As a gamer, let me say that the Wii controllers (and now Sony and MS motion controllers) SOUNDED cool. But, at the end of the day, I realized the essential flaw in them:

    I'm a lazy-ass.

    • Heh, I have to more or less agree!

      I will say that when you have 4 people playing some wii games, it's really fun and a great group experience.

      However, (and maybe it's just me) this virtually never happens. The first christmas after getting a wii was fun, and everyone loves being introduced to it. But I feel it really gets old--fast. ESPECIALLY the kind of games that are fun for multiple people. I will say I really liked Mario galaxy, and Mario Kart was fun too (though imho not as fun as previous incarnation

      • Likewise, I just left my Wii at my mum's house after some holidays and have never really missed it.

        Bought my sister a snowboarding game recently for her to use with her Wii balance board, however to make the snowboard move forward you have to wave your arms around like an idiot - WHY (even worse, it doesn't really detect the movement all that well either, and often misinterprets the movement for the 'jump' movement, so your character hops up and down a lot while doing this too)? It would be much more natura

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Epic is Microsoft's premier third party developer for the Xbox.

      And they just came out and stated they aren't bothering with this motion controller crap that Microsoft just showed off as the future of the Xbox. That has got to sting up in Redmond.

      Completely understandable on Epic's behalf. Old Sony EyeToy style tech, Microsoft getting caught faking the demos at E3, a late 2010 release date at the earliest, and demos being done in special clothing and lighting conditions.

      Microsoft has the weakest first party

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I don't think anyone at Microsoft expects this motion controller stuff for the Xbox to be any more successful than HD-DVD was.

        Spending billions to create new Xbox hardware obviously wasn't going to happen given the huge layoffs and cutbacks going on. Microsoft needs something to keep the suckers forking out 50 bucks a year for online play for another year or so. The absolute joke release list of exclusive games for the 360 wasn't going to do it and keep the existing base from abandoning the console.

      • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @12:45PM (#28609973) Journal

        All Epic is saying that the game ideas that they have and/or are planning on developing weren't designed for Natal, and that Natal games should be designed with Natal in mind. Basically, they don't want to be attributed to alot of the flops that will jump on a new gimmick controller.

        But once a developer comes along and says, "Hey, I've got a great idea and Natal is the perfect tool to implement it" - it'll take off.

        Epic has never done anything new. Anything in UT, GoW, whatever, its all been done before and Epic just did it better.

        And Natal will be the same as the Wii controller. Would gamers consider it fail? Probably a little, it aims itself to casual games, has alot of experiences of being finicky and frustrating, and can be mastered on the couch.

        But guess what - it sold, it still sells, and alot of people enjoy it, people who weren't gamers before. Mario Kart? Designed for Wiimote - done right.

        Now Natal needs something like that, a first party developer for the X-box, and then we'll see Epic jump on board. I have very few doubts.

      • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

        It's a wash for MS (if you're comparing them to Sony). Sony is jumping on the exact same bandwagon. They're both just racing to see who can get to the cliff first. Nintendo has made a lot of money by milking the motion control fad, and when it passes they can at least move on intact and with a nice wad of cash.

        Sony is actually the one with the MOST to lose on this fad right now. They're not only trying to jump on the motion control bandwagon, but they're also still in third place with even the regular con

      • by brkello ( 642429 )
        I really like my 360 and am glad I selected it over the Wii and the PS3. I guess I don't care about "first party developers". I care about exclusives and the 360 had more of the ones I was interested in. Final Fantasy is even coming to the 360. Really, if you like RPGs, the 360 really is great.

        As far as Natal and Epic goes...all I can say is great! I hope MS sticks with the standard controller. The Wiimote is ok, but I really don't feel it offers anything other than something to pull out for parties.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by westlake ( 615356 )

      the Wii controllers SOUNDED cool. But, at the end of the day, I realized the essential flaw in them: I'm a lazy-ass.

      Wii Fit isn't sold to the couch potato - but to the young woman who makes it a regular part of her exercise regime.

      Wii Sports appeals to the competitive senior only too well aware of his physical limitations.

      The Wii has found a very profitable niche among non-traditional gamers.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by hurting now ( 967633 )
        My wife uses it in her daily Wii Fit and Wii Sports routine & my grandmother uses it at her nursing home 1x a week... there is a sign up sheet and a line. I have used it for Wii Sports and Zelda's crossbow training, but otherwise, for the games that allow a controller, I use the controller. Heck, my mother touched Wii and hates anything that isn't a typewriter.
    • I'm a lazy-ass.

      Or is it simply that you don't have the upper body strength to wave your arms about for 8 hours a day [].

      I play games. A four hour session is a regular occurrence for me. Over the years, games have gotten more immersive and sophisticated, and even with a dozen or so buttons, analog sticks and analog sensitivity, many buttons have context sensitive actions or use "shift key" functions. Characters can perform a dozen action at any given moment, and indeed need to be able to do so at a moments noti

      • Efficiency is the key to making a good control system. I.e. you can do the most with the least amount of effort...

        The controllers we have used so far, such as keyboard and mouse, gamepads and joysticks have stuck around for a while now because they're efficient, and also evolving to become MORE efficient - (adding more buttons etc.).

        The problem with ANY control system that requires more movement to use, (such as the Wii's or some of those other 'wave your hands in the air to do stuff' demos you can find, a

        • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

          Not every action is supposed to be efficient to input. For example shooting a bunch of targets in a game like Prototype is way faster than in an FPS because Prototype uses autoaim, you just hold the target button, select an enemy, hold the fire button down just long enough to send off a deadly volley, nudge the stick to select the next target, repeat. You can down a large number of targets very quickly with little effort. In an FPS the act of aiming becomes a gameplay element, you have to manually make the

      • by PyroMosh ( 287149 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @01:12PM (#28610353) Homepage

        I was going to write a reply, but then I realized it didn't make as good a point as what I summed up already here [], so I just copy/pasted below:

        I love Nintendo, and other than the PC, I only own Nintendo consoles. But the Wii's biggest problem is that waggle is not fun in and of itself. Developers (Nintendo included, though they are a lesser offender) need to get that through their heads. If it adds to a game, (Mario Kart) use it! If not (Mario Galaxy, most other titles), don't! A great compromise is what they did with Super Smash Bros. Brawl. You can use several control schemes, including one for the GameCube controller, or for the "Classic Controller" that uses no waggle at all.

        Basically, Wii controls should be used for three things:

        1. On screen analog pointing. For god's sake though, give me the option of using the D-pad, or analog stick if your game only uses on screen pointers for the menu!
        2. Extremely analog actions, which lend themselves to a tilting motion. Marble Mania, Super Monkey Ball single player mode, driving games, and flying games lend themselves to this type of action.
        3. Mimicking action gestures, where the gameplay doesn't require much beyond those gestures. Wii Tennis is a great example of this. You don't need to do much more than swing at the ball. But games where you need to perform an action like that, and then return to a completely different control paradigm are poorly thought out. That's not immersive. That's the opposite of immersive.

        There are probably others that I can't think of, but my larger point is this: I should never be able to swap waggle for a simple button press, without loosing a degree of control. If I can, give me a fucking button. Zelda: Twilight Princess' spin attack is a great example of that. No reason it had to be waggle related. I will give some leeway for "satisfying" waggle. In the same game, swinging the remote to swing a sword just feels right, though I would love it if it had more control.

        If you are a Wii developer, and you are developing a Wii game. Ask yourself this: "If I added a menu to allow players to remap their controls, would the game loose something if a player remapped Wii-specific controls?" If the answer is no, you should not be using waggle. You should be using buttons. And that's okay! Buttons are okay too!

        That said, I have to disagree with you. It's not a gimmick, although I agree that it's mostly used in a gimmicky way so far. It's just a new tool in the inventory. I'll agree that it will never take the place of buttons (Natal), but Nintendo's hybrid implementation on the Wii (or something very much like it) seems like an indication of the direction of controller evolution to me.

        The challenge now is getting developers to understand when to use it, and when not to, and more importantly that if the game doesn't need it, DON'T USE IT.

      • Motion control is a gimmick. It can never, ever be the main way of controlling video games.

        I agree the modern control is the result of an evolutionary process. But at the same time, conventional video games have evolved with the limitations and possibilities of the controllers. Meanwhile, conventional, real-world sports have not died out, even though they require (gasp) moving your body! So I think we should look for novel controls to expand the scope of games, rather than displacing conventional contr

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Meanwhile, conventional, real-world sports have not died out, even though they require (gasp) moving your body!

          If you want a real-world sports experience, play a real-world sport. Motion control is a gimmick because standing in front of a TV mimicking the motions of playing a sport within the confines of a room in your home will simply never be a substitute.

    • For me it isn't that I'm lazy, it is that: 1) The motion controls don't work well 2) Most games use motion control when a button press makes more sense

    • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

      Wii games rarely require much actual movement, many use mainly the buttons and pointer with the few gestures requiring just a bit of movement (just enough to tell it's deliberate and not accidental). It's not physically demanding to play something like an FPS on the Wii, only sports games are about mimicking the actual sports movements and only in games that use the upper body (PES uses the Wiimote to turn it into a football RTS instead of making you act stuff out). I found correctly used gestures help the

  • neat as playing with my friends Wii is (does that sound dirty or what?), at the end of the day, I personally want the option, at least, of video gaming to be something sedentary. The advent of these motion capture controllers being the cool new thing is great for sports games, or maybe fighting games, etc, but come on, who actually wants 20+ hours of RPG in the genre of mass effect or an FPS to be completely controlled by motion? That kind of gaming needs, imo, to stay controller based.

    • by Ardaen ( 1099611 )

      I found it counterintuitive at first but, after some experimentation I've found many classic sedentary activities are actually easier and more enjoyable if you find some way to make them a bit more physically active. I guess the human body is adapted to move more than once every hour or two. As well, the brain seems to be as or more active when the body is somewhat active than when the body is in a resting state. My daydreams are more detailed when I'm walking then when I'm laying on a couch.

      At first the in

  • by Reason58 ( 775044 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @11:43AM (#28609031)

    When you build an interface like that though you need to [specifically] design a game for it. It can't just be tacked on.

    These controllers are gimmicks. A very small percentage of the games are truly designed from the ground up to incorporate these controllers, the rest are using them simply because they can and it is a frustrating experience.

    • Well they are a gimmick if they are tacked-onto in a meaningless way yes. But they could also open up whole new genres and expand some existing ones like RPGs or puzzle games. You are pre-judging something that we have seen very little of, I think in the future some of the possibilities of these "controllers" will be far clearer. I have no doubt though that motion, in some form will be the dominant console gaming input in the next gen, with "classic" controllers required for certain game types.
  • no surprise here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @11:49AM (#28609115) Homepage
    Epic is one of the least innovative companies around. The won't do anything different until there are about a dozen solid examples to copy.
    • Atleast they admitted that they weren't going to go jump on it first and tack it on to some game where it makes no sense.
    • Innovation is highly overrated for entertainment products.

      • You must be in the music/movies or gaming industry, or at least share their mentality. I for one can't stand paying $50 a pop to play essentially the same game over and over again. But hey, different strokes for different folks I suppose.
        • I for one can't stand paying $50 a pop to play essentially the same game over and over again.

          That's kind of ironic, coming from somebody who named himself after a Nintendo Product...

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          I for one can't stand paying $50 a pop to play essentially the same game over and over

          Millions of Madden NFL players disagree with you.

      • by skorch ( 906936 )
        Innovation is actually about as overrated as execution is underrated
    • As far as I'm aware... all they've done is Unreal and Gear of War (in the last decade anyway) which are pretty much derivitive and bog standard as far as games go. Pretty graphics, and decent gameplay, they ARE fun games, and by far and away as entertaining as any other shooter out there, but you're right, they don't push anything other than graphics very far. They make all their money licensing the Unreal Engine, all they do is bring out some entertaining tech demos.

      Let Epic work on their engines, and othe

      • But Epic do make games and having them put out half baked rubbish like Unreal Tournament 2003 only for CliffyB to turn out and say that the game is bad because they put a priority on graphics over gameplay when they have new technology to play with while he's selling Unreal Tournament 2004 just says to me they're not really bothered about making great games.

        If they want to make money from engines, that's cool. Make the greatest engine ever but leave game making to those who take it seriously.
  • Sorry... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zab UvWxy ( 694326 )
    I may sound like a troll with this post, and my apologies for it. But I've lost all respect for Cliff B., ever since he used the lame-o "piracy" excuse for not porting - PORTING, mind you, not "developing from scratch" - Gears of War 2 to PC []. It's a cop-out, and to me it shows a lack of understanding of the issue and ways around it.

    After all, Stardock doesn't have any problems developing for PC; they don't DRM their titles beyond what's being implemented with the new GOO platform []; and despite the rocky []
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by kamapuaa ( 555446 )

      If there was money to be made in PC Gaming, they would be doing it. It's not like they're on an anti-PC crusade, or trying to making some kind of point about IP protection, and losing money is of no real concern.

      Piracy has killed PC gaming for most developers, it's obvious.

      • note to mods: disagreeing with a comment does not make it a troll or flamebait. parent has made a point which a lot of devs are thinking. s/he's not necessarily correct, but a lot of game companies [EA Sports for example] are refusing to release games on PC platforms due to worries about piracy. I don't see how piracy isn't affecting consoles because you can do that too, but admittedly it's easier on PC.

        you know what else fixes piracy? making good games and charging a reasonable price for them. see:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    is no John Carmack.... Im sorry but i ve lost all respect for Cliffy after hes abandoned PC, capitulated on the 'no free DLC on 360 mantra', and basically hasnt made anything original in a VERY long time.

    • by Tycho ( 11893 )

      is no John Carmack.... Im sorry but i ve lost all respect for Cliffy after hes abandoned PC, capitulated on the 'no free DLC on 360 mantra', and basically hasnt made anything original in a VERY long time.

      And John Carmack is a NULL, everything since the original Quake has been a copy of previous versions of the engines and he has used awful techniques and idiotic features that have not stood up at all over time. CliffB is not much better, granted. So in reference to your statement, how am I to compare the value of a NULL to the value of another NULL?

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